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Troll rating

From dKosopedia

Troll rating on Dailykos means marking a Dailykos comment as a troll comment. This is done by clicking in the "troll" button that appears next to the comment. The "troll" button only appears for trusted users. Other users see only the "recommend" button, which is similar in function, but it rates the article upward instead of downward. If a comment receives more than three times as many troll ratings as recommends, it is automatically sent to Hidden Comments, where only Trusted Users can see it.


When to use troll ratings

This started as an essay by Hunter about troll rating in a Dailykos diary [1]

Hmm. In light of recent pie fights, I think we need a quick reminder on how to use troll ratings. The usual caveats apply: I don't speak for Kos, I am just a well-seasoned user, blah blah blah.

It used to be the case that anyone around long enough to become a trusted user would automatically have a pretty good idea of how things worked, from a community standpoint. I'm not sure if that's changed -- I don't think so -- but it is certainly the case that in the ongoing fight about "troll hunters" and whatnot, people are using the ratings incorrectly in a few very fundamental ways.

To Troll Rate something has exactly one meaning. When you Troll Rate something, as a trusted user, you are stating that the comment should be made invisible to all site users. 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.

Remember that, because that is the only use of the troll rating. It is an editorial vote to delete a comment from the conversation.

Conversely, there is one particular reason troll ratings should never be used: to express disagreement with a poster's opinion. If you disagree, you can say so, but so long as the commentor is stating their opinion civilly, merely disagreeing with your own opinion does not constitute being a "troll". This is true of gun control; Nader fights; Hillary vs. Not Hillary; DLC vs. Not DLC; energy policy; Senate strategy; House strategy; campaign strategy. Merely having a different opinion and stating it differently from how you would like does not constitute "trolling". Having honest and frequently passionate discussions of the issues is an imperative, if we are to obtain a progressive movement marked with actual successes.

Here's two more tips:

That's it. That's the intended use. If you use troll ratings in any other way but to explicitly hide certain comments from the conversation so that they will not detract from the more substantive threads of the conversation, you're using it wrong.

Trolling defined

Trolling, defined, is not simply disagreeing with your opinion or the collective site opinion. It is engaging in behavior which is directly contrary to the stated goals of the site -- furthering the progressive Democratic agenda. There are a number of things which very clearly constitute "trolling", and which should be troll rated (and therefore deleted from the conversation) quite legitimately.

What all these things have in common is that they represent content that is irrelevant to the thread, or intentionally disruptive of the goals of the conversation, or seek to poison the atmosphere in which conversation can take place at all. That is trolling.

Types of trolls

There are a number of major types of actual bona fide trolls that tend to pop up on this site from time to time. Learn to know them:

The first three kinds are easy enough to deal with. The fourth is more pesky and more irritating, since they won't take the hint that if they're really so far left that they think Howard Dean and Al Gore are fascists, we don't want them here, and there are other sites that would welcome them more openly, and good luck with that.

There is also a fifth kind of troll: the simple asshole. It doesn't matter how pure your motives are, if you can't get along with other users, you're not doing yourself, them, the site, or anything else any good. 90% of all trolls are banned because of their behaviors towards other users, not because of their opinions.

Guidelines for dealing with trolls

Of course, the line between passionate disagreement and trolling isn't always that easy to see, of course, and the grief lies in the details. Here's some additional guidelines for those wide gray areas.

Annoyingly, there's been an accepted practice of returning a retaliatory troll rating on someone in an argument who is very, very clearly abusing the ratings rules themselves. In that this is a nice Darwinian pressure that tends to remove overactive troll raters from the Trusted User pool themselves, I... can't see fit to argue with it. If the troll rater is quite clearly breaking the rules as laid out themselves, it is generally accepted practice. But breaking the rules to punish someone for breaking the rules is a dangerous game, and one likely to backfire on you. Be warned.

Once it gets into an all-out ratings war on a thread, most of us simply stop reading the thread; it's ruined, as far as useful information goes. But I and other frontpagers certainly tend to keep aware of who gets into these arguments most often.

