Do: Follow the Golden Rule
Treat other people as you wish to be treated. This is good advice in all aspects of life and social bookmarking is no exception. This mostly applies to comments. For instance, if you notice you are commenting on something submitted by someone who registered within the last couple of days, it would be nice to add a welcome message for them and some words of encouragement.
Don’t dupe. Ever. Submitting a duplicate of a story that is already in the queue splits the votes between the stories. This results in the story taking longer to get promoted which, in turn, degrades the efficiency of the system’s ability to aggregate up-to-the-minute news. Don’t submit a duplicate of a story that has already been removed from the queue because you think it is important enough to have another shot. Duping a story that has been removed from the queue because of its age or other reasons undermines the decisions or non-decisions of your community. No story is important enough to undermine your community. There will always be another hot story around the corner.
Do: Point Out Dupes
The sooner duplicate stories are pointed out, the sooner they can be prevented from hindering the original’s chances at being promoted to the front page. If you notice a duplicate submission, point it out and provide a link to the original submission.
Don’t: “Reported as Lame”
Commenting that you reported a story makes about as much sense as commenting that you voted for it. Other users do not need to know that you reported a story. If they want to know that stories are being reported, they can watch digg spy. The only people who need to know you reported a story are the site administrators (and the site itself which I am told is not actually a person).
Do: Thank Dupe-Spotters
Be appreciative of people who point out a duplicate story that you submitted. They have the best interest of the community, the system and the story in mind. Own up to your mistake by apologizing. This lets the community know that you also have its best interest in mind. Vote for the original, cut your losses and submit a new story.
Don’t: Comment Without R’ing TFA
You don’t want to look like you aren’t familiar with the subject you are commenting on, do you? You should always read the article you are commenting on before giving your 2 cents.
Do: Search Before Submitting
Search by keyword for to see if a story you would like to submit already exists on the site. If the story already exists, vote for the original. Even if searching for it means you will miss out on submitting a breaking story, it is worth it to preserve a high front page ratio and to prevent you from getting a reputation as a rampant dupe-submitter.
Don’t: Sign Comments
There is a reason why socially driven news sites do not provide a mechanism for automatically adding a signature to your comments. They want to keep the discussion relevant to the submission without clutter. Don’t add unrelated links into your comments. Don’t even sign them with your name. This is known as “comment-spam”.
Do: Report Bugs
Site administrators are extremely appreciative of people who report bugs or functional anomalies. Lucky for them, they don’t need testers because they have thousands of people constantly testing their applications.
Don’t: Question the Algorithm
Commenting on how unusual it is that something was promoted to the front page with only XX votes does not belong in a submission’s comment thread. If you suspect something has gone awry with the site’s promotion algorithm, you should contact the site’s support staff. In fact, don’t speculate on the promotion on algorithm at all.
Do: Report Abusive Users
Socially driven sites are always concerned with maintaining a positive social environment for their users. If you notice someone who is being abusive to other users, you should notify the site’s support staff so that they can deal with it appropriately.
Don’t take a perfectly good story and put a title and description on it that spin it to support an agenda you have. Being creative or funny with titles and descriptions is awesome, but try to stay true to the subject of the story. Save the spin for the discussion thread.
There is a reason they call it “social” bookmarking. Add people with similar voting and submitting patterns to your friends list. Connect with these people via email and IM.
All of these came from experience. I’ve been guilty of doing all the above don’ts and had to figure out the dos.
Feel free to add your own dos and don’ts in the comments.