Our Unique Moderation 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 3/2/23.)
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 Forum Rules.
Forum Hosts are discussion forum members who volunteer to serve in a particular forum. Their role is to deal with posts which may violate a particular forum's Statement of Purpose. Main Forum hosts are responsible for General Discussion, Latest Breaking News, the DU Lounge, and DU Community Help, and they cannot serve for more than 90 days at a time. Topic Forum hosts are responsible for individual Topic Forums, and they may serve indefinitely. Members must meet certain criteria before they are permitted to serve as Hosts.
The Malicious Intruder Removal Team (MIR Team or MIRT) is made up of discussion forum members who volunteer to keep the discussion forum clear of conservative trolls, spammers, and other undesireables. MIR Teams serve for three month terms (although sometimes terms last longer), and they must take a break after serving for two consecutive terms. Members must meet certain criteria before they are permitted to serve on the MIR Team.
The DU Administrators oversee the operation of Democratic Underground. They enforce the Terms of Service, handle removed post appeals, occasionally review decisions made by the MIR Team or Forum Hosts, and deal with long-term members who cause problems. There are two Administrators and they can be contacted here.
Like most other online communities, Democratic Underground has forum rules which members are expected to abide by, and members can alert on posts which they believe break the rules.
Whenever a post is alerted for a potential violation of the rules, our software forms a Jury of seven randomly-selected members. Each Juror individually reviews the alerted post and the rule against which it was alerted, and then casts a vote to either hide the post (if they believe it crosses the line) or leave it alone (if they believe it does not cross the line).
If a majority of the Jury vote to leave the post alone, it remains where it is. It cannot be alerted again for the same rule violation, but it can be alerted for a different rule violation.
If a majority of the Jury vote to hide the post:
- The post will be hidden from public view.
- The member who posted it will be blocked from making further replies in that discussion.
- If the post is an OP (Original Post -- the post which begins a discussion), the discussion will be locked.
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.
At all times during the process, participating members are anonymous to one another. The Jurors, the alerter, and the member who was alerted on are all anonymous to one another (with the obvious exception that the alerter knows who the alerted member is). The system does not make any of their usernames public at any point in the process. The DU Administrators have access to the usernames of alerters and Jurors.
Members may be asked to serve regularly on a Jury, although typically they will not be asked more than once every 24 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:
- "YES, I can serve now" (the member is immediately seated on a Jury)
- "NO, I can't serve now" (the member is not seated on a Jury and cannot be selected again for a minimum of 24 hours)
- "Don't ask me again" (the member is not seated on a Jury and the "Available to serve on DU Juries" preference in their Account Settings is set to "No")
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 "Available to serve on DU Juries" preference in their Account Settings to "No", again without penalty.
Detailed Explanation of the Jury Selection Process
For those who are interested, this sections provides a detailed breakdown of the Jury selection process.
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.
Immediately after an alert is sent for a potential rule violation, our software begins to seat a Jury by randomly picking members who are currently browsing DU. Members are excluded from serving if they meet any of the following criteria:
- They have their "Available to serve on DU Juries" preference set to "No"
- They are ignoring the alerted member
- They are blocking DU mail from the alerted member
- They have replied to the alerted member within the last 24 hours
- They have alerted on the alerted member within the last 24 hours
- They have posted in the thread which contains the alerted post
- They are on the alerted member's Jury Blocklist
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 which 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:
- Increase 1 percentage point for each 100 posts (up to 20 percentage points max = 2,000 posts)
- Increase 1 percentage point for each 10 days of membership (up to 20 percentage points max = 200 days)
- Increase 1 percentage point for each post in the last 90 days (up to 20 percentage points max = 20 posts)
- Increase 40 percentage points for Star Membership
Things that decrease a member's chance of serving:
- Decrease 20 percentage points for each hidden post in the last 90 days
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 seven members have been seated. If any Juror does not complete their review of the alerted post within 30 minutes, their Jury Service will end (without penalty) and the software will search for another Juror to replace them.