My one argument with the Troll Hunters is that it really shouldn't be about "hunting" trolls, it should be about enforcing basic site standards: see the above general definitions of trolling. If you do that, the trolls will be quite apparent without making a scene about it. So stop calling it Troll Hunting, for starters.

My one argument with the anti-Troll Hunter crowd is that determining the cutoff point beyond which a stated post or opinion is so offensive as to be unworthy of the site is a delegated responsibility of the users of this site. It just is, and it is sometimes a very difficult judgment. You can argue that people are doing it to aggressively, but don't argue that it shouldn't be done. We have certain community standards here, and we require those standards to be enforced, and it requires personal judgments.

As any thread about certain topics can attest, we are in no current danger of becoming an echo chamber. Nor are we in danger of being overrun by anyone. So leave the venom out of it.

Banned users

Banned Users. Here's one more important tip. When someone is banned from the site, they've been banned for a reason. In 90% of the cases, it's because of behavior: they've proven to be so disruptive in conversations that it's just not worth whatever contribution they think they're making to the site. Banning people is a decision that rests entirely with Kos, although the frontpagers will frequently give their own opinions or bring particular disruptive posters to his attention.

The thing about it is this: banning is permanent. You don't get to come back under a different name. Many people try, and are surprised when their accounts are again yanked pretty much as soon as someone bothers to look for them. If you've been banned, go to a different site and contribute there instead.

We are all guests here (each other's guests, if you want to think of it like that), and behaving respectfully towards other posters is not optional. Arguing is fine, even verbal slapfights are fine, but at the end of the day, if a poster is doing nothing but fighting, they're wasting their time, and your time, and my time, and distracting from the efforts to contribute things of actual substance and value here. Kos has made it quite clear, over the years, that babysitting incessant whiners is not among his top priorities for the site.

Goals of Daily Kos

As I said above, the line between disagreement and trolling often isn't an easy one to define. There are circumstances in which everything a person says is, by the definition for this specific site, trolling. It may even still be civil, but it still may not be relevant to the goals of this site. The goals of this site are specific, and this site, like all sites, has certain rules and objectives.

This site is primarily a Democratic site, with a heavy emphasis on progressive politics. It is not intended for Republicans, or conservatives. It is not intended for third parties, either, although it happens that the goals of progressive third parties and progressive Democrats tend to align in mutually beneficial ways. The community, however, is currently self-selected to be a moderate-left, progressive, and almost exclusively Democratic site. That's who Kos tends to focus on; that's the kind of people he chooses as guest editorialists for his site; that's who the site caters to.

This is not a site to debate conservative talking points. There are other sites for that. This is not a site for conservatives and progressives to meet and discuss their differences. There are other sites for that, too. This is not a site for discussing how to create a third party. Knock yourself out bitching about the Democrats, but the stated goals of the site are trying to fix them, as a party, not dismantle them.

This is a site for progressive Democrats. Conservative debaters are not welcome simply because the efforts here are to define and build a progressive infrastructure, and conservatives can't help with that. There is, yes, the danger of the echo chamber, but a bigger danger is becoming simply a corner bar where everything is debated, nothing is decided, and the argument is considered the goal. The argument, however, is not the goal, here. This is an explicitly partisan site: the goal is an actual infrastructure, and actual results. Put simply, we aren't here as a fully representative slice of the world, we're here as a place for progressive Democrats to hang their hats and get things done.


So that's it. Trolling is narrowly defined. You have a responsibility to act with civility towards others, and Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor and content of conversations. The site caters to progressive Democrats, and others are welcome to the extent that they wish to make themselves welcome. And don't be an ass.

It isn't always easy, but community dynamics never are. If you approach it with honest care for the actual goals of the site, you will find yourself doing the right thing more often than not.

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This page was last modified 15:50, 24 July 2008 by Alex. Based on work by dKosopedia user(s) Righteousbabe, Jukeboxgrad and Clyde. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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