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Mon May 04, 2015 at 12:23 PM PDT

Farewell, but not exactly goodbye

by ct

Reposted from ct by OLinda

I am sad, but also excited, to announce that after 11 years I am leaving Daily Kos and joining Raintank, where I will be working on monitoring software and doing devsy-opsy.

It's been a long and interesting ride at Daily Kos. I went through many election cycles, met lots of interesting people, learned a lot of things, had to solve a lot of difficult problems, and worked with some amazing people. It's the only job that my kids have ever known me to have. Hell, Daily Kos even once saved my life.

I'm sad to be moving on, but I'm very excited about what I'll be doing now. It doesn't have the glamour of politics, but monitoring is important. I'm looking forward to it.

Kossack friends, I'll still be on Twitter, reading the site, and hopefully poking my head up from time to time. Rest assured that my political opinions remain unchanged, and that I will not become a conservatist once I'm out the door. You're in good hands with the rest of the tech team; they do good work, and you won't have any problems with them. One nice thing about my moving on, actually, is that it provided the catalyst to address a lot of tech debt that had accumulated over the years, so it should be even smoother now in many ways.

Good luck, and farewell. See you on the Internets.

Reposted from Jason Libsch by OLinda

On Saturday at 8 AM PT, the tech team will be moving Daily Kos from its current web host to Amazon's Web Services. We'll be taking the site down for an estimated one to three hours while we move our data over to the new servers and update the DNS (the system that tells your browser where our servers are when you ask for a page from The DNS changes could take different amounts of time for people in different regions of the country (or parts of the world).

Why the big move? Daily Kos has long relied heavily on "real iron" servers, which are what you imagine when you think of big machines hosting big websites: boxes in a rack in a data center somewhere that have our name on it. By moving to Amazon, we'll instead exclusively inhabit so-called "virtual machines" in the famous "cloud." In other words, Daily Kos will live in a slice of Amazon's vast network of servers, without being tied to any one specific box as we are now.

Under our old setup, Daily Kos was vulnerable during events like Hurricane Sandy (which actually knocked the site partly offline for a time); with Amazon, we'll have a much easier time dealing with such events. Even better, we'll be taking advantage the flexibility of virtual machines and a world-class data center that offers robust safeguards against failure and will allow us to quickly grow (or "scale," in industry parlance) to meet our traffic needs with ease. This should mean better uptime, faster page loads, quicker response to traffic spikes and outages, speedier deployment of new features, and better-rested, happier developers.

We are also doing a large number of major software system upgrades in the process, covering everything from better "visibility tools" that allow us to chart the site's performance, to a faster, more modern version of Ruby, the programming language that powers all the upcoming new features at Daily Kos. This is the last major planned outage before we upgrade our site's own software, but you'll have to wait to hear more from Markos on that!

Reposted from Will Rockafellow by OLinda

Thank you so much!

However, due to personnel changes here at Daily Kos and poor communication at the post office, we discovered a bin of mail going back months, including lots of checks, that had never been picked up and deposited. We are depositing those checks this week. We understand this likely caused, or will cause, some confusion with your finances and we’re deeply sorry.

We value each one of our donors and we feel terrible this occurred. We have developed a better system to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Apologies and gratitude,


Reposted from Jason Libsch by OLinda

Tonight, starting at 9 PM ET / 6 PM PT and running for about 15 hours, we will be taking Daily Kos offline to implement a major upgrade to the infrastructure behind the site. There should be no changes in user experience when the site comes back online, but this work will put us in a good position for major improvements to our platform in the near future.

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Reposted from kos by OLinda

2014 was a shitty year for us politically, but as a community, it was the biggest breakout year since 2003.

The chart above is based on traffic data compiled by Quantcast, and you can see their charts of our traffic here. Our numbers are open and available for anyone to see.

