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    1. How can we change the site's structure/mechanics/patterns so that we're not discouraging posting "too much" on particular subjects?

      Over the weekend, @skybrian posted a topic about feeling like you're posting "too much" if you submit too many links on the same subjects. As I said in my comment in there, I've definitely felt...

      Over the weekend, @skybrian posted a topic about feeling like you're posting "too much" if you submit too many links on the same subjects. As I said in my comment in there, I've definitely felt the same way sometimes, and I think we should try making some changes that can improve on this.

      One of the most common complaints about Tildes is that there isn't much content overall, and that most of it's very "general interest". This is largely because of how the site is set up now, where instead of having different communities, we basically just have one community that's lightly categorized by the groups. It's mostly the same users posting and discussing topics, regardless of which group they're posted in. This is totally fine and has worked well in a lot of ways, but it's also limiting in other ways, especially that it basically discourages posting "too much" about any particular subject because that will be annoying to all the users that don't want to see so much of that content.

      One of the best ways that Tildes will be able to grow is by being a place that's known for having good content on different topics. When I started /r/Games on Reddit, I was one of the heaviest submitters for quite a while, making sure that the subreddit was always full of the type of high-quality content I wanted to see. There weren't many viewers or commenters initially, but continuing to consistently post a lot of good content attracted more and more people, and eventually it became self-sustaining.

      We need to be able to take a similar approach here, but the current structure of the site is preventing it. For example, I'm one of the most frequent submitters to ~games (I've submitted about 1/3 of the topics in the last month), but I usually try to only post 1 or 2 topics there per day. I could easily submit 10-20 most days, but I know that will annoy a lot of users that don't care that much about games. That feeling isn't a good thing—it prevents any group from being able to "take off" individually.

      So to improve this, I think we're going to need to make some changes, and/or figure out some new patterns that we can use.

      First of all, I think it may be time to switch away from the current "opt-out" setup for groups (where you see everything by default) into an "opt-in" one where you have to specifically choose what you're interested in. This is something I've always planned to do eventually, because I think "forcing" everyone to see things that they're not especially interested in is both harmful to quality and causes a lot of strife. Switching will absolutely have some downsides too though, including that the activity in the more-niche groups will probably drop even more.

      It may also be best to switch away from "Activity" being the default sorting method. Again, this is something I didn't really expect to keep as the default forever, but it's been helpful while the site is small. However, having every new topic show up immediately in the most prominent position on the site just makes it even more annoying for people that aren't interested in the subject. For them, the top of the site keeps getting taken over by posts they don't care about. We're seeing this happen with ~music right now, because some users are trying to make it more active—which, again, should be a good thing—but I know that it's annoying some others.

      Some other things that might be worth considering include making it easier and more obvious that you can ignore individual topics and tags, adding new options for creating and filtering different "views", adjusting site behavior so it balances how many posts it shows from each group (but that would likely be confusing), etc.

      Another related topic I wanted to bring up (which @skybrian mentioned and I think is an interesting idea) is that we might be able to use "megathreads" more extensively somehow. For example, maybe having a megathread on a particular topic is a better way to judge the demand for a group/sub-group on a particular topic. Right now it's hard to do that because there isn't really any dedicated place to post if you're interested in something specific, but we might be able to encourage more activity by using a megathreads as almost a "testing ground".

      For example, if someone's particularly interested in woodworking, it would feel awkward to post a bunch about it in ~hobbies and effectively take over the group with woodworking content. But if there was a "woodworking megathread", it would be both more encouraging and contained (and easily ignored by other users), and if that thread started getting consistent activity from multiple users it would be a good indication that a ~hobbies.woodworking group would probably be able to stand on its own.

      I don't really have any particular plans for that kind of thing yet, but I think it's a possibility with a lot of potential, and we might even be able to find some ways to improve how megathreads work to support it. I'm definitely interested in hearing thoughts about how we could enhance threads to make them work especially well for that, including better ways for users to find and know about megathreads they'd want to read and participate in.

      I feel like this was a fairly scattered post with a lot of different thoughts in it, but overall I'm just looking for feedback or other ideas for ways we can adjust so that the site can keep growing and increasing in activity smoothly. This is important to figure out, and I think we're reaching the point where it's starting to become more urgent to do it soon. Let me know what you think.

