Rules of the Road

Daily Kos: Rules of the Road

First Daily Kos blog post 20020526

This is a site for progressives.
That’s the fundamental premise underlying all expectations about posting, commenting, and interacting at Daily Kos. As progressives, we believe that the best way to build our coalition is through the Democratic Party—and we are fighting to make it a stronger, more effective, more just, more forward-thinking Democratic Party. We are here to connect, unite, and work together toward this common purpose, to elect more and better Democrats, to advocate for a more equitable country, and even to socialize among like-minded friends. Given our clear goals, these are our only ideological prohibitions:

  • Advocacy for third parties or third-party candidates
  • Advocacy for voting against Democrats or not voting at all
  • Misleading, deceptive, or malicious attacks against Democratic officials or candidates

But of course, there’s more to encouraging a harmonious community than ideological guidelines. We must still be able to work together as human beings. This is the internet, where hostility and negativity come all too easy. So we must necessarily have and enforce standards of behavior.

These are not the “Terms and Conditions” that you must accept to sign up for a user account. The expectations as outlined here are enforced by community moderation—that is, the community itself helps police bad behavior. How?

Community members may reply to your comments and diaries, rate them positively (recommend), ignore them, or flag them as unacceptable. If you are uncertain about what is and isn’t acceptable to the community, despite the guidelines listed below or the Knowledge Base at the Help Desk, feel free to simply ask! People will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.

So without further ado:



  1. Remember that there are real people on the other end of your communication, along with thousands of others who may read but never reply. Respect the diversity in our community of users, readers, and allies.
  2. Value the norms of a “reality-based community.” Support your arguments with links to supporting documents and original source materials. Such original sources should be credible news and information sites.
  3. Strive to be accurate. Use trustworthy sources. Avoid clickbait and deceptive headlines. Take a moment to check your work, evaluate the source(s), and verify the facts to the extent possible. And if you find out you made a mistake, own it and correct it. If commenters are skeptical, take their concerns seriously. Don’t be a part of spreading misinformation, disinformation, or conspiracy theories.
  4. Keep in mind the formal site mission: “Daily Kos fights for a progressive America by empowering its community and allies with information and tools to directly impact the political process.”Daily Kos mapped onto the lower 48 Daily Kos enjoys support from engaged members, activists, and campaigns across the country
  5. Bring first-person accounts or reportage of progressive political organizing in your community to the site, via stories or comments. We need your help developing a 176,000-precinct strategy!
  6. Respect the opportunity provided here for interaction. If you publish a story, try to reply to comments. If you comment, make it relevant to the issue at hand, and be prepared to continue the discussion.
  7. Participate in Community stories or Open Threads to get to know some of your associates.
  8. Make use of the many and varied resources (e.g. the Knowledge Base) for navigating the site successfully. Images, embeds, resources–the more the merrier.
  9. Investigate Daily Kos Groups for activism, education, and camaraderie.
  10. Be generous in praise, encouragement, and positivity. Make new people feel welcome, remind old timers that you appreciate their work. Drop in a nice comment and recommend positive contributions.
  11. Read the whole comment or story before recommending. And base your recommending decisions not on who wrote it, but on how positive a contribution to the discussion it is.
  12. Fight hard but fight fair. Write an argument, not an attack. Remember, other people are just as passionate, committed, and ornery as you are. That’s supposed to be an advantage for us, right? Democrats boast about having a big tent. Learn from those who oppose you; let their challenges help you formulate your positions more clearly and draw upon better evidence.
  13. 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.
  14. Accept that reasonable people may in the end still disagree.

