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    1. A page has been added to view the posts you've voted on (up to 30 days old)

      It was offhandedly mentioned in last week's post about voting data, but thanks to an open-source contribution by ajbt200128 (whose Tildes username I don't know) there's now a page available for...

      It was offhandedly mentioned in last week's post about voting data, but thanks to an open-source contribution by ajbt200128 (whose Tildes username I don't know) there's now a page available for you to review posts you voted on recently. It's linked as "Your votes" in the sidebar menu when you're on your user page.

      There's a warning at the top of the page about it, but please don't try to use that page to keep track of posts overall. Because the voting data is being deleted now, you won't be able to keep track of any posts older than 30 days through it. Use "Bookmark" for that—there's a link just above "Your votes" for "Your bookmarks" where bookmarked posts will stay forever.

      I've also just noticed that these pages aren't paginated yet and everything's in one big list, so if you vote often, be warned that they might be quite large. I should probably work on fixing that now. Let me know if you notice any other issues with it.

      And as usual, I've given everyone 10 invites, accessible on the invite page.

      47 votes
    2. The voting on topics and comments now ends when they're 30 days old and all individual vote records are deleted, retaining only the count

      This is a privacy-related update that I've always intended to implement on Tildes, and I finally spent some time on it this week. Keeping eternal records of everything that every user ever voted...

      This is a privacy-related update that I've always intended to implement on Tildes, and I finally spent some time on it this week.

      Keeping eternal records of everything that every user ever voted on is some of the most sensitive data that sites with a voting system have. Your voting history says a huge amount about you, your interests and opinions, and can even serve as a decent proxy for showing what times you were active on the site, what posts you were reading, and how long you spent reading the comments on each of them. In exchange for these major privacy implications, you get the tiny benefit of being able to tell which old posts you voted on (if you even go back to old posts).

      So now, to match up with Tildes's general approach of deleting as much sensitive data as possible after 30 days, the voting on posts closes when they're 30 days old. After a post's voting is closed, the records of which individual users voted on that post are deleted, but the count of how many votes there were is kept. So old posts will continue showing their same "scores" exactly the same as before, but there will be no record of which individual users cast those votes.

      However, this isn't a purely positive update: the main downside is that the voting does need to be closed (otherwise there would be no way to prevent people from voting again after their first vote is deleted), which prevents the occasionally useful ability to vote on old topics or comments. Overall though, voting on older posts is extremely rare, with less than 1% of the votes on Tildes ever made on something that was over 30 days old at the time of voting.

      When the "delete old sensitive data" job runs for the first time after this update later today, 97% of the voting data in the database will be deleted. That's a massive decrease in the amount of sensitive data the site is retaining, and something that most sites would never consider doing, because of the value of that data for behavior analysis and ad-targeting.

      120 votes
    3. Added a page showing details of Tildes's financials, as well as a monthly donation goal

      On the home page of Tildes, there's now a monthly donation goal meter shown at the top of the sidebar. The "(more details)" link in the box goes to a new Financials page, which shows the current...

      On the home page of Tildes, there's now a monthly donation goal meter shown at the top of the sidebar. The "(more details)" link in the box goes to a new Financials page, which shows the current expenses and income for Tildes for this month.

      This is information that I've always been meaning to make public, and the original announcement blog post even mentioned it as an intention. So far it only includes the current month, but I'm intending to add information about past income and expenses eventually as well.

      The Financials page should mostly explain itself, but I want to talk a little more about the goal specifically and why it seems to be set unrealistically high. To be clear, it probably is unrealistically high at this point, but I think it's important to be honest about where the next "stage" in Tildes's sustainability is, and how far away from it we currently are. I could have set the goal to a lower number to make it more achievable, but that would really just be arbitrary and wouldn't represent any meaningful threshold.

      The first important milestone was making sure that all the actual expenses were paid every month, so that keeping the site up wasn't actively costing me money. We're long past that point and almost always have been, which is great on its own—so many businesses and sites never reach that "break even" point and are forced to shut down, but there's absolutely no danger of that happening with Tildes. For how small and young the site is, it's amazing that we've already reached that goal.

      The next milestone, which the current goal represents, is making it so that I'm not effectively donating my time to continue maintaining and developing the site, which means being able to pay myself enough that I can think of Tildes as a "real job". As you can see, we're still pretty far from that point right now, but I think it's a good reminder (especially to myself) to have the meter showing it. As I said in another comment recently, there are other things I should probably focus my efforts on more that would help, and this will be a prominent reminder of that.

      I also want to mention that the overall situation isn't quite as bleak as the goal makes it look. There have been multiple incredibly generous one-time donations made over the last year and a half that you won't see in the current month's numbers, and that's absolutely made a huge difference. I'll try to get the historical information added before too long so that the picture is more complete.

      Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions, and thanks again for all of your contributions, whether they're actual donations or just being active and contributing to the site in that way. It's all important, and I greatly appreciate all of it.

      And as usual, I've given everyone 10 invites, accessible on the invite page.

      95 votes
    4. New search capabilities available: phrases, excluding terms, alternatives ("or")

      On Sunday, I took the site down for a short downtime to upgrade the database from PostgreSQL version 10 to 12. One of the main reasons I wanted to do that upgrade was to get access to a new search...

      On Sunday, I took the site down for a short downtime to upgrade the database from PostgreSQL version 10 to 12. One of the main reasons I wanted to do that upgrade was to get access to a new search function, and I've updated to using it now, so we have multiple nice new search capabilities available.

      These should all be pretty familiar since a lot of other search systems and search engines have similar capabilities with the same syntax:

      • As before, by default, searching for multiple words will be treated as "all of these terms". So if you search ~games for steam play, you'll get all topics that have both "steam" and "play" in them.
      • Phrases can now be searched for by putting double quotes around them. Searching ~games for "steam play" in quotes will only find topics that specifically have "steam play".
      • Excluding terms can be done by putting a minus sign in front of it. For example, if you wanted to try to find ~games posts about Blizzard and exclude the recent China controversy, you could search for blizzard -china.
      • Alternatives can be searched for by using "or". This changes to "any of these terms" instead of "all of these terms". For example, searching for overwatch or diablo will find any topic with either of those terms, instead of both.
      • These capabilities can be combined, so you can exclude phrases, use "or" with phrases, and so on. For example: blizzard -"hong kong" or diablo.

      This all works both through the main site topic search (at the top of the sidebar) as well as the new search for your own topics/comments.

      I'm going to write a page for the Docs with info about these capabilities, but I think I want to try to find a full specification of what's supported first to make sure I cover it properly. The PostgreSQL docs are pretty vague about it, so I'll probably need to take a look in the actual code.

      Please let me know if you notice any issues with it, or if anything's confusing that I should make sure to document.

      And as usual, I've given everyone 10 invites, accessible on the invite page.

      52 votes
    5. You can now search your own topics and comments, and a theme preview page is available

      Two updates today: Theme Preview page This is another contribution from @deing, who's been working on this one for a while. It ended up being more complicated than it originally seemed and still...

      Two updates today:

      Theme Preview page

      This is another contribution from @deing, who's been working on this one for a while. It ended up being more complicated than it originally seemed and still has a few minor oddities, but I think it ended up coming out quite well.

      When you're on the Settings page, there's now a "View theme previews" link just below the theme-selection dropdown near the top. That will take you to this new Theme Preview page. The blocks with the theme names at the top give you a quick idea of each theme's color scheme, and you can click them to change the whole page's theme and see what it looks like on the example topics and comments below.

      I should also mention that Gruvbox themes (with Light and Dark variants) were added about a month ago by @lugubris. I don't think I ever announced those being added, but you can easily check them out here now.

      Search your own posts

      @mrbig's recent post with multiple suggestions reminded me to work on this one. You know the drill: it's minimal, the interface is a little weird, etc. but you can now search your own topics and comments (separately).

      To use it, go to your own user page and click into either "Topics" or "Comments" from the top, you can't still be on the default "All posts" view. When you go into either of the individual post types, there will be a search box at the top, and you can use that to search your own posts.

      Just like the overall site search, the search always works as "look for all of these words", so only include multiple words if you want to find posts that contain all of them. I'm hoping to upgrade the PostgreSQL version that I'm using fairly soon, which should make for some easy enhancements to search, so hopefully soon we'll have some more capabilities there.

      Let me know if you notice any strangeness with the search results.

      And as usual, I've given everyone 10 invites, accessible on the invite page

      40 votes
    6. More about scheduled topics, some group rearranging, and input needed on "content types"

      A few pretty quick things to talk about today, with some input wanted on each: Scheduled/recurring topics As announced last week, the site now has native scheduled topics (which need to be...

      A few pretty quick things to talk about today, with some input wanted on each:

      Scheduled/recurring topics

      As announced last week, the site now has native scheduled topics (which need to be configured by me). There have been a couple of these posted now, with the most recent one being today's "What are you reading these days?" topic in ~books.

      Here's the schedule that I have set up right now. Times are in UTC (Pacific time is UTC-7 and Eastern is UTC-4).

