My first blogging home was Open Salon. It was the perfect place to learn the ropes among a group of excellent writers who raised commenting to an art form. In fact, I was able to pose a writing game where we began with a photograph and one comment, then took turns commenting to produce a story around the photo, ala Ken Kesey who espoused community writing. I still remember many people there such as Freaky Troll who was a comic genius as well as our acknowledged OS Goddess. There was Chicago Guy whose muse was Studs Terkel and who proposed a WPA-like writer’s project.
It was there at Open Salon that I first fully observed how a virtual community could be as real as your neighborhood or town. We had one wickedly brilliant poster who appeared to have gone off his medication. He was more than mean and took to cyberstalking several women at the site with private messages saying he was coming to their town and would look them up. This upset all of us considering the level of civility we had achieved. When we complained to the editors, we were told that “Open” was part of the site, so they would not ban him. We countered that OS was a community. They countered with the fact that it was not a community but a commercial social site. I have to confess here that I was the one who led the revolt, contacting my voluminous list of friends overnight to email the editors about it. They did and the editors, at first, were not pleased. (Who likes getting 200 emails the first thing in the morning?) However, the problem blogger was removed within hours. What was even better is that the editors not only acknowledged us as a bonafide community but joined in the general fun of enjoying the site. Those were halcyon days.
Then it was sold. There were rumors of our imminent demise. During these doubtful times, I decided to jump ship and established myself at Newsvine which had a similar format to Daily KOS. I thrived at the new site, finding more political content which I realized I needed. I am glad to report that the rumors of OS death was greatly exaggerated, and it still exists as a real community of wonderful writers. I still miss all of them and occasionally wander back to see what everyone is doing; however, I eventually was glad that I had made the move.
Then Newsvine radically changed their format which fractured the community. The easily accessible front page became a social media nightmare. Most disconcerting, there was no single place to post but a collection of “nations” where you could post in some kind of multiple universe of alternate realities. This loss was wrenching. Again, I had belonged to a community of people with a shared conversation history and real friendships. It was swept away. I rarely return there because seeing the format change is just too painful.
So I came to Daily KOS. Here I have been welcomed and made my third home in this virtual community. There are “pie fights” as any real community can have; however, I have learned to avoid them and continue to enjoy the dialogue and writing of a tremendous group of writers, cartoonists and photographers. I feel that, together, we make a real difference and that is important to me.
So those of you who find yourself refugees from a place you love, take heart. Many of us here have suffered a similar loss but have found a home here. You are welcome here, so unpack the boxes and plant some flowers out front. We look forward to meeting all of you!