Community Spotlight is a development of the original ‘Diary Rescue’ feature on the front page of DK3. Promoting good writing by emerging diarists was and remains the ultimate goal. However, the ultimate success of the DK3 Diary Rescue process in reaching that goal remained problematic. Community Spotlight was designed to take the Diary Rescue concept to the next level, namely by potentially putting more “eyes on target” via its position on the DK4 page. Early indications suggest the Community Spotlight effect on diaries appearing in the box vastly exceeds what was achieved by the DK3 Diary Rescue feature.
Metrics defining “success” in the Diary Rescue process were never formally established although three general outlines became clear over the years:
- Anecdotal observations regarding certain diarists
- High Impact diary data from jotter
- Reporting within the Rescue Ranger workroom about diaries that went from “rescued” to “recommended” (R2R)
Anecdotal observations consisted of observing rescued writers eventually gain significant comments (which we interpreted as reflecting increased readership) without any rescue help. Three diarists come to mind regarding this: Something The Dog Said, Ojibwa and the venerable Charlotte Lucas although there have been many, many others over the years. However, without any hard data, it’s impossible to determine if the Diary Rescue process itself was solely, mostly, or just marginally responsible for such authors getting more recognition as defined by increased commentary within their diaries. Nonetheless, dozens of Rangers over five plus years have observed the same effect suggesting that the Diary Rescue process had something to do with increased author recognition.
High Impact Reports
High Impact data was never formally tracked as it pertained to rescued diaries. However, I randomly compared dozens of different days’ Rescues and then looked to see if any appeared in jotter’s following day report. With the exception of diaries that went R2R, in no instance did I see a diary appearing in Diary Rescue make the High Impact list. Although the dataset isn’t large, one likely conclusion was that the Diary Rescue process, while good at potentially highlighting emerging authors, wasn’t finishing the deal.
Rescue to Recommended (R2R)
The one area that the Rangers tracked almost from the beginning were R2R diaries. That being said, our extant data only goes back to Feb 2009 when we moved to a different online forum used for workrooms, discussion and general communication. Afterward, we documented when a diary made it from the Diary Rescue front page feature over to the Recommended list. Like most members of the DK community, we estimated the Rec List as being the best judge of “eyes on target”. In many ways, our most rewarding moments as Rangers occurred when a diary went R2R. In the words of one long-time ranger “this is why I’ve been doing this for 5 years”.
Unfortunately, those moments didn’t come often. From Feb 2009 until Feb 2011, we documented 30 diaries that went R2R out of around 500 diaries. Again, nice when it happened but also another indication that the Diary Rescue process wasn’t completely doing what had been originally hoped for.
The Community Spotlight Effect
Turning Diary Rescue into a prominent 24/7 feature with real-time rescuing, as opposed to a Front Page entry that eventually scrolls off the page, are two "upgrades" that might seem like a blinding flash of the obvious. Theoretically, the position of the box and the real-time nature of the feature would put more "eyes on target". The burning question was how effective that approach would be.
Almost immediately it became apparent that comment levels typically increased, sometimes dramatically over the life of a diary’s presence in the current Community Spotlight box. For example, FrankCornish's diary:
Obama, Hillary, Now is a Good Time for the US to Remain Silent Regarding Iran UPDATED,
started at 32 comments when it entered the box. Moreover, it had been “stuck” at that comment level for at least two hours. Our observations over the years suggested that the diary had probably gotten as much traction as could be expected from the standard diary process and would fall off the current diary list cliff to put it in a DK3 term. However, within 90 minutes of hitting the Community Spotlight box, it had tripled in comments and hit the Rec List. 24 hours later, it was at 164 comments.
stevej on Photography Gear Addiction
entered the box with 40 comments and 12 hours later had 72 additional comments before eventually topping out with a total of 211.
A Man Called Gloom on In Memory of Casey: 1998-2011
entered the box with 3 comments and eventually topped out at 81.
That wasn’t happening to every diary but three days into DK4, the comment surge and R2R activity really jumped out at the Rangers. Therefore, we decided to closely track the number of R2R diaries for the first week and compare the numbers to our two years of data from the old Diary Rescue process.
The numbers surprised all of us: as of Sunday morning, 20 Feb 2011, one week after DK4 went live, 30 diaries went from R2R out of 120 appearing in Community Spotlight. In just one week, the Community Spotlight process equaled two years of the DK3 Diary Rescue process. While some might question our assumption that diaries on the Rec List in fact reflect a broader readership, that perception has been a widely held one since the implementation of DK3; it's as good an indicator as anything else when judging the increase in a diary's exposure.
Thus, the DK4 equivalent of the “Colbert Bump” has occurred with the advent of the Community Spotlight feature. We now have more “eyes on target” or as we would have said back in Diary Rescue on International Talk Like A Pirate Day “me mateys ‘r seein’ more scrolls ‘o larnin from tha poopdeck”.
For more background on the Community Spotlight/Diary rescue process, head to:
The Rescue Rangers Welcome Kossaks Back To Daily Kos. And keep an eye out for Unitary Moonbat's diary tonight on the history of the Diary Rescue feature. Both provide detailed looks at what we’ve tried to accomplish and how we’ve gotten to where we are today.
Finally, if you want to follow Rescue, simply go to:
and click on the "follow" link in the profile box.