We started using Quantcast in mid-2007, so we only have full-year numbers starting in 2008. As you can see, growth in monthly unique visitors was steady but slight 2008-2011, with a decent bump in 2012, steady through 2013, and then ... last year, when we went from just shy of 91 million monthly uniques to 153 million. Eye-popping!

Now to be clear, that's not total annual unique visitors. Rather that's unique visitors measured each month, so if you visited every month last year, you'd count as 12 monthly uniques. So basically what the chart above tells us is that in 2008, we averaged about 1.1 million monthly unique visitors. In 2013, it was about 3.9 million, and in 2014, it was 6.8 million.

Skipping ahead for a moment, this January? We're already at 9 million. Crazy, huh?

Back to the chart above, you see another big trend at play: the falling of pageviews per visitor. That's why overall pageviews were down in 2010, 2011, and 2013 even though the number of unique visitors was up. That's a function of a web-wide shift toward social media outlets, mainly Twitter and Facebook. Today, the Daily Kos Facebook page gets more comments per day than this website does. It's a trend we've never fought. Remember, our goal is to spread our message far and wide. So if that message ends up on Facebook? Good. There are lots of people there worth talking to. So not only do we NOT fight it, we ENCOURAGE it.

Still, even though that has had an effect on the site's page views, all the social-media trends in the world couldn't stop 2014 from going nuts, with almost 440 million pageviews served, compared to just over 300 million in 2013. Again, amazing.

Daily Kos is not election-driven anymore

Check out our Quantcast chart from 2014:

Once upon a time, Octobers would kill it during election years, as people tuned in during the runup to the election. This year, we had a decent October (7 million uniques), but nothing like months before and after (8.5 million in both August and November). What was happening? Both those months saw heavy traffic from police-brutality related stories. While I have no doubt that we got a boost from the elections, we're now at a place where we get bigger boosts from other key issues and stories.

Facebook and email

Our email action list currently numbers 1.56 million, which is smaller than last year, but we purged non-performing, dead, and/or duplicative emails. So our list is legitimately one-and-half million strong.

Over at Facebook, we have 668,000 likes. Back in September, when I last checked in with one of these updates, it was around 600,000.


See that chart above, with the light blue and dark blue? Well, the dark blue is mobile traffic. This month, about 61 percent of our traffic is coming from mobile devices. And there's no apparent end to that trend. Fact is, fewer and fewer people are accessing the web from computers.

First two weeks of January

So it is January and political news isn't particularly compelling. I mean, Republican took control of Congress, and they're doing and saying all sorts of stupid things. Some of you have complained that we've focused TOO MUCH on those Republicans, but hey, we go where the news cycle takes us. We are a news site after all.

Yet despite the underwhelming news cycle, we've just had the best week ever. Check our our lifetime Quantcast stats, broken out by week:

Last week was about a third better than our next best week in terms of unique visitors. The mix was 2-1 mobile to web. So rather than depress traffic, it appears that our site and community's focus on stupid Republicans has supercharged traffic. Either that or people are generically re-engaging after last year's shellacking. Actually, I don't know why people are tuning in to these extreme levels, but it suggests one major point: 2014 isn't the apex of Daily Kos' potential. We have a ways to go before we max out.

DK5 Beta

So a big question is when we'll open up the new version of the site to its public beta period. Well, I don't have an exact date, but we're talking a handful of weeks away. We're really, really close. The team is busy squashing known bugs like "comments work funky on iPad", stuff like that. No reason to get you guys to report bugs that we already know exist. Doesn't help us and wastes your time. So we're getting the new site to as close to perfect (to us) as we can get it, before we ask you guys to go ahead and break it to ferret out the remaining bugs.

Time-wise, it doesn't help that one of those "bugs" was me deciding that part of the publishing workflow was overly complicated, forcing us to rework a significant part of the project. But in the long-run, the changes will make the site far easier for you guys to use, and that's what's ultimately important.

It looks great, and I'm super jazzed about what's coming, and I can't wait to share with you.

