Daily Kos Front Pagers

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Intro

The internet blog Daily Kos was created by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga on May 26, 2002. Its focus is on political analysis, helping the electoral fortunes of the Democratic Party, and activism for left-of-center causes.

Markos's very first Daily Kos post was Day 1:

I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. I believe government has an obligation to create an even playing field for all of this country's citizens and immigrants alike. I am not a socialist. I do not seek enforced equality. However, there has to be equality of opportunity, and the private sector, left to its own devices, will never achieve this goal.

Posted May 26, 2002 12:57 PM

Daily Kos started as a blog using Movable Type software, and Markos was the sole proprietor. After a successful seven months and the need to be out of town at the beginning of 2003, Markos was faced with the choice of letting the web site go without updating for many days, or selecting a guest blogger or two to write for the site while he was away. He decided to have guests, whom he selected from posters in his comments.

In its nearly eight years of existence, Daily Kos has had a number of people who have been given the title of Guest Blogger or Front Pager or Contributing Editor, and the ability to post to the main page of the blog. This doesn't include people who have had their writing "promoted" to the front page, but only those people who had permission to directly post to the home page.

This article uses the yearly "classes" model for front-pagers from kos's introduction of the Class of 2008, but there will be some variation from his list, as other folks are mentioned who were on the front page as featured writers, or who served only a short term as a front-pager. People who wrote for the front page are listed in order of their first posts to the front page; for the purposes of this article, diaries promoted to the front page before they got the nod are not eligible. They're called front-pagers below, but for years the term was "guest bloggers" and now, frequently, "Contributing Editors"; both of the terms were used in the announcement posts. For a while, Markos even called them "irregulars."

In addition, after the site moved to Scoop, blog posts to the front page—written by front-pagers—became known as "stories," while blog posts written by the rest of the membership are called "diaries." This distinction is retained on this page. Diaries promoted to the front page can be referred to as either a diary or a story, since they are an odd hybrid that partakes of both, but none of these are linked to here.

In February 2009, some of the Contributing Editors began transitioning from their original Daily Kos user names to their real names. The actual changes will be noted below.

Class of 2003

The first announcement of guest posters was on January 3, 2003, with Billmon and Steve Soto taking over posting duties while Markos was out of town. Billmon started posting the same day, and Steve Soto the next. From then on, unlabeled posts were kos's, while guest posters labeled their posts (though I can't guarantee they always remembered). Steve lasted into February; Billmon departed to open the Whiskey Bar in April.

Before another big trip on April 3, the second announcement mentioned Billmon and Steve Gilliard holding the fort while kos went out of town; Steve Gilliard posted later that morning, and continued posting into September, shortly after his new blog went live. Preceding a long weekend eight days later, a third announcement on April 11 had Steve Gilliard being joined by RonK (most commonly RonK, Seattle under Movable Type, and RonK Seattle currently); RonK posted that same morning, and continued guest blogging through the end of the pre-Scoop era six months later.

First Front-Page Posts

  • Billmon: The Shape of Things to Come projects the events of 2003 starting with the ultimate fallout from Trent Lott's remarks at the 2002 birthday celebration of segregationist centenarian Strom Thurmond.


Class of 2004

This wasn't really a single class, but three major waves of new guest bloggers. With his first group of bloggers moving on to their own blogs as 2003 progressed, one at a time, kos realized he'd be without any help at all for weekends and business trips if he didn't find a new crew. There wasn't a big rush: Markos asked in a post who the next guest blogger(s) should be on August 7, 2003; the results wouldn't be known for six weeks.

First wave

The announcement was made on September 19: two guests, Meteor Blades and DHinMI, with Stephen Yellin (who picked the username MrLiberal a month later under Scoop) as Daily Kos "highschool correspondent"; Stephen's was not as regular a gig as the weekend/travel/paternity blogging by Meteor Blades and DHinMI, but he continued posting on the front page through August 14, 2004, writing over 50 posts in that period; a couple of his articles had been included within Markos's posts in the weeks prior to the announcement. Meteor Blades and DHinMI started on the same day they were announced, continued regular front-page posts through to the end of November 2004, and continued posting into the group blog era.

This first wave arrived in the final month before the current Scoop-based site was activated on October 13, 2003, and the Movable Type site was frozen and archived as www.dailykos.net on October 15, 2003 as announced in the final post This site is closed. (The final Movable Type post is actually dated October 15, 2004, seemingly a year later, but there's nothing between the October 14, 2003 open thread and that final post; the inevitable conclusion is that 2004 was a typo that is now frozen in history.)