      Topic Timing (UTC)
      ~talk - What are you doing this week? Monday, 15:00
      ~games - What have you been playing? Monday, 16:00
      ~tv - What have you been watching? Tuesday, 16:00
      ~anime - What have you been watching/reading this week? (Anime/Manga) Wednesday, 16:00
      ~books - What have you been reading lately? Every second Thursday, 16:00
      ~creative - What creative projects have you been working on? Every second Thursday (alternating with ~books), 16:00
      ~talk - What are you doing this weekend? Friday, 15:00
      ~music - What have you been listening to this week? Friday, 16:00

      These were all pre-existing topics that had been getting posted consistently. The timings are a bit arbitrary, but somewhere around 16:00 is usually the time the site starts getting more active each day, and I went with every 2 weeks for ~creative and ~books since I think people don't change through those as quickly.

      There are a few other topics I think would be good too, let me know what you think or if this is starting to be too many:

      One other question I wanted to ask, since I'm doing some work related to it: Is there any reason for people to still be able to post new top-level comments in old recurring threads? I'll definitely still allow posting replies to existing comments so conversations can continue, but I can't really think of a reason why anyone would need to post a new top-level comment in any thread except the newest, and may just disallow that to keep people from inadvertently posting in the old ones.

      Group rearrangements

      I deleted the three ~science subgroups (~science.formal, ~science.natural, ~science.social) and moved all the topics back into ~science. These were confusing (I had to keep checking which branch certain subjects were in), and the activity level across the science groups really isn't high enough to need 4 groups.

      I also deleted ~hobbies.automotive and moved the (very few) topics from it back into ~hobbies with an automotive tag. The group was getting less than one topic posted a week, and doesn't seem necessary yet.

      One other change I want to make but haven't yet, because I want input first: I think I'd like to move ~creative into a sub-group of ~arts. What do you think of calling it ~arts.original? Any other possible names that would work better as "content created by the poster?"

      Content types

      Finally, I've also just deployed a change that starts showing a "content type" on each topic. Currently it doesn't do anything other than get displayed in the listings, but the plan is to be able to use this for searching, filtering, and similar purposes. This will be able to cover the common requests like "I'd like a way to see only videos", and will also make some other things easier to customize (for example, there's no need to show word count on Ask topics).

      Here's the list of content types that are shown right now, but I'm fairly sure that I'm forgetting about some others:

      1. Article
      2. Ask topic
      3. Image
      4. PDF
      5. Text topic
      6. Tweet
      7. Video

      Update on Oct 11: if a type for a link topic isn't detected, it will display "Link"

      What other types of content get posted to Tildes that aren't covered in there?

      33 votes
    7. Adding native scheduled/recurring topics, let's figure out which ones we want to have

      I've just pushed up a commit that adds the backend for configuring and posting topics automatically on a schedule. I'm still working on the UI to be able to set them up through the site, but I can...

      I've just pushed up a commit that adds the backend for configuring and posting topics automatically on a schedule. I'm still working on the UI to be able to set them up through the site, but I can add them manually pretty easily now.

      So first, thanks very much to the people that have been manually posting these recurring topics for months. They've been a source of lots of great conversation, and I really appreciate people making sure to keep posting them regularly. Thanks also to @hungariantoast and @deing specifically for doing the work of writing a script to do automatic posting, and the kinda-API-wrapper that it uses. That made sure that multiple of those topics were posted consistently for quite a while before I got around to implementing this.

      I'd like to start setting up all of the recurring topics "properly" in the new system, so let's talk about which ones we already have, and potentially some others that we'd want to add. We should probably also try to space them out a little, so there's not a dump of them at the same times. Here are some of the ones that come to mind immediately for me, but I'm sure I'm missing some, and if there are others that you think would be good to have, let me know. I know there are other ones that have dropped off and it would probably be good to resurrect them:

      Group Topic
      ~anime What have you been watching/reading this week?
      ~books What are you reading these days?
      ~comp Fortnightly programming Q&A
      ~creative What creative projects have you been working on?
      ~games What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them?
      ~talk What are you doing this weekend?
      ~talk What are you doing this week?

      There are also some others that vary every week, so I probably won't be able to set those up yet (like @aphoenix's recent ~games.tabletop weekly discussions), but once there's a UI we should be able to start configuring them ahead of time.

      Any thoughts on those existing recurring topics, suggestions for new ones to add, or old ones to bring back?

      62 votes
    8. Some layout adjustments and de-emphasizing topic tags a little

      Updates have been slow lately—I've been working on some larger projects that have ended up with me getting lost down some rabbit-holes that I probably should have stayed away from. Hopefully there...

      Updates have been slow lately—I've been working on some larger projects that have ended up with me getting lost down some rabbit-holes that I probably should have stayed away from. Hopefully there will be some progress to show from those before too much longer.

      Anyway, I've just deployed an update that re-arranges a few elements, with the most major change being that most topic tags are no longer shown by default on the "listing pages", such as the home page and when you're inside a specific group. The tags added a ton of clutter to the page for information that wasn't important at all most of the time, and multiple people have told me that they found them intimidating and confusing.

      I'll come back to the reasoning behind it, but first: if you want to continue seeing tags on topics in listings, there's a new setting for that near the top of the Settings page: "Show topic tags in listing pages". I've also already enabled this setting for anyone that has the permission to tag other users' topics, since I think those users clearly care more about tagging (and if you'd like that permission to help with tagging topics, send me a message and let me know and I can give it to you).

      For more about why, I think this old page by Cory Doctorow from 18 years ago does a good job of explaining why detailed metadata systems often have a lot of issues. Even though some users (including me) care a lot about trying to organize and label everything, most users really don't, and it's intimidating to try to figure out how to tag "properly".

      This will only get worse as the site continues to grow and more tagging conventions and history are built up, so I wanted to try addressing this now, before it gets too bad. Not having the tags on listings will also have some other benefits like not needing to worry so much about adding "too many" tags to topics, potentially being able to come up with some new special uses for tags in the future, and so on.

      Various other minor tweaks were made to the layout as part of this and some upcoming changes (like being able to hide/ignore topics from the listing page). Just a quick list:

      • "nsfw" and "spoiler" tags will still be shown in listings. Other "important" tags will be enabled eventually to continue showing in listings, probably even on a per-group level.
      • On a topic's comments page, tags are now displayed below the title instead of being in the sidebar
      • On the new topic page, the "add tags" field is hidden (collapsed, requires a click) by default. Once a user shows interest in tagging—either by submitting a new topic with tags or changing tags on a topic—it will be shown in the future. I enabled it for a lot of existing users that have done any tagging recently, so most of you probably won't even notice this.
      • The "content metadata" such as word count and publication date is now shown in listings next to a topic's group, instead of in parentheses after its title. Without the tags, we have more room for this and can probably do some more with this soon.
      • Link topic favicons (the site logos) are now shown next to the site's name, instead of before the title.

      That should mostly cover it for now. Let me know if you have feedback or questions.

      And as usual, I've given every 10 invites, accessible on the invite page

      54 votes
    9. Some <details> about more <small> updates (you'll get that in a minute) and general Tildes feedback/questions/comments

      Similar to the last topic, I've got some more minor updates to let everyone know about. It's also been quite a while since we had a general feedback topic, so let's do that today as well—feel free...

      Similar to the last topic, I've got some more minor updates to let everyone know about.

      It's also been quite a while since we had a general feedback topic, so let's do that today as well—feel free to ask any questions or give feedback about Tildes overall.

      Here's what's been happening:

      1. @Algernon_Asimov's major reorganizing and rework of the Docs is now live on https://docs.tildes.net. A decent number of changes needed to be made to be able to support having the pages in categories/folders, dealing with some formatting changes, redirecting old urls, etc. Some of these changes have started being integrated back into the wiki on Tildes itself as well (and I'm still gradually working on it). For example, the pages in the ~tildes.official wiki are somewhat organized into the same folders, even though the UI doesn't handle it very well in a lot of places yet.

        If you want to help edit the Docs at all, all of the pages (except site policies) are available in the ~tildes.official wiki, and I'll review and transfer any edits to the Docs site. If you don't have access to edit the wiki, send me a message and ask and I can give you access to edit (and you can edit the other groups' wikis too).

      2. Some new HTML-exclusive formatting capabilities are available when writing posts:

        • <small>: lets you write a section of text in a smaller font. Good for "side notes" and such, and much better than using superscript, which some people were doing previously to get that effect.
        • <details> and <summary>: lets you make "expandable" blocks in your comments. This is useful if you want to do things like hide a large block of text or code and let people expand it if they want to read it. @hungariantoast used it immediately in his comment here, if you want to see an example. The current state of it isn't great for use for spoilers (but probably better than just writing them in plain sight), but I may make an adaptation of it specifically for use for spoilers.
      3. There's a new site theme available, "Zenburn". It's a fairly low-contrast, and used to be one of my favorite color schemes. I had to do some work on one of my old sites that was using it last weekend, and it reminded me how much I liked it, so I added it. Here's the official screenshot of the vim color scheme for it, if you want an idea of what colors it uses. You can change the theme on the settings page if you're logged in, or there's a dropdown at the bottom of every page if you're logged out.

