We all like to write about the big stuff. Breaking a story, especially one which hits all the Liberal hot buttons is a guaranteed Rec List Diary and, if done well, brings great credit on the Diarist. We are Bloggers, why wouldn't we want the acclaim of those we consider to be our natural constituency?
More than that though, we all have opinions, and building a reputation is one way we can reach more people, with more acceptance, for those times that we choose to express them. That doesn't mean that one person's opinion is more valid than another's, simply that the readership can evaluate the comments of one they know well in a more informed manner that they can draw conclusions from the comments of a relative unknown user.
I am no different to everyone else in that respect and one thing I have learned is that however well I think I know this place, it will never fail to surprise me. If I simply observe the goings on, the delivery and discussion of weighty matters, and the pain and discord of intemperate discussion, sometimes I see something that informs my underlying beliefs about Daily Kos, and one of those things happened today.
I'll get to why I posted that picture, at the end. So for all the tl:dr folk .... tough, you have to read ... twigg
For many millions of visitors Daily Kos is a liberal news site. That is it. They follow links from elsewhere, they arrive via Google and any number of search engines. They read the Front Page and they leave. Some may click on Recommended Diaries, or those visible in the Community Spotlight, but generally they are just passing through.
From a political perspective, the Front Page is a news journal. Relied upon by many for truth, in a world that would prefer them to read lies. It fulfills that function rather well, and is broadly the reason that Daily Kos remains relevant. Having Diaries elevated to the Front Page, or regularly writing for that space on the site brings an audience to your work far beyond those of us who are registered users, or even regular participants.
For that latter group there is the "right page", and you may even see references to "right page", "left page". Right page is where we live, the Daily Kos Community, without which the left page probably could not exist .... and without the left page there would be no purpose to the community. One might ask what is the point of Daily Kos, and over the years I have seen many such comments. Well one might equally ask what is the point of the New York Times, the Washington Post or CBS Evening News.
We don't have a point ... so let's all go home.
So when you read suggestions that we don't actually do anything, that posting to a blog is not phone-banking, or knocking on doors, or __ [insert your own favorite activity here], then those comments are missing the point. I actually believe those comments are wrong, that we do offer something practical and helpful, but that's not the point either. While "Action" is a necessary component of electing our favoured candidates, providing the news and commentary is a valuable and valid end in itself.
If it is the case that the Front Page is bolstered and informed by the community, then that medium is surely improved, and given even more value, if the community scurrying around the right page is broadly cohesive. We see any number of Diaries attempting to herd the liberal cats that can range from Markos waving a big stick, all the way to a simple plea from another of our fellow contributors. They fall along a continuum.
What I observe both from kos and his stick, to simple requests that we try to get along, are that they are both prompted not by major differences in policy (although some differences do exist), but by a frustration that folk just forget to be civil. In the heat of the comment thread they forget to be nice. At least momentarily, frustration leads to intemperance, and one commenter attacks the person of another. Not the idea, or the point being made, but the individual. The thing is, I can disagree with a comment or Diary on a very primitive level, but I know nothing about the person who made the comment, or who posted the Diary. So it might be perfectly reasonable to describe a Diary as a "steaming turd of a Diary", and justify that with some cogent points, but it is not helpful to use even the most minor of personal critique, because that does not work here .... "You people" ... Excuse me???? Equally ... say what you mean. Don't say "most people" if what you mean is "many people". One of those can get you Tipped, the other can bring forth the pastry offerings. Small inconsequential examples, I know, but bring that frame of mind to your input, and watch that reaction change from antipathy and opposition, to agreement and recommends.
I have also realised that while the platform is great, the tools we have are limited. We can use some minor html and formatting tricks in Diaries and comments, and there are some basic "moderation" tools. There is an FAQ for the latter, which is helpful, but only up to a point.
I say that because this is a living community, and the FAQ is a fixed reference point whose value can vary. Custom and practise really determines what folk actually do, and the FAQ can be used in support of an action, and can often be used to beat people over the head when arguing the validity of this Hide Rate, or that one. It's not really arguable that Hide Rates are only dished out in two circumstances. One is when the entire community hides a particularly egregious comment (or the Tip Jar of a terrible Diary), the other use is when communication has broken down, and folk turned political into personal. Then people start HR'ing and uprating all over the place and it's time to either interject some reason, or simply walk away. I try to do both, at times.
One thing that isn't much discussed is how people use their tools to tip and recommend comments and Diaries. From observation I see that people do this very differently, and for their own, personal reasons. The next time, for example, that I see kos "tip" a comment, will be the first ... even comments he clearly agrees with he doesn't tip. I'm not bothered by this, I merely point it out as one user's habitual manner.
I have a friend here, who will remain nameless, who tips many of my comments, but rarely Recommends my Diaries. I have always taken that simply to be her personal style, rather than any suggestion that she likes what I say in comments, but thinks my Diaries are "steaming piles of turd". I should probably ask, but that would be tacky and I might not like the answer.
But tipping and Recommending are pretty powerful tools. Not because a single tip or recommend makes a difference, but because they can help flesh out a comment, or help reduce the angst. For example ... if your are unsure that the reply to your comment was positive, did the responder "tip" your comment. Absence of a tip does not indicate enemy action, but the presence of one might indicate agreement, or a willingness to discuss.
I have a habit of trying to tip every comment in my own Diaries. Not because I necessarily agree, but I appreciate people commenting. Indeed, in those circumstances I only withhold a tip because I either disagree completely, or there are so many comments I can't keep up any more.
I also tend to tip all the comments in any conversation I am taking part in, or at least a decent selection of them. I am pleased that you are taking time to have this discussion, and a tip can be my way of saying so, even while we disagree on the substance. A tip is also a valuable way to let someone know you saw a comment, without the need to leave a response.
I take a similar view when I recommend Diaries. When I recommend a Diary I am not saying that I think this Diary should be on the Rec List, because that is not my call. I know full well that it will appear there if enough folk recommend, and that frees me to use my own approval for my own reasons ... and we are all entitled to do that. There are a lot of us, and it evens out in the end.
I write all of that simply to demonstrate that the approach each of us takes is an individual one. Within a few basic rules, there is not right or wrong way, there is just your way.
So why the picture at the top? ... I hear no one asking ...
Well it's simply there to demonstrate just how convoluted my thought processes can be. Also my feeling that I am not unusual in that regard. Did the butterfly farting in the rainforest really cause the hurricane? Who knows, but I do know that one simple thought triggers another, and another. Before you know it, a Diary is being typed.
When I saw slinkerwink's tribute to a departed badabing, like many my first though was the normal amount of sadness for a life gone. I remembered the passion that was the Diaries and comments of badabing, and I remembered that, in the end, she was banned from here.
My second thought was how classy and appropriate it would be were her bony mojo to be turned into the little tombstone with the infinity symbol that we are becoming too familiar with. Whatever the past, one thing was clear to me and that is that badabing contributed enormously to this blog, and that she earned that mark of respect.
I was going to send a KosMail to elfling asking that this might be done. Indeed, others may have done so, I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that my silent wish was granted, and that in granting that wish, whether prompted by others or simply by their own efforts, the Admin acted swiftly and with grace.
Grace that is often missing from comment threads, where we need it most. So I wrote a Diary, and I entitled is "Grace"