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    1. 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.

      71 votes
    2. 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).

      61 votes
    3. 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)

      129 votes
    4. It's a long weekend in Canada and I'm going to be quite busy, so this is going to be the last daily discussion until Monday. Because of that, I figured I'd pick one of the more interesting topics....

      It's a long weekend in Canada and I'm going to be quite busy, so this is going to be the last daily discussion until Monday. Because of that, I figured I'd pick one of the more interesting topics. This isn't necessarily something that will be implemented particularly soon, but it should be good to discuss anyway:

      Should we support the ability for users to make some posts anonymously?

      General notes/thoughts:

      • If the site itself doesn't support it, people will just create throwaway accounts and effectively post anonymously anyway. This is worse in some ways (causes a lot of abandoned accounts and wasted usernames) and especially doesn't work well while the site is invite-only, since people have to use one of their invites to create a throwaway.
      • The user making the posts would still be tracked internally, so anonymous posting wouldn't be free of potential consequences. This association would probably be removed after 30 days, like most other private/sensitive data.
      • There would be some sort of anonymous identifier that would change on a per-thread basis, so that multiple posts from the same anonymous user can be recognized.
      • Once we start working towards a trust/reputation system, having the anonymous posts be linked to the user's real account would probably have a number of benefits.

      Let me know what you think about the idea in general, and what concerns you think we'll need to be careful about if we decide to implement it.

      One other, unrelated thing as well: it's been a while since we gave out invite codes, so I've topped everyone up to 5 invite codes. You can get to them here (linked in your userpage sidebar): https://tildes.net/invite

      98 votes
    5. 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!

      90 votes
    6. 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
    7. alyaza is unbanned

      A couple of days ago, I loudly banned alyaza. After investigating it more, I no longer believe that DearDeer was their alt account, so everything I accused them of doing in that post was not true,...

      A couple of days ago, I loudly banned alyaza. After investigating it more, I no longer believe that DearDeer was their alt account, so everything I accused them of doing in that post was not true, and they've been unbanned.

      There are a lot of justifications and excuses I could give for why I got it wrong, but in the end it doesn't really matter. I made a somewhat-rushed decision, but I was confident about it at the time. Yesterday I spent more time looking into it, including following the invite chain and managing to get in contact with the person that sent the invite that DearDeer used to register. Between talking with that person (who was remarkably helpful) and some other info, I found more evidence that DearDeer wasn't alyaza than I had used to originally decide that it was, and realized that I was wrong.

      This is a good example of why I don't like publicizing bans. Without me making that post about it, I'm sure this still would have been noticed by some people, but it could have been a relatively quiet temporary ban that lasted for about a day while it got sorted out. Instead, it ends up as a multi-day unnecessary spectacle. I'm not bothered by the effect on me because of that—I screwed up and deserve the embarrassment and criticism that comes from it, and I fully accept that. But it was unfair and cruel to alyaza to be falsely accused of things publicly, and that can't be reversed.

      Decisions like this (and moderation in general) are often judgment calls that have to be made quickly and with incomplete information. Sometimes, like in this case, you make the wrong call, and more time, information, or an appeal leads you to reverse it. There can be value in having that happen in public, but there can also be harm, and I think this case absolutely leaned more towards the harmful end.

      Anyway, I'll leave the comments open this time so that you can berate me appropriately. Please avoid commenting on alyaza personally though—I've already done enough damage and we don't need to continue that.

      89 votes
    8. I generally haven't been making public posts about bans any more (there have been almost none recently anyway), but I'm sure there will be people wondering about this one since they were a very...

      I generally haven't been making public posts about bans any more (there have been almost none recently anyway), but I'm sure there will be people wondering about this one since they were a very prolific poster.

      I've banned alyaza. Whether it's temporary or permanent depends on how they justify it to me, but I told them that it would last for at least a week regardless. I've previously warned alyaza about their behavior multiple times (both publicly and privately), and they were aware that they were on their last chance to stop being so hostile when disagreeing with others. Today they registered a new account (DearDeer, which is also banned now) and started immediately using it in disingenuous ways, including arguing with the same comments from both accounts. I'm not sure if the intention was to circumvent that final warning instead of changing behavior, but it absolutely wasn't being used for good-faith purposes regardless.

      I'm going to lock this thread immediately since it's really not worth fostering drama or dwelling on it with a big public discussion, but I wanted to post an explanation at least. If you have any questions or thoughts about it, please feel free to send me a message instead.