      4. @deing has added a small warning to try to let people know when they're about to reply to an old comment or topic, since it seems fairly common for people to accidentally "necrobump" old threads without realizing. For now, the warning shows up when the topic/comment is over a week old. I set that threshold based on pulling out some stats and seeing that only 1% of comment replies and 2% of top-level comments were replying to anything that old, so it should be quite rare for anyone to see anyway.

      Other than that, I haven't forgotten about the new group proposals and should be adding some new ones this week. I wanted to finish some backend changes to the group system first to help with that, and it's... gotten more ugly than I was expecting. Sorry for the delay, hopefully soon though.

      Let me know if you have any thoughts about any of those changes, and as mentioned, feel free to use this topic for general feedback/questions as well, since I'm sure there are some things that people want to give feedback or ask about that might not feel like they're worth starting a thread in ~tildes for. As usual, I've also topped everyone back up to 10 invite codes, which you can get here.

      59 votes
    10. Recent updates - repost warning, topic-tagging improvements, group-specific search, markdown strikethrough formatting, wiki/docs updates

      There have been a number of updates over the last week or so, but I felt like none of them really warranted their own post individually: There's now a repost warning/confirmation if you try to...

      There have been a number of updates over the last week or so, but I felt like none of them really warranted their own post individually:

      • There's now a repost warning/confirmation if you try to submit a link that's been posted before. A list of the previous posts will be shown along with how old they are, and you have the option of re-posting anyway if you want to. Currently, this will warn you no matter how old the previous post(s) were and regardless of which group they were in, but I'll probably restrict it at some point.
      • A couple of improvements to topic tagging:
        • If two people happen to edit a topic's tags at the same time, there will be an error if there's an edit conflict, instead of just having the second person's changes overwrite like they did previously.
        • @deing added a check for people trying to add tags with invalid characters, and it will now show that the tag has an error before you try to submit.
      • You can now search inside a specific group by using the search box while inside that group. The search results page will have a note at the top saying that it's only searching inside that group, along with a link to search the whole site instead. If you search from the home page it will still be site-wide.
      • Writing strikethrough text in markdown now requires using two tildes on each side of the text: this text ~~has some~~ strikethrough. Previously, one tilde on each side of the text would work too, but there were some strange edge cases because of us using ~ when referring to groups as well. Requiring two tildes should be a lot less ambiguous. About 90% of posts with strikethrough were already using two anyway, but this change affected a small number of past posts (sometimes in a positive way by fixing accidental strikethrough). I'll send messages out today to anyone with posts that were affected, so that they can go edit and fix the formatting if they want to.
      • @Algernon_Asimov has been doing a massive rework of a lot of the official docs/help pages. They're currently all in the ~tildes.official wiki, but I need to work on moving them over to https://docs.tildes.net, which involves making some changes and updates to that site.

      That should about cover it for now, let me know if you have any questions or notice any issues with any of this (or anything else).

      63 votes
    11. Updates to "Activity" sorting method (the site's default)

      Since it launched, Tildes has always been using "Activity" as the site's default sorting method, which behaves like a classic forum—any new comment in any topic causes it to "bump" back to the top...

      Since it launched, Tildes has always been using "Activity" as the site's default sorting method, which behaves like a classic forum—any new comment in any topic causes it to "bump" back to the top of the list. This has generally worked well overall, and has been a good way to keep threads visible and active over longer periods.

      However, there have been a few issues related to it, such as controversial threads staying at the top of the site for long periods of time, and bickering back and forth between two users causing threads to constantly bump back up to the top even if nobody else is interacting with the topic at all. We haven't had great ways to deal with this so far, and have mostly had to work around it by setting the default time period to "last 3 days" so that threads can't dominate the site indefinitely, or even locking threads to force them to drop off.

      As an attempt at a better solution, "Activity" has now had its behavior changed so that topics will only bump to the top when something "interesting" happens, instead of for every single comment. The exact methods we're using to determine "interesting" will need experimentation and to be adjusted as we see how they work, but initially it's entirely based on comment labels:

      If a comment or any of its parent comments has an active Noise, Offtopic, or Malice label (note: it generally takes at least two users applying the label to make it "active"), the comment will not cause the thread to bump to the top. For example, this means that if a particular comment gets labeled as Offtopic, any replies "below" that comment will no longer bump the thread in the Activity sort. This will also apply retroactively, so if someone posts a new top-level comment, the thread will still initially bump to the top, but if that comment is then labeled as Noise, it will "un-bump" and return back to its previous location in the listing.

      Since this will give us a better way to prevent threads from staying at the top of the site forever, I've also now changed the default time period back to "all time".

      If you'd rather keep the previous behavior and continue having threads always bump to the top when a new comment is posted in them, you can use the new "All activity" sorting method instead. Logged-in users can set it as their default sorting across the site by changing to it on the home page and clicking "Set as default" to the right of the time period dropdown.

      Any feedback is welcome, but these are questions that I'm particularly interested in:

      • Are there cases where the label-based "uninteresting" judgment won't work well? Links to specific examples would be ideal, if possible.
      • What other methods could we use to judge a new comment as "uninteresting"?
      • Should we try triggering bumps from other non-comment events? For example, if a topic is getting voted up a lot, should it bump even if there isn't a new comment?

      As usual, I've also given everyone 10 invites again (and don't worry, I haven't forgotten about turning the visible comment votes back on either, and I'll do that this afternoon, along with posting a thread to discuss it).

      65 votes
    12. Comment vote counts are now visible again

      It's been just over a week since the experiment with hiding comment vote counts was started, so as promised I've turned it back off now, and votes are visible again. There was already a fair...

      It's been just over a week since the experiment with hiding comment vote counts was started, so as promised I've turned it back off now, and votes are visible again.

      There was already a fair amount of feedback posted in the original topics as well as random other threads over the week, but this can be the main place for "postmortem" feedback now.

      I won't bias the discussion in a particular direction by giving any of my own thoughts just yet, so let me know what you thought of it and whether you think we should consider making any similar changes more permanently.

      75 votes
    13. The number of votes on comments is no longer visible (for the next week)

      I want to try another experiment today, and unlike some other times when I've referred to something as an "experiment" and ended up just leaving it around forever, I'll set a specific time limit...

      I want to try another experiment today, and unlike some other times when I've referred to something as an "experiment" and ended up just leaving it around forever, I'll set a specific time limit on this one.

      For the next week, the number of votes on comments will be completely hidden. This applies to everyone and all comments, including your own. I'm not even cheating for myself with admin permissions, I can't see comment vote counts any more either (unless I look it up manually in the database, but I won't do that).

      There's no functional change: you can still vote and sorting will be affected exactly as before, but there's no way to see how many votes a particular comment has. Topic voting is staying unchanged, with the counts still visible.

      I know that some of you are going to hate this. I think that I'm probably going to hate this. But I want to try it, because I think visible vote counts have both positive and negative effects, and I want to try and sort through those a little. Tildes is still small enough right now that almost all threads can be fully read through easily, so the voting isn't really that significant, and this is a good time to try it.

      Here are the main things I'd like to think about, and want to hear from you about:

      • In what cases does not being able to see the votes make things more difficult for you? Are there particular threads that you feel like you need to see the vote counts? Why?
      • From a less functional perspective, when does not being able to see the counts feel better or worse?
      • Can you think of other ways that we could accomplish the positive aspects (ones that are lost by hiding the counts), without showing an actual vote count?

      Thanks, let me know what you think. Initial reactions/thoughts are good, but I'm also interested in your thoughts after a few days, once you've gotten a little more accustomed to it.

      (And as is pretty usual with "official" posts now, I'm using this as a good time to top everyone back up to 10 invites)

      128 votes
    14. A basic wiki system is now available for groups

      Friday afternoon just before an American long weekend probably isn't the best time for me to announce a major update, but oh well, I'm doing it anyway: There is now a basic wiki system available,...

      Friday afternoon just before an American long weekend probably isn't the best time for me to announce a major update, but oh well, I'm doing it anyway:

      There is now a basic wiki system available, with each group being able to have its own set of pages. I think this should help a lot for letting people collaborate on information through the site itself. @deing has been running an unofficial wiki (thanks!), but having it natively on the site should be much easier for people to find and help edit, so hopefully we can transfer over most or all of that content.

