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Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Our Community Moderating System

DU members do not need to know all of the information provided on this page in order to participate on our discussion forums. This information is provided in the interests of transparency, so any member who is interested can learn more about how our system works. (Last updated 7/23/13.)

Instead of utilizing a single group of all-powerful moderators whose job is to handle every aspect of forum moderation (deleting posts, locking threads, banning troublemakers, etc.), we recruit different groups of people to handle different pieces of the system.

DU Juries are made up of discussion forum members who have opted to allow themselves to be selected at random whenever a Jury is needed. Juries handle potential violations of Democratic Underground's Community Standards. For more information see the DU Juries section below.

Forum and Group Hosts are discussion forum members who volunteer to serve in a particular forum or group. Their role is to deal with posts which may violate a particular forum or group's Statement of Purpose. Forum hosts cannot serve for more than 90 days at a time. Group hosts may serve indefinitely. Members must meet certain criteria before they are permitted to serve as Hosts. For more information see the Forum and Group Hosts section below.

The Malicious Intruder Removal Team (MIR Team) is made up of discussion forum members who volunteer to serve. Their role is to keep the discussion forum clear of conservative trolls, spammers, and other undesireables. MIR Team members cannot serve for more than 90 days at a time. Members must meet certain criteria before they are permitted to serve on the MIR Team. For more information see the Malicious Intruder Removal Team section below.

The DU Administrators oversee the operation of the website. They enforce the website Terms of Service, occasionally review decisions made by the MIR Team or Forum Hosts, and deal with long-term members who cause problems. There are three Administrators and they can be contacted here.


About DU Juries

Democratic Underground eschews civility rules in favor of some very simple, very broad Community Standards:

It is the responsibility of all DU members to participate on our discussion forums in a manner that promotes a positive atmosphere and encourages good discussions among a diverse community of people holding a broad range of center-to-left viewpoints. Members should refrain from posting messages on DU that are disruptive, hurtful, rude, insensitive, over-the-top, or otherwise inappropriate.

These standards of behavior are maintained through the combined efforts of members serving on DU Juries, using their own best judgment to decide what behavior is appropriate and what is not.

Whenever a post is alerted for a potential violation of our Community Standards, our software forms a Jury of six randomly-selected members. Each Juror then individually reviews the alerted post and casts a vote to either hide it (if they believe it is inappropriate) or leave it alone (if they believe it is within the bounds of acceptable discourse). There is no long list of rules to cross-reference -- Jurors must use their own best judgment and common sense to decide whether or not alerted posts violate the Community Standards.

If three of the six Jurors vote to leave the post alone, it remains where it is. It can be alerted again, but it cannot be sent to a Jury again. There is no "double-jeopardy."

If four of the six Jurors vote to hide the post:

While decisions are rendered based on the final vote tally, each Juror acts alone. During the Jury Service process they are not able to post messages anywhere on DU, nor are they able to send DU Mail to other members.

In addition, Jurors are anonymous to the other members of the disucssion forum. Jurors are not provided with the usernames of the other members serving on their Jury. Neither the alerter, nor the member who was alerted on, is provided with the usernames of the Jurors who are reviewing the alerted post. Jurors' usernames are not made public at any point in the process. The only way that Jurors' usernames can become public is if individual Jurors consciously choose to reveal their own identities after they have finished Jury Service. (Alerters are similarly anonymous -- Jurors are not provided with the username of the alerter, neither is the member whose post was alerted.) The DU Administrators have access to the usernames of alerters and Jurors.

Members may be asked to serve regularly on a Jury, although they will not be asked more than once every 18 hours. A member who is chosen to serve on a Jury is presented with a notification on all DU pages requesting that they participate. They may choose one of three options:

If the member accepts the request within five minutes, Jury Service begins. Members will not be penalized in any way if they miss the five-minute window or turn down a request to serve on a Jury. Even if they have already agreed to serve and begun the process, members may cancel at any time without penalty. Members who never wish to be asked to serve on a Jury can at any time set the "Willingness to serve on a DU Jury" option to "Unwilling" in the Preferences section of their My Account page, again without penalty.

Every DU member has a chance to serve on a Jury, although each member's chance of being chosen to serve varies depending on their post count, length of membership, and a number of other significant factors. Long term members with clean records of behavior stand a much greater chance of being selected to serve than new members or members who have had their own posts removed by a Jury. There are also other restrictions: for example, members will not be chosen to serve on a Jury if they have participated in the discussion thread that includes the alerted post. For a complete explanation, see the "Detailed Explanation of the Jury Selection Process" section below.


Detailed Explanation of the Jury Selection Process

For those who are interested, this sections provides a detailed breakdown of the Jury selection process.

