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One of my goals for 2013 is to spend more time writing which includes diaries on DailyKos. However, trying to keep up on DK gives me information overload. Does anyone else struggle with this? Help!

Okay, I’m not a newbie. I’ve frequented this site for years.  I have inklings of where to look for help. For others who may not have seen it, here is one resource on DK that can help those of us looking to write our own diaries:

New Diarists Group

The New Diarists group is a great place to start if you’re seeking tips on how to write diaries, how to tag them, how to respond to comments, how to build a following, etc.  But I ran into the same problem I always have with DK: information overload.  There are TONS of diaries on how to do diaries, but at first glance it’s not prioritized nor does it have a contents page or guide on where to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Example: I went to Google when my own efforts to search through pages and pages and pages of DK for an article I remember seeing years ago which had tips on how to craft a well-written diary.  (I typed in “how to write a diary for DailyKos.”)  Despite my best efforts, I still haven’t found that article. Yes, I know—I should’ve saved the link when I saw it.  Hindsight is always 20/20, though.

I’m hoping that…

A)    Some veterans will take pity on me and try to once again hold my hand by posting some quick, easy links to helpful articles about diary writing for this site.


B)    Other DK members who are still navigating this complicated terrain will share how they’ve coped with their own struggles to write, comment and participate.

Rather than just post multiple paragraphs of run-on sentences (one of the unfortunate flaws in my own writing), let me throw out a few bullet points if I may:

1.    Everything Is Orange
Yes, yes—I know that’s the site’s color. It’s a visual trademark. But as someone with Attention Deficit Disorder, one trick I’ve learned over the years is to color-code everything in different colors. I literally use a rainbow of highlighters in my administrative work in order to keep track of all the information I have to access for multiple executives and co-workers.  

But unless it’s an “Orange To Blue” article, the site’s color scheme tends to be fairly monochromatic.  Everything tends to bleed together into identical blocks of text for me.

2.    Too Many Tools To Do 1 Job
There is an endless array of devices one can use to break up text or make your diary easier to read: tables, text boxes, HTML coding, bold, italics, links, tricks for manipulating cells, image mapping, ad infinitum.

Useful and practical? Yes, absolutely!  Organized simply and easily understood? Um, no, not in my experience. I could easily spend hours upon hours reading through diaries and articles on how to format my diary.  Yet I suspect I’m not the only one who wishes all these tricks and tips were all collected into one handy, easy & quick to read list.

3.    Where Are The FAQs?
Forgive me if it is staring me in the face, but I double-checked a minute ago and I don’t see a FAQs link right at the top of the main DK page.  Caveat: I did click on “Help” and found the Tutorial.  Still, a text version of that would also be helpful for quick scanning via “Ctrl F.”

4.    So Many Diaries, So Little Time!
This one kills me.  I could spend my entire day reading diaries and clicking links to other articles.  Unfortunately, I just don’t have that kind of time.  It’s frustrating because I can see all the talented diarists here who I’d love to support by reading thoroughly and commenting at length.  The problem is there are SO MANY of you!  I feel guilty not reading more diaries as it is.

It’s not that I don’t want to.  It’s simply not having time to do all the reading I would like to do.  (I feel like Burgess Meredith in “The Twilight Zone” who’d have forever to read after the world ends were it not for the fact his glasses broke!)

All the diaries. All the links. Plus all the news to keep up on at MSNBC, NYTimes and my local paper’s website. Then there are my friends’ novels I've promised to read and review.  In addition, there is my own writing to read and review. There’s too much for me to ever read all of it.

I'm sure this diary could probably use more brevity itself, though I’ve tried to be succinct.  But in sitting down just to write 1 diary of my own today, I sought to re-read tips on how to write DK diaries.  No doubt someone else most likely has already broached this subject in another diary…if only I could find it. Or if I had the time to look for it.

I love DailyKos.  Can’t live without it; gotta have it. But I think Duran Duran sums up my feelings best:

“Destroyed by MTV I hate to bite the hand that feeds me so much information
The pressure's on the screen to sell you things that you don't need
It's too much information for me!"
How can I simplify my search and sift through everything on DK without wasting hours looking for things? More importantly, how do you know what information to skip and what you absolutely have to read here?