      66 votes
    2. Testing a new method (CSS custom properties) for the site themes - please report any issues you notice

      In his never-ending quest to keep improving Tildes's theme system, @Bauke has reworked a major portion of it again, this time making it use CSS custom properties (instead of pre-generating a lot...

      In his never-ending quest to keep improving Tildes's theme system, @Bauke has reworked a major portion of it again, this time making it use CSS custom properties (instead of pre-generating a lot of theme-specific rules using Sass).

      This new method has a lot of benefits, including reducing the size of Tildes's CSS file to less than half of what it was before. It will also make it much simpler for people to override certain site colors or create their own themes using local CSS changes (e.g. through extensions like Stylus). (Note: please don't invest a lot of time into using it to customize yet, since it may still need to have further changes or even reverted)

      This is a relatively modern CSS feature that should have good support at this point, but it's possible there will still be some issues, or things that were missed during the conversion. If you notice any colors being wrong or other appearance changes (even minor ones), please leave a comment (including which theme you're using) so that I can fix them up.

      Thanks yet again, @Bauke!

      And I haven't done it in a while now, but I've topped everyone back up to 10 invites, accessible on the invite page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      95 votes
    4. More coronavirus-related updates: specialized views, and a daily topic. Anything else we should do?

      After adding the ~health.coronavirus group the other day, I've just made a couple more updates to try and keep the site more usable as the flood of news and information keeps coming in. First, I...

      After adding the ~health.coronavirus group the other day, I've just made a couple more updates to try and keep the site more usable as the flood of news and information keeps coming in.

      First, I just added a bar in the header when you're on the home page that has links to two "specialized views" in it. One of these views will show only coronavirus topics, and the other one will filter out all the coronavirus topics. These should be helpful for both logged-in users as well as logged-out ones (who previously didn't have the option of unsubscribing from ~health.coronavirus to hide those topics more easily).

      For the purposes of these views, a "coronavirus topic" is one that's either inside ~health.coronavirus or has the "coronaviruses.covid19" tag on it (in any group).

      The way I did this was definitely pretty hacky and isn't intended to stay around over the long term, so please let me know if you notice any strange behavior with them.

      Second, earlier today I set up a scheduled post in ~health.coronavirus for general chat, questions, minor updates, and so on. The first one is here, and that will continue posting every day for now. If the activity in it starts dropping I'll probably reduce the frequency, but I think it should be good as a general spot for discussion for now.

      It's looking like we might be living in this situation for weeks or months, so I'm definitely open to making other changes that will help keep the site usable and enjoyable during it. Let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions, thanks!

      48 votes
    5. New group created for news and discussion of COVID-19 coronavirus: ~health.coronavirus (everyone subscribed by default)

      As suggested, I've created a new group now named ~health.coronavirus that we can use to try to keep the topics about the coronavirus somewhat more quarantined contained. I've subscribed everyone...

      As suggested, I've created a new group now named ~health.coronavirus that we can use to try to keep the topics about the coronavirus somewhat more quarantined contained. I've subscribed everyone for now, but if you want to segregate the information more easily I'd suggest unsubscribing from it (which you can do from its sidebar or the groups list) and visiting it individually when you want to look at coronavirus news.

      I know there are probably some quibbles about the name, but I decided to go with this one for a few reasons, including that it's by far the more commonly-known and used term overall, it's generally easier to type (especially on mobile), and some XKCD-style "the spider" logic.

      One specific thing we need to discuss is how to decide when some topics should be in there vs. some of the other groups, especially since there are so many widespread effects. Like most moderation-ish subjects, we won't be able to draw a perfect line, but I think in general we should try to put more "general" updates/advice/discussion in the new group, while topics can go into other groups only when their impact is especially heavy on that group's subject.

      For example, I think it makes sense for the announcement that NCAA games will be played without fans to stay in ~sports, because that's a very major announcement for a sports event. E3 being cancelled similarly makes sense to stay in ~games. Those are major, important announcements regardless of the cause being the coronavirus.

      Deciding when something goes in ~news vs. ~health.coronavirus will be more difficult, but I'm sure we can probably do a reasonable job of it by trying to base it on only putting the very most significant events in ~news. It's not incredibly important to have everything categorized perfectly and most people probably subscribe/check both groups anyway, so we'll just do the best we can.