Immediately after a Community Standards alert is sent our software begins to seat a Jury by randomly flagging members who are currently browsing DU. Members are excluded from serving if:

After checking to see if a potential Juror is not excluded, the software then does a virtual "dice roll" against the member's chance of serving. Every member's chance of serving is represented as a percentage and is publicly displayed on their Profile page. A member's maximum possible chance of serving is 100%, and their lowest possible chance of serving is 0%.

Things that increase a member's chance of serving:

Things that decrease a member's chance of serving:

Once a member is selected to serve, they will be sent a request which they can either accept or refuse. If the member does not accept the request within five minutes the software will cancel the request and search for another Juror. If the member accepts the request within five minutes, they are seated on the Jury and can immediately begin to review the alerted post. The software continues to search for Jurors until six members have been seated. If any Juror does not complete their review of the alerted post within 30 minutes, their Jury Service will end and the software will search for another Juror to replace them.

Forum Hosts and Group Hosts serve a similar function (enforcing a forum or group's Statement of Purpose), however they do not have the same eligibility requirements or powers.


About Forum Hosts

Forum Hosts have one very simple job: they lock discussion threads which violate the Statement of Purpose for the forum they are hosting. When determining whether a thread violates the Statement of Purpose they must use their own best judgment and only consider the content of the OP (Original Post -- the post which begins the thread).

Forum Hosts are responsible for their decisions to lock threads -- their usernames are made public on any threads that they lock. In addition, only the Host who locks a thread is capable of unlocking it again. Any time a thread is locked, the person who started the thread is permitted to make an official appeal to the Host who locked it, explaining why they believe the thread should be unlocked. If the Host believes the appeal has merit, they may opt to unlock the thread. If the Host believes the appeal has no merit, they may deny the appeal and leave the thread locked.

Members are eligible to serve as a forum Host if they are a Star Member, have been a registered DU member for at least one year, have posted more than 1,000 times, have posted in the forum they wish to host at least once during the previous seven days, and have not had a post hidden by a DU Jury in the previous seven days. Forum Hosts may serve for a maximum of 90 consecutive days if they meet (and continue to meet) these requirements.

Forum Hosts can make use of a special access-restricted workspace which essentially functions like a forum or a group. This workspace is provided for forum Hosts only, in the event that they need help and/or advice from their colleagues when discussing Statement of Purpose violations. While the Forum Hosts Workspace cannot be viewed by DU members who are not forum Hosts, discussions that take place in the workspace are not considered privileged information and forum Hosts are not forbidden from talking about them elsewhere. However, forum Hosts should use their best judgment when doing so.

Because forum Hosts have a very specific and important role in the operation of Democratic Underground, the Adminstrators reserve the right to remove any Host -- or in extreme circumstances, revoke the posting privileges of any Host -- whom they judge to be exercising poor judgment or deliberately abusing their powers.

For more information about forum Hosts including information about how to become a Host, visit any forum, click the "About this Forum" button found near the top of the page, and look for the "Hosts" section.


About Group Hosts

Group Hosts perform a similar role to forum Hosts, but they have additional powers. 1) They can lock threads which they believe violate their group's stated purpose; 2) they can pin threads to the top of their group; 3) they can block out members whom they believe are not adhering to their group's purpose; 4) they can make other members Hosts of their group; and 5) they can remove any Host of their group that became a Host after they did.

If a group already has Hosts assigned, members who wish to become a Host must contact one of the current Hosts. Current Hosts may select any other member to become a Host, without restrictions. If a group does not have any Hosts assigned, members who wish to become a Host of that group must contact an Administrator for approval. Before assigning a Host, the Administrators may post a thread in the group asking for member feedback.

Groups are not required to have any Hosts assigned. If no Hosts are assigned, then nobody will enforce the group's Statement of Purpose.


About the MIR Team

The Malicious Intruder Removal Team (MIR Team) is empowered to revoke the posting privileges of people who show up at DU with the intent to disrupt. This includes but is not limited to conservative trolls, spammers, and the like.

The DU Administrators have deliberately selected the phrase "malicious intruder" instead of the more common term "disruptor," because we feel the term "disruptor" has become so broadly applied that it has become essentially meaningless. For reference:

The MIR Team does not have blanket authority to enforce DU's Terms of Service wherever violations may occur -- that is the role of the Administrators. The narrowly-focused job of the MIR Team is to protect our members by removing malicious intruders.


How the MIR Team Works

If any logged-in member believes they have spotted a post by a malicious intruder, they may alert on the post as a Terms of Service violation. The post is first sent to a DU Jury who will determine if it is a violation of DU's Community Standards. If the Jury votes to hide the post, an email alert is sent to every member of the Malicious Intruder Removal Team (MIR Team), as well as the DU Administrators. (If the Jury votes to leave the post alone, an email alert is sent to the Administrators only.) If any member of the MIR Team or any Administrator then determines that the person who posted the message is indeed a malicious intruder, they may revoke the intruder's posting privileges.