      56 votes
    9. 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!

      71 votes
    10. 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
    11. 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.

      77 votes
    12. 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
    13. 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.

      56 votes
    14. 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.

      87 votes
    15. 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
    16. 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.

      97 votes
    17. 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.

      221 votes
    18. Alright, unfortunately I'm going to have to be a grumpy old guy, but it looks like we're going to need to make this decision already. There have been a few "cute animal" images posted over the...

      Alright, unfortunately I'm going to have to be a grumpy old guy, but it looks like we're going to need to make this decision already. There have been a few "cute animal" images posted over the last couple of days, and yesterday we had a request for a devoted group for it.

      So today, I think we need to decide if we want a devoted group, or if we should just disallow this type of content entirely. My personal inclination is that it shouldn't be allowed at all, but I'm open to discussing it. Unfortunately I need to go out for a while shortly so I can't write up too much right now, but here are some quick thoughts on why I feel like we shouldn't allow it:

      • One of the main objectives of Tildes was to prioritize high-quality content. By the very nature of this, it means we're going to have to take a stand against some things that don't represent what we want the site to become.
      • Cute animal content is pretty much the definition of "lowest common denominator". Almost everybody enjoys seeing a cute photo/gif, and that's why it tends to dominate almost every platform it's on. It appeals to a very wide range of people, so it attracts more votes/attention. This is also why we can't really trust "a lot of people want fluff content"—of course they do. We need to make the decision based on whether allowing it is good for Tildes overall, not whether it has wide appeal.
      • It has practically zero discussion value. About the only comments people can make on those sorts of posts are "aww cute", or "lol, goofy dog". Yes, there's a very, very slim possibility that you might get something like "this type of bird has an interesting migration pattern", but if that's the case, a better original post would have been that information in the first place.
      • Being harsh about what we want to allow is probably most important while the site is in this sort of small/invite-only phase. One of the main important aspects of this phase is that we need to build up a strong base culture. That way, when the site starts to grow, people will be coming into a place with an established culture and norms, not a complete free-for-all. So if we want to have a high-quality site, I think it's important to establish that very early.
      • If we're not certain what the right answer is, it's much better to disallow it now and eventually relent later, than to allow it now and have to ban established communities in the future.

      Let me know what you think, but I think it's important that we decide this very soon so we can be more clear about how we're going forward with this and similar types of content.

      147 votes
    19. 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.

      69 votes
    20. 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).

      67 votes
    21. 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).

      82 votes
    22. It's been a while since we had a topic to generally discuss potential site mechanics, and this is one that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately, so I thought it could make a good...

      It's been a while since we had a topic to generally discuss potential site mechanics, and this is one that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately, so I thought it could make a good discussion.

      This recent "Suggestions regarding Clickbait and misinformation" topic originally started me thinking about this, because a lot of the potential ways of dealing with those kind of topics involve modifying link topics in some way—changing their link to point somewhere else, editing the title, adding additional links, etc. However, one thing I've noticed on the (rare) occasions where I've performed those kind of actions is that some people are extremely protective of the posts they submitted, and can get upset about even minor title edits because it's changing their post. Some users have deleted their posts after they were changed, because they didn't like the change.

      So... what if we made it so that link topics don't really "belong" to any user in particular? We'd absolutely still want a record of who originally submitted the post to be able to notice behaviors like spamming certain domains, but other than that, if it's a good link/story, does it matter much which user submitted it?

      Here are more unorganized, general thoughts about some of the things this might affect and would need to be considered:

      • Text posts would remain as-is, since in that case the submitter is also the author/source of the post.
      • On that note, it could be a bit weird to lose the connection in cases like a user submitting their own content (such as a blog post that they wrote). Maybe we'd need some way to indicate that, through a standardized tag or something (or even a checkbox when submitting)?
      • Are there other cases where the submitter is important and associated with the content?
      • We could use the space in topic listings where the submitter's username is currently displayed to show different, more relevant data instead. For example, maybe the domain could move into that space instead of being after the title in parentheses, or it could display other info like the name of the actual author of the linked content, the channel name for YouTube videos, etc.
      • If the submitter no longer owns the post, they'd probably no longer have control of deleting it. When could that be an issue?
      • How would this affect user pages? Should links that the user originally submitted still be visible there, even if they're no longer considered posts that the user "owns"?

