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Please begin with an informative title:

I have been following the TTFN discussion, and I want to add something to it. I'm not going to comment directly on the TTFNS since it seems to me that Kos has got it right and that the melodrama is a distraction that shouldn't become a focal point of community discussion and concern. My point is related more to a central question raised by the TTFN situation – namely, how do we define what the DK community actually is?  

I am a long-term member of DK, having joined in March 2006. I am a fully-paid subscriber, a trusted user, and my mojo is at three bars (for whatever that is worth!). I do not attend any gatherings of community members or have friends on DK who I see socially, know personally, or message/email. In almost six years of visiting the site daily, I have only ever posted eleven comments, and this is my first diary.

I imagine that there are many members of the DK "community" like me. We may or may not be long-term visitors to the site and may or may not be paid subscribers or trusted users. We may or may not have written a diary, commented all that much, or even liked many diaries. We may or may not have mojo. Most of us also have probably yet to attend a Netroots gathering of any kind.* Nonetheless, we check the site frequently from our personal and work computers as well as our cell phones. We read the front-page religiously and have our favorite lead writers (yay for, among others, Hunter!). We probably spend an awful lot of time checking the recommended diary lists, and we value those diarists who write movingly, insightfully, personally, and passionately of issues that concern them. We rely on DK elections – even more than Nate SIlver! – to keep us informed about what's happening nationally as well as in states and local communities all across the country; we follow DK election-night live-blogs as if our very lives depended on it (and they may very well). It would likely not be a stretch to say that DK represents a major source of sanity in our lives, and it would certainly not be a lie to say that our lives would be greatly impoverished if DK did not exist.

There are, in other words, a great many of us out there who are devoted members of the DK community but rather in the sense of it as an imagined community. We feel a sense of belonging to it and we identify with it even though we do not participate, at least for the moment, as actively in it as some do. Not everyone can be a lead writer or an active diarist or a fully-mojo'd kossack, but that doesn't mean that DK isn't a source of daily strength and inspiration and wisdom for us. It is very likely that one reason for DK's success is that its imagined community is far greater than its activist community, which is one way of heaping praise and thanks upon the latter for creating an internet community-space that can appeal to, engage, and really hook droves of people like me.

So just remember that when you've written a diary and you're checking to see the reactions to it that far more people are accessing that diary – and being influenced and changed by it – than those who've liked it or commented upon it. The real power of a community is its ability to influence the world beyond its (inevitably) narrow circle of actively engaged members. In that respect, DK as an imagined community is certainly much greater than even the impressive sum of its most dedicated and active participants - and may it continue to be so for years to come!      

*Full disclosure: I did go to Netroots Nation last year in Providence because Providence is an old stomping ground of mine from my graduate-school days and because it happens also to be a short train ride from my current home of Boston.


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Originally posted to pejsek on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:38 AM PST.

Also republished by New Diarists, J Town, and Moose On The Loose.

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