• 4 Posts
Joined 2 years ago
Cake day: April 1st, 2022


  • I’ve seen a lot of websites (not so much in the Fediverse, but small forums and spin-off forums) and the kinds of basis they have does affect whether people want to post there, and how the place grows. (I’ll just call them instances, because they technically are but I’m not just talking about Fediverse instances, so the dynamics of cross-visibility between sites aren’t really being considered)

    Topic-based instances and goal-oriented instances seems like the best bet for a high-quality discussion community. I mean broad topics as well, consider mander.xyz or the former gtio.io, not just more specific ones like slrpnk.net. It can be limiting, but so long as you’re secure enough with your ego that you don’t need to chase high numbers to know you’re stable and active, then I’d recommend it. The tough part is that you may not get as much casual exposure to start off with, by being on the same site as larger communities, you might need to be active (without being annoying) in crossposting good topics to make people aware your community exists.

    National-based instances are also popular, probably because of shared language, cultural elements and local issues. But they are otherwise pretty compatible to general instances. They do have a place, I’ve enjoyed a couple on occasion, they have a place, but I do prefer the topic-based communities. There’s no point limiting every topic arbitrarily by nation or state.

    General instances (either topicless copy-cats or freely user-defined communities) are hit-or-miss, I personally don’t like them in a federated space unless they are specifically solving an issue.

    lemmy.ml is somewhere between topic-based and general. It is explicitly “A community of privacy and FOSS enthusiasts, run by Lemmy’s developers” (I notice that broadened a bit, surprising although no complaints), and you can see that bias in the communities list, but the mods aren’t aggressive with enforcing the topic. There are random sports, country and interest communities here. Whether that’s out of inactivity (volunteer time and effort is limited!) or lax policy (the more the merrier!), it makes this feel more like a general site despite the tagline. I remember last time I checked (admittedly a year ago) the staff were explicit and purposeful that this is not an official instance and was not trying to cater to everyone as a general instance, encouraging people to make more granular instances for things which weren’t meant to go here.

    If that is the case (again, policy could be different) then maybe some extra messaging on the Create Community and Register pages could help prevent the regular issue we had when someone fundamentally against the community (like someone kicked from reddit because of racist comments) would show up and be surprised when they were herded out of here too.

  • In that (rare) situation, you can just say ‘picture of the bird’ to avoid being redundant!

    When I ask the strident twits this, I generally get vague homilies and blocks.

    Unfortunately, I believe you. Some people take counterpoints very badly, it’s notorious with twitter (and therefore ex-twitter) users.

    My response is that demand, in that redundant situation, is insulting to people with visually-imparement and can be disregarded.

  • I’m not a Mastodon/etc. users but I can sympathize with some other sites. Even here has its own Ongoing September from redditors.

    I would recommend reaching out to moderation teams and raising awareness, because they probably have far more ability to put global notifications or sign-up messages, and to give warnings to uncomfortable behaviour.

    Make sure to call out twitter carryover, in a constructive way, so that people are aware that Mastodon isn’t ‘twitter but here’.

  • comfy@lemmy.mltoFediverse@lemmy.mlThe Local Internet
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this create blog post!

    I absolutely agree with what they are saying about community growth tending to change communities, and any one who has seen a lot of my posts has probably noticed that I similarly feel strongly about online communities avoiding this decline.

    It’s good to see that the author is well-explored, even bringing up the digital neighborhoods like webrings and tilde groups (which I have seen and appreciated but never been involved in) and thoughtfully understanding the pro’s and cons of their (current) limitations and barriers to entry.

    For social medias, the community isn’t the goal, just a byproduct of a way to make money. More users means more ad revenue so there’s a monetary gain for having it as easy as possible for more people to join. Having that addictive content firehose to blast in your face as well is a huge hook.

    This is a major advantage (and disadvantage!) of places like Lemmy instances and most other Fediverse instances (exceptions would be pawoo and cloud-sponsored and/or ad-loading PeerTube instances, which are somewhat commercial). The downside is that by not exploiting user attention to self-sustain, it relies on (I assume only) donations, sponsorship or financial sacrifice to survive. The massive upsides are that not abusing uses makes the place much more comforting, discourages malicious practices such as encouraging conflict, and lets the owners care about people’s wellbeing and expression more than (let’s say) reddit can, as reddit is beholden to its financial sponsors who are not generally aligned with the community interests. It’s a difficult path to avoid ads/etc., but with extremely worthwhile benefits, I recommend reading this summary of Manufacturing Consent’s section on advertising as an operational necessity and bias in US media. The difference here being it’s even harder because the competitive price of using a social media service is 0. I honestly wouldn’t have come here if it cost money just to sign up. And look at Wikipedia and archive.org constantly begging with large pop-ups. It’s tough, and I don’t know how much decentralizing the costs will help with that, but hopefully we can build something worth donating to.

    [Direct] moderation is impossible at when you get big

    Moderation is tough and complicated when you get big. I disagree with the assertion it’s impossible but maybe that’s me nitpicking as usual. Like the author says, most moderation in big media platforms is motivated by financial interest. /r/genzedong and /r/chodi on reddit, two platforms that incidentally moved to Lemmy, as some reddit users pointed out [teddit link], were most likely banned in direct response to media attention from Time magazine (article linked in that reddit post). A reply claims that /r/jailbait was popular and only banned once a moderator went to the media about it and made news. It’s a balancing act of ‘more users’ vs. ‘reputational damage’, possibly adding personal bias in the cases of individual moderators or ‘alternative’ platforms that are nonetheless commercial.

    I like the idea of community-based moderation, although I acknowledge its issues and its weaknesses in the case of a sudden growth (which is a major phenomenon for Fediverse platforms and individual communities e.g. /r/antiwork) where the community is diluted and needs principled moderation to enforce those cultural norms among new users. Community moderation is difficult at scale. 4chan can be consider a case study of initial success and then failure in the 2010s.

    What the author then says about small communities being (to paraphrase) more personal is true. I’m involved in many small communities and I completely agree, but naturally they’re at risk of just dying out if they don’t grow or sustain. One site I occasionally use (est. 20-100 users with occasional temporary spikes) has almost shut down twice in the past 15 years, each time requiring a new volunteer to become the site host and pay the costs.

    How do we find smaller communities?

    Some I found by word of mouth, some by exploration, some by random site promotion threads or community events (a famous site had a feature where they held a randomly-determined computer game that any community, large or tiny, on the site could enter, and the winner was promoted on the main page for a week). I know another group that holds a small semi-random for-fun gaming tournament between about 20 different websites, where any similar forums can choose to enter. The idea of communities being single sites or single topics doesn’t need to be that way.

    My current ideal situation […]

    Which funnily enough describes contemporary link aggregator sites like reddit and Lemmy, more than it does typical Fediverse services that require personal hosting or limit you to non-explicit communities like hashtagging.

    [This is a bit more shallow than I wanted but I’m in a rush!]