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Welcome, New Users, to Daily Kos! I'm your host, belinda ridgewood. 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: How do you go about finding diaries that interest you? And once you find one, how can it help you find more?

Our comment thread is an open thread for questions on anything to do with use of Daily Kos and its various features. Please feel free to discuss my topic or any that you need answers about. Our readers are helpful and will pitch in when they have advice! Our only rule is, please be kind to everyone. While there are, in fact, stupid questions, they are not about using this website, but pertain mostly to how the U.S. government secretly controls the weather.

Before we begin, a brief word from our sponsor:
Everyone is encouraged to review some of the previously written goodness that survives here in the DKos archives, going back to WNU founder ek hornbeck and including the list of teaching diaries republished to our Group page.
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Click the ♥ to follow us in your Stream, or click Send Message to send us a private kosmail. Please note you must be a registered user for one week before you can send kosmail.

So! Where are all these diaries anyway? When I first happened upon Daily Kos, during the previous version of the site ("DK3" -- this is "DK4"), at first I only noticed the front page stories along the left side. Then I started poking around in the Recommended list on the right, and gradually figured out that those stories were often written by a whole different bunch of people, who were not the regular reporting staff of the place but had just showed up and started writing stuff! For fun! (Then I noticed the comments!) But let's not even get into the whole Rec List thing right now.

Let's talk about all the diaries written by everyone on the whole site. Sometimes this is called the "recent list" or the "diaries list". You can get to this list from the front page, and many other pages, by clicking on DIARIES, right under the big KOS in the masthead.

masthead with diaries link highlighted

When you do that, you'll see ALL diaries listed, starting with the most recent. Recent diaries listBut you have other sorting options -- see them at the top? You can click Most Hotlisted Today or Most Commented This Week! The one at the top of the Most Recommended of All Time list, as of this writing, is still a terrific diary today, and it is NOT written by a front-pager or constant-rec-lister, a fact from which we can all take inspiration.

If you are looking not just for good reading, but for the opportunity for conversation, or even just recommending comments by others, you might want to focus on the recent or today options. Except for the "tip jar", which is the diary's first comment and always by the diarist, comments on Daily Kos can be recommended only for 24 hours, tip jars for a week. A diary itself can be recommended indefinitely, but it "closes" for comments after ten days -- that is, comments can no longer be added to its thread, whether in reply to the diary or to its thread's other, later comments.

Suppose, in your browsing, you find some diaries that really interest you? You'd like to read more by that diarist, or that group, or on that subject. Well, get started building yourself a stream -- no swimming required! follow hearts for user and groupNext to the author's name at the top of a diary is a little orange heart ♥. If you click the heart, it turns darker orange and every diary by that user is added to your stream. Was the diary published by a group? The group's name is at the very top of the diary, above the title, and it has a heart too. Click, and everything published and republished by the group goes into your stream. If you want to know more about a diarist or group, click on their name and you'll go to their pages. You can see other diaries they've written (user) or published (group), and in their profile, you can read about their background, purpose, and group affiliations. Note that you cannot hurt anything by looking at these pages -- they're intended to be seen by readers.

Back at the diary we were reading: At the bottom of the diary are two more things of interest. follow hearts for tagsONE, if other groups have republished the diary, their names appear as links there. If you click, you'll arrive at their profile page, where you can find a heart to click. And TWO, there'll be tags. Tags are diarist-assigned index entries, basically, that may help someone interested in certain topics search out related diaries. (Some day we'll talk much more about tags.) For now, know this: tags also have hearts to click, but click with caution. A very specific tag, like Hunter's Conservative Monkey Seance Theater, won't add an unwieldy number of diaries to your stream, but a broader one, like, say, Elections, could turn your stream into rapids, especially at certain times. If you get overwhelmed, try un-hearting a big tag for a while and see if that helps your stream calm down!

welcome back boxAnd where is this stream that we are building, you may ask? It has a link in your Welcome Back, [your user name] box on the upper right of most pages, and it also has a link called MY PAGE right under the site masthead (back where we found DIARIES.) Oh, and where can we go to un-click the hearts of tags (or others) we wish to un-follow? Well, wherever you see them, but you can manage them all in a single place: once you get onto MY PAGE, there's a lower tier of links, and one is FOLLOWING. Click that, go one more tier down, and you'll find your people, groups, and tags that you follow, along with the diaries you've hotlisted and a place to provide links to other sites you favor in your blogroll.

masthead with my page link highlighted

Just one more thing to add for now, and you may have noticed it when you went by. Back where I spoke about the front page, and the Rec list, I gave them as links, as I've just done again. The diaries published by the official Daily Kos staff on the front page ARE IN A GROUP, and you can follow it with a heartclick. Similarly, "Recommended" is a tag, one that is system-managed, and you can follow it too. Community Spotlight? Also a group! So, if you like some or all of the content of the front page, but you find the page itself slow to load or annoyingly formatted or whatever, you can add any and all of its contents to your stream and go directly there instead!

And that, my friends, is all the blathering I'll do for now. Whatever may be unclear, please ask about it in the comments, and we'll take another shot at clearing it up. Thanks for joining us today!

buddy systemPlease also check out the buddy system over at the New Diarists group. While WNU and New Diarists do quite a bit of cross-pollinating there is one essential difference between us: Over at New Diarists, once you have written a draft diary, you can request a personal mentor who will help you learn how to write and publish a diary that won't get you publicly consigned to Worst Diary Hell at the GOS (Great Orange Satan, as we are affectionately known among wingnuts). Just send them a kosmail asking for an invite! Also check out their diary archives. Note: The New Diarists groups also welcomes experienced diarists who would like to be mentors.

Got questions? Comments? Ideas? We're all ears-- just join us in the comments. And remember: Since this diary is for New Users no question is too basic, no matter how long you've been here!
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