And it's not all we're doing. We've got some incredible projects in the pipeline, all of which will make 2015 the Best Year Ever for this site. Stay tuned. It's going to be a great ride!


Fri Dec 05, 2014 at 05:02 PM PST

Welcome our newest writer, Kerry Eleveld

by kos

Reposted from kos by OLinda
Headshot of Daily Kos writer Kerry Eleveld
Kerry Eleveld
After years of focusing the bulk of our resources on our technology department, it's been super nice to be able to devote more of our budget to our editorial team. A month or two ago, we welcomed Shaun King to our writing corps. Today, I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming Kerry Eleveld.

You may have noticed her work already here, so yeah, this intro is a bit belated. But that doesn't reflect on how excited I am to have her. Among her recent accomplishments, she was the White House press correspondent for The Advocate, was a senior fellow at Media Matters, and has freelanced at places like The Atlantic and Salon. Her first book, The Evolution, is about the LGBT movement's (just about) victory in the battle for marriage equality, and will be released next year.

Kerry's knowledge about movement-building will be invaluable as we continue building our own, and she brings a strong voice on issues like LGBT and rights, immigration, and campaigns and elections (she covered the Obama-Clinton primary for the Advocate back in the old days).

The overlap between her experience and skill set and our goals and mission of the site are uncanny, so it was serendipity that brought us together, and we as a site and community stand to benefit a great deal.  

Reposted from Welcome New Users by OLinda

WNU group logo
Welcome, New Users, to Daily Kos, from your host Susan Grigsby. This Diary is intended to help you orient yourself to the site and ask questions about how to use it.

Below the orange gnocchi-doodle you will find links intended to get you participating more effectively. Also in this edition is information about the Community Spotlight, staffed by the volunteer Rescue Rangers.

Every single diary written on Daily Kos is read by a Rescue Ranger and could be featured in Community Spotlight.
After that you can ask me any questions about the site you want. [If I don't know the answers someone smarter is bound to be along who does, or I'll go find the answers and bring 'em to ya (wink! wink!). ]

AND-- if you're new and wondering what is and isn't OK around here, read Kos' Community Guidelines. That'll keep you out of trouble!

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Reposted from kos by OLinda

After August's record-setting month, we got a bit of pullback in the numbers of uniques:

Daily Kos traffic chart through september 2014
September's 7.35 million unique visitors was over a million fewer than August's 8.46 million. And you know what? It was still our second best month ever. And those visitors generated 37 million pageviews. All of this as we enter the heaviest traffic month of almost every year -- pre-election October. (Octobers represent a disproportionately large number of the spikes in the chart above.)

Traffic drivers. Last month, Ferguson drove a big chunk of the site's traffic as people turned to Daily Kos to follow the news. There wasn't any such news story to drive September, no big viral hit to drive outsized traffic. The coming election was likely a catalyst, but election-themed news didn't particularly share well or generate extra engagement (such as comments). It may be that this is the site's baseline traffic levels when nothing major is happening. We'll find out for sure one way or another after the election.

Mobile. Last month, 55 percent of the site's traffic came from mobile devices. This month, it was 48 percent, a fairly significant drop. So what happened? See above -- viral traffic arrives disproportionately from mobile devices, people accessing Twitter and Facebook from their phones. So given the lack of massive viral growth, I guess it makes sense that mobile growth was arrested. But expect that to be a blip, since the long-term trends are still toward mobile.

Email action list. At the end of August, our email action list was at 1.6 million, which was literally double from the previous 12 months. One month later, it ended at exactly 1.776 million, because it loves America. It really is amazing seeing this list continue to grow so rapidly. There's a phenomenon with political lists -- getting to the first million is a lot easier than growing it beyond that point. The reason is that even a 2-3 percent unsubscribe rate (not unheard of when emailing people) means having to replace those lost subscribers with a fresh 20-30,000 new ones. So most political lists end up hovering perpetually around that 1 million mark. Not ours. Two million by the end of the year isn't out of the question.

