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I want to first honestly say that I have made mistakes at Daily Kos. If people looked hard enough, they could find where I have personally attacked someone. I've uprated comments I should not have. I've gotten angry, disillusioned. There are nights I have hoped a kossack personally attacking me or a friend would get banned. There have been kossacks I didn't like. There are kossacks I should have apologized to, but I did not. I'm human, like everyone else here.

Over the years, Daily Kos has often reminded me of a department I used to work in. Believe it or not, there seemed to be "factions." There were people who spent a lot of time and energy engaged in negative talk about someone else. Yes, it accomplished nothing but lower morale and productivity. The only winners were those who didn't participate.

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To make a long story short, I felt this negativity. I could tell some people didn't seem to like me. I'd wonder why were people attacking me?  Was it my social skills again? That I kept to myself?  I discovered there were people who would look up tickets I had worked for things they could construe as a mistake, and print them out for negative gossip or to put on the boss's desk. In a way it was like Daily Kos. At Daily Kos, people can look up every comment and every uprate I have made since I started. In the workplace, people could look up every ticket I had ever worked on. At both places, you could build a case against many people if you spent enough time.

In time, I discovered I wasn't the only person this happened to. There were people who would look up other people's tickets to find things they could construe as a mistake to use for negative talk or to print out and put on the boss's desk.

The conversation in the department was filled with "Look what this person does. Why doesn't he (the boss) do anything about them?"

How did the boss react?  He hated this. He found the vast majority of the printouts petty. He felt it was all time and energy down the drain. He felt the people who spent lots of time focusing on other people "extremely high maintenance." He would talk to people in a nice way, but explain it is easier to focus on someone else than to improve yourself. That didn't go over well - it seemed to just exacerbate people feeling he wasn't doing anything about this or that person. This response also caused people to give him fewer printouts as they thought he "wasn't doing anything about it anyway."

The boss tried the best he could to improve morale and change attitudes. I remember he tried having social outings hoping people would get to know each other better. He tried talking to people nicely. But nothing worked. This just went on and on dragging down morale and sucking up time and energy. In time, the department split up. I got moved. The people I work with now are a lot more mature. They accept me for who I am. We all get along.

I remember when Meteor Blades was moderator. I often wondered if he felt like my boss did? MB tried everything he knew how. Nothing worked. I felt he had an almost impossible job. I assumed that's why the late 2011 purge happened. I didn't like the purge especially at first, because I don't like that approach. I have always believed in positive interventions. I also felt it went too far. But I couldn't argue Daily Kos didn't seem out of control. Something had to be done. The other approach didn't work. I was not totally innocent either. I had been in pie fights. But I decided it was time to focus on myself and do what I could to make Daily Kos a better place.

I thought about people I may have hurt through a comment or uprate. I kos mailed two kossacks and apologized for specific incidents. I got back the nicest replies. I had decided to focus on myself and what I could do to make Daily Kos better. It is a lot better to have friends you sometimes don't agree with than people you don't like. There's a real person with real feelings behind every keyboard.

The purge gave me the impression Markos wanted a "big tent Democratic" blog. That means its a given not everyone will agree with me. I have to expect that. I didn't want to be part of a blog where everyone agreed with me. What would I learn??

When I came to Daily Kos, I was an economic populist passionate about health care, unemployment, and poverty but I didn't know anything about the enviornment, racism, or other issues. I practice greener habits today than I did several years ago due to Daily Kos. I also had no opinion about abortion. If someone had asked me if I was pro-choice or not, I would have replied I didn't know. But I was even invited to help with SheKos, and only two weeks earlier I had no opinion on abortion.

So step back. What would Daily Kos be like if everyone agreed with you?  Would you like it more or less?

So if I write a diary, there will be people who don't agree. Most will be respectful about it. A few will be jerks. Why let those few ruin my diary?  I don't have to reply to every comment.    

Also, it is important to try and put yourself in the other persons shoes. Yes, we all make mistakes. I've uprated comments I shouldn't have due to reading too quickly, just not thinking or grasping how it would make someone else feel, it was a friend's comment, being angry, etc. Always ask yourself  "How would I feel if this comment was made about me, and people uprated it?" If someone has uprated what you feel is an insult about you, try to  remember they may have been reading quickly, reading without fully grasping the comment, interpreted it differently, or been upset. When pie fights drag on, emotions build up and people are less careful.  

I've been a kossack for several years. We've had pie fights and factions for a long time. Looking back, none of it did anybody any good. It just goes on and on with no end and sucks up a lot of energy.  

There are some very good kossacks who have recently talked about leaving or at least taking a break. That's serious. We need to listen and not dismiss people's feelings!  

I wish some banned kossacks could be reinstated. There are good people who had a lot of passion who got banned. Yes, that passion can lead to conflict. But their passion also contributed a lot to the site. Isn't is possible some of them have learned something & reinstating them could be a win-win proposition? Can't we go back to the days most anyone can be reinstated who respectfully asks?  

Over the years, I've come across numerous comments regarding how we can best moderate Daily Kos. Should we have paid moderator(s)?  Should we develop a system where the community self-moderates?  Should the community vote on the banning & reinstatement of non-trolls? Yes, there are some good ideas out there. But history has shown none of them will work if we as a community don't do our part. Civility starts with each and everyone of us. We have to work for the kind of community we want.

Let's work together to make Daily Kos a better place!  How about each of us focus on what we can do to make Daily Kos better?  

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to joedemocrat on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 03:34 PM PST.

Also republished by Courtesy Kos.

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