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TopCommentsRedux

The Top Comments community on Daily Kos began with Carnacki’s first Top Comments diary (he called it Commentary Central, then) on 6/14/2006. My first TC diary was on the 20th of that month, and I have been active here ever since. I remember a night, way back then (on June 23rd, diary here), when there was a fine back and forth about what constituted ‘Topped-ness’ in comments. I am going to include excerpts from a few of the comments I wrote that night to describe how I regarded it, because I regard it the same now. (The excerpts are from that old diary, and are my words. I had a devil of a time getting permission to repost them, but I can document that permission, if the admins insist.)

More below, but first, a word from our sponsor ...

Top Comments recognizes the previous day's Top Mojo and strives to promote each day's outstanding comments through nominations made by Kossacks like you. Please send comments (before 9:30pm ET) by email to topcomments@gmail.com or by our KosMail message board. Just click on the Spinning Top to make a submission. Look for the Spinning Top to pop up in diaries around Daily Kos.

Make sure that you include the direct link to the comment (the URL), which is available by clicking on that comment's date/time. Please let us know your Daily Kos user name if you use email so we can credit you properly. If you send a writeup with the link, we can include that as well. The diarist reserves the right to edit all content.

Please come in. You're invited to make yourself at home! Join us beneath the fleur de kos...

The excerpts ...

Speaking just for myself, as a selector of comments, I don't exclude C&J from consideration. (We generally remove it from top-rated comments each day, but only because of the top 30 most highly mojo'ed comments, 26 came from that diary! We don't compile those statistics, we just report them. Still, the diarists are free to pick comments from there.) I know at least one of the comments I picked tonight came from there. But even when I screen a big front-page diary, I don't read every comment in the diary. That one, at current count, is at 573 comments. I don't know how many comments I read over the course of the day. It seems rather pointless to me to try to count them. Who'd care? There wouldn't be any value in counting them and it would just waste time I'd rather spend on comments. I doubt I read more than 573 comments. That would be a bit less than 5% of the comments posted of dKos for the day. Still a lot of comments! Maybe I read twice that many, I don't know. I don't know how many I read per hour. Do you know how many you read?
One thing that may be a stumbling block is the idea that selections reflect quality. That is perhaps an aspect of calling them "top comments." I don't know. I did not name this series. This is my second comment diary. I have selected totally different things. Last time I selected a tip jar, of all things, not because it was a tip jar, but because I thought it was an interesting thing that someone composed a THOUGHT in the body of the tip jar, and I wanted to reinforce that. Why NOT make a tip jar more interesting?
(Note that this was before automatic tip jars. All too many people then - if they posted a tip jar at all - would just use those two words, and then an n/t, if that. When a tip jar contained more, it was a bonus!)

(One other point. There is and can be no objective standard to evaluate a comment's 'quality.' Recs don't do it. No one would contend that a diary with 51 recs is necessarily better than a diary with 50 recs, nor even than one with 10 recs. It is subjective. Some of the most highly recommended diaries Daily Kos has ever seen might not have been if they had posted at a time when they couldn't reach an escape velocity of sorts. Other magnificent diaries have experienced limited readership. Comments are exactly the same. Some of the best comments I have ever read were posted in 'stale' diaries, when no one was still reading. Some I did not find until they were out of recommendability. Does it mean they weren't great? Not at all.)

And ...

I selected another comment that struck me as being an almost primal scream of pain and anger about an event. Was it a "quality" comment? I would say, rather, that it HAD a quality that I found interesting and compelling. Perhaps I was the only one of nearly 100,000 dKos regulars with whom that resonated. I can't say. It's possible.

I selected comments I hoped others might find interesting. I am not competitive about them and I'm not going to "defend" them. The last thing I would do is suggest that my selections were "better" than selections another might make. If you found a place in my diaries where I suggested that, please tell me where it is and I'll email Carnacki and resign. You or anyone else who is interested may take my place.

And ...
There is no limit in where I look.

I spend the MOST time in the diaries which are quickly scrolling. Less time in the recommended diaries, and the least time in the front page diaries. That is a generalization. If I encounter a "rich vein," the proportions could quickly change. I have only done two of these diaries, so I don't know if I can speak of trends. I don't think I have established any!

For me there is no tangible or definable "measurement" taking place. I guess I would call it the "glitter" factor. I see something that looks like it glitters, I stop in to peek. I cannot say how Carnacki does it, or Anonymous Army or jlove1982 or miss laura. I was never given any guidelines whatsoever to go by. I will say that comment "mojo" has nothing to do with my selections. I could care less if anyone mojo'ed it up or not.

I'm flying by the seat of my pants.

I probably visit 60-70 of the scrolling diaries, all with 4-5 comments or more, just because I think there is no discussion really taking place yet below that arbitrary number. I read perhaps 6 recommended diaries, over the course of the day, probably two open threads and one or two other stories on the main screen. But as I say, it is in no way systematic. And, as you know, all that glitters is not gold.

