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For instance Buhdy usually opens like this-
Welcome New Users! I'm sure some of you are here because of all the publicity.  Below is all the info you will need to participate in this great community that is obviously changing the conversation in American Politics!

Before we get started, go ahead and press the + button in the circle next to the title.  That will put this diary on your hot list so you can access it later and go back and read the links!

When I first found Dkos and began lurking (reading without posting) I was thrilled!

"These folks are Wicked Smart! I said to myself and Funny too! I want to be a Kossite!!" But I was mystified as to a large chunk of what was being discussed...what's a recommend?  What's a 4?  What is that whole recent diary list thingee about over there?  Who the hell is that Armando guy?  And hundreds of other 'stupid' questions!

A veritable laundry list of ignorance!  I leapt into the fray....and was pummeled!

It turns out that the community had not been waiting around for years for me to come and tell them what they were doing wrong!  It turns out that even though I am Wicked Smart too, some of what I KNEW to be fact was wrong or not substantiated enough to qualify as FACT in this reality based community!  It turned out that even though I was Wicked Smart, there were others here not only just as smart and aware as I, but some even smarter and more aware than I!  I had one convo that went roughly like this.  Paraphrased of course...

Me: Well, I disagree!!!  I have studied extensively, as an avocation, the way the human brain works.

Other Guy: I am a Neuro-Surgeon.

Me: oh.

But I also found PLENTY of folks who were ready and willing to help overlook my ignorance and newness and point me in the right direction to become a productive member of the community. I learned to be a little humble and to listen to those who had been here longer and knew the ropes. Eventually the community accepted me wholeheartedly and gradually I reclaimed my imperious arrogance.....but now molded and modeled to community standards.

I've only been here six months or so, but I now consider my fellow Kosovarians and Kossacks as my family and friends. Daily Kos, and the opportunity to use it through cooperation and consensus to change our world, has become a large part of my life.  Because it works!

Ok dig in!  Below there are links, tips, anecdotes and more to help you learn Dkos. Please add your input in the comments.  Ask questions, tell us your story!  We will try to publish a version of this diary every two weeks until the election...or the rebellion, whichever comes first!  This is a community effort and ALL fellow Kosologists are encouraged to contribute in the comments, especially pointing out information I've missed, or corrections to the info contained here.

This is how I open-

"Hello Devil.  Welcome to Hell."

Actually, one of the things Buhdy and I share is the idea that dKos can be a complicated and scary place and one of the things we should be doing better is educating our newer users so that they have a pleasant and productive experience.

I like to start with the FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions.  Please read it, because everyone will assume you did anyway.  Our dKos FAQ was put together by a nice guy, dmsilev, but many authors contributed.

One of them is Markos.  Who is he?  He.  Owns.  The.  Site.  When he says something I would encourage you to listen.  One of the things he has talked about that is often misunderstood is the mission of the site, if you are at all confused please read this- Memo To the World by kos.

While most of us are liberal and progressive, not all of us are.  In fact some of us are not even Democrats.  If you are Republican, or Green, or a Socialist or Communist (I like to think of myself as a yellow dog Anarcho-Syndicalist), please remember that yours is not the majority viewpoint and be especially polite.


One of the most important values on dKos is Community.  A family sitting around the dinner table talking is a more appropriate metaphor for the atmosphere of this site than a debating club or a think tank.

We talk about more than politics.  We discuss what's happening, good and bad, in people's lives, what's on TV or at the movies, sports and religion, painting, gardening, and cats and dogs and ponies.  Some of us think we're funny, though we're rarely as funny as we think.

There are some regularly occurring diaries that reflect this-

Just as you would politely nod and laugh at Uncle Bob's jokes on Thanksgiving, so you should ignore Diaries on topics that are of no interest to you.  It is really not necessary to disrupt a thread to inform an author that their subject is insufficiently political for your taste, especially since this sentiment most likely reflects a failure of your imagination.

Reading is 'Fun'damental

One of the things I like to do best on dKos is something that any unregistered lurker can do- read.  I'd say I read a hundred or two hundred diaries a day.

Oh, you're funning me ek.  Do you spend all day in your mom's basement or what?

Nope.  I use the techniques I have documented in Speed Reading dKos.  Other people are even more efficient than I, opening dozens of Diaries at a time in separate windows or tabs, using the Hotlist and Subscription features to track Diaries and authors of interest, or even RSS feeds to maximize their dKos experience.

My inspiration for learning to be an efficient reader was mentaldebris and her OverKos series.