Help... :(

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Comment Preferences

  •  The link to the FAQ can be found (5+ / 0-)

    if you scroll to the very bottom of the front page, or any page. It's spelled out Frequently Asked Questions.

    It hasn't been updated to agree with DK4 fully, but you asked where it was, and there is your answer.

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 02:24:07 PM PST

  •  Tags, tags, tags. (7+ / 0-)

    Choose yours carefully, and search for topics that way when looking for diaries. Also, see a diarist you like? Click follow (the little heart by the user name will work for this) and new diaries by that author will appear in "Your Stream". Hope this helps.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 02:24:32 PM PST

  •  The 'Stream'. (7+ / 0-)

    I the 'Welcome back (if you're logged in) box on the right hand side of the page, the second link is 'stream'.  This is a way to narrow down the diaries you might be more likely to want to read.  It lists diaries by authors you 'follow', ones republished by groups you belong to, and ones with tags that match those you've selected to follow.

    I generally browse the 'recommended' list titles, read anything that sounds vaguely interesting, scan the recent list for same, and then go to my stream to see if I missed anything that might have scrolled away that might be interesting.  Typically, a single page of my stream listing will hold stories up to 3-4 days past, even though I follow over 150 diarists.

    But you've also got to decide what really matters, and learn which diarists mainly write rants, which ones do community pieces, which ones do fact and graph heavy ones, etc, and decide which type you prefer to read.  Obviously, in the wake of Newtown, the site has been drowning in gun violence diaries, but that will likely taper off quite a bit as time goes on.

    •  PERFECT! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, cassandracarolina

      Thank you bunches! I had no idea what "Stream" was for. I will play around with that to see if maybe I can weed down things to a manageable output.

      I'm amazed you're following over 150 diarists. I have 5 and even those I don't follow as often as I should. I just come to DK and start reading through the Rec list, Community spotlight and whatever is in the main feed on the left hand side of the page. It's time-consuming, but I didn't know any other way to wheedle it down. Using the Stream function will help.

      Thanks again!

  •  Keep your diary succinct, short and snappy. (3+ / 0-)

    Too many diarists have great ideas which they then muck up by not getting to their point and expressing to the readers what that point is.

    Better to make up the detail in comment's responses.

    And: review, edit and review. Then Repeat.

    Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 02:44:49 PM PST

    •  That is a work in progress... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, CroneWit

      I got harangued by teachers all the time when I was a kid due to my A.D.D. which put me in the habit having to constantly explain myself--and constantly repeat things until they were happy. It's a very hard habit to break after you've been doing it your whole life long.

      So I try to compensate for that by editing, editing and more editing. It seems I can never edit enough.

      Good point about detail in the comments section. That never occurred to me.

      Thank you as well.

  •  i have a similar issue. (5+ / 0-)

    i'm commenting a lot the past month because i've not been writing diaries, reading a lot more too obviously. before i got sick, i was producing at least a diary a week and my writing process is excruciatingly slow. there really wasn't a lot of time to explore and still stay current.

    i felt guilty, i like encouraging diarists as they encouraged me.
    i'm not sure what the middle ground is really.

    America...where we fight over who can be allowed to have a marriage license but don't give a shit about who can have an assault rifle.

    by dear occupant on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 03:01:33 PM PST

    •  DITTO. My sentiments exactly. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dear occupant, sfbob, CroneWit, nomandates

      I'm fortunate that my health problems from the first half of the year have become manageable. Things were very rocky the first 6 months of 2012.

      Like you, I do try to read as many diaries as possible, both to stay current and to encourage others as others offered support to me.

      The more members this site gets, though, the harder it gets to do that. We're only human and unfortunately, we have to skip some people's work. Not everything I've said or posted was received or interpreted the way I wanted so I know I've probably earned my own spot on others' "diarists-to-skip" list. That's unavoidable.

      I'm not sure what the middle ground is either. But nobody's perfect. We all are doing the best we can--and we can't ask more of ourselves than that.