Caution lightOur Community Moderation standards encourage respectful discourse rather than rhetorical attacks


  1. 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,” “maggots,” “vermin,” “germs,” “contagion,” “aliens,” “subhuman,” etc.) to legitimize harm or violence.
  2. Use bigoted language in stories or comments. This includes but is not limited to slurs, stereotypes, and demeaning insults regarding race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexuality, religion, age, class, locality, country or culture of origin, physical appearance, and physical or mental ability. Discriminatory speech is incompatible with the values of this organization and is subject to administrative action, including banning. (See also DO #13, Recognize and avoid microaggressions.)
  3. 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.
  4. Reveal the real-life identity (outing, doxxing) of someone who posts behind a pseudonym.
  5. Promote Conspiracy Theories (The Rule Against CT): Debunked or unverifiable theories, rumors or speculation (e.g., 9-11 was a false flag attack), particularly those promoted by right wing or unscientific sites, are not tolerated in a reality-based community. Conspiracy CompositeConspiracy Theories are not new but lately their virality has been turbocharged, to ill effect
  6. Post misinformation or disinformation: Misinformation and disinformation present a threat not only to the site’s reputation but to political discourse in general. If a claim seems especially exciting or surprising, check for accuracy, look for corroborating and credible sources, and assess the plausibility of the argument before posting it, even if it fits a left-wing narrative. Be a wise and critical consumer of media, and correct your mistakes when necessary. Posting misinformation or disinformation can lead to administrative intervention, including an account ban.
  7. Plagiarize or violate copyright. Do not post long excerpts of material from other sources without explicit permission from those sites. You can post 2-3 paragraphs with a link for attribution. (The blockquote and link tools are your friends.)
  8. Steal photographs. Make sure that you have the rights to post an image when you upload it and attribute your image source whenever possible. Double-check when you use an image from the Image Library. Respect people’s intellectual property. And yes, posting without authorization is stealing from someone’s livelihood.
  9. Post spam. If the despaminate bots don’t get you, the community will.spam stackSpam in a can serves a useful purpose and is beloved by many. Spam on the site, not so much
  10. Upload or embed images that graphically depict violence, injury or death. DO NOT upload or embed pornographic content.
  11. “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.
  12. Use profanity in the title of a story, which makes the site run afoul of Internet filters. Adult language is otherwise acceptable, provided it does not abuse other users or break site rules against hate speech.
  13. Publicly accuse other users of being paid campaign shills, sockpuppets, zombies, or imposters. Such accusations should be brought up in a private ticket at the Help Desk, with proper evidence.
  14. Post private email or private direct messages (“kosmail”) to the public site, in a story or a comment.
  15. Unpublish a story and then republish it at a later time for the purpose of getting more exposure. Use the Edit or Update function as appropriate instead, or write a new story. Choose your publication time with care, and spend time engaging with commenters to get the maximum response.
  16. Mess with the Pootie People! For reasons lost in the mist of time, pootie = cat and woozle = dog. These terms are used often in posts by the PWB Peeps, who comprise one of the largest, fiercest, and kindest groups on the site. For these peeps, the personal is very political, and their presence on the site exemplifies community ideals.sweet brown tabby pootieAll “pooties” (and woozles and birdeez etc.) and the humans who love them are welcome
  17. Violate the politics-free zone in the IGTNT (I Got The News Today) stories. The oldest continuing series on the site, IGTNT reports on the deaths of U.S. service members. Because these tributes are read by grieving friends and family they are not the place to argue the politics of military actions, but instead to show respect and honor the fallen.
  18. Be a Jerk. The long version is Don’t Be a Jerk (DBAJ); the original version is Don’t Be a Dick (DBAD) and a common variant is Don’t Be an Ass[hole] (DBAA). We all know it when we see it. Or at least we like to think we do–that’s what these detailed Rules of the Road are intended to clarify.
  19. Threadjack – that is, divert discussion under a story to focus on a topic that other commenters do not find relevant. Stay on topic as defined by the community, and show respect for the community when asked to let your particular angle go. At the same time, be aware that some comments that may appear to be digressions can become useful to the broader discussion.
  20. Write dramatic stories proclaiming your aggrieved exit from the site. Just leave! No one cares! If you do publish a so-called GBCW (for “Good Bye Cruel World”) story, your account will be banned. And you can’t possibly hope to meet, let alone top, this.
  21. Recommend stories or comments violating the rules above! When you do that, you own that rule violation as well, and can suffer the same sanctions as the original perp. Also, it’s dickish to pile on with bullies, jerks, know-nothings, and assholes.
  22. Create multiple identities (“sockpuppets” or “zombies” if you have been banned). Only one account is allowed per person. There are exceptions, but they must be approved by moderators. Use Help Desk for any such requests.Sock Puppet PartySockpuppets and zombies on the site are not as cute as these and will result in bans
  23. Pretend to be an Ordinary Voter if you Work for a Campaign. Registered Daily Kos users working in paid campaign positions (or unpaid positions of authority) for candidates or ballot issues must disclose their affiliation when it is relevant to the conversation. Such identification should appear in each diary posted by the paid individual and on the individual’s profile page. Persons in such positions who are caught posting on the site without identifying their role will be banned and, in an exception to the no-outing rule, we will expose their real names publicly.

