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"Add a penny for the Internet!"

Almost a decade ago, at the dawn age of the liberal blogosphere, online activists were exploring new ways to make our voices heard. We weren't yet known as the "netroots," and the word "progressive" was only just starting to become a defining part of our vocabulary. We were years away from hosting a presidential debate—not that anyone who came up in that era ever even imagined such a thing. Even visits by candidates for elected office to our online communities would only come later.

But we did understand the power of money—and we wanted to serve as a counterweight to the corporate lobbyists and conservative oligarchs whose cash always seemed to be king. The question, however, was this: How could all of us—far-flung regular people, able to donate in small amounts—speak in one voice? How could Joe in Miami and Liz in Seattle and everyone else in between demonstrate that we were all part of the same movement? How, in essence, could we bundle our donations, the way big money movers do?

"Add a penny for the Internet!" I'm not sure anyone knows who first proposed this idea, but it was both brilliant and simple. If everyone who gave online (and in those days, if you were giving online, you were almost certainly of the activist stripe) would just add a penny to their donations, campaign finance directors reviewing their spreadsheets would realize that all these small contributions had something in common. If they were savvy and wanted to learn more, they'd visit our websites and learn what we stood for—and realize there was a benefit to reaching out to us.

The idea took hold most tightly with Howard Dean's campaign, whose online organizers reinforced our calls to "add a penny for the Internet." But it also spread to other campaigns, like Ben Chandler's successful drive to win a very difficult special election in a red Kentucky district in early 2004. Indeed, the concept became so popular that different websites each wanted their own special signifier in the cents column. One Chandler donation page suggested the following menu:

Calpundit add $.15
Daily Kos add $.01 add $.13
Eschaton add $.18
The Hamster add $.04
Instapundit add $.03 add $.07
Political Wire add $.09
Seeing the Forest add $.02
Talk Left add $.11
Talking Points Memo add $.22
Yellow Dog Blog add $.36

Of course, you'll see that Daily Kos readers were encouraged to add just $.01—the idea of "adding a penny for the Internet" was most closely associated with this site, so we Kossacks (though we weren't called Kossacks back then) retained the single cent as a badge of honor. Incidentally, Chandler's campaign credited online donations as giving them a major boost—and thanks to these markers, they knew exactly where the money came from. Helpfully, it also allowed campaigns to provide progress reports back to their blog supporters, as you can see in this post from Atrios, where Chandler's team toted up all the gifts ending in $.18.

So what happened to the penny for the Internet? In a word, ActBlue. The "online clearinghouse for Democratic action," founded in 2004, allowed users to create their own web pages with their own candidate slates. It became exceedingly easy for websites to track their users' donations, and for campaigns to know exactly which websites donations had come from. Once ActBlue became widely adopted, it was no longer necessary to identify contributions using the cents field, and thus an early netroots tradition quickly passed into memory.

But not for me. As an old-timer, I still like to "add a penny for the Internet" whenever I give to a political candidate, even if I'm pretty sure whoever's reviewing the campaign's donations on the other end probably has no idea why someone would include an extra cent. It's a bit of nostalgia for me, and hey, there's always a chance an old-school finance director will get a smile out of it.

So how about you?


Tonight's Top Comments can be found here.


Have you ever added a penny for the Internet?

79%1719 votes
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6%131 votes

| 2169 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  319,252 registered users on dKos now. (15+ / 0-)

    Here are the 10 newest registered users on dKos.  Hope to see their comments and diaries here soon!

    AFSCME (user #319,246: is this an official account?)
    marcolin (user #319,247: uggs spammer)
    Kelly Trout
    Conservative Joe (user #319,250: conservative who wants to learn about liberals)

    And since our society is obsessed with numbers that end in a lot of zeros as milestones, here's a special shoutout to user #319,200: donrijo.

    We've added 83 more users in the last 24 hours.

    And for your Diary Rescue music pleasure, since it's Labor Day, here's the original music video for Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend", from 1981.

    And here's a whole bunch of rock stars, from Bruce Springsteen to John Mellencamp to Eddie Vedder to Michael Stipe to the Dixie Chicks (and I'm missing a whole lot more) performing "People Have the Power" at a John Kerry rally in October 2004.

