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There's been a lot of talk about Community Spotlight in the short week or so since the Great Changeover – what is it, who are the people who get to decide what goes in it, and, perhaps most importantly, what is the effect of getting one's diary on it?  

Ranger and DKos old-timer claude has already posted The Rescue Rangers welcome Kossaks back to Daily Kos, and just today, grog crunched some numbers and showed us just how effective CS has been in highlighting great writers in The Community Spotlight Effect; now I'd like to contribute a bit of history, by posting an updated and revised version of History for Kossacks: SusanG's Rescue Rangers, which I initially put up almost four years ago.

So join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, where tonight we'll do a little navel-gazing while we close the book on the now-venerable Open Thread and Diary Rescue, and make way for its mightier successor – the new Community Spotlight.  



In Days of Yore

Though I am an Original Ranger, your resident Moonbat is a relative latecomer to the Big Orange Forest, so I can't speak directly to SusanG's career as a diarist; what I know I've pieced together through comments and a few communiqués to the Rangers.  In the past, she described her early obscurity and the amazing story of ePluribus Media's takedown of Jeff GannonGuckert and Talon "News," and one can fairly surmise that the experience led to a conviction that there was a great deal of brilliant-but-overlooked work going on in the lands South of the Rec List.  

After she was created a Front Pager as part of the Class of 2006, SusanG acted on that belief – in an effort to call attention to well-written, thoughtful diaries that had scrolled off to the Memory Hole, she posted the first Open Thread and Diary Rescue on April 6, 2006.  The very first commenter in the very first Diary Rescue was none other than the exuberantly community-minded Buhdydharma, who would himself later serve a stint on the Rescue Trail, and the exact quote was luv the diary rescue!.  It reflected a consensus (in almost a V-8 moment kind of way) that the idea was a great one.  It might be telling that at least 3 of the 19 Kossacks who rec'd that comment went on to Rangerhood, and virtually all the responses to it, as well as later ones in the thread, were overwhelmingly positive.  Clearly SusanG was on to something, something the community wanted, and so she posted another the next night, and the night after that.

Open Thread and Diary Rescue (FAQ entry) soon became an established feature on the left side of the Home Page, appearing nightly at around 9-9:30 PM Pacific Time.  With absolutely remarkable tenacity, it continued to do so for the next (nearly) five years, to the consternation of some East Coasters who were either getting ready for bed or already fast asleep by 11:30.  Regrettably for the non-insomniacs, a number of factors colluded to make that the time that worked best for both the Rangers and for Susan, and that's where the slot remained.

Diary Rescue went through several experiments in format and blurb-styling in those early days, but one thing that remained constant was that every rescue was a solo effort by SusanG.  Aware that no one – not even her – could continue to perform this Herculean task while concurrently attending Yearly Kos in Las Vegas, she put out a Call for Volunteers on May 25, 2006.  In a way, this might be considered (together with her First E-mail to the Volunteers) the Founding Document of the Rescue Rangers:

I'm going to be looking for volunteers to do the diary rescue from Tuesday, June 6, through Tuesday, June 13, while I'm at Yearly Kos. I'm thinking if we get enough volunteers, they can break the 24-hour cycle down and just be responsible for tracking diaries during a specified time portion so the burden doesn't fall all on one person, even for a day. But I'm open to other suggestions. Let me know what you think. I'll make arrangements to have one of the admins who is NOT going to Yearly Kos front page it each night at around 9 PM PDT so that it doesn't hog a Recommended Diary slot.

Different things motivated those of us who responded, I'm sure; in this regard, I can only speak for this moonbat.  I had been an early beneficiary of the largess of recognition afforded by being rescued – in a Rescue thread on April 10, 2006, SusanG said some really nice things about the Crusades series I'd been posting, and this in turn led to a noticeable increase in the number of visitors to the Cave of the Moonbat.  Among these gratefully welcomed historiokossians was Swordsmith of Publishing for Kossacks fame, who (in the interest of both full disclosure and shameless self-promotion) took me under his wing and guided me through the process of revising and expanding the first three of those Crusades diaries into Crusade of Kings, an adventure supplement for the Wildside Gaming System.  It was released in June, 2008 – so I guess you might say my volunteering was of an indebtedness born of gratitude, a means of paying things forward.  

