Site usage guidelines

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We are an open Internet based community, but subject ourselves to some usage guidelines that apply to all members of this website. When you are writing comments or posts on this website, you must follow the guidelines listed below.

Further, we have also listed moderation guidelines for reference by the moderators of this website.

Remember, not everything is black and white. But when commenting, posting or moderating, it is better to err on the side of caution. We need everyone's help and support to make this community the most sane, smart and intellectual hang out on Internet in India.

Comment Guidelines

You must follow these simple guidelines when writing comments on Praja posts

  • No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks.
  • If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words.
  • Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is.

Please note that moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Praja Moderators some time by editing and fixing things yourself.

Moderator Guidelines

Moderation is critical in ensuring that the content on the site remains organised and relevant to the discussions. Hence praja has moderators who have the right to edit, move or delete comments suitably. As we allow these rights to various users, it also become important that there is as little subjectivity in the decision to edit/delete/move and comment as possible.

This page gives a set of guidelines to ensure objective comment moderation and uniformity in the moderation decision. As a moderator, you are required to adhere to these guidelines.

Who is a moderator?

If you have 200+ Praja points, (you can see your tally on your profile page), you can contact admins (via contact page) and request to be a moderator. Moderators of community have these extra rights on the website:

  • Edit/delete a comment
  • Move the comments across threads
  • Move the posts to front page of a city
  • And few more, this list could change as we add more features

Moderating comments

  • 'I Do not agree with you' is not a reason to moderate a comment.
  • Essentially, moderate a comment if it violates comment guidelines.
  • Edit a comment if you find non-parliamentary language and leave a note below as a moderator (on the same comment)
  • Delete a comment only if it is a 'spam', or has nothing else but a personal attack and extreme offensive language or pure promotion from a business. Otherwise, only editing is good. We dont want to shut people's mouth forcefully, just make them aware of allowed etiquette on praja.
  • If someone has linked a flickr image, edit the comment to make the image embedded.

Moving comments:

  • If a comment is posted on a wrong thread and you think it belongs elsewhere, move it to the relevant post (see help below)
  • If a comment is substantially interesting, promote it as an independent blog or a forum post
  • If a forum post (or a comment you just promoted) is 'frontpage worthy', leave a PM to 'admin' indicating so. We would like the moderators to be able to promote posts to the front page but there are some technical problems with that. We have to live with this for now.

Help on moving comments:

Below every comment you should see a link named 'Prune'. (You won't see it if you are not a moderator). Click the Prune link if you want to move or promote a comment. After the comment has been pruned, you will be see a new 'block' on your left sidebar asking what do you want to do with that comment.

  • To move a comment to different thread, go to the target thread and below the main post and each comment you will see a 'Graft' link. Clicking the link will 'graft' the 'pruned' comment to the new place.
  • To promote a comment as a forum/blog, select appropriate option from the comment mover block on the left sidebar.
  • Moving a comment also moves all the comments that were posted as 'replies' to the originial comment. You may need to carefully pick these comments again and move them back to original post.

And finally

Moderation is a privilege you have earned by being an active member of the community. As they say, with power comes responsibility. We hope you will use this power judiciously and ethically.

We understand that you are spending your valuable time to make a better place and we would like to thank you for that on behalf of all members. Happy moderating!


Posting guidelines is there with a specific purpose in mind, that is to make citizens know, care and participate. In order to keep the focus and sanity, we have some guidelines on how and what to blog about on Praja.

Content, Style etc:

  • Content: Write on matters that need public attention or are of relevance to citizens of an area. No personal propaganda, promoting businesses, movie reviews, pop culture or general sermons. There are tons of people writing on those.
  • Be Local: Don't always write on larger issues and projects (BMIC, Metro etc). Every 2nd or 3rd post or image should be ultra-local, about the area you live or work in.
  • Style: Don't sound very geeky. Use a few acronyms (FAR, JNNURM) and new readers may lose interest. Idea here is to write in such a way that you generate public interest. So explain things well, split your post into two if explanations make it lengthy, but dont assume all readers will have all the background information.
  • Credits: Don't steal from other websites, just quote them. Don't just copy newspaper articles, either add your spin to it, or explain something the newspapers may not have described well. If some stats and opinions are your own creation, say so.
  • PrajaByte (aka microblog): Use this feature to speak your mind, for one liners or quick takes. Opinions, hints rumours, reactions or whatever, but remember to be local, and stay civil!

