DailyKos is Dying - and It 100% Deserves to

4년 전

Back in 2007 a young boy was becoming interested in politics, and had just begun to understand just how much information could be found on the internet. He soon began to realize that he agreed with the Democratic Party most of the time, and was especially interested in a certain politician named Barack Obama, who at the time was running a doomed campaign for President against the nearly inevitable nominee Hillary Clinton. It was during this time that this young boy found DailyKos.com, a hub of Democratic and Progressive activism. This site fully embraced web 2.0 and realized that the future of political activism was not only online, but also based on conversations carried out by normal people. When the rest of the world was still mocking online political activism (remember this was before Obama took advantage of online advertising in 08'), DailyKos had faith that this new technology could be used to fight for our beliefs. There were some contributors to the site who were professional level writers, but for the most part it was just a community of normal every-day people who just happened to be progressive and wanted to talk about their beliefs. Discussions could be had on nearly any issue, and thousands of people could take part. Truly a marketplace of ideas, and an excellent place to become familiar with liberal/progressive beliefs.

Now, the DailyKos is a shell of its former self.

Some of the problems can be explained simply by pointing out that there is now more competition from similar services. Steemit itself in some ways fulfills the same goal as DailyKos, although without the explicit political bias of Kos. YouTube has also risen to much greater prominence than it had at the time. However, there are other major issues where Kos shot itself in the foot. One of them was the mass banning of Bernie supporters.

(Higher rank in the graph above = worse results)

Starting on March 15th of 2016 anyone who seriously criticized Hillary Clinton was banned from the site. No joking. Kos, the founder of the site himself, decided it was time to declare Hillary to be the presumptive nominee. This wasn't limited to extreme cases where people posted things like "Hillary Clinton ordered the murders of 500 people" or shit like that, this included anything that could be seen as "damaging the nominee". In other words, anything that might lead to anyone voting against her or not voting at all. In practice, this meant that anything other than superficial criticism was a bannable offense. Obviously, in a progressive community blog, there were a huge number of Bernie supporters, many of whom were not willing to bend the knee during the middle of the primary. At this point only less than half of the pledged delegates had been decided, and Sanders would go on to win a long series of (mostly minor) contests throughout late March and April.

However, this exodus, partially forced and partially due to Sanders supporters willingly leaving the site in disgust, does not explain the whole issue. Check out how the Alexa rank for Kos has fallen in just the past year:

The Alexa rank peaked in July of 2015 at just inside of the top 1,100 in the world: https://www.rank2traffic.com/dailykos.com

Even significant Hillary supporters on the site noted that something was deeply wrong as the Alexa rank began to tank during the primary - a time when one would expect more people to start using the site: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/1/20/1472747/-You-d-Think-Site-Traffic-Would-Go-UP-As-The-Primaries-Approach-Part-2-The-Quantcast-Data

Today, Kos has fallen to nearly number 5,000 in Alexa rank, and based on the trend, appears likely to fall out of the top 5,000 in about a month or two. Just as significantly, it appears poised to easily fall out of the top 1,000 in the US next month. They have gone from about 2,500 to nearly 5,000 in a year: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/dailykos.com

If you need yet another sources, here is a more long term record of Kos' decline: https://www.reddit.com/r/WayOfTheBern/comments/5hfe4h/daily_kos_traffic_continues_to_tank_despite/?st=ji0sk6t7&sh=711369fe

So why has this decline continued, and indeed become more severe in the last year or so? Well, the problem of easily banning even long-term contributors is not new, although that builds up to be more of a problem with each person banned, and tarnishes the reputation of the website. Articles about the needless bans have been around for ages, but here is one example from five years ago: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/6/17/1216732/-I-m-a-zombie-Banning-users-with-reckless-abandon-and-driving-people-away-hurts-progressive-movement

However, this time, rather than banning a few individuals who may not be linked in any way, they banned a large part of an organized community supporting Bernie Sanders. These people were often in contact with each other, and set up competing sites. Major alternatives that have sprung up due to these bans include "Kossacks for Sanders" on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/Kossacks_for_Sanders/), and Caucus 99 Percent (https://caucus99percent.com/), as well as less specifically political sites like Wordpress, Medium, or other such platforms. So this time, there were ready alternatives for Bernie supporters to go to.

More minor examples of how the site refuses to change with the times include how it tries to appeal to mobile users and those on dial-up by heavily discouraging the use of video on the site. I have sympathy for users on bad connections - I didn't have broadband until well into my teen years - but the solution is to simply refuse to host auto-play videos. Additionally, the site runs rather slow. This isn't Google Video in 2005. Kos could survive its narcissistic name ("Kos" is the founder's nickname), but not a slow website, updates that remove crucial features like the ability to see how many views your posts get, and somehow being unable to figure out how to integrate video in 2018.

When you combine this with a site already in decline due to increasing competition and a souring reputation for being ban happy, it just added to the downward momentum of the site. In one of the most ironic downfalls ever, Kos, the trailblazing progressive online activist site, has failed to adapt with the times. As more users and banned or leave the site, this momentum simply continues because some people notice their favorite contributors are no longer there, and so cease to come themselves.

It is time for the Kos to die. And it deserves to.

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