My motivations were not at all unique: virtually every Ranger joined up in a similar spirit of community-mindedness; many define it is the reason they enjoy so much what they do.  Here are long-time Rangers pico:

Honestly, it's the little successes - the new users who are grateful that someone bothered to spotlight them - that I find most fulfilling. It's intimidating to come to a site like Daily Kos, where there are thousands of people and thousands of threads and all kinds of unwritten rules of engagement. When these users come in to the Open Thread to thank us for even noticing them, yeah, it makes all the volunteer hours worth it.

and jennyjem:

I joined because I really believed in Diary Rescue. I'm such a fan of good writing, and was sad to see so much go unappreciated. I found some truly excellent reading and some of my favorite diarists on the Rescue list as opposed to the Recommended list. I was only too excited when I was allowed to join, and too happy to volunteer for such a worthy effort.



The Founding and the Age of E-Mail

SusanG later indicated there had been about ten people who had e-mailed her, and she assembled a list to put us in contact with one another.  The inaugural Ranger-prepared Diary Rescue went up on June 7, 2006, and contained little fanfare – just a note saying that it takes a village to substitute for SusanG, plus a list of the Original Rangers.  That roll call has been added to significantly over the years – here's a list of the 72 people who have served a stint or longer (in some notable cases, much longer) on the Ranger Trail (please note that this list is derived from a couple of readily-accessible rosters, my own Swiss-cheeselike memory, and spot-checking by the modern cadre – if your name belongs upon it, please accept my humblest of apologies for my spacieness, and kindly drop a reminder in the comments so I can update):

a gilas girl, a synthetic cubist, Alfonso Nevarez, Aloha and mahalo, B12love, bbackerb, BentLiberal, blank frank, Budhydharma, claude, cmkay, Cordelia Lear, dadanation, dannyinla, dopper0189, drbcladd, Dump Terry McAuliffe, Elise, ezdidit, fatbyjhnsn, fla dem, Got a Grip, grog, Hans Scholl, hhex65, Hoosier Deb, ItsJessMe, Jennyjem, jlms qkw, jlynne, joyful, kath25, kraant, Kronos Blue, ksh01, Land of Enchantment, Larsstephens, LiberalLucy, Louisiana 1976, marty smith, melvin, mem from somerville, msobel, mtperson, noddem, nyc in exile, OCD, odum, PaintyKat, Patriot Daily, pico, Purple Priestess, rexymeteorite, Rippen Kitten, shayera, smokeymonkey, srkp23, stinking desert guy, sunspark says, taylormattd, The Blaz, tlh lib, TruthOfAngels, twilight falling, Unitary Moonbat, vcmvo2, watercarrier4diogenes, Wes Opinion, Yashua, YatPundit, ybruti

Over time, of course, the composition of the Ranger ranks has changed and fluctuated.  Some have left due to real-world (sorry, hipsters, but the term "m***space" makes my skin crawl) obligations, concerns, and unavoidabilities, while others have taken extended leaves of absence or semi-retired to a kind of Emeritus status – and yes, some have left due to disagreement with the arrangement that has evolved and/or the decisions that brought that arrangement about.  

Imho, this is always going to be the case when a group of people who've never met and who communicate pseudanonymously come together to try to coordinate anything more open to interpretation than "Call your Senator and tell him to vote 'nay'."  Some will adjust to conditions like the weird, kind-of-organic decision-making process that evolved among the Rangers who stuck around, and some will find it (or maybe even some of their fellows) intolerable, and will leave.  Regardless of the conditions of departure, however, in no case that I know of has any sort of malice ever been directed from or towards a person who has left the Rangers by the Rescue Ranger institution (such as it is), or vice versa.  If interpersonal malice ever has made for a different story…well, that's not the kind of history into which I care to delve.

