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Ugh, a damn diary about diaries.  Have I stooped so low?  But practical, doable solutions are proposed herein...

We have had quite a bit of argument about the diaries lately.  It seems most of us think that (a) there are too many diaries, (b) that good diaries go by too quickly, and (c) that topics are repeated too often.  I, for one, think those points are valid.  But fixing them is hard; the Kos diaries are largely self-policing, so if we think they're not all they could be, we've only ourselves to blame.

The problem essentially boils down to how we think, as Kossacks, diaries should be used.  In a perfect world, what would the list of diaries down the side of the page consist of?  How many should there be each day?  And when diaries are especially good, how can we keep them in the public eye long enough for most of the Kos community to get a chance to actually see them?

I would argue that diaries, in their best-used form, are a true windfall for the community.  They allow issues that would otherwise be ignored to be addressed, and they offer an opportunity for community-based essays, reporting and journalism.  They essentially create a group blog of potentially vast size, a one-site-for-everything approach that allows individuals with ideas to broadcast them to a much larger audience than all but the most successful personal blogs could possibly provide.

Diaries are also a windfall for those of us who do not have the time or inclination to start our own blog, but who are still quite able to contribute to the larger group effort of making sure good political information is available.  Full-time blogging requires full-time work -- I have no idea how people do it, especially those full-time bloggers with real-world jobs -- but it is quite possible for many of us to sit down for an evening or two, research a topic, and present a 1500 or 2500 word report that the majority of the community would find entertaining and/or valuable.

The other side of the coin is this; diaries can, and are, also be used as a place to put open-thread style comments on things that are or aren't being discussed by front-page posts.  If a diary topic is repeated five times in the course of a few hours, which some indeed have been, it's a pretty good indication that there is interest in that topic.  Is that the best usage of diaries?

For the sake of discussion, I'm going to propose that it is not.  First, because we already have open threads, which are by their nature open to any topic.  Using the diary list as just a front-page open thread dilutes them to being no more valuable than true open-threads.  Yes, there are comments to be made that are valuable.  But a bare opinion is less valuable than a well-researched explanation, and a bare link is less valuable than a more complete explanation of surrounding facts.

Second, because we have all seen very, very well-written articles or essays get flushed down the diary list in less than an hour, much less a day, in favor of a stream of short, open-thread-comment style entries.  Speaking as a writer myself, it is difficult to scrounge the time and effort to spend four or more hours researching links for a 2000+ word piece if you know that piece will be lucky to have even twenty minutes of visibility.

And third, because the sheer number of diaries per day breaks up the discourse into small, often repeated bites.  It's difficult to explore or get much insight into a topic when the average comment thread is perhaps three to six entries long before a duplicate post moves the conversation off to somewhere else.

We cannot change the Scoop code that runs the Kos diaries.  Well, we could, but none of us want to spend that time.  Therefore, diaries must be self policing: we can make them into a forum of whatever form we choose, but we have to do it ourselves, through common agreement.

For the sake of discussion, I would like to propose the following voluntary "new rules" for diaries.

1.  One diary maximum per day, not two.  This is largely common sense.  If we choose the one important thing we have to say, we will cut down the number of diaries significantly.  And we can say the next important thing tomorrow.  (And yes, I've broken this rule today with this diary.  Bite me, I'm taking a do-over.)

2.  If you're going to be posting diaries, you have the moral obligation to set your diary list to display at least twenty items.  Thirty would be better.  Setting the default number makes it much, much easier to research whether or not you're repeating a news item that has already been brought up.

3.  If it takes you less than one full hour to research and write your diary entry, you probably shouldn't be posting it.  Diaries are for "special" things.  Merely having an opinion should not be license to put up a diary about that opinion, unless you bring something to the table that other people haven't.  That something might be research, an unusual angle, an extended element of satire, whatever.  But it has to be special.

4. If your diary does not make use of the extended copy box, you probably shouldn't be posting it.  This is probably a corollary of 3, above: an entry that is comment-length, instead of diary-length, is by definition better suited to the open threads.  Yes, we know you're interested in such-and-such a topic, but if you only have a few sentences to say, or a single link to share, you can share it with the people discussion that same topic in the current open thread.

5.  Every diary should be written to be a candidate for front-paging.  If diaries are supposed to be a place where community members can add something special, than every diary should be written with the goal in mind of having Kos front-page it as an actual story.  No, that won't happen often.  But think about it: that's the kind of content we want, I would argue.  And after all, the diaries are front-paged, ten at a time.

6.  Every diary author should put a tip jar as the first comment of their diary.  If a diary is "worthwhile", that is, if it is a good example of what a diary should be, fits the set of rules we all agree on, etc., it should be rewarded with a "4".  If a diary does not fit the criteria for being a true diary, a reader should feel free to mark it with a "2" or "3", depending, with no whining on the part of the diary author allowed.  True abuses of the diaries should be marked with a "1".  Perhaps making diaries more equitable in how mojo is dished out may convince people to use them only when the "specialness" criteria is truly met; therefore, tip jars must work both ways if they are to be useful.  If people are writing multiple diaries a day in an effort to collect (pointedly useless) mojo, then those diary entries must be judged on their merits.