      As always, a number of aspects are pretty rough and I'm sure I'll keep tweaking it over the next little while as I see how it starts to be used, but it should be decent enough to get started with. Various things to know about it:

      • As of right now, permission to create and edit wiki pages must be granted manually. So if you'd like to get involved with editing wiki pages, please either comment here and say so or send me a message and I can give you permissions.
      • The editing history is being stored in git, which will give us a lot of neat functionality for "free". You don't need to know anything about git at all (or even know what it is)—it's all done internally, but it means that I can do things like sync the wiki pages to GitLab and take advantage of their existing interface to display changes, page histories, etc. instead of needing to duplicate all of those functions from scratch (which might be nice to do someday anyway, but it's neat to have them all already with this method).
      • Unlike other content you post to Tildes (such as your comments) which remain your own, contributions to the wiki will be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike, in order to allow others to edit, reproduce, and so on. This is explained prominently on the wiki editing pages, and I'll update the Terms of Use shortly to reflect this as well.
      • I'm going to duplicate all the pages from the Tildes Docs site into the ~tildes.official wiki. This will allow people to be able to contribute changes to the docs without needing to figure out all the pieces for making changes to that repo directly. It won't update automatically or anything (and I wouldn't want it to), but I'll review any changes made through the site wiki and move them onto the Docs site.

      I think that should cover the main points, but let me know if you have questions. Also, it's been a while, so I've topped everyone back up with 10 invites again. Thanks!

      89 votes
    15. Markdown preview is now available when writing topics/comments/etc.

      Continuing to work my way through (long overdue) merging of open-source contributions, today we've got another much-requested one that was implemented by @wirelyre: a preview function for...

      Continuing to work my way through (long overdue) merging of open-source contributions, today we've got another much-requested one that was implemented by @wirelyre: a preview function for markdown.

      Anywhere that you're writing markdown now (comments, topics, messages, user bio), there will be two "tabs" above the text field for "Edit" and "Preview". You can flip back and forth between them to see what the result of your markdown will be while you're writing, which should make it a lot easier to work on some of the tricky formatting like tables.

      Like so many other features, there are still a few little weird interface oddities with it, but I wanted to get it live on the site and will probably do a few more minor tweaks to it today. Let me know if you notice anything particularly strange or broken with it.

      And thanks again, @wirelyre!

      99 votes
    16. Autocomplete for topic tagging is now available

      This is something that's been requested and worked on for a very long time, and should help a lot with the consistency of tags that people use on topics. It's also another significant feature...

      This is something that's been requested and worked on for a very long time, and should help a lot with the consistency of tags that people use on topics. It's also another significant feature that's been added by an open-source contributor: Shane Moore (whose Tildes username I actually don't even know) has been working on this on and off since last July, and has put up with me being slow to review and requesting some major changes to it over that time.

      It applies to both the tagging field for new topics as well as the one for editing existing topics' tags, and the list of tags that show up for autocompletion are the 100 most commonly-used tags in each individual group (so the suggestions are different between ~tech and ~music and so on). This is just based on pure frequency at the moment (as in, the 100 tags that are on the most topics in that group), but in the future we could probably improve this to specifically include tags that have been getting used more recently, instead of looking at all time.

      The interface can probably still use some work, and it's likely that there are some bugs and other issues with it, but as I've said before, Tildes is supposed to be in alpha! I haven't been adding nearly enough frustrating issues or breaking things, and we're all getting complacent with having a site where most things work!

      Let me know what you think of it, and if you notice any issues. And thanks again for all the work and patience, Shane!

      69 votes
    17. Adjustments to the experimental single-reply-flattening & user-page sorting is now available

      We've had an experimental method of avoiding deeply nested comment threads in effect for a little over a week now, and while I think it's useful in some ways, it's definitely also pretty confusing...

      We've had an experimental method of avoiding deeply nested comment threads in effect for a little over a week now, and while I think it's useful in some ways, it's definitely also pretty confusing in some cases (as multiple people have pointed out to me).

      I've made two changes to it now that should help quite a bit:

      1. The flattening will now only happen when there won't be any "sibling" comments after the flattened thread.

        This is to avoid what seemed to be the most confusing case (it's a bit difficult to explain, but I'll try): Previously, you could have a thread where a comment has a few replies ("A", "B", "C"), and the first one has a string of single replies ("A2", "A3", "A4"). If the flattening applied, you would have all 6 comments displayed on the same level, in the order of A, A2, A3, A4, B, C. It was very difficult to tell where the "A subtree" ended and it went back to siblings of A—you had to look for where comments stopped having the "(Reply to above comment)" note on them.

        Some people suggested that we use a more obvious indicator of the flattened threads (which might still be a good idea), but this case should now be avoided entirely, which should reduce a lot of the potential confusion when threads are flattened. This also means that the flattening will apply in fewer cases overall, but it should still work for the most common and impactful case of a long string of single replies going back and forth.

      2. As mentioned in the original announcement, one of the nice parts of managing to do the flattening entirely in CSS means that it could easily start at higher thresholds on larger screens, so that threads aren't flattened as early on desktop/laptop-size screens as they are on mobile. I've applied this now, and it should now be very rare to see a flattened thread if you're using the site on a PC.

        If you want to see this in action, you can go to a thread where flattening would apply (the ~tildes.official thread about "source info" is still a good one), and try resizing your browser window to see how the flattening kicks in and adjusts at different sizes. If you're using Firefox, an easy way to try this out is to press Ctrl-Shift-M to go into responsive design mode, and you can easily resize the viewport or set it to specific sizes.

      Other than these changes to the flattening behavior, I've also merged in another open-source contribution that adds alternate sorting methods on the user page. These only appear when you're on the Topics or Comments listings (not the default "mixed" page), and allow you to sort by the other methods available, such as "most votes". Note that since those Topics/Comments pages are only available to logged-in users, viewers without a Tildes account won't be able to use these alternate sortings. Thanks for the work on this, JediBurrell (whose Tildes username I don't know either)!

      Let me know what you think of these changes and if you notice any issues with either of them.

      37 votes
    18. Experimenting with a way of avoiding deeply nested comment threads

      One of the difficulties with a nested/tree commenting system is finding a way to deal with threads that get very "deep", when people continue replying back and forth under the same threads. The...

      One of the difficulties with a nested/tree commenting system is finding a way to deal with threads that get very "deep", when people continue replying back and forth under the same threads. The deep threads end up getting indented very far, and this looks bad, can be hard to follow, and wastes a ton of space (especially on smaller screens like phones).

      I'm not a huge fan of any of the ways that I've seen other sites try to handle this, so I've been trying to figure out if there might be any other possibilities that would work well. I've noticed that in most of the cases where a thread gets very deep, a lot of the depth comes from back-and-forth replies, where there's only one comment on each "level". So I'm testing a method that will flatten those sections out and just put a note on each comment that it's a direct reply to the comment above it.

      Specifically, the current method (which is now live), works like this: if a comment is at least 4 levels deep and only has a single reply, don't indent the reply any further. Instead, keep the reply at the same indentation and add a note at the top of it indicating that it's a reply to the above comment.

      I managed to implement this entirely through CSS, by writing what's probably the worst best chunk of CSS (really, SASS) of my life, which I want to show off here. If you don't know CSS and can't read this, trust me, you're better off:

      .comment:not([data-comment-depth="0"]):not([data-comment-depth="1"]):not([data-comment-depth="2"]):not([data-comment-depth="3"]) {
        &[data-comment-replies="1"] {
          & > .comment-tree-replies {
            margin-left: -1px;  // compensate for border
      
            & > .comment-tree-item > .comment > .comment-itself {
              & > .comment-text::before,
              & > header > .is-comment-deleted::before,
              & > header > .is-comment-removed::before {
                content: "(Reply to above comment)";
                font-size: 0.6rem;
                font-style: italic;
                margin-right: 0.2rem;
              }
            }
          }
        }
      }
      

      One of the really interesting things about implementing this entirely in CSS is that we can easily change what level it happens at based on screen size. So I have it set to always start at depth >= 4 right now to help with testing and deciding whether it works well or not, but if we decide to keep it I could easily change the threshold to higher on desktop and keep it lower on smaller screens.

      As an example of how it works, the previous ~tildes.official thread works really well. @Amarok and @cfabbro had a long discussion about music metadata that went very deep. The thread ends up 16 levels deep, but this new change makes it so that it only indents by 5 levels instead of 16. Here's a comparison between how the end of the thread looks on my phone: before this change vs. after this change (yes, something's not quite right with the indentation lines yet).

      Let me know what you think. I'm mostly concerned that this might make it a little harder to follow long threads since the information from the indentation is lost, but I think we need to test it out in real threads for a while to see if that actually ends up being significant or just takes a bit of getting used to.

      76 votes
    19. Link topics can now display additional "source" info beyond the domain - currently enabled for YouTube and Twitter

      I've just deployed a small change that can show some additional info for some link topics, depending on which domain they link to. So far, it's only enabled for YouTube and Twitter links, where it...

      I've just deployed a small change that can show some additional info for some link topics, depending on which domain they link to. So far, it's only enabled for YouTube and Twitter links, where it will show the channel name and tweet author respectively. A good place to see this in action is on a search for "trailers".

      Currently, this info is only displayed in the topic listings, but we should be able to extend it elsewhere, as well as utilize it for searching/filtering (like "show me all topics that link to this YouTube channel").

      What other sites/domains would be good to apply this to? Links to reddit aren't particularly common, but it could probably work well there by showing the source subreddit, something like "reddit: /r/blog". What other sites are "platform-like" where additional info about the source/author is important instead of just the domain?