The Age of E-Mail extended into the summer, as the Rangers went from assembling on an ad-hoc basis whenever SusanG needed coverage to responsibility for an increasing number of Diary Rescues per week.  It just made sense: she'd assembled a staff of around twenty volunteers who shared her vision and commitment, and who had always managed to adequately pull off coverage of a days' worth of diary-reading, even on short notice.  This was also the period during which the term "Rescue Rangers" came to describe the group.  In a thread on the forum, I noted this about our moniker:

Fwiw, I think the term may have been first used by me (and yeah, 'suppose it's Chip-n'-Dale derivative, but only because they got to that particular alliteration first), but at that point in the Founding, we had gotten to where we needed something other than "Dear Group" or "Hello, Everyone" to start our e-mails with, and "Rescue Rangers" just kinda stuck. It should be noted that even among Original Rangers, the adoption of the name was not universally acclaimed.

Neither was its continued use, nor the move to the forum, but I'll get to those in a second.  

It was during that first year that OCD and losthorizon designed a chipmunk-based Rescue Ranger logo, but outside of the June, 2007 version of this diary, it never got much airplay.  Though the Rangers have been known to insert little holiday-themed images instead of the bland little dots that the "ul" command creates, it was decided that posting the logo might be seen as an attempt to make DR more about the Rangers than about the diaries, and if there's one thing the Rangers have always been very sensitive to, it's a determination to keep the focus on the writers and their work.

That's changed, now that groups have their own homepages, and images can be placed in the upper-left hand corner of the screen.  Visitors to the Community Spotlight page will note that Got a Grip has recently updated the logo, using a more nautical theme:

                                           Photobucket

No word yet on if the Rangers will be trading in their Old West-style masks and capes in favor of Baywatch-type bathing suits; for the sake of my ego and your eyes, let's hope they don't.

Two days before she first turned the reins of rescue over to the Rangers, SusanG posted a Credo on what Diary Rescue was intended to be, and what it was not.  The context, especially considering that DR was a new feature whose purpose was not yet being fully appreciated, is pretty easy to discern:

People, I'm getting a lot of emails asking for diary rescue on behalf of self or others. While I don't really mind this (it actually doesn't help your cause much though since I take a look at all diaries regardless), I'm finding I need to make something clear. The purpose of diary rescue is to help overlooked diaries authored by active Kossacks gain readership and comments. The criteria for selection is that the pieces show originality, critical thinking skills, research and are well-written. Obviously, this is subjective and not all will agree with my choices. But hey, I'm trying.

I want to help the writers gain a larger audience and, in turn, to continue to provide the community with original writing. The more people we have coming to the attention of readers here, the more variety of recommended diaries we are going to have. We'll also be nurturing the next generation of political writing talent, whether it's in short humor, research, historical pieces or analysis.

This is not to say if your diary doesn't make it, it was necessarily poorly written, or that the information provided in it was not important. It means, for that given day, there was a whole lot of stuff that piqued my subjective interest and that I wanted to share with the readership.

How the Rangers – a group of notably diverse and subjective tastes – were to go about trying to realize that vision necessitated a form of communication a little less in-box clogging than holding debates through flurries of e-mails.  In August, Avila offered a solution.


The Stables

Avila set up a forum-style space on a message board specifically for the Rescue Rangers, which became the virtual headquarters, debate hall, and workspace for all thing rescue-related.  The forum has all the features that chat roomers know and love: emoticons, discussion threads, even avatars.  It also has the ability to host polls, create various forums and threads, and, most importantly, spread out our work in a format that allowed for editing of (and communication about) rescues-in-progress.  Without a whole lot of modification, the forum-based rescue process developed in late summer, 2006, was the one in use up to changeover to DK4 earlier this year.

Things have changed significantly with the move to a "real-time" rescue process.  Several Rangers – most notably claude, Got a Grip, pico, and vcmvo2 - worked with elfling and the DK4 design team from the early days of the Beta Testing to help to realize Markos' vision of a Community Spotlight that would take would take some of the less-democratic elements out of the Race to the RecList.  In a comment earlier today, Got a Grip provided an excellently concise description of the way the process works nowadays:

…we divvy the 24 hour cycle up into shifts as we always have, but we read them towards the end of that shift, giving diaries a chance to mellow and see if they catch on and go to the rec list, etc.  Then we schedule them to hit the Community Spotlight box at regular intervals, usually an hour apart or maybe sooner depending on how many diaries are there worthy of rescue.
We're doing this 24/7 now, with the added advantage that you can recommend and comment in real time now when a diary is fresh, as opposed to the old way when we put out a list at the end of the day when many diaries from the early part of our day could no longer be recommended.
We're seeing that this makes for a much more lively comment section and many more recommends for most diarists.