Our goal, in my opinion, should be to reduce diary turnover to manageable levels, and to reward truly special efforts by the community with a place where they can be seen.  In an ideal world, no more than twenty diaries a day would be posted, so that someone visiting Daily Kos once a day would be reasonably able to peruse them all, and no individual poster would post more often than a few times a week, at maximum.

These proposals are merely that -- proposals.  Are there other ideas out there?  Do people disagree with the central premise of this essay, about how diaries should ideally be used?

Originally posted to Hunter on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 02:56 PM PDT.

Poll

What do you think about this diagnosis and proposed solution?

21%27 votes
24%31 votes
25%32 votes
16%20 votes
12%15 votes

| 125 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Mojo or Antimojo. (3.86)
    Feedback is most definitely requested.
    •  A better proposal (none)
      We need several semi-permenant threads on the most talked about topics of the day.

      Between February and June 2004, "Vice Presidential Picks" should have been such a semi-permenant topic.

      ALL discussion of VP picks, speculation, etc. belonged THERE. Anyone that posted a diary about VP speculation would be given a warning. Anyone that does it twice gets banned.

      Other possible semi-perm and permenant threads?

      The Electoral College
      Gay Marriage
      The most recent Presidential polling data
      School Prayer
      The Torture abuse scandal

      "I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks." Eugene V. Debs

      by Jonathan4Dean on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:29:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Only agree with 1 and 2 (none)
    Diary entries are also good for News updates, which certainly don't take an hour to research. That negates #3 and #4. #5 is an admirable goal for any serious diary writer, but other valuable, shorter things, do get said. #6 is purely optional in my eyes. If it sucks and there's no tip jar, say so or ignore it.

    It's amazing what happens when you listen to the other person's opinion --- GWB, 12/18/00

    by Doug in SF on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:01:14 PM PDT

    •  I like these ideas (none)
      Especially as they seem to get back to what I understood the original purpose of diaries was - to get us to start talking about some issues in depth, as well as allow us to post our own reports from the field during primary season.

      Changing the scoop code to allow rateable diaries is probably the ideal solution but as you say, who's going to want to take the time? So self-policing should be good.

      I definitely like the 30-diary view recommendation. I think that's a good number, not too many but enough to see if something has been posted about before. I also think we should put diaries together that we feel would be worthy of the front page. At least, that's what I've always tried to do.

      A big problem with the diaries as I see it is people seeing a headline on Yahoo or Google or CNN and rushing to post it here, even when four other folks have already done so.

      "you may say I'm a dreamer - but I'm not the only one" - Lennon

      by eugene on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:07:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  #2 (none)
        makes good sense, but honestly, I can't believe that everyone doesn't already have this set for 50.  Its the only way I can sort through the diaries.  

        I do wish people would find a way to cut down on the repetition of diaries on the same topic.  Instead of posting yours as a separate diary, when one exists, go there and post yours as a comment.  Then the discussion gets better. That's really the only problem that I see that needs addressing.

        Nobody's really proposed anything to deal wtih that problem.

        "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

        by a gilas girl on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:18:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  What do tip jars matter anyway? (none)
      Unless the topic is truly stupid, every topic gets "3's" and "4's" anyway. And if a diary does get a bunch of "1's" and "0's", it doesn't disappear.

      "I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks." Eugene V. Debs

      by Jonathan4Dean on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:32:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Disagree (4.00)
    An hour minimum for a diary? I've seen plenty of short diaries that had little quantity but were still interesting and provoked good discussion. If you're annoyed that your long, detailed essay is getting lost in the din and want more exposure/control, perhaps you'd be better off with your own blog.
  •  General agreement here (4.00)
    I'm with you 100% on Nos. 1, 2 and 5. I'm undecided on 6 -- I wouldn't mind that, but I think there would be a tendency for tip jars to turn into circle jerks -- and I would tend to disagree with you on 3 and 4 on the basis that bigger is not always better. Now, should a diary be a product of a significant amount of effort? Yes, surely. But I'm not sure that an hour or any other arbitrary length of time is a good guideline, voluntary or no. And besides, I'd probably rather read someone's impassioned 15 minutes of ranting than a fully sourced, footnoted compendium of the last two days of the yellowcake scandal (we have Talking Points Memo for that.)

    Of course, these are my opinions, which are just as subjective as yours. I like your ideas and I agree that the diary system is in some ways broken. I think a great first step would be for the logged-in user to display 20 diaries by default, although the load on the server may prevent this from being practical.

    The diaries are a great way for regular people to have full access to the audience of what I suppose is the Most Popular Blog in the World (tm) nowadays. It's a great resource for improving one's writing and skills of argument and persuasion. So I don't want to see anything that makes them significantly less accessible. But given that you are exposing yourself to such a large audience, I would hope that everyone would take some real care in what they write and check to make sure that it hasn't been covered in the recent past.

    That's why I find myself agreeing with you most strongly on point 5. It is going on the front page of Kos, even if only for a few minutes (as you said.) People will read these diaries and judge the community by them because they are, after all, a big part of the community. Everyone should take pride in what they produce for their diaries, even if it's barely more than a one-liner, pointing out something too good to pass up. Possibly an open thread would be better for that, but I could also see how it might not be.