      47 votes
    20. Notifications are now automatically marked as read when you take an action on the comment (voting, replying, etc.) - this can be disabled in Settings

      This is a relatively minor update, but one I've been meaning to do for a long time. By default, comment notifications will now be automatically marked as read if you interact with the comment...

      This is a relatively minor update, but one I've been meaning to do for a long time. By default, comment notifications will now be automatically marked as read if you interact with the comment (currently, by: voting on it, replying to it, labelling it, or bookmarking it). This will happen regardless of where you take the interaction, so if you're viewing the thread itself and interact with comments that you also had notifications for, they will be marked read.

      When you're on the unread notifications page, even though actions are resulting in the comments being marked read, they won't disappear like they do if you click the "mark as read" button manually. This is so that you can take multiple actions if you want (such as voting and then replying). However, if you reload the page, they will disappear.

      If you don't like this behavior and would prefer to continue marking all comments as read manually, you can go to the Settings page and disable "Automatically mark notifications read when you interact with the source comment".

      I've bumped everyone back up to 10 invite codes as well, which you can get from the Invite page.

      55 votes
    21. User bios added: you can write a short bio that will be visible on your user page

      This is something that's been discussed a number of times (recent example), and has now been added by an open-source contribution by @what, who's contributed multiple significant features now,...

      This is something that's been discussed a number of times (recent example), and has now been added by an open-source contribution by @what, who's contributed multiple significant features now, thanks again!

      It's totally optional, but if you want to, you can now write a short bio for yourself through the "Edit your user bio" link at the bottom of the Settings page (by the way, I also added a link to the Settings page at the bottom of the home page's sidebar). The bio supports markdown the same as topics/comments, and is currently limited to 2000 characters (about 300 words). I'm not particularly attached to that limit, but it seemed like a reasonable starting point.

      If you write a bio, there will be an expandable "View <username>'s bio" block at the top of your user page okay, okay, I'm convinced that it belongs in the sidebar. You can see an (unimaginative) example on my user page. I'm not particularly attached to this method of displaying it either, so let me know if you think something else might be better.

      I don't know if we need particular guidelines for what's appropriate to put in a bio, but please be reasonable about what you use it for. A link to your site or accounts elsewhere is definitely fine, as long as it's not done in a spammy/misleading way, not too much different from posting on the site itself.

      Also, I've topped everyone back up to 10 invites again. As always, these are available on the invites page.

      85 votes
    22. Your chosen theme on Tildes now carries over to the Blog and Docs sites

      No functional changes, but the themes available on Tildes itself now transfer over to the Blog/Docs sites (previously those sites were always using the "Solarized Light" color scheme). It was a...

      No functional changes, but the themes available on Tildes itself now transfer over to the Blog/Docs sites (previously those sites were always using the "Solarized Light" color scheme). It was a little painful before if you were using a dark theme and clicking something like the "Formatting help" link took you to a bright page, so this should be a lot better.

      There's currently no way to select a theme from the other sites, just on Tildes itself, but it should carry over when you've selected one here (using the dropdown in the footer if you're logged out, or through the settings page if you're logged in).

      Please let me know if you come across any issues with it. It was pretty straightforward overall, but it did involve redoing a lot of the CSS and HTML for the Blog/Docs sites, so it's very possible that I messed some pages up and haven't noticed yet.

      49 votes
    23. Some small updates over the past week

      A decent number of smaller changes have been implemented over the past week, and while I don't think any of them individually were worth devoting a post to, I figured it would probably still be...

      A decent number of smaller changes have been implemented over the past week, and while I don't think any of them individually were worth devoting a post to, I figured it would probably still be good to let people know. If you're interested in following Tildes's development more directly, you can always keep an eye on the commits on GitLab (an RSS feed is available as well). I try to write good commit titles/descriptions, so anyone should be able to follow what's being changed without needing to be able to understand the actual code.

      Anyway, here are some recent updates:

      • Last week, I tried to add a "back to top" button on mobile and broke the site for a lot of people. I reverted it and haven't tried to re-implement it again, since it seemed like a lot of people didn't like it anyway. I'd be interested in hearing feedback about whether that's still something that many people want.
      • @what added a new dark theme called "Atom One Dark". It's pretty nice, give it a try if you like dark themes.
      • @wirelyre fixed the very first issue ever created on the Tildes repo. Markdown includes support for embedding images with a syntax almost exactly like a link, except with an exclamation point in front: ![image mouseover text](https://example.com/link-to-image.jpg). However, since Tildes doesn't allow people to embed images, anyone attempting this would end up with an escaped <img> tag inside their post. It's fixed now so that it just treats an attempt to embed an image as a link to the image instead.
      • As requested, I added the ability to "quick quote" when you're going to post a comment reply. If you select some text from a comment before clicking the "Reply" button, the reply form will start out with the selected text already quoted for you.
      • Subsequent quotes in comments are now merged by default. Previously, if you were quoting two or more paragraphs by putting > in front of them and you had a blank line in between them, you would end up with a separate quote block for each paragraph unless you also put a > on the blank line. This behavior was clearly unexpected most of the time and people ended up with longer quotes broken up into many quote blocks for no reason. I've now changed it so that it will automatically merge subsequent quote blocks into a larger one, but you can still force them to be separated by putting at least two blank lines between them (or other methods like using a horizontal rule between quotes). Info about this was added to the Text Formatting docs page.
      • For about the last month, we've been showing domain names for link topics and usernames for text topics in the listings, but some people (rightfully) pointed out that this isn't very good for groups like ~creative where it's important to be able to see who's posting a link. I've updated it now so that I can change this behavior on a per-group basis, and for now, both ~creative and ~music will always show the submitter's name, even on link topics.

      I've topped everyone back up to 10 invite codes again as well. With the site being publicly visible now, I know that some people are getting requests for invites and have been using them fairly often, so always just let me know if you need some more. You can get your invite links from here: https://tildes.net/invite

      Let me know if you have any feedback or notice any issues with any of the things I listed above (or anything else). Thanks as always, it's been nice to see the site's activity level moving up again lately.

      96 votes
    24. The long-awaited moment... Dracula theme added! Oh also, the site is publicly visible now (but let's not be too noisy about it yet).

      Alright, after repeatedly delaying it for various reasons, Tildes is now publicly visible. This means that people no longer need to get an invite to be able to browse the site. An invite is still...

      Alright, after repeatedly delaying it for various reasons, Tildes is now publicly visible. This means that people no longer need to get an invite to be able to browse the site. An invite is still required to register and participate though (and I'm intending to keep it that way for the foreseeable future).

      This should be a huge boon to the overall process—people will be able to check out the site before requesting an invite, which will save a lot of effort giving out "wasted" invites to people that just wanted to look and don't continue visiting afterwards. I want to talk more soon about making the process of getting an invite easier, but this should help a lot for now.

      Please don't try to bring a lot of attention to the public visibility just yet (you're welcome to tell friends or small groups though). I fully expect some people to notice it naturally, but I'd like to try to keep it a little quiet still over the weekend. There are still a few things that I'm working on, and I'd like to get a bit more done before we start promoting it too widely. Early next week I'll make a post on the Tildes blog announcing it, and then we can go all out with it.

      A couple of other notes about public visibility:

      • Logged-out users can select their theme - there's a dropdown box in the site footer for them to change it, but they'll have to set it individually on each device.
      • Logged-out users can only see the most recent 20 posts on user pages, they don't have access to the full pagination like logged-in users do. That was discussed a little in this thread. I don't know if it will stay this way permanently, but we can try it out for now.

      I've also topped everyone back up to 5 invite codes again. The public visibility may cause some of you to get requests from people for invites, so please let me know if you need more. You can access your invite links here: https://tildes.net/invite

      And as one other thing, I've also added the tirelessly-requested Dracula theme. This is the first time I've tried using the revamped theme system that @Bauke set up to add a completely new theme, so please let me know if you notice any oddities with it (or if you think I used the colors of it wrong or anything, I don't use Dracula personally).

      Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, feedback, etc. about the public visibility. This is a huge step in the site's progress, and I'm definitely both excited and terrified about it.

      222 votes
    25. You can now set a default theme for your account (and still override on individual devices if you want)

      This is another feature that's been requested a number of times, and was implemented as an open-source contribution by @Celeo. If you're not aware (since apparently a fair number of people haven't...

      This is another feature that's been requested a number of times, and was implemented as an open-source contribution by @Celeo.

      If you're not aware (since apparently a fair number of people haven't noticed them), there are currently 4 different color themes for the site that you can choose from on the settings page. Until now, this choice has always only applied to the specific device that you're on, and is stored in a cookie, so people that switch devices often or clear their cookies were a bit annoyed by needing to re-select their theme every time they log in.

      Now you can set a default theme for your account, so when you log into your account it will automatically change to that theme (but you can still override it if you want to use a different theme on that device). To do this, just change to the theme that you want to use as your default on the settings page, and a button to set as default should show up next to the dropdown. The behavior of it's still a little bit weird in some cases, so you may need to change the dropdown away and back if it's already set to the one you want to use.

