Some folk have all the luck. Some appear to have the best ideas. Some are great writers, or well-known personalities. Some really don't deserve to be there at all, but one thing they have in common; they regularly fill up the slots on the Recommended Diary List.
Let's kick the squiggle to the curb, and chat.
When I came to this place, what feels like about a lifetime ago, I was not confident. New to this country, yet filled with ideas and wonder, I was reluctant to share anything much lest I simply be seen as just another arrogant Brit. Y'all had enough of that over two hundred years ago, and you didn't need me reminding you of where you went wrong.
One thing that immediately struck me about this place was simply the knowledge. I'm an information junkie. I absorb it, revel in it and, when the circumstances allow, I like to share it. The trouble was that I didn't actually know anything much about US Politics and here I was, reading Diaries by people who had been immersed in politics since they were weaned.
There was a lot to read, and even more to stay silent about.
I joined Daily Kos in 2005. Didn't write my first Diary until 2008, and didn't have a "Recommended" tag until 2010. What is curious about that is that if I wrote some of those early Diaries today, they might very well go to the Recommended Diary List. Back then they sank without trace.
I tell you all this because of a few things I have observed recently, both as a regular User of the site, and as a Rescue Ranger. That latter role confers no real privileges, but it does afford a view of the site, the patterns, the general tone of Diaries, that most Users probably don't get. It's the discipline of having to read every Diary that does it. Even "power users" (I made that up) can pick and choose what they read, and so self-select for content; Rescue Rangers can't, and it lends a certain perspective.
So there I was, back in the day. A fairly new User, still with the waters of the Atlantic soaking the bottom of my Wranglers, and scared stiff of the massive intellects, even larger egos, and regular Diarists who wrote great pieces, many of which I could instantly find on the Rec List. I wanted to be there. Me, twigg .. I had something to say so please listen, and Recommend me!
I see others now, walking that path of frustration. I read their comments, and their Diaries, and I regularly see discussions about "the best time to publish", etc. I imagine that anyone spending much time here sees it too. I also understand the feeling of wanting. Not necessarily wanting approval, or proclamation, but wanting traffic, readers, comments. You spend time writing a Diary. You put yourself, your thoughts and feelings, your time and effort into doing the best you can, and naturally you want that acknowledged in some way. It's normal and human.
Let me let you into a secret, if you are new here, or unsure. Even after more than two hundred Diaries, dozens of Rec Listed Diaries and an even greater number of Rescued pieces, that feeling does not go away. Every Diary you write has to be your best. Every time you hit "Publish" you wonder if you wrote a stinker. When and if I hit Publish for this one, I will have that "little boy lost" feeling, and the butterflies that go with it.
One thing I will not do, and this is what prompted this Diary ... I will not Un-Publish or delete. I have done that once in response to a vitriolic comment thread that had little to do with the actual Diary, and was just not helpful to me, the site, or its mission.
What I have witnessed is, on at least three occasions, Diarists delete their work because of an apparent lack of traffic.
I'd like to stress, and correct me if I am wrong, that the only way to guarantee that your words will never help or inform anyone, is if you delete them.
I know how frustrating it is to see your Diary plummet down the Lists, often appearing to be attempting to break the laws of physics in its effort to exceed terminal velocity. I get it when only two people you have never heard of tip your Jar, and Meteor Blades ignores you. You put yourself into the writing, yet the same old names seem to get the recognition, even when they don't deserve it .... The Wreck List ... pah!
Something you might not have considered though, is that the Rec List is here today, and different tomorrow. It's transitory, in a permanent world. The words you write, well ordered and appropriately tagged will remain. They stay in the database awaiting the time when someone who needs them searches, and finds just what they were looking for in that Diary you wrote, and despaired of.
Daily Kos is not simply a daily newspaper. Here today and a chip wrapper tomorrow. It is here while ever the database is maintained, and your work lies waiting for that one moment that it can help someone. Tags are important. Accurate tagging produces effective searches, and gives your Diary the best chance of doing what you intended ... Informing, entertaining, or helping.
One of the Diaries that was deleted recently, apparently because the Diarist felt it was being ignored, had already been queued to the Community Spotlight. Another was under active consideration when ... poof ... it was gone. I have also seen Diaries promoted to the Front Page which, prior to that, had received little attention. You just don't know what is happening behind the scenes. Hundreds of Group Editors looking for material that might give more exposure. Rescue Rangers on stealth patrol and even the occasional Front Pager latching onto an important piece that was missed.
The worst that can happen is that your Diary quickly scrolls down the page. It sucks, but it's not the end of the world, and it's not the end of your Diary unless you remove it.
I'll share one last secret, because two secrets is more than enough for one Diary .... The time was that I considered the Recommended Diary List to be the ultimate seal of approval (short of the Front Page which continues to elude me). No longer. I grew out of that a long time ago. There are other measures. Community Spotlight is always nice, but really what I enjoy the most is comment threads. If I write something that people want to talk about, even if they do not want to recommend, then I am happy.
Because if there is one thing I like to do more than write, it is "talking" to fellow Liberals about subjects that we share an interest in.
I hope this helps you if you are wondering how to build traffic. It's not meant to be an exhaustive list of steps for success, merely an exploration of one small aspect.