      I'm going to start trying to move a lot of the existing topics into there, and I'm sure some others will too. This might be kinda chaotic for a bit.

      I think it would also be great to start trying to put together some good resources on the ~health.coronavirus wiki. If some people are willing to start taking that on (and feel free to post a topic in there to ask for help/suggestions), it would be much appreciated. And if you don't have wiki permissions but would like to be a part of that, message me about it or leave a comment here asking, and I can give you the ability to create/edit pages.

      Anything other feedback or discussion about it to start with? Should we set up any regularly scheduled posts in there or anything?

      64 votes
    6. Deployed a complete rework of the permissions system - please let me know if you notice anything strange

      I just deployed a major update to the site's permissions system, which involved rewriting a lot of the related code. This is pretty much all internal details, and there should be no noticeable...

      I just deployed a major update to the site's permissions system, which involved rewriting a lot of the related code. This is pretty much all internal details, and there should be no noticeable changes, but it's definitely possible that I missed something. So if you notice anything unusual that seems like it might be permissions-related (such as a button missing or a functionality not working), please let me know.

      None of it's really being used yet, but the rewritten system allows for multiple new capabilities that we'll need as the site grows, like granting permissions to users only inside specific groups (instead of site-wide) and denying permissions in specific groups (like "able to tag topics in all groups except ~music").

      On that note, most permissions are still granted manually, and I haven't given them to many people lately. If you're interested in helping with some of the site's organizational work and think you have a good understanding of how things are currently organized, please send me a message and ask, and I can give you some permissions to help out.

      These are the permissions that are currently available (and there are at least a few users that have access to each of these):

      • Changing tags on topics
      • Moving topics to different groups
      • Editing the titles of topics
      • Editing the links of link topics
      • Editing wiki pages (or creating new ones)

      Thanks!

      And as usual, I've topped everyone back up to 10 invites, accessible on the invite page.

      39 votes
    7. A bunch of updates and fixes from open-source contributors

      Over the last week, a number of updates have been made by people other than me contributing code to Tildes through its open-source repository. I wanted to make a post to highlight some of these...

      Over the last week, a number of updates have been made by people other than me contributing code to Tildes through its open-source repository. I wanted to make a post to highlight some of these changes and let everyone know about them, since there are some great updates and fixes in here:

      @deing made it possible to create links that will pre-fill the subject and message for private messages. For example: https://tildes.net/user/Deimos/new_message?subject=Test+Message&message=Please+don't+actually+send+this+to+me

      @blitz saw me make an offhand comment about a rare bug when someone submits a link to an IP address, and got a development environment set up and fixed it right away.

      @Bauke has been on a tear, fixing a lot of long-outstanding issues and adding features. So far:

      • Added a way for users to view their two-factor authentication backup codes (previously you could only see them at the time you activated 2FA).
      • Added "View Markdown" for comments and text topics. This is inside a new "More" dropdown menu, and will show you the markdown that the poster used, so that you can check how they did some formatting or copy-paste if you want to use someone else's post as a template of sorts.
      • Added new settings (under "Site behavior settings" on the Settings page) to always open links to Tildes groups and users in new tabs.
      • Fixed a few issues with inconsistent interface elements and styling.

      There are multiple more merge requests still waiting for me to review, and I'll probably be making some other posts soon once some of those get merged in as well. Thanks, the contributions are greatly appreciated! If anyone else is interested in looking into contributing, the CONTRIBUTING file in the repo is probably the best place to start.

      And as usual, I've topped everyone back up to 10 invites, accessible on the invite page.

      53 votes
    8. After visiting a topic's comments, that topic will show when it has new comments since your last visit

      As discussed last week, the site is now marking new comments for all logged-in users. This has two effects: On the listings pages, you will see something like "5 comments (2 new)" when a topic you...

      As discussed last week, the site is now marking new comments for all logged-in users. This has two effects:

      1. On the listings pages, you will see something like "5 comments (2 new)" when a topic you previously viewed the comments on has new comments since your last visit.

      2. When you return to a comments page with new comments, all old comments will start out collapsed, unless one of the new comments is a direct reply to one of them. New comments have a colored stripe down their left side, with the color varying based on the theme you're using (but I think it's generally an orange/red-like color).

        You can expand collapsed comments by clicking the "+" button in their top left corner, or expand them all by using the "Expand all" button at the top of the comments section. If you don't like this initial collapsing behavior, you can disable it on the Settings page by unchecking the "Collapse old comments when I return to a topic" setting.