      Hope your illness passes quickly and you are feeling 100% again ASAP.

      •  'The more members this site gets' (4+ / 0-)

        the more fresh eyes you'll have for your work. :-)

        my diaries were not directly political, more metaphorical. i'm a storyteller and i have to be in a creative zone to write as well as i want. i live to be in that zone so for me, there is no middle ground, unfortunately. my stuff isn't controversial but plenty of folks still avoid it.

        i wouldn't worry about what happened in the past GCD, just keep writing.

        and thank you for your well wishes. i got West Nile and it's been tough. it's actually the diary i'm working on now.

        glad to hear your illness is in the past. being sick is a DRAG!

        America...where we fight over who can be allowed to have a marriage license but don't give a shit about who can have an assault rifle.

        by dear occupant on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 03:32:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This above all... (4+ / 0-)
          i wouldn't worry about what happened in the past GCD, just keep writing.
          Whose eyes your diary (or comments) might reach is really somewhat random. And of those random viewers, you've no way of knowing whether they have a hair in their nether regions at the moment, whether they just like being scolds or whether they are just doing a very poor job of being helpful.

          We all have people we follow and we all have our followers. I appreciate the folks who fall into the latter category because I know that I can count on them for validation and mojo. And if I require correction or criticism, I know I can count on them to deliver those in ways that are genuinely helpful and not mean.

          •  i wholehearedly agree, sfbob. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gay CA Democrat, CroneWit, nomandates

            followers are the lifeblood here.

            i only publish on the weekend so i can set aside a day to shephard my diries and answer all the comments with a thougtful response.

            it's why diary writing is so cool, where else as a writer would you get such immediate response?

            America...where we fight over who can be allowed to have a marriage license but don't give a shit about who can have an assault rifle.

            by dear occupant on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 04:10:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, I do understand that... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob, dear occupant, CroneWit, nomandates

          RE: West Nile Virus
          Not sure what to say, but I do hope your recovery is going smoothly. My recent medical issue was with a doctor who put me on a very addictive medication without warning me how addictive it was. The withdrawal was pure hell for months, but thankfully I'm doing much better. I wish the same for you.

          I make a valiant effort to be eclectic in what I read and what I write. That is absolutely not easy; not at all. And to read a wide variety of content and writers is very time-consuming. Regrettably, life-or-death matters like paying bills, doing laundry, running errands, eating meals, etc always gets in the way of all the reading I want to squeeze into every spare moment, LOL.

          I'll add you to those I follow. I can't make any promises, but I'll try to keep an eye out for your diaries in the future. Right now, my #1 priority is finding a full-time job.

          Feel free to send me a msg on DK anytime. I'd love to hear from you.

          •  yeah, life has a way of getting in the way, eh? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gay CA Democrat, nomandates

            as for writing, i'm lucky i found a niche early, due mainly to the wonderful people here. i wrote a story about my childhood in brooklyn and 'more please' was the response and here i am.

            thanx for the follow, i'll do the same GCD.

            America...where we fight over who can be allowed to have a marriage license but don't give a shit about who can have an assault rifle.

            by dear occupant on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 04:07:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  OMgosh - my life runs exactly opposite! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gay CA Democrat, CroneWit, nomandates
            Regrettably, life-or-death matters like paying bills, doing laundry, running errands, eating meals, etc always gets in the way of all the reading I want to squeeze into every spare moment, LOL.
            My reading/writing gets in the way of "real life."  I forget to eat, take the laundry out of the washer, don't get the vacuuming done.  I remember to feed the cat and dog because Tigger will pester me if I don't.  I hate the time I have to give up reading for working.  A lot of my working time is taken up by thinking about what I read and what I will read when I get home (my current temp job is mindless).  Even walking in the woods with the dog will find me reciting poetry. LOL

            As for what I read, I almost never make choices anymore.  Years ago I decided what I considered worth the time.  I read everything I can within those parameters, sometimes get on a specific topic, but mostly I am totally indiscriminate.  The knowledge seems to eventually link up and make sense.   And I never worry about it.  