We are now sending two "share" emails every day. These are emails compiling the hottest stories on Daily Kos (I'd say about 95 percent community written), then blasting them to (most) people on the list. And our list members love them. There's the unscientific proof -- I get more compliments about the share email from random people than anything else we do. And then there's the actual proof: Those share emails now generate about 3.5 million pageviews per week. It's a big part of our traffic growth, and it's the single best method to build a wider audience for our best community-written material.

This one-two-three punch, community-activism-editorial, gives us a huge organizing advantages shared by absolutely no one else in the activism space. It's a big reason, if not the biggest, for the site's overall meteoric growth.

Facebook. Our Facebook likes are at 619,000, up from just under 600,000 last month. That's a slower growth rate than what we're used to. See again above about the lack of viral breakthroughs. Or maybe election-themed content we're focused on isn't as sexy to a more general audience. Or maybe it has something to do with Facebook's algorithms, which was recently tweaked. Before the tweak, we were averaging 11,000 new likes per week, we're now at 4,500. And no, we're not complaining. Most sites would kill for that kind of growth. And we always bounce back strongly after such tweaks.

Community. Neeta's efforts to establish on-the-ground groups of Daily Kos readers has meshed nicely with the activism team. For example, the San Francisco contingent visited Dianne Feinstein's office to lobby on Net Neutrality, while the LA contingent lobbied the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners for better worker safety conditions. And this was pretty cool!

You can check to see if there are any local events near you here, find a group to join here, and if your local area is barren, you can always contact Neeta/Navajo to help get a new group started.

Headcount. Daily Kos is now at 32 employees. We've got 10 in editorial, nine in technology, six in activism, three in social media, Neeta in community, and three at HQ (me, our general manager, and a brand new director of finance). Pretty crazy, huh? I remember back when it was me. Then me and Jeremy the developer. Now we have a gaggle. Or is it a flock? Maybe a murder? Fuck it, I'll make up a new word: It's an awesomeness of employees!

Here's a tip for anyone running a company with more than a few employees -- Slack. It's an inter-office communications tool, and it has dramatically improved the way we all interact internally with each other. Unpaid and unsolicited commercial finished.


Wed Oct 01, 2014 at 12:52 PM PDT

Meet our newest writer, Shaun King

by kos

Reposted from kos by OLinda
Shaun King
Hi all, I'm pleased and happy to announce the newest member of our editorial team: Shaun King.

Without knowing who he is, you already placed his first diary at the top of the rec list, and for a good reason: police-state excesses are issues that we as a community have embraced. Shaun will allow us to better focus on them.  

Shaun provided some of the most extensive coverage of Ferguson, on on Twitter of all places (here's a good example of his work), and holds a passion for the subject matter based in large part on his own life's experiences.

High school in rural Versailles, Kentucky was brutal for me. In middle school I had starred in the school play, was Vice President of the Student Council, had a ton of friends, kept a girlfriend, and was pretty much the happiest 13 year old on earth. High school was a rude awakening for me. I quickly found myself in the middle of decades old racial tensions and became the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school. I had half a dozen fights my freshman year, had a jar of tobacco spit thrown on me in the middle of the school day, and came a few feet away from being run over by a pickup truck full of guys who chased me down and nearly mauled me as I walked home from a school dance. I reported it to the school, having saw each guy in the car, but they did nothing about it.

A few months later, a group of guys in the school beat me within a few inches of my life. I missed the next 18 months of school recovering from three spinal surgeries and fractures to my face and ribs. I won’t even try here to explain the depths and extent of my physical and emotional pain, but it was brutal. I got some counseling for PTSD, learned the hard way that spinal surgeries leave a lasting impact, and finally found myself back on my feet.

I encourage you to follow that link and read his entire piece, tracing his story arc into activism. It will give you a clear look into who Shaun is, and how his experiences drive his activism efforts. In many ways, it reminds me of my own arc -- overcoming early traumas growing up in war-torn El Salvador, surviving in hostile lily-white suburban territory, and then using those experiences to fuel positive change. But my scars were mostly psychological. I didn't spend 18 months having my spine rebuilt.

