by Chris Bowers, Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 12:48:43 PM EDT
I am quite fond of Meta-Kos discourse. In fact, much of my writing on Dailykos these days is focused on Meta, which possibly explains why, at Yearly Kos, I was on the Meta-Kos panel. However, as much as I like Meta-Kos, for some reason, until very recently it never seemed odd to me that there is no such thing as "Meta-MyDD." Over the past couple of days, I spent some time trying to figure out why there was no such thing as Meta-MyDD. My conclusion is not pleasant, but I think it is accurate.
As far as I can tell, the reason there is no such thing as Meta-MyDD is because there is no MyDD community, as such. Sure, we have frequent commenters and diarists, but what really separates MyDD from sites like Dailykos, BooMan Tribune, Fire Dog Lake and My Left Wing is that while they build a family-like community, we instead act as though we are political professionals.
Within the progressive blogosphere, our relative influence far exceeds our relative traffic levels. For example, at Yearly Kos, the MyDD caucus was streaming out into the hallway, and apparently was impossible to get into after the thirst two or three minutes. Fire Dog Lake, a remarkable and extremely important blog that held a caucus at the same time, at least doubles MyDD in terms of traffic. Still, from what I understand, we actually had more people at our caucus. This was not because not because we had a large number of regular commenters there. Instead, it was because droves of reporters, candidates, and staffers had come to our caucus. Every political reporter came to that event. Candidates even came and asked how they got endorsed. We even asked the audience if they had ever worked on a campaign in a paid position, and over half of the audience raised their hands.
It's like when Hotline's Blogometer revealed that among all progressive blogs, MyDD was their second most cited in 2005 (look at all the right-wingers on their top-ten list), behind only Dailykos. That sort of blew my mind when I read that, considering that in terms of traffic, we rank only around 10th or 12th among progressive blogs. I have seen other significant other data, including citations from Google News, Nexis, and even private marketing surveys suggesting that establishment types read us at vastly disproportionate rates to our overall traffic. In overall terms of establishment readership, we always come in second, (well) behind Dailykos.
Rather than a community blog, MyDD tends to be a professional blog. This drives down our traffic down and means that fewer people will come visit us in the hospital when we are sick, but it does allow us influence well beyond what we should normally expect for our traffic level. Perhaps an analogy with television is that we are the C-SPAN of the blogosphere. Perhaps an analogy with magazines as that we are the National Journal of the progressive blogosphere. Neither C-SPAN nor National Journal have particularly large audiences relative to other news stations or news magazines, but their influence far outstrips the size of their audience.
Does this mean we are more "establishment" than other blogs? Maybe. I'm pretty darn far out on the left, but I freely admit that the political professionals who I take a liking to are by no means exclusively left-wing. What I like are people who recognize the full scope of the problem we face when matched up against the conservative movement, and who recognize our desparate need for innovation in response to that movement. At the same time that Russ Feingold is the sort of candidate I would work for, and while Chuck Pennacchio is the sort of candidate I will vote for in primaries, I also think Simon Rosenberg and David Brock are frigging brilliant, and I'd help them with almost whatever they needed help with. What I really can't stand are people on both the right and the left-wing of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement who see our solutions as simplistic, such as "moving to the center" or "fixing the voting machines." I have a strong, and very similar, physical reaction to both statements. My general attitude tends to be one of "understand the scope of the problems we face, or get out of my way."
Is there any way to fix this, and develop a real community while maintaining our professional stance? I don't know. If there is, I'm probably not the person to do it. Simply put, I am not, and have never been, very good with people. I think it has led to the premature end of most of my romantic relationships. Even in college, high school, and earlier, I was never the popular kid. In fact, I never even achieved the distinction of not being a total nerd. The most popular I have ever been in my entire life, easily, was when I was at Yearly Kos. Nothing else even comes close. Although it saddens me, the idea that I could be the leader of a big, happy family just doesn't seem reasonable. I'd probably have to hire someone else who could actually do that. Even then, that would be just one person among many front-page writers. Could they really make a difference? I have my doubts.
Or maybe things are better off they way they are. Over the past seven months, we have had a very stable traffic pattern of around 24,000 people per day. That really isn't bad at all. Combine that with lots of media citations, an influential readership, lots of access, and hey--we really aren't doing too bad here. Maybe our goal, instead, should be to become even more professional, and work that angle as much as possible. To be horribly establishment for a moment, as long as all the "right" people, both on the inside and the outside, are reading MyDD, does it really matter how large our audience is? Ugh. I feel sick even writing that. I feel sick even thinking that it might be true. The best of both worlds, really, would be to combine the two. I just don't know how to make that happen.
Anyway, those are some questions I have been mulling over. Before I end this post, here are some fun Meta-MyDD stats (all stats are post our March 31st, 2004, re-launch):
- Jonathan has passed Scott to become the 4th most prolific poster on MyDD since our March 31st, 2004 re-launch. Jonathan has 446 posts all time (8% of MyDD's post-re-launch total) while Scott has 390 (7% of MyDD's post re-launch total).
- Matt is soon to pass Jerome as the second most prolific post-relaunch MyDD writer. Matt has 879 posts all-time (16% of our total), while Jerome has 916 (17% of our total). And here is some trivia for you: did you know that Matt was always a front-page poster on MyDD, even before I was? Little known fact, that.
- I am slacking. From May 2004 until October 2005, I wrote roughly 100 posts every month. During that time, I accounted for around 52% of MyDD's total content. However, since then, I have only written about 50 posts a month, and now I only account for 40% of MyDD's total post-relaunch, front-page content (2211 out of 5506 front page stories). Around the same time Jerome quit regular blogging, I was losing steam fast. It was time for a new generation. Matt and Jonathan became that generation, and now account for at least two-thirds of our front-page content. If you ask me, they are doing a damn good job. Our traffic logs and various citation metrics indicate just how good a job they are doing.
- Roughly one out of every eight stories on the front page of MyDD does not come from a regular front-page writer. I bet that is a much higher ratio than found on other community blogs. So, for all of our lack of family-esque community, MyDD diaries have a much better chance of reaching the front-page than do diaries on any other site with diaries. Perhaps what we lack in community we make up for in democracy.
- Combing the diaries and the stories that have appeared on the front page, there have been 19,816 blog posts on MyDD since March 31st, 2004. We should pass 20,000 within the next week.
- I have a lower user ID on Dailykos (123) than I have on MyDD (217). And how many people really know their MyDD user ID's anyway?
- While Dailykos is about to pass 100,000 users, we are at around 16,000. About one-third of our users signed up from September 2004 until November 2004.
- Over 6% of our all-time traffic still comes from a single post: Jerome breaking the early exits polls on November 2nd, 2004. More than a million people read that post. It might remain the single best read blog post of all-time, on any blog. I remember that day all too well. Even I could barely log onto MyDD to read the "good news" back then.
- Until January 2003, MyDD was actually the second most trafficked progressive blog, behind only Talking Points Memo. We slid all the way out of the top 100 when Jerome shut the site down. Our highest ranking since the re-launch was 2nd, from October 31st, 2004, until November 3rd, 2004. Outside of the election, our best result was 6th, in early August of 2005.
- Matt and I are actually not a gay couple, as is often assumed (well, OK, as is never assumed, but I just wanted to make that clear).
- About 10% of our traffic comes from the privileged link we have on Dailykos. Thus, if traffic goes up on Dailykos, it goes up here too.
- Although some may think otherwise, MyDD is in fact a separate blog from Dailykos. In much the same way, Canada is in fact a separate country from the Unites States. Seriously.