    In any case, my two cents. Interesting diary, I enjoyed it.

    •  Yeah, (4.00)
      I hate the tip jars myself.  A good diary is one that provokes discussion.  Maybe its just because I'm a teacher but I just view tip jars as grad grubbing on the Internet.

      George W. Bush makes Reagan look smart, Nixon look honest, and his dad look coherent.

      by Dave the pro on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:33:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree on the tip jars (none)
      I feel like they are often an attempt for external gratification, or "look what I wrote." Not always though.

      I put one up if someone asks me for it. Otherwise, I just put the diary up for reading and I'd do it again mojo or no.

      The more I know the more I find I know very little.

      by michael in chicago on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:02:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mmmm....external gratification (none)
        Personally, I'm a big fan of external gratification.  Big!   If I work for a long time on a diary, like I did on a diary about DFA's Q2 fundraising and disbursements, it means a lot to me to have some way to know that people read my work.  

        Often, I don't have time or inclination to write comments on a diary, but I want to give the author a "tip" to let him or her know that I have bothered to read it and appreciate the writing.

        Maybe I'm just an addict for tip mojo, but that sort of crack is a big part of what keeps me coming back to write here occasionally.

        Yep, I'm still trying to reach my goal of 100 new signups to the DCCC's Campaign for a New Majority. And go Ginny!

        by Maura in VA on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 09:00:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  New Category (4.00)
    On the home page:  Breaking News Items.

    These posts would be very brief, with at least one link to the source material.

    Then diaries could be limited to entries over 100 words.

    ...he didn't make the mistake that some politicians do of wearing his religion on his sleeve. -Ron Reagan Jr.

    by easong on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:10:48 PM PDT

  •  Strongly disagree with #3 and #5 (4.00)
    As for #5, no way. I never write for the front page. I don't even want my diaries on the front page. I just want to have a small conversation with some Kossacks on a subject of importance to me. I doubt Kos even reads my diaries, and I really don't care. And a link off the front page is not remotely the same as a featured article on the front page.

    My ideal world would see each diary hang out for about 2 hours in the top 20. With a maximum of 50 comments each. That is a nice conversation-sized medium that could be useful.  

  •  Maybe (4.00)
    Make the default display a lot more than 10 diaries.  I bet a bunch of people never get around to changing that, and that's how a lot of stuff gets missed.  The front page is always longer than 10 diaries anyway.

    I believe the diaries can be multi-purpose.  There is a place for the well-researched, thoughtful, thorough diaries.  They make up the meat of the site.  But there's also a place for silly diaries, for news updates, for off-the-cuff comments - that's part of what makes us a community.

    It doesn't bother me that much that some of the diaries have more content than others.  I guess I just don't see it as having reached the point where it's a problem to sort through for the useful or interesting content.

    Aren't ratable diaries something that's being worked on? If that ever happens, then diares rated up to a certain level could keep their place on the page longer maybe.  But on the whole, I think the self-policing is working fairly well at present.

    Let this be the year America turns, and citizen soldiers like us help it in the turning.

    by furryjester on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:12:25 PM PDT

    •  Default Display: set it to 50 (4.00)
      Make the default display a lot more than 10 diaries.

      I think that's the best idea I've seen around here. Most of the diary problems should be solved by setting the default display to 50 diaries. It's a whole new diary world out there with that setting, and I bet we'd see a lot less repeat diaries like that. I know I really like the slower pace, and I've noticed that I easily pick out repeat subjects now.

      So that's my vote: set the default display to 50 diaries.

  •  New diary rule (none)
    If you are bothered by the rate at which diaries drop off the front page, set the display to a sequentially higher value to find out at what point you are no longer bothered by it any more.  I've got mine set at 50 and I don't have any complaints any more.

    Figure out what your optimum diary display setting is, and go with it.

    I can't imagine that too many people will absolutely need to have much more than 50 diaries on the front page at all times, and most will be comfortable with less.

    •  Yes, I suppose my central premise is... (none)
      that the people writing diaries should set their preferences to display 50 diaries, but should the people reading them have to, or should we be concentrating our efforts at, er, concentrating the discussions?

      Today, for example -- and this is not to pick on anyone, at all -- how many diaries have we had about Linda Ronstadt?  Sandy Burger?  Ginny Schrader, who is already the subject of three of the first six front-page stories?

      How many diaries did we need for each of those three topics?  And if you're interested in the Linda Ronstadt story, is it better to have one 25-comment section to post and reply too, or is it better to follow the discussion through five 5-comment dairies?

      No easy answer, but worth asking.

      •  Like herding cats (none)
        It's a lot easier just setting your diary display preference to 50 than it is to get the dKos community to impose additional restrictions on itself.  And it's healthier too.

        Sure, three (for example) Linda Ronstadt diaries might, to most people, seem redundant, but at some point you'll get the argument that "no, this one has a different take to it than that one did so it's really a different diary".  If we had a peer-review system, perhaps we could sort out the diaries of the highest quality, but that would require a technological change.

