|Launched||January 20, 2001|
Democratic Underground, also known as DU, is an online community for U.S. Democrats and progressives. Its membership is restricted by policy to those who are generally supportive of progressive ideals and support Democratic candidates for political office. DU was established on January 20, 2001, the day Republican George W. Bush was inaugurated president.
According to Democratic Underground, as of October, 2010, over 163,000 user accounts have been registered and over 52.9 million messages have been posted. DU publishes articles several days a week and has an online store, a directory of links, and forums where members may post on various topics of interest.
Features of Democratic Underground
Forums and groups
The DU Forums are sites for political and non-political[clarification needed] discussions by registered DU users. As of January 2007, the number of individual posts in these forums exceeded 27,000,000. The main forums on DU have been re-arranged since the close of the 2004 US election season.
add explanation of SOP, hosts
DUers are active in U.S. politics in many ways. Many of them attend political protests and rallies, volunteer for campaigns, and write letters to editors of newspapers and members of Congress. Some are among the members of the Democratic Party infrastructure, serving as precinct chairs. Others actually work within the confines of various legislative and congressional bodies as staff. Many active posters at Democratic Underground have worked for various causes in both paid and unpaid positions, in campaigns and for special interest groups such as the AFL-CIO and SEIU. Others are members of the DLC, Progressive Democrats of America, MoveOn, and Democracy for America.
The website is owned by Democratic Underground, LLC (a limited liability company), and run by David Allen, who posts under the screen name "Skinner" while on the boards and handles most of the issues relating to the forums. The other two administrators are Dave Allsopp, a co-founder, known as "EarlG" (of Washington, D.C.) and Brian Leitner, known as "elad" of Portland, Oregon. Allsopp and Leitner handle the articles and technical issues, respectively.
former text moved to "Former features"; need updated description
Discussions from posters at DU have drawn criticism. One example of this was the dialog about the 2004 tsunami disaster, in which a few posts explored the possibility of "earthquake weapons". The posts were reported by The New York Times and Fox News. The DU administrators deleted these posts and the threads were locked. The administrators officially disavowed what they called "kooky tsunami conspiracy theories". They added, "One wonders why the author [of the Times article] did not spend five minutes over at Free Republic and instead write an article about how conservatives think the tsunami was some sort of retribution from God, or how Muslims deserved it." The administrators also sent a letter to the Times, which was printed.
Another example is the conspiracy theories revolving around the August 2006 terror plot to blow up airliners between the UK and the US, which received mention in USA Today. Some posters felt that the American government's push to release the announcement of the plot was a conspiracy to bump Joe Lieberman's primary loss out of the news cycle.
The site also saw criticism when, in 2003, a poster explained why he or she wished to see continued bloodshed in Iraq, and in the days following the death of Ronald Reagan, when profane comments appeared that expressed joy over his passing.
The site was also criticized by the online Oregon newspaper Salem-News.com for a thread about a video posted by the newspaper in which a former Israeli soldier described what the newspaper called "the war crimes committed against the Palestinians back in 1948." Because some DU posters criticized the piece, the newspaper wrote that DU had "decided to take a stand for apartheid", although it described another post in the thread (one critical of Israel) as "absolutely correct".
Two posters to Democratic Underground were investigated by the Secret Service for posts that, according to David Allen, violated the DU policy stating "Do not post messages that could be construed as advocating harm or death to the president or other high-ranking official in the United States government." Neither the comments nor the posters' identities are public knowledge, but David Allen said that both members had been banned prior to DU being notified of the investigation, and that no subpoenas have been issued to date.
Copyright infringement lawsuit
In 2010, Democratic Underground was sued for alleged copyright infringement in a member's posting of a few paragraphs from an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The suit was brought by Righthaven, an entity that finds Review-Journal quotations online, buys the copyright for that story from the newspaper, and retroactively sues for copyright infringement. In response to the lawsuit, DU asserted that the quoted excerpt (five sentences of a 54-sentence article) was fair use, and counterclaimed against Righthaven for fraud, barratry, and champerty. DU is being represented in the case pro bono by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, attorneys from the firm of Winston & Strawn, and Las Vegas attorney Chad Bowers. After Righthaven lost a similar suit against Realty One Group over 8 of 30 sentences quoted from a news article, Righthaven asked the judge in the case against Democratic Underground to dismiss Righthaven's claim against DU.
