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BOR Policy

Announcing Senior Staff Changes and Community Guidelines Revisions


by: Burnt Orange Report

Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 03:26 PM CST

Burnt Orange Report has some big news to share today, and some important site policy changes we're making over the next two months. Because we are a community blog, we wanted to start this process by coming directly to you, dear readers, and find out what changes you might like to see, and other ideas y'all might have.

Over the last four months, we here at Burnt Orange Report have been working hard to get back into the blogging game. We've grown our staff by six writers, and made some important internal organizational changes to keep bringing our community the platform for discussions about politics in Texas from a progressive, liberal, and/or Democratic perspective.

Today we're excited to announce some additional, official changes to our masthead. Karl-Thomas Musselman will be continuing on as Publisher, while Katherine Haenschen officially takes over the Editor-in-Chief position. Michael Hurta has been promoted to Senior Staff Writer, and Phillip Martin will now be posting as a Contributing Writer. All of this is also updated on our "Who We Are" page.

We're also beginning the process of updating our "Community Guidelines" page, with an emphasis on increased transparency and disclosure. The proposed changes are below. We want to solicit community feedback on these changes, and make sure they're in keeping with the kind of culture we want to foster here on BOR. Please weigh in on them in the comments.

Thanks again for making Burnt Orange Report part of your regular Internet reading, and please let us know in the comments what you think about changes to our community guidelines.  

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 673 words in story)

Burnt Orange Report Endorses Bank Transfer Day. Move Your Money!


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 10:20 AM CDT

The Occupy Wall Street movement nationwide has made visible the long-simmering frustration many of us have felt watching the rising income inequality in America. That income inequality stems directly from many of the policies put in place by our largest financial institutions, who continue to nickel and dime many of us for the "privilege" of managing our money with them.

That's why Burnt Orange Report is proud to announce today that we're officially endorsing this Saturday's Bank Transfer Day and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's Banxodus effort, and calling on all of our readers to switch from a corporate bank to a credit union.

To kick things off, Burnt Orange Report has moved our account from Chase to Velocity Credit Union here in Austin. We'll get a better interest rate, no monthly fee, and the knowledge that we are voting with our wallet for a more equitable economy -- all in all, it's a no-brainer. Join us. Below we've got information about why you should join, and a great set of tools to help you make the switch.


Why you should join a credit union

Not-for-profit credit unions are owned by their members. These banks aren't under pressure by Wall Street investors to maximize quarterly returns. Instead, profits go back to the members in the form of higher interest on savings and lower interest on loans, mortgages, and credit card balances.

The same is not true in the world of for-profit corporate banking. Just look at the chart on the left showing the tremendous consolidation of the consumer banking industry in the last 20 years. These big banks think they can get away with charging you exorbitant interest or excessive fees because you don't have a choice. Well, you do have a choice, and that choice is a credit union that meets your needs.

A wide range of financial planners and media outlets agree: credit unions are better for your money. Here's why:

    1. Fewer fees, more savings. The Credit Union National Association estimates that consumers save more than $6 billion a year in better rates and lower fees by using credit unions. That's your money -- who should make a profit off of it, you or your bank? -- ABC News

    2. Credit cards with lower interest rates. Federal law prohibits federal credit unions from charging interest rates above 18%. Credit union customers pay, on average, 20% less in credit card interest. -- Forbes

    3. Better customer service. 70% of credit union members feel that the institution put the customer's interests ahead of the institution itself. The highest big bank, Wells Fargo, came in at a 40% positive rating. --Forbes

    4. No penalties for using or not using your money. Corporate banks routinely charge you to open a checking account, charge you if your account is dormant, charge you if your balance drops below a certain level. It's crazy! Credit unions simply do not engage in these kinds of practices -- practices that are focused on driving up quarterly profits, regardless of customer satisfaction. -- MSN Money

    5. Your money stays in your community. Credit unions primarily employ people locally, and give back generously as well. Local credit unions are also more likely to give loans to local businesses, especially women- and minority-owned businesses. Since the recession began, credit unions have vastly expanded their business loan operations, which helps keep funds working in the local community. -- Businessweek

Already Bank of America has already backed down on the $5 user fee they tried to charge all customers to use their own debit cards. But let's not be naive and assume big, corporate banks will changing their ways -- move your money to an institution that cares more about you than corporate institutional investors.

Over the next few weeks, we will be encouraging local progressive and Democratic organizations and campaigns to switch from corporate banks to not-for-profit credit unions. It's time to make sure that progressive money is banking with institutions that care more about the members than how they can profit from them.


It's easy to make the switch

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has put together a great set of tools to help you find a friendly, local credit union.