      Please let me know any thoughts on the overall idea, any of the above questions, and also feel free to point out other aspects of it that I've surely missed.

      (And unrelated, but I've bumped everyone back up to having 5 invite codes available, which you can get from the invite page. I'm still working towards making the site publicly-visible fairly soon, and will hopefully post more info about that before long.)

      80 votes
    23. 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.

      56 votes
    24. Welcome to Tildes!

      Welcome to the alpha version of Tildes! If you haven't read it yet, please start with the announcement post on the blog, since that explains a lot of my goals and general plans for the site:...

      Welcome to the alpha version of Tildes! If you haven't read it yet, please start with the announcement post on the blog, since that explains a lot of my goals and general plans for the site: https://blog.tildes.net/announcing-tildes

      Also check this page for some info about some of the basic mechanics in place: https://docs.tildes.net/mechanics

      Beyond that, there are some other pages on the Docs site with a fair amount of information, and I'm working on gradually adding more to them.

      Please don't spread this too much yet

      I'd still like to keep it a bit quiet for the first little while, so I can make sure nothing explodes and pay more attention to the site instead of having to worry about who's talking about it and where. It's fine if you want to mention it to some people, but please ask them not to spread it around much as well. If you do tell people, it's probably best to send them to the announcement post as an intro.

      It won't have to be this way for long - this upcoming week, I'm intending to start trying to get some more public attention.

      Things that are missing, coming soon, etc.

      There's still a ton missing, obviously. Some functions have been disabled deliberately for now as well, because I'd like to see how things work without them before we start jumping to too many conclusions about what we "need" and how to use the site. I hope to have regular discussions about a lot of these ideas so we can figure out exactly how best to implement some things.

      Make sure to check on your userpage (by clicking your username in the top right corner or sidebar on mobile) - there are a few things in the side menu on there that are useful, like the light/dark theme toggle.

      There's a post here with some specific things I'm working on in the very near future: https://tildes.net/~tildes/a/high_priority_things_to_fix_add

      If you just want to experiment, please use ~test

      I set up a group named ~test that's specifically for trying things out and making a mess. It's the only one that you're not auto-subscribed to when you register (so that your home page isn't spammed up with the stuff from there).

      Please feel free to test things out in there, try to break things, whatever. I may periodically wipe it just to get rid of a lot of the garbage, so please don't post anything in there if you're not okay with it disappearing at any time.

      How you can help

      One of the best things you can do would be to just post things. Getting the initial activity going on the site will be one of the most important steps, so please just post things here (and comment on others' posts).

      I'd also appreciate any feedback, posts about bugs you discover, etc. You can just post anything like that in the ~tildes group as well.

      Inviting other people

      If you have other people that you'd like to invite, I think we should be able to start doing that very soon. I haven't given anyone their own invite codes yet, but it's something that I can do. If there's people you really want to get in right away, please let me know and I can give you some codes or otherwise help get them in. Message me here on Tildes about it, email me at deimos@tildes.net, or send me a message through Discord/Slack/whatever and we can figure it out.

      Please expect some turbulence

      Please keep in mind that, for the most part, this has been a one-person endeavor so far. I'm the developer, sysadmin, designer, writer, lawyer, manager, chair of the non-profit board, etc. I'm not very good at a lot of these things.

      There will definitely be some roughness for a while, whether it's awful design/UI choices, the site crashing and staying down for a while until I can get it back up, etc. Thanks in advance for your patience, it's all only going to get better from here.

      I'm excited to finally be able to let people see what I've been working on. Thanks for being here at the start with me!

      52 votes
    25. Things have been pretty quiet and steady for the last few weeks. This is mostly deliberate on my end—I'm going to be away for about a week around the end of the month, so I didn't want to make any...

      Things have been pretty quiet and steady for the last few weeks. This is mostly deliberate on my end—I'm going to be away for about a week around the end of the month, so I didn't want to make any major changes or push for a big burst of new users when I might not be very available to deal with any issues. Most of my time lately has been working on stuff in the background, including doing some cleanup, finally getting around to various things I've been putting off for a while, and so on.

      However, in early December I'm planning to move forward into the next "phase" for Tildes, which will be making it publicly-visible so that people are able to visit and read the content here even if they don't have an account. Registration will remain invite-only, but I'll probably try to make the process a little easier or automated in some way so that it doesn't require so much effort from people like me and @cfabbro (who's been diligently running invite-request threads on reddit for months).