In June 14, 2011, Judge Roger L. Hunt ruled that Righthaven be dismissed from the case because Righthaven had never owned the copyright of the article and gave Righthaven two weeks to explain in writing why it should not be sanctioned.
In 2011, DU introduced DU3, a thorough revamping of the site. Some former features were eliminated in the transition or had been modified or eliminated before then.
DU runs quarterly fund drives. Everyone who donates is recognized with a gold star next to his or her user name for the succeeding twelve months. Before each fund drive, members are invited to suggest charities that might benefit, and ten percent of the money raised is donated to those charities. For example, after the fund drive in the fourth quarter of 2009, Skinner announced that a total of $1,855 had been donated to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Modest Needs (helping low-income workers), Treehouse for Kids (aiding children in foster care), the Remote Area Medical Foundation (providing medical services in remote areas), America's Vet Dogs (providing service dogs to veterans), and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
DU has several regular columns, and on any given day may have a number of guest columns sent in from contributors.
- Mondays: Top Ten Conservative Idiots, a rundown of what DU administrators find as the most outrageous right-wing activities in the past week.
- In the past, DU occasionally featured a Hate Mailbag of hate mail, but no new updates have been posted since 2005. An unofficial update was provided by the administrators of DU in February 2012 as a post in one of the main forums.
Bernard Weiner and Ernest Partridge of The Crisis Papers are frequent guests.
- "How We Enforce The Discussion Forum Rules". DU. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "Democratic Underground - Latest Threads". DU. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "Democratic Underground - Lobby". DU. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "Democratic Underground - Contact Us". DU. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Schwartz, John (2005-01-03). "Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate". NY Times. pp. A10. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Hume, Brit (2005-01-04). "Disaster's Cause?". Fox News. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "Skinner" (2005-05-05). "About the New York Times, Fox News, and Kooky Tsunami Conspiracy Theories". DU. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Allen, David (2005-01-10). "To the Editor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
- Raash, Chuck (2006-05-10). "Terrorists were brewing a fresh date of infamy". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "Source: U.S., U.K. at odds over timing of arrests". msnbc.com. 2006-08-14. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Taranto, James (2003-11-05). "Dems Gone Wild--III". Opinion Journal. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Macomber, Shawn (2004-06-08). "Bloggers Attack Reagan". FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- King, Tim (Jan 5, 2012). "'Democratic Underground' Attacks Salem-News Writers Opposed to Racism". Salem News. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
- "We think you should be aware that the Secret Service contacted us today". Democratic Underground Thread - David Allen
- "I think some of you have the wrong idea about this Secret Service thing". Democratic Underground Journal - David Allen
- Green, Steve (August 11, 2010). "Righthaven sues Democratic Underground website over R-J posting". Las Vegas Sun. Las Vegas, Nevada. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
- Green, Steve (September 28, 2010). "R-J owner faces counterclaim in copyright lawsuit campaign". Las Vegas Sun. Las Vegas, Nevada. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
- Kravets, David (18 Nov 2010). "Righthaven Says It Will Stop Suing Over News Excerpts". Wired.com, Threat Level.
- EFF Press Releases > June, 2011 > Righthaven Copyright Troll Lawsuit Dismissed as Sham. Retrieved 2011 June 16.
- Allen, David (November 23, 2009). "THANK YOU to everyone who donated during our fund drive! Here's how much we gave to charity...". Democratic Underground. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
- EarlG (February 29, 2012). "Humpday Hatemail!". Democratic Underground. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- Democratic Underground homepage
- "Agonistic Democracy and the Narrative of Distempered Elites: an Analysis of Citizen Discourse on Political Message Forums", by Jeanette Castillo, August 12, 2008 - doctoral dissertation analyzing Democratic Underground (pdf)
- Interview with David Allen on The Young Turks