    1. Take the pledge. Commit to moving your money, if not by November 5 than by the end of this year. Click here and sign on to the growing "Move Your Money!" movement.

    2. Find a new bank. It's easy. The Banxodus page put together by PCCC makes it simple -- just enter your zip code and search. You'll want to do some research: ask about interest rates for savings and checking; look for a no-balance-transfer fee to move your funds; find out what ATM fees are at non-member ATM's, and if the credit union participates in local and national credit union networks that you can use away from home.

    3. Move your money. For some folks, it might be easier to start by opening an account with a credit union, beginning to deposit money there and use the checking and online systems, and get comfortable with it. That's fine. Over time, you'll realize like so many other Americans that the credit union is more responsive, provides better customer service, and is much more eager to help you, a fellow citizen, find the banking solutions that work for you.

Just a note of warning: those big corporate banks might have a hard time letting you go. It might take a few phone calls and possibly even a few visits in person to get your money -- your own money! -- out of their clutches. But it's worth it, in the end, to know that your money is working in your community, rather than funding a massive global financial industry that helped get us into the mess we're in.

Join us. Move your money to a credit union. Tell us why you're moving your money, or your former big bank horror stories before you switched. And more importantly, spread the word. Share this post on Facebook, email it to friends. Together, we can each do our part to help support a banking system that's a lot more fair to all of us.

Join Burnt Orange Report and move your money!

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

BOR Policy: Right to Respond


by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:34 PM CST

I'd like to announce a new policy at Burnt Orange Report which is to be formalized by this post. Inspired by Open Left, and necessary due to our regular commentary on public figures and organizations, I'm announcing our "Right to Respond" Policy.

The "Right to Respond" will be a standing promise on Burnt Orange Report where any Democratic or progressive candidate, campaign, or organization we discuss in a front-page post is granted a front-page post in response. The individual, campaign, or organization should preferably do so through their Burnt Orange Report user account (create one here) so that they may engage in comments on that and future posts that are related to them.

The "Right to Respond" is rooted in our Democratic values of openness and broader participation in politics.  It also recognizes that while we may disagree at times, we support (generally) civil discussion that promotes honest debate.  If you, your campaign, or your organization wishes to formally respond to a front-page article in which you were mentioned, don't hesitate to contact us about posting a response.  

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Community Guidelines


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Jan 24, 2008 at 00:08 PM CST

The administrating of BOR is a group effort, and unfortunately we will fail to have the time to notice every case of abuse of the guidelines. We depend on the community to help moderate. 

- Read more about our comment ratings policy here.

- Read more about our username policy here.  

Here are the guidelines for the Burnt Orange Report user community:

  • Post as many comments as you like, but only 1-2 journals per day. No single or two-line journals--if it's a comment, put it in a comment thread. Don't clutter the journals with foolish commentary on BOR itself. More journal rules are listed here

  • Do not troll rate (rating as 0) another user's comment unless it is a comment that violates one of these guidelines. Abusing this privilege will result in retaliatory troll rating by a site admin and/or getting a warning or being banned.
     
  • 'Trusted users' (TU's) are those users that have 'mojo' and are able to 'review hidden comments' and can rate any of those posts hidden by a '0' ranking. If a trusted user deems the post should not be hidden, they can 'rescue' the post with a '2' rating (higher only if needed).
     
  • Users who are excessively bashing the Democratic Party, or being Republican trolls, will be banned. This is a partisan Democratic site.
     
  • Users who are spaming the site with unrelated material or the like may be warned and/or banned. Creating user accounts due to 'backlinks services' or with no purpose to engage in our community other than to spam the site is strictly prohibited.
  • User content that in way could be considered libelous may be troll rated by users, deleted by an admin, or lead to the user being banned. With BOR's growth we have been subjected to threats of lawsuits and take this seriously.   

  • Users who are bashing or attacking any other user on the site, especially authors of diaries and frontpage postings, will be warned and/or banned. Elected officials and candidates for public office are allowed a higher level of criticism as they are in the public domain (but that doesn't mean you can use inflammatory language against candidates).
     
  • Titles should not be inflammatory, and will be edited or deleted. Likewise, users who cannot write comments without excessive inflammatory language will be banned.
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Comment Ratings Guidelines


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Jan 24, 2008 at 00:06 PM CST

All users can rate all comments, except their own, with a three levels of ratings. The following are an explanation of those levels.

1- Unproductive: A rating given by other users that indicates that a comment is inappropriate, lacking content or analysis, or unnecessarily abrasive. Average users are encouraged to give this rating to comments that violate the Community Guidelines. Comments with this rating can be considered flagged to TU's or site admins for moderation or deletion. 

