Originally posted by Nonpartisan on 08/26/06 (later updated)

Who are you?  Why are you called Nonpartisan?  Does it mean you’re not a liberal or a Democrat?

I’m not going to tell you who I am, except that I have a degree in history, was formerly employed as a historian, and am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in history.  I am a liberal (on most issues), and I am a Democrat (for now).

The handle is a long story.  It came about because of my antipathy to the current partisan system in America, which I feel stifles debate.  I’ve advocated for an end to political parties, though I now think we can’t even begin to talk about that until the current crop of Republicans is out of power.  It does not mean that I hold myself above politics (as some have suggested), and it’s not something with which to beat me over the head if you disagree with me.

Suffice it to say, I started my blogging career over at Dean Nation in early 2003 as “Nonpartisan for Dean.”  When Daily Kos made the transition over to Scoop later that year and started requiring users to register, I (wisely, in retrospect) realized that someday the “for Dean” part of my name would seem really outdated, so I shortened it to “Nonpartisan” — and “Nonpartisan” it has stayed.  If I had it to do all over again, I’d be “Herbert Croly.”

What is this site about?

This is a site about history and politics.  Anybody can post here.  Our focus is on an engaged, courageous, and open history.  For a more detailed explication of the site’s purpose, see our Mission Statement.

Are there any requirements for membership or posting?  Any litmus tests?  Does this site have any official positions?

There are no requirements for membership or posting.  While this is a liberal/progressive site, conservatives/Republicans are actively encouraged to post, provided they are respectful and courteous.  The only way to combat the increasing and destructive polarization of American politics today is to encourage active, and often bracing, dialogue between the two camps.  This site seeks to foster such dialogue.

The site’s official positions are reflected in its mission statement.  Politically, this site does not have any official positions other than a general liberal/progressive worldview.  This site is not explicitly anti-war, mostly because I, the owner and proprietor, am not anti-war; however, virtually all of the other posters here, and all of the other front-pagers, are anti-war, so expect some hostility if you espouse virulently neocon views.  (My war views are somewhat more complicated than the traditional neocon screeds.)

How do I create an account?

Shamelessly stolen from My Left Wing, because it’s the same software and the process works the same way.

As soon as you register and confirm, you may start participating here at MLW. No waiting period.

Click the link that says “Make A New Account.”

If you’re not a registered user, you must register THROUGH THAT LINK — don’t just enter a name and password in the Sign-On blox.

Make a New Account <~~~~CLICK THIS LINK

Username: ______________ <— don’t use this yet

Password: ______________  <— don’t use this yet

Forget your username or password? <– If you already HAVE an account but forgot or lost your password, click this link.

To CHANGE Your Password:

Once you’ve logged in, click the link to your User Page (YourName’s Page, in the Menu)

On the top right, click the link to Your Profile

Click the link to Email/Password

Change your password. Voila.

Also, an IMPORTANT NOTE: your username can be as long as you want, but it cannot exceed twenty-four characters without spaces between them.  If it does, it’ll break the margins of the site.

I’m a newcomer to the blogs.  How do I change my font to bold or italics?  How do I add a picture to my diary?

Over at the Blogfather, there’s an excellent page with all that good stuff.  I highly recommend visiting it.  You can also ask questions in comment threads — no one will mind helping you out. 🙂

One rule: please don’t post images with a width larger than 500 pixels.  They break the margins.  The Blogfather shows you how to make sure this never happens.

What if I don’t want to write about history?  Can I write about something other than history?

This one is complicated.  I’d like to keep the focus of the site on history as much as possible, and after that on politics (with some community-building stuff thrown in).  But truth be told, I can’t tell people not to post things that are even peripherally relevant — and honestly, it’s probably better if I don’t.  If you want to write about religion or about your cat or about pancakes, it probably enriches our cross-disciplinary experience.

So I’m instituting what I call the Joe Lieberman-Ben Nelson rule about non-historical topics.  If you don’t write history diaries and you’re loud and vocal about how much history sucks (like Joe), then that’s not okay.  If you quietly do your thing and don’t write history diaries (like Ben), then that’s fine.

Where are the ratings?  Don’t political blogs always have ratings?

Actually, political websites did without ratings for years until Markos of Daily Kos purchased Scoop software from a site called kuro5hin.  Markos introduced a ratings system for a single reason: to prevent the complete hijacking of a website by bile-spewing trolls.

Just a few days before Markos’ Scoop-based site came online, Daily Kos was snarled by a resourceful troll who posed as presidential candidate Wesley Clark’s son (who had actually posted on the site as well), said hateful things about other candidates, and then posed as Kos himself and “validated” that the poster was in fact Clark, Jr.  The resulting brouhaha proved beyond a doubt that ratings were needed to take such destructive comments off the boards.

But Daily Kos functioned fine without ratings until it became big enough that it was attacked by serious trolls.  Until ProgressiveHistorians becomes that big (and I sincerely hope it does), any obvious trolls can be weeded out by me without the need for community moderation.  In addition to their helpful role on extremely large sites, ratings have a lot of negative dynamics: they often lead to flame wars, are given unthinkingly, become overly important, and encourage people to “drive-by” diaries rather than commenting in them.

