29 votes

Why Tildes doesn't need to be fully public

Tildes is currently invite-only. (Thank you redditor u/⎷⎷⎷⎷⎷⎷). Of course, it's in alpha testing, so that makes sense. When do you think tildes will be made public? How will they do it? I don't think it ever really needs to be made public. The reasons are that:
1 - Bans are actual bans. Getting beyond a ban is ridiculously hard compared to on Reddit, where someone just makes a second account. On Tildes, if you're banned, you're banned. That's it. It weeds out a lot of trolls.
2 - Throwaways can't be made. Making a throwaway account on Tildes costs one of your invites, so it's much more annoying to do so.
Hopefully you enjoyed my little rant.

42 comments

  1. [15]
    Deimos
    Link
    Tildes will probably remain invite-only to register for quite a while, but some things do definitely need to change, including making it publicly visible before long. Going to copy-paste one of my...

    Tildes will probably remain invite-only to register for quite a while, but some things do definitely need to change, including making it publicly visible before long. Going to copy-paste one of my comments from the thread a couple of weeks ago related to this:

    It's not that I want to grow big, but that the current size/growth of the site really isn't sustainable. The activity level has been slowly but consistently dropping, and a large portion of users aren't coming back, or only very rarely. The donations have been quite good for how small the site is and how little effort I've made to ask for them, but they're nowhere near what they'll need to be for me to continue focusing on the site. I'm very likely going to start looking for a job in the new year and switch to treating Tildes as a side project, unless something major happens in the next couple of months. (Note that this isn't something I'm unhappy about, I'd rather have the site grow slowly as a side project and stay high-quality than try to force it to grow too quickly and ruin it)

    Overall, I just don't think a completely private site can possibly attract (and keep) enough interest to become sustainable. I don't want Tildes to be a massive site, but it needs to be large enough to sustain communities related to different interests and I don't believe the current setup will ever be able to get there.

    46 votes
    1. dubteedub
      Link Parent
      I just want to plug Tildes' Patreon account for anyone that has not seen it yet https://www.patreon.com/tildes/overview If you wan to support Tildes, I would encourage everyone to sign up and...

      I just want to plug Tildes' Patreon account for anyone that has not seen it yet

      https://www.patreon.com/tildes/overview

      If you wan to support Tildes, I would encourage everyone to sign up and pitch in.

      33 votes
    2. [12]
      moonbathers
      Link Parent
      Are people going to be able to scrape every single comment on the site like they do with reddit? I barely comment on reddit any more for that reason.

      Are people going to be able to scrape every single comment on the site like they do with reddit? I barely comment on reddit any more for that reason.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        Deimos
        Link Parent
        Yes, it will be possible. It may not end up being as simple to do as it is on reddit, but overall it's fundamentally impossible to prevent scraping. It's basically the same dilemma as DRM on...

        Yes, it will be possible. It may not end up being as simple to do as it is on reddit, but overall it's fundamentally impossible to prevent scraping.

        It's basically the same dilemma as DRM on videos: you can't possibly allow people to watch a video without also opening the possibility for it to be captured. You can't display posts on a site without making them available to scrapers.

        22 votes
        1. clem
          Link Parent
          Do you plan to implement anonymous posting (as well as the ability to retroactively make a post anonymous) before opening Tildes up as read-only? I don't care that much about my privacy, but I'm...

          Do you plan to implement anonymous posting (as well as the ability to retroactively make a post anonymous) before opening Tildes up as read-only? I don't care that much about my privacy, but I'm pretty sure I've said things here linking myself to my Reddit accounts, which probably isn't a big deal, but it gives me a little anxiety.

          5 votes
        2. [2]
          moonbathers
          Link Parent
          I understand what you mean about DRM on videos. Will there be an API for it like reddit has? The idea of people I don't know scooping up every single thing I do makes me really uncomfortable and I...

          I understand what you mean about DRM on videos. Will there be an API for it like reddit has? The idea of people I don't know scooping up every single thing I do makes me really uncomfortable and I know there's nothing I can do about it. I don't expect you to do or change anything, I just wanted to know.

          1. Deimos
            Link Parent
            Yes, an API is planned. No major work towards it has been done yet, but it's something I want the site to have (and the announcement blog post even mentions it). The web itself is basically an API...

            Yes, an API is planned. No major work towards it has been done yet, but it's something I want the site to have (and the announcement blog post even mentions it).

            The web itself is basically an API though. If someone wants the data, it's not much more difficult to scrape comments out of HTML than it is with a "real" API.

            9 votes
      2. [4]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        If it's not already happening, making the site publicly viewable will guarantee someone will do that.

        Are people going to be able to scrape every single comment on the site like they do with reddit? I barely comment on reddit any more for that reason.

        If it's not already happening, making the site publicly viewable will guarantee someone will do that.

        9 votes
        1. [3]
          Soptik
          Link Parent
          It did happen. It was several months ago, so I can't remember his name, but someone scraped comments from Tildes and made really interesting statistics, mostly about posting frequency, tags, and...

          It did happen. It was several months ago, so I can't remember his name, but someone scraped comments from Tildes and made really interesting statistics, mostly about posting frequency, tags, and users' posting habits. From a quick search, I found opensource Tildes scrapper, altough I'm not sure if it's the one I was talking about. If you go to @pfg's profile, it doesn't look like he did it, as the person I talked about posted about it quite a few times.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            Is this what you're thinking of? https://tildes.net/~tildes.official/5ss/general_tildes_feedback_questions_thread_invites_given_to_everyone#comment-1o6k

            It did happen. It was several months ago, so I can't remember his name, but someone scraped comments from Tildes and made really interesting statistics, mostly about posting frequency, tags, and users' posting habits.