Other guidelines:

  • Images/Video: Try posting large files on flickr or youtube. Here are how-tos: image, video (TBD).
  • Cross posting: Not recommended, but if you want to post on your personal blog as well, you must put "cross posted on Praja" right on top with links to the Praja post.

Some more general pointers on content and style:

Your opinions, but with credits to the source of inspiration: Don't just repeat what someone else is saying. Your opinions matter. Write something only if you have something to say about it. Always link to the original article. If you are quoting numbers, they better be backed up with references. Similarly, all pictures from elsewhere need to be credited too. Never ever rip another article from elsewhere. Its OK to quote a few lines (with due credits of course).

Be nice: Be gentle and use responsible language. If you have to criticise something, dont get personal. You have right to criticise the ideas, not the person behind them. Also, it is easy to pick a fight behind the anonymity of web. Never pick a fight. As they say, dont argue with a fool. People wont know the difference.

Think: Before you commit anything in writing, be sure you have evidence to back up what you are saying. Your personal reputation is at stake as well as the site's. Its not nice to delete blogs after they are published and they will always be available on google cache and haunt you for ever.

Tagging guidelines

To help members share knowledge and plan projects, Praja needs to have a super good discussion platform. Besides posting good content (posts, comments), its also very important that we tag posts right. Good tags would lead to better recommendations under "If you read this, you may want to read these too". Besides, tags help in searching content on website.

Members must follow following guidelines to tag their posts.

Free form tags

You must supply at least one free form tag when you write a post on Praja. We say "free form" because you can type anything here, we don't restrict you to a selected set of tags.

  • Describe your post in fewer tags, don't cause a "tag flood".
  • Check if the tag exists (a box will pop up in a bit once you type first few letters of your tag). If the tag you are typing doesn't exist, it may be that you are using an exotic tag of your own.
  • Tags must be comma separated. If you don't out the comma, the whole thing becomes a single tag.
  • Use single words as much as possible. "Traffic, Police" - these two tags are better than just one tag "Traffic Police". "Governance Reforms" in't okay, use two tags - "Governance, Reforms". You may ask why? That is because granular tags provide wider perspectives. If I see all posts for tag "Reforms", I would expect to see posts that talk of governance reforms, police reforms, education reforms etc. with time, the website will have features where people can search posts by tags - like, show me posts tagged "Reforms" and "Police".

Praja tones

Pick the "Praja tone" very carefuly. Tones are meant to be a quick guide on what type of content your post contains. Some members on Praja like reading only "Analysis". Some members prefer reading "Complaints". You will be disappointing them if you don't select the right tone.

  • Use "Complaint" for general rants and cribs against government bodies or service providers.
  • Select "Action" only if you are reporting about a Praja on-ground event or project you organized or participated in. If you have planned a Praja-style event, or are writing about an ongoing Project you are hosting on Praja, you can use "Action".
  • But, if your post is a call to action (an open ended - "come on guys, lets do this" type post), then it is either a "Suggestion", or a "Need Help".
  • Use "Analysis" if you have done some analytical thinking, number crunching to come up with some conclusions you want to share with us
  • If the end result of your analysis is a concrete suggestion, use "Suggestion".
  • Use "Media Reports" if you are sharing a news story from local newspaper. Do not mark such posts as "Analysis". A newspaper story is not your analysis, even though it may be something that supports your analysis. Only in cases where you are using several newspaper stories to build a case for some analysis, mark such posts as "Analysis".
  • Use "Review" if you are writing about service quality of local civic utility, or a website.
  • Use "Citizen reports" if you are writing an original post based on your personal experiences, or observations.
  • Use "Need Help" if you are calling for volunteers for your NGO, or a project hosted on Praja, or for some event you want to organize.