      I'm working on some other adjustments and changes related to this, so there will probably be some more tweaks coming into place soon as well. I'd like input on one in particular:

      Do we need a separate function along the lines of "stop indicating new comments on this post", or does the ignore function serve that purpose well enough? Are there reasonable cases where you want to stop seeing the "(x new)" on a topic, but do not want to actually ignore it? And if we do want to implement a function like that, any suggestions for a brief name/description for it that will fit in the Actions dropdown?

      As always, any other general feedback about the feature is welcome as well.

      And as usual, I've topped everyone back up to 10 invites, accessible on the invite page.

      38 votes
    9. I'm planning to enable the "mark new comments" feature for everyone - any major concerns?

      Something that's come up in discussions a few times recently is how important it is to have good default settings. Even users who are quite technical and involved don't always explore which...

      Something that's come up in discussions a few times recently is how important it is to have good default settings. Even users who are quite technical and involved don't always explore which settings are available, and that's totally fine—they shouldn't need to. The default setup should be as good as possible, with changing settings mostly for specialized cases.

      One particular place on Tildes where this isn't currently being done well is for the "mark new comments" feature, which has always been disabled by default. I think it's one of the best features on the site and makes it much easier to follow ongoing discussions here than on other sites with similar comment systems, but overall, not many users have enabled it.

      For example, Tildes got some attention on Hacker News again yesterday, and about 80 new users have registered so far from that. Only 9 of them enabled "mark new comments", even though the welcome message strongly encourages it. Looking at longer periods of time, this seems typical: only about 10% of users ever enable it.

      As it says on the settings page for the feature, my reason for disabling it by default was out of privacy concerns. However, I've been doing some review of the data that Tildes stores lately and realized that this was kind of misleading and inaccurate. Because I have HTTP request server logs and some other related data (which is all only kept for 30 days), I effectively have topic visit records from the last 30 days for all users anyway, whether they have the feature enabled or not. The data is more convenient to access for users with the feature enabled, but it's available either way.

      Because of that, and because the data will be very useful to combine with some of the upcoming changes I mentioned in the last ~tildes.official post, I'm planning to enable this feature for everyone. Here are the general plans:

      • Data about which topics' comments pages a user visits will be stored (for 30 days), along with when and how many comments were there at the time. This enables displaying which topics have new comments since your last visit, and marking those new comments.
      • There will no longer be a setting to disable this, but you can still choose whether previously-seen comments are collapsed when you return - the same as the existing checkbox on that page for "Collapse old comments when I return to a topic".
      • I will probably implement some sort of "stop informing me of new comments in this topic" feature (separate from the new Ignore one) to stop having the info about new comments in a topic showing up for you.

      Please let me know if you have any thoughts or concerns about this. If nothing major comes up, I intend to make this change later this week.

      82 votes
    10. You can now ignore individual topics, which will stop showing them in listings for you

      It's been quiet from my end lately—I mentioned in a comment last week that I had been taking some time off, but now it's time to get things moving again. As I said in that comment, the next major...

      It's been quiet from my end lately—I mentioned in a comment last week that I had been taking some time off, but now it's time to get things moving again.

      As I said in that comment, the next major steps for Tildes are going to be bringing in more people, along with more (and more varied) content. To help with that, I'm going to be working on some structural and functionality changes to make it easier for people to see the types of content they want, as well as avoid content they're not interested in.

      So, I've just deployed the first piece of that: you can now ignore individual topics when you don't want to keep seeing them in your listings. Thanks yet again to repeated open-source contributor @what, who got this started a long time ago in a merge request that I was able to finish up and add a little more on top of.

      Currently, the only thing that ignoring topics does is hide them from your listings, but I'm still thinking about some of the details and possible other effects and wanted to ask for input first:

      • If you ignore a topic that you posted a comment in, should you no longer receive notifications about new replies to you in that topic? What about username mentions?
      • Should users be able to ignore their own topics?
      • Should ignored topics be hidden everywhere, or should there be exceptions? For example, if you do a search that matches ignored topics, should they show up in the results? If you're looking at the poster's user page, should ignored topics be shown?
      • Is there anything else that ignoring a topic should (or should not) affect?