A month later, another guest blogger, Melanie, was briefly added. Melanie's first post was on the new Scoop-based site in its second week, on October 24, 2003, and she posted 50 front-page entries in two weeks, ending in the wee hours of November 8, 2003. The closest thing to an announcement of her advent was in Markos's post on October 22, wherein he references an upcoming article of hers. He posted a comment about her departure from guest-blogging duties in a November 9 open thread.

On February 9, 2009, Meteor Blades changed his screen name to Meteor Blades aka Timothy Lange and then Meteor Blades (aka Timothy Lange) before reverting to the version without parenthesis. He changed it back entirely a few hours later. Two days later, on February 11, 2009, DHinMI's screen name changed to Dana Houle aka DHinMI; his named changed to Dana Houle on March 31, 2009. Dana went on leave to manage Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign for MN-06—his last front page story was June 7, 2009, while his announcement was on July 9. After Tinklenberg exited the race, he joined Matt Entenza's campaign for MN-Gov, an announcement made on August 17. He made two final posts to the front page on August 26, and commented regularly through September 1, 2009. Dana's account is currently deactivated, and in late September his name was removed from the Daily Kos masthead.

Second wave

The second wave, announced January 16, 2004, consisted of Trapper John as guest poster, and Daily Kos Iowa caucus coverage from Jerome Armstrong and Tom Schaller.

Jerome likely belongs to the first wave, since his first post was on pre-Scoop July 3, 2003, and later made a set of about half a dozen posts on the California recall election that started on August 24, 2003 and lasted into October, though I didn't see any "front-page" announcement in advance of any of his posts. Unfortunately, Movable Type comments were turned off from July 1-August 16, and the HaloScan comments from that period do not survive, so if any explanation was offered in the comments, it doesn't survive either. Jerome also posted news of Ari's birth to the front page on November 3, 2003, the first of ten front-page posts made before kos announced the second wave. Because of his unheralded July and August posts, he's being listed first below. He posted regularly as a second-waver from mid-January through mid-March 2004, and only four times after that.

Tom Schaller continued posting as a regular—his role seems equivalent to the current Featured Writer gig. Both he and Trapper John appeared regularly on the front page through November 2004, up to the announcement of the class of 2005. Tom stopped posting after that, but Trapper John still posts to the front page.

On February 9, 2009, Trapper John's screen name changed to Jake McIntyre aka Trapper John; it changed again on March 24, 2009, to Jake McIntyre.

Third wave

The third wave of guest posters was announced in two short posts on April 1, 2004, and consisted of theoria, who posted for two months only while Meteor Blades was convalescing, and DemFromCT, who brought the number of regular front-pagers to four, and continued posting through November (and still appears on the front page today).

First Front-Page Posts

  • Jerome Armstrong: Winning and the Internet reviews an article in Salon about the Dean campaign and the internet, and how they are affecting each other. The article (and review) includes quotes from Jerome and Markos.
  • Stephen Yellin/MrLiberal: Show Me State could show us a Democratic senator again—in a first post that predated the announcement of his "occasional pieces" by half an hour, Stephen talks about the Kit Bond vs. Nancy Farmer contest for Senator from Missouri, still over a year away.
  • Melanie: Liberalism and Religion is an introduction to the diarist, and also talks about liberalism and religion.
  • Trapper John: New R2000 Iowa Numbers post the new Research 2000 poll numbers for the impending Iowa caucus, showing seven point drops for Dean and Gephardt, and a ten point gain for Edwards.
  • Tom Schaller: The Iowa Myth has Tom introducing himself to Daily Kos, and debunking "conventional wisdom" on Iowa's importance.
  • DemFromCT: Polls and More Polls discusses Bush's declining approval numbers on his handling of terrorism, and whether they might result in him being "fired" in November 2004.

Class of 2005

On November 7, 2004, with the disappointing national election five days past and a two-week vacation in the offing, Markos called for nominations for a new group of three or four guest bloggers "from within the Daily Kos community." He'd asked the readers once before, prior to the introduction of Meteor Blades and DHinMI. This time, the membership made 542 comments in response.

There was a real change with the introduction of this new class: this was a group of five people, announced together on November 30, 2004, and starting posts on the weekend immediately following. It was three weeks before any of the prior official front-pagers posted again, though as Markos put it, "Being a guest blogger is a lifetime affair. The current bunch may be riding off into the sunset, but they'll always be welcome on the site and on the frontpage. I suspect few, if any of them, will be making themselves scarce."

