It's not official, it's not endorsed and everything you are about to read comes from me. Some or all of it you may know about, other things may be new. Feel free to disagree or add anything you like!
What's a FAQ? - Some people will tell you this is a stupid question, but it's not. As your teacher might've told you once, there are no stupid questions. FAQ means "Frequently Asked Questions". There is a small official FAQ which you can and should read here. It explains a lot of important things. If you haven't read the official FAQ yet, please make it your first stop!
"Main Page" - This website comes in two sections. The first is what is commonly called the "front page", which is the page that loads when you go to http://www.dailykos.com in your web browser. The people who write Stories that appear there are known as "front page posters" and are handpicked by Markos himself. You can get there anytime from another DailyKos page by clicking on "Home" in the upper righthand corner of your screen.
You can see an opening paragraph or two there and then click "There's more" to read the rest of the Story. You can add your own Comment but only after you register. If you want to make DailyKos a truly interactive experience, you have to register. It'll give you the power to add Comments of your own (within 24 hours) and write your own Diaries (within a week).
Please don't worry that your email or other information will be sold. I've been here for a long time and never had a single problem with this.
Open Thread - On the front page you will see a "Story" called "Open Thread". This is the perfect forum for you to write a Comment about anything under the sun - especially if it's just a simple link to an article on another website.
What's a Comment? - A Comment is a short message that you yourself add to an existing article, whether "Main Page" or "Diary". Once you're a registered user, just click on words "Add a Comment" at the bottom of either the Story or all the other Comments.
If you're reading a Story and you add a Comment, the page will refresh and you'll lose your place. There are two easy choices of what to do - one is wait until you're done reading the Story and then adding your Comment then. The other is to use the right button on your mouse and click on "Add A Comment" so that it opens in a new window. Then you can add your Comment and not lose your place in the first window!
Diaries - The other half of the website are the Diaries. These are Stories, articles if you will, written by people just like yourself - the "ordinary" registered visitors to this site. There are rules about Diaries that you can find in the official FAQ. The word "Diary" makes it sound like you should be talking about what you had for breakfast or something, but it's just a DailyKos-ism meaning an article/post written by a (registered) user of the website.
What's a Story? - A "Story", for the purpose of this FAQ, means either an article written on the Front Page, the Open Comment "thread" or else a Diary. They all function the same in terms of how to add Comments and Rate Comments.
What's a Poll? - A poll can be added to the end of any Story where votes are tabulated based on a selection of choices decided upon by the User who wrote the Story
What Can I Write About? - Hmmm... now that's a good question. First of course, please observe the rules (two Diaries a day, etc) which you can find in the official FAQ. If you follow the rules, pretty much everything you want to write about is ok!
Now you have to understand that DailyKos is a "community". Many people have been here a long time and are quite attached to this place. There are certain "ethics" or "morals" about what is or is not ok to write Diaries and Comments about.
Here are some of the more or less "acceptable" things people write about:
- Breaking News - although most people online have access to CNN and other "instant news" websites, sometimes people write about ongoing issues which they think the community at large would be interested in
- Analysis of Political Issues - anything from specific bills to what politicians are doing to policies to Congressional hearings - this is a politically-oriented website!