      A listing of only topics you've ignored is also available through the sidebar on your user page as "Your ignored topics", in case you need to check on any of them or unignore one of them.

      One other piece of this is that there's now an "Actions" dropdown available on every topic in a listing, underneath the vote button. This dropdown allows you to bookmark or ignore topics without having to go into their comments page first. I'm not totally certain about this yet, and will probably make some more adjustments related to it. In particular, it's pretty far off to the right on a wide desktop monitor, so I might try some other options after seeing how it feels to use on the live site.

      Let me know if you have any feedback about these changes, or notice any issues. Hopefully there should be multiple more updates coming up over the next week or two.

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

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

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

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

      Scheduled/recurring topics

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Group rearrangements

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

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

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

      Content types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      49 votes
    13. The donation goal for November has been (more than) reached! Let's talk a bit about how to handle "extra" donations

      As noticed yesterday, the donation goal meter in the sidebar made a huge jump upwards yesterday due to an extremely generous (and anonymous) donation of 0.3 BTC. Again, if that person is reading,...

      As noticed yesterday, the donation goal meter in the sidebar made a huge jump upwards yesterday due to an extremely generous (and anonymous) donation of 0.3 BTC. Again, if that person is reading, thank you!

      When I added the goal and Financials page about a week and a half ago, I explained that I thought it was probably too high to reach yet, but it was intended to show the progress we're making towards the point where the site is truly fully sustainable (and that progress is already great for the site's size).

      But now thanks to that generous donation, we've already surpassed the first monthly goal, which honestly wasn't something I was expecting to happen for a while. Because of that, I want to talk a bit about how we can handle the "surplus" in cases like this.

      My general feeling is that when it reaches the next month, any amount above the goal should probably "roll over" to the next month, starting us out at a higher point than the normal baseline from monthly recurring donations. For example, as of right now we're about $574.10 above this month's goal, so December will start out with that much in addition to the monthly contributions. This feels the most fair to me in terms of keeping the impact of larger donations and ones made after already reaching 100%, so that people don't feel like some of their donation is "wasted" or that they should wait until next month to donate so they can help with a goal.

      There are definitely some edge cases with this that might get weird, but they mostly only come up with extremely large one-time donations or constantly surpassing the goal, and those are both problems I'd be happy to have.

      I'm also probably going to tinker with the design of the goal bar a little over the next couple days to be able to show progress beyond 100%, since just having an unchanging full green bar there for the rest of the month would be boring.

      Let me know if you have any thoughts about this overall—it's a pretty minor concern overall, but I thought it would be good to have a thread about it anyway, partially as a celebration of hitting the first official goal ever set so quickly.

      As always, thank you very much to everyone that contributes to Tildes through donations as well as all the other ways (being active on the site, promoting it to others, helping with the open-source code/repo, etc.). It's hugely encouraging to me to have so many people helping support the site already.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      121 votes
    15. I've been accepted into GitHub Sponsors - if you have a Patreon pledge or other recurring donation to Tildes, I'd really appreciate it if you could move it over

      When GitHub Sponsors was announced back in May, I applied immediately, and have just recently been accepted. This is now, by far, the best way available to make a recurring donation to Tildes:...

      When GitHub Sponsors was announced back in May, I applied immediately, and have just recently been accepted.

      This is now, by far, the best way available to make a recurring donation to Tildes:

      • They aren't currently charging any fees, even for payment processing.
      • They're matching up to $5000 in contributions for the first year.

      On Patreon, about 10% of every donation is taken between processing fees, Patreon's own fees, and PayPal (for transferring the money out to the bank). Even without the matching, donating through GitHub instead means that 10% more of your money (all of what you're donating) will come to Tildes, and until we exhaust the matching it's more like 2.2x. For example, a $5/month donation on Patreon results in Tildes receiving about $4.50, but through GitHub it will be $10.

      So if you have an existing recurring donation (or would like to start donating), I'd really appreciate if you could do it through GitHub Sponsors. Tildes is a non-profit, and its only source of income is user donations—there's no advertising, no investors, and I'm not selling your data or anything else (and none of those will ever change). Donations are what makes it possible for me to keep working on the site. For some more info, please see the Donate page on the Docs site (which I'll update soon with info about GitHub Sponsors).