            Is this what you're thinking of?

            https://tildes.net/~tildes.official/5ss/general_tildes_feedback_questions_thread_invites_given_to_everyone#comment-1o6k

            3 votes
            1. Soptik
              Link Parent
              Ah, that's it! Thanks! [noise]

              Ah, that's it! Thanks!

              [noise]

              2 votes
      3. [3]
        vaddi
        Link Parent
        What's wrong with web scraping? The accounts here aren't directly connected to anything. People would only get the idea of whats discussed here, not who are the people discussing it.

        What's wrong with web scraping? The accounts here aren't directly connected to anything. People would only get the idea of whats discussed here, not who are the people discussing it.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          moonbathers
          Link Parent
          It makes me nervous about doxing and that sort of thing. The community here is great but there are plenty of people on the internet who aren't great and every comment I leave that stays forever...

          It makes me nervous about doxing and that sort of thing. The community here is great but there are plenty of people on the internet who aren't great and every comment I leave that stays forever gives those people more information. I know there's nothing I can do about it but it makes me uncomfortable.

          2 votes
          1. cfabbro
            Link Parent
            I'm with you on it making me uncomfortable too, but the unfortunate reality is that if someone wants to scrape data from a social media site it's virtually impossible to stop them from doing so...

            I'm with you on it making me uncomfortable too, but the unfortunate reality is that if someone wants to scrape data from a social media site it's virtually impossible to stop them from doing so without severely impacting site usability... even without an API, since there are a ton of practically undetectable, off-the-shelf scraping solutions available nowadays.

            2 votes
    3. SourceContribute
      Link Parent
      Yep, this is as expected for web sites, web apps and mobile apps. There's a certain amount of attention people will devote to the site/apps and then it starts to (hopefully slowly) decline. Then...

      The activity level has been slowly but consistently dropping, and a large portion of users aren't coming back, or only very rarely

      Yep, this is as expected for web sites, web apps and mobile apps. There's a certain amount of attention people will devote to the site/apps and then it starts to (hopefully slowly) decline. Then it's time to go public and find different marketing tactics or features to bring in new people or to "reactivate lapsers" as they say in the lingo of the product management and marketing departments shudders.

      It will be interesting to see what happens when it's publicly-visible!

      3 votes
  2. [11]
    hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    In the coming months, weeks, or maybe even days, Deimos is going to open the site up to be viewable without having registered an account. Beyond that, there's been a lot of back and forth...

    In the coming months, weeks, or maybe even days, Deimos is going to open the site up to be viewable without having registered an account.

    Beyond that, there's been a lot of back and forth discussion about open registration later on, in addition to open viewing, which is what we'll be getting soon.

    From the discussion that's been had so far about open registration, I think the best thing for people to remember is that open registration, and even open viewing, are not necessarily permanent changes.

    Let's skip forward a few years from now, Tildes has had open registration for months, but suddenly a news article goes out slamming Reddit and mentions Tildes. There's suddenly tens of thousands of new users in a single day and the quality on the site is quickly dropping.

    Lock the gate. Turn off open registration, turn off open viewing, revert access to what it is now and stem the tide of new users for the community's sake. That's totally possible. What will probably happen is that Tildes will remain invite only, openly viewable for a majority of its life, and only have open registration during very specific periods, but if the site ever got too much attention and too heavy an influx of users, we can close up shop very easily. People who are actually interested in Tildes will be more than happy to go through the effort of getting an invite, or they'll just wait a few days and register when it's open again.

    We've had a lot of discussion about this in the past, to the point that I need to write this out to explain it better and copy/paste between threads, but you should search for some of the older topics and read their comments. Really interesting stuff.

    25 votes
    1. Neverland
      Link Parent
      It is so cool that this is an option. The locked page could explain why: New account registration is temporarily locked. Tildes is a user funded and human moderated discussion forum. It can take...

      Lock the gate.

      It is so cool that this is an option. The locked page could explain why: New account registration is temporarily locked. Tildes is a user funded and human moderated discussion forum. It can take time to grow the moderation team during peak interest in Tildes. Please provide an email address and we will contact you as soon as registration is unlocked.

      Tildes does not have the pressure to grow users at all costs like most other sites, that opens up some interesting things like this. Thanks @Deimos for trying this approach!

      14 votes
    2. [8]
      elcuello
      Link Parent
      Is it though? I really like this approach but I fail to see it carried out. Do you have any examples of this being done on and off with success? It seems like so many sites have high hopes and...

      Lock the gate. Turn off open registration, turn off open viewing, revert access to what it is now and stem the tide of new users for the community's sake. That's totally possible.

      Is it though? I really like this approach but I fail to see it carried out. Do you have any examples of this being done on and off with success? It seems like so many sites have high hopes and promises from the beginning and then when shit hits the fan the argument is just we can't go back. I know this is mainly because of commercial interests a lot of times but I fear this could be true here too.

      If we get an Eternal September of thousands of new users wouldn't the damage already be done even if registration is turned off? And by the time we've weeded out the worst trolls and assholes the main contributors and old guard would be long gone. Not that new people and new views are inherently a bad thing but I hope that the community would be strong enough to counter such issues.

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        I probably should have tried to explain the concept better, but the general idea is that we take these measures preemptively. So instead of reacting to an influx of users from a news article, we...

        If we get an Eternal September of thousands of new users wouldn't the damage already be done even if registration is turned off?

        I probably should have tried to explain the concept better, but the general idea is that we take these measures preemptively. So instead of reacting to an influx of users from a news article, we react to the article itself, closing up shop before (many) new users can even arrive, preventing an Eternal September kind of situation. Also, moderation through the trust system should help combat heavy influxes of users in ways that more traditional models (Reddit