Other Fun Stuff

Comments and Diaries and Ratings, oh my.  The reason to register rather than just read is so you get the ability to do the fun stuff.  dKos has recently upgraded its Commenting/Rating system and the gentleman who developed most of the user interface code is a site member with the handle 'peeder'.  Welcome to the New Daily Kos Comments is his guide to the new features.  Since it is a bit dense I will attempt to summarize.


Underneath the text of a Diary, and again at the end of all the comments in a Diary, is a link called Post A Comment.  At the end of each Comment is a link called Reply to This.  Any of these links will start the inline Comment Editor.  Once the Comment Editor is open if you need to look at another page in your browser, use a new window or tab.  There is no guarantee that the Comment Editor will keep your entry if you don't.

The first box is the Comment Title (Subject:).  All Comments must have a title, this is why you see titles like asdf (grr, you know what I'm talking about).  The second box is the body of the Comment (Comment:).  After you type your Comment you can jazz it up by highlighting pieces of it and using the formatting buttons below the 'Comment:' box.  You can also use the Auto format commands outlined in the FAQ or raw HTML.  Not all HTML is accepted by the server though, this is why you can have code that appears to work in 'Preview' render unexpectedly when you hit 'Post'.

Speaking of 'Preview' and 'Post' those are the last 2 steps before your prose is immortalized.  You MUST 'Preview' before you 'Post'.  After you screw up a couple of your Comments you will wish you had previewed more- "Preview is your friend."

One of the nicest parts of the New Comment System is that the diary is updating itself while you are composing your Comment.  Before you hit 'Post' you will want to scroll around a bit to make sure you are not repeating what someone just said.  If you decide that your new Comment is in the wrong place (hmm, I'm really responding to the diary here, not what this previous Comment says) you can click on any Post A Comment or Reply to This link and the Comment will move to that location.

Finally, speaking of immortal, when you hit the 'Post' button your Comment is entered into the master database at dKos.  You can not alter or delete it.  This is to prevent people from saying inflammatory things and then trying to weasel out of them by changing history.  W may think he can, but you can't.  Period.


After a week you get the ability to write Diaries, one a day.  There are lots of rules about Diaries in the FAQ.  You will notice the warnings about 'Conspiracy Theory' Diaries get stronger and stronger.

So tell me about your dog.

The 'Golden Rule' of respectful Diary writing is to remember that your Diary pushes someone else's into history.  This is one reason why people get all hot and bothered about 'Duplicate' and '300 Characters and a Link (BREAKING!)' Diaries.  Me, I'm not bothered by that stuff.  I think my diaries hang around too long anyway, but perhaps that's because I have the quaint notion that an author should stick around and tend their Diary, answering questions and things like that.

In your 'Tools' in the right most column is a link called New Diary Entry.  Push it and you will find a page with some more rules and boxes labeled 'Title', 'Tags', 'Intro', 'Extended', 'Poll Question', and a bunch labeled 'Poll Answers'.

For your 'Title' I suggest you be as deceptive and enigmatic as possible, otherwise no one will ever read your stuff.  Seriously, keep in mind that shorter is better, make it punchy and exciting, and DON'T USE ALL CAPS!  Oh, and check the spelling, nothing more embarrassing than a misspelled title.

'Tags' are mandatory.  They are a categorization tool intended to make your diary easier to find later on.  They deserve their own definitive ek hornbeck monograph and will get one... any day now.  What you need to know to get started is that they should be short and descriptive and separated by commas- "Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont, CT-SEN".

'Intro' is the first paragraph or two of your Diary.  In TV talk we'd call it the 'Teaser', the part before the theme music where we try to convince you not to change the channel.  There is no need to repeat it in the next section-

'Extended'!  Tada!  The meat and potatoes part of your Diary.  Tell us what you really think.

'Poll Question'.  A Poll is entirely optional and unscientific.  For one thing dKos is not your typical crowd, I've never met so many gun owning Democrats before.  A good thing that it can do for you is measure eyeballs (how many people have read your piece).  If you choose to include a Poll, you will want to include some 'Poll Answers'; otherwise you end up with a very Zen poll that no one can vote in.

As with Comments there are 2 important buttons, 'Preview' and 'Submit'.  We already know why 'Preview' is our friend, 'Submit' posts your Diary and takes you to a screen thanking you and inviting you to enjoy.  Of course if you want to see your new Diary and post a 'Tip Jar' or something you have to push the Home link in the 'Menu' section of the right hand column.  Your Diary should be the first or second listed under 'Recent Diaries'.

There is one more important skill to master, and that is deleting your Diary.  No one can delete your Diary but you or a System Administrator.  An Admin will do it if your Diary is extremely offensive or breaks the rules (The Elders of Zion caused 9/11).  This is very rare.  Most often you will want to do it yourself.