      The page is here: https://github.com/sponsors/Deimos

      A few quick notes:

      • I believe you'll need a GitHub account to sponsor through here, but it's quick to create one.
      • You have the choice of making your sponsorship private or public.
      • You have to choose one of the pre-defined "tiers", but I tried to create ones that match the most common donations. If you need a different amount that isn't available, let me know and I can probably add it. I still have a couple of slots left for more tiers.
      • If you're currently donating through Patreon, please remember to cancel your pledge through there if you move it over to GitHub. The next Patreon payment will happen on November 1.

      I'm also working on a couple things to make the amount that's currently being donated to Tildes public, and I hope to have that available later this week (and hopefully with a much higher number because of the GitHub matching!).

      Thanks very much, and if there's anything confusing about the process or if you have any questions, please let me know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Two updates today:

      Theme Preview page

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

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

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

      Search your own posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      54 votes
    20. New groups added, more work still happening on rearranging, moving topics, etc.

      Alrighty, after the discussion last week, I've finally added the new groups, and everyone will have been mostly auto-subscribed to all of them. I'm still working on some of the details like adding...

      Alrighty, after the discussion last week, I've finally added the new groups, and everyone will have been mostly auto-subscribed to all of them. I'm still working on some of the details like adding descriptions, and there will be some awkward pieces and interface aspects since we're still in the transition phase before I get those larger changes to subscriptions/etc. in (which I really hope will be soon), but it should mostly be fine.

      If you want to change your subscriptions quickly, use this page: https://tildes.net/groups (linked from a button at the bottom of the home page's sidebar)

      First, here are the new groups:

      New top-level groups (everyone auto-subscribed)

      New sub-groups (auto-subscribed only if you were subscribed to the parent group)

      Some of this will be a little experimental and I'm not totally sure how it's going to work out (splitting ~science into the branches of science especially), but we'll see what happens. The names and such aren't necessarily 100% final either.

      Since we now have some real sub-groups that people other than me can post in, I made a small behavior change to how sub-groups work until those larger changes are ready. Previously, subscribing to a group would automatically include all posts from its sub-groups in your home page as well. That is, if you subscribed to ~tildes, you would also see all posts from ~tildes.official, regardless of whether you subscribed to it or not.

      Now, your home page will only include posts from groups (and sub-groups) that you are specifically subscribed to. So if you want to see topics from ~games but not ~games.tabletop, you should subscribe to ~games and unsubscribe from ~games.tabletop. However, if you visit ~games directly, posts from ~games.tabletop will still be included in the list there, regardless of whether you're subscribed or not. I know this isn't ideal, but it's not permanent and should be fine for now.

      I'm going to get back to working on updating these groups and moving some of the older topics around now, but let me know if you have any questions or thoughts.

      And as usual, I've topped everyone's invites up to 10. You can get your invite links here: https://tildes.net/invite

      51 votes
    21. Potential new groups, and general discussion about the purpose and organization of the group hierarchy

      It's been almost a month since we had proposals for more groups to add. I apologize for taking so long with it—just as a quick explanation for why it's taken so long to get around to: I've been...

      It's been almost a month since we had proposals for more groups to add. I apologize for taking so long with it—just as a quick explanation for why it's taken so long to get around to:

      I've been working on some major background changes related to how groups and the overall abilities of choosing what to see (and not see) on Tildes work, which I was planning to implement at the same time the new groups were added. However, two weeks ago, someone used Tildes's donation page to test over a thousand stolen credit cards. This made a mess in multiple ways, and it's taken a lot of time to clean up and try to make sure it won't happen again (some of it was my fault for not implementing some protections fully/properly). Dealing with that took priority, and it meant that I wasn't able to finish the changes before being (mostly) away over the last week and a bit.

      Anyway, I'm finally getting back on track and am planning to add more groups very soon (and get those larger changes implemented not long after), so let's talk about that as well as some general discussion about the group hierarchy. First, here are the groups I'm currently intending to add and some thoughts and questions about them:

      New groups:

