As you know, the Swing State Project is becoming a part of Daily Kos and will become “Daily Kos Elections.” This move will happen on Tuesday, May 3. I wanted to fully detail the transition in one place, to help folks understand what’s happening and to ease the process. (I previously explained the move in this post and also responded to many comments.) I also want to offer everyone another chance to ask any questions. This is a long post, but I’d encourage you to read the entire thing before hitting the comment boards. Alright – let’s start!
1) SSP is becoming part of Daily Kos? What does that mean?
In the simplest terms, all you have to do is bookmark this link:
All the content you are accustomed to seeing here at SSP will now appear on its own sub-site at Daily Kos, called “Daily Kos Elections,” or “DKE” for short, starting May 3. So just visit DKE and you’ll be able to read the same great stuff you’ve always read at SSP, each and every day.
If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you don’t need to change a thing (though our account names will change, but that should be seamless for you). If you follow us via RSS, you’ll use this new link:
If you’ve signed up for our daily email summary, there may be a short interruption as we migrate to the DK system, but I expect any disruption will be minimal.
2) What’s going to happen to swingstateproject.com?
The archives at swingstateproject.com will remain available. New user sign-ups, comment posting, and diary posting will be disabled. However, you’ll still be able to log in to your old account to find your old comments and diaries more easily. At some point, we’re likely to port our archives over to Daily Kos as well, but that’s something for further down the line.
3) Alright, you told me how I can read your stuff at DKE. But how can I comment? Will my SSP account still work?
Your SSP account will not work over at DKE. You’ll need to create a new account. I strongly urge you to do this right away if you haven’t yet already because there’s a one-day waiting period for new accounts at Daily Kos to post comments, and a one-week waiting period to post diaries. You can sign up for a new account by going here:
One suggestion I’ve seen in comments that I like: If you choose to use a different username at DKE (or your SSP name is taken by someone else and you need to pick something different), you can edit your sig line to tell people what your new name is. (Or, on DKE, what your old name was.) To do this on SSP, click on your username anywhere you see it (or on “[Username]’s Page” in the right-hand sidebar), then click on the “Profile” tab. You can then edit your Account Info page as you see fit.
On Daily Kos, log in, then click the prominent “My Page” link that’s just below the site’s logo in the top-left area of the screen, then click on “Edit Profile” in the “Welcome Back” box in the top-right corner. Scroll down to the middle of the page until you reach the “Comment Preferences” section. There you’ll see a box for your signature line. After you’re done, just make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom and hit the orange “Save” button.
4) Yipes! I was once banned at Daily Kos. What do I do?
Send me an email: davidnyc [at] dailykos [dot] com. It’s easiest if we work things out privately, on an individual basis.
5) Okay, how about diaries? How do I post those?
Alright, this part is important. The site software works somewhat differently at Daily Kos, and there’s also one big huge thing you have to remember if you want your diaries to appear at DKE. So here goes:
In the “Welcome Back” box (which I mentioned above in #3), click on the word “New” next to where you see “Diaries.” You’ll be brought to a page which is very similar to the new diary entry form at SSP. You’ve got your title, of course, and then your “Intro” box, which is where the main text of your diary goes. If you’re writing something particularly long and want to put part of it below the fold, that goes in the box labeled “Extended.”
Then scroll down past the Extended box. You’ll see an area called “Tags.” You have to enter at least one tag. This is different from SSP, which lets you post diaries without any tags.
Now here’s the really important part: If you want your diary to appear on the right-hand sidebar of DKE, YOU MUST INCLUDE THE TAG “DK Elections” IN YOUR POST. If you include this tag, that tells the system to post it in the “Related Diaries” box in the right-hand sidebar on DKE. Here’s a screenshot to show you exactly where it will appear:
As you can see, I posted a test diary (since deleted) titled “This is a test” in that box. (Can you hear me in the back?) That’s where your diaries will appear, very similar to how they appear on SSP.
But again, how they get there is different. The “DK Elections” tag is crucial. If you include it, your diary will appear in the right place. If you don’t, it will not appear there.
When you are ready to post your diary, click on the “Save & Preview” button. If you are content, then click the “Publication Manager” button. Here’s where things are a little different. You will see either two or three options pop up. The first is “Publish Now.” That’s equivalent to hitting “Save” on an SSP diary – it’ll go live right away. In addition to appearing in the DKE sidebar if you remember to use the right tag, it will also appear on your personal blog by clicking the “Diaries” link in the “Welcome Back” box. (You have your own personal Daily Kos blog now!) If you hit “Publish Later,” you can set your diary to appear at a particular time and day of your choosing. (If you see a third option, “Queue to a Group Blog,” that means you’re probably already a DK power-user, so I don’t think I need to explain that feature.)
So once more, just remember: Include the “DK Elections” tag in all your election-related diaries!
(One side-note: If you include the “DK Elections” tag at the time you first publish your diary, it should appear in the “Related Diaries” sidebar at DKE right away. If you forget the tag but go back and add it later, that will work, too – but be aware that there will be a delay in your diary appearing in the “Related Diaries” box.)