2- Good: A rating often used for technical purposes and the bastard of the rating system. Two's are often used to bring 'hidden' comments back from the grave without rewarding the original poster with excess rating juice. They are available for use to give props to good thoughts, but may be deprecated at some point. It is not a 'bad' rating to receive and help balance out the averages. 

3- Excellent: A rating given by other users for useful, well thought out, insightful, or analytical comments that add to the discussion and advancement of the BOR community. This is used to identify the best replies and reward higher quality discussion. 

When your comments are rated by others, those ratings are combined into a weighted average. This, roughly, represents the rating we could expect your next comment to receive based on your past comments. Users who maintain a high rating average may become Trusted Users as determined by the algorithm which is changed from time to time by site administrators. 

Remember: Your comment ratings should refer to the content of a comment, NOT whether you agree or disagree with the comment & NOT whether you like or dislike the author! 


Trusted Users (TU's)

Users who have an average greater than a certain minimum, and who have posted a sufficient number of comments are considered "Trusted Users", and gain added capabilities. TU's are granted two additional rating options as described below and are also able to see comments rated below the minimum (they are hidden from normal users).

0- Hide Comment: A 'zero rating' is to be used on comments that violate the Community Guidelines. It flags comments for possible outright deletion by a site admin. Hidden comments are only visible to other Trusted Users who are encouraged to review them and community moderate each other's actions. 

5- Fabulous: A rating to be given out sparingly, a five rating is meant for only the best of the best comments. TU's should understand that 5's greatly assist in the granting of TU status. As with 0's, they should not be abused and other TU's may down-rate a comment with a 2 for balance if inappropriately given. 

(A note: BOR does not have a 4 rating. The "Big Orange" (DailyKos.com) used to max out a 4 rating (since deprecated) and at the time of our migration to the Soapblox platform (SoapBlox.net) we chose to skip 4 and max out at 5. It is a "fabulous" rating in honor of Burnt Orange Report's founder Byron LaMasters who was self-admittedly pretty fabulous.)    

This is a great responsibility for you. It means you've earned the right to peer-review content from untrusted users, and determine if it is spam. We rely on you to rate as much as you can, and to keep the comments as high-signal as we've all come to expect.

Please use your "zero" rating with care! It is *only* for use on comments that are wholly content-free. If you think the poster is clueless, or an idiot, or you just don't agree with them, that is *not* grounds for a zero rating. Zero is for comments that are offensive, script-generated, or otherwise content-free and intended solely to abuse other readers.

Please do not rate duplicate comments 0! As virtually all duplicate comments are accidental, this unfairly impacts the user. Site admins will take care of dupes. 

You also have a duty to read comments posted by untrusted users (you are the only ones who can!) and rate them up if they deserve to be viewable. We hate to see users become untrusted, and want them to rejoin the community, and rating them up when they post good comments is the only way for that to happen.

It is a cruel irony that those who are trusted, in any context, usually have more work with no particular reward for that work, and that is the case here as well. You still post with no initial rating, like a normal user, and your ratings do not carry any extra weight or power. The big reward for being trusted is that you get to see the bottom-of-the-barrel dreck. But basically, someone has to do this, and you have shown the rest of the BOR readers that you have the responsibility and perception to be trusted with this task. Hopefully there are enough of you that no one person will have to expend any unreasonable efforts.

Thank you for contributing to BOR, and for taking on the mantle of responsibility for keeping the site as high-quality as you've helped make it. I, and all the other readers, salute you.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Username Guidelines


by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 02:26 AM CST

Here are some short guidelines to remember in creating a username.

  1. Usernames can have spaces, numbers, and letters.

  2. Registering an actual name (Morgan Freeholder) means that actual person will be the one doing the regular posting and commenting.

  3. Registering a promotional name (Freeholder for Senate) means that official campaign staff will be the primary writer.

  4. Any other usernames/handles for individuals are acceptable so long as they are not vulgar, rude, or particularly unfunny.

  5. You are NOT allowed to create user accounts with the intent of spamming the site (in posts, comments, signature lines, or profiles) with non-political related content. Accounts created due to any "backlinks services" or for the purpose of search term optimization are strictly forbidden.

Do NOT make multiple accounts for nefarious purposes- we will ban them.
Please DO interact with our community.
Welcome to Burnt Orange Report!
Discuss :: (11 Comments)

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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
Michael Hurta
Ben Sherman

Staff Writers:
Omar Araiza
Emily Cadik
Phillip Martin
Natalie San Luis
Katie Singh
Joseph Vogas

Founder:
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Blogger Emeritus:
Karl-Thomas Musselman

Read staff bios here.

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