Huh, I just wrote it!?  Ah yes, but while you were preparing it someone else wrote one that is exactly the same only much better.  Or a flame war has started and no one is paying attention.  Or you tried some fancy HTML that is just not rendering properly.  Whatever the reason when you are reading a Diary you wrote you will see an Edit Diary link next to your byline.  Push it and you come to a page that has 3 buttons just below your story- 'Update', 'Preview', and 'Delete' and a checkbox next to the 'Delete' button that says 'Confirm Deletion:'.  Check the box, push 'Delete' and poof- your Diary is done.

Don't do this just for hah hahs, you delete all the Comments in your diary too and sometimes people have worked hard on them and will resent it.  Nor will it eliminate any negative 'Mojo' you have accumulated, System Administrators can still see it.


As a new user your choice is very simple.  You have a checkbox next to the byline of the author of every comment that says 'Recommend'.  You check it or you don't.  Simple.

One reason to check it is that the Comment is "Excellent" in every way.  Well researched, trenchant, witty.  Other meanings of 'Recommend'- I agree, I read what you had to say, I respectfully disagree and now I'm going to tell you why in a nice friendly way.  One way 'Recommend' should NOT be used is "You are my friend and everything you say is great."  I am your friend and most of what I have to say is crap.

I usually don't stint on the love, on the other hand at a hundred Diaries a day I don't think you could say I'm just a 'Mojo' machine.

What about that big button at the top right of the Diary that says 'Recommend'?  That's the 'Diary Recommend' button.  If enough readers push 'Diary Recommend' your Diary graduates to the 'Recommended Diary' section where it can remain for hours or days and generate hundreds of Comments.  Some people have a tendency to be very emotional about this space; if that describes you, you might want to read Making MetaJesus cry- getting on the recommended list by Jerome a Paris.  I've never had a 'Recomended Diary' thank goodness, my feelings on the matter can be found in Dwell Time.  I do give 'Diary Recommends' to Diaries that deal with important issues AND are well researched AND well written.

Other places to learn stuff

Here are some other Diaries that address the needs of new users-

Here are some older takes on what the well informed user should know-

And finally-

  • Daily Kos Frappr map.  Are you on the Frappr map?  Don't miss local dKos meet-ups and events in your area.
  • Naked dKos.  What do I know about you?  Only everything you've ever written.  How to read people's archives.
Top Comments of the day by various authors, SusanG's Diary Rescue, and jotter's High Impact Diaries are also valuable resources for understanding dKos.

Mojo and Trusted Users

The Daily Kos is a Community Moderated site.  Users who have been active for over 3 months AND who have gathered a certain (no one knows for certain) number of Recommendations become 'Trusted Users'.  Of the over 90K Registered Users of dKos a little over 2 thousand are 'Trusted Users'.

A 'Trusted User' has these special powers-

  1. They can 'Edit' Tags (I told you to use commas).
  2. They can vote to 'Hide' Comments.
  3. They can see who has voted to 'Hide' a Comment.
  4. They can see Comments that are Hidden.

There are Diary topics besides Conspiracy Theories that are very controversial on dKos.  Markos has sold out.  dKos is broken.  My concern is being ignored.  There are too many Diaries on X, Y, or Z.  You are all groupthinking cultists.  Armando.

Oh, and this one- Why did you censor (Troll Rate) me.  You can check out my feelings about the subject in dKos Censorship?, dmsilev has this to say in the FAQ-

Comments are not deleted.  If you think your comment has been deleted, you are wrong.  If you really really think your comment has been deleted, you are wrong.  Yes, really.  Your comment has been hidden, but Trusted Users can still see it, and have the option to un-hide it.

How are things Hidden?  A vote to hide a Comment is called a Troll Rating.  They are worth 0 points and can only be given by Trusted Users.  A Recommendation is worth 4 points and can be given by any Registered User.  If the average rating for a Comment is < 1 the Comment is Hidden.  A Comment must have at least 2 ratings to have an average rating.  Some examples-

  • ( 0 + 0 ) / 2 == 0.00, Two Troll Ratings, Comment is HIDDEN
  • ( 0 + 4 ) / 2 == 2.00, One Troll Rating, One Recommendation, Comment is NOT Hidden
  • ( 0 + 0 + 4 ) / 3 == 1.33, Two Troll Ratings, One Recommendation, Comment is NOT Hidden
  • ( 0 + 0 + 0 + 4 ) / 4 == 1.00, Three Troll Ratings, One Recommendation, Comment is NOT Hidden
  • ( 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 4 ) / 5 == 0.80, Four Troll Ratings, One Recommendation, Comment is HIDDEN
As you can see, it's not really true that one or two people can gang up on you and Troll Rate all your Comments.  Even a single Recommend means that it takes at least 4 Trusted Users to Hide a Comment and Trusted Users have a limited number (currently 5) of Troll Ratings they can dispense during any 24 hour period.