      68 votes
    26. Experimenting with some changes to information that's displayed on topics, and some other tweaks

      I'm planning to test out various changes today and through the weekend, so I just wanted to put this thread out as a kinda-megathread for them. Functionality-wise, not much should be changing yet,...

      I'm planning to test out various changes today and through the weekend, so I just wanted to put this thread out as a kinda-megathread for them. Functionality-wise, not much should be changing yet, but I'm going to be playing around with moving some things, changing some information that's displayed, and so on. For an alpha, the site's been way too stable. We're way past due to try experimenting more.

      I'll try to keep a list updated in here of what I've changed. So far:

      • On listing pages, the domain for link topics is now shown in the "footer", to the right of the number of comments (replacing the submitter's username), instead of in parentheses after the title. This makes it so that the information about the source of the post is always in a consistent position.
      • Link topics pointing to articles now show the word count (when we have that data) after the title, similar to how text topics always have. This should work for most sites, but not always yet.
      • Links to YouTube videos now show the video duration after the title. (This should be possible to extend to other sites without too much work)
      • Added a data-topic-posted-by attr to topics in listings to support filtering/styling/etc. via CSS/extensions.
      • Reduced timestamp precision on topic listing pages to always only show one level (before it would say things like "2 hours, 23 minutes ago", now just "2 hours ago"). It still switches to a specific date after a week.

      Please let me know if you love or hate anything in particular, but try to give it a bit of a chance and not just your initial reaction (which tends to be disliking change).

      65 votes
    27. Your own "main" user page (both topics and comments) is now paginated - this will be extended to everyone soon, so last warning to do any history cleanup

      Things have been really quiet for the past few weeks. I've been pretty deep into server-admin-type work trying to get the site ready to be publicly visible, and while I have a decent understanding...

      Things have been really quiet for the past few weeks. I've been pretty deep into server-admin-type work trying to get the site ready to be publicly visible, and while I have a decent understanding of that side of things I'm definitely not an expert, so I've been doing a lot of reading and experimenting that hasn't really looked like much happening from the outside.

      I'm pretty happy with the state of everything now though, and I'm intending to make the site publicly visible (but still requiring an invite to register/participate) sometime next week. Part of that will be making some changes that have been overdue for a while, and catching up on merge requests and other things that have been getting backlogged while I've been in server-admin mode (and I apologize to all the people that have submitted those that I've been neglecting).

      So this change is one that I've said is coming for a long time: your "main" user page is now paginated, and you no longer need to select "Topics" or "Comments" to be able to look back through older posts. For the moment, this is still restricted to only your own page, but on Monday, I will be enabling pagination on all user pages. So this is the final warning that if there's anything in your history you'd like to edit or delete before people can easily look back through your history, you should do it in the next few days.

      I'm still considering whether to add any options for restricting the visibility of your user history, but I think it's really important to stress that anything like that will always be a false sense of privacy. I know for a fact that at least one person has already fully scraped all the comment threads on the site, and probably already has the ability to look through everyone's posting history if they want to (and they could easily make that data available to others). Once the site is publicly visible, scraping everything will be even more common, and it simply can't be prevented. If you post things, it will always be possible for someone to find them.

      That being said, one thing that I am considering is making it so that logged-out users won't have access to pagination on user pages (similar to how it is for everyone else's user pages right now). It's still a false sense of privacy, but it at least lowers the convenience a little and means that someone will have to get an invite to be able to dig through anyone's history easily (though there's still the possibility that someone scrapes all the data and makes it browseable/searchable on an external site). Anyone have any opinions on whether it's worth doing that, or should I just let everyone look through user pages, whether they're logged in or out?

      And since I haven't done it in a while, I've topped everyone up to 10 invites again, so please feel free to invite anyone else you want before we get into the public-visibility phase.

      Thanks - please let me know if you have any thoughts about user histories or if you notice any issues with paginating through your "mixed" history (since it was a bit weird to implement and I'm not 100% sure it's correct).

      80 votes
    28. Short links for topics and groups are now available via the tild.es domain

      This isn't a very exciting change, and probably won't even be particularly useful until the site is publicly-visible, but I've now set up the https://tild.es domain to handle shortened links to...

      This isn't a very exciting change, and probably won't even be particularly useful until the site is publicly-visible, but I've now set up the https://tild.es domain to handle shortened links to topics and groups.

      The short link for each topic is available at the top of its sidebar. For example, this topic's is: https://tild.es/9au
      It also supports linking to groups, like https://tild.es/~games (not actually being used anywhere on the site yet)

      I'll probably also add support for linking to comments and users eventually (maybe via tild.es/c/ and tild.es/u/ respectively?). Please let me know if you have any other ideas of what might be good to do with it, or if you notice any issues.

      54 votes
    29. Topics and comments can now be bookmarked (aka "saved")

      As mentioned last week, I've now deployed the bookmarking functionality that was primarily implemented as an open-source contribution by @what. There's not much to say about it, it should be...

      As mentioned last week, I've now deployed the bookmarking functionality that was primarily implemented as an open-source contribution by @what.

      There's not much to say about it, it should be pretty straightforward: there are "Bookmark" buttons on both comments and topics, and you can view your bookmarked posts through the Bookmarks page, which is linked through your user page's sidebar. I'm planning to add the ability to search your bookmarks eventually, but I don't think that'll be urgent for a while until people start building up a pretty large list of bookmarked items.

      Please let me know if you notice any issues with it, and thanks again to @what for the contribution!

      85 votes
    30. Your own user page now has paginated Topics and Comments views - let's talk about user history visibility

      When you're viewing your own user page, there are now two other "tabs" available, one for showing only topics that you've posted, and one for only comments. These pages are paginated, so you can...

      When you're viewing your own user page, there are now two other "tabs" available, one for showing only topics that you've posted, and one for only comments. These pages are paginated, so you can go back through your whole history of topics/comments. I also intend to make the "recent activity" view paginated as well, but that's a tiny bit more complicated, so I left it out for now.

      I plan to extend the tabs/pagination to all user pages some time next week, but as I previously promised, I wanted to give people at least a few days to be able to review their own posts and go back and see if there's anything they want to edit/delete before other users can more easily look through their posts.

      This leads into a discussion that I want to have about whether we should do anything special to hide user history.

      In general, I think that showing user history is good. It's valuable from an accountability perspective and it has a lot of legitimate benefits. If I run across a user that consistently makes good posts, it's nice to be able to look at their history and see some of the other comments they've made. Maybe (once the site is larger, anyway), I'll even learn about some new groups that I'm interested in by seeing where that user hangs out.

      However, there are also obvious downsides, and we're seeing some major demonstrations of this in the media lately (mostly applied to Twitter). I don't want to get into the individual cases, but there have been repeated instances of people digging up years-old tweets and using them as ways to attack people. The main problem with this is that a full history (especially when combined with search) makes it very easy to find things to shame people about, especially when they're pulled entirely out of context of how they were written in the first place.

      Tildes is still very new, but this is a real possibility as the site goes on. Do we want people to be able to easily dig up old comments a user made 5+ years ago? Do the potential downsides of that ability outweigh the benefits from being able to easily look back through a user's history?

      One other thing to keep in mind is that once the site is publicly visible (and especially once there's an API), there will be external databases of everyone's posts. We can make it more difficult/inconvenient for people to be able to search/review user history, but we can't make it impossible. There's just no way to do that with a site where your posts are public.

      Let me know your thoughts, it's a really difficult subject and one that I've been thinking about a lot myself as more and more of these "person in spotlight has embarrassing social media history" cases come up.

      79 votes
    31. Help/input wanted on a couple of updates

      Nothing very major has changed yet, but I'm working on adding a couple of open-source contributions to the site and could use some help and input related to them: Theme system rework First, I've...

      Nothing very major has changed yet, but I'm working on adding a couple of open-source contributions to the site and could use some help and input related to them:

      Theme system rework

      First, I've just deployed a rework of the "theme system" (for the display themes that you can select in your settings) that @Bauke has been brave enough to work on. As some of you know, the site originally only had two themes - Solarized Light and Solarized Dark. Because of this, the theme system was built around those themes and meant that the Solarized colors had to be used in all other themes as well. This is why, for example, the new default theme (with the white background) still uses Solarized colors for links/alerts/etc., even though the contrast and appearance of some of them isn't very good on white.

      This rework will allow every theme to have completely custom colors (as well as other possibilities), but the first stage was just deploying a refactor to convert the existing themes to this new system. If you've ever tried to refactor CSS, you know that it's not much fun and there are a lot of subtle things that can go wrong. So as of right now: nothing should look different yet, and if you notice any issues with colors or other appearance changes, please post here to let me know.

      This is mostly just to make sure that nothing's been messed up during the transition to the new system, and once it seems safe we can start making more interesting changes like adjusting colors, adding more themes that diverge from that Solarized base, and so on. But for now, we're just looking for issues in the existing themes to make sure everything survived the transition intact.