The initial class had five members—a gilas girl, Armando, DavidNYC, Hunter, and kid oakland—but two didn't last long: kid oakland stopped posting to the front page at the end of January and diaried his resignation on February 12; a gilas girl's last of five front-page posts was on February 11. Plutonium Page was added on March 31, leaving four active members for the rest of the year.

It was during this year that front-pagers were allowed to add Fridays to the normal weekend blogging; Markos retained exclusive posting Monday through Thursday (except when on vacation), and the other front-pagers now posted Friday through Sunday, plus any day Markos was on vacation or otherwise not available to post to the front page. Since he was traveling a great deal working on Crashing the Gate, the front-pagers were doing more posting and site management than ever.

Armando abandoned his user name and front-page privileges when his real name was "outed"; his final front-page post was on August 25, 2006. He returned as regular user Big Tent Democrat two weeks later on September 9; that account was ultimately banned from Daily Kos on March 7, 2007.

On February 9, 2009, until the next day, Plutonium Page's screen name changed to Page van der Linden aka Plutonium Page before reverting back. On March 11, 2010, Plutonium Page's screen name changed to Page van der Linden. Her final post to the front page was on June 6, 2010, and she is no longer listed as a Contributing Editor.

DavidNYC changed his name to David Nir on the afternoon of February 16, 2011, at the same time he became Political Director of Daily Kos.

First Front-Page Posts

  • kid oakland: sofa coffee magazine notes how much Western culture and ideas owes to the Arab world...including the three words in the story's title.

Featured Writers of 2005

This was the year we added two featured writers, both of whom are still going strong on the front page. Bill in Portland Maine had been doing Cheers and Jeers for over 15 months (first diary: December 16, 2003), and the week after Plutonium Page was added to the roster, Bill was given his unique one-a-day front-page slot that the site now describes tamely as "Featured Writer".

In November, Adam B was added in a similar capacity. His diaries on the Online Freedom of Speech Act and the fight with the FEC on whether blogs should be regulated under campaign finance reform rules were frequently being promoted, and Markos got tired of doing all the promotions. His first front-page story without a promoted notation can be found on November 1, 2005, but his first direct post to the front page was three days later on November 4th, and that's the deciding criterion for this listing. In his next front-page story, the November 10th posting on Deceptive Voting Practices, Adam says in a reply to someone asking if he's a new front pager:
Yes and No. Markos has given me front-page rights, mostly to focus on the FEC/Internet/Congress stuff. But I don't plan on being as regular as the others.

Adam's original screen name was acbonin, but it was changed to Adam B sometime between the morning of October 18, 2005, where he is referred to as acbonin, and the afternoon October 22, 2005, when someone asks if Adam B and acbonin are the same person with two accounts, and Adam says just one id; changed it this week. The reason for the name change was given on November 1, 2005 as For privacy and other reasons.

First Front-Page Posts

  • Bill in Portland Maine: Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday on April 5, 2005, was the date of the big move to the front page; Bill even describes how he lost won the privilege.
  • Adam B: Online Freedom of Speech: Further Thoughts, which further discusses the defeat of H.R.1606 in the 109th congress, and the prospects in front of the FEC of getting a media exemption extended to blogging for the 2006 election cycle.

Class of 2006

The class of 2006 cemented Markos's practice of announcing an entire group for the following year that continued through 2008. This year he formally called for nominees on December 6, 2005, listing his criteria for the four new front-pagers he wanted. On December 9, he let it be known that there would be five new front-pagers, not four, though not who they were, adding that the current bloggers would become alumni, or "emeriti", and able to post Fri-Sun and when kos was out of town...in short, when the new front-pagers could.

On December 12, 2005, Markos released the names: DarkSyde, georgia10, mcjoan, Superribbie, and SusanG. And, once again, not all of them lasted the year, though this time the loss was immediate: Superribbie posted a resignation diary the next evening before ever having posted to the front page, having realized that the commitment to Daily Kos would be far more than was feasible.

Initially the plan was for mcjoan and DarkSyde to be on a "delayed entry program" that would let them finish up existing commitments before starting up on Daily Kos, and Plutonium Page (who started nearly four months after the rest of her cohort) would continue as a regular front-pager into the new year. However, both mcjoan and DarkSyde plunged into posting with a will, and Markos announced that the front-pagers had open posting privileges through the end of the year. The four new front-pagers posted between one and two dozen stories each for the second half of December—SusanG and georgia10 were more prolific in that initial period—and Plutonium Page ended her regular front-page posting with a final Open Thread on New Years Day.

SusanG became Executive Editor of the site in late November 2007. On September 27, 2009, georgia10 formally left the front page to work for Alexi Giannoulis, IL-Sen candidate, noting that she had been away since summer—her final front page post had been on July 6, 2009.