I'll come back in moment to that last point, because it's an important one
The fact that we have a private forum has led to a charge of elitism from some quarters of the DKos community; I dispute that.  As I mentioned above, even strife between individual Rangers has never bled over into what we do as rescuers, and we certainly are not some kind of club of king-makers.  I can offer little more than my word (which I hope, at this point, is worth something) as proof that no one sits around in some forum boardroom discussing who is to be the next lord or lady of the Rec List, but trust me: we don't.  Susan herself said it best in a comment attached to rhfactor's RescueRangers. Their recs should be made part of Menu, like "Rec'd List" diary from May 21, 2007:
How can they be an elite?

Anyone on the site is invited to join in the effort. In fact, they periodically put out a call for additional new volunteers.

The idea that people spend hours each week reading other people's overlooked diaries for no pay and virtually no recognition -- and that this is defined as elitism -- strikes me as absurd.

To me, it's the old-fashioned, positive meaning of true "servanthood" -- serving your community and fellow community members, not ruling over them.

SusanG herself is not an active member of the forum, though she does, of course, enjoy a standing invitation.  She describes her relationship to the forum in this comment, from the same diary:

But first you have to understand something ... I don't "direct" the Rescue Rangers in any way on their days. I serve as a consultant/advisor. If they need input, one of them contacts me if they have a problem.

The forum they created -- that was totally them. I didn't even know how they were organizing themselves. They figured it out and did it. It was like magic: Each evening, a text file appears in my inbox.

Iow, she does her thing, we do ours, and once a day, they come together to fulfill a mission that she established and we buy into.

Susan has, of course, provided us with advice and guidance at frequent intervals along the way – her e-mails and relayed instructions have formed a sort of Code that gives broad parameters for everything from the maximum number of comments allowed (a rather loosely-guarded secret, but you'll not find me letting any cats out of any bags in my own Cave) to coding concerns, to what's working and what's not in the DK4 setup.  The Code is more like the Koran (in that it consists of gathered scraps of wisdom) than it is like the Code of Hammurabi; through it, SusanG has let us know what sorts of diaries should be considered rescuable, and which sorts of authors Diary Rescue should be promoting, but she has never sought to establish a rigid set of micromanaging regulations.


So I Was Wondering…

I wrote the most incisive, brilliantly-composed diary in the history of the left wing blogosphere – why didn't you no-talent hacks rescue it?

To be eligible for Rescue, a diary can't have made the Rec List, and cannot have generated more than a certain number of comments (specifics evaded above).  There are several additional restrictions – if too much of a diary consists of blockquotes from some other article, it doesn't leave much space for brilliant analysis of a Kossack's own, for example; same thing with BREAKING!!! or "Freep This!"-type pieces.  While they may talk about important things that need to be brought to folks' attention, they don't generally display the depth of thought, research, and effort that DR was founded to showcase.  SusanG addressed this concern early on:

A lot of the emails I'm getting are about how important a certain issue/campaign/candidate is and that it must be brought to the attention of the community. Fine. I agree. Bring it to the attention of the community in comments on diary rescue, or in any or all of the (at least) three open threads that are posted throughout the day.

Making editorial decisions along these lines can be among the most difficult parts of being a Rescue Ranger.  I think all of us have encountered times when we wanted to rescue an otherwise-unqualified diary because it happened to be about an issue about which we personally felt needed to be highlighted, or others where we disagreed vehemently with an author's premise or argument but had to admit that the writing was good enough for rescuing.  In any event, that's part of why we have shift supervisors, and why no diary gets republished into Community Spotlight until it's been looked at by at least two Rangers.

Is Community Spotlight meant to replace the RecList?

In a word, no – but the whole answer is a bit more complicated.  