So for now, if you want to comment on someone’s diary, comment on it.  You don’t need a rating to have your say.  If you think a comment meets the definition of trollery, e-mail me and I’ll look into it.

Can I be banned?  Can someone else be banned?

The rules for banning are as follows.  Three things will get you banned immediately, with no warning, and with no public comment beforehand: intentional plagiarism, obvious hate speech (I mean really obvious) and malicious revealing of someone’s personal information.  A user may also be banned if, in my judgment, he or she has been an insufferable asshole and has ignored a warning to cease and desist. Beyond that, general trollery is in the eye of the beholder.  As site owner and sole administrator, I reserve the right to ban users based on what I believe to be clearly trollish and destructive behavior.  I am the only person on this blog who can ban a user; the only exception to this is if I leave someone else in charge of the site for a period of my absence, during which time one publicly-identified temporary administrator will have the power to ban.  I will entertain requests upon my return to reverse an administrative decision, but only under particularly egregious circumstances.

That said, I make you two promises: I will never ban someone without telling the community, and I will never delete the body of someone’s work because they are banned.  This is a history site, and history requires transparency and conservation of ideas.  Before I ban a poster (except in the egregious circumstances listed above), I will post a diary indicating that I am planning to ban said poster and providing evidence for my decision.  The community, including the poster in question, can play “Bloggy Mason” and comment on my decision before it becomes final.  Also, deleting diaries is a real no-no, especially on a history site where the history of the site (pardon my redundancy) should be preserved.  Because “official” banning with SoapBlox software eliminates every diary thread the poster wrote, and all the comments on the thread, all bannings will take the form of a permanently-changed password.  No work will be removed unless it meets the criteria above (plagiarism, hate speech, or personal information).

Comment deletion will be exercised by me only if the poster who posted the comment asks for it to be deleted, or if the comment is plagiarism, hate speech or personal information.  If you make a mistake and really didn’t mean to commit one of these three cardinal sins, don’t sweat it.  You won’t be banned for a mistake.

Finally, I should note that I expect bannings to be VERY rare, and the culprits to be VERY obvious.  The only people who should be banned are those who intentionally snarl the site.

Where are the tags?

They’re not there.  Tags are a dumb idea, and we don’t need them.  If you want to read all the diaries on a specific topic, just scroll through the Diaries page until you find ones that interest you.

Who are those people in the “Acknowledgments” section?

Maryscott O’Connor is the owner and site administrator of My Left Wing, a liberal site where most of the early front-pagers here met.  She is a wonderful, brilliant woman with a magnificent online community.  ProgressiveHistorians is an official spinoff site of My Left Wing.

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is the owner and site administrator of Daily Kos, the first serious community blog on the Net and now the biggest political blog online.  Nearly all of us got our start over at “Big Orange.”

Soapblox is the software place that hosts and designs ProgressiveHistorians.  Soapy (as we all call him) is a delightful man who runs a small operation and charges very reasonable prices.  (You have no idea how reasonable until you ask him for a price quote.  Seriously.)  This site would not have happened without Soapy’s considerable help.

Strandsofpearl is an image designer who owns an online shop, Whimsy Designs.  She has a fairly extensive product line over there, plus she takes all sorts of custom requests.  She is the designer of our site banner, logo, and merchandise.  She also happens to be my significant other.  Nepotism?  Of course — but look at the product, and I think you’ll agree that it’s a perfectly defensible arrangement.

How can I get my site blogrolled?  My book or article or blog listed in “By Our Posters”?

The main blogroll contains fifty sites that I read, link to, and recommend.  It changes VERY frequently, so if your site gets added, removed, added again, and removed again, it’s NOT personal.  A more complete history blogroll can be found here.

The “By Our Posters” section is open to all users who comment at ProgressiveHistorians at least once every thirty days (go longer than that and your links will be removed).  If you want me to link to a published work, let me know and I’ll be glad to do it (but be aware that this will “out” you and remove your online anonymity).  I may eventually get rid of the user blogroll if too many people with blogs start posting here, but for now the policy is the same — just let me know.

How do I become a front-pager?  An admin?

The only way to become a front-pager or an admin at this site is for me to make you one.  I make this judgment based on writing quality, the need for more front-page posters at the site, and most importantly commitment to ProgressiveHistorians.  Please don’t e-mail me asking to become a front-pager unless I explicitly ask folks to do so.

Can I post your work on another site?  What about your banner and images?

The writings on these pages are the intellectual property of the individual writers.  You’d need their permission to republish it elsewhere.  As per copyright laws, you’re perfectly welcome to quote from anything here on your own site; just don’t take the whole thing or a large portion of it.

The images are not available for use elsewhere, as I am selling merchandise with those images.  If need be, I will copyright the images.  I’m hoping that won’t be an issue, and people will be courteous.  (If you have a legitimate need to use the image, such as a link request, let me know and we’ll work something out.)

What’s your position on copyright and fair use?  Can I use copyrighted materials in my diaries?