        Absent a technological fix, save yourself the agony.  Just set your display preference so that you've crossed some threshold and you just don't care anymore.

  •  Some good suggestions... (none)
    but I also strongly disagree with #3.  

    Speaking as a computer illiterate, is there any way that diaries could be ranked by the number of comments?  That way good discussions could stay near the top for awhile.  Or maybe diaries without comments, or those falling below a certain number (maybe 5?) could be dropped to another page.

    •  Response Rating (none)
      Not a bad idea. Imagine a section "Most Discussed Diaries" wherein the top 10 diaries of the day, based on number of responses and comment ratings of those comments, would appear. When a new hot diary got enough responses a cooler one would drop off the list. As with comments, diary authors would be unable to post comments or comment ratings to their own diary.

      ...he didn't make the mistake that some politicians do of wearing his religion on his sleeve. -Ron Reagan Jr.

      by easong on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:31:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  #3 is the one that I question most, as well. (none)
      My purpose in proposing it is to try to discourage hit-and-run diaries, in which someone posts something from Yahoo, or Atrios, or (shudder) Drudge in an effort to get it to us five minutes before the next guy.

      Breaking News is fine, but anything that can put the brakes on it just a little in order to avoid cluster-bombs of duplicates would help quite a bit.

      But yes, #3 and to a lesser extent, #4, I am not entirely self-convinced of.

      I also wanted to specifically avoid any ideas that would require modifying the Scoop code.  While certain modifications would help a lot, I think we all realize it's not likely to happen.

    •  Diary ratings (none)
      I like the idea of having higher-rated or more popular diaries somehow placed above the others.  But I'm not sure how this could be implemented.  The diaries that receive the largest number of comments are often NOT the best--frequently, they're the ones that turn into flame-fests.  Even if we could somehow weight comments to reflect ratings, the diaries with lots of troll ratings are also the ones that get flooded with 4's.  Another problem is that diaries do get bumped down pretty quickly at certain times of the day, and a good diary might not get the attention it deserves.  This happens already, of course, but it will happen even faster if popular diaries get promoted to the top.  I realize that I'm just tossing out problems without solutions, and that even an imperfect rating system might be better than what we have.  But these are things to consider.

      Another option might be to have the diaries with the most recently-posted comments placed at the top.  This would be a rough measure of popularity, but it would also provide a way to resurrect a worthy diary that got few comments the first time around.  This system could also be abused, of course (e.g. by diarists repeatedly pushing their own diaries back up to the top).

      •  Flamefests (none)
        Good point. Of course some of the flamefests are entertaining in their own sordid way, but I agree they shouldn't rise to the top like the good diaries. Tough one.

        ...he didn't make the mistake that some politicians do of wearing his religion on his sleeve. -Ron Reagan Jr.

        by easong on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:19:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great thoughtful post (none)
    Now the vinegar - I do not think your conception of what diaries should be is accurate.

    With due respect to the Front Page, they don't exhibit what you ask.  I just think you're wrong on that.

    I do 6 myself always.  For the reasons you state.

    A Diary is whatever the diarist wants it to be.  I've written long ones, short ones, news-based ones, original thoughts ones, ones based on links, ones wholly devoid of links, in short all types.  When do I do them?  When I think them appropriate.  This morning, I used one to make an apology.

    I would say this, diarists should be aware that if their diaries are not eliciting a response or viewing (I often use polls to, frankly, see if people have any interest in what I wrote), they may want to consider their choices.

    One final suggestion - people who have visited my diaries would have noticed this - I make a point of posting a diary ONLY when I am available to interact with comments - my rule is to be available for at LEAST the period my diary remains on the Front Page - generally an hour.

    That is my pet peeve - diarists who then disappear - I really hate that.    

  •  Maybe (4.00)
    it would help if there were more open threads during the day - then what usually dilutes the diaries (like "breaking news" entries or other oneliners) could be posted there.

    Before I discovered the diaries, I always looked there first for these kind of postings. Open threads stay up on the main page much longer and I check them often during the day. Just check the latest for breaking news type stories, and the older ones for still ongoing discussions.

    I have set my diary to show 50 and sometimes wish I could set the number even higher. I always feel bad when good diaries vanish in a couple of hours, especially if the poster put a lot of work and time into it.

    I am a slow writer (especially in English), so I stop here, otherwise this diary will be off the front page at the time I post this ;)

     

  •  good ideas AND (none)
    if we went with your proposed system (which I think has a LOT of merit) then what I would miss would be the breaking news stories.

    Sure, those could go in open threads, but I like to scan the diary titles for the breaking stories.  I use Kos a lot like an enriched "google news" and count on all of us in the community to spot the important stuff as it appears in all sorts of places on the web.  

    Maybe Kos could set up a separate section for "breaking news" discussions.  Then we could have the best of both worlds.  I don't know how technically difficult that would be, or even if people would enjoy that.

    "Bush lied, thousands died, IMPEACH BUSH NOW!"

    by Sue in NH on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:29:20 PM PDT

  •  Open threads vs diary (none)
    I strongly agree with almost all points, with the exception of #6.  It seems to me that diaries have become and extension of the open thread, often abused to get more visibility.  The only way to prevent, or mitigate the potential for abusing diaries is to define unambiguous rules that make it clear what's appropriate for an open thread vs. a diary.