Under the old regime, the top of the RecList was where an author wanted to be: above the fold and only slightly less visible than the front page itself.  Understanding that I myself have been a beneficiary of the RecList system, I still have to admit that it wasn't all that democratic a way of doing things – it's the Rescue Rangers who have committed to reading every single diary that gets posted, not the regular-ole' lurker/visitor, which means that plenty of good writing was getting skipped over in favor of names that people recognized.  Oh, sure, it was democratic in the sense that the people who made the 'List were voted there by their peers, but the system itself was as sketchy and prone to corruption as the one we use in the real world, for the same reasons and by the same means.

It'sJessMe put the role of Community Spotlight vis-à-vis the old RecList beautifully:

Our role is, rather inelegantly, to make sure the site is a meritocracy. Great readers should be read because of the quality of their writing, not their longevity or social networks or knowledge of self-promotion. It's to shine a light on all the corners of rescue to find overlooked gems, to separate wheat from chaff, to sort through a jumble to find the stars. CS changes that because it's real time, more of a dialogue with the community. It also reaches more eyes because of its placement and because it's there throughout the day, not just at 11:22 pm each night.
>

Where do the tags come from?

In the early days, various community members, especially PatsBard, took it upon themselves to add the coveted "Rescue" tag once the diary was posted.  Nowadays, Rangers generally add the tags, and most of us Recommend the diaries we're rescuing as a matter of course.

If I was gonna be a Ranger, how many hours would I have to set aside per week?

Depends on how much you want to do, but it's not an insignificant time commitment, even for the least involved.  My guess at the average amount of time would be 4-6 hours per week on Rescue-related duties; significantly more if you're someone like Got a Grip, pico, vcmvo2, claude, or grog.

It should be noted that "reading a shift" doesn't mean doing so in actual real time – the procedure is still evolving, but most Rangers now wait until toward the end of their shift to begin reading (to give the diary some time to see if it's going to be disqualified due to rec listing or comment volume).  Reading a shift can take as little as 15 minutes – I've seen graveyards where 20 diaries got posted, with half of them garnering enough comments and recs to be out of rescue reach – to way more than an hour or two, for those days when the stars seem to have aligned with the muses and everybody on the site is posting their best stuff ever.  As noted elsewhere.

Where and how do I sign up?

So you think you've got what it takes to sit on your ass, clicking, reading, and typing for a couple of hours per week, hunh?  Keep an eye out: The Rangers are currently running at about 20 people, which is a little light, but we're also not in a place where we can take on and mentor new Rangers just yet.  That time's coming, though, and you can bet that once the current crop of Rangers has the rescuing process on DK4 down, they'll be putting out a call for able hands.  How such a recruiting call is going to look, now that we don't have a nightly front page post, is one more of a zillion things that need to be figured out at some point.

My diary is in the Community Spotlight box – who should I thank?

For the general concept of Diary Rescue, and for the fact that a front-page link to your diary is now getting picked up by every news aggregator in the Left Blogosphere, SusanG.  For your particular diary, thank the Ranger whose name appears in the "republished by" line at the top of your work.  That Ranger is the one who read your shift, identified yours as a worthy candidate for rescue, wrote up a short blurb, and clicked around the site to place your diary in the CS queue.  Finally, the Ranger whose shift followed that of the one who rescued your diary is the one who actually scheduled it for posting.  Though it can be tough to discern who that might be – we don't want the tops of diaries laden with a bunch of announcements from every Ranger who saw the piece – it's that second Ranger who provides the final approval and gives it a scheduled posting time.

What's the biggest drag about Rangering?

Opinions vary.  It takes up a lot of time for some, for others, unfounded charges like nepotism in diary-promotion (generally leveled by people who have little or no working knowledge of the Rescue Rangers) can rob the task of a little of its joy.  Got a Grip responded to a questions about this recently:

I have to say I've been surprised by the attacks against Community Spotlight from certain quarters and the bizarre conspiracy theories posited on occasion. I can understand the confusion over what Community Spotlight is. After all, one day we're a once-a-day feature named Diary Rescue that appears at the end of the night and the next day we're something called Community Spotlight with a top-of-the-page permanent gig on the front page. So confusion is understandable.

