Recommendations and flags -- what they mean and when to use them

This resource provides context about recommendations and flags, the built-in tools available for use by site members to moderate site content, and links to the site's Rules of the Road and other resources for understanding them.

Site members indicate endorsement or approval of a comment or story by giving it a Recommend. (Since the term associated with the tools that apply a recommendation to a story or comment is "recommend," this act/label is commonly referred to as a "recommend" or a "rec" rather than a recommendation.)

To recommend a story, click the Star. To recommend a comment, click Recommend. Users may recommend stories and comments immediately after signing up and logging in. Users have an unlimited number of recommends, both for stories and for comments.

Comment recommendations remain open for 24 hours after the comment is published. During that period, comments may be recommended and unrecommended freely. (Not a common practice, but useful to know.) Story recommendations remain open indefinitely. A story recommendation may be canceled--a process activated by re-clicking the star--but once withdrawn a story recommend cannot be reapplied. A warning message to that effect will display if you click the rec star twice, asking for confirmation of your choice to un-recommend the story.

The key resource for understanding community norms and expectations regarding appropriate use of recs and flags is the site's Rules of the Road. Long-time site members will cite this list often, typically with the shorthand "RotR." It is the shortest yet most complete and authoritative single resource currently available about basic rules and expectations for user conduct on the site. It explains key information about the core mission of Daily Kos; preferred and prohibited behavior by posters and commenters; the goals of community moderation; and the meaning and application of flags. 

 More details from the Rules of the Road:

  • Stories reach the Recommended List in the right sidebar based in part on the number of recommends they have and how quickly they receive them. 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. Site members with Trusted User status mark a comment as violating a Rule of the Road by giving it a Flag. The way to Flag a story is through the story's Tip Jar, the first comment automatically loaded on every Community-written story. See the Rules of the Road for more detailed explanations of the appropriate use of flags.

Many people on Daily Kos have been around for a long time, and may have become familiar with the lore that has accumulated about community norms, though the Rules of the Road document remains the definitive guide. For the most part, people are welcoming and willing to answer questions about site expectations, especially if you are friendly. Open Thread posts are usually good places to ask questions on the live site if you're unclear about something that this resource or the RotR do not answer to your satisfaction. Individual questions can also be raised via Help Desk.

Many elements of the Rules of the Road were derived from this post by kos from 2013, "New community guidelines, final draft." We continue to reference posts from this era to indicate the stability of site norms. An excerpt:

One rule to rule them all
The core of the Daily Kos behavior guide is simple: don't be a dick [or /jerk/ass, now often shortened to DBAD/DBAJ/DBAA.] While we go into some depth below about sanctionable behavior, it's not an all-encompassing list. There are always types of behavior that while not explicitly listed in the article, rise to the level of "dickishness", and as such are actionable.

Some changes to the flagging/hiding process were implemented with the rollout in November, 2015, of the latest site version, called DK5. Users who are returning after a long hiatus or users interested in some site background might find this diary by kos, "On HRs, flags, and a more positive community," of interest.

Staff writer Hunter posted a story in 2006 (yes, we have been around even longer than that!), on the wise teachings of MetaJesus. From the post:

For those of you a bit new to the site, MetaJesus is the patron saint of Daily Kos. MetaJesus looks over the site, and performs small miracles here and there to generally keep things running -- things like reading really, really crappy diaries, intervening in flame wars, and returning the human souls of posters who have ventured too far, too long, on the dark side, and who have only barely returned, crumpled and gasping, slimy with FreeRepublic ectoplasm, to our midst.
You may be saying those are unimpressive miracles, except for that whole soul part, and you are admittedly right. MetaJesus is not Jesus: his powers are, well, more subtle. Mostly, MetaJesus cries. A lot. Well, he doesn't so much cry, usually, as just sigh heavily, or lower his head into his hands, or go off into the other room where he has a liquor cabinet and a very comfortable brown leather chair, or, when the moneychangers are in the Daily Kos temple, throw his Logitech cordless mouse across the room onto the couch, where it bounces off the cushions and lands on the floor next to the sleeping cat -- MetaJesus is a cat person, just as an aside.

Perhaps the most important, perennial advice from this classic post:

MetaJesus says that if twenty different people say your diary (or comment) sucks, then thou art not secretly an unrecognized and put-upon genius. Your diary (or comment) just sucks. Thou shalt get over it. Conversely, if one person out of a hundred says your diary sucks, they may simply be a jackass. Thou shalt get over that too.

Two Daily Kos posts on how and why to recommend posts and comments

Wee Mama wrote "The Lighter Side of Community Moderation" in 2011 when DK4 was new, but it still bears reading.

TrueBlueMajority supplied some clarification for (newer) users in this 2017 post, "DK BASICS: TIPPED, RECCED AND SHARED" about the function and purpose of recommendations on the site.

Good guidelines found off-site

This 2013 article, "How To Be Nice on the Internet," from Lizzy Acker writing for KQED also offers important, timeless points for Daily Kos members to consider. Perhaps the two most valuable suggestions are "think about your goal" and "If you make a mistake, apologize."

What are you trying to do with this comment? Start a conversation? Learn something? Solve a problem? Or are you trying to hurt someone or punish them because you feel hurt? Or maybe you are you trying to make yourself look good and make someone else look stupid? Think about it. If your goal is to actually further engage, does your comment have the potential to do that? If your goal is to actually hurt someone’s feelings, then hey, you’re a grown-up. Maybe delete and take a walk around the block.