Comment Ratings FAQ
This is a FAQ on comment ratings.
What are comment ratings? Who can rate comments?
Comment ratings are a form of community moderation in which users rate comments.
Users have an option to vote to recommend, beginning one week after registration. Additionally, "trusted users" have the ability to vote to hide comments. They can give up to five hide ratings per day. The ability to rate comments can be taken away due to misbehavior, either temporarily or permanently. 
Why are trusted users limited to five hide ratings per day?
Unlimited hide ratings were tried and didn't work, according to kos. 
Why can hide ratings no longer be recycled?
The ability to take back a hide rating so that you can use it on someone else was removed because an audit revealed "the VAST majority were used for nefarious purposes". 
What is a troll rating? What is a donut? What is a 4?
Hide ratings were previously referred to as troll ratings, a term still used by some. A "donut", or a "zero", is another name for a hide rating. A "4" is another term for a recommend. A former ratings system used to allow users to rate comments on a scale from 0 to 4.
How can you tell if a comment has been rated? How can you tell who has rated a comment?
Next to the title of a comment are two numbers in parentheses. (7+/2-) would indicate that seven people have recommended the comment and 2 people have hide-rated it. Clicking on the numbers will show who has rated the comment. Clicking on it again will hide the names.
What effects do ratings have?
Having your comments recommended increases your mojo. Recommending comments also affects the recommender's mojo. 
"If a comment has been hide-rated by two users and recommended by none, then that comment (and all replies to it) are automatically hidden. If a comment has been recommended at least once, then Hides must be applied to the ratio of 3x+1 (where x is the number of recommends) in order to hide that comment (again, all replies to the comment will also be hidden). To put it another way, recommends are worth 4, hides are worth 0, and a comment is hidden when its average rating is below 1.00. Hidden comments and their responses can only be seen by Trusted Users." 
If a commenter receives hide-ratings on a sufficient number of comments, that triggers an autoban.  The autoban formula is not publicly known, but kos has said that you need to receive a lot of HRs in a lot of different comments. Piling on hide ratings does not trigger the autoban faster.  No amount of uprating will protect someone who has a history of being HRed. 
What if I want to see hidden comments?
Trusted users can change their settings so that they can view hidden comments. To do this, go to your profile and select "edit profile". One of your options will be "Display hidden comments?" The drop-down menu will have options of yes, no, or show until I hide rate. In their "Welcome Back" box, trusted users can also click on "Hidden" to see a list of hidden comments. 
Should I rate a comment?
It is up to you. It is voluntary and there is no duty to recommend or HR any comment. However, if you choose to HR someone who disagrees with you for incivility, you should be just as willing to HR people who agree with you if they break the same rules. Ratings are a form of community moderation and this doesn't work as well if people adhere to double standards. 
What are acceptable reasons for recommending a comment?
To the knowledge of the author of this FAQ, there has been no directive about what one can recommend, except for a prohibition again uprating comments that are HRable.
What are acceptable reasons for HRing a comment?
According to Hunter, "You're saying that the comment is so bad -- so disruptive or damaging to the community -- that it isn't worth even a debate, but should be deleted from the discussion as being simply inflammatory, simply off-topic, or simply a lie." 
Can you be more specific?
In other internet forums, commenters in a new thread sometimes try to post a message along the lines of "first" in the first comment. Not here. 
Diary pimping is the practice of encouraging people to read an unrelated diary. Diary pimping is permitted when relevant to the diary the comment is posted in. It is also permitted in open threads.  Linking to your own blog is not inherently against the rules. 
Such language is unwelcome. 
Direct calls to violence
"Threatening to beat up or kill someone, or suggesting that people should kill themselves, or saying that poison should be put in somebody's crème brûlée, or making similar remarks, even as a joke, is prohibited and can lead to banning. This does not mean that all forms of cartoon violence, literary references, metaphors and the like are barred."  
There is no ban on violent metaphors. 
"Revealing the real identity or other personal information of a registered user who has not him- or herself made that identity known at Daily Kos or otherwise given permission for such information to be publicly revealed will result in summary banning. Among other things, such revelations include, but are not limited to, phone numbers, addresses, including email addresses not publicly available at Daily Kos, places of employment or clients, gender, sexual orientation, and the identities of other family members. Asking hostile outing questions such as: Do you work at such and such a place? when research has shown this to be true or likely to be true is a form of outing and will be dealt with as such."  
"The rule is that unless the information is expressly made here by the user, it is not available for use here by others. A link to his website does not grant rights to publish personal information from that website. People have been banned for doing so. 