- Personal Stories of Political Involvement - this could be anything from what you did or saw on election day to a Story about what Congressperson you called or a petition you signed
- Analysis of News - sometimes what the SCLM (see the official FAQ!) doesn't do a good job of covering news items and more in-depth analysis is warranted
- General Interest - this can be almost anything really - one user (PastorDan) often covers religious issues which a lot of people find quite interesting and worthwhile to read
- Humor - because this is a community, sometimes we need to take a break from the serious stuff and "let our hair down"
- Diaries About Diaries - deserves its own category because its so prevalent. Whether writing a Diary Commenting about another Diary, a Diary about how Diaries should (or shouldn't) be written or a Diary about Diaries about Diaries - these are part and parcel of what the DailyKos community is about
- Diaries About The Community - definitely deserves its own category - this is where the users come together to discuss issues facing the entire community - what's working and what's not - and what needs to be done (or not done)
- Diaries Analyzing Diaries - a rather new category, it refers to Diaries which analyze Diaries written by other users, whether which one is the most Recommended or what good Diaries were written in the preceding week which you might've missed
- Cheers and Jeers - there is one specific user, Bill in Portland Maine, who writes a daily Diary called "Cheers and Jeers". It's an subset of the DailyKos culture and one of the most popular Diaries for a lot of people
- Cursing Diaries - sometimes people need to blow off steam and write Diaries to invite people to curse and use foul language. These aren't for everyone, but some people greatly value them
- Duplicate Diaries (esp. "Breaking News") - sometimes people see something important developing in the news and want to write a Diary about it - the only problem is that someone else has already posted on it. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and delete a Diary if someone else has already written about it
- "Goodbye Cruel World" Diaries - as in any community, people get attached to the place and when they feel they are no longer as welcomed or loved as they used to be, they write a long farewell Diary. Then after dozens of Comments saying "don't go, we love you" the Diary writer stays
- All Hat, No Cattle Diaries - no matter how important an issue or article is, sometimes people quote a source and then add little to nothing themselves. There are appropriate venues for linking to valuable articles (esp. in the Open Thread) if you don't have anything to add yourself about the topic
- Full Quote Diaries - under standard internet "etiquette" and the law in most countries, quoting an entire article from another source is usually prohibited. Make sure you quote just part of an article or another website and put a link (see official FAQ!) for readers to click on to read it in its entirety
- Personal Attacks - if you really feel offended by someone, send them an email! Nobody really wants to read hateful screed about another user here - we're all here to be friends (or at least colleagues)
- Advertising - If you are writing Diaries (or Comments) simply to link to your own website or product, it might be time to buy advertising on DailyKos
- Put any and all images (see below) in the "Extended Copy" section of the Diary!
- Don't pad the "Main Entry" box with filler... either write something substantive or else don't write the Diary at all!
- Try and make the title of your Diary a simple sentence that describes what you're writing about...
Yes, you can add images (pictures) to your Diary or Comments... the html code is rather simple:
< img src="imagelocation" > (minus the spaces)
If you find an image/picture on another website and use it on DailyKos, the original host of the image has to "deliver" the image everytime a user on DailyKos sees it. This can be quite expensive as it uses up "bandwidth". The best thing for you to do if you want to include a picture in your Comment or Diary is to "host" the image yourself. Try going to Google and finding a server that will host images for little to no cost.
This is a generally vague term, although it is explained in the Official FAQ. Somehow, some way, when you write enough Comments that get enough positive ratings, you are awarded (or cursed, as some people call it) the power of being a "Trusted User" of DailyKos. You now have the power to rate people with a "0" and also to see "hidden Comments". How you can become a Trusted User is a secret formula that nobody but Markos knows.
Contrary to some people's opinion, being a Trusted User (or not) is not a life or death situation! It's really more of an added responsibility for those who have contributed to the community itself. If you gain Trusted User (TU) status but then lose it, take a deep breath! It's ok, you will return to TU status soon enough. It doesn't mean you're a bad person or that Santa will fill your stockings will coal next year.
How Can I Tell If I'm A Trusted User? - The simplest way to determine this is to look at the little box at the top right-hand side of your screen. If you see an option that says "Hidden Comments" you are a Trusted User. Or if you are rating a Comment on a Diary or Front Page Story and see "0 - Super Troll", you are a Trusted User. If not, you're not :)
Tip Jar - A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... there were a lot fewer users here on DailyKos. A person would write a Diary and get maybe just three or four Comments, even though the Diary might've been read by 20 to 30 people. People started to add a Comment to their own diary and called it a "Tip Jar" where people could add a rating to that particular Comment, so the person would get "mojo".
