Announcement: r/Politics is moving to a whitelist domain submission model – please read

As discussed in July’s meta thread, the mod team has been discussing a move to a whitelist model for submission domains. After much discussion and planning, we are opting to move ahead with that change in several days. As part of this change, we have added a new rule referred to as ‘domain notability’ which we will use as a rubric by which we will approve or reject domains. I know it’s really tempting to jump straight to the list, but we beg that you finish reading this entire post before jumping in to the comments. Note that this change will not be taking place until this post is at least 72 hours old.

Q: What exactly does a ‘whitelist model’ mean?

A: Previously, if domains were deemed to be rule breaking or unsuitable for r/politics, the moderators would discuss and add domains one by one to a ‘blacklist’ of domains to be filtered. After this change is complete, we will match all submissions against this whitelist and remove all submission not originating from one of these domains.

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: There are several reasons that we’re opting to make this change. One major factor is that the reddit administrators have depreciated the spam reporting system that we previously relied on to remove and discourage spammers from the site. But even when r/spam was available to us, we had issues with the domains being submitted to r/politics/new. Moving to a whitelist system will be a bullet proof method of preventing genuine spammers from abusing our sub. Beyond dealing with bona fide spam this system will also have the following benefits:

  • Increasing the quality of submissions in r/politics/new by limiting the number of amateur and irrelevant domains submitted to us.
  • Decreasing moderator burden – with better vetted domains, the amount of time moderators need to spend handling reported posts should decrease.
  • Better standardization – with a tracked white list, we should be able to reduce moderator inconsistency wherein one moderator has approved a submission source, and another has rejected it.

Q: What does the domain notability requirement entail?

A: Domain notability is a new rubric by which the mod team will evaluate domains as acceptable for r/politics. It is not a method of excluding disliked or controversial domains. What it will exclude are domains that are irrelevant (not containing content useful to r/politics readers), amateur (not containing content written by professional or noteworthy authors), or spam-like. Our notability requirements are modeled after the guidelines that other large online communities have used to successfully evaluate content.

In order for a domain to be notable enough for whitelisting, at least one of the following must apply:

  1. The source is a major print media publication, television network or radio broadcaster.
  2. The source is a web news or media organization regularly cited by or affiliated with other notable or reliable sources. (Vox Media, Politico, Politifact and Defense One)
  3. The source is recognized as influential or noteworthy within their political sphere of influence by other notable organizations (The American Conservative – recognized by The New York Times, Democracy Now – recognized by the Los Angeles Times)
  4. The source is recognized as influential or important within their regional sphere of influence by other notable organizations (The Birmingham News – AL)
  5. The source has been historically noteworthy (example: The Hartford Courant, operating since 1764).
  6. The source has produced work that was award winning or given official acknowledgement by an authoritative organization in their field (The New York Daily News and ProPublica for their 2017 Pulitzer Prize in public service reporting, The Marshall Project for their 2016 George Polk Award)
  7. The source is recognized as a noteworthy or influential research organization, policy think tank or political advocacy group by an authoritative source (examples: The Heritage Foundation, Pew Research, ACLU and AARP)
  8. The source is part of a government agency or body
  9. The source is or is directly affiliated with a recognized political party. (Republican National Committee, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee)

Q: I don’t see a source I’m interested in on the whitelist. How can I get it added?

A: The current list is to be continuously updated and improved upon, like our existing whitelist for Youtube channels. In the indicated places within the thread below, we will solicit suggestions and discuss them with the community. After this thread is unstickied, submissions may be submitted via a web form. If a submission is submitted and filtered by our whitelist, the removal reason will include a link to the suggestion form with instructions. If you do not need an immediate response, or would like us to queue your suggestion for later, you can use the web form today at this link.

Q: I see a source on the list that I don’t think should be whitelisted. Why is it on there?

A: The whitelist is not a moderator endorsement of the sources within. We don’t want to judge sources on metrics that can be overly subjective. The sources that we permit are meant to be as reflective as possible of how Americans consume political news and opinions, which means not limiting ourselves to only sources that are popular within r/politics. We think that users should be able to find and engage with ideas that are controversial or maybe sometimes even flat out untruthful. Even if those submissions don’t make it to the front page, they will still be found on r/politics/controversial for users that favor browsing via that method. The sources on this list will exist and publish, with or without us. It’s better that we allow users to see and engage with those ideas than to shut them off completely. The front page will as always, be left to user voting.

Q: In the previous announcement, you indicated that the whitelist might allow special flair for editorial content. Will that be part of this change?

A: No not immediately but it has already made our work towards this feature more manageable. For evidence that we’re not just stringing you along, see the links demonstrating our progress on this below. No promises, but we hope to have an announcement on this subject for you very soon.

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