Fair use standards are tricky animals.  As a general rule, for textual publications, don’t quote more than a couple of paragraphs of copyrighted or original material, and NEVER quote without attribution (linked if possible).

For images, again, it’s more difficult.  This site obeys all federal laws on copyright use; however, we are not currently in the business of aggressively policing user-generated content for image violations.  To be as safe as possible, I’ve created a handy list of public-domain image links, a list whose content has been vetted by both me and the editors of Daily Kos.  So it’s pretty airtight as far as copyright goes.  Feel free to make broad use of this material.

Can I cite Wikipedia as a source in my diaries or comments?

Cite Wikipedia at your own risk.  If you use Wikipedia and it’s wrong, be prepared to be corrected by other site users.  If you make a habit of citing Wikipedia as your main or only source — particularly if you are on the front page — be prepared to be gently encouraged by other posters to move beyond that safe haven and strike out into the brave new world of primary sources.  This is particularly true for the long, involved diaries on specific topics we get regularly around here — Wikipedia probably isn’t appropriate there.  But for open threads, for new diarists, and for anyone else who uses Wikipedia as a non-definitive source, Wikipedia is all right by me and by the site.

Furthermore, I won’t have people tromping around this site as “wiki-hunters” to match the “troll-hunters” on dKos, ordering first-time diarists to take down their links.  That’s against everything this site stands for.  If someone’s facts are wrong, by all means correct them.  If they make a habit of being wrong, be vociferous about it.  But don’t attack solely because a citation is from Wikipedia.

Finally, nothing which uses Wikipedia as its ONLY source of evidence will be promoted to the front page.

Does this site endorse causes or candidates?

ProgressiveHistorians is trying to get into the business of supporting causes actively impacting the historical profession.  You can see our endorsed causes in the left-hand sidebar.  If you have a cause or issue you’d like us to take up, shoot me an e-mail.

While we rarely endorse candidates for public office, we take an active interest in the political campaigns of professional historians.  We have previously endorsed Allan Lichtman in his race for Maryland Senate.  If you are such a candidate, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do to help.

I want to place an ad on your site.  How do I do that?

ProgressiveHistorians now has BlogAds!  If you want the spot at the top right-corner, click here; for all other ads, click here.  If you need help putting a BlogAd together, shoot me an e-mail.  Our in-house image artist, Strandsofpearl, has also agreed to create BlogAd images for a fee.  If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll get you two in touch.

ProgressiveHistorians is now a proud member of the Liberal Blog Advertising Network.

Where’s your RSS feed?

Right here.  It’s also the little orange link in the top left corner of your page.

I have a tech issue.  Whom should I contact?

All questions about the site, tech or otherwise, should be addressed to me at nonpartisan@progressivehistorians.com.  Be warned: I’m really busy and may take a while to respond.  Please do not contact Soapy directly unless you want to a) buy a site from him or b) buy him a drink.

Can I criticize another liberal website on ProgressiveHistorians?

You may not write a diary on ProgressiveHistorians whose PRIMARY PURPOSE is to bash another liberal website.  (Doing so in a comment is okay.)  You may not make slanderous or hate-filled statements about other liberal websites, divulge trade secrets of said websites, or attempt to do financial injury to said websites while at ProgressiveHistorians.  However, while it is our goal to embrace other liberal sites as part of a common coalition, bracing, constructive criticism of other sites is permitted and welcomed.

Can I post the same comment multiple times?

No.  (Don’t you just love these one-word answers?)

If I post a diary, people comment on it, and I don’t like it any more, can I delete it?

I encourage you not to delete any content you write for ProgressiveHistorians.  However, if you feel the need to delete a diary after it’s been commented on, DO NOT use the site’s “delete” function.  Doing so is considered a BANNABLE offense.  Instead, delete the content of your diary and replace it with a short message saying what it was about, and why you deleted the content.  That way the comments will still be there and they will still make sense.  I’m working on convincing Soapy to eliminate the ability for users to delete their diaries, so thi will hopefully become a moot issue at some point

Can I use profanity on this site?  Because I so effing want to.

Profanity is not outlawed on ProgressiveHistorians, but it is highly discouraged.  If we want to go toe-to-toe with the professionals, we have to do it in language that’s fit to print in a forum they can see.  Maryscott’s point is well taken, but the honest truth is that we can either fight the language battle or we can fight every other battle with credibility.  I choose the latter.

Why should I donate to you?  What do I get?

Because I’m poor, and I need the money to pay me for the time I’d be working if I didn’t have this silly blog.

There are two ways to donate: one-time donation, or a subscription (links forthcoming).  Both methods use PayPal, but you don’t have to have an account with them.  Your money will go directly to me, and I’ll bank it, unless I have expressly said otherwise.  If I put out an appeal for money for a specific cause — say, to purchase BlogAds at another site — all the money I raise will go to that purpose, I guarantee it.  There’s no reason for me to lie and lose your trust.

You don’t get any subscriber benefits, but you help pay for my time to keep the site up and running, which I’d argue is a benefit in itself.


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