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Greetings, Cranky Users! As the New Diarists group has gotten underway, lots of questions have surfaced, and it's developed that it isn't only brand-new users who don't know the answers. So in this Cranky Users series, we're going to discuss some elements of Daily Kos as it exists right now, and sort out how you can use them. Today we'll start, below the orange rapids, with: The Stream.

Many of us use our streams, but if you don't use yours, you can find it by clicking on Stream in the Welcome back, (your name) box at the upper right. (If you're new and haven't used it, there may be nothing in it.)

Your stream is a reading list that you build for yourself by "following" users, groups, and tags. Whenever you see one of these entities with a little orange heart next to his/her/its name, clicking that heart will cause you to "follow" that entity (or unfollow, if you are already following). This means that diaries written by that user/published by that group/containing that tag will go into your stream if you follow, or leave your stream if you unfollow. The idea is to follow writers and ideas that interest you, so that, when you look at your stream, it has sorted through all the diaries published and is presenting you with ones you've pre-selected to be called to your attention.

You can see examples of all the kinds of "follow" hearts in this very diary (illustrations are from another one, though). At the very top of the page, just below the Daily Kos masthead, you can see the name of the group that's published this diary, with its little heart. A little lower, below the diary's title, is my username with my little heart. And at the bottom of the diary, just above the comments, are the tags, each with its own heart. Notice that, if a group has republished the diary (we'll talk next time about the distinction between that and publishing), its name will appear at the bottom of the diary, above the tags (indicated with an arrow in the picture). It won't have a heart, but it's a link, and if you click and go to the group's page, you'll find the heart there.

And if you're very new indeed, a group is a publishing entity within Daily Kos: some users who have gotten together to write about some particular subject or to some particular purpose. We'll talk more about them in the next diary. A tag is like an index entry that is added to the diary to help people find it using Search or with their streams. I'm sure we'll talk more about tags as well.

Points to understand about your stream:

  • A stream is nominally in chronological order, newest at the top. I say "nominally" because, should you start to page back and look for older items, you'll find the sort order to be rather buggy. But the main point is, newly-published diaries get added to the top.
  • Not all diaries enter your stream at the top. I can best explain this with an example. I follow the Recommended tag. A diary does not have this tag at its publication; it's added later, when it achieves the magical combo of mojo goodness that puts it on the rec list. When a diary gets its Recommended tag a few hours after publication, and I refresh my Stream page, I won't see that diary at the top of my stream. I'll see it down further, wherever its publication time places it among the other diaries in my stream.

    Similarly, if I decide today to follow Meteor Blades, who has been writing here since 2003, all his 2,803 diaries (at this writing) WILL be added to my stream, but they will NOT all be added at the top. They will get shuffled in by their date of publication, and paging back through my stream is not the best way to look at the earlier ones.

  • Diaries don't drop off your stream, nor can you "clear" them from your stream after reading them, as you did on the old DK3 "diary watchlist". They just march on back to the beginning of Daily Kos, or at least, to the beginning of the entities you've followed. The only way to alter what's in your stream is to follow and unfollow.
  • To that point, you should prune your stream if you find it's not serving you. If you followed a user or group that looked interesting, but you find it's really not your thing, by all means, unfollow them. They're not going to get a personal message that you don't like them any more!

    The most common culprit for turning streams into roaring cascades, though, is tags. Tags are unregulated, with the exception of Recommended, Rescued, and Rescued to Recommended, which are system-assigned. This means that anybody can put any tag on anything. Tag abuse is against the rules, but that doesn't mean some people don't have a tin ear regarding how to assign tags. A tag may be the only way to follow something that interests you, but if you're getting stream overload, maybe you can find a way to slow down the flood of stuff you follow. For instance, sometimes, as with Cranky Users, there's a group and a tag. Following the group gives you only the diaries the group specifically publishes/republishes. Following the tag gives you any diary someone decided to assign that tag to. Maybe you really want the extra material; maybe you don't.

  • To do focused stream-pruning, you don't have to chase around the site looking for occurrences of the entities you're following. They're listed on your Following pages. If you click the big MY PAGE right under the Daily Kos masthead, or click on your stream in the Welcome Back box, one of the tabs you'll see is Following, shown below. It has separate lists of people, groups, and tags that you follow (group list is illustrated here). As you can see, the rightmost column has Remove buttons for each entry, so if you want to unfollow several entities, this is the place to go, "Remove" being like "Unfollow".

    While we're looking at this page, let's note a couple of other items: first, this is also where you can find and manage your hotlisted diaries, the ones where you clicked on the orange plus-in-circle because you wanted to save them -- their tab is to the right of the Tags tab. Second, that Add Groups link with the big heart, just above the Remove column? That is a strange little link, because it just links back to the very same page you're on. There are analogous ones on the People and Tags pages. It's sort of like those cards that say, on both sides, "How do you keep a blond busy all day? (over)". Ignore!
  • You can follow stuff that's on the front page. If you don't want to actually go to the front page, you can bring its diaries into your stream. Community Spotlight is a group you can follow. So is the front page itself. Recommended is a tag.

So, if you are a new diarist, perhaps you're getting the idea that it would be valuable to get your diary into a lot of people's streams, so they will possibly open it up to see what it is. If you're new and don't know anyone, how can you do that? In our next diary, we'll talk about how groups work and some of what they can do.

Meanwhile, as usual, please use the thread to ask questions and share what you know with others. We may be Cranky, but we are not mean, so please be kind to one another.

Before we close with our Big Box o' Resources, here is a word from our friends at the New Diarists group:

New Diarists is a safe place to practice diary writing skills with a mentor's guiding hand. Experienced diarists are invited to join and buddy up with new diarists, and new diarists are welcome to ask for help. The group's Publication Manager provides a space where we can collaborate on diaries and help with everything from revision to formatting to promoting your new diary.

How-to and Help diaries, such as smileycreek's New Diarists: How to Collaborate with Us on a Diary, will be published to the New Diarists group. Visit our home page and click on the little ♥ to follow us.

Ready to play? Send a private message aka kosmail to nomandates for an invitation to join the group.


☀ For more stuff sort of like this, the Cranky Users group.

☀ For lots of official detail about the site and its workings, the DK4 FAQ (frequently-asked questions).  The main Daily Kos FAQ is still here.

☀ For help with bugs and technical problems, the fabulous new HELP DESK! You can search for others who have already reported the same issue, post the issue yourself, submit it privately, or even answer questions posted by other users. And, you can check out the "knowledge base" for information both general and specific.

☀ You can still use the contact form to get a response about site problems of a non-technical nature (such as issues with rules and banning/reinstatement). Please select an appropriate radio button when filling out the form.

☀ For immediate catharsis, complain in a Cranky Users thread. These threads are regularly scanned by kos and developers, but it's not a guaranteed way to bring an issue to the attention of these folks. But sometimes you just need some sympathy from other cranky people! (And sometimes, other cranky people have advice that can help you.)

Our thanks to kos, the development team, and the Dkosopedia contributors for their vigorous efforts to deliver a site that works well and to help us know how to work it!


Originally posted to Cranky Users on Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 12:00 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town, New Diarists, and KosBusters!.

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A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

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