I will say that it was quite a change to read comments looking for items to KEEP. It is a totally different orientation from my usual approach, in which I read comments and discover those which compel my response. I will also say that when I am scanning for comments to capture, I never, and I mean NEVER, give any thought to how I will "defend" the selection. It struck me in the moment, I picked it, and spent not one more second of the day worrying about it. I won't spend any seconds of tonight worrying about it, either.
I'm enjoying the dialogue, though, and am happy to answer any question you have as best I can. Please let me know if I distract myself and overlook one.

Now, in 2014, I am sorry to say I do not have as much time to devote to comment mining as I did then. I think our current group of TC diarists would agree, we need your submissions from your travels around the site. NEED them! We're happy to include ours, but we just don't have four plus hours a day to devote to comment mining.

Next ... in response to a commenter who said it’s too subjective, too whimsical, comments should not be singled out, I responded:

Yours is a legitimate viewpoint, *.

Every night, SusanG picks a few diaries for diary rescue. Does it mean that absolutely no other diaries out there have merit? I know from dialogue I conducted with SusanG that that isn't so at all. That she picks one diary or another for a rescue is in no way a reflection on diaries she did not pick. Ask her yourself.

And, if you find comments you cherish, please link us to those in the comment section of each night's selected comments. Carnacki's group of comment selectors has been posting these for a bit over a week now. There is not one comment that ANYONE has suggested, team member or Kossack, which I have not looked at, just out of an endless curiosity to see what people find interesting and compelling.

I don't think there is an "objective" way to select interesting comments. If there is, I am sure someone will tell me. Thanks for sharing your view! (But I do hope you will come visit us again, bringing comments with you or not, as you choose!)

This kind of exchange is a major reason Top Comments asks for/begs for/solicits comments, because it makes more comments people can read, if they choose to, and because anyone’s judgment on what constitutes a comment worth reading is as good as anyone else’s. I have been with Top Comments since those very first diaries in 2006. And I have never seen anyone writing Top Comments diaries suggest otherwise. That is our Top Comments tradition.

And finally ..

I can tell you what I look for when I'm looking for comments. I look first in the diaries which have not been recommended. I do try to check the open threads and the front page stories, just because they can be a great source for humorous comments. But I look for things of interest, including, sometimes, comments with which I really disagree. Provocative comments play a large role in the power of the blogosphere. I like great variety, something from here, something from there. jotter and others say their research indicates as many as 12,000 comments may be posted on dKos in a given day. Obviously it isn't possible to read 12,000 comments. Even several hundred can result in going a bit bug-eyed if one is not careful.

Robert Parker is touted by some as being the foremost wine critic in the world. Certainly he has a remarkable sense for them. But he cannot taste hundreds of wines in a day, he can only taste very few, or he would confuse and then kill his gift. Of course, I am nothing special when it comes to comments. I think I have decent judgment, but no special qualification, no special authority. I have only been on dKos about a month. No mojo, no status, unknown. Why am I exploring comments?

Because I am fascinated by the minds and the hearts here! I am intrigued with the CAUSE - of improving the prospects of progressives in our political world. And, finally, because Carnacki asked for people to jump in with this, and I agreed to do it. He may want someone else to jump in to cover the 7 nights each week. I think five of us are working on the project. Ask him if you would like to do it!

I would NEVER suggest that comments I selected were better in any way than comments anyone can find here. My interest is in giving a little exposure and encouragement to people who take the time and who spend the energy to comment on things posted here. If someone's comments are not selected, that is no criticism or negative statement about those comments at all! If you told me that you wrote multiple comments per day that were better than any comments I selected, I'd believe that. On this day, I just did not find them among the 12,000. Even if you commented in diaries from which my selections came I did not. I don't read every comment in every diary I visit. I just can't, it's too many.
I hope that people will find it fun and stimulating to come to a single place for a cross-section of a day's dKos comment postings. Many of us find little gems in comments, oftentimes more than in the diaries. What I like to see most of all is people submitting comments THEY found, and prized in some fashion. I am every bit as interested to read comments others suggest as I am to share comments I find.

It's just a snapshot. Not exhaustive, not systematic, subjective as hell. I hope you do not feel that, by word or deed, we've suggested it was anything else. Please share comments you find noteworthy! I'd love to read them, and I mean that.

So, how do I see it after 8 years, in 2014?

In my opinion one of the finest developments that has happened is member-submitted comments. (This was always a part of Top Comments. In those first diaries Carnacki asked that people submit them in the comment threads below the diary body. Now we feature them prominently within the comment section of the diary itself, happily, proudly. But it has been a major part of the Top Comments tradition from the very first day.)

Every registered member has the right to submit comments, as many as they wish, and they get to pick what it is about the comment that pulled their focus. And they may submit the comment without explaining, as well, if they wish, though an explicit argument can illuminate the comment for others. People are free to disagree with the selections, and they’re free to submit their own. We ENCOURAGE that. We beg for submissions! Encourage them in every way we know. And we feature submitted comments prominently in our lists, equal in every way to any we may find, most often superior in numbers. YOU make Top Comments. We cannot read 12-20,000 comments per day, and up. But with the people who visit here each night we can read a high percentage of them! It remains only to share! We Top Comments diarists host, welcome, and try to show our appreciation!