Main Forum Hosts
Main Forum hosts monitor the three main forums (General Discussion, Latest Breaking News, and The DU Lounge) and one help forum (DU Community Help). If the original post (OP) of a discussion violates the Statement of Purpose for the forum it's posted in, the hosts can lock the discussion.
Main Forum hosts are responsible for their decisions to lock discussions -- their usernames are made public on any threads that they lock. Only the host who locks a thread is capable of unlocking it again. Whenever 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 (after discussing the appeal with their fellow hosts) the host believes that the appeal has merit, they may opt to unlock the discussion. If the host believes the appeal has no merit, they may deny the appeal and leave the discussion locked.
Members are eligible to serve as a Main 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. If Main Forum hosts meet and continue to meet these requirements, they can host for a maximum of 90 consecutive days at which point they are automatically "retired" -- however, Main Forum hosts may sign up again immediately if they wish to.
Main Forum hosts can make use of a special access-restricted forum in order to discuss potential Statement of Purpose violations with their colleagues. While this forum cannot be viewed by DU members who are not Main Forum hosts, discussions that take place there are not considered privileged information and hosts are not forbidden from talking about them elsewhere. However, hosts should use their best judgment when doing so.
Because Main 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 Main Forum hosts including information about how to become a host, visit any Main Forum, click the "About Forum" button found near the top of the page, and look for the "Hosts" section.
Topic Forum Hosts
Topic Forum hosts have a specific interest in the forums they host, and act more as community managers. As such, they have additional powers. 1) They can lock threads which they believe violate their forum's stated purpose; 2) they can pin threads to the top of their forum; 3) they can block out members whom they believe are not adhering to their forum's purpose; 4) they can make other members hosts of their forum; and 5) they can remove any host of their forum that became a host after they did.
If a Topic Forum 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 Topic Forum does not have any hosts assigned, members who wish to become a host of that forum must contact an Administrator for approval. The Administrators will likely request that the prospective host start a discussion in the forum asking for member feedback.
Topic Forums are not required to have any hosts assigned. If no hosts are assigned then the Administrators are the default hosts, although they do not actively perform hosting duties.
The Malicious Intruder Removal 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 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.
MIR Team members can make use of a special access-restricted forum in order to discuss potential intruders. While the Malicious Intruder Removal forum cannot be viewed by DU members who are not on the MIR Team, discussions that take place in the forum 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.
MIR Team members can only discuss members who have fewer than 100 posts. Beyond 100 posts, problem members are dealt with by the Administrators.
The MIR Team operates on consensus which means that before they can act against a member with fewer than 100 posts, other MIR Team members must agree. If necessary, MIR Team decisions can be overruled by the Administrators on a case-by-case basis.
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 terms after which they must take a break. Every 90 days (although some terms last longer), the Administrators will post a call for new volunteers.
Volunteering is a simple process -- if you are a Star Member with at least six months of membership and a minimum of 1,000 posts, 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.
The DU Administrators
The DU Administrators, or Admins, own and oversee the entire site and as such have the final say on any disputes. There are two Admins -- EarlG and Elad -- and they are the only people with full legal access to the database and software. They are responsible for site upkeep and future development, as well as community management.
When a member has a post removed by Jury, they can send an official appeal to the Admins. If the Admins agree with the appeal, they will overturn the Jury decision and put the post back. All appeals are read and reviewed by the Admins, but only successful appeals will be responded to.
The Admins also determine whether members who are Flagged For Review will be allowed to return to the site. When a member has five posts removed by Jury in the previous 90 days, they are Flagged For Review. At this point the member can still sign in to their account, but cannot post, send DU Mail, serve on Juries, or use other site functions. Before being allowed to return, the member needs to persuade the Admins that they share the site's Core Principles and will follow the Forum Rules (see Terms of Service).
If you need to contact the Admins for any reason, please visit our Contact page.