Some people on DailyKos feel that "Tip Jars" are crass and do not give "mojo" to them. Others feel like it's a way to reward a person for writing a Diary they liked when the reader doesn't have the time or inclination to add a Comment saying so. It's the dealer's choice here, really.
What is "Mojo"? - Well according to a dictionary, its an African word meaning "magical power". Here on DailyKos it refers to the combined total of ratings people get for Comments. The higher rated your Comments are, the more "mojo" you have. Your combined total "mojo" score is impossible to know though - the only indication is whether or not you're a "Trusted User".
Comment Ratings - This is a huge issue within the DailyKos community, and it essentially boils down to two different things. Whenever you see a Comment (and you are a registered user), you can "rate" that person's Comment. You can rate it between a 1 and a 4 (or a 0 and a 4 if you are a Trusted User). But the rating of Comments serves two purposes:
- Troll Vaccination - A "troll" is an old internet term which means someone who writes deliberately inflammatory things to upset people. Sometimes however people write crass or uncalled for things, and these are considered "troll" Comments (or Diaries). If the combined Ratings for a Comment falls below 1.0, then the Comment is "hidden" from non-Trusted User users. This is to keep people from hijacking this website.
- Mojo - The way people Rate your Comment often is an indication of how they feel about either you, what you said, or the issue in general. Sometimes this is an orgy of positive energy, with people giving you a high rating (4) or sometimes people get vindictive and give you a low rating (0 or 1) because they don't like you personally.
Rating Comments Is Confusing - It is, especially when you see it for the first time. The easiest way to do it is to rate a Comment after you read it. Then keep ratings Comments until you are done with the Story. Then when you're completely done handing out Ratings, click on one of the "Rate All" gray boxes.
When you click on "Rate All", the screen refreshes and you will lose your placemark where you are. The easiest way to escape this is to hit "Rate All" when you're completely done reading the Story.
Replying to Comments - When you see someone write a Comment and want to respond to that particular Comment, click on "Reply to This" under the Comment. As in adding a "fresh" Comment, you'll be taken to a new page altogether and you'll lose your place back in the Story. The easiest thing to do is use the right button on your mouse when you click on "Reply to This" so it opens in another window. Then you can return to the first window and not lose your place!
What's A User Number? - People sometimes like to look and see another person's User Number (also called UID). Your user number is assigned to you sequentially based on when you registered at DailyKos, so the higher the number the more recently you've arrived here. Sometimes people like to think that a lower user number awards some kind of special status - that's not true! It just means they've been here for a while so they might be more familiar with how things operate around here. Besides our host Markos, we are all equal here.
How Do I Find My User Number or Someone Else's? - Several methods are available. One is to hold your mouse over a person's name (only works for Comments) and you might see a number in the lower lefthand corner of your browser. For other people this does not work, whether it's a setting for your browser or something else.
Another easy way to find someone's User Number is to click the right button of your mouse on someone's name (again, only in Comments) and open that in another window. Then you will see their user ID number.
I Wrote a Diary/Comment And Nobody Liked It - Well believe it or not, this is more common than you think. Over 200 Diaries are written every day on DailyKos and they can't all be equally appreciated, visited and Commented upon. Sometimes the hard work you do will go unnoticed or relatively unnoticed. That's just part of the system!
Usually though, more people read your Diary/Comment than you realize. They just may have not chosen to either reply to it or else give you "mojo" for it. If you're writing to receive the applause and appreciation of others, you're heading down a dangerous path. The best reason to write for DailyKos is because it's good for you to do so and because you think others will appreciate it.
If you're feeling like your Diaries or Comments aren't getting enough attention, then please start your own blog!
I will tell you however that people who write high-quality Comments and Diaries do end up getting noticed and appreciated for the most part - it just takes a while. Be patient. Again if you need to be the star of the show, start your own blog!
What's the Recommended Diaries List? - Once you're a registered user, you have the option to Recommend a Diary you like by clicking on the grey box entitled "Recommend This Diary". This option is only available for a limited amount of time and once its expired you will see "The period of time to recommend this diary has expired."