    It would also help if open thread we're renewed before reached 200+ post and always maintained towards the top of the front page.

    I'm not a fan of #6.  I don't see much value in negative ratings.  The level of discussion within a diary speaks enough about its relative value.

    •  Exactly (none)
      what I wanted to say (upthread), but you said it better. I like the idea of the open thread close to the top of the page.
    •  asdf (none)
      The level of discussion within a diary speaks enough about its relative value.

      Well... not sure, myself.  There are plenty of diaries which I find excellent, but to which I find I have nothing useful to add.  So I find myself tipping more diaries than I actually respond to.

      Having some measure of interested readership independent from the discussion that follows.  Tips or polls are both crude, awkward measures... not sure which is better.

      •  exactly (none)
        there have been tons of diaries like "I love nader" or "bush is a pile of flaming shit" that get tons and tons of discussion. the problem is that most of the discussion isn't very interesting -- just more bush bashing or telling the nader lover why ralph is an a-hole.

        lots of diaries with excellent content (expecially stirling newberry's) go virtually uncommented.

        News Corp: We can't have a liberal bias because we don't know what the f*** we're doing!

        by scottesposito on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:02:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If people want diaries (none)
    to be full-fledged posts in the spirit of Kos or Billmon,they are seriously overestimating my talents (and, all due respect, probably their own.)

    And another thing... I kinda like Atrios-style quick snarks, too.

  •  my view (none)
    First of all, I want to say that I agree that the diaries are problematic.

    #1 is just courteous.  #2 might not make sense to the less-computer savvy.  I wasn't even aware that that was possible (though I'm going to try to figure it out as soon as I'm done posting this.) #3 seems a little ridiculous to me because I have a lot of personal experience, not necessarily knowledge, that I think is valuable here, but it wouldn't take me an hour to write about it.  I do try to back up facts and assertions as much as possible in my diaries, but on top of full-time school, part-time work, and co-running a small business, I don't really have the time to do a lot of that.  Also, in reference to #5, I don't write for the front page because I don't have the time or the factual knowledge.  And I don't agree that the ideal number of diaries per day would be 20; there are too many people with different interests and viewpoints.

    Perhaps they could be categorized according to subject matter, which would make it easier for people to find what interests them or to see if what they want to write about has already been posted.  The problem with this, of course, is that some issues can span several subjects.

    Desire is half of life; indifference is half of death. -Kahlil Gibran

    by tryptamine on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:40:02 PM PDT

  •  Diary limitation (none)
    One diary a day... no!  Two a day is low enough.  Good lord!
  •  20 diaries a day? (none)
    I'd save that for last.  There's lots of members, and no way real way to distinguish which 20 ought to qualify.

    I still favor a system where the normal diaries on not on the front page, and a rotating top 20 or 30 based upon a some formula involving or some combination of ratings, number of views, and number of comments.

    That way the diaries on the front page would constitute the "diaries of the day", while always flexible for a newly admired diary to earn a spot in the Top 20 or 30, and there would still be a place to peruse all diaries if one wanted.

    Also, there could even be a view that let you filter by the "diaries of the week" or month by using this rating.

    free the information

    by freelixir on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:43:06 PM PDT

  •  aoeu (none)
    I set mine to 50.  There's no reason not to set it to the max.

    million turtle march
    gathered for freedom and love
    a green sea of shells

    by TealVeal on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:45:34 PM PDT

  •  A few more things to think about (4.00)
    I love the anarchy of so many diaries.  To me, the entire point of having a forum like this is that you get some good stuff, some bad stuff and some interesting stuff.  That is simply what it means to allow everyone to have a voice.  As soon as you start to put limits on this you are censuring certain people.  And who is going to decide what the censorhips ruls should be?  I believe you have to let people speak their minds, the way they see most fit.

    I don't have time to research something for an hour.  Does that mean what I have to say is not as important as someone who does have time?

    You have to remember, the audience for Kos has to continue to grow.  So trying to limit diary enteries while the possible diary population is growing is not going to work.  

    Seeing all the diaries gives me an idea of what people are noticing and thinking about in a given day.  Or, I get value from the mass of diaries, and would lose that value if I had to limit it a certain number each day.

    Finally, I think keep the diary model the way it is today, but allow different paths to it.  I like the idea mentioned earlier of most commented diaries list, and then have the standard most recent diaries.  This way I can see the mass of diaries like I want and you can see the 'better' diaries that you want.  Maybe it is a data access issue and not anything about how diaries are written.

  •  i like the idea (none)
    of either 10 most popular diaries for the day, or having two diary sections--like a breaking news one and an essays one, or something like that...and maybe a third category for fun, more lighthearted diaries--those that are shorter and those that are not as serious...all serious all the time is a bit much, i think...

    i set my display to 40, and feel like i don't miss too much....(plus i've come to terms with the fact that you can't read it all...)

    one small thing that would help is if diary headlines are clear...so that at a glance people can quickly see if a diary has been posted on a subject instead of trying to decode a more cryptic headline...

    funny tho, i thought the internet wasn't supposed to be about rules... ;)

    "It is the peacemakers, above all, who earn a place in history." --Mikhail Gorbachev

    by southc on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:53:15 PM PDT

  •  Rules as stated, and my .02... (none)
    1.  One diary maximum per day, not two.

