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article imageNew Approval System for Citizen Journalists

By Chris Hogg     Apr 30, 2007 in
It's been almost seven months now since we launched the user-driven aspect of and we've learned a lot.
We'd first like to start out by thanking everyone for all of the time they have spent sharing feedback with us to help us improve, as it has gone a long way to making this site feel like home to the Digital Journal community.
That said, in an effort to strengthen editorial integrity as well as give users a sense of ownership and pride, we're happy to announce two new distinctive groups on as well as some major changes as far as payments go.
These new features have been a long time in the works, and were spawned from enormous amounts of community feedback.

New Approval Process

In an effort to stop spammers, to encourage only the best writing as well as make the site more meaty, we are implementing a new system that will require every writer to be approved before he or she can post articles. As our user base has grown, we have seen some very talented writers join to cover breaking news and we truly value each and every contribution.
Starting now, every writer will have to be approved before he or she can post articles. Using a simple application process, writers will need to provide three samples of writing as well as some basic information about themselves. This will stop spammers from signing-up and posting right away, as well as stop people from registering fake accounts to upvote themselves. The Citizen Journalist application can be found by clicking the link at the top right-hand side of your page (if you are logged in, you will see a link that says "Apply to Write")
(Note: There are a number of writers who have worked on for months and have shown a true talent for writing, a nose for news and have provided valued editorial. Our editorial board has hand-picked those who have already been approved. If you have been selected, you will still see the link to "Post Your News" in the top right-hand corner of your page if you are logged in. You can continue as usual and this announcement will not affect your ability to contribute.)
This approval process is also needed to protect the integrity of the current stable of Citizen Journalists, as one user posting spam or poorly-written articles will affect the credibility of everyone. As a casual reader who has never seen DJ before, if my first exposure was through a spam post or one that contained countless spelling errors or serious problems with English comprehension, I would not come back. The approval process will allow us to filter out the people who don't take this seriously or are not able to provide quality original writing. It is meant to protect the integrity of all writers and the Digital Journal name. With our goal being to make Digital Journal the most widely known in the Citizen Journalism community on the Internet, we believe steps like this are essential.
So the new system now involves two classes of community participants: A Citizen is someone who can comment, vote, chat and subscribe to threads (kind of like a regular Citizen of a community), while Citizen Journalists will have the added privilege/ability to post news articles and get paid. Everyone is welcome to join as a Citizen and comment, debate and engage in lively discussion, and everyone is free to Apply to be a Citizen Journalist. We will however, be judging applications carefully.
Who Can Apply to Write as a Citizen Journalist?
We will be adding to the Citizen Journalist as often as possible. As soon as a candidate applies, we will review the application and respond within two business days. You do not need to be a professional journalist or writer to apply -- you just have to be able to write well and show passion for reporting. You should be able to express yourself well and all candidates must have a strong command over the English language.

New Payment Structure

Because articles provide the greatest benefit to the community and readers, we have decided to change the payment structure to only pay Citizen Journalists who write articles -- commenting and voting will no longer earn you money.
While we strongly believe commenting and voting play a vital part in raising your public profile (i.e. when you put a thoughtful comment on an article, a writer will usually notice it and return the favour), we believe more money should go to the people who work incredibly hard to provide valuable content to the site.
So from now on, Citizens who simply want to comment and vote can do so for fun (come on, it is fun!) and Citizen Journalists will get paid based on how many articles they contribute, and how high they rank (commenting and voting should be done because you want to).

Citizen Journalist Rules of Engagement

We want every approved Citizen Journalist to know that privileges will be immediately revoked if a user copy+pastes articles from other sources or registers fake accounts.
We are also going to be more strict with articles, in that, if they contain spelling errors, grammar problems or sentence structure issues, we will deactivate them and an automatic warning will be emailed to you to indicate your post has been deactivated. Don't take it personal, but you should remember the spell check button is your best friend.
Also, because you are now earning solely on the articles you contribute, they must be very comprehensive, compelling and and well written to earn votes. Short posts with no real information are not welcome. Spend time with your articles and be proud of your work. In many ways, this is a job where you are representing a name and a group of people. Many of you do that very well, so keep it up!
Finally, make sure your text is formatted properly without any strange line breaks. Focus on proper spacing and overall page layout. Don't break apart sentences on different lines like this example shown below:
Improper Text Formatting:Prince Harry will serve in Iraq with his regiment, the
head of the British army said, despite fears that insurgents could
target the third in line to the throne.
It should read continuously without any breaks, like this example:
Proper Text Formatting: Prince Harry will serve in Iraq with his regiment, the head of the British army said, despite fears that insurgents could target the third in line to the throne.

No More Downvoting Articles

This one has been a hot button, and with overwhelming community support we have decided to kill the article "downvote" feature. Most importantly, it's being killed because you asked for it; we want to do our best to balance the function of the site as well as your interests, so its removal is largely based on user requests.
Also, with writers needing approval before publishing articles, we no longer need a "lacks content" or "copy+paste" downvote. Every approved writer is credible and will not be posting spam or copying from other sites.
With only the upvote (Now called the "Good Find" button, found at the bottom of every article) remaining, you should vote on articles you believe are informative and worthy of the front page. The front-page news is generated by your votes, so don't mark something as a "good find" just because you can. Only upvote articles that interest you.
Both Citizens and Citizen Journalists should take part in the community by voting and commenting.
We thank everyone once again for their continued support as we work to improve
More about Digital Journal, Features, Citizen journalists