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Here we are at the ides of June (kinda like the ides of March, only rather unremarkable and not at all funky), and that means we have a little over four months before the election.  We have seen this site and community do a lot of truly amazing things over the years.  Look at Netroots for the Troops.  Look at the sharing and networking that went on to create something like Tree Climbers.

Witness TexMex's tireless efforts on behalf of ShelterBox and all the wonderful things that group is doing.  Behold the organization this baby can muster when needed.  The Dkos community has been just amazing on the Limbaugh imbroglio.  Efforts like Orange to Blue and Hell to Pay rock.  

This blog is one powerful machine, and this machine kills fascists – when we let it.  I'm sure everyone can see where I'm going with this, but please hear me out below the squiggeldy-doo.

Daily Kos is so many things to so many people.  But it cannot be everything to everybody, or at least not all the time and certainly not four months before an ineffably important election.  I was rather gobsmacked yesterday to read a comment along the lines of "I really haven't seen any candidate diaries here."  Oh man, did I haz a sad.  Because I've seen countless action-oriented and candidate diaries scroll into oblivion while we debate the finer (maybe sometimes baser) points of yadda yadda, fluff, and blahblahblah.

This is not to say I am opposed to yadda yadda, fluff, and blahblahblah; sometimes it's delightful and very often necessary.  But here's the thing:  those diaries don't need to be on the rec list to be enjoyed.  Thanks to all the changes in the DK4 structure, you are all but guaranteed to not miss your favorite diaries and series, but there are still limiting factors.  Even though the DK4 model allows diaries more avenues of exposure besides the recent list, sometimes all a person has time to do is quickly peruse the DKos homepage without clicking around to any of their content feeds.  And it's still the case that the rec list affords the most exposure of all.  

The other fundamental issue in play, of course, is that action diaries going by the wayside is a fine Dkos tradition, at least in that it's been true for quite a while.  Such is life, I guess, but life post-Citizens United demands that we be focused and hell bent for a little while.  Which brings me to the point of this diary:

Please, please, pretty please be a little circumspect – hell even stingy – with your diary recs until we're past November.  
Here is what the FAQ says about reccing diaries:
   When should you recommend a diary?

    Very simply, recommend a diary if you think other dkos users should read it. That may mean that the diary is covering a breaking news story, or it has an insightful bit of analysis, or even is an extremely funny bit of humor. Note that diaries can have much more content in the comments than in the main text; it is perfectly legitimate to recommend a diary because of an interesting discussion in the comments. Don't recommend a diary simply because of who the author is.

The operative word there, imo, is "should," because to say someone "should read" something is very, very different from the idea that someone "would enjoy" it or "will  appreciate" it or even "would find it interesting."  But Daily Kos cannot be approached in the same way as your inbox; to "recommend" a diary is not at all akin to forwarding a really funny/poignant/intelligent/insightful email to everybody in your contact list. The people you email don't have a limitation on how many emails can be accepted at once (please no tech pedantry about how yes, sometimes there are...you know what I mean.  ; P   ), whereas the rec list can only hold twelve diaries at a time.

Some prioritizing is necessary.  To me, this means we all have an obligation to be extra mindful of our diary recommends through these next four months.  Because by recommending a diary, you are not simply saying, "I liked this" or "This was cool" or "Totally worth reading!"

To recommend a diary means that it is newsworthy/important/timely/significant, etc. enough to warrant or require broad exposure.

Be honest with yourself:  it simply is not the case, or even possible, that every single diary you read and enjoy merits that kind of attention.  No matter how delightful/moving/intriguing some comic relief/personal anecdote/confessional diary may be, it doesn't have to be on the rec list just because it's "awesome."  In fact, I would never in a million years recommend some of the diaries I have enjoyed the most here.  To wit:  nothing but nothing is more fun than a good and active troll diary.  They collect the best comments; I've laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.  But tickling the fancy is not a reason to rec.

To recommend a diary is basically an editorial decision on what will be presented to others to read.

Making the rec list is a numbers game:  diaries with the most recs end up there.  Recommending a diary is, in essence, making choices for others.  You are deciding that a given diary should occupy one of the twelve spots on the Rec List, i.e., which diaries warrant that kind of exposure.

By recommending a diary, you are not just expressing approval of said diary.  

That is what tip jars and comment sections are for.  Give tip jars and other comments recs. Better yet, leave comments yourself extolling the virtues of the diary's amusing charm, informative nature, etc.  But simply being a good read does not mean a diary should be read by others.

Neither is it true that a favorite author's every diary should be read by others.  I refer to this phenomenon as "celebrity reccing," whether it's an actual celebrity or just a popular Dkos diarist. I used to lament that MSOC could write about an after-breakfast fart and it would make the Rec List.  Again, nothing wrong with those kinds of diaries per se, but reccing every diary one's favorite people write is rather treating Daily Kos like Facebook, which it decidedly is not.  Praise Crom.

Again, I only say these things because we have just four months before the election, and that election is about so much more than Obama.  We need to create a political environment that allows the things we want to be accomplished, i.e., we need solid majorities in Congress.  In the face of strident efforts to disenfranchise people, we need to GOTV like nobody's business.

And since knowledge is power, please write about what you know.  What are races in your area that are especially important or interesting?  Where are the easy pick-ups lurking?  Smaller, low-profile races can often yield a better ROI on campaign donations, since swaying 500 people is a lot easier than swaying 5,000.  

This includes statehouses, not just the federal government.  We need to be all up inz every race everywhere this fall.  Please help us know where we can make a difference; David Nir's write-ups are great and all, but nothing beats having the local take on things and insider details.  One of the greatest things ever would be to see diaries like this for every state.  

Please add to the small collection of State of the States diaries.  Tell us about obscure races where the balance of power is within a handful of votes and we can really have an impact.  $200 is a very different figure to a City Council race than the Presidency.  Even if you can only write up a race or two, you're probably still telling the vast majority of us something new.

But most importantly, please make a point of recommending election/candidate diaries like all get out from now until November.  Pretty please?

Originally posted to Cedwyn on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Yes We Can Pragmatists.

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