      Overall, I think that being publicly visible should help a lot, both to increase interest for the site as well as addressing a few common misconceptions about it (which are mostly because people can't see anything for themselves). Right now we're effectively "wasting" a lot of invites by forcing people to get an invite and register before they can even see if Tildes has anything they're interested in, so opening it up for everyone to be able to view should make invites a lot more efficient when they're only requested by people that want to participate.

      One thing I should mention is that I'm not intending to have a "default front page" for logged-out users. They'll need to choose specific groups to view, and I've been playing around with a few ways to try to make this convenient (that will probably end up being available to logged-in users as well).

      It's also been a while since I gave everyone more invite codes, so I've given everyone 10 now. If there's anyone else you want to invite before we get into the publicly-visible stage of things, you can get your codes through the Invite page (linked in your user page's sidebar).

      Please let me know if any of you have any thoughts, questions or concerns about becoming publicly-visible, so I can see if there's anything else I'll need to make sure to address before being able to open it up. For example, are there any features that might have a privacy concern when public? Should we consider making any changes to the current set of groups? General feedback and questions unrelated to the public visibility are fine too (and always are—you can always feel free to message me or post in ~tildes).

      103 votes
    26. 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!

      86 votes
    27. 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
    28. We've had a few topics related to the Brave browser lately, and at some users' urging, I've now set up and verified Tildes to be able to receive the Basic Attention Token that it allows you to...

      We've had a few topics related to the Brave browser lately, and at some users' urging, I've now set up and verified Tildes to be able to receive the Basic Attention Token that it allows you to allocate to sites that you visit often. Outside of Brave itself, there's also an extension called BATify that seems to allow you to use BAT from Chrome or Firefox.

      I'm not sure if this will ever be a significant source of donations for the site, but it's probably good to have it as an option anyway.

      I haven't tried Brave myself yet, so I can't endorse it personally, but quite a few people seem to like it and it just had a major update last week that made it Chromium-based. If you're thinking about trying it out, I'd appreciate it if you could download it through this referral link:

      https://brave.com/til524

      I don't know the exact details, but it should give Tildes about $5 USD in BAT for each user who "downloads the Brave browser using the promo link specific to your web site and uses the browser (minimally) over a 30 day period".

      I'll add some info about this to the Donate page on the docs site as well, and if anyone that knows more about Brave/BAT than me (which is a very low bar) notices anything wrong or that I should change, please let me know.

      56 votes
    29. 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?

      58 votes
    30. 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?

      48 votes
    31. Things have been a little on the quiet and steady side for the last while now (which has been nice), and it's been some time since we had a thread for general questions and feedback. Feel free to...

      Things have been a little on the quiet and steady side for the last while now (which has been nice), and it's been some time since we had a thread for general questions and feedback. Feel free to use this thread to post things about the site that you're curious about, questions or suggestions you have, and so on.

      @super_james was also nice enough to start this other thread today about ways to help, so this one will probably be a little more on the "specific things to help with" side.

      As a couple other things from my end, I've topped everyone back up to 5 invite codes again, so you should have some available on https://tildes.net/invite if there's anyone you'd like to invite to the site (and as always, just message me if you ever need more codes).

      I also posted some information the other day about donations so far and the general financial status of the site, so that might be something that you'd be interested in reading if you didn't see it already. That thread also seems to have motivated a decent number of other people to pledge to the site's Patreon or donate, so thanks to everyone that donated, I really appreciate it.

      As a final thing, a couple people have asked me about the site's general activity levels lately, so I'll post some stats about that in a comment here in a little bit (so it's more easily collapsible than being in the post itself).

      As always, thanks for being here!

      67 votes
    32. 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
    33. 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.

      108 votes
    34. 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.

      77 votes
    35. To be clear up front, this probably won't be able to happen for at least a few weeks—there are quite a few things that will need to be done or adjusted before I'd be able to make the site publicly...

      To be clear up front, this probably won't be able to happen for at least a few weeks—there are quite a few things that will need to be done or adjusted before I'd be able to make the site publicly visible, including making sure that it can handle the load from a lot of logged-out viewers.

      However, I just wanted to bring it up and see if anyone has any particular thoughts about whether making it visible for people without accounts might be a good idea, or if we should just stick to keeping it totally private for a longer period.