MIR Team members can make use of a special access-restricted workspace which essentially functions like a forum or a group. This workspace is provided for the MIR Team only, in the event that they need help and/or advice from their colleagues when discussing potential intruders. While the Malicious Intruder Removal Workspace cannot be viewed by DU members who are not on the MIR Team, discussions that take place in the workspace are not considered privileged information and MIR Team members may talk about them elsewhere. However, MIR Team members should use their best judgment when doing so.

Members of the MIR Team are permitted to act alone, but it is important to note that they are responsible for their actions. If an MIR Team member revokes someone's posting privileges, the Team member's username is made public on that person's Transparency page. As a further check on their powers, MIR Team members cannot revoke just anyone's posting privileges. If a member has not had a post hidden by Jury within the last hour, our software will not allow MIR Team members to revoke their posting privileges. And as a final precaution, whenever a member of the MIR Team revokes someone's posting privileges, an automated email message is sent to all the other members of the MIR Team, and to the DU Administrators, so they can review the action.

Because the MIR Team has a very specific and important role in the operation of Democratic Underground, the Adminstrators reserve the right to remove any Team member -- or in extreme circumstances, revoke the posting privileges of any Team member -- whom they judge to be exercising poor judgment or deliberately abusing their powers.


Joining the MIR Team

The Malicious Intruder Removal Team is made up of DU members who volunteer to do the job. Team members can serve for a maximum of two consecutive 90-day terms after which they must take a break. Every 90 days, the Administrators will post a discussion thread asking for new volunteers.

Volunteering is a simple process -- if your Transparency page is not displayed and you are a Star Member with at least six months of membership, a minimum of 1,000 posts, and proof of identity (which is usually provided by purchasing a Star Membership) you are eligible to be selected by the Administrators. There is no application form to fill out or confidentiality agreement to sign. Members of the Malicious Intruder Removal Team do not have access to any privileged information about DU members.


Detailed Explanation of the MIR Team Process

For those who are interested, here is a detailed breakdown of the process for reviewing and handling potential malicious intruders.

  1. A member clicks the "Alert abuse" link on any post and then:
    1. selects a Community Standards violation.
    2. checks the box for a Terms of Service violation.
    3. provides an explanation for the alert (optional).
    4. submits the alert.

  2. The alert is sent to a Jury which reviews the post for a Community Standards violation. The Jury will either:
    1. vote to hide the post.
    2. vote to leave the post alone.

  3. Once the Jury has completed the review process, an email alert is sent:
    1. to every member of the Malicious Intruder Removal Team as well as the Administrators, if the Jury voted to hide the post.
    2. to the Administrators only, if the Jury voted to leave the post alone.

  4. The subject of the email alert contains the alerted member's username as well as an "urgency score" which is calculated thusly (with a lower score implying a more relevant alert to the MIR Team):
    1. Alerted member's post count = 1 point per post
    2. Alerted member's time of membership = 1 point per day
    3. Time between post made and alert sent = 1 point per minute

  5. The body of the email alert contains the alerted member's username, post count, and date of registration, along with the text of the alerted message, any comments the alerter may have added, any comments the Jury may have added, and a direct link to the post.

  6. Members of the MIR Team, along with the Administrators, review the email alert. Note that:
    1. Members of the MIR Team review the alert only for potential malicious intruders.
    2. Administrators review the alert for potential malicious intruders and any other potential violation of the Terms of Service.

  7. Optional: If they are not 100% sure that the alerted member is a malicious intruder, members of the MIR Team may discuss the alert in the MIR Workspace.

  8. If any member of the MIR Team, or any Administrator, reviews an alert and determines that the alerted member is indeed a malicious intruder, they may revoke the member's posting privileges. However, it is important to note that members of the MIR Team can only revoke a member's posting privileges if that member has had a post hidden by Jury within the previous hour. The MIR Team is physically prevented by the discussion forum software from revoking the posting privileges of any other member. (Administrators can revoke the posting privileges of any member at any time.)
     
  9. Revoking a member's posting privileges is not a simple one-click process. To revoke someone's posting privileges, MIR Team members must:
    1. Manually enter detailed information about the member (username, post count, time of membership, etc.)
    2. Provide an explanation for the revocation, which will become public on the member's Transparency page
    3. Sign off on the revocation by confirming that they:
      1. understand that the member's posting privileges will be revoked, and that the information on the member's Transparency page will become public
      2. acknowledge that they are responsible for the revocation and that their username will be made public on the member's Transparency page
      3. believe that every other member of the MIR Team would agree that the revocation is necessary

  10. Once a member's posting privileges are revoked, their Transparency page will be displayed (if it isn't already). A notation will be placed on the Transparency page containing the reason for the revocation, and indicating whether the revocation was by an MIR Team member or an Administrator.