    I think two diaries a day is low enough.  Sometimes an important article idea pops up.  Why should I have to wait until tomorrow to write about it, simply because I have written one diary already?

    2.  If you're going to be posting diaries, you have the moral obligation to set your diary list to display at least twenty items.

    Agreed, people should see whether their "breaking news" story has already been "broke" on dailykos.com.  One might write about a breaking story anyway, but it would serve us all if such a diary offers some new information or perspective.  Al's diary about Greenwood's resignation -- from last night -- is a perfect example.

    3.  If it takes you less than one full hour to research and write your diary entry, you probably shouldn't be posting it.

    I agree with the gist of this guideline, even though some of us are quicker researchers than others.  A good diary entry is well thought out with references provided in the form of links.

    4. If your diary does not make use of the extended copy box, you probably shouldn't be posting it.

    Agreed, diaries should be offering something new and well thought out.  Even if simply quoting another writer, a diarist should provide opinions and perspectives of his/her own.  It helps to get the conversation started.

    5.  Every diary should be written to be a candidate for front-paging

    Agreed, this should be a point of pride for every diarist.  Who wants to come off as a jackass?

    6.  Every diary author should put a tip jar as the first comment of their diary

    Some kind of rating is good.  I would go further to say that we help each other when we provide feedback.  These diaries might actually serve to make us all better communicators, and that would serve the progressive cause well.

    •  I disagree (none)
      3.  If it takes you less than one full hour to research and write your diary entry, you probably shouldn't be posting it.

      The value to point visitors to a news story with a short take and a long ensuing discussion is valuable enough for enough people.  This requirement actually would devalue diaries.

      Frankly, I find at least as much value in the discussion within diaries as I do within the original diary - and as a user, I don't have a problem with that.

      How do you define security?

      by PSoTD on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:20:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Only one good suggestion. (none)
    The best part of the diaries is that people post "Breaking News." In fact, I use the diaries as my "CNN" now, since I know I will find news of interest. (and I imagine I am not alone in this). Your rules would seem to eliminate this feature of the diaries and would be a travesty if implemented...

    I do believe that nauseatingly long pieces about someone's spur-of-the-moment opinions ("I hate Kerry now," "I love Kerry now," etc) are getting quite tiresome and should be curbed or eliminated.

    •  Me too (none)
      I use the diaries as my "CNN" now, since I know I will find news of interest.

      I find myself doing this too as when I get it from CNN I don't know what the bias is. Here people post who the players are and what CNN isn't saying about them.

      The more I know the more I find I know very little.

      by michael in chicago on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:16:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rules as suggested, and my .02... (none)
    1.  One diary maximum per day, not two.

    I think two diaries a day is low enough.  Sometimes an important article idea pops up.  Why should I have to wait until tomorrow to write about it, simply because I have written one diary already?

    2.  If you're going to be posting diaries, you have the moral obligation to set your diary list to display at least twenty items.

    Agreed, people should see whether their "breaking news" story has already been "broke" on dailykos.com.  One might write about a breaking story anyway, but it would serve us all if such a diary offers some new information or perspective.  Al's diary about Greenwood's resignation -- from last night -- is a perfect example.

    3.  If it takes you less than one full hour to research and write your diary entry, you probably shouldn't be posting it.

    I agree with the gist of this guideline, even though some of us are quicker researchers than others.  A good diary entry is well thought out with references provided in the form of links.

    4. If your diary does not make use of the extended copy box, you probably shouldn't be posting it.

    Agreed, diaries should be offering something new and well thought out.  Even if simply quoting another writer, a diarist should provide opinions and perspectives of his/her own.  It helps to get the conversation started.

    5.  Every diary should be written to be a candidate for front-paging

    Agreed, this should be a point of pride for every diarist.  Who wants to come off as a jackass?

    6.  Every diary author should put a tip jar as the first comment of their diary

    Some kind of rating is good.  I would go further to say that we help each other when we provide feedback.  These diaries might actually serve to make us all better communicators, and that would serve the progressive cause well.

  •  damn! (none)
    now I look like a jackass, with that double-post!
  •  Not sure about #3 (none)
    But #3? I like some of the short posts. I saw a post upthread about a new category for "breaking news." I think this is a great idea for the short topical one liners.

    However, as to diaries being well though out research pieces, that has a place, but is not the reason I often read diaries.

    I like the multiple perspective and personality the short diaries give. Many of my diaries are just rants on the topics of the day. I try to make them interesting or enjoyable, but admittedly they are not thesis quality.

    I do write them for the front page of dKos, and hope some day one of my more inspired and witty rants is promoted. Hey, a guy can dream, right. But in the mean time, I write for my enjoyment or to relieve Bush related stress, and hope to strike a chord with others, giving them a sense that they are not alone, and hopefully giving them a laugh or snicker for their effort.