      • ~arts - This is one that I'm a little questionable about. I do think we need a space for these subjects, but there's some strange and confusing crossover with the existing ~creative. I'm not sure if ~arts should replace ~creative, and if we should just have a sub-group or something else for "things created by Tildes users". I'd appreciate input here.
      • ~design - I really like this idea, and think it can cover topics like graphic design as well as physical ones like fashion and architecture.
      • ~finance - This covers some of the other current gaps with existing groups. I'd like to try to fit topics oriented around business in here, as well as ones related more to personal-finance. I'm not certain about the name, but I think it might be the best compared to some of the other comparable options like ~money, ~business, ~commerce, etc.
      • ~games.tabletop - I think this will be a good way to start trying to split up the ~games content a little. For now, I want to just leave video game topics in ~games though, instead of splitting it into its own dedicated sub-group. I know this will probably be somewhat confusing and unintuitive in some ways, but I also think making it so that almost no content goes into ~games itself would be very weird.
      • ~games.game_design - I think this is a useful way to also split out some of the more "theory-based" topics from the other ones in ~games, which tend to be largely more along the lines of news and "ask" discussions. I also want to be able to do some tinkering with a group having multiple sub-groups, and this will make the first instance of that.
      • ~hobbies.automotive - This will be a bit of a test as well. So far, ~hobbies has been quite inactive so it's not truly necessary to split it, but a number of users have expressed interest in it, and I'd like to see if the dedicated sub-group helps motivate more activity about a specific subject.
      • ~science.social - Both the name and being a sub-group are a little questionable here. I'm open to changes, but again, please read below about the hierarchy in general first.
      • ~space - Fairly heavily requested as well, and I feel like it's distinct enough from the existing groups to be worth trying to give a dedicated section.

      Those are all the ones I'm planning to add for now. There are some other groups (and especially some sub-groups) that I think are very good ideas and would work well too, but I want to delay those a little bit to get the structural changes in, since I think that will make a big difference in helping people choose their content too. After these additions we'll have quite a lot of top-level groups (depending exactly what we add, we'll have around 25), and we might want to think about merging some of them before adding even more. On that topic:

      General group hierarchy thoughts:

      I haven't done a good job of defining the purpose of the group hierarchy, or explaining how I think about it. This has caused a fair amount of confusion and debates about the right place for groups/sub-groups, as well as (completely reasonable) questions like why we need groups at all, instead of just using tags.

      I think a lot of the confusion comes from the natural tendency to think about it as a subject-based hierarchy. That is, if subject B is a subset of subject A, it should be a sub-group. However, I think it's going to be more useful to try to treat it as a hierarchy of interest (or disinterest), where the hierarchy is based more around a perspective like "if a user is interested in subject A, they'll probably also be interested in the more-specific subject B".

      I think ~tech and ~comp make a good demonstration. From a subject-based perspective, computers are certainly a subset of technology, so it seems like it should really be ~tech.comp instead of two separate top-level groups. But if you look at it from an interest-based perspective, someone being interested in technology in general definitely doesn't imply that they're also interested in reading technical articles about programming. That's why they're split into separate top-level groups.

      Similarly, ~anime seems to obviously make sense to be a sub-group of ~tv, but I don't think there's nearly enough "interest crossover" to do that. You'd end up with a huge portion of ~tv viewers wanting to exclude ~tv.anime, since it's such a distinct subject.

      Overall, the purpose of the group hierarchy is to help people be able to find and avoid certain types of topics. Using a hierarchy for this will allow us to do things like "I want to see the gaming topics, but not from the League of Legends groups", which are practically impossible to do in a flat structure like reddit has.

      You can also think of the groups as something like "forced" or "implied" tags that are always on all of the topics inside those groups. With a tag-only system, every gaming topic would need to manually be tagged something like "video games" so that people uninterested in them can easily filter them out. The groups system makes this automatic and much more convenient and understandable.

      In the future, I think it will also be very important for the different groups (and some sub-groups) to be able to act as different "spaces" with their own rules, and possibly even different features or design.

      I hope that helps clarify the hierarchy a bit and explain why the organization has been done this way so far (and will likely to continue to be). Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about the hierarchy and the planned new groups, I'm intending to add them later this week unless something else goes horribly wrong.

      And as usual, I've topped everyone's invites up to 10. You can get your invite links here: https://tildes.net/invite

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

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

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

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

      Here's what's been happening:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      63 votes
    24. Proposals for new groups - July 2019

      It's been over a year now since we first talked about adding some more groups to the site (and ended up adding several). I think the current set has mostly worked well since then, but some people...