Whistleblowers on Praja

Given the magnitude and nature of issues that are being discussed on praja, it is only inevitable that sometimes there are situations where a member has a privileged information on an issue but would not want to disclose it for the fear of being held responsible for it. Then there are situations where the members have an opinion that is not congruent to their or their employer's official stand. We recognize that in such cases several members still prefer to share the information with other keeping in mind the general good of the public.

We are hence happy to announce a 'whistleblower' feature on the site. Please read further for the details on how this works. It is absolutely essential you understand all the implications of this. This page has been written in a FAQ format for easy understanding.

What can be submitted and what not?

Any information that you think is necessary for the public to know can be posted. This can be an 'off the record' comment, some evidence of an illegal activity, some sensitive documents anything. But be aware not to use this for targeting an individual or showing an organization in unduly bad light. Anything that is being posted will have to have verifiable evidence or other means to verify the authenticity of information being submitted. 

How to submit the information?

You can submit the message by going to the Contact page and selecting 'I am a whistleblower'. Then write your message. If you want to send any documents/images, you can mail them to 'acoward at praja dot in'. (Please see below on precautions to take)

How to ensure my privacy?

If you have logged in  as an user, the admins will know who sent the message. This helps admins to revert to you for some more feedback. However, this also implies that you trust admins to know who you are. You can use this option to send information of low sensitivity that you would not have any legal trouble with if the message were to be traced to you. This implies we know your e-mail address and other information you provided on this site.

If you have an information that is very sensitive and might pose a legal/physical threat to you if it were traced back to you, you can submit the message as an anonymous user. Log out if you are logged in and use contact page with the choice 'I am a whistleblower'. You can leave your true e-mail address if you want to be reached back by admin. Otherwise, fill in a dummy address. However, your writing might not be posted immediately if you post anonymously. This is to discourage the use of this feature for trivial issues. Expect a week's delay on an average.

If you want to send documents or images, open a new e-mail address with online mail services (Gmail, Yahoo etc) and use that mail id to send the attachments to 'admin at praja dot in'. Word and excel files have user information stored in them so you might want to send PDFs.

For additional security, use a computer at an internet cafe.

How much information is stored about me?

If you had logged in, the admins will know your user id and other information you submitted. If you have chosen to logout and submit information, admins can know your IP address. The site stores the IP address for two weeks (currently). This IP address can be used by law enforcement agencies in coordination with your Internet service provider to trace you. If you do not wish to be traced, use a public computer at an internet cafe. More technically adept users can use anonymous proxy servers.

Who will have access to my information?

Your details as above will be accessible only to the administrators of the site. While we will not reveal your details (IP address etc) to anyone via the website or otherwise, We will have oblige to any legal request by a law enforcement agency to provide any information that we have. In such situations, we will notify you before sharing the details with the law enforcement agencies.

What will happen to the material I send?

Your message with go to the administrators who take a decision on its suitability to be published based on following criteria.

  • Relevance to praja's focus areas (urban civic issues)
  • Authenticity and verifiability of the information
  • Legal and social risks involved by publishing such information.
  • Other relevant criteria based on the matter in hand
  • The admin's decision will be final. 

If the admins deem it necessary, they might also share only the content (and not your details) with few long term trusted members to ensure the suitability of the material for publishing. The material will then be posted as a blog or a comment from acoward.

What action will praja take based on the information I submitted?

NONE. Yes, Praja is a platform for people to find other like minded people. Praja admins (in their capacity as admins) will not involve in any action based on the information you provided. The admins' responsibility ends at posting your message anonymously on the site. It is then upto other members who identify with the particular cause to take it further.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments.

Summary: You are responsible for your privacy. Praja admins will only help you remain anonymous. We do not guarantee your anonymity beyond what has explicitly been stated above.