Ya know, I have been here for a long time now. I know, to a lot of commenters, I do not have a particularly low user ID. I actually arrived here right after Barack Obama's election in November 2008. I had always heard of dailykos before that, and of course I had seen Markos before on Keith Olbermann and other shows on MSNBC (anyone remember when Kos regularly went on MSNBC? LOL that ended quickly. Fuck Joe Scarborough by the way...it can never be said enough), and I had heard of dailykos before December 2008, but I never really bothered with the place until that December. I remember what originally brought me here was the promises of actual discussion, and not just shouting talking points past each other. Before I got here, I had been posting on and off at newsweek.com, fighting the good fight against the hundreds of right wing trolls that invade magazines websites. I remember, right after Obama's election in 08, on the article announcing his election I posted "SEE NO SOCIALISM! SKY ISNT FALLING! WERE NOT ALL MUSLIMS! WATER STILL WET" or something to that effect and got a ton of attention from it, both positive and, unfortunately, extremely negative. I tired of the hours I spent toiling against the idiots, and just wanted to talk to someone, anyone who got me.
I was 22 at the time, just starting at Chemeketa Community College, bright-eyed and hopeful about PRESIDENT Barack Obama's election. I wanted real discussion about the way forward, from a progressive perspective. And boy, did I fucking find what I was looking for, and so much more.
This place has been...I dunno, a godsend in my life. Throughout college, this place pretty much taught me how to write persuasive arguments. I had never really written anything political at all before, my writing had always been terrible attempts at Sci-Fi or Fantasy (I have gotten better, but god, some of my old shit is horbs), but my first attempts at substantive political writing have all happened here. Like I said, I was always a serial commenter, but I never produced any content of my own. This change pretty much immediately as soon as I discovered, and signed up for, dailykos. I am 100% sure that the 3.86 GPA and the summa cum laude honors I received with my bachelors degree is the direct result of sharpening my argumentative writing HERE first.
When I first got here, I thought that I was a pretty savvy liberal, but jesus was I wrong about that. I quickly learned how much I didn't know, how many blindspots I had...like understanding race in the united states, holy god jesus was I turned around ass-backwards on race. I was a little "color blind" racist asshole, and I'll fully admit that up front right now. But slowly, and with the persistence of patient, insightful and awesome kossacks, I got better. Not saying I am no longer racist, I grew up in america with white skin and a penis, of course I am racist, but I came to realize it, accept it, and actively work against it with all my intellectual might. And that is just one example, there are plenty more. Slowly, I realized how much I didn't know and dedicated myself to understanding, to insight, to knowledge. All of it would have never actually happened had I never been here.
Jeez louise, I am rambling now. Long story short: without the help of old timers, the ones who came before me, I would not be the person I am right now. If I had made a mistake, or posted the wrong thing, I was usually pretty gently corrected. And there was a lot of patience as a learned, and grew, and began to understand the ins and outs of this place. Not always the case of course, there were plenty of assholes, but the community didn't ream me for not knowing something.
I think that sometimes, now-a-days, we have become used to the troll invasions, the constant noise of right wing assholes coming into our home and shitting on our floors. As an understandable result, I think our collective tolerance and patience of newbies who are still earnestly learning has gone way down. Look, I get it. I have a pretty low UID (199775, of course not as low as many old timers, but pretty low now that we have like bajillions of users), I have become pretty suspicious of newbies too. If they aren't trying to fucking sell me a rock crusher, they are trying to tell me about how much they hate vaccines, circumcision or Obama. Dkos can be rough and tumble, and a jaundiced eye is often turned on newbies.
But it is not incumbent on us, as regulars, to identify and notice the good newbs who are just here to learn? Seems to me that sometimes that goes under the radar and our automatic mode is to attack anyone whose name we don't really recognize, or it used to be. I have noticed that Welcome New Users has been out in force lately, identifying credible new users and tagging them, which is very useful for me as an old timer, because it signals I have to give this person patience. But I think we could all do more to welcome new diarists and commenters better than we have been, and giving them more leeway on not only stuff like typos and weak theses but also stuff like referring to the democratic party as the democrat party...shit like that. Look, fact of the matter is that is how the rest of america outside of politics refers to us, the right wing has been effective at framing our party the way they want to in the perceptions of non-political observers. I think it would be more effective to be patient with the new user who accidentally spouts a right wing talking point than to automatically throw them under the bus, hop on the hide-rate express and pile on the hr's.
Again, I am not saying this happens a lot, or even some of the time, but I think when it does happen, it deals a ton of harm to diversity of thought in the community. If we are to survive as a political forum, I think diversity of thought is extremely important so we don't become a fucking echo chamber. I hate just screaming talking points, thats why I came here. But if we eject newbies because they accidently do something society has taught them to automatically do, we are potentially excluding a person who might have been a fantastic diarist, a fantastic commenter, who the fuck knows, maybe the next big contributor to the front page. We can't just turf a person because they made a mistake that, honestly, so much of America believes.
YMMV of course...it is incumbent upon every TU to deal informed HRs. In the past, I did not take that responsibility seriously. I have flung donuts like a Krispy Kreme employee more than a few times myself, but I take my power as a TU far more seriously now than I ever did back then. That includes copious research into the previous commenting and diarying history of the commenter. Of course, if its a clear and egregious case, and the comment remains unhidden I will add a hide to tip the comments into hidden territory. But if its a grey area, if the comment is already hidden, if there are already multiple admonishments and this is a new user, why pile on? Why turn them away? Why show them the worst of dailykos right up front? Killing them with kindness, patience and time, I think, is a far more effective strategy for the long term survival of our community than it is to show someone the door for a few small violations of community norms.
"But shouldn't they be lurking before they join the fray" is the usual refrain. True enough. But still, lurking could mean waiting a year to join up and make your first comment or waiting 48 hours to make your first comment. I made my first comment pretty much immediately. I wrote my first diary pretty soon after joining. And even though it was OBVIOUS I didn't lurk, people were still patient with me. And over time I became an "old timer"...I dunno when it happened, but eventually it did.
Again, not sure what triggered this. It wasn't any one particular thing. It wasn't a specific instance here, this isn't some backhanded response to some other diary that everyone missed today. It was just an idea I had.