The Great Debate

Although it is almost impossible to believe, we are already seeing the first glimpses of the 2012 primaries here at RedState. We have been through one season of contentious primaries before, and although our community has grown, we expect many of the same sorts of issues to crop up. Therefore, this is as good of a time as any to address some of the ways in which we can expect the primaries to affect the site and all the users. We hope that this will be useful in particular to our newer users who were not around for the last round.

The first thing is that we are all going to have to grow some skin that is a little thicker, and exercise a little more patience with our fellow commenters than we ordinarily would. One of the things that is inevitably true about people who are capable of winning Presidential elections is that they attract supporters who are committed, dedicated, and enthusiastic, and who are always ready with an answer for any and all criticism of their candidate. These die hard supporters are necessary for a successful campaign, but they can tend to grate on the nerves of the rest of us who do not share their level of enthusiasm.

To the greatest extent possible, we encourage everyone to get along in the spirit goodwill that usually characterizes RedState; both those who are exasperated by the supporters of Candidate X (be it Palin, Cain, Romney, whoever), and the supporters themselves. Calling fervent supporters of a candidate “bots” “cultists” or other pejorative terms is not constructive and is discouraged. Similarly, reflexive accusations that opponents of a candidate are racist/sexist/elitist/whatever are not constructive and are discouraged. If this behavior on either side becomes a problem, expect that we will take remedial measures to maintain some baseline of civility at the site, including banning.

The second thing is that, sadly, with an influx of new commenters and diarists, many of whom will come to RedState expressly looking for a platform to spread the word about a given candidate, we can expect that the overall quality of the diaries section may dip somewhat. Furthermore, we anticipate (based on past experience) that some (if not all) campaigns may attempt to subersively use RedState to “astroturf” for various candidates. To that end, we ask that diarists posting in favor of primary candidates keep in mind the following guidelines (some of which, as indicated below, are actually hard and fast rules):

  • The most important rule, one that is necessary to protect the integrity of the site, is that if you are a paid consultant or employee of a campaign, you are welcome to post at RedState, but you must disclose that you are being paid by the candidate and indicate your real name. Failure to abide by this rule will result in us banning your account and most likely embarrassing your candidate on the front page by informing the world that your candidate is dishonestly astroturfing the conservative blogosphere. Again: post, but disclose.
  • Do not use the diaries section to post pieces that are only a couple sentences long, or are merely a blockquote with only a couple of sentences. We will try to ensure that the front page features at least one daily Open Thread; these short comments belong there, not in the diaries where they may knock a diary that someone spent a lot of time working on off the page. Be respectful of everyone else in this regard.
  • Please try to be cognizant of whether several diaries have already been posted on the same topic. There is no need for five separate diaries on the latest damaging revelation about Candidate X or the latest great speech by Candidate Y. If you have something truly original and unique to say, please don’t be deterred by the presence of other diaries on the subject. But if there is another diary already up that says substantially the same thing, consider recommending THAT diary and leaving your own observation on the subject in the comments. Again, this is an attempt to show respect to the limited use of diary space, which we expect will become more scarce as traffic picks up for the primary fights.
  • As a general rule, we encourage (but do not require) new users to do more listening and observing the site dynamics before jumping right in aggressively in the comments and diaries. This will help you to avoid damaging your candidate in the eyes of RedState users by inadvertently committing a site faux pas.

We also want to remind everyone that we are all Republicans, and that we expect RedState will be able to heartily endorse whichever candidate emerges from the primary. We will expect everyone to row along together after the primaries are over in order to defeat Barack Obama and roll back at least some portion of the damage he has done. To that end, although we expect that the primary debates here will be spirited and lively, we encourage everyone to remember, in the heat of the moment, not to say things that will disrupt relationships that will be necessary in order to work together towards victory in 2012. And although we do anticipate some amount of rough and tumble and we typically are somewhat more lax during the primary debate season, we will remain vigilant to enforce the posting rules and keep RedState a place where conservatives and Republicans can gather and work together in order to improve the Republican Party and this great country.