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.