One of my first posts here was “It was time to leave.” In it, I detailed why I had decided to leave Daily Kos. Since that time, I’ve moved on to other venues. I’ve started commenting at other blogs, wrote a few diaries at another site along with re-engaging on some boards I haven’t been very active on in a while. That’s in addition to whatever I write here, of course. In leaving Daily Kos, I didn’t make a big deal of it. I let a few people know by e-mail, wrote a post for here, and about two weeks later dropped by to let one of my favorite communities know that I had left. I simply faded away. One day I was there, the next I was gone. As I look back at my stay there, it was obvious the “fade” started much earlier than the actual departure. I didn’t comment as regularly. I started limiting my participation to the community diaries. Where I’d once been a regular reader and commenter in diaries across the spectrum, I wasn’t doing that anymore. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, what I was doing was edging out the door.
I’ve since received requests to return from several people, but for the most part I’ve turned them down. I have taken an occasional visit back to see what’s going on there, but I haven’t seen anything that makes me want to change my mind. But some of the requests had something that made me think. They mentioned that others had left as well. As I thought back about it, I realized that they were right. I wasn’t the only one who had just faded away. I remember diarists who were regulars on the Recommended List there when I started that I hadn’t seen in a long time. People who had commented regularly – even obsessively – were a somewhat distant memory. I couldn’t remember when I’d last seen a comment from them. I decided to do some research and came up with this diary by sardonyx – the list of the most prolific commenters on Daily Kos for 2009. What’s striking about it? Four of the people on that list no longer participate there. A fifth just announced that they are leaving. Another three have seriously cut back on their participation.
What I also found when I looked, is that of the four who had left, three of them left right around the same time I did. None of us had any contact with each other. Independently, like old soldiers, we decided to just fade away. It’s something that told me I wasn’t the only one who saw the change happening. I was a steady contributor. I wrote diaries – I had, when I left, produced almost 100 diaries there. A number of them made the Recommended List. All but 15 of them have been deleted. One of the diaries I left behind was a meta diary that’s used as a reference by various communities. I participated in community efforts. I wasn’t a prolific commenter, but I had a considerable number of comments in my record. The same thing can be said of the others who left.
There was a decision to make Daily Kos a “purity site.” It’s no longer for progressives in general, it’s for “progressives as we define the term.” It hasn’t been formally announced, and may never be, but the signs are there. The slant the front pagers are taking, the positions that Kos takes, and the actions of the administrators all lead to that conclusion. I’m not the only one who noticed it and made the decision to leave. What does this mean? It means that Daily Kos has started to chase off members who were among their top contributors. In addition to them, there’s another group like myself, who might not have been in the top ranks, but were reliable contributors.
One of the reasons I joined was because of the diversity there. There were people who were experts in their field, solid analysis of issues, and a mix of idealism and practical solutions. That’s changed. True experts have been leaving to be replaced by self-proclaimed (and often wrong) experts. Analysis has become more and more slanted, to justify a point of view rather than to explain facts. It’s become exactly the sort of site it once proclaimed to be an alternative to. This has some implications that should seriously disturb the administrators of Daily Kos. Whether they’ve noticed it, or care, is something I don’t know.
The Internet is littered with sites that were once vibrant. As they went down the path of enforcing their owner’s own brand of “purity,” their participation declined, to the extent that they’re now niche sites – if they still exist. The large number of participants – with corresponding influence and advertising income – aren’t there anymore. That’s the path I see Daily Kos following. Those of us who disagree with the particular notion of purity being promulgated will fade away from there. We’ll appear somewhere else. Another site will start to rise in the popularity rankings, and become more influential. Every now and then we’ll remember that we “used to be on Daily Kos,” and wonder what happened to it. Just like the other sites now on the fringe.