Shaun's story inspires me, and I'm thrilled to have him aboard. Please join me in welcoming him!

Reposted from kos by OLinda

Daily Kos was built on the notion that regular people were just as important in our political discourse as the so-called experts, that pundits didn't have a monopoly on wisdom, that power could be wielded beyond places like DC and NYC.

Daily Kos has now grown such that it is bigger than most of the places we once critiqued, and likely more influential than many of the people and organizations we once targeted. (I mean, 8.5 million uniques, in August!) So, there's a very real possibility that we could become that which we once despised, insular, smug and self-satisfied with what we've become and accomplished.

That's why it's always been important for me to keep finding voices in the community to elevate, and every year we bring in a new class of contributing editors (formerly known as "featured writers"). We look for people who build respect among their peers in this community, are smart, and bring new perspectives to the day's issues in their writing. This is a high-pressure gig. When I began, I don't even think my wife read Daily Kos. I was able to ease into the gig without a massive audience second-guessing my every move. We now need our new front-page writers to become instantly acclimated to the glaring spotlight. Did I mention 8.5 million uniques?

We need to these new contributing editors to be even-tempered. Some people will say everything they write is shit, and that can't get to them. Others will praise them to the heavens, and no one likes inflated egos. We're in this to build a better America, not to self-promote. We're all human, and we'll all make mistakes, so we have to have the fortitude and humility to weather the worst, and the quiet self-confidence to remain grounded during the best. Some existing contributing editors talk about their promotion, and how they went from being a regular community members to being THE MAN, overnight. It takes a certain kind of personality to manage this kind of change and pressure with grace.

Before I announce this year's class, I just want to make clear that our potential pool is massive. This community is blessed with a huge number of gifted writers, any of whom would be great additions to the site's editorial roster. It's why the next-NEXT version of Daily Kos (DK6, launching in the next year or two, after we launch our current refresh) will more prominently feature community content on the site's front page. And even now, we're already heavily promoting our community's content -- our content share email, which goes out to 800,000 people every day is almost entirely community-written. Our Facebook page features community content at greater rates than staff-written material. We are intensely focused on making it easier for your best material to be shared and spread and consumed in as many places as possible. And there's nothing altruistic about it -- we're here to move our country forward, not win brownie points. We feature that content BECAUSE it is sharing well, making an impact, changing people's opinions or educating them or motivating them.

The talent pool is huge, and we're doing everything we can to raise your profile. But like I originally said, I refuse to let Daily Kos HQ become ossified, and the best way to prevent that is to continuously bring in new voices. Thus I'm excited and happy and proud to announce this year's all-Calfornia-based class:

Susan Grigsby (Susan from 29)
Frank Vyan Walton (Vyan)
Steven Payne (Steveningen)

Pretty awesome, huh? Full bios below the fold.
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Reposted from kos by OLinda

Following crazy record-setting months in June and July (I was on vacation in early August, so I didn't write that up), August has proven that Daily Kos is the place to be during heavy news periods. First up, let's look at the traffic chart:

Daily Kos traffic chart view on Quantcast, all-time view, through August 31
Daily Kos had nearly 8.5 million unique visitors during the month, and 41.7 million pageviews. That compares with 7.3 million uniques and 37.5 million pageviews in July.

Our previous record-setting month, October 2012 during the height of that year's presidential season? 6.8 million uniques and and nearly 57 million pageviews. So okay, people were visiting more frequently and clicking on more stories that October, but we now have significantly more unique visitors. In summer. During our traditional "slow" part of the year. It's mind-boggling.