The Diaries that have received the most Recommendations in a certain amount of time make the "Recommended Diaries" list which you can see from either the Main Page or the Diaries page. These are not necessarily the best written Diaries on DailyKos, only the most popular.
Diaries Keep Disappearing So Quickly! - As I said, over 200 are written a day. That is why a prudent and careful Diarist knows that every Diary published on DailyKos pushes another Diary further down on the list.
You can change it so that up to the 50 most recent Diaries are visible to you by changing the number at the bottom of the "Recent Diaries" list on either the Main Page or the Diaries page.
How Do I Know if a Diary on a Certain Subject Has Been Written? - Excellent question! You have to take advantage of DailyKos' "powerful" searching feature.
One way is to go to the bottom of the "Recent Diaries" list and type in a word where it says "Search Diaries" then click on "Go".
The other way is a a little more complicated but more powerful. First go to the Main Page or the Diaries Page and look for the three green squares at the top. One will say "Home", one will say "Soj's Page" (actually your username's page) and the other will say "Diaries". Click on the one that says "Username's Page".
After that page loads, click on "Comments". Then you will find yourself at a more powerful search engine, where you can search for Authors, Comments By, Comments, Diaries, Diaries By, Polls, Stories and Users.
- Authors - Refers to searching for Stories written by "Main Page" writers only
- Comments - Refers to searching for text within a Comment, not necessarily written "by" a certain person
- Comments By - Refers to searching for Comments by a certain User
- Diaries - Refers to searching for text within a Diary
- Diaries By - Refers to searching for Diaries by a certain User
- Polls - Refers to searching for text inside a Poll
- Stories - Refers to finding text within a Main Page Story only
Who Determines What/Who Is Acceptable Here? - Ultimately that resides with our host, Markos. Feel assured however that the community itself will usually let you know when you are "in bounds" of what is commonly expected. There are no other real hard and fast rules.
A Story Is Taking Forever to Load On My Screen - This happens, especially when there are more than a few hundred Comments. There's nothing you can really do about it except buy a faster, more powerful computer or else skip Stories which have a lot of Comments.
What's This "Display: Threaded, Minimal, Nested, Flat, Flat Unthreaded, Dynamic Threaded, Dynamic Minimum" Business? - DailyKos uses a powerful software program called "Scoop" which lets you choose how Comments are displayed on your screen. Believe it or not, how you see the Comments organized is not necessarily how another person sees them!
Refer to the official FAQ for more information.
What's This "Rate? Yes, No, Hide" Business? - You can choose whether or not you wish to Rate Comments by clicking on either "Yes" (I want to Rate) or "No" (I don't want to Rate). If you click on "Hide" you will not see the Ratings other people have given.
How Do I Found Out How People Rated My Comment? - First go to the Comment you wrote then click on the Rating beside it. This will tell you who Rated you and what Rating they gave you.
How Do I Find Out Who Recommended My Diary? - Go to your Diary and then click on the box that says (using poor grammar) "Who's Recommended This Diary?"
I'm Addicted to DailyKos Now.. Help! - First, know that you're not the only one and that help is all around you! Admit your weakness and ask for guidance from a Higher Power. Then tell your boss so that h/she makes sure you spend more time actually working than reading Diaries on DailyKos. If you are logging on from home, please consult a loved one and admit to them you are powerless over your addiction.
What Else Do I Need To Know? - Plenty! But the most important thing is make every visit to DailyKos a rewarding one. If you're finding yourself increasingly frustrated, it might be time to turn off the computer and go take a long walk in the fresh air of the real world. Pet your dog. Kiss your cat. Eat a homecooked meal. Take a nap. Go volunteer at a nursing home or soup kitchen. Then come back here if you feel ready.
Why Do You Sign Every Comment and Diary With the Word "Pax"? - Excellent question... I do so because I am an advocate for peace and "pax" is the Latin word for that.