      For a lot of people, not being able to see any of the actual posts on the site makes it less interesting, and I think we're already starting to get to the point where there's enough activity that it's not "embarrassing" to show off an inactive site any more. There's some great content being posted already, and it would probably be good to allow people to see it, even if they can't necessarily register and participate themselves just yet.

      Anyway, not much more to say about it. I just wanted to see if anyone had any particular thoughts on the topic to make sure I don't miss anything important when I start thinking more seriously about doing it, so please let me know.

      58 votes
    36. 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.

      74 votes
    37. 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. It's been quite a while now since we had a general feedback thread. So if there's anything you want to discuss, ask about, suggest, etc. but didn't feel like starting a dedicated thread for it,...

      It's been quite a while now since we had a general feedback thread. So if there's anything you want to discuss, ask about, suggest, etc. but didn't feel like starting a dedicated thread for it, feel free to do that here.

      Also, speaking of things that I haven't done in a while, I've topped everyone back up to 5 invite codes. Please don't feel obligated to find ways to use them, but if there are people you want to invite, that would be great. You can get the codes here: https://tildes.net/invite

      70 votes
    39. Disclaimer: this post/information will probably only be interesting to more technical people It's long overdue, but Tildes is now open-sourced: https://gitlab.com/tildes/tildes There's still a ton...

      Disclaimer: this post/information will probably only be interesting to more technical people

      It's long overdue, but Tildes is now open-sourced: https://gitlab.com/tildes/tildes

      There's still a ton to do in terms of writing more documentation, filling out the issue tracker with known issues/plans and so on, but it should be ready enough to get started.

      I'm planning to make a post on the Tildes blog tomorrow or Thursday announcing this more formally, but I'd like to keep it a bit quiet until then, in case there are any issues or major gaps in the docs discovered when some of you start looking at it. I'd especially appreciate it if any of you would like to try setting up a local development version and let me know how it goes, and if the instructions all make sense.

      There are two new pages on the docs site as part of this as well:

      • Development Setup - describes how to do the initial setup necessary to get a local development version of the site running
      • Development - a general page with information and instructions related to a lot of aspects of site development. It's very scattered right now and I intend to split it into multiple pages eventually, but that will require some more work on the blog to support being able to organize it well. There are still some definite gaps in here, but it should describe most of the major pieces.

      I'd appreciate any feedback about the documents, code, etc. As mentioned, I'd be especially grateful if some of you want to try setting up a local development version by following my instructions, and give feedback about if any parts of the process are unclear, incomplete, or otherwise need more work. Please feel free to ask any questions you have as well.

      236 votes
    40. 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.

      80 votes
    41. After reaching a nice milestone yesterday of over 1000 users registered, we've followed it up with a slightly less nice one—I've now banned someone for the first time. This almost certainly won't...

      After reaching a nice milestone yesterday of over 1000 users registered, we've followed it up with a slightly less nice one—I've now banned someone for the first time. This almost certainly won't happen with every ban, but I'm going to be quite transparent with this one since it was the first one, and it gives a good starting point for a discussion today.

      Trying to be transparent about this one is actually a bit funny, because the user I banned was named "Redacted" (really, I promise!). I had removed his comments from the thread, but I've un-removed them for now so that you can see exactly what I banned for: https://tildes.net/user/Redacted

      There were two reasons that I decided to ban him:

      1. Those last 3 comments, all in the ~talk thread. That thread has been a bit heated in places, but overall it's been civil and going pretty well. He came into it without being involved in the discussion at all and went straight to personal attacks.
      2. He went through and tagged almost all of Mumberthrax's comments as some combination of "troll", "flame", and "noise"—sometimes even all 3 tags on a single comment. That's just blatant misuse of the tags, with no possible reasonable excuse. (Note that I've already removed all his tags, so you won't be able to see them any more)

      So that's a pretty clear case of being an asshole, in my opinion. Let me know what you think—I'm not sure that there's any particular focus for the discussion today, so we can just talk about this specific case as well as banning/removing in general since this is the first time I've had to do anything (and I was just saying how nice it had been).

      160 votes
    42. 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
    43. 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.

      119 votes
    44. 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.

      111 votes
    45. It was a bit of a side topic in the thread last night about giving other people access to some organizational tools for topics, so I wanted to have a more specific discussion about how we should...