6) Let’s go back to comments for a minute. What’s the deal with these “Recommend” and “Hide” buttons?
“Recommend” means you like a comment and want to give it an attaboy. It’s a nice way of showing that you think a comment is particularly smart, useful, funny, etc. I sometimes like to give recommends even to comments I disagree with, if I think the person has made a thoughtful point (even if I don’t share their views). I also think they can be helpful defusers – if a discussion gets a little more heated than I’d like, I might give someone a recommend just to show, “Hey, we’re cool.” It’s sort of a technological way of indicating that we can all “leave it on the court” (as they say in the NBA).
“Hide” means you think a comment is so offensive that it should literally be hidden from view. It’s not to be used for mere disagreement, or even sharp displeasure – a “hide” rating is a very serious sanction, and if a comment gets enough of them, it will in fact disappear from view (though it won’t be deleted). Use these sparingly, only for spammers, true trolls, or genuinely offensive rhetoric.
(Note that you may not see the “hide” rating button if you have a very new account. Only “Trusted Users” have access to “hide” ratings, and you need to build up what the site calls “mojo” in order to become a TU. Don’t worry – you can and likely will become a TU before long, if you aren’t already. The traditional way to gain mojo is by having your comments get recommended, but there are many others. If you’re interested in learning more about how mojo works, you can check out this post and this post from Markos.)
7) Looks like there are a lot of other new features at Daily Kos as well. What’s up with all of those?
Indeed there are, but I don’t want to make this post any longer than it is. However, if you are interested in a good primer about the site, Joan McCarter (one of the site’s senior editors) has written a great series of introductory posts:
8) Why are you making this change?
There are several key reasons. First, I think our coverage last cycle was absolutely top-notch – but we were operating at and in fact past capacity. I had a day job as an attorney which meant I couldn’t blog at all while at work. So those morning edition digests you saw were written by me late at night, after I came home from work, and keeping it up was incredibly exhausting. The other writers here all felt the same way about their workloads. So for us to maintain our existing level of coverage and in fact continue to grow, we had to make a big change. I’m not sure SSP would otherwise have been sustainable in the long run.
The second reason ties into the first. I’ve been hired to work full-time for Daily Kos. This means we get to produce more great content for you on a daily basis. It’s also a dream job for me – I’m getting paid to do what I’ve otherwise done as a hobby for almost a decade. Markos has been trying to bring me aboard for years, and the stars finally aligned. It was an offer I couldn’t turn down, and I’m very glad I didn’t.
And a third important reason is server uptime and general technology issues. As you know, SoapBlox often struggles during high traffic loads and has even gone down more than once. Daily Kos is infinitely more robust – Markos has made uptime one of his most important priorities. To give you an example, on election night in 2008, Daily Kos had nine million pageviews but didn’t so much as hiccup. That’s as many pageviews as SSP gets in three years! (Indeed, this performance was so impressive that the site’s tech guru, Jeremy Bingham, was invited to do a presentation about it at the prestigious O’Reilly Velocity conference.) And more generally speaking, SoapBlox has certainly been showing its age, while DK just underwent a major upgrade and continues to be actively developed. It’s just a much more modern, robust system that will simply never go down on election nights.
There are some other nice benefits for the community as well. We get access to greater resources through Daily Kos, and in my role as Political Director, I’m responsible for all polling that we undertake. I plan on involving you guys in those decisions – expect to see some PPP-style “vote on where we poll next” posts as the campaign season gets further underway.
9) So who’s going to be writing at DKE?
The staff will be (in alphabetical order by first name):
David Jarman (Crisitunity)
David Nir (DavidNYC)
And, of course, you’ll all still be writing diaries.
10) What’s going to happen to the community? To SSP’s policies?
DKE will remain an “elections-only” zone. Our focus will, as always, be on pure electoral horserace politics, not policy. There is no editorial direction from up on high at Daily Kos (and never has been) – DKE will retain complete editorial independence. I’m as free to disagree with Markos (or any other Daily Kos staffer) as you are – and I can (and do) exercise that freedom.
As far as community goes, we will do everything possible to maintain what we’ve built here. We will, as always, try to steer conversations in helpful ways and avoid derails and off-topic discussions. While I personally will not have the power to ban users, this is actually something we do quite seldom here at SSP – and if someone is truly disruptive, I can make it known to Meteor Blades, the Daily Kos Director of Community. If you also have concerns about a user, you can reach out to one of the staff members (see above).
Most importantly, though, is the role all of you will play. We are trying something new, by creating this site-within-a-site at Daily Kos, and some people who encounter us will simply not be familiar with our customs and our focus. I know it’s not always easy, but I ask that you be patient with people like that – try to explain to them, calmly and politely, what we’re all about. If someone says something that would be out of place at SSP, try not to get angry or frustrated but instead view it as a teaching opportunity. I’ve done this myself many times over at DK, and it’s proven surprisingly rewarding. Many people are genuinely grateful when you take the time to explain things. I know it may seem ridiculous when someone asks something like, “What’s the DSCC?” but if you tell them without condescension, they’ll appreciate it – and they’ll learn. (In fact, here’s a great example of me doing just that, and getting rewarded for it.) Remember, some folks simply don’t know a lot about the horserace and about how SSP/DKE works. Our mission is to spread the light!
