When you publish a story on Daily Kos, you can be certain at least one person reads it: a Rescue Ranger from the Community Spotlight group. For the last 14 years, we’ve read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday. Many Community writers, including the Rangers, need to practice before we reach rescue quality, for example I wrote 26 stories here before story 27 was rescued. Initially, I was motivated to write because I wanted to share information. Then, through comment discussions, my purpose shifted to sharing my ideas and opinions as well, and I continued. In the first four months, my most “popular” story had 27 recs. I wasn’t conquering the Trending List, but comments and recommendations let me know that my stories were being read and considered.
We need to hear about issues from different viewpoints if we want to develop informed opinions and evaluate objectives. While Rescue Rangers promote diverse perspectives by spotlighting your great stories, such as the 13 in this edition, we don’t rescue the “good enough” stories. That’s where you come in. By lifting each other up, the Daily Kos Community has the power to motivate and shape better writers.
In past editions of the Rescue Spotlight, we’ve encouraged Community writers to express their ideas using their unique voices, and offered advice on crafting a good story. This week, I’m turning it around and encouraging readers to throw their support behind writers. When you read a story, do you add a recommendation if you thought the story worth reading? When you agree or disagree with a writer’s ideas, have you posted a thoughtful comment to spark a discussion?
Through recommendations and comment interactions, Community members can reward writers for their stories. However, the return on one’s investment can be skewed when more spontaneous stories, such as a viral tweet and one-sentence of text, are more popular than those with a significant amount of research and carefully crafted writing. Why bother organizing thoughts, finding citations to back up facts, and polishing your work when the lazy tweet dropper gets rewarded? Commenters in previous Community Spotlight editions questioned why they should continue to write when their stories receive little attention.
Mercy Ormont’s observation parallels what many others said. “I really prefer to write thought pieces. They’re not current news, but rather my thoughts and analysis on subjects informed by current news. They take a long time to get right, and none of them has ever gone anywhere. On the other hand, I’ve done a few of the ‘this just happened to me’ variety. Those usually make the rec list. But I have to wonder why; they take 10 minutes to write and are probably not worth reading more than a day later. It has led me to write very few stories, but plenty of comments.” The poll in Edition 4 asked readers if they were satisfied with the stories they publish. Of the six answer choices, this one was chosen most often (34%): “I like the result but rarely have enough reader response to offset the time and energy invested in writing.”
When you care about your ideas and take the time to devise a strong story, you want to reach people, hear their responses, and know your story connected with readers. The primary way Community members can measure impact on Daily Kos is through comments and recommendations. Even comments picking apart an element of a story—if handled as constructive criticism rather than demeaning slams—tell writers their story was read and considered. Mutual support is at the heart of how we blend individuals into a Community, and what we accomplish through unified action. We sabotage ourselves when we act as if there’s a finite number of recommendations so we must use them hesitantly. The Daily Kos Rules of the Road encourage members to reward writers. “Be generous in praise, encouragement, and positivity. Make new people feel welcome, remind old timers that you appreciate their work. Drop in a nice comment and recommend positive contributions.”
The one thing you can do right now to ensure great stories is to stop using your recommendation as the Daily Kos version of a Pulitzer Prize, an award released rarely and only for exceptionally outstanding work. Why be stingy with your appreciation when everyone benefits from encouraging a writer to continue publishing stories? Instead, view your recommendation as a recognition of the writer’s effort, or a reward for their positive contribution—even if you didn’t agree with every word.
I’m not saying you should hand recs out like participation trophies, but find the middle ground between false praise and stinginess. Positive feedback fuels our energy to invest in our writing. Writers will continue to work hard on their stories when they know their effort has impact. By supporting “good enough” writers, we motivate people to continue writing and developing their skill. Liberal use of recommendations and comments encourages Community writers to keep sharing their ideas, improving their writing, and becoming worthy of a Daily Kos-Pulitzer Prize.
Rescued Stories from Friday Oct. 30, 2020 7PM EDT to Friday Nov. 6, 2020 7PM EST
This week’s 13 rescued stories and their comments illustrate constructive criticism that launches discussion and thoughtful comments that spur more writing. We rescued one new member’s first story and the welcoming comments prompted PGowins to respond, “Thank you all for your generous and kind responses to my reflections. I am greatly encouraged.” That encouragement motivated PGowins to write their second story on their second day as a DK member. Another writer, with the longest tenure as a DK member (16 years) of this week’s writers, was inspired by current events to published their 39th story on Friday—12 years after publishing their 38th.