Thread stalking is defined as having three requirements: (1) On multiple occasions, one or more commenters follow a community member into diary threads; and, (2) The commenter(s) posts comments that include false information, personal attacks, lies, or implied/express disclosure of private information; and (3) The commenter(s) engages in this conduct with the intent to harass, harm, humiliate, frighten or intimidate another poster. This intent may be inferred from the number of times that the commenter follows a community member into threads and/or the nature of the comments posted. 
Stalking does not include the mere expression of disagreement, seeking out diaries or comments of favorite diarists or simply frequent interaction on the boards. Certain topics, such as I/P (Israel/Palestine), have a group of posters who will inevitably come into regular contact because they have a common interest, not because they are stalking. 
Before calling someone a stalker or tossing HRs at a person thought to be a stalker, community members should post a comment explaining what conduct and/or statements constitute the stalking with a link to relevant evidence so that administrators and the community have a record to review.
Insults and personal attacks
Personal attacks on other users : "Insults are HRable. Period".  Terms such as "Obamabot" or "firebagger" may be HRed, but people don't get warned or suspended for using them.  (Autoban may kick in for a user who is consistently getting HRed for insults.) HRing an insult is voluntary.  Example of Meteor Blades saying he won't intervene if a user is HRed for "incessant name-calling".
Supporting conspiracy theories and other debunked talking points : This includes claims that American, British, Israeli, or any government assisted in the attacks on 9/11.  Incompetence is not assistance in the meaning of that prohibition. 
Speculation can be wrong without being conspiracy theory. 
"This site needs to be grounded in reality for it to be successful. We compromise on that, and everything we've accomplished has been for naught." 
"Some clarification CTs may actually be true. Certainly, intelligence agencies - including the CIA and Mossad - have engaged in both crude and sophisticated disinformation schemes for a very long time. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." 
Anti-vaccination is a banned CT. 
Advocating for third parties
Advocating primaries is permitted. Advocating not voting, even if it's a stupid idea, is permitted. Advocating for a third party is not permitted. Two exceptions are "places with fusion voting like NY when the Working Families Party has endorsed the Democrat. Or, in those rare cases where an election doesn't have a Democrat on the ballot" such as Bernie Sanders in Vermont.  "Diary-pimping for Ron Paul - and promoting his candidacy - got people banned in 2008. And still does." 
Users have been banned (after previous warnings) for advocating that it would be better if a Republican replaced Obama. 
"....discussing the efficacy of third parties in the abstract remains OK. But advocating for a third-party candidate against a viable Democrat is not. And advocating for joining or forming a third-party in opposition to Democrats is not."  There's a difference between seeing a "need" for a third party and calling for people to vote for or join the Greens or another third party. 
"People advocating for Republicans or Greens (or other parties) have been banned since early 2004." 
The rule has always had a subtext that it is OK to talk about third parties in the abstract, about the (alleged) need for them and how they would improve the country if we had strong ones. Those who do so should expect a strong reaction, but it's not against the rules. What's been forbidden is advocating that people vote for third parties in elections where Democrats are running against Republicans. 
As far as I know, nobody has ever been banned merely for discussing the merits of a third party. 
What are some unacceptable reasons for recc'ing or HRing a comment?
- HRing someone with whom you are in direct dispute.  One extrapolation of this rule is that someone taking you on in your own diary is automatically in a direct dispute with you, so you should not HR people in your own diary.  A user who has been insulted should not HR the insulter; that should be left to other users. 
- Uprating a comment containing an insult or objectionable content  : Uprating an insult is "out of line, because it enables insulters and encourages others to engage in insults": For any comment containing an insult - whatever its other qualities as honed sarcasm and/or keen analysis - the insult should disqualify it from anybody's "4."  Example of a comment noted by MB as uprating of an insult.
- Hide-rating someone who disagrees with your own opinion in a civil fashion.  Example of HR abuse for disagreement. Another example expressing anti-Obama sentiment. Example of a comment which kos described as "the very definition of civil" and whose downraters all had their ratings ability temporarily taken away. 
- Hide-rating other, acceptable comments by someone who has made an unacceptable comments. 
- Hide-rating someone for hide-rating you or an ally.  "But I was JUSTIFIED!" is not an acceptable excuse for retaliatory ratings. 
- Hide-rating for idiocy. 
- Adult language is not in and of itself HRable (although it is frowned up in diary titles because it may trigger filters for users who are at work). 
- Substanceless accusations, such as "constant repetition that another user is a sockpuppet/zombie of a previous user without evidence ". 
IPs aren't the only way to out a zombie. It may be the best way, but when that doesn't pan out, I expect specific backup to the accusation. It's not hard. Lots of people do it. They match writing styles in various comments, they point out creation dates that match ban dates. They come up with other evidence that, however circumstantial or speculative, at least points me in the right direction. Believe me, I don't know how some of these people sniff out zombies, but they do. And even when they're wrong, at least they made a case and I can respect that. But if this is just a random accusation based on zero actual evidence, then I don't take kindly to it, and you can add that on my list of items that I find dickish. 2011-10-08 
- Inconsistent use of ratings: Holding those you agree with to a different standard from those you disagree with.  For example, "those who HR some "yawn" comments and give 4s to other "yawn" comments are risking their ratings privileges". Hypothetical example of double-standard ratings abuse.