One aspect of DKE that’s appropriate to explain here is how our work will be featured on the main page of Daily Kos – that is, if you go to www.dailykos.com. All of our posts will originate at DKE (elections.dailykos.com), so if you go there, you’ll never miss a thing. But some of our posts will also get published on front page (or “FP”) of Daily Kos itself. This mostly applies to our more general interest stuff: daily digests, stand-alone poll posts, and breaking news (like candidate announcements). Wonkier stuff (like the kind of data crunching that Jeff and Crisitunity are known for) will generally not get cross-posted to the FP.
So what this means is that some folks will “wander in off the street,” so to speak, and find DKE posts not because they first visited elections.dailykos.com, but because they went to www.dailykos.com. These sorts of people are apt to be less familiar with our customs, so they may require some more hand-holding. But I’ll tell you: We’ve cross-posted a bunch of content over the past couple of months, and in the horserace-specific posts, you tend to get a type of commenter who would fit in quite well at SSP. In fact, I’m quite eager to unite these folks with us under one banner. (Believe it or not, not every horserace geek has heard of SSP!)
Indeed, this might seem like a somewhat strange thing to say, but most of the stuff we’ve cross-posted to the DK FP has not gotten a lot of comments… and that’s a good thing! Part of that is because the flow of new posts on the FP is very high, usually one every 40 minutes or so. (The flow at DKE will be what you’re accustomed to here at SSP.) But another key reason is that horserace geeks like ourselves are generally a pretty self-selected bunch, and horserace geekery is only one of many reasons why people visit DK – whereas at SSP, it’s really the only reason. So a lot of the, shall we say, noisier folks that people have expressed concern about at DK aren’t really attracted to horserace diaries in the first place.
And there’s an additional point which is really worth making here: I know a lot of you have concerns about the integration of our two sites. There definitely are some commenters at DK who would not fit in well here (even if they mostly stay out of the horserace stuff) – I won’t disagree with that. But there’s no reason, absolutely no reason, why a few bad apples at Daily Kos should “take over” SSP culture and not the other way around.
You people are some of the smartest, most thoughtful election analysts around. Honestly, the combined brainpower of this place kicks the ass of any other election shop anywhere. (Are you telling me we couldn’t out-hustle the NRCC? Hell no you’re not. I would definitely take that Pepsi challenge.) But you’re also a really polite, friendly bunch who’ve shown how to make a great community work. Yeah, we step in to moderate sometimes, but really the vast majority of the time, this community knows what it’s doing.
So I think we have a lot of ability to make Daily Kos more like SSP rather than the reverse. We’ll have our own sub-site, of course, but even for the posts that also appear on the FP, we can make those comment boards our own, too. The current Daily Digest posts at DK seldom get more than a couple dozen comments. Here they get hundreds! How can a few irksome Kossacks change us, when we outnumber them by a huge margin? Indeed, SSP’s traffic is at record highs. To put it in terms we can all appreciate, our base is huge! Even though it’s a much bigger site overall, the DK horserace base is small, and mostly very much like us. Or put another way: When liberals from the northeast migrate southward for warmer climes, do they become more conservative? Of course not – quite the opposite: they make their new states bluer. There’s no reason why it won’t be the same for us.
I am sure it will be imperfect. I may occasionally post on a topic which unexpectedly brings out the crazy brigade in a way that even I can’t keep a lid on. It’ll happen, it’ll be annoying, and maybe I won’t be able to re-rail it… but you know what? These moments, I expect, will be few and far between, but if they happen, we’ll just move on to the next thread. SSP probably has to be about the least inflammatory progressive blog there is, so if a freak-out does occur, odds are the next post will be pretty chill, especially if it’s a Daily Digest.
And yeah, maybe there will be one or two people who keep wanting Alan Grayson to primary Bill Nelson, and maybe they won’t give up no matter how many times you patiently explain what a bad idea that would be. I don’t expect this see much of this, but if it ever winds up happening, just ignore `em. Or like I said, wait for the next thread. Or if you don’t feel like waiting, then post a new diary of your own.
Many of you have known me for a long time. You know I’ve always been honest with you, and you know I’ve worked hard almost every day for many years to make this site the best it can be. I don’t think anyone owes me anything, but I hope I’ve earned a measure of credibility with you – enough, at least, that you’ll give DKE a shot, that you’ll help export SSP’s brand of community to the new mothership, and that you’ll put up with occasional frustrations and growing pains so that we can continue to succeed in our new home.
I’m incredibly grateful for all the support you’ve shown me, my fellow writers, and this site over the years, and I’ll be even more grateful if you’ll join me in helping to make this transition work. Thank you.