            "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

            by Most Awesome Nana on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 04:23:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  If I understand one of your complaints (7+ / 0-)

    then you're looking for a diary with many tips combined into one document. If that's the case, then fiver's Diary Guide to Formatting, Linking, Images, Embedding, and Tables is fairly comprehensive.

    If you require more detailed instructions, though, then the New Diarists group posted a recap of helpful diaries in June. We've since posted more how-to diaries, and this one includes a list of those at the bottom.

    The site doesn't allow groups or individuals to organize our diaries lists, so these kinds of diary recaps are the best we can do. The New Diarists group is planning to post another one within the next couple of weeks.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by nomandates on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 03:09:02 PM PST

    •  Thank you. I'll be referring to your post a lot! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, cassandracarolina

      Anything that makes information quicker and easier to find is a huge help. :)

      •  You may want to hotlist those diaries (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gay CA Democrat, CroneWit, nomandates

        by clicking the Hotlist button.

        One shortcut I recently picked up which is NOT included in fiver's diary, but which I have found to be very, very handy:

        Bolding can be done without entering html code or hitting a button by opening and closing the text you want to bold with an asterisk. You can italicize by opening and closing the text you want to italicize with forward slashes. Comes in very handy when you're typing fast, or when you're using a handheld device. Negotiating those buttons on an iPhone or a Kindle Fire can be excruciating.

        •  Thx! What about underline? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob, nomandates

          I do use the Hotlist button quite frequently.

 laptop died 2 weeks ago so I either have to use the computer at work ( when I have work, sigh) or type a diary on my iPhone. Trying to compose documents on an iPhone has been a real challenge--and it's a nightmare trying to edit my DK diaries that way.

          I could've sworn we used to be able to underline things, but I have totally forgotten how to do that.


          •  Underlining I have yet to master (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gay CA Democrat, nomandates

            I almost never use it at all. Now that I've read fiver's diary (Thank You nomandates!), I'll now have a means of doing it. But unfortunately no one-key shortcuts. Let's see if I have it right. Yes I do. Just begin and end with "u" surrounded by <> and </>. When you stop and think about it, a certain proportion of the formatting is actually pretty obvious. Some of it is not and never would be unless you use it constantly.

            For strikethroughs, "del" can be used instead of "s." I prefer the former, perhaps because it makes me think of the actual keyboard key.

            •  I never use strikethroughs... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sfbob, nomandates

              but being able to underline text is always a useful tool to have.

              It's one of the tricks I try to use for 2 reasons. One is to make it easier for folks to scan something I've written so they can jump from line-to-line if they're looking for something they want to re-read or use later. The other is to make it easier for me to read and catch my own errors.

              Besides, you can only bold and italicize items so many times before one's eyes glaze over.... :P

  •  You know as well as I do... (3+ / 0-)

    that you are far more conscientious than I am.

    I have always been one of those people who learns things either

    a) quickly or

    b) not at all.

    Just a quirk of my mind (one I shared with my dad, FWIW).

    I don't think I ever bothered to learn how to properly format a diary. I write it, I format things as best I can, and then I post it. If it's ugly, it's ugly. I tend to keep them pretty simple so the main thing I worry about is embedding video clips (opaque until you've gotten the hang of it, obvious ever after) and pictures. As for the latter, they land where they land; someday I will figure out how to put them on one side or the other so that I can have adjacent text. I only link from my Flickr account. The Daily Kos Image Library is a great idea. I've yet to figure out how to upload and make use of it. Someday I will, I promise.

    I will note for the record that your writing style is very clean, grammatically correct, and free of any obvious typos, intentional or not. (If only mine were the same.) That in and of itself sets you ahead of the vast majority here, including some of the front-pagers.

    Apart from everything else you seem to have already generated a couple of very useful comments, with links, some of which I plan on following. So you've provided a valuable service.

    •  Muchas gracias. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, CroneWit, nomandates

      ROGNM's post about succinctness and editing is one I have to adhere to religiously. My negative experiences with hostile school teachers back in the 70s and 80s ingrained bad habits in me about repeating information over & over again. So I try to be merciless when I edit.