      Saving/bookmarking/favoriting/etc. terminology

      @what has also been working on a contribution that will add the ability to save/bookmark topics and comments. It's close to being ready to deploy, but I thought I'd ask for some input about what term to use for the function before it goes live, since it will be more hassle to change it afterwards if necessary.

      "Save" has the benefit of being short and also used on other sites like reddit, Facebook, and some others. I think it's slightly misleading though, because you're not really saving the post, just a link to it. If the author deletes it, you won't have it saved.

      "Bookmark" is probably more correct, and used by some sites including Twitter. However, it's longer and may be confusing to some people if they think it's related to browser bookmarks.

      Any preference on either of those, or are there other options (like "favorite") that might be best?

      57 votes
    32. Minor search update: topic tags are now included in search

      Not a very major update, but I figured it was worth letting everyone know: search has been expanded a bit to also cover topics' tags in addition to their title and markdown (for text topics). So...

      Not a very major update, but I figured it was worth letting everyone know: search has been expanded a bit to also cover topics' tags in addition to their title and markdown (for text topics). So if you search for a term that was only included in a topic's tags but not its title/text, it should come up in the results now.

      On that subject, are there any other pieces of data that you think should be included by default in search? In the future, I'd like to support searching certain parts of data deliberately (for example, maybe by writing a query like url:article to find only link topics with "article" in their url), but that's different from including it automatically in all searches. As a specific example, if you search for "youtube.com" or even "youtube", should all link topics from YouTube come up, or only topics that have the word "youtube" somewhere in their title/text/tags?

      47 votes
    33. Comment tags have been re-enabled to experiment with, input wanted on plans

      This has been a long time coming, but the comment tags have now been re-enabled. I want to treat this as experimental, and potentially make a number of changes to them quickly based on seeing how...

      This has been a long time coming, but the comment tags have now been re-enabled. I want to treat this as experimental, and potentially make a number of changes to them quickly based on seeing how they get used. A few notes about how they're set up now and what I'm planning to do with them, followed by some questions that I'd like input on:

      • The main change I want to experiment with is turning the comment tags (mostly) into a system where they're invisible, but cause effects. That is, instead of having the actual tags show up on each comment like they were before, they'll now be something that's "in the background", but can have different effects on comments that get tagged.
      • Currently, tags will only have an effect if multiple users apply the tag. This may change eventually if we start granting more weight to certain users that have a consistent history of tagging, but for now it means that a single user tagging a comment won't do anything unless other user(s) also apply the same tag.
      • As of the time I'm making this post, you can apply tags, but they don't have any effects yet. This will change very soon (probably even later today), but I wanted to get input on potential effects and get a baseline idea of how they start getting used before I turned any effects on.
      • Currently, anyone whose account is at least 7 days old will have access to comment tagging. This is to try to make sure that people have at least a bit of experience on the site before they start using the tags.

      Now, questions that I want input on:

      • What effects do you think might work well for the different tags? I don't want to bias the ideas by explaining a bunch of my own ones up-front, but an example of the sort of things that I'm thinking about is making it more difficult to reply to comments tagged "troll", such as by requiring the user to click through a dialog box like "Other users have tagged this comment as a possible troll, are you sure you want to reply to it and feed the troll?"
      • Is the current set of tags (joke, noise, offtopic, troll, flame) reasonable, or should we consider adding or removing some of them?
      • Now that the comment tags aren't being shown, should we consider changing them to more detailed descriptions? It was somewhat important to have shorter, "snappier" names for them before to keep them compact, but if they're not going to be shown often that may not be necessary at all. For example, "noise" could be changed to something more like "doesn't contribute to discussion".

      Let me know what you think—the comment tags are definitely one of the important aspects of the site, so I'm excited to start experimenting with them again and am confident that we can figure out a system for them that will work really well and help encourage quality discussions.

      102 votes
    34. Many updates to The Feature Formerly Known as Comment Tagging

      A couple of weeks ago, I re-enabled the comment tagging feature. Since then, I've been keeping an eye on how it's being used, reading all the feedback people have posted, and have made a few other...

      A couple of weeks ago, I re-enabled the comment tagging feature. Since then, I've been keeping an eye on how it's being used, reading all the feedback people have posted, and have made a few other small adjustments in the meantime. Today, I'm implementing quite a few more significant changes to it.

      First, to try to head off some confusion: if you're very new to Tildes, you won't have access to this feature yet. Currently, only accounts that are at least a week old can use it. Also, the docs haven't been updated yet, but I'll do that later today.

      Here's what's changed:

      • The name has changed from "tag" to "label". I think it's better to use a different term to separate it more easily from topic tags since the features are very different, and "label" shouldn't have the implications that some people attach with "tagging".

      • As suggested by @patience_limited, "Troll" and "Flame" have now been replaced with a single label named "Malice". I don't think the distinction was important in most cases, and the meanings of them were a bit ambiguous, especially with how much the word "troll" has become over-used lately.

        Basically, you should label a comment as Malice if you think it's inappropriate for Tildes for some reason - whether the poster is being an asshole, trolling, spamming, etc.

      • This new Malice label requires entering a reason when you apply it. The reason you enter is only visible to me.

      • Another new label named "Exemplary" has been added, which is the first clearly positive one. This label is intended for people to use on comments that they think are exceptionally good, and it effectively acts as a multiplier to the votes on that comment (and the multiplier increases if more people label the comment Exemplary). Like Malice, it requires entering a reason for why you consider that comment exemplary, but the reason is visible (anonymously) to the author of the comment.

        Currently, you can only use this label once every 8 hours - don't randomly use it as a test, or you won't be able to use it again for 8 hours.

      The interface for some of these changes is a bit janky still and will probably be updated/adjusted before long, but it should be good enough to start trying them out. And as always, beyond the interface, almost everything else is subject to change as well, depending on feedback/usage. Let me know what you think—comment labels have a lot of potential, so it's important to figure out how to make them work well.

      105 votes
    35. Syntax highlighting for the coders, invites for everyone

      Another open-source contribution has now been implemented - @Soptik wrote the code to add support for syntax highlighting, which should be great for topics like the programming challenges in...

      Another open-source contribution has now been implemented - @Soptik wrote the code to add support for syntax highlighting, which should be great for topics like the programming challenges in ~comp.

      I'll update the formatting documentation to include info about it shortly, but it's straightforward to use. You have to use a "fenced code block", which usually means that you put 3 backticks above and below the code, and include the name of the language after the 3 backticks above it. So for example, markdown like this:

      ```python
      def word_count(string: str) -> int:
          """Count the number of words in the string."""
          return len(WORD_REGEX.findall(string))
      ```
      

      will render as:

      def word_count(string: str) -> int:
          """Count the number of words in the string."""
          return len(WORD_REGEX.findall(string))
      

      This is being done by the "Pygments" library, which supports a lot of languages: http://pygments.org/docs/lexers/

      And completely unrelated to that, it's been a while since I gave everyone some invite codes, so I've topped everyone back up to 5 (and as always, feel free to let me know if you need more). You can access them on this page: https://tildes.net/invite

      That's all for now, thanks everyone (and @Soptik in particular). There should also be more changes coming before too long, I've been working on some major updates to the comment-tagging system and hopefully should be able to implement those soon.

      78 votes
    36. Comment tags now affect sorting, more changes coming

      After re-enabling comment tags a little over a week ago and starting to experiment with some effects, I'm going to be adding some more and continuing to adjust as I keep an eye on how they're...

      After re-enabling comment tags a little over a week ago and starting to experiment with some effects, I'm going to be adding some more and continuing to adjust as I keep an eye on how they're being used so far.

      I've just deployed an update that changes the default comment sorting method to one named "relevance" (subject to change, suggestions welcome). This mostly acts like the previous default of "most votes", but also takes into account whether comments have been tagged as certain types. As with the other tagging effects so far, these effects will probably be adjusted or may even be completely changed as we see how they work in practice, but for now:

      • If multiple users tag a comment as "noise" or "off-topic", it will be sorted below comments without those tags. That is, comments that are not noise or off-topic will be prioritized above off-topic ones, and off-topic will be above noise.
      • In addition, comments tagged as "joke" will act as though their vote count is halved. This will just help with de-emphasizing joke comments a bit for now, but I definitely still plan to have filtering/collapsing behavior attached to them eventually
      • The "troll" and "flame" tags still don't have any inherent functionality yet, but I've been using them a little like a reporting function in the background so far, so those tags are helpful to me for pointing out comments that may need attention.

      Let me know what you think of these changes or if you notice anywhere that they seem to be working poorly. There should be more updates and changes to the comment-tagging system coming this week as well, based on suggestions and observations so far.

      73 votes
    37. Starting to experiment a little with using data scraped from the destination of link topics

      This is very minor so far, but I think it's good to have a topic devoted to it so that people have somewhere to discuss it, instead of having it come up randomly in topics that it applies to. I've...

      This is very minor so far, but I think it's good to have a topic devoted to it so that people have somewhere to discuss it, instead of having it come up randomly in topics that it applies to.

