It’s been five years since our staff has taken a good, long look at our Rules of the Road—the document outlining the kinds of behavior we expect from our users—and what a five years it’s been, right? We’ve lived through the worst presidential administration in recent American history, a pandemic, a historic election, an insurrection, and unprecedented uprisings in support of justice for Black and brown lives. All these events have changed us as individuals and as a community and in response, it’s also time for us to tweak and update our Rules of the Road.

Our guiding rules for behavior at Daily Kos are largely the same, and the tl;dr “don’t be a dick” adage still stands. There’s nothing shocking here, but you might notice a few differences.

The first-ever blog post at Daily Kos in May 2002.
  • First, we now open the updated Rules of the Road with Markos’ first blog post, which instills the heart and soul of this site: “I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies.” Nineteen years later, this hasn’t changed; while we adhere to facts and truth in reporting and discussions, we are proudly coming at it from a progressive point of view. We define ourselves as a site for “progressives,” a term that embodies the “more and better Democrats” and helps emphasize the “better.” The word “progressive” has become central to the way we define our audience and site and is part of our mission statement: “Daily Kos fights for a progressive America by empowering its community and allies with information and tools to directly impact the political process.” Our Rules of the Road now open with this definition for our audience as well.

  • Another change you might notice is that we have expanded the section under DO NOT #1. We have added that this also means fantasizing violence or harm against people, and that it includes using dehumanizing language. Why’d we do this? Well, frankly, fantasizing harm to our political enemies has become rampant on our site since Trump was elected to office and during the pandemic—and it’s ugly and unnecessary. We need to find better, more creative ways of making our point than adopting violent and dehumanizing rhetoric.

DO NOT Endorse or call for violence against anyone, public figure or private, not even in jest. DO NOT fantasize violence or harm against anyone. Claiming hyperbole, humor, poetic license/justice, or karma is no excuse. DO NOT dehumanize others with language that triggers fear and revulsion (e.g., “rats,” “cockroaches,” “vermin,” “germs,” “contagion,” “aliens,” “subhuman,” etc.) to legitimize harm or violence.

  • The next difference in this updated version is we added a new entry, #13, to our DO list about avoiding microaggressions:

DO recognize and avoid microaggressions. Microaggressions are subtle slights, comments, gestures, and behaviors that convey implicit biases against marginalized groups and people. Microaggressive comments and behavior are often unintentional but that does not mitigate the harm to the recipient. Examples include making a comment that perpetuates stereotypes, denying or rejecting someone’s reported experience because yours is different, singling out an individual to speak on behalf of an entire marginalized group, targeting marginalized people with disproportionate criticism, and denying or minimizing the existence and extent of discriminatory beliefs, practices, and structures. Understand the detrimental impacts of microaggressive comments and behaviors and accept responsibility for taking self-corrective actions.

We have always had Rules about bigoted language, but microaggressions are actually much more common on our platform, and they are an area where we must improve. If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, please read this post on microaggressions where we first introduced this as a new entry into the Rules of the Road and gave guidelines on how to respond to them if you see them on site. 

  • We also added a new entry, “DO NOT #10”. 

DO NOT Upload or embed images that graphically depict violence, injury or death. DO NOT upload or embed pornographic content. Such images, even when used to illustrate an important point or a related news story that includes graphic violence, are triggering and upsetting to some readers. If absolutely needed, please instead include a link to the image elsewhere with a trigger warning. Videos with violence should also include trigger warnings.

  • In our “DO NOT” section, we are now specifying that we don’t want a “call out” in a headline whether it’s staff or community.

DO NOT “Call out” other users, Community or Staff, by name in the headline of your story unless you are writing about how wonderful that person is. The sole exception is kos himself.” Feel free to criticize a story or coverage, but there’s no need for a negative personal call-out in a title—except Markos, who’s always fair game.

  • In our “DO NOT” section, we’ve combined two formerly separate rules into a single rule covering stalking, harassment, and ad hominem attacks:

DO NOT Make personal attacks or threats. This includes, but is not limited to: name calling, harassment or bullying toward any other site user. Also don’t follow users you don’t like from story to story to harass them (See: Stalking). DO NOT insult the character, intelligence, or background of people with whom you are arguing. You want to win an argument? Then don’t engage in ad hominem attacks.

These are the most major changes you might notice as you read through the new and improved Rules of the Road; most of our previous rules have stayed the same. These changes are here to make the standards for acceptable behavior as clear as possible, to provide as safe a space here as we can for our wide array of readers, and to make moderation easier.

There’s no community like the one we have here at Daily Kos. Our community does an incredible amount of work to support these moderation efforts; our moderation system is the best in the business. Thank you all for the work you do to implement these rules and promote a more civil, just, and welcoming community.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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