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Rules of the Road

by: Isaac Smith

Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 12:14 PM EST

(The following borrows heavily from Blue Jersey.) 

Basic Rules

Free State Politics is a community and, as in any community, there will be people with whom you agree and people with whom you disagree. As with any other community, we can all manage to get along reasonably well if we just observe some simple, common sense rules for our interactions. Free State Politics has no objection to heated discussion or disagreement and we welcome impassioned discussion, but there are lines that your common sense should be enough to keep you from crossing. These are our rules: 

  1. Don't be an ass. This should be enough for most people, but if you need clarification, keep reading.
  2. Racism, bigotry, threats of violence and other hate-filled language is strictly prohibited.
  3. No personal attacks or revealing of private information is tolerated. This is grounds for immediate banning.
  4. No comment spam. Advertising an unrelated site by posting a comment or diary is not tolerated. If it's not relevant to the blog, don't link it.
  5. Stay on topic. When responding to a diary or comment, don't hijack the diary with random issues. Respond to the topic being discussed, or write your own diary.
  6. Troll ratings are for trolls, not people you disagree with. They play an important role in the community moderating itself, so use the ratings appropriately.

Rule #1 is the most important, basically covers everything and is obviously up for interpretation (ours). If you're here just to pick a fight or start trouble, it's pretty easy to tell, but for most people, these rules are common sense and shouldn't be any problem.

Isaac Smith :: Rules of the Road

Getting Started

Most features on require that you have a user account and be logged in. If you do not already have an account, you can create one by filling in a desired username and a valid email address at this form. You will soon receive an email at the address you specified containing a temporary password with which to log in. Return to, and enter your username and password.

If you forgot your username or password, you can retrieve them by visiting this page.

The password you receive by email will be randomly-generated. After logging in, you may want to change your password to something easier to remember. In the Menu on the top right of the page, click on the link for your page. If your username is HarryP, the link would appear as HarryP's page. Next, click on the "Profile" link: 

Then, click on the "Email/Password" link:

Finally, fill out the form to change your password. 


You must be a registered users to post comments. To respond to a diary that is on the front page, first click on the "Discuss" or "There's More" button at the end of a diary. Once within a particular diary, you can respond to it by clicking the "Post a Comment" link at the end of the diary. Fill in the Subject and Comment sections of your comment. Click on "Preview" to make sure it's formatted correctly. If it looks acceptable, click "Post", otherwise revise it and click "Preview" again. You can use HTML formatting.

Comment Ratings

All users can rate all comments, except their own, between 1 and 4. Users who have a history of comments rated above certain minimum and who have posted a sufficient number of comments are considered "Trusted Users", and have the added capability to rate comments below the normal minimum rating (in other words, their rating scale is 0-4, rather than 1-4.):

Ratings are intended to help elevate those posters that consistently make clear, good arguments and points, regardless of content, and to prevent trolls from invading the message board. Downrating commenters on the basis of agreement or disagreement with their arguments leads to a monolithic forum, free of new ideas and input. So please don't downrate comments just because you disagree with them! 


Once you log in, you can create your own "diary" entry. A diary is just an entry that anyone can write up and have appear on the website. Any registered user that is logged in can create a diary. Once a diary is posted, it will appear under "Recent Diaries" in the right-hand column. Users can read any diary by clicking on its title. Diaries can be "recommended" by users by clicking on the "Recommend Diary" button within a particular diary.

If enough users recommend a diary, it will be promoted to the "Recommended Diaries" list, also on the right-hand column. Any of the front page bloggers may also promote diaries directly so that they are displayed on the front page.

To post a diary, click on "New Diary" link in the Menu on the top right of the page. Fill in the Title, Main Test, and Extended Text. If your diary is more than 3 or 4 paragraphs long, place the rest of the text in the "Extended Entry".

When writing a diary, you can choose to format it in three ways:

  1. NO_FORMAT, where you have to enter every HTML tag you want in the diary, including paragraph breaks < p > and line breaks < br >;
  2. AUTO_FORMAT, which is the same as NO_FORMAT, but paragraph breaks and line breaks are created automatically with the Return or Enter key;
  3. WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get), which allows you to add some HTML tags by clicking a button and see the results immediately. This option doesn't always work smoothly in Internet Explorer and Safari for some reason; Soapblox is currently working on fixing the problem.

Acceptable HTML tags (replace () with <>):

  • Link: (a href="URL")Text(/a)
  • Italicized Text: (em)Text(/em)
  • Bold Text: (strong)Text(/strong)
  • Blockquote, for long quotations: (blockquote)Text(/blockquote)
  • Strikethrough: (del)Text(/del)
  • Ordered List (1,2,3): (ol)(li)Item 1(/li)(li)Item 2(/li)(li)Item 3(/li)(/ol)
  • Unordered list (bullets): (ul)(li)Item 1(/li)(li)Item 2(/li)(li)Item 3(/li)(/ul)


Tags are a way of classifying diaries which serve as a search tool. Appropriate tags include people, issues, races or locations. Tags should be separated by commas. Some tips (heavily borrowed from Daily Kos):

  1. Use combinations of simple tags rather than inventing complex ones.
  2. Try to think of what tags people might use to search for something and use those. Remember, tags are like categories.
  3. Try to re-use existing tags.
  4. Keep it simple. Don't use tags that are redundant.
  5. To identify congressional districts, use the format MD-##. To identify legislative districts, use LD-##. For the 7th Congressional district, you would use MD-07. Use the full county name: "Anne Arundel County" rather than "Anne Arundel".
  6. Use first and last names for all people. Believe it or not, people sometimes share last names. Also, avoid titles; people aren't Senators or Governors forever, despite evidence to the contrary.
  7. Don't use tags that would apply to every diary like "politics" or "Maryland".

Any "Trusted User" can edit the tags in any diary. You attain Trusted User status by receiving high ratings by other users from comments you make.

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