Biographical information for each of these Community members comes from what they have shared in stories, comments, or on their profile pages. Thus, I have robust information for some people, less for others. Differences in their bios do not reflect the value these writers bring to their stories, just the amount of self-reveal.
More Than Ever, Politics in 2020 Reminds Me of Summer-Camp Color War
GrafZeppelin127, a former high school English teacher, joined DK in 2009 and has written 269 stories. This week’s rescue begins with Graf describing a realization from working as a summer camp sports official during the camp’s color wars. “(T)wo teams, designated by colors … would compete in various athletic and non-athletic events over five days.” Graf observed that the color wars taught kids that no one loses fairly; they either won or were cheated of the win due to conditions such as field conditions or poor equipment."Instead of being taught to take lessons from defeat and use them to spur the students toward success, their first instinct, would be to look for some inequity, some unfairness, to explain the outcome.” Graf then applies this concept to 2020 politics and Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s assertion that any Democratic electoral wins must be the product of cheating. “(W)e have actual elected officials and candidates for office—right up to and including the fricking President of the United States—openly declaring that the only way they can lose is if the other side cheats….”
It Feels Sorta Like House Arrest, Without the Ankle Bracelets
LeftOfYou has written 844 stories since joining in 2007. Left is a retired lawyer from Missouri, an amateur historic preservationist, veteran, and political junkie, per their profile page. This story describes a personal experience of the pandemic overruling plans. While noting they are more fortunate than many, thanks to the financial security of a two-career family, Left asserts that the current limitations are particularly discouraging for septuagenarians. “After a life of planning, sacrifice, care and hope, I can’t really do much of any of what we had hoped and planned for. So much for travel, culture, fine dining, theater and all the rest.”
It’s time somebody pointed it out: Obama kicked Trump’s a** on health care
Diogenes Bartleby reminds us to celebrate the powerful victory Democrats won with the passage of ObamaCare by ticking off the obstacles and assaults. “Obama got a supermajority and put his groundbreaking new law through, despite everything the ‘We Put Insurance Companies First’ Party could do. Think about those 67 anti-healthcare votes over the space of six years and 10 months. That’s an average of 10 a year.” Since joining in 2016, Diogenes has written 80 stories, and as is common for the period from 2016 up to the present, the common theme appears to be Trump and his cabal. I found no bio info, so we’ll leave this person as a mystery obscured behind an intriguing user name. One is an actual person, Diogenes, a complex character we’d label socially inept today but he’s also called a wise man. Bartleby is a fictional character by Herman Melville who may represent passive resistance.
This Week in the War on Women: Happy Halloween! And Election Edition 2
Elenacarlena’s profile page reports she lives in Kentucky and is a cartoonist, although she has moved to upstate New York to care for her parents. A member since 2014, elena has written 324 stories, many of them for WOW or the PWB Peeps group. This week’s WOW is a well-documented discussion of news related to women's rights issues with a Halloween theme. As it was also the pre-election edition, elena reviewed some Senate candidates and their positions on abortion and women’s equality.”(T)he GOP want to set us back to the only abortions occurring in back alleys or obtained only by wealthy women who can afford to travel; the Dems will at least protect as many rights as we’ve wrestled out of the system so far, and some would push them further.”
Pro-science Joe Biden deserves our vote
SkepticalRaptor has a longer bio on their profile page, but here’s the gist: “Progressive. Pro-science. Baseball and hockey lover. Supporter of science based healthcare, opposed to woo wherever it occurs. Native Californian.” They joined in 2014 and have 312 stories, most follow a similar theme: pointing out where science advocates differ from science deniers or scammers. This week’s rescue contrasts the two presidential candidates’ support for science. “In the USA, trust in science has become a political issue—more people on the left of the political scale support science than on the right. And only about 6% of U.S. scientists are Republicans.”
PGowins joined on Nov. 2 and published their first story the same day. The only biographical info is in their story about personal experiences with protests, and a meeting with a Native American thinker/writer Jack Forbes which resulted in “poignant insights into the American psyche and culture.” PGowins examines contemporary evil deeds “from a Native American perspective; and, second, from a perspective as free as possible from assumptions created by the very wetiko disease being studied. Finally, I will look at these evils not simply as ‘bad’ choices which men make, but as a genuine, very real, epidemic sickness.”
WOMEN: THANK YOU for Saving the Republic. Again.