  •  it's movie night at the raisin! (13+ / 0-)

    I didn't get Jack from Abramoff...I'm not a Republican!

    by nonnie9999 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:36:16 PM PDT

  •  Thanks (7+ / 0-)

    for the story, David. Nice history. I always add a penny -- when I remember! :)

    America is so not like her hype.

    by OLinda on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:37:21 PM PDT

  •  It's Labor Day and our local rag (11+ / 0-)

    (the Dekalb Daily Chronicle) celebrated by running a fact free anti union screed from Amity Shlaes.

    Pfft, corporations are killing our media and in turn, our country.

    "He's the one, who likes all our pretty songs. And he likes to sing along. And he likes to shoot his gun. But he knows not what it means" - Kurt Cobain

    by Jeff Y on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:38:18 PM PDT

  •  Torture inquiry to examine UK-Libya intelligence l (5+ / 0-)
    Allegations that MI6 was involved in the rendition of Libyan terror suspects will be examined by an existing inquiry, David Cameron has said.

    It comes after papers suggesting close ties between MI6, the CIA and the Gaddafi regime were found in Tripoli.

    Sir Peter Gibson's inquiry into alleged involvement in torture by UK security agencies has said it will investigate.

    A former Libyan foreign minister has claimed MI6 was co-operating with the old regime until about six months ago.

    And I am sure nothing will come off it.

    One bitter fact is two bit hacks populate the third rate fourth estate who are truly the fifth columnists. PL poutrage lasts a week, max.
    Call the media when they Lie

    by amk for obama on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:40:38 PM PDT

  •  Who else thinks... (7+ / 0-)

    Scrubs was one of the funniest shows out there?  (Yeah, let's not think about Season 9.)

    But what was amazing was their ability to turn something so funny into something deadly serious in a split second.  Here's a clip from Season 2 that had so many viewers in tears.  You don't even need to have seen the episode to be touched by it.  (Music from Men at Work's Colin Hay, who appeared in several episodes as well.)

  •  choice (15+ / 0-)

    Listening to Mike Malloy tonight. He just mentioned that we shouldn't be calling it Women's right to choose. It is a woman's right to privacy. Roe v Wade was really about privacy. It would be much harder for the other side to argue against privacy.

    America is so not like her hype.

    by OLinda on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:43:11 PM PDT

  •  Somalia famine 'may kill 750,000' (9+ / 0-)
    As many as 750,000 people could die as Somalia's drought worsens in the coming months, the UN has warned, declaring a famine in a new area.

    The UN says tens of thousands of people have died after what is said to be East Africa's worst drought for 60 years.

    Bay becomes the sixth area to be officially declared a famine zone - mostly in parts of southern Somalia controlled by the Islamist al-Shabab.

    Some 12 million people across the region need food aid, the UN says.

    The situation in the Bay region was worse than anything previously recorded, said senior UN's technical adviser Grainne Moloney.

    "The rate of malnutrition [among children] in Bay region is 58%. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition," she told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

    This is almost double the rate at which a famine is declared.

    "In total, 4 million people are in crisis in Somalia, with 750,000 people at risk of death in the coming four months in the absence of adequate response," the UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) says.

    Half of those who have already died are children, it says.

    Neighbouring Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have also been affected by the severe lack of rain.

    Donate to Oxfam. See boatsie's diary here.

    One bitter fact is two bit hacks populate the third rate fourth estate who are truly the fifth columnists. PL poutrage lasts a week, max.
    Call the media when they Lie

    by amk for obama on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:43:13 PM PDT

  •  Wow, didn't know that. (7+ / 0-)

    Very interesting history lesson. :)

    How The Doctor does redistricting: 'I'm going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilize, street-level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, twelve jammie dodgers and a fez.'

    by KingofSpades on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:50:59 PM PDT

  •  I still add the penny for every ActBlue donation (5+ / 0-)

    and have since Kos Dozen first went on ActBlue. Some things work so well, there's no reason to change them.

    Among other things, it gives me the perfect excuse to round up to the next $5 increment, or $10, or $25, or whatever (depending on the size of my donation), and donate the rest to ActBlue itself as a "tip". I never use the suggested tip percentage, because I like the total to be centless (but never senseless).

    These days, though, even if I'm donating through an ActBlue page other than O2B, I still add the penny. I never did get into those really weird numbers like 18 cents at Eschaton, though I did support some of Atrios's picks in addition to the dKos 8.