What about groups that coordinate ratings off-site?
Using Facebook, Twitter, e-mails, and other media to coordinate and encourage users to recommend diaries is not against the rules and would be impossible to enforce, if it were.  By extrapolation, that suggests that coordination to uprate or HR comments is also permissible, so long as there is no ratings abuse.
What are some alternatives to HRing someone?
- "When encountering someone who is breaking the rules as stated in the FAQ or behaving in a "trollish" manner, a user should first ask that person not to engage in rule-breaking. Even if the user has a long-standing disagreement with that person. If the response is to continue on the same route, then and only then should the user proceed to throwing HRs." 
- "The main way HR abusers should be moderated is by challenging them and asking them to take down their inappropriate HRs. But if they refuse, it is NOT inappropriate to HR them in return." 
- "There is nothing in the FAQ about HRing for HR abuse being against the rules.  The rules state that one cannot engage in retaliatory HRing. And that one cannot engage in HRing someone with whom one is in a direct dispute. But that doesn't mean people not directly involved are forbidden to HR someone who engages in HR abuse." However, "criticizing what you consider abuse is usually enough." 
- Simply ignoring "people trying to create strife from the opposition" is an acceptable option. 
When should I recommend a tip jar?
The tip jar was created, in part, to allow readers to "give props" without having to recommend the diary (but of course you can do both).  (Tip Jars became automatic, in part, to solve the problem of trolls who wrote diaries but avoided writing comments so they couldn't be HRed.)
What about HRing Tip Jars?
HRing a tip jar should be done sparingly. "When you HR someone’s tip jar, what you are saying is that the diary is so disruptive, so inflammatory, so false, so damaging to our community that it isn’t even worth debating but should be deleted from any discussion. Unfortunately, inevitably, we will always be a target for such diaries. They deserve to be HRed. And for exactly that reason, tip jars that receive large numbers of HRs will come under special scrutiny from site administrators. On the other hand, a hide rating should never be used (in a tip jar or a comment) to express disagreement with a poster’s opinion. 
A poorly written, ill-argued, tendentious diary may be the product of a troll, or it may simply be an upstanding member of the community having a bad day. When the latter seems to be the case, the best way to deal with the matter is probably a barbed comment or two.
Hide rating a tip jar is not intended to be used against anyone but the most obvious and egregious of trolls. To reiterate, if it's simply a matter of not liking the point of view in a diary, don’t tip or recommend the diarist. Make a comment. Debate. Challenge. Argue. Persuade. If your definition of obvious and egregious is consistently not the definition used by the rest of the community or by site administrators, expect your rating ability to be suspended."
HRing tip jars without an explanation (or rec'ing someone else's reasoning that you share) borders on HR abuse. 
I know many people would like razor-sharp rules about this. But, ultimately, each person must her- or himself decide what makes a diary too disruptive, incendiary, et cetera, that it deserves an HR in the Tip Jar. It's subjective. Subjectivity cannot be done away with. 
Do some users merit a "hide on site" policy?
A troll is not somebody who merely expresses a different point of view than yours. Moreover, a troll is not someone who normally engages in honest and productive discussion who occasionally slips into trollish behavior because s/he is provoked, has imbibed too much or because s/he's in a bad mood. Such behavior certainly deserves to be hide rated, but such commenters or diarists should not, based on one or two instances of misbehavior, be transformed into a "hide on sight" troll. 
"Hide-on-site ratings, which is what you're doing here, ought to have an extremely high threshold. I'm not saying there aren't h-o-sers among the diarists in I/P discussions (and elsewhere, of course), there are. And HRing them every time you encounter them is acceptable. But anyone who engages in h-o-s should be able to defend it, not least of all by employing it across the board based on diarists'/commenters' behavior, not on disagreement with their opinions, the latter being unacceptable HR abuse." 
HRing a HOS troll is not an exception to the rule of not HRing someone you are in a dispute with. 
Here is an example of a troll who was explicitly described by Daily Kos staff as worthy of HOS.
What is the punishment for HR abuse?
Punishment has usually followed a trajectory of warning(s), suspension(s), then banning (or loss of ratings privileges, as appropriate).  However, since taking on the role of administrative moderation, kos has been on what he describes as a "zero-tolerance kick", taking away ratings abilities when he sees ratings abuse without any warnings. 
What are the primary documents used to compile this list?
- The old Daily Kos FAQ 
- The DK4 FAQ