Basic Rating Privileges: Recommending comments and stories

  • Brand-new users to the site may recommend stories and comments. Users have an unlimited number of recommends, both for stories and for comments.
  • To recommend a story, click the Star. Stories reach the Recommended List in the right sidebar based in part on the number of recommends they have. To recommend a comment, click Recommend. Site users gain “mojo,” our method of measuring community participation, based in part on the number of recommends their comments receive.
  • Recommend a comment or story based on its content, not the person who wrote it. Also rate the whole comment/story, not just the sections of it you like/dislike. WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T RECOMMEND.
  • Users with a positive record of community participation can acquire enough “mojo” to become Trusted Users.

Trusted User Rating Privileges–Recommending and Flagging

  • Trusted Users (TUs) are a vital part of our unique Community Moderation system. We count on our TUs to understand and apply site rules.
  • Trusted Users can “flag” comments as well as recommend them.
  • Comments that get a critical number of flags are “hidden” from casual users of the site. An orange line appears under a comment that is one or two flags away from being “hidden”.
  • Only Trusted Users can see hidden comments and any comments made in response to them.
  • Trusted Users have five flags per day, and those five flags cannot be applied to the same user more than once per day.
  • Consider stating the reason for your flag unless the rule violation is crystal clear. If others disagree with your reasoning, consider removing your flag.
  • Authors of stories are not able to flag comments in their own stories. But anyone may alert others reading the thread and publicly request flags if a comment violates site rules.
  • It is not possible to flag a story. If a story is seriously offensive and in violation of Community Guidelines as described above, Trusted Users may flag the story’s Tip Jar as a signal of the problematic content.

DO flag for any violations of the Community Guidelines above, especially violent comments, personal attacks, conspiracy theories, fake news, and discriminatory speech such as racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia, etc.

When Trusted Users should NOT flag

  • DO NOT flag someone just because you disagree with them. Flags are intended for seriously offensive comments that other users (and site lurkers) should not read. Believe it or not, people disagree on stuff!
  • DO NOT flag because you don’t like the person making the comment. Flag a comment based on its content.
  • DO NOT flag someone with whom you are in discussion. You may alert others reading the thread and publicly request flags if a comment violates site rules.
  • DO NOT flag someone just because that person flagged you. Flagging in retaliation for flags in previous arguments is rating abuse. DO NOT drag arguments from story to story.
  • DO NOT flag something because you think it’s wrong, even if it IS wrong. Feel free instead to rebut the erroneous statement in a comment (preferably with supporting evidence). And sometimes, just accept that it’s the Internet, and people will occasionally be wrong.duty calls
  • DO NOT “uprate” hidden comments by recommending them–unless you sincerely believe they have been flagged inappropriately.

Improper uprating or flagging will cause a suspension of rating privileges. WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T RATE.

These guidelines were originally posted by kos on August 15, 2016 as The New, Updated, and Improved Daily Kos Rules of the Road. The guidelines were revised on October 12, 2021 and on June 23, 2023, and edited for clarity on September 8, 2023.