At 12:20pm EDT on May 14, 2010, mcjoan's screen name changed to Joan McCarter, and SusanG's screen name changed to Susan Gardner.

First Front-Page Posts

  • georgia10: Mr. Bush, Your Coalition Is Shrinking: Italy's withdrawal from the "Coalition of the Willing" prosecuting the Iraq invasion prompts an examination of who's gone and who's going.

Class of 2007

For 2007, while the announcement of the class was made at about the usual time, November 30, 2006, the rules were changing—front-page alumni would stay on as regular contributors this time, alongside the new class. Markos had originally planned to pick only two or three new front-pagers, but found it impossible:

I had a "short-list" of 10, and that was after I came up with what I thought was a seriously constrictive set of guidelines: the candidates had to be multi-issue, level headed, community building, American, responsible, dependable, loyal and lack the big ego.

The four new front-pagers were BarbinMD, Devilstower, Kagro X, and MissLaura. All four started the very next day, jumping in with abandon. The alumni did stay on, and mcjoan and SusanG were announced as Kos Fellows, along with Hunter. (Two other Kos Fellows were announced: Gina Cooper, who ran YearlyKos, and Will Rockafellow, the publisher of Vaster Media.)

The posting duties under the new plan was to be Kos and the posting fellows blogging from the front page at any time, and the four new Contributing Editors posting Friday through Sunday, plus whenever Kos was out of town or otherwise unavailable. But it soon became clear that the lines were blurring, and on March 9, 2007, Markos posted dKos is officially a group blog , with himself as Founder/Publisher. Any Contributing Editor—basically all the original Scoop-era front-pagers who had remained active on the front page—could publish at any time, and the two Featured Writers could contribute as they had been doing all along. It was a new era.

On February 7, 2009, Kagro X's screen name changed to David Waldman aka Kagro X. Two days later, on February 9, 2009, BarbinMD's screen name changed to Barbara Morrill aka BarbinMD, and MissLaura's screen name changed to Laura Clawson aka MissLaura. On March 19, 2009, MissLaura's and Kagro X's screen names changed again, to Laura Clawson and David Waldman, respectively. On March 23, 2009, BarbinMD reverted to her original screen name; at about that same time, she became Associate Editor. Over a year later, on May 14, 2010 at about 5:00pm EDT, BarbinMD's screen name changed to Barbara Morill. Four days after that, on May 18 at 12:30pm EDT, Devilstower's screen name changed to Mark Sumner aka Devilstower; on August 16 at about 3:40pm EDT it changed again, to Mark Sumner.

First Front-Page Posts

  • BarbinMD: The 80% Solution, reporting on Bush Administration considering dropping attempts to reconcile with the Sunni 20% in Iraq.
  • Kagro X: It's Reyes at Intel. After the weeks of speculation over who would get the chair of the powerful House Intelligence Committee (would it be Harman? Hastings? Someone else?), it turns out to be Silvestre Reyes. Announcement and background all in one.
  • Devilstower: We Never Make Mestakes, on how the government arrested and tortured Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon attorney, as a suspect in the Madrid train bombings, despite being toldl by the Spanish government weeks before that Mayfield was not involved.
  • MissLaura: Big Government in Action, writing on the benefits of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, an excellent but underfunded federal program that allows Americans below the poverty line to buy nutritious food at farmers' markets.

Class of 2008

By the time the Class of 2008 was announced, the number of contributing editors was fifteen, plus two featured writers, for a total of eighteen contributors. The front page was quite active, yet a great deal of the day-to-day activity—open threads, site admin, posting important news of the day with analysis—was falling to the previous class, and new blood was needed to share the load.

In addition, featured writer Bill in Portland Maine had been hired by hundreds of Daily Kos users—not Markos, and not any kind of Daily Kos fellow—as a full-time Daily Kos Cheers and Jeers writer in October, to save him having to look for real work keep him from taking a job that would preclude his writing the beloved Cheers and Jeers. His year began on October 15, 2007.

So Markos decided to go with fewer additional contributing editors, picking three: brownsox, Scout Finch, and smintheus. The selection was announced in his Class of 2008 article; the three started that night, the next day, and the morning after that.

After ten months, and without any formal announcement, smintheus stopped posting to the front page on August 29, 2008, and wrote his final diary and a last group of comments on August 31.

On February 9, 2009, brownsox's screen name changed to Arjun Jaikumar aka brownsox; it changed again on March 19, 2009, to Arjun Jaikumar. On May 11, 2009, he left the front page to work for the DSCC.

