What are some of the smaller communities that you enjoy?
The question is rather straightforward. Even though I said smaller, size doesn't really matter for this - the focus is more on the community aspect rather than it being small. Here's my non-exhaustive list (in no particular order):
- Tildes - This is unsurprising. It's definitely large for a "small" community, but it's managed to preserve it's culture very well, which is rather impressive. It's cozy and has high quality discussion.
- Various Discord servers and IRC channels. This one is harder to pinpoint, to be honest. As far as IRC channels/Discord servers goes, some of the more niche gaming ones are probably some of the nicest environments. IRC-wise, I really haven't managed to find any particularly active ones, outside of the ones for the next list member...
- tilde.town and probably the larger tildeverse. Not affiliated with Tildes, but generally just... a nice place to be. It's rather quiet a lot of the time, but their main IRC channel is, frankly, quite great. When it's active.
- A lot of Mastodon instances, although of course not all. The fediverse is generally a nice place to be, although politics on there is kind of mushy and one sided. Genuine interactions on there, however, are extremely common and sorting by the global timeline is quite nice (most of the time.)
- rateyourmusic is a nice community of those who are passionate about music. It's quite nice overall, though.
There's definitely a lot I've missed out, mainly because I probably don't know about them.
So, what are some of the smaller (or not) communities that you enjoy?
Private Trackers. While the best ones are known as exclusive and elitist dens of piracy, they have some of the most knowledgeable communities and an ethos based on "sharing is caring".
I've never got into a private tracker (or applied, to be fair) - doesn't the fact that they remain private kind of go against the ethos of "sharing is caring"?
Not at all. The barriers to entry are designed to weed out casual low-effort users (99.9% of public tracker users), encourage super-contributors to participate, and avoid any complications from authorities by keeping a low profile. Essentially they don't want complete dead weight since the best releases will eventually leak. The top tier has been mildly successful at creating niche communities (there are still plenty of leeches hanging around though, c'est la vie).
That makes sense. I've always found the application process kinda scary though - so, is it?
Generally trackers that offer application/interview sign-ups are looking for people who are willing to take the time to learn the rules and standards of their communities. Someone who demonstrates genuine interest in their niche is generally always welcomed (e.g. for a certain anime tracker: don't say your favorite anime are South Park and Family Guy). The application checkers and interviewers (usually community volunteers) are looking for the bare minimum technical knowledge (how do you seed in a torrent client, why are lossy to lossy transcodes bad, etc) and whether the applicant has experience on a private tracker (don't hit and run, understand the ratio economy, etc).
I enjoy Metafilter. It's a community blog that's been active for 20 years, you pay $5 for an account. The big draw for me is that the moderators are paid a fair wage and that's something I wanted to support just... ideologically. I am not super involved in the community there, honestly, but a lot of the more interesting things I find on the internet I find because of Metafilter.
Most of the other forums I like spending time in are forums around specialist interests, like accordions or game development (even sometimes particular frameworks). It's not particularly "deep", but it is nice to find a common thing to form a community around.
Aah, I got an invite there (but haven't really been on it much)
It's definitely a great little place :) I really like the ideas of hats (which would be great on tildes). Their transparency is also brilliant :))
I never quite understood how to use Mastodon. It just seemed like twitter with spam and worse search functionality.
Yeah, the search isn't the greatest. The big sell(s?) on Mastodon is it's federation, which kind of makes it like email, as you have handle@domain. It's got some neat-ish features - like content warning, but it is extremely similar to twitter. I think I have a comment about Mastodon already - I'll dig it up.
Edit: all I had to do was ctrl+f mastodon. Here it is, below :))
Mastodon is a federated alternative to Twitter. That means many sites host Mastodon instances - for different topics. Federation means you can communicate to anyone on any instance. However, I genuinely think the better part is the community at large. Mastodon is just perfect for having conversations with random people. It's also got a gorgeous UI - think Tweetdeck. And it's FOSS.
Try this instance picker to find one that suits your needs.
I've given up on Meetup.com, since they've made so many changes to the service/platform in the past 2-3 years that I disapprove of. But in the past, many of my best communities came thru them ... movie groups, discussion groups, foreign language study groups, a yoga group, etc. I met at least one girlfriend thru it, too.
Any online service that facilitates face-to-face get-togethers is worth exploring ... and I'd love to hear recommendations for less commercialized (ideally, FOSS) alternatives to Meetup.
Where do you live? Meetup.com still fulfills that role for me in Belgium (and in fact I've met my current girlfriend through one of my board game meetups). I avoid the larger meetups or anything that feels too commercial, but even those can be fun once in a while.
I hear couchsurfing has an events system and can fulfill that role as well.
You might be in luck, I found this recently-ish.
It's not released yet, but might be something to keep a tag on. :))
I've met some neat people through neocities.