In an age of Americans hooked up to television (whether you have a cable package/Dish or watch via Hulu/Netflix/Youtube) and such things as book reading is considered antiquated or no fun, it does not surprise me that the level of discourse in our country has deteriorated and we're all getting dumber. (Update: One Single Example- Man blows himself up by lighting a cigarette in a portable toilet)
However, as a person who trained himself by reading Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Peter of Abelard, Hegel, Kant, Husserl, Gebser and many other scholars to whom I am indebted for writing down their philosophical lives and sharing their hard won truths... I thought I had found a place online that through self selection, should have been smarter than the rest of our society. I was wrong.
It appears that the same problems that haunt America haunt the people of Daily Kos.
For instance, complex arguments are problematic.
This is a site that has many lurkers, many commenters and many publishers.
For instance, Sitemeter today rated Daily Kos as;
Average Per Day 657,590
Average Visit Length 0:01
Last Hour 30,374
This Week 4,603,129
Doubtless if you read this, and follow the link, the numbers will change. Please do not take this as an opportunity to claim I am misleading you; often, stories and data change. What matters, is context.
Now, I've lurked Daily Kos since 2003, had one account before quitting and then started another one (hence why this is ravagerofworlds2). Frankly, I forgot my original password.
This is a big place, and that's one of its bonuses. You can blog here and potentially be seen by dozens, or hundreds or thousands of people.
Here's the downside; with so many people, and people skimming/reading and then commenting, you get varied quality of responses.
Types of People at DKos
For instance, there are commenters who decide to put down diarists. This may come in the form of "When I saw the title, I knew this would be shit. And it was." Or perhaps "This diary sucks, so does the diarist." I call these types, Put Downers.
These sorts of people apparently feel compelled to put down people. They have nothing nice to say, and do not feel compelled to say nothing at all. Here's a hint; if you do not like what you read, move along.
The next type of person is the legalist; this is the sort of person who feels compelled to show whatever legal training they may have received to make other people feel down. This sort of person has a limited schema, and things are either Right or Wrong. When a diarist reads a newstory and offers commentary and a reaction to it, the legalist feels compelled to insinuate that the diarist is deliberately misinforming other DKos Kids. Or the legalist will declare that a topic is already covered, and try to inject another thread and commentary from it. This is trollish behavior, but I've known a few law students in my day, and in real life, they really are trolls. This is what jazzes them up; the legalist has a tendency to also be a Put Downer.
The third type of person encountered here are the hard workers. This sort of crowd will deride a diarist for not immediately responding to their post within 2 minutes. They will declare that a diarist is hiding from criticism. Or that they expect a diarist to babysit a thread all day until the last commenter says the most inconsequential thing. For the hard worker, perhaps they really do not have a life outside of online interaction, and they thus assume that everyone else is just the same. Guess what? People have real lives too; we blog from work, from home, and often, we have to do things away from the computer screen. My suggestion; do not treat the online medium the same as you would a conversation. Not everyone has a blackberry, or is as neurotic as you are.
The hard worker is also the type to dismiss (and publicly declare so) any post that does not meet their standard of original journalism. Guess what? Not everyone went to J-School. Some of us are young, some of us are old, and some of us simply are writing political posts because there are ideas in our head that need written down. Just as with the Put Downers, if you cannot say anything nice, please just move along.
The fourth type is the Holier Roller commenter; this is the type who covets their Hide Rating power and exercises it in tandem with their other friends. This is some sort of weird online version of the Popularity Queen/King in High School. Generally, these sorts suffer from the same limited schema as the Legalist, and often will not actually read a post in context. They will ban Swiftian arguments simply because they do not understand this specific type of satire (even when Swift is directly linked). You see; it is not obvious to a Holy Roller... it is somehow complex, and therefore bad, and needs to be banned.
This list is not comprehensive, as all initial typologies are. But you know what? I'm surprised you made it this far considering the background stats in the links at the beginning of the post.
If you think you are not one of the above and still feel the need to write something nasty, or mean... then perhaps you should not write anything at all. If you have an experience with any of the above (or would like to add to the list), please do so.
Good Day Daily Kos.
Update: Added from the comments (with author in parenthesis)
The Archivist: who seems to be armed to the teeth in the meta wars with links to everything everyone has ever posted at their fingertips. Type also objects to people posting meta commentary without links. (Peterborocanuck)
The Elder: Who resorts to UIDism from time to time, and always remembers the Dkos of yesteryear as better, purer, wiser. (Peterborocanuck)
Self-Proclaimed Rational Individual
who announces that both sides are out of control, totally unreasonable, are ruining the site, destroying the party,playing right into the hands of Republicans and Fox News, jeopardizing our future, making it impossible for anyone to ever have any civilized conversations here about anything. (grover) (note from diarist: possibly a subset of the Holy Roller?)
Glance and Grumbler
This type skims just the first few sentences then scrolls down to the comments to heap scorn on the diarist. (subtropolis)