One final note. In our comment solicitation blurb, above the fleur de kos, we explain that each night's diarist has the right to edit and include/exclude submissions. Almost invariably all submitted comments are included. Some TC diarists choose to not include self-nominations. Often I include them, because, if the submission is self-serving, I trust our community will understand that and receive the comment accordingly. We do generally avoid comments in troll diaries, and sometimes in hidden threads. We may exclude a comment if we feel its submission was intended to get the last word in a pie fight conducted elsewhere on the site. (That has almost never happened!) Generally we are delighted with comment submissions, no matter who sends them, no matter who wrote them.

Best to you all tonight, and please keep those comment submissions coming!

On to tonight's comments! Formatted by brillig! Collaborator par excellence!



Brillig's ObDisclaimer: The decision to publish each nomination lies with the evening's Diarist and/or Comment Formatter. My evenings at the helm, I try reeeeallllyy hard to publish everything without regard to content. I really do, even when I disagree personally with any given nomination. "TopCommentness" lies in the eyes of the nominator and of you, the reader - I leave the decision to you. I do not publish self-nominations (ie your own comments) and if I ruled the world, we'd all build community, supporting and uplifting instead of tearing our fellow Kossacks down.

Before we get to tonight's nominations, there were several submitted for last night's diary that were inadvertently left out. It in no way was because we felt they were not Top Comment-worthy; rather, we oopsed.

From tardis10:
From ban nock's Common Core diary, Citizen Rat shared  a diary's worth of knowledge and smarts here. Maybe they're a teacher?
From cai:
Richard Lyon in his own diary, because it is so important, as is the diary.
Now on to tonight's nominated comments:
From LOrion:
This comment by jan4insight, from my diary 16 Most Absurd Codes in NEW (to US) ICD-10.
From gizmo59:
This comment from The Termite illuminates Darrell Issa's character.  Watch as the cockroaches scurry.  From Mopshell's recommented post Perfidy, Infighting and Sabotage – The Real Story Behind a Committee’s Decision on Benghazi.
Some 'flagged' comments for tonight!
Flagged by joe shikspack, this comment by lotlizard 'tweaks' President Obama for his no accountability torture declaration.
Flagged by strobusguy is a 'comment' by Puddytat that appeared in the body of her latest diary undermining Scott Walker! I liked it so much I am including it, even though it cannot be rec'd as a comment.
(Link goes to the flagging comment,  itself.)
Flagged by gulfgal98, this detailed comment by Dallasdoc laments the words negated by actions aspect of President Obama's torture but no accountability declaration.
Flagged by RiveroftheWest, this comment by DocGonzo describes how nature has fallen through the cracks in our modern world, a genuine threat to our survival.

Top Mojo for yesterday, August 3rd, first comments and tip jars excluded. Thank you mik for the mojo magic! For those of you interested in How Top Mojo Works, please see his diary FAQing Top Mojo.

  1) This is the deputy Speaker of the Knesset, by poco — 178
  2) And soft sobbing... by JeffW — 162
  3) Netanyahu warned (yes,WARNED!) Obama by Lepanto — 113
  4) the ole folksy routine by allenjo — 108
  5) Netanyahu = Cheney by niemann — 103
  6) Thank you by Dallasdoc — 98
  7) I wonder by gjohnsit — 94
  8) I was just about to post that, I'm agog by LaFeminista — 94
  9) I'm pretty sure Israel could bomb Brooklyn at this by kingfishstew — 93
10) But if you check he'll chide you by GAKeynesian — 92
11) Nests. by JesseCW — 92
12) Israel has rather treated us like dirt throughout by thenekkidtruth — 92
13) Not a lot of credibility by commonscribe — 89
14) Depraved and sickening by lunachickie — 88
15) We're already there by Dallasdoc — 87
16) "Exterminate nests" by psnyder — 86
17) Soft?  Heck, I heard him all the way over on by cany — 84
18) Words do not fail. We have lots of them: by nobody at all — 84
19) America kowtowing by lunachickie — 79
20) After years of Benghazi wingnut noise.....this is by doroma — 77
21) n/t... by Glen The Plumber — 77
22) We are entering a state by gjohnsit — 77
23) At the point the Deputy Knesset Speaker by ExpatGirl — 75
24) Difficult NOT to believe it, imo /nt by jan4insight — 75
25) Let's not be sanctimonious by Dallasdoc — 72
26) concentrating a population by protectspice — 72
27) Occam's Razor by beltane — 70
28) Yup. But all the same, lose everything after by lunachickie — 69
29) been waiting patiently by kerflooey — 68
30) Oh Hai Whoknu! Still Here/Been Here Since, Forever by leonard145b — 68

Top Pictures for yesterday, August 3rd. Click any image to be taken to the full comment. Thank you jotter for the image magic!


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