Welcome to another addition of New Rules! This is an ongoing series in which I compile some of my least favorite meta trends on Daily Kos and then complain about them. You can read the previous diary here.
As always, these rules are mostly in good fun. Mostly.
New Rule: Two sentences does not a BREAKING diary make.
Have you ever opened up a diary with a big flashy "BREAKING" in the title, only to find it has just one, maybe two sentences in it, and the second one is, "I'll post more details when I hear them"?
You find that irritating? I know I do. A two-sentence diary......is not a diary. It's a comment parading as a diary, yet you posted it anyway. Thanks! You just wasted 5 seconds of my life that I can never get back. Now multiply that by the 100 other readers that clicked on your diary at the same time that I did, and you're responsible for the wastage of 500 precious seconds. We could have used that time for searching for YouTube videos of French bulldogs struggling to get up or Bulgarian Idol contestants failing at singing Mariah Carey.
Yeah yeah, I know it's tempting to be the first one to post a potentially big story on the Great Orange Commie Pinko Blogosphere, but is it too much to ask that you take the time to post at least three paragraphs with four sentences in each one before hitting Publish? Maybe include a link to the news item, with a blockquote of relevant text if they're available? Oh, and can you include a little, just a little bit of your own analysis of the news story you're posting about? I mean, all that might take you an extra 15 or 20 minutes to do, but you'll at least have a diary with some relevant information.
So, enough with the two-sentence BREAKING diaries, okay? I could have gotten the same exact information from Twitter, and the day that Daily Kos requires that every diary have 140 characters or less is the day I leave for good. I came here to read -- not for your speed.
Note: The only exception I've ever seen to this rule that really, really worked was this. It was not exactly a BREAKING diary, but as Fiddlegirl said, it was the best diary ever not written.
New Rule: We need to retire the phrase "This is good news.....for John McCain!"
Nothing is good news for John McCain. You hear me? Nothin'. Saying "This is good news for John McCain" implies that the "this" was something. Something ain't nothing, unless that something is nothing.
Well, this is something: Just the other day, McCain claimed that Barack Obama suspended his campaign at the same time that he did, in September of 2008. Only, that wasn't true. Seems he forgot that he criticized Obama for not suspending his campaign along with him.
I repeat: Nothing is good news for John McCain.
New Rule: Cool it with the competing diaries!
Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' 'bout. Somebody writes a diary with a theme and title like "I'm Ashamed of Daily Kos," then somebody else follows that with a response that is aptly titled "I'm NOT Ashamed of Daily Kos." Then, two more people write diaries like "Stop Trashing Daily Kos" and "Daily Kos is TEH BEST EVURS!!!", while another three people are already crafting their diaries like "I'm Disappointed in Daily Kos," "I'm OUTRAGED at Daily Kos," and a snarky diary like "Daily Kos Causes Earthquakes!!!"
Seriously, enough! Not every diary on Daily Kos requires a direct response to a previous diary. One competing diary is more than plenty. I'm all for getting facts right -- if there's a diary that contains factually incorrect information about a certain government policy, and you want to clear it up, mention that in the comment section of the original diary. But if anything, just use a previous diary (or link to it) to make a larger point -- don't make that previous diary the entire central focus of your point. I mean, would you like it if every article in the newspaper was written in response to the articles from yesterday's paper? Man, can't you imagine how annoying it would be if all the newspaper did was try to point out all of its own errors from the op-ed pages all the time?
(Actually, on second thought, I might prefer that. Being an op-ed pundit is, by-and-large, one of the most accountability-free professions I can think of. That's why writers like Bill Kristol and David Brooks get to spout egregious falsehoods with their neoconservative dogma in the outlets like The New York Times -- hardly anybody except for bloggers on the internets actually hold their tripe to scrutiny. If only the op-ed editors at the NYT did the same on a routine basis.)
New Rule: If an elected official or a famous person writes a diary here, and you write a comment in that diary, you have to say more than just "Thanks Senator!" or "Keep up the good work, Michael Moore!"
Look, it's nice that you want to show friendly appreciation to a well-known political or media personality and all, but they're not looking for just simple thank yous or pats on the back. They get plenty of those in their own e-mail inboxes. They want input and participation. You can show them thanks by tipping or recommending the diary. And honestly, nobody cares if you're a "big fan." Really. Nobody.
It's fine to say "thanks" to one of these writers, but if you're going to post a comment in one of those diaries, just add a little meat to it. You can add a little meat to your comment in a number of ways. For example, you can ask a question about a certain policy or news story. Or, provide a link and a blockquote of a news item relevant to the diary. Or, share a personal story or anecdote from your own experience. Or, shoot down Republican hypocrisy. Or, add a picture of meat.
Think of your comment in the diary as a steak dinner -- all those of those suggestions I provided are your steak, and saying "Thanks Senator" is the gravy. And let's be frank -- are you going to serve somebody a plate that has nothing on it except gravy? Would you eat that? I sure wouldn't.
(p.s. I apologize if suggesting that people "add a little meat" to their comments is insulting to vegetarians and/or vegans. You may replace the word "meat" with "tofu" as necessary. Here's a picture of tofu.)
And finally, New Rule: Can we stop with the paranoia about how Daily Kos has "changed" or has "gotten too negative"?
It's pretty much like clockwork. The President or some Democratic politician of note makes a speech, or utters a comment, or proposes a certain policy that attracts the interest of Daily Kos users. Kossack A writes a diary that supports that Democratic politician's position, and it makes the rec list. Kossack B writes a diary that opposes that Democratic politician's position, and that makes the rec list too. Various commenters in both diaries make passionate and heated arguments disagreeing with one another. Some people get their feelings hurt and denounce what they perceive as the "constant negativity" on Daily Kos. Perhaps one or two decide that it's time for a GBCW, perhaps because they feel the site is somehow different than what it used to be, or because it's being taken over by some mysterious, nefarious forces.
Guess what: This is a site about politics! You're always going to get disagreement when you're talking about a huge number of political issues with a huge number of politically motivated voters. This is important stuff. The stuff sometimes gets rough. And when the stuff gets rough, you gotta get tough. No pirate in Blackbeard's fleet ever set sail expecting completely smooth waters 100% of the time.
I'd also point out that such disagreement is not always "negative" and can in fact be healthy for society at large. Genuine, legitimate debate is what allows us to use reason and facts to gain knowledge and promote discussion about the issues most important to us. It allows us to hold our elected officials accountable by providing critical analysis of their actions, or lack of actions such as the case may be. By contrast, I think it's the mark of a failed political movement that encourages lock-step, knee-jerk support for anything and everything their elected officials say and do, and discourages anyone from trying to question the actions of their political leaders. Just look at the Republicans of 2006 and 2008 if you don't believe me.
Now, I may be just a green-eared Noob when it comes to Daily Kos -- I signed up in September of 2008 -- but hasn't debate and disagreement always been a part of this website? I suppose we can argue that perhaps the focus of certain political topics here may change from time to time, depending on which issues are currently dominating the political discourse and which party is in control of Congress or the White House.
But seriously, I look forward to the debate either way -- and even if Daily Kos does somehow change over time, why is that necessarily a bad thing? Isn't that what learning is all about? There are of course certain things and principles I'll always hold, but you still have to keep an open mind when discussing politics. It's up to me to adapt to my changing world if and when I have to. It isn't up to everybody else to adapt to all of my expectations.
Actually, scratch that last sentence. These are my New Rules, dammit, so you all have to adapt to whatever I say!