What should be Hidden?  Troll Ratings should not be given for mere disagreement or revenge.  It is suggested that they be given to Comments that are disruptive or inflammatory.  I currently have 4 criteria (descriptions are not comprehensive, they are exemplary)-

  1. Abuse.  This includes language AND rules.  All the usual fighting words, plus others depending on context.  It is not ok to simply set up a new account if you have been banned, you must petition for reinstatement.  You may not have more than one account (sock puppetry) for your own personal cheering section.
  2. Bullying.  Thread high jacking.  Ad Hominem attacks.  Exposure of private information (outing).  Threats of reprisal and death ("I hope you get cancer").
  3. Stalking.  With few exceptions, disagreements should stay in the thread they started in.
  4. Lying.  Don't tell me you didn't say something you said, or that you're not a Trusted User in a thread you can only see if you are.

What happens to Hidden Comments?  They are hidden.  From the perspective of a Regular User the Comment and all its replies disappear from the thread and from your Comments page.  Trusted Users can still see it, both in the thread and in a special section called 'Hidden Comments'.  It is a responsibility of Trusted Users to evaluate Hidden Comments and make sure that they deserve their fate.  If your Comment is Hidden it is not merely the judgement of the TUs who Troll Rated it, but also the hundreds of others who saw it and decided it was unworthy of rescue.

What happens to me?  Other than a severe ego bruising?  Not much.  If you are Troll Rated the best advice is to apologize and shut up.  Unfortunately people tend to get belligerent and counter attack.  This simply provides more targets to Troll Rate.

It also effects your 'Mojo'.  'Mojo' is your overall rating as a member.  The exact formula is secret but it includes your activity level as a user and the positive (Recommends) and negative (Troll Ratings) reactions to your Comments.  Trusted Users must maintain a certain level of 'Mojo', otherwise they go back to being (gasp) a Regular User.  This is what is commonly meant by the threat- "I'll Troll Rate you out of existence!"  Pfft.

If your 'Mojo' drops sufficiently low (and it is a very low level indeed) you will get picked up by the 'Auto Ban' program.  You will lose your ability to post, edit, and delete your Diaries and also your ability to post Comments and give Recommendations.  I am not sure that Markos still reviews every Automatic Banning, but he will if you request it.  The best course of action is to follow the rules and not put yourself in a position to find out first hand.

Have a GREAT day at dKos

I like dKos a lot and I don't thank Markos enough for providing me this wonderful forum to communicate with one of the finest, most intelligent, sympathetic, and funny groups of people it's ever been my pleasure to meet.

It really hasn't been that long (4/9/05) since 49281 was the highest UID and I had to buy coffee for everyone.  I hope some of what I've written makes it easier for you to learn how to use this fantastic tool.

If it appears I have concentrated on the negatives, the "thou shalt nots", it is because I want you to avoid the common mistakes that result in hurt feelings and misunderstandings.  The more you read the more impressed you will be by the variety of opinions and experiences expressed here.  I have been other places and the politeness and courtesy of this site is seldom equaled and even more rarely exceeded.

Thank you buhdydharma for allowing me to address this topic, I will close with this quote-

Knowledge is Power and this is a Powerful Place. Use your Power wisely!!!

Speak up in the comments, you are garooonteed to get a warm welcome in this diary!!! Ask questions and please tell us how you 'Came To Kos!'

for and from AlanF

The dKosopedia is the user-edited "encyclopedia" of the Daily Kos community. Those of you who are familiar with the Wikipedia will recognize the format immediately. It's designed to be easy to edit. There's a link to the dKosopedia in the upper left-hand corner of the Daily Kos web pages.

While the Daily Kos blog is the place to go for excitement (breaking news, freshly written essays, current discussions, and so on), it can be hard to find older information once it drops off the page. The search function is very helpful in this regard, but it only tells you what you're already looking for. The dKosopedia is the place to go for an indexed repository of information.

EK, perhaps you wouldn't mind mentioning the dKosopedia in an update line in your diary? (Done- ek).

P.S. Here's a Daily Kos search tip: if you want to do a search inside Daily Kos that's more complicated than the search tool will allow, you can always do a Google search including the phrase "" (no quotes).

Originally posted to The Stars Hollow Gazette on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 06:05 PM PDT.


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