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Let me be clear up front: the Daily Kos community has been my number one priority from the first day a commenter showed up on this site, way back in 2002. That focus and interest in community building is the reason Daily Kos has grown to what it is today -- growth that continues at exponential rates.

But that doesn't mean we can't do more, and that's what 2014 will deliver. More community-centric goodness.

Helping lead that enhanced focus will be our newest employee ... Neeta Lind/Navajo -- our freshly minted Director of Community Building. She'll add some details in a follow up post of her own, but broadly speaking, I wanted someone whose entire job was to advocate for the community. Our tagline is "News, Community, Action". We have Susan in charge of news, we have Chris in charge of Action. So why not have someone in charge of that last (and most central to the site's mission) area of focus? Now we do!

I do want to stress what Neeta is not: She's not a community cop. She won't adjudicate arguments. She won't be someone to appeal to if you feel some other user slighted you. If the robot can't handle a pie war, then I'll still be the final arbiter. And of course, it's in no one's interest to drag me into those fights.

Neeta's role will be a positive one: finding ways to improve the community experience, and helping us leverage the strength of this community toward more effective action, both online and off. Neeta has already been doing that for a long time, so I'm thrilled that we can now make her officially part of the team.

Furthermore, the community experience will get a massive revamp in 2014.

We haven't been able to deliver many community-facing improvements over the last few years. The reasons are a combination of tight dollars during the Great Recession and the need for massive infrastructure work on the site. It's like spending money and time getting a new foundation and roof on your house. It costs a shit-ton of money without a visible reward. However, you now have a better frame to upon which to renovate that kitchen or bathroom, and a house that can better survive disasters.

So with much of our major infrastructure work out of the way (plus the addition of a couple of additional new developers), we can start delivering more front-facing upgrades. DK5 will arrive the first half of 2014 and will feature a streamlined look and dramatically better publishing experience, with a bevy of great new features like better social media integration. We've also started sketching out upgrades to Group functionality, adding full functionality to our mobile site, etc. Stuff like that.

Like I said at the top, I've always kept the community at the forefront of my decision-making process. But now, I have a lieutenant who knows the community better than probably anyone, and the tech resources and focus to start delivering front-facing site improvements.

It's going to be a gangbusters year.

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