First Front-Page Posts

  • brownsox: OH-05: An upset in the making? More detail on a new Blue Majority candidate in a special election only eight days away, urging Kossack action and donations.
  • smintheus: Bountiful Justice writes a meaty background article on today's arguments before the Supreme Court on the right of Guantanamo detainees to appeal their detention.

The Post-Class Era

On October 15, 2008, a new contributing editor was added, the first off-cycle addition since spring 2005. Markos announced that Jed joins Daily Kos: Jed L, who had been posting under the name JedReport, was added to the roster of front pagers. His first post was made shortly after midnight on October 16, 2008.

Then, on December 4, 2008, at about the time a new class of front-pagers would normally be announced, Markos "retired the old way of adding contributing editors," and changed over to "rolling admissions." This was announced in a post entitled Lithium Cola, contributing editor. LithiumCola (properly spelled without a space) made his first front-page post on December 6, 2008.

On February 13, 2009, Jed L's screen name changed to Jed Lewison. LithiumCola's move from Contributing Editor to Featured Writer was never announced, but the site's "About" page reflected this starting in late March.

On May 14, 2009, Markos posted Steve Singiser, contributing editor: Steve Singiser made his first post 82 minutes later, and three more before the day was done.

Sometime during the autumn of 2009, LithiumCola's name was removed from the list of Featured Writers. His final post to the front page was on June 28; his most recent comment on Daily Kos as of December 30, 2009 was written on October 31.

On January 7, 2010, as part of a State of Daily Kos story on the front page, Markos announced three new Featured Writers: Dante Atkins, whose account name was changed from hekebolos the night before, Angry Mouse, and exmearden. He also noted that featured writers would henceforth start out by writing on weekends to ease them in gently. The first posts for all three were made that Sunday, January 10.

On May 18, 2010, in Announcing new editor, featured writers, Markos announced the promotion of Angry Mouse to Contributing Editor under the new screen name Kaili Joy Gray aka Angry Mouse. At the same time he announced two featured writers, Laurence Lewis (whose name had been changed from Turkana at midnight EDT) and brooklynbadboy, both of whom made their first posts the following day. On August 16, 2010, at about 3:40pm EDT, Angry Mouse's name changed again, to Kaili Joy Gray.

On August 16, 2010, in Kicking up our action efforts: email list, Markos announced the appointment of Chris Bowers to manage the new Daily Kos email list, and noted "Chris will also be bringing over some of his electoral-focused writings to Daily Kos". Chris made his first email-related front-page post that day, and his first non-email post to the front page on August 18.

exmearden died on November 26, 2010. She is greatly missed.

First Front-Page Posts

  • Jed L: McCain's Eye Rolls: Raw Video Montage contains a 90-second video montage created by Jed of John McCain's "grimaces, grunts, and eye rolls" during the course of the third 2008 presidential debate.
  • LithiumCola: Who Would've Thought, It Figures is about BearingPoint, a software services company in the tank commerically while barely surviving on no-bid government contracts for Iraq from the Bush administration.
  • Dante Atkins: By Way of Reintroduction is about the transformation of the political circumstances over the past several years, and why we should (and he does) feel safer as liberal and progressive bloggers.
  • Angry Mouse: Feminism Fail talks about problems in the missions and effectiveness of the large feminist advocacy organizations.
  • exmearden: Terminal housekeeping is a meditation on tasks such as housekeeping and other facets of life once a Terminal diagnosis has been received.
  • brooklynbadboy: Obama Tries Bank Shot. Again. argues that instead of attacking Republicans as the party of No, Obama and the Democrats should attack the Republicans on their actual (unlikeable) positions.
  • Laurence Lewis: Chris Dudley Is Tall talks about former basketball player and Republican nominee Chris Dudley's one qualification(?) to be Governor of Oregon.
  • Chris Bowers: Let's take some action urges Kossacks to sign up to the new Daily Kos email list and take action together, and also noted that he'd been here at Daily Kos since before Scoop was introduced in October 2003.

Final Notes

This article is based on material from two diaries written by sardonyx for the Top Comments diary series. The second, entitled Top Comments: First Front-Page Posts, The Early Days, covered Daily Kos from its start in 2002 through late 2005. The first, Top Comments: First Posts Edition, goes from the late 2005 introduction of the Class of 2006 through the introduction of the Class of 2008 in early December 2007. The diaries have been combined and revised for this article.

Special thanks to OkieByAccident, who pointed out the initial (and accidental) omission of Melanie from the list of guest bloggers, and most of all to Markos, for starting Daily Kos, and for saying this article ought to be in the dKosopedia.


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