Let's start with what is the heart of Kotaku's commenting principals: Commenting is a privilege not a right.
Whether today is your first day reading the site or you've been reading it since the day I stepped foot in Kotaku tower, you don't have the right to troll, to name call, to get off topic or, the worst offense, to bore.
We take commenting very seriously on Kotaku because we believe strongly that what we write is only half the story, the other half, often the more important half, is how you react and the discussion that ensues.
That is why we ban, without warning, people whose comments are pointless like: "First" or "Not news" or "Slow news day."
It's not because we think you're being petty or insulting (both are true), but because of the larger offense, you're off topic. When you comment on Kotaku we expect you to be commenting about the story at hand. Agree, disagree, we don't really care, just do so intelligently and civilly.
And when the topic is something sensitive or heated don't use that as an excuse to incite or stop thinking. I would rather ban the entire community than steer away from topics that may make someone angry. Believe me.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here's a quick break down of how to comment, with thanks from Lifehacker:
Move the discussion forward: It's fine if you want to agree with what is already being said, but you don't really need to. You won't get banned for it, but if you're hoping to become a star commenter, try to contribute new information to the discussion.
You don't have to comment: Again, it's not necessary. Feel free to, but don't feel obligated to.
Keep private private: If you want to say something to someone on a personal level, or what to discuss something off topic try using our private messaging function. You can access it by clicking on a person's name.
Think before you type: Remember that's quite a soap box you're standing on when you prepare to comment. We have millions of readers, many of which will read what you have to say. That's fantastic, but make sure you make it worth their time. Stop and reread what you're going to say before you click on comment. Maybe give yourself a bit of time to cool down before responding.
Be courteous: No one respects a loud mouth or a name caller. No matter how right you are, if you deliver your intelligent discourse punctuated with name calling and four-letter words no one is going to take you seriously.
Don't tease the trolls: They exist, we will try to stay on top of the issue and ban them when we find them, but don't make the problem worse by responding or even acknowledging their existence, that just empowers them.
Heed the Disemvowel: I take banning people very seriously. I know how important comment access is and I hate to remove it, but sometimes it's necessary for the health of the commenting community. When someone has stepped over the line or maybe uncharacteristically broken a commenting rule we disemvowel them. But remember, that's a warning shot, the second time is a ban.
Promote Smart Comments: Every week we post a round-up of the most intelligent comments on the site. We also are always on the look out for people who should be promoted to Star Commenters. That's a worthy goal to reach for.
Believe it or not, we don't like banning people. And we certainly don't ban people because they disagree with us. What fun would that be. I love to hear intelligent discussions about how wrong I am. But break the rules, get off topic, start calling names, and you're going to get banned.
Now have fun.
Some reading on topic:
Geek to Live: Lifehacker's guide to weblog comments
A Call to Ban