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Update: Alright, two hours of this. I'm done. You guys have officially fried me. I might check in later tonight, but given that I am now officially on vacation, I wouldn't count on it. See you all in two weeks!

Ask me whatever you want. Doesn't mean I'll answer, but give it a shot! But a few things before we start:

As we continue cranking on the next version of Daily Kos (ETA: hopefully end of year), we've made a decision that won't go well with some of you -- we're getting rid of the UID, the number which indicates when you joined Daily Kos. We'll still have a join date, but the actual number itself will be gone.

The UID is no longer a marker of site growth, since spambots create fake accounts by the hundreds every day. We don't know why those are created, and they've never done anything. We mark them as spam and segregate them to make sure they do no harm, but those fake accounts have never done anything wrong ... except skew the UID. So you win, spambots! No more UIDs!

Actually, the real reason we're ditching them is that it creates needless stratification of the site's readership. One goal with the new version is to make the site more inviting to new users, since a movement that doesn't grow is dying. And we all know UIDs are used to lord over new users. It's bullshit behavior and we're no longer going to tolerate it. Of course, join dates can still be used to lord over newbies, but a date doesn't have the same power to intimidate as a four- or five-digit UID.

Other things we're doing to make things better for new users is simplifying the signup process, design-wise, and also by getting rid of the waiting periods. That waiting period was implemented to weed out drive-by conservative trolls. Without a waiting period, those guys will try to wreak havoc. We're countering that with an aggressive mojo tweak -- if a new user gets enough immediate hide ratings, we'll assume troll and ban quickly.

The story publishing tool is getting a complete rewrite, and will function more like a word processor. We're getting rid of HTML. Say you want to bold, instead of having to do bold tags, you'll either click on a "bold" icon, or use hotkeys. So for example, on a Mac, you could click command-B to bold, just like you would with Word or a Google Doc. We'll also have a table editor and other tools that should replace anything you might ever need HTML for. You want to embed a YouTube or Tweet? Simple add a link to the YouTube or tweet, no need to get the HTML embed code.

And yes, I know this might be even more controversial than getting rid of UIDs, but getting rid of HTML in posts doesn't just make the development process simpler, doesn't just simplify the user interface, but also prevents malicious hackers from creating havoc -- either damaging the site itself, or delivering malicious code to your own computer. Finally, every time we update the site, we end up breaking HTML-heavy diaries. People use CSS classes that we eliminate. We render pages differently, and they choke on the manual code. By retaining control over how our pages display, we make sure nothing on the site breaks the next time we update it.

Now you might find yourself saying, "but without HTML, I won't be able to do X". Our job is to make sure you still will be able to do "X". And we'll work closely for the community to make that transition as smoothly as possible.

None of this is imminent, so no need to panic now (and this is just the controversial changes, there's going to be some pretty sweet upgrades that I can't wait to roll out!). But ultimately, HTML is a barrier to entry. You don't see HTML on Facebook, or Twitter, or most of the tools used by the general masses. I love this community, you all know that. But we can't look inwards and stick to a model that keeps people out. We need to be inclusive and open to new voices, and people engaging online nowadays simply don't want (or need!) to learn HTML. We have to evolve in ways that welcome new users so that we can keep growing as a site and as a movement.

We have lots we need to accomplish, and the more people along for the ride, the faster we'll accomplish them. So as we make changes around this place, keep that in mind: my goal is to make this site relevant and accessible to the next generation of netroots activists.

Now ask away.

Originally posted to kos on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Welcome New Users.

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