      It was a bit of a side topic in the thread last night about giving other people access to some organizational tools for topics, so I wanted to have a more specific discussion about how we should handle title-editing.

      Editing titles is definitely a useful ability, both for being able to fix typos/mistakes as well as remove editorialization or misleading phrasing, or even update the title later if the story progresses and the original title is no longer correct. However, it can also be confusing or mis-used—the title is the main way that we (the users on the site) identify a particular topic, and when the title changes it can be difficult to recognize what happened.

      So I just want to have a general discussion about how we should handle title-editing, and especially whether we should allow people to edit their own topics' titles, and if there should be any restrictions on that. For example, should a topic's author only be allowed to edit the title in the first 5 minutes? Should they always be able to edit it, like they can always edit the post text itself? Maybe it varies, based on their history/account-age/something-else?

      One thing to keep in mind is that this doesn't need to be a system that's immune to abuse. If someone uses the title-editing to change a popular ~music post's title into a Star Wars spoiler or something, we don't just shrug and go, "oh well, they're allowed to edit titles, nothing we can do." We edit the title back, and either take that ability away from them or ban them from the site entirely if it was done maliciously. Trust people, but punish abusers is a good approach in my opinion—we don't need to hobble features constantly to try to make them un-abusable.

      Also, whatever we decide to do doesn't necessarily need to be kept forever. We can always try something, and if it obviously isn't working very well, we just change it. Decisions about how the site works don't need to be final, it's very difficult to predict how features will actually be used in practice.

      Anyway, let me know what you think. Thanks.

      38 votes
    46. 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
    47. 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 a tilde (or multiple) both before and after the text you want to strike out, whereas group links will only have it 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
    48. 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
    49. Another feature update courtesy of open-source contributors - @Celeo was brave and took this complex update on as a first contribution to the Tildes code. Mentioning a username in a comment will...

      Another feature update courtesy of open-source contributors - @Celeo was brave and took this complex update on as a first contribution to the Tildes code.

      Mentioning a username in a comment will now send them a notification. Any of the following formats work:

      It won't send a notification if you mention yourself, or if you mention someone that already would have gotten a notification for the comment anyway (the author of the parent topic/comment).

      Edits should be handled as well, so if you edit in a mention that wasn't there previously it will generate the notification at that point, and if you edit one out it will delete that notification (whether the user has seen it yet or not).

      Please let me know if you notice any issues or strange behavior (and please don't use this maliciously to annoy people).

      86 votes
    50. For my fellow Canadians, Happy, uh... Regatta Day / Terry Fox Day / Saskatchewan Day / British Columbia Day / Natal Day / Simcoe Day / New Brunswick Day / Colonel By Day / Heritage Day / Joseph...

      For my fellow Canadians, Happy, uh... Regatta Day / Terry Fox Day / Saskatchewan Day / British Columbia Day / Natal Day / Simcoe Day / New Brunswick Day / Colonel By Day / Heritage Day / Joseph Brant Day / Benjamin Vaughan Day. For everyone else, Happy Monday.

      Here are my overall plans for this week, in no particular order:

      On Friday, your own user page had topics/comments views added, and has been paginated. Sometime in the next few days, I'm intending to extend this to other users' pages. I haven't finished deciding yet which privacy options (if any) will be available as part of this, so feel free to add your input in that thread if you haven't already.

      There are multiple open-source contributions for features in progress, so there should be a few more things coming in shortly from there. I'll make separate changelog posts for anything particularly major, but one that was added over the weekend (contibuted by @what again) was some special appearance/behavior for "nsfw" and "spoiler" tags on topics. They'll stand out more, always be displayed at the start of the tags list, and the "spoiler" tag makes sure that text posts don't have their excerpt displayed in the listing (but can still be clicked to expand).

      @cfabbro did a massive rework and update of the Docs site that I want to get applied this week. There's a ton of new information in there that should help a lot as we keep bringing more people into the site.

      On that note, there's also a new official invite-request thread in /r/tildes on reddit, so we'll probably have a decent number of new registrations this week as that gets worked through. I've also topped everyone back up to 5 invite codes (available here: https://tildes.net/invite), so please feel free to invite people yourselves as well (and as always, if you need more codes, just send me a message and ask).

      I think that should cover the main plans, any extra time I find above that will probably go into various random things on the backlog (and if I have time to work on a major feature, probably basic search).

      Thanks for being here, and please let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions.

      42 votes