We keep talking about this awesome comment system of ours, but why should you bother using it? How do you even use it? Here's a little guide. If you've got questions it doesn't cover, just ask. I'm here to help.
Hold it! I said I'm here to help, but before you rush off to type up a "HELP! I don't know what I'm doing!!!" comment or email, I would greatly appreciate it if you would read through some of these pointers, frequently asked questions, and random tidbits of information. You might just find an answer to your questions. The page will even be updated as we go to make life easier.
Getting Your Commenter Account
So here you are, eager to start contributing, but you can't figure out how to get a commenter account. The secret is to hit the "login" button in the upper right hand corner of the page.
You'll be offered the choice of logging into an existing commenter account or creating a brand new one at that point. It's a quick process and we only ask for the basic information we really need.
As soon as you've completed that step, you're ready to start commenting.
But Wait! Why Aren't My Comments Showing Up?
I said that you're ready to start commenting right after signing up for a commenter account, but that doesn't mean that you'll be charming everyone right away. Initially your comments won't appear to anyone except moderators and starred users (more on those later). They'll see your witty lines framed in pink.
This isn't because we don't like you or because we're some kind of elitist snobs. We simply use an audition process in order to reduce the number of spammers and trolls on the site. Basically, a starred user or moderator will approve your account after they see a few comments which are particularly great or show that you are in fact a real (and awesome) human being.
I'm approved! Now What?
There's some excitement to seeing that "such-and-such has approved this comment" message. Take a moment to do a little dance, make a little love, and refresh your memory of our commenting guidelines so that you don't meet the banhammer right away. Of course, general blog commenting guidelines and etiquette apply, too.
It really boils down to this: Be reasonably nice and polite. Don't be an annoying self-promoting spammer. Don't spout too much filth. (We all get a little bit dirty now and then after all.) And for goodness' sake don't post "FIRST! FRIST! 1st!" or any variation of that.
If you happen to get banned, you'll see a message on your profile page explaining that your account is no longer approved for commenting.
Wait! I Have a Profile?
Your profile page is located at http://gizmodo.com/people/YOURUSERNAME. You can also access it by clicking on your username in the upper right hand corner of the site. (Keep in mind that you have to be logged in for your name to actually show up there.)
On this page you can see all your commenter activity—your comments, your replies, your private messages, and your friends. You can also use this page to change personal settings such as your contact email address (in case you forget your password and need to reset it) and your displayed username. Keep in mind that you can add a profile picture while playing with those settings. Just click on the rather obviously titled "Edit my Profile" link and you'll see the option.
Other things to be found on your profile page are options to change your password and your comment viewing settings using the—again, very obvious— "Settings" and "Change Password" links.
What Are Those Hearts About?
I've gotta admit that I was confused the first time someone told me that he "hearted" me for something. It felt a bit dirty to be honest.
Turns out that "hearting" is how one adds friends using this comment system. You just click on the little heart next to another person's name and boom-ba-boom, you're done. Now you'll see that person listed on the "Friends" section of your profile.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...How Do I Get One?
You saw those pretty little stars next to some commenters' names and you want one. You don't even care what it does, you just want one.
Ok, easy to accomplish. You just need to blow away the moderators with some great contributions in the comments and they'll reward you with a star. On some days it's easier than on others, but it does help to pay attention to some of the starred users like Kaiser-Machead, Gordonium, OCEntertainment, Jux, MagicalTrev, Otko, Prostate of Grace, Norwood, OMG! Ponies!, and GitEmSteveDave. Sure, they're not always the ideal commenters—some of them have lost their stars once or twice—but they give a pretty reasonable idea of how to actively participate in the community.
What Superpowers Does My Star Bring?
Your yellow badge of honor comes with some extra features. Your comments will automatically be promoted to "featured" status and you'll be able to promote others' comments.
What, you want more? Ok. You'll also be able to see and approve new commenters. Their comments will show up in pink—just as yours once did—and you'll be able to give them a thumbs-up to approve their accounts. Alternatively, you can also approve them simply by replying to one of their comments.
How Can I Make My Comments Pretty Oh So Pretty?
Our comment system allows you to use a handful of HTML tags. With them you can turn text bold, italic, or into links.
The trick is simply to surround the text in these tags like this: <b>bold</b>
<i>italic</i>. Ta da!
For links, you can either just paste the URL in as is ( http://gizmodo.com/ ) or if you want to have a fancy link text then you paste it into tags like so: <a href="http://gizmodo.com/">and type your link text here</a>.
Back Up. What's This Featured and Promoted Comment Business?
We have a tiered commenting system here at Gizmodo. This means that great comments—those promoted or made by starred users—will show up first. You can even choose to not see any comments except for these featured ones by hitting the corresponding link at the bottom of the page.
When you're viewing all the comments, you'll be able to tell the difference between featured (or "promoted") and regular comments by looking at the color of the text. Gray comments are plain unpromoted ones while the solid black ones are promoted.
What's Going on With Those Hashtags?
#broken, #whitenoise, #tips, #lifechanger, #whateveryouwant. You'll see plenty of hashtags in the comments. Each of those tags links to a corresponding tag page which is like a forum of sorts. You can contribute to one of those pages by using the box right next to the Gizmodo logo. Just enter whatever tag you want to use, be it #tips or some silly secret tagpage you decide to create.
What Can I do in #whitenoise?
Speaking of tagpages, I love to lurk in #whitenoise, Gizmodo's open forum section. There's always something fun like copyright law discussion, betting, fake rumors about the Gizmodo staff, bug reports, poetry, frustrations, and some sentimentality. The regulars in there are a great bunch and incredibly welcoming.
Check that tag out when you're in the mood for some off-topic talk with fellow Gizmodo readers.
Oh, Have I Got Some #tips For You...
What's that? You've got a tip other than "Hey! This doesn't work!" Great, because we love to get tips. Be it through our tips at gizmodo dot com address or through the #tips tag. You'll often see a "Thanks, Random Person!" at the end of a post as indication that one of your fellow reader sent us the information for that particular post. It's a nice ego boost for you and it's a great help for us.
Of course, sometimes it's also just plain fun to browse through the #tips tagpage to see what your fellow readers are getting excited about.
No, Really. This Doesn't Work!
Ok, sometimes things break. We try to fix them as soon as possible, but sometimes we might not be aware of a problem. A great way of making us aware is to head to this page and file a report. Be as descriptive as possible and include your OS and browser details.
Of course there are times when you think something is wonky, but aren't sure if it's really a bug. The #whitenoise and #broken tags are great in those cases. Odds are that someone will jump to tell you that something's not a bug or we'll realize that there's an issue of sorts. Recently a few commenting bugs have been noticed and diagnosed thanks to some #whitenoise comments, so the method does work.
I use the Gizmodo commenting system each and every day and it's easy to overlook some things which may be confusing to new (and old) commenters. To make up for that, I'll be peeking in on the comments of this post and updating things with any significant questions. So if you've read the darn post and still have questions, ask 'em now.
Update: See? Told you I probably forgot something. A section on basic HTML tags has been added.