    © sardonyx; all rights reserved

    by sardonyx on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:52:52 PM PDT

    •  I still hate giving money on line, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Odysseus, dkosdan

      no matter if the reason is worthy. A USPS would always be a good idea.

      •  For me, it's a huge chore (0+ / 0-)

        to write up half a dozen checks or more. ActBlue lets me do it quickly and conveniently. I wouldn't give as much or as frequently if I wasn't able to do it on line, and I'm ultimately glad I can do so.

        Everyone's different, and there are some things I still don't do on line that many of my friends do. It's all about comfort level, and what works for you.

        © sardonyx; all rights reserved

        by sardonyx on Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 01:12:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Another Ooopsie from the folks at Pimpco (8+ / 0-)

    1st was this

    Bill Gross admits ‘mistake’ in dumping U.S. debt

    Bill Gross, manager of the world’s largest bond fund for Pimco, has admitted that it was a mistake to bet so heavily against the price of U.S. government debt.

    Mr. Gross emptied his $244-billion Total Return Fund of U.S. government-related securities earlier this year in a high-profile call that has backfired as the bond market has rallied. As of Monday, Pimco’s flagship fund ranked 501 out of 589 bond funds in its category.

    “Do I wish I had more Treasuries? Yeah, that’s pretty obvious,” Mr. Gross told the Financial Times last week, adding: “I get that it was my/our mistake in thinking that the U.S. economy can chug along at 2 per cent real growth rates. It doesn’t look like it can.”

    When the yield on the 10-year Treasury was 3.5 per cent in January, Mr. Gross warned that the risk of rising inflation made government debt a poor investment.

    And now about the whole austerity thing


    PIMCO's Gross urges rethink of UK recovery strategy

     LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - The austerity measures
    implemented by British finance minister George Osborne risk pushing the UK economy into recession, Bill Gross, the manager of PIMCO, said in an interview with the Times newspaper.

     Gross, who manages the world's biggest bond fund, told the newspaper that a "mid-course correction" of the fiscal plans would lift the economy and should not damage the country's standing with bond investors.

     "The economy in the UK is worse off than it was when the plan was developed, so there should be at a minimum fine-tuning and perhaps re-routing of the plan," he was quoted as saying.

     Gross said a similar argument applied to other leading
    economies, including in the euro zone and the United States, which he said faced a mounting crisis.  

    So it's The Why do you hate this country You're Obsessed with misquoting me out of context while I was in the process of misspeaking with the sun in my eyes while chowing down and bashing Sharia law God Bless America defense.......

    by JML9999 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 08:57:46 PM PDT

  •  I made more than one donation to the Obama (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, nonnie9999, kerflooey, David Nir

    campaign for 20.09 in honor of w's last day. I did not know about the .01 thingie. But didn't we do something like that when donating to ShelterBox for Haiti?

    Wolverines and Badgers and Buckeyes - Oh My! Be Afraid Kochroaches. Be very afraid.

    by mrsgoo on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 09:00:06 PM PDT

  •  The Surprising Origins of Labor Day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basquebob, nonnie9999

    The Surprising Origins of Labor Day - in the OND (0+ / 0-)

    Overnight News Digest: The Surprising Origins of Labor Day

    Please, Read, Rec and Comment! :)


  •  Gaddaffi leaves Libya? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are reports that a large convoy of vehicles has left Libya and has entered Niger. Among them were a group of heavily armed Tuaregs,

    Gaddaffi is known to have members of that tribe as his personal bodyguards and the BBC arranged a very late night Skype interview with an expert at home in Cambridge (UK) just after they gave the first breaking news of the above convoy.

    That suggests they are linkng the two and it could mean they have unverified reports that Gaddaffi was in the convoy.

    Fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 09:14:12 PM PDT

  •  Team Kitty crashes the Bachmann Campaign, (6+ / 0-)

    and mashes it up!

  •  Let's look forward, not back. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Green Jeans, JeffW, MartyM, dkosdan
    Almost a decade ago, at the dawn age of the liberal blogosphere, online activists were exploring new ways to make our voices heard.

    Maybe it's time we got around to making our voices matter. That would be new. And an improvement.