    I'm part of this community and that's what I can contribute. I hope it's worth keeping around, as well researched long diaries are great, but get old as well. They also require much time to read, something I don't always have.

    The more I know the more I find I know very little.

    by michael in chicago on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:12:33 PM PDT

  •  Simple Formula... (none)
    An alternate diary view with ratings and comments giving higher visibility to a diary.

    => So each diary has an ID, which is one up, based on chronological sequence. If the latest diary is 2345, the next one would be 2346.

    => Each diary has a few comments. Take their count. Let's say it is 12.

    => Each diary can have a rating. Rating is not average (as defined currently), but accumulative. So if 15 people rated the diary 3.93, the rating is 59 or so. This number may need to be normalized (divided by 4 to a whole number) to avoid overkill of ratings....let's say we come up with normalized rating of 10.

    Now there is a display sort order which is = Diary # PLUS Comment Count PLUS Normalized Rating == 2345 + 10 + 12 = 2367.

    Now show the directories in this alternate view with descending display sort order.

    What this gives...

    • Newer diaries at top. But,
    • Highly commented diaries stay at top longer. If you had 50 comments, your diary remains visible longer.
    • If your diary is rated high, it remains visible longer.
    Sorry about giving a solution in formulaic terms rather than plain english. But a solution on the above lines will definitely help the current diary system. Even my challenge everyday is "whether to click the more diaries link", or just carry on.
  •  the problem with eliminating open-thread (none)
    type diaries is that the diaries are really better than the open threads. the OTs, once they get a couple hundred entries, are like newspapers with no headlines, whereas the diaries give you a list of topics so you can get into whatever you might actually want to discuss without wading through 150 entries you don't.

    That said, I think the speed at which diaries go by the boards really does discourage people from putting a lot of thought into writing them. Look at my diaries, for instance: stupid as fuck!

    The main problem, obviously, is the repetitive diaries. And not just the thing where, as soon as a story goes up on a major news site - bang, three new diaries, which is easy to deal with. The problems is more like - how many "I just saw F911" diaries have their been in the last month?

    I have no idea about web design or bandwidth issues so I won't spin any grand schemes that may be totally unworkable. But my general sense is that if open thread type discussion could be organized by topic - If I could access an ongoing thread, for example, on 'the cutest kind of baby animals', rather than have to search through the open threads for it, then I wouldn't have to keep writing diaries about it. And that would leave more space open for diaries like yours to bask in their well-deserved glory.

    Anyway, this diairy is probably off the board now, so I better post this.

    ...or maybe I should just write a new diary.

  •  only 20 diaries a day? craaaazyyy (none)
    Some of us will starve to death. How else will I fritter away my time?

    More open threads (as suggested above) would be most helpful. As would a "rate" indicator so on days that I cannot obsess, I can jump to the good stuff.

    Or maybe all the top rated/most discussed ones over a 24-hour period could be put in a "best of" section. My formula would be

    ((rating).60)+((discussion length).40)

    and rank them from there.

  •  Gave you a 4 for Thoughtful and for Hard Work (none)
    But I guess I have to disagree with just about everything you wrote.

    (Except for people setting their diaries -- mine has been at 50 since my second day here, and I often wish it could go higher. If the default were 50, it would solve a lot of potential and actual problems. Some people have been here forever and still don't know they can re-set the diaries page.)

    Most of my diaries are either long, opinionated rants -- or articles I've found to be of interest and think others will, too. As for the time it takes me to put one together: even my longest essay rarely takes me more than half an hour to write. I don't do research. It's not my bag. I love reading those diarists who do that kind of thing... but why on earth should we become homogenized?

    I guess, when you get right down to it, I like it the way it is. If Kos comes up with some sort of "Top 20 Diaries of the Day" thing, that'll be cool. But I don't want to see this place become regulated out of existence. Sure, the repetitive diaries drive me crazy, as do the one liners. But there's always the exception out there that provokes thought or joins the zeitgeist at the exact right moment, thereby providing a forum for a long, funny, profound or just plain flame-filled hatefest. These, too, have their place. I don't quite understand the people who get al out of joint over the flamefests; for pete's sake, just click another friggin' diary. It ain't that hard not to get involved.

    Rules? Ain't no rules in a knife fight.

    Maryscott O'Connor -- Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.

    by Maryscott OConnor on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:45:48 PM PDT

  •  you forgot "other" on your poll (4.00)
    as in other:  what a bunch of baloney!

    i have my diaries set to 50, but i have no moral obligation to any reader out there, long as i'm doing this for free, kiddies!

    i (and we all) write how, what and as we write, and nobody is holding a gun to anybody's head saying "read these diaries!  digest this info!"

    others have dissected the "hour" minimum for research better than i, so i won't touch that.

    i often leave a tip jar, but nobody needs to.  maybe not everyone is a mojo whore like i am.