DoctorWho joined in 2004, has published 52 stories since 2012, and has a bio more obscure than that of their namesake Time Lord. This story was written before the election, so the assumption that women saved the republic was premature, but the data DoctorWho cites confirms that women are the largest group supporting the Biden/Harris campaign. “Call me crazy but seems to me if you were looking at a demographic that was showing unprecedented numbers in an election you’d want to spend some time informing the electorate, highlighting your narrative to reflect this historic event, or at least crank out puff pieces on what it means to be a ‘Biden Woman’ (yes, cringe, sorry). But that hasn’t happened. In fact it seems like literally every other demographic breakdown is obsessed over.”
REASONS TO WEAR HELMET—OR NOT. A CCU RN EXPLAINS TBI.
Portland True Blue joined last month and has published 23 stories, many centered on COVID-19 healthcare. In a previous well-received (873 recs) story, they offered this bio: “I am an RN, BSN, CCRN with over 10 years clinical experience in CCU/ICU. I care for the critically ill and those seriously injured, I am familiar with death and dying. Since the pandemic started, I have worked in a COVID CCU.” This week they focus on traumatic brain injury, the steps a person goes through during hospitalization after surviving a crash, and the importance of signing the organ donor card. “One patient’s death can give another 5-7 patients a second chance at life. How amazing is that? (O)ne person is able to save that many lives.”
Even Harder Truths
leif wellington, who wrote 25 stories since joining in 2016, offers a brief bio in this story describing themselves as “someone who makes a living by consulting in and around politics.” As the headline promises, this story, published right after the election, reminds us of some Election 2020 truths. For example, if we'd been promised in 2019 the election results we saw Wednesday morning, we'd have been just fine with that. “No one really understands just how hard it is for an incumbent American president to lose, no matter how terrible he is … to consolidate voters in a majority coalition (Biden will win more than 50 percent of the vote, an historically tall order for Dems despite recent popular vote history) against a sitting incumbent is a difficult task.” To accomplish what we just did shouldn't just be overlooked. Leif also offers a warning and suggestions for how to reconcile with Trump voters. “As a result of my work and family (my brother is a born-again Christian minister) I actually know a number of Trump voters and … most of them do not resemble the people at Trump’s rallies. But they are not likely to budge quickly, or easily, from their views, let alone their religion, and particularly about what they think of as racism.”
A Story from the Front Line of Democracy
Byrnne has written five stories since joining in Nov. 2016, right after the previous presidential election—and now they wrote a firsthand account of being an election official for a Minnesota polling place on Nov 3. Despite early vote by mail, plenty of people kept poll workers busy. “(T)hroughout the day we witnessed our Democratic (DFL), Republican, and Independent neighbors voting peacefully, waiting patiently, and fulfilling their civic duty in the middle of a pandemic. It gave me hope that—at least in our own corner of the universe—partisan divisions have not destroyed our basic human decency."
A personal gripe … or just call it a ramble
Maninthemiddle joined in 2012 and published their first story in 2016 and five more since then. The author downplays the story as “ramble that has been bouncing around in my head and had to be put to pixels in order for it to go away,“ however the central idea is especially cogent right now. “Here’s the gripe. The way we all talk about these final states as they count and record the remaining ballots is not healthy … we all know the media love themselves a horse race—to the point where they manufacture narratives, build false equivalencies, and ignore stark realities in order to profit from races they help create.”
It wasn't close.
Shock joined in 2004 and is this week’s member with the longest tenure. They’ve written 39 stories, but the first 38 were published over 12 years ago. The beginning of this week’s rescued story tells us why: “ I used to be active here a long time ago, but moved to Canada 15 years ago. After moving, I became less active in U.S. politics in general (although I still vote and pay attention, of course), and I’ve moved to being a lurker here.” It wasn’t the election itself that drew this author out of lurker mode, but the reaction to the presidential election. Shock cites data to support the contention stated in the headline—that this election was not close—and looks back at how closely divided other elections have been, in spite of what the media and others would have us believe. “Just because vote counting in some states seemed to take longer this year (thanks to Republicans) does NOT mean that this election was necessarily any closer than in recent past elections … high stress levels associated with lack of certain knowledge are easily mis-attributable, in this case to the conflation between uncertainty in our state of knowledge about the vote totals and uncertainty in the actual margin of victory.”
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
- To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
- You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1 PM ET (10AM PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and at 6:30PM ET to the front page.