    We've had a wonderful run as a hundred flowers bloomed, and there's contention among a hundred schools of thought. And that's nice. We've got familiarity, comfort, "we are an entity," and all that groovy "I have an identity" stuff.

    But we keep losing the class war.

    Maybe we can use the internet to figure a way to win a series of specific, and well-chosen, battles in the class war. Or at least introduce a decent balance of forces.

    "Whatever you do, don't mention The War." Basil Fawlty, while mentally impaired.

    by Jim P on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 09:30:53 PM PDT

  •  And now, the fabled 2012 awaits. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, dkosdan

    I hope I make it. I'd hate to miss it.
    The build up is now prologue. We all know where we stand. How we will determine that convoluted and foggy future, no one can say. But that determination could mean the end of freedom in this land that bequeathed freedom on the world.
    The forces of greed; of selfishness, are massed and waiting. They will unleash every weapon they possess. They will trample all that stands in their way to obliterate the self-determination of the masses.
    This is a war of times. It is a war of the past and the future; of lord and serf. Should the past triumph, the legendary sacrifices of 1776 may well have come to nought. Equality, itself, could easily be assigned to the grave. It may be given lipservice, but will be no more than a strawman; a manipulated corpse bught and paid for by the the ressurected Gods' of Greed of old.
    Hell could be on it's way.

    We Will NOT Compromise On Fairness.

    by franklyn on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 09:40:23 PM PDT

  •  so i took a what kind of liberal are you quiz (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, OLinda

    and got this result...

    Result: Reality-based Intellectualist
    Reality-based Intellectualist

    You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme

    100 percent correct.

    May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.

    by GlowNZ on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 10:01:45 PM PDT

  •  Apparently it's HRable conspiracy theory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to suggest that AIPAC has more influence than 100,000 random jerks off the street.  I'll wear them with pride.

    Politics is the art of changing what's possible.

    by happymisanthropy on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 10:13:15 PM PDT

  •  So, what about this diary... (0+ / 0-), post this evening about a scandal being what diverted Porny Perry from that wingnut lovefest sponsored by DeMint in SC? Is it fire, or something else heating things up?

    And no, I'm not posting a linky, `cause it's NSF!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 10:30:21 PM PDT

  •  Teabaggers want Obama to rebuke Hoffa (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    after Democratic offices were shot up and Teabaggers and even Republican reps have mentioned "taking out Obama & Democrats" and "second amendment remedies"!

    In addressing the crowd before Obama’s appearance, Hoffa said there has been a war on workers. “And you see it everywhere, it is the tea party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war.”

    Hoffa added: “President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of a b----- out and give America back to an America where we belong.”
    In a statement, the chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, Amy Kremer, demanded an immediate apology from Hoffa and urged Obama to rebuke him for “his dangerous comments.”

    “Jimmy Hoffa’s remarks are inexcusable and amount to a call for violence on peaceful tea party members, which include many Teamster members,” Kremer said. “We have called on President Obama to condemn this inappropriate and uncivil rhetoric, which has no place in the public forum.”

    Teamsters spokeswoman Leigh Strope said in a statement: “Workers didn’t start this war — the right-wing tea party zealots did. Jim Hoffa’s comments today reflect the anger of workers under attack in this country. Instead of focusing on the economy as a top priority after taking office, corporate-funded conservatives attempted to gut the middle class.”

    GOP 2012 campaign ad - "Tax the working poor!"

    by MartyM on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 10:44:19 PM PDT

  •  I remember the 'penny for the internet' idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from the Dean campaign. That was when I was becoming a big fan of Dr. Dean - but I wasn't yet old enough to vote or contribute.

    I first made donations (as small as they were) to Granholm and others ion 2006. I have yet to add a penny for the internet - but thanks for the reminder for next time!

    (Another tradition I remember from that era was to add $.18 if you were a young supporter to show that the campaign had support from young people!)

  •  A question for Social Security experts (0+ / 0-)

    Like most others here and on the left I have been claiming that Social Security doesn't contribute a single cent to the deficit. But then it occured to me that because the SS surplus (aka the trust fund) is invested in t-bills, which pay interest, doesn't that interest technically contribute to the deficit, because it represents an outlay? I'm not saying that this is a BAD or unnecessary outlay or a major one compared to other ones, but isn't the interest still a contributor to the deficit (like any other outlay)? Or am I misunderstanding something?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 11:07:48 PM PDT

    •  SS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, JeffW

      I don't know about the interest situation, but the current payroll tax holiday is being reimbursed to the Social Security fund by the General Fund. This is good because it means that Social Security will not be losing funds due to the tax cut. But, at least during the time it is reimbursed by the General Fund, it is my understanding that those monies contribute to the deficit.