    (i will admit i agree about the extended copy box...a two line diary sucks ash).

    one diary per day?  pshaw!  nobody forces anyone to read these things, if you don't like what anyone writes, skip their diaries!!

    look, trust me, not all these diaries are worth reading!  mine certainly aren't!  

    there is such a large world out there, even in cyberspace alone, i can't believe somebody would spend all his/her time reading these diaries, and then writing a diary about how to make it easier for him/her to read these diaries!

    dude, just skip the ones that don't sound good!

    skip mine!  

    i personally only open and read the diaries about certain topics, and (i'll admit) diaries with one word headlines...always get my interest.

    really, i don't know how to say this without sounding snarky, but i mean it with all possible good wishes...go out and get involved in something other than kos diaries!  

    you've only got one life!  get a hobby!  fall in love!

    there are more worthy things than this to get upset about!

  •  Disagree strongly with your #6. (none)
    I think good diaries don't need tip jars, people come to them and one can tell the response by the kind of discussion they help to generate in their comments.

    [Disclosure: I hate those damn tip jars]

    "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

    by a gilas girl on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:13:45 PM PDT

    •  Discussion level isn't accurate metric for quality (none)
      I'm not suggesting that the tip jar, as it is currently implemented, is an accurate measure of quality, but I don't agree with your statement that good diaries don't need tip jars because the kind of discussion is how you can judge that they're good.

      Sometimes good diaries are full of useful, good information, but don't necessarily inspire commenting.  I like to throw that person a tip to let the author know I read and appreciate what they wrote, even if I don't feel inspired to comment.  

      To me, the tip jar is a nice, convenient (quick!) way of expressing my appreciation for the diary even when I am not inclined to write a comment.

      Yep, I'm still trying to reach my goal of 100 new signups to the DCCC's Campaign for a New Majority. And go Ginny!

      by Maura in VA on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 09:08:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm With You (none)
        I would prefer diary ratings and elimination of comment ratings myself.
      •  In my experience (none)
        good diaries generate responses that indicate they are good diaries, if only a handful of people saying, "I never thought of it that way", or "thank you".  The tip jar is kind of gilding the lilly, though, like you, I do often pass along a 4 to a diary I've enjoyed reading, leaving my mark, so to speak.  But I don't like that we feel compelled to do that (leave our marks, I mean, its a little creepy and too much errrrr, something, I don't know the word I mean right now).

        "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

        by a gilas girl on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 11:54:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  ratable diaries (none)
    I think a lot of your proposals and the reactions on this thread boil down to the idea of ratable diaries, or a special section on DKos for highly-rated or highly-posted diaries. I think some version of this would be a GREAT idea, and would solve many of your concerns without raising a number of problems that others have pointed to.

    In short, numbers 1 and 2 are about the quantity of diaries: but this wouldn't be such a big problem if there were a way of foregrounding those diaries that were particularly interesting to the communitty (without shutting out or shunting off any others). Number 3-5 are about the quality of diaires, but presumably anyone that did follow your suggestions in 3, 4, and 5 would probably write a diary that gets highly rated. (IMO, the "Hunter goes Postal" diaries are the very best example of this -- and inspired me to think about HOW diaries can stick around and get the attention they deserve).

    So, in fact, I think all of your proposals could boil down to the proposal of having a system where the best diaries get promoted for the communitty -- and rateable diaries could potentially do this without stopping the amazing openness, diversity and spontaneity of the rolling diaries that we have now.

  •  disappearing diary malady (none)
    here's another suggestion that I believe may actually be workable: it puts the responsibility on the readers rather than the software (or the authors).  When a diary that you think is important and deserves attention is about to disagree, post a diary that links to it, thus keeping that discussion going.  Also we could give each other alerts about what discussions are useful and which ones are actually related.  Dem from CT does a great job of this when he posts on the front page, sometimes just putting up a diary contents post to alert the community.  We could all engage in a little more of that (i.e. promoting the good/important/useful/fun diaries, not necessarily to the front page (which is most often what happens, somebody says "kos, put this on the front page), but we could just as easily say, "fellow kossacks, so-and-so rocks today, check out her diary on...."  That's certainly as useful a post as the "so and so is a troll" or "I saw x" or even the breaking news posts.

    if the problem is highlighting the good stuff, then that can be accomplished without restricting access.  if the problem is (defined as) "too much stuff" or "too much bad stuff" then that's a different issue and its one that doesn't really open itself up for democratic solutions given that its a bit of an elitist problem.

    "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

    by a gilas girl on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:44:44 PM PDT

  •  One partial solution (none)
    ...would be to expand the archives options for diaries.

    I think a big help for managing diary traffic so that writers earn more readership and readers reach more interesting diaries in a convenient way would be allowing authors to categorize diary entries.

    This would allow a reader to come to the site and easily check up on recent diaries on races in a particular state or on a particular topic.   If I've been away for a few days, I'm curious to know whether anyone has written about Virginia politics, but I'm not going to page through three days of diaries to find this out.  The current archive system is too narrow and searching by keyword is cumbersome and not convenient.

    Scoop does allow stories to be categorized in this manner when they are submitted.

    If we could categorize our diaries it would help readers go back and review diaries about particular subjects of interest rather than readership being so dependent on the vagaries of diary traffic when the diary is posted.

    Yep, I'm still trying to reach my goal of 100 new signups to the DCCC's Campaign for a New Majority. And go Ginny!

    by Maura in VA on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 09:15:06 PM PDT

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