|The ET editorial team (see the list on the front page: in the right-hand column, in the bottom box entitled "Blogroll") is composed of active core members of the community. Like all community members, they offer their time and capacities on a voluntary basis, but they have added tasks to carry out. They are responsible for editing the site's front page, managing the site's appearance, managing user accounts, and applying the editorial guidelines. Here's an overview of those responsibilities:
Editing the front page
The default, or front, page of a community blog is what visitors will see first, thus the content there determines image. Those editors primarily concerned with this task aim to
- write stories directly to the front page, if possible at least once a week;
- promote good user diaries to the front page,
- refresh the frontpage in the above two ways at least 3 and at most 6 times a day, if possible with about 2 hours between them;
- keep the focus of front page stories on European matters, or global matters affecting Europeans;
- enable community life by posting an Open Thread for random discussions every day (around 15-17h Central European Time).
However, the frontpage editors have no fixed schedule, no obligations to cover specific themes, no minute coordination between them, and they have limited time at their hands (no one does this for a living!). Different frontpage eds freely choose different themes to cover, and their activity varies from person to person and time to time.
Depending on their available free time and expertise in computers and softwares, the ed team also tries to keep the site in shape: edit the special pages (for example FAQ, New User Guide, or this one), change aspects of appearance (say position and colour of boxes), enable new features (say posting videos).
Major changes may be announced in a diary, where users can comment and criticise these, and request modifications. The editors will attempt, to the best of their powers, to implement requests that are supported by consensus. A small sub-group of the team is composed of editors with competence in tech matters, but they have limited availability, so changes might take time.
Editors sometimes also make minor formal changes in user diaries: they may correct erroneous html, lazy linking, change the above/below fold break and such. In the current build of the site, even editors can't edit comments, but they may delete accidental double postings, or, on request, comments with erroneous html or content which the user wants to re-post.
All editors may be concerned by this, though a subgroup is more particularly tasked with community matters. Applying community rules is the least of the ed team's three duties, but the one we'll have to cover in most detail.
European Tribune is meant by default to be policed by the community itself. This means, at a basic level, fellow users making suggestions to those with a problem, posting reminders of ET conventions for those unaware of them, and calling for restraint when there is conflict or other inappropiate behaviour. On a second level, for repeated bad behaviour, all users have the tool of ratings, which trusted users can even use to hide comments. But this should be used rarely and with discernment. Also read the ETiquette.
So editors rarely step in as moderators in their function as editors (eds are also normal community members, with the same rights to comment and rate and have opinions). Generally, when an editor intervenes with the authority of an editor, s/he will indicate so by posting a comment in which s/he will use the moderation tag, which looks like this: [ET Moderation Technology™].
Below are the six main cases of serious misbehaviour that may lead to ed team intervention.
Spamming means the clogging up of comment threads (or diaries) with irrelevant content. It is the equivalent of littering for internet discussion forums.
Spamming can take different forms: the repeated posting of the same text, image, video in the same comment thread, or in several diaries at the same time; posting a list of links or long verbatim quotes without own commentary, especially if off-topic to the diary or the discussion in its comment thread; and text or links with commercial intent (sometimes posted by automatic programs, so-called spam-bots) (see also Spam Accounts below).
By its nature, spamming calls for rapid response. When this kind of misbehaviour appears, editors don't hesitate. They will toggle (hide) or delete spam comments and diaries. If the spamming user is persistent, in particular commercial spammers and spam-bots, any editor at hand is free to withdraw that user's posting privileges on the spot (e.g. they can still log in, but can't write diaries or comments).
Accounts may be opened with the exclusive intention of posting commercial backlinks, especially in the User profile page. ET does not allow this. Editors watch over account creation to identify such spammers and disable their accounts as quickly as possible.
Sometimes users may feel strongly offended by a discussion on ET, or have second thoughts about posting a diary after a controversy developed in its comment threads. It has happened that in the heat of anger, a user has deleted his/her own diary/ies.
However, deletion in the Scoop software ET uses, is irrevocable. Neither the diary nor its comments thread can be retrieved. By deleting a diary, the diarist doesn't just delete her/his own content: the contributions of other users to the diary will be lost, too. To prevent the deletion of more diaries along with the respective comment threads, any editor at hand can intervene to withdraw that diarist's right to delete own diaries. This measure only intends to protect others' comments, no negative repercussions follow for the diary-deleting user (apart from general disapproval, because diary deletion is not cool).
On ET, retaliatory troll ratings, issued without explanation or apparent reason other than disagreement, are considered ratings abuse. In cases of repeated ratings abuse, the ed team apply the following announced policy: if two or more editors agree and none disagrees,
- all ratings of the user will be wiped,
- the user's capacity to rate comments will be removed for one week,
- these actions will be announced in a moderation comment on ET and possibly also in private email,
- if after the one-week ban, the behaviour persists, the user's capacity to rate comments will be removed again, this time permanently.
Trolls are people who post in internet discussion forums for the sole purpose of picking fights, disrupting the thread of discussion, calling excessive attention to themselves, creating divisions and generally making community discussion difficult. They may or may not believe what they write, but they aren't interested in good-faith exchanges with other people. Trolls don't always misbehave, especially when collecting friends to be on their side for the future creation of a schism between community members.
When a user misbehaves consistently and grossly, including persistent grossly abusive, racist, sexist, etc. comments or diaries, but especially if s/he keeps getting troll-rated, editors apply an announced banning policy. If two or more eds approve and none disagrees,
- the offender will first be issued a clear warning on the site and to the user's e-mail address;
- if the offender fails to improve after the first step, s/he will be issued with another clear warning on the site and in e-mail, and the user's posting rights will be suspended for a week;
- if the misbehaviour doesn't stop or re-appears even after the second step, the user will be banned from the site, a measure that will be reviewed on request after one month.
When a user creates a second (or third or fourth...) user ID, and uses it to pretend to be a second (or third or fourth...) person, the fake IDs are called "sock-puppets". In the interests of good-faith discussion, one real person should use only one user identity on ET.
Editors can identify a sock-puppet based on user data, or the collection of extensive indirect evidence. The course of action taken depends on the circumstances and the sock-puppet's behaviour:
- an editor may opt to only ask the user in public to choose one identity and drop the other;
- an editor may expose the sock-puppet's fakeness in public, with or without naming the puppeteer user;
- a no-rating or similar sentence handed down on the original user may be applied to the sock-puppet too without notice,
- the sock-puppet may be designated a spammer or troll, and banned without banning the original user;
- all accounts of the user behind the sock-puppet may be banned, using the anti-spamming or troll-banning policies outlined above.
Violations of editorial guidelines
Community policing may not alway be effective in responding to violations of the editorial guidelines, particularly in the case of non-compliant diaries (e.g. conspiracy theories or diaries (or comments!) with defamatory content). In such cases, the editors must step in.
Ideally, the decision to hide non-compliant posts should be made following an ad-hoc consultation. In the case of defamatory content, however, a unilateral decision to hide a questionable post and then consult fellow editors may be appropriate, as defamatory content may entail legal risks for the site.