      It's been over a year now since we first talked about adding some more groups to the site (and ended up adding several). I think the current set has mostly worked well since then, but some people have mentioned being hesitant to post as many topics as they want to on some subjects due to not wanting to flood out the more-general groups, as well as feeling like some subjects also don't fit into the existing ones.

      So let's do another round of suggestions. New groups can be either top-level ones (if that seems to make the most sense) or a sub-group of an existing one (for example, this group, ~tildes.official is a sub-group of ~tildes). The functionality of sub-groups is a little weak right now, but I'll be working on that over the next few days to get it into better shape in case we end up adding some new ones.

      The general process from last time seemed to work fine, so I'm just going to copy that:

      Proposing a group

      If you want to propose an idea for a new group (either a new top-level group or a sub-group of an existing one), make a top-level comment with the following information:

      1. The proposed name for the group, and a short description of its purpose/subject.
      2. 3 examples of topics that would be appropriate to be posted in that group. These can be existing posts already on Tildes, or hypothetical new ones. Just example titles/links is sufficient, it should just give an idea of what sort of posts you're expecting the group to get.
      3. A "failure plan" - if the trial group doesn't work out, what should we do with the posts from it? For example, should they be moved into an existing group or groups, with a particular tag?

      Supporting a proposal

      To express your support for a proposal that someone else made, post a reply to it, saying something like "I would post in this group" (assuming you actually believe you will). I don't want to interpret votes on a proposal as support, and for a group to be successful it really needs people to post to it, so I think it's most important to get at least some indication that there are users that will post in the group if it's created.

      I'll let this topic run for at least 3 days before making any decisions, so don't feel like you need to rush. General questions or thoughts about groups are welcome too, it doesn't need to be entirely proposals. I've also topped given everyone 10 invites again as well. Thanks!

      74 votes
    25. Daily Tildes discussion - proposals for "trial groups", round 1

      This was something that we discussed a couple of weeks ago, and I want to try it out for the first time today. I'll wait about 3 days to see how this thread progresses (through the weekend), and...

      This was something that we discussed a couple of weeks ago, and I want to try it out for the first time today. I'll wait about 3 days to see how this thread progresses (through the weekend), and then decide if we should try creating any of these groups, based on responses.

      Overall, I think it's probably more useful to propose groups that are not currently very well-represented by posts being made on Tildes. It might be good to try adding things that feel "too specific" right now, where people might be hesitating to post topics about the subject because they feel like it's too niche to really fit into the general groups that we have.

      I don't want to make this too complex initially, so let's try with a very simple method for this first round:

      Proposing a group

      If you want to propose an idea for a new group (either a new top-level group or a sub-group of an existing one), make a top-level comment with the following information:

      1. The proposed name for the group, and a short description of its purpose/subject.
      2. 3 examples of topics that would be appropriate to be posted in that group. These can be existing posts already on Tildes, or hypothetical new ones. Just example titles/links is sufficient, it should just give an idea of what sort of posts you're expecting the group to get.
      3. A "failure plan" - if the trial group doesn't work out, what should we do with the posts from it? For example, should they be moved into an existing group or groups, with a particular tag?

      Supporting a proposal

      To express your support for a proposal that someone else made, post a reply to it, saying something like "I would post in this group" (assuming you actually believe you will). I don't want to interpret votes on a proposal as support, and for a group to be successful it really needs people to post to it, so I think it's most important to get at least some indication that there are users that will post in the group if it's created.

      Feel free to ask questions or provide other examples of content for proposals and such as well, this thread doesn't need to be only proposals and comments expressing support.

      55 votes
    26. Updates to "Activity" sorting method (the site's default)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      65 votes
    27. Comment vote counts are now visible again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      128 votes
    29. Daily Tildes discussion - allowing users to post anonymously?

      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

      97 votes
    30. A basic wiki system is now available for groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      And thanks again, @wirelyre!

      99 votes
    32. 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.

      90 votes
    33. alyaza is banned (maybe permanently, but for at least a week regardless)

      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.

      55 votes
    34. Autocomplete for topic tagging is now available

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      49 votes
    41. Some small updates over the past week

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

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

      Anyway, here are some recent updates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      A couple of other notes about public visibility:

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

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

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

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

      222 votes
    43. Daily Tildes discussion - why should we allow (or not allow) fluff content?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      54 votes
    48. What if we eliminated "ownership" of link topics?

      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.)

      79 votes
    49. 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!

      53 votes