      America is so not like her hype.

      by OLinda on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 12:48:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which is why I'm not convinced (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that this "Payroll Tax Holiday" is motivated entirely by noble motives.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 01:11:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ss (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I don't think there were ulterior motives. Probably not that much thought was even put into it. They sure aren't advertising the fact about the General fund. Many more people think Social Security is losing money due to the cut, than know about the reimbursement.

          It won't make much difference as far as Social Security being on the chopping block. It would be there and have a tough fight with or without this detail.

          America is so not like her hype.

          by OLinda on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 01:18:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Bring it Back (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had never heard of this tradition, but I like it. In fact I think you should bring it back. When you do your actblue fundraising efforts instead of asking for a dollar per Wisconsin recall election (for example) ask for a dollar per election + a penny.

    Perhaps people will start doing this on their own when they send in donations to other political donations they will make and this will spread the word even further.

    Take it to another level have people donate to red cross this way and to other organizations this way and spread spread spread the word that we are still growing, still expanding still progressing toward the future and we won't quit ever.

  •  Gen. Wesley K. Clark supporters gave $.04. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Symbolic gifting to General Clark and other candidates running for office, from 4 Star General Wesley K. Clark supporters during the 2004 campaign, through at least 2006.

    Sometimes it's just enough to listen.

    by KayCeSF on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 12:12:14 AM PDT

  •  Operation Black Tulip ? Iran ? -- official report: (0+ / 0-)

    @FMCNL FMC the Netherlands

    MUST READ: #DigiNotar security breach report, #Iran involved #Cybercrime #OperationBlackTulip thx @cryptoron
    9 hours ago via web
    Retweeted by mrcai and 15 others

    pdf file =

    Addington's perpwalk is the trailhead of accountability for this wound to our national psyche. 48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam

    by greenbird on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 12:14:45 AM PDT


    Millions beyond reach of aid ... this is just horrifying!

    Breaking News: Somalia Famine - Millions 'beyond reach of aid'

  •  RIP Freddie Mercury (0+ / 0-)

    Most of you have probably seen remembrances tonight, but I thought he belonged in the September 5 Night Owl thread for posterity.

    America is so not like her hype.

    by OLinda on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 12:57:33 AM PDT

  •  Hey Perry - How's That Pray For Rain Working? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Huffpost mentioned that Rick may skip the California Republican/teabagger/KKK/Bircher "debate" to watch Texas burn.

    Why would he skip a major function for the inhabitants of the Republican clown car?

    Could it be he does not want to be asked why he is asking for FEMA help?

    Could it be he does not want to be asked about how rain is falling all around Texas, but not on Texas, after he held his pray for rain and pray for a theocratic dictatorship stunts?

    Could it be he does not want - okay, just about anything if would have to answer a question.

    Pam Bennett -6.95 -7.50

    by Pam Bennett on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 03:05:34 AM PDT

  •  Tornadoes in Cherokee County, GA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    That's north of Atlanta, a big bedroom area and huge Tea Party center.  It got quite a bit of damage all the way from Woodstock in the south to Ball Ground in the north.  Haven't heard of any deaths but lots of property losses.

    I don't like moralizing during times of such losses, but it does gripe me to see people who have made it clear that they hate the federal government lining up for FEMA and other emergency aid.  Where's your self reliance, folks?

  •  70% of respondents (0+ / 0-)

    Never heard of " a penny for the Internet"!

    Newbies... Sigh.....

    That's Countdown for the 2,082nd day since Mission Accomplished. You thought that would change? Are the troops home yet? Keith Olbermann January 20, 2009

    by Ed in Montana on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 04:27:43 AM PDT

  •  Never heard of it but… (0+ / 0-)

    maybe that's because those asking for donations haven't been taking advantage of the opportunity and asking for it. Come on guys, give it a try. Sounds like an old trick that should already be a staple of fundraising.

    Without heroes we are all losers with nothing to aspire to.

    by qua on Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 05:32:00 AM PDT

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