In a like vein, of course there have been examples of Rangers rescuing the diaries of other Rangers – since Rangers tend to be some of the more active Kossacks, and our DKos "job" holds as a prerequisite a strong interest in good writing, it stands to reason that some of our own diaries would sometimes qualify for rescue, and it would defeat the purpose to say that Ranger-written posts are inherently unqualified for attention.   We, all of us, compete for attention and hang time on the all-important community-derived lists just like everyone else – and the only advantage we might enjoy is the fact that our reading leaves us with a pretty intimate knowledge of what everyone else out there in Orangeland is writing about.

What do you see as the role of the Rangers in the greater DKos community? How do you think the new Community Spotlight feature will affect that role?

…got a very interesting analogy in response from Alfonso Nevarez:

If I were to compare the DK community to our government, I'd say that Markos and the other administrators are the Executive, the Rec List is the Legislative, and Rangers are the Judiciary. We try our very best to judge diaries based on content, and with an eye toward looking out for the interests of the least popular in the community. This means our main concerns are: 1) Is this quality writing (grammar, voice, met purpose, interesting)? 2) Are the claims made in the diary sourced? 3) Is this diary independently popular?

What makes it all worthwhile?

Ah, the "Why We Ranger" stuff!  Got a Grip spoke wisely of this back in the old days:

I did have a diary go from rescue to rec, but for me personally, the coolest thing was getting a lovely thank you from someone whose diary I'd rescued. Because of the rescue, he was going to continue to write. That was by far the most gratifying, personally.

as did Rippen Kitten:

The Rangers keep DR true to SusanG's original vision of community service and encouraging good writers to keep writing…This is the most rewarding online project I've ever worked on.

and joyful:

"I wanted to give back to the community that has sustained me with their incredible determination, fine intellect, and wicked sense of humor. My fellow Kossacks continue to give me great hope that real change is truly possible."

and vcmvo2:

I think the popularity of the feature is a great accomplishment. Second to that is the community that comes together and works very hard for little recognition and puts out wonderful rescues day in and day out. Also mentoring new rangers and blending them right in to the community is a very difficult thing to do and yet on DR it's done seamlessly.

rexymeteorite expresses a contemporary-era reason to Ranger:

I rescued a diary that was one of the most viewed diaries of 2010. A diary about the internet group anonymous messing with the Oregon Tea Party page and invading it. Very very funny stuff.

as does claude:

Finding my place and my own voice within the RR Posse and growing with it. I was really inspired to get into it as the transition loomed, and I'm proud of my contributions to that.

and, once more, Got a Grip:

That still holds true. But the past week has been a whirlwind of hard work and gratification. Seeing our hard work pay off in so many good interactions in the diaries highlighted by Community Spotlight and the enormous rise in the numbers of diaries going from Rescued to Recommended is almost overwhelming, in the best sense of the word. For those that dedicated their time and energy to make this happen is beyond our wildest dreams. I feel like a mother whose children have turned out to be the best children ever. I'm so pleased for all the diarists who are finally getting the attention they deserve for their great writing. And most of all I'm proud of each and every member of our ranger family, who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make this the success we'd hoped for, and more. Just thinking about makes me a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves, please, while I try to recover.



DIDS

The first five years saw Diary Rescue become an immensely popular feature on Daily Kos, with an impressive series of "Damn, I Did Somethings" to justify the faith paced in the Rangers by the site's admin.  Now that DR is gone, please permit me to take one last look back with pride at a few of our more measurable accomplishments, listed here in a (hopefully) rare burst of Moonbat immodesty:

  • Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Dark Of Night… - The Rangers never missed an evening's posting.  Ever.  Iow, we beat the Post Office at their own motto, hands down.
  • Somewhere Between 12- and 17,000 Diaries Rescued - The number speaks for itself: there's a lot of damn good writing going on out there, and it's a point of pride among the Ranger to bring it to folks.  Alas, we never collected all the data in one place, and since the tagging system on DK3 was, at best, imperfect, we may never know exactly how many works were rescued – the figure range above was arrived at by multiplying the estimated number of diaries rescued (7 or 12) by 365.
  • Election Roundup - A couple of months before the 2006 Election, I chanced upon a posting by Sidinny that included a ton of links categorizing election diaries.  Since we all like the idea of Rescues begetting rescues, I did what any Ranger with that shift would have done and blurbed it up.  That night, enough people – including Markos himself – so dug what Sid was doing that he and what eventually became a crack team of Diary Miners saw their community-enriching Election Roundup daily promoted to the Front Page until November, when they disbanded, their mission truly accomplished.
  • Other Community-Oriented Rescues and Roundups - some Rangers (this one included) have a soft spot diaries that round up writings on a particular topic, mostly because we know how much work it is to sift through so much Kosssery.  Meteor Blades needs little introduction for the fantastic Eco-Diary Rescue, but the Rangers have proudly gotten behind efforts like TerranceDC's GLBT roundup – SusanG herself even rescued one of Elise's Action diaries back in the early days.
  • Giving Great, Unsung Diarists More Exposure - from OCD, Rippen Kitten, and BentLiberal respectively:
    Rescued markthshark 2 out of 3 days before he made the rec list for the first time.
    I rescued Magnifico's first Overnight News Digest. This has since become a collaborative effort and regular feature of Daily Kos that judging from Recommended Diaries list, is very well-liked.
    One of the best things about being a Rescue Ranger is when a diary you rescue gets to the recommended list - because that means it receives eyeballs for the deserving diarist. Also what I like are checking out the comments of a rescued diary and seeing someone comment, "I'm so glad this was rescued."
    • Rescue-to-Rec List - Speaking of which, we noticed back in even the earliest days of Rescuing that there were instances (probably somewhere between one and two dozen) where attention directed to a diary through the Rescue list resulted in the diary being promoted to the Recommended Diaries one.  This entitled the diary to a rare duo of tags, and the Rangers who spotted it heading southward a pat on the back.

      Rescue-to-RecList (or "R2R," in Ranger shorthand) incidences used to be rare, since they required a peculiar synchronicity between the clock, the audience, and the almighty Rec List Algorithm.  We kept track of them on a special thread on the forum, mostly to congratulate one another on a job well done (without be all gauche about it in the diary itself); and there might have been around 2 dozen a year.  

      Since the introduction of Community Spotlight, that has changed dramatically.  As grog noted in The Community Spotlight Effect earlier today:

      The numbers surprised all of us: as of Sunday morning, 20 Feb 2011, one week after DK4 went live, 30 diaries went from R2R out of 120 appearing in Community Spotlight.  In just one week, the Community Spotlight process equaled two years of the DK3 Diary Rescue process. While some might question our assumption that diaries on the Rec List in fact reflect a broader readership, that perception has been a widely held one since the implementation of DK3; it's as good an indicator as anything else when judging the increase in a diary's exposure.



    Diary Rescue is Dead!  Long Live Community Spotlight!

    Of all the Rangers who responded to my request for written interview responses, maybe jennyjem encapsulated the whole thing best when she said,

    By adhering to guidelines, and trying to maintain a strict standard of excellence, and most importantly, through our belief that what we do for Daily Kos is important, we elevate the expectations of the readers of this site. And we raise the sights of the writer's, too. The best thing we do, though, is let people know that this isn't a popularity contest. If you write a stellar diary, it's going to get some attention - whether you're a professional or just a guy in your pajamas.

    Damn straight.  That's pretty much the way it is, and if it sounds like we're a bunch of ate-up Kool-Aid quaffers willing to give freely our time and our talents to something that is inherently (and perhaps suspiciously) altruistic – well, what did you expect?  Rescue Rangers do have daily lives, other interests and pursuits, and things we enjoy besides slogging through the Recent Diaries list, seeking gems – but that feeling that we're doing something good for both the site and the community is something that continues to motivate each and every one of us, and keeps us altering our personal plans around Rescue shifts and editing stints.  

    But most of all, we (understand that I'm going out on a limb here, speaking for all Rangers, but I think it's a pretty safe branch from which to make a group proclamation) would like to thank all of those who've supported us along the way; those who've written good diaries with the Rescue List, not the Rec List, in mind as the goal to be achieved; and, of course, Markos and Susan, without whom none of this incredible experience would have been possible.  The community that's assembled around the masterful prose here at DKos is like nothing on the right side of the blogosphere, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to be a part of it.

Originally posted to Unitary Moonbat on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 07:20 PM PST.

Also republished by KosBusters! and History for Kossacks.

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