Ferguson. Now part of the reason for that traffic was the tragedy in Ferguson, and truth be told, I'd trade that traffic away if we could go back in time and avoid what happened. But the reality is that when something big came down, we were there to cover the injustice and the people bravely standing up to the robo-cops, talking about issues of racism and militarization of the police. This site became a focal rallying point for people wanting to get informed about what was happening, and I'm proud that we were able to play that role. And we're not done with that story, not until Ferguson's Republican mayor is gone, and the city has a representative government and police force.

Mobile. Look at that chart up above again. Note the difference between the light and dark blues. The dark blue is mobile traffic, the light blue is web traffic. In July, for the first time ever, we had more mobile (3.7M) traffic than web (3.6M). This month, the gap between mobile (4.4M) and web (4M) expanded even further. Our web traffic may be inching up, but the real growth is in mobile devices. That means that after we're finished with the DK5 launch (beta launching "soon", fully launching after the election), we're going to have to put some serious effort into our mobile experience.

In fact, get this: taking into consideration ALL traffic, Daily Kos is the 284th largest site on the entire internet (among US browsers). But our mobile site is the 134th largest, larger than TMZ's mobile site, or Fandango's, or NBC's, or Politico's, or Oprah's.

Email action list. We're no longer just a website, or a mobile site. Our email action list has grown so large, it's now one of the largest in the (non-campaign) progressive movement. As of the end of August, the list is 1.6 million strong, which means it has literally doubled in size every year for the last three four years. That list gives us the ability to create massive pressure when necessary. For example, check out this report from the Sunlight Foundation on the 800,000 public comments the FCC received on its Net Neutrality plan. Of those comments that Sunlight could directly source to their sponsorship organization, fully 10 percent of them came from Daily Kos, making us the fourth largest source of pro-Net-Neutrality energy (behind CREDO, Battle for the Net, and EFF).

Facebook: Our job is to spread our message and info and activism energy into as many platforms as possible. And since gazillions of people are on Facebook, we are on Facebook too. And we are on there something fierce. Currently, 600,000 people have liked our Facebook page.

But what's crazy is that we have more people talking about Daily Kos content on Facebook than we have likes. Currently, that's over 800K. I dare you to find anyone else who can boast that. For example, Upworthy has 6.9M likes, and yet only 1.3M people talking about their content. Huffington Post has 4M likes, yet just 1.8M people talking about it. I was once cornered at a conference by a Facebook data analyst who said they were studying Daily Kos to figure out what we were doing so effectively. Never found out the results of their study, but the numbers are stark.

And what's more, Facebook balances out our readership nicely. Daily Kos proper, if Quantcast can be believed (and I've seen other metrics suggesting different numbers, so it's all kinda hazy), has our male-female ratio as 61-39. But for those participating on Facebook, it's 39-60 -- the exact reverse. Amazing, huh?

All these numbers represent huge gains from previous months, and we should keep seeing this kind of growth through the election. I'm going to try really hard to write these update posts every months, whether the news is good or bad. We're due for some down months at some point, probably November and December after the election. But then again, summer was supposed to be our down time. Things are suddenly too crazy to predict.

In fact, part of the reason we're holding off launch of the new site until after the election is that we're afraid of running an untested code base under loads that already exceed our previous highs. We know our current site can handle the heavy traffic, so keeping Daily Kos up and running has become the current priority.

Update: That big upward spike in the all-time chart above makes it hard to see how much bigger August was than July, so here's a one-year chart, with me marking where July left off.


Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 11:39 AM PDT

First look at DK5

by kos

Reposted from kos by Garrett

The dev team is cranking hard to finish the next major revision of this site in time for the fall elections. At some point, we'll have an open beta so people can hunt down bugs and help us refine the new site. Our open beta worked wonders when we launched this version of the site. But ahead of that, I wanted to give you guys a sneak peak at the new site.

The comps are below the fold. There WILL be changes between now and when it goes live, and likely more changes based on beta-tester feedback, so this is not a final product. Just keep that in mind.

Also: look at the reduced number of ads. We're really going to try and make that work, but if we take too much of a financial hit, that could quickly change. I'm REALLY hoping we can make it work.


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