      I've recently started scraping some data about the destination of link topics using Embedly's "Extract" API (Embedly was kind enough to give me a reasonable amount of free usage since Tildes is a non-profit). You can put in the url of an article/video/etc. on that page to get an idea of what sort of data I can get from it, if you'd like to see for yourself.

      I've only just started tinkering with it, and so far the data is only being used in two small ways:

      1. Tweets now display the entire text of the tweet on the topic listing page, similar to the "excerpt" from text topics. You can see an example here.

      2. On topic listings, the date that an article was published will be shown (after the domain name) if the publication date was at least 3 days before it was submitted. There are a few examples in the recent posts in ~misc

        I'll probably adjust this threshold, but I'd like it to be an amount of time where the age of the content might feel "significant". It would also be possible to just show this info all the time, but I think the topic listings are already fairly cluttered so it's probably best to hide it when it's not interesting/significant.

      As I said, these are very tiny changes so far, but there are lots of other possibilities that I hope to start using before long. I've mentioned this before, but something I'd really like to do overall is try to bring in more data about the links where it's possible to be able to show things like the lengths of videos and so on.

      Let me know if you have any thoughts about it or notice any issues, thanks.

      57 votes
    38. If you have the "mark new comments" feature enabled, old comments will now be collapsed when returning to a thread

      The "mark new comments" feature (which isn't enabled by default) has two main functions: From the listing pages, it shows which topics have new comments (and how many) On the comments page, it...

      The "mark new comments" feature (which isn't enabled by default) has two main functions:

      • From the listing pages, it shows which topics have new comments (and how many)
      • On the comments page, it puts an orange stripe down the left side of the new comments

      These are both extremely useful (and you should probably enable it if you don't already have it on), but it was still a bit hard to find the new comments in larger threads, even with them marked. You had to just scroll around and look for the orange stripes.

      I've deployed a new update now that makes it so that when you go back to a thread that has new comments, all the old comments will be collapsed, except for the direct parents of the new ones. I've also updated the appearance of collapsed comments so that you can see the first part of the text of the collapsed comments.

      No behavior will change if you're not using the "mark new comments" feature, and if visit a thread for the first time or go back to a thread with no new comments, all comments will be expanded as normal. Remember that you can also use the new "expand all comments" button added last week to quickly uncollapse all comments if you want to.

      Edit: And if you really don't like it, you can disable it now with the second checkbox at the bottom of the settings page: https://tildes.net/settings/comment_visits

      Let me know what you think, and if you notice any issues. This should make navigating large threads a lot easier, and there are also some other interesting possibilities with the "individually collapsed" comments that I'm going to be working on soon. One thing I definitely want to do is add an indication of how many comments are in a particular collapsed chain, since right now you can't distinguish a single collapsed comment from one with (potentially many) replies.

      81 votes
    39. Added buttons to collapse all reply comments and expand all comments

      Another open-source contribution, this time from Jeff Kayser. There are now two buttons at the top of the comments section, next to the header that says "X comments". The minus button will...

      Another open-source contribution, this time from Jeff Kayser.

      There are now two buttons at the top of the comments section, next to the header that says "X comments". The minus button will collapse all the reply comments, leaving only the top-level comments expanded, and the plus button will uncollapse any comments that have been collapsed.

      This lets you browse the comments in kind of the "opposite" way of normal—instead of collapsing the conversations you don't want to read, you start out with only the top-level comments visible, and can un-collapse responses if you want to read more.

      There will probably be some more work done along these lines in the future. A user setting would probably be nice so that reply comments are always collapsed by default, if that's what you prefer. And I'd also like to see the collapsed comments say how many comments there are in that chain, since right now there's not really any way to tell how large of a discussion you might be un-collapsing.

      60 votes
    40. Extremely basic search added

      Okay, okay. We really needed some sort of search, so I decided to just get an extremely basic version out today. It's very limited, but it should work for now and can be improved as we go forward....

      Okay, okay. We really needed some sort of search, so I decided to just get an extremely basic version out today. It's very limited, but it should work for now and can be improved as we go forward.

      Details/limitations:

      • Currently, the search only includes the title and the text of the post (if it's a text topic). It doesn't include the tags, the group, the link, the author name, comments, anything. Only the title and text right now.
      • There's no way to restrict the search to specific group(s) yet. Just full-site search.
      • All searches are "all of these words". There's no phrase-searching yet, or "X or Y", or anything else.
      • The search results page is just a quick hack on the normal topic listing page and will probably display some things weirdly in some cases (like the message when there's no results).

      It's a start though, and certainly better than not having any search at all. There will probably be a lot of minor issues, but let me know if you notice anything especially broken with it.

      118 votes
    41. Users can now be (manually) granted permissions to re-tag topics, move them between groups, and edit titles

      It's a bit late tonight (for those of us in North America, anyway) so I'm not sure how much attention this will get today or how many people I'll start granting permissions to yet, but it's now...

      It's a bit late tonight (for those of us in North America, anyway) so I'm not sure how much attention this will get today or how many people I'll start granting permissions to yet, but it's now possible for people-who-are-not-me to start helping with some moderation-like tasks.

      As of right now, these abilities are restricted to (and I can grant each individually):

      • Changing the tags on topics
      • Moving topics between groups
      • Editing topic titles (I may not actually give anyone this permission yet)

      All these actions will be logged publicly, and if any of them are taken, they'll display in the topic's sidebar, in the "Topic log" (which you have to click to expand, and will only show up at all if anything's been done). I've changed the tags on this post so that you can see an example here.

      For the immediate future, these permissions will be getting granted manually, will apply site-wide (not to specific groups), and will probably only be given to people that specifically express interest in helping with these tasks. I've written about grand, vague plans for a "trust"-based system that will hopefully help with doing this automatically in the future, but for now we'll have a more rudimentary trust system. Here's how it works:

      1. I trust you, and give you access to more powerful tools.
      2. If you abuse it, I take the tools away, and don't trust you any more.

      It's not very sophisticated, but I think it should do the trick for a while.

      So if you're interested in helping keep things organized, please let me know (post here or send me a message if you prefer). I'd probably prefer if you had at least some history of submitting well-tagged/titled topics to appropriate groups, but it's not necessarily required.

      Edit: I would prefer that you have at least been around on the site for at least a week or two though. This is mostly important because the tasks are mainly organizational, so I think it's best if you've had some time to get accustomed to what's "typical" on Tildes for tags, which types of posts go in which groups, and so on.

      109 votes
    42. Two-factor authentication is now available

      Another excellent open-source contribution has been deployed today - @oden has added two-factor authentication support (via TOTP apps like Google Authenticator). Here's the code, if anyone wants...

      Another excellent open-source contribution has been deployed today - @oden has added two-factor authentication support (via TOTP apps like Google Authenticator). Here's the code, if anyone wants to take a look.

      If you want to set it up for your account, the link is available on the settings page. If you do, please please please write down or store the backup codes that it gives you after you enable it. If your phone dies or you otherwise lose access to your 2FA device, you won't be able to recover access to your Tildes account.

      On that note, I wanted to ask for input about whether I should be willing to bypass 2FA for people if they've set up the email-based account recovery. People will lose access to their 2FA device and not have the backup codes, and I don't know if just telling them that I can't help them is truly the best thing to do. Allowing it to be bypassed does lower the security, but sometimes it's a reasonable trade-off. One possibility is adding a security option that people could enable for maximum security, like "Do not bypass 2FA for me under any circumstance, I promise that I've kept my backup codes".

      Let me know what you think about that, as well as if you have any concerns or notice any issues with the feature. Thanks again, @oden!

      74 votes
    43. Markdown for strikethrough and tables is now enabled

      Previously, the only way to do strikethrough or tables on Tildes was by using HTML. I've updated the markdown parser now so that it supports the methods of doing them through markdown. The...

      Previously, the only way to do strikethrough or tables on Tildes was by using HTML. I've updated the markdown parser now so that it supports the methods of doing them through markdown. The Formatting help page on the docs has been updated as well with info about how they work.

      I don't think there should be any conflicts between strikethrough and linking to groups, but it's possible that there are some weird edge cases, so please let me know if you notice anything. Generally, strikethrough requires you to have two tildes both before and after the text you want to strike out, whereas group links will only have one before. So something like This ~~should work~~ doesn't work will result in should work instead of a link to a group named ~should.

      69 votes
    44. The unread notifications page now has a "Mark all read" button

      There are a few updates coming in today, and I'm going to make separate posts for each of them. This is the first one, added by James Southern (I don't know if he wants his Tildes account named)...

      There are a few updates coming in today, and I'm going to make separate posts for each of them. This is the first one, added by James Southern (I don't know if he wants his Tildes account named) as an open-source contribution:

      Your unread notifications page now has a "Mark all read" button at the top, just to the right of the title. Clicking it will mark all notifications on the page as read so that you don't need to do them each individually.

      It works in a way that makes sure that it only marks ones that are on the page, and won't affect any new ones that came in after the page was loaded. If you have the "Automatically mark all notifications read when you view the Unread Notifications page" setting enabled, it won't show up (because you don't need it).

      Please post with any feedback or issues you notice with it. Thanks, James!

      41 votes