      It is a mark of good writing that at some point one should restate an earlier sentence in order to sum up and re-emphasize your overall argument. But I'm guilty of overdoing it so I have to be zealous about it.

      Thank you for the kind words.

    •  Yes. THIS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dbug, Gay CA Democrat
      your writing style is very clean, grammatically correct, and free of any obvious typos, intentional or not.
      makes everything simpler. And I agree, you write well.

      Fancy formatting is not needed for most diaries. How you (GCAD) have THIS diary formatted is neat and clean, makes it easy to read. That is the most important thing, in my book.

      The other day I asked a diarist to please consider using spacing between paragraphs to make it visually easier. Lots of times, formatting is as simple as that.

  •  For readability, you can play around with tables, (3+ / 0-)

    bolding, or whatever but the most important thing to me is to hit the enter key twice between paragraphs. You won't believe how many people don't do that, and their text is difficult to read because of that.

  •  Writers write (3+ / 0-)

    That’s an old rule. “Writers write.” They don’t take classes about how to write or ask about the FAQs or make excuses about not having an agent. They just write. If you have something to say, say it. The more you write, the quicker you learn the rules.

    Here’s some advice on how to put together a DKos diary.  I looked at some of your posts. You already know how to do some of these things.

    I tend to write my essays offline (using a word processor).  I often do this for comments, too. Then you copy and paste. It really really sucks to compose something online and then you lose your internet connection – or have the power go out in your house – or have DailyKos announce that the site is down because they’re doing some daily internet housekeeping crap. Write it offline, then copy and paste.

    Divide your thoughts into paragraphs (you’re good at this).

    Insert links to articles on the internet. If you read an interesting article on the NY Times website, link to it (you already know how to do this).

    If you’re quoting from an article, use blockquotes (you know how to do this).

    Learn how to use Bold and Italics (you seem to know how to do this, too).

    Headlines are good if you have several different sections. Either put the headline  in bold or use h2 in pointy brackets.

    Learn how to embed YouTube Videos and photos/graphics. They make your diary more visually interesting. Readers’ eyes will go right to the graphic. This is true. The words are really important, but if you have a good graph or a photo or a video, people will spend more time reading what you wrote.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 10:56:38 PM PST

    •  One more thing (3+ / 0-)

      Edit what you wrote. Click on the preview button and look at the preview, word by word. Fix the punctuation and the spelling and the paragraph breaks. Fix everything. Sometimes you'll see something that's ungrammatical or doesn't make sense. Then, when it seems perfect, click on post.

      Two seconds later, you'll see a word you spelled wrong. Go back and fix it. You wouldn't want to look like an idiot.

      “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

      by Dbug on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 11:04:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you and agreed. Questions, though? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, Melanie in IA

      "or use h2 in pointy brackets."
      Umm, what does that mean? (Sorry, not sure)

      RE: embedding videos and photos.
      Guilty as charged. I've never used those. It's on my to-do list to try it for a future diary, though. Thanks for the reminder.

      It seems like I always miss at least 1 typo even when I prepare a diary in MS Word. That drives me nuts. UGH.

      By the way, you can't edit the text in your diary after you finally publish it, can you? I tried to do that on my Xmas Eve diary, but I didn't see where on the page you can access it after you finally publish. (I may have known at one point in the past, but I've forgotten since then.) :P

  •  And as I just said, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dbug, Gay CA Democrat

    you are welcome to ask if you have questions.

    If you have a diary you want a second opinion of before you post, just ask. You can either message me directly if you want me to help, or kosmail nomandates to ask for a mentor, if you don't want my help.

  •  'Writers write..." I'll vote for that! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gay CA Democrat

    Get on the bike, pedal furiously, if you fall off, so be it, get up, do it again......until suddenly the stuff is POURING out of you.

    I generally average a diary a day, although sometime it gets as high as three. There is a personal reason for this.

    The one GOOD thing is that my photography is adequate, which can be useful in distracting the reader from the uneven grammar!

    Remember, 'Either do, or not do.'

    I seriously wish you well...........


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