A description or user description is a piece of prose or poetry a user can write about their adult or frozen dragons (and other creatures except the Leetle Tree), which will be shown below the normal species text on the breed's page once approved. Descriptions are meant to give the dragon a brief backstory: name origin and/or meanings, personality, role, history, relation to others, etc.
There are four possible statuses for a user-written description: No Description (the default), Awaiting Moderation, Rejected, and Approved.
A user may only describe adults or frozen hatchlings. Dead creatures may not be described until they’re revived (or turned into Undead Dragons). The individual creature’s description page can be found by going to its actions page and selecting "Describe".
Descriptions should be in third person, with little reference to eras in time, especially to modern day. They must also be in English, follow basic spelling and grammar rules, and contain no HTML or other code. There is a Description Guidelines page for writers to follow. With few exceptions, breaking any of the rules in the guidelines is grounds for user and moderator rejection.
The set of characters allowed in a description is narrow, as laid out in the Description Guidelines. Notably, slashes (/), ampersands (&), and question marks (?) are among the disallowed characters. Any of those characters in a description will be deleted once the description is submitted, e.g. a submitted description that says "Who knows? He/she is a mystery" will appear as "Who knows Heshe is a mystery".
The character limit of descriptions is 1000. Any descriptions that exceed the limit will cut off after 1000 characters once submitted. Underneath the description box is a character counter and meter indicating how many characters left the writer has. A negative number means part of the description will cut off.
While Dragon Cave takes place in the world of Valkemare and there is an official encyclopedia one may refer to for more information, users are not required to write descriptions that agree with a creature's additional encyclopedia information since it would involve effort to unlock all the information.
Descriptions undergo a moderation process before they can appear publicly. This is to ensure quality control and to avoid inappropriate material on the site. While the description is 'Awaiting Moderation', other users can post anonymous reviews, often giving praise or critical help, or they may simply hit Approve, Reject, or Abstain without writing a comment. Only the description writer and mods can see comments. The writer can see the number of Approves and Rejects the pending description has (an Abstain without comment will not show up). Moderators can see user comments and a ratio of Approves to Rejects on a description, which help the mods go through descriptions more efficiently.
The moderation process can be as short as a few minutes to as long as many months, depending on how busy the moderators are. Users call the group of descriptions yet to be checked the "queue". A description will leave a queue once approved or rejected by a mod, unless the writer submits the description again. The queue can be as long as tens of thousands of creatures for the mods, or it may even be empty if all descriptions have been reviewed and none have been submitted yet. The size of the queue during the last few years can be viewed in a real-time graph here.
Users have a queue of their own and see one description at a time while reviewing. The page contains the official species and breed description in gray, followed by the user-made description in white. The reviewer can choose to Approve, Abstain, or Reject a description and may comment in the field. The character limit for description comments is 200 - the reviewer will be prevented from typing more after reaching 200 characters. If a user has reviewed every pending description in the queue, this message will appear: "There don't seem to be any descriptions for you to check. This probably means that there aren't very many descriptions left that you haven't checked already."
Moderators and regular users review with varying rigorousness. Some users Approve descriptions that have a few minor grammatical errors, while others Reject the same, and people have personal tastes that affect how they review. Generally, moderators are strict: if a description has more than one error or has places that need to be rephrased, it'll be rejected. This encourages writers to write carefully and follow the Description Guidelines. Also, rejecting doesn't risk the moderator making unwanted changes to a description (and disappointing the writer), instead leaving it to the user to write how they want.
A description that has been rejected by a moderator will have a status that reads 'Rejected' and will show the mod's comment above other users' Approves/Abstains/Rejects and comments. The comment explains why the description didn't pass and what should be done to improve it. Users who don't agree with a rejection are free to politely discuss the description in related threads and/or contact the moderators.
In a May 21st, 2016 update, as part of a range of updates for DC's 10th birthday, users can opt in or out via their account settings to be able to see user descriptions not yet moderator-approved, which was implemented to help alleviate some pressure from mods who are unable to review descriptions. Such a description will appear to users who've opted in under the heading "Pending User Description". Because this is an opt-in feature, those who are not logged in will not see Pending User Descriptions.
Pending descriptions must have a certain level of user approval before they can appear as Pending User Descriptions. Each reviewer has an invisible stat that measures how much a moderator agrees with their decisions. For instance, a reviewer who has rejected many descriptions that are also later rejected by a moderator (and vice-versa) will have a high "score" in that stat. Conversely, a user who has rejected many descriptions that are later approved by a moderator (and vice-versa) will have a low score. A pending user description may have several Approves from users and still not appear as a Pending User Description, or that description may have a single Approve and does appear.
A Pending User Description that is rejected by a moderator will immediately disappear.
Once approved by a moderator, a description will have the 'Approved' status and will appear at the bottom of the creature's page under the title "User Description". It is visible to everyone, including those not logged into DC. Once approved, all user comments on the description page will disappear, and the status will change from Awaiting Moderation to Approved. In the past, there was no distinction made between the breed's official description and a user's description: only a line break separated them. The bold "User Description" was added in 2016.
If a user would like to make changes to an approved description, they may do so by returning to the description page and editing the text. Resubmitting a description (with or without changes) will restart the reviewing process.
If a user sees an approved description of another user that is not appropriate for the site, they may alert the user by clicking "Report" above the description and commenting on how the description can be improved in the text box. Reporting a description will cause it to disappear from the creature's page, although other users may still see it.
A user-written description can be removed by deleting the text in the description box and clicking Submit. Doing so will change the status back to 'No Description'.
Currently, there are no moderators on Dragon Cave responsible only for descriptions. Moderators from different parts of the forums may review, and which mods do a lot of reviewing can usually be gleaned by visiting threads such as Description Force, or by simply asking.
Description moderators may be added to the mod team in the future, but TJ has stated that the Pending User Descriptions feature suffices for now, and the necessary work to prepare for description mods should be good and ready first.
- Description Force! - a forum thread in Site Discussion where users (mostly reviewers) discuss descriptions and reviewing.
- Description comments - a forum thread in Site Discussion where users may share and reply to comments on their descriptions.
- Approved Descriptions - a forum thread in Site Discussion where users share their moderator-approved descriptions.
- Describe-A-Dragon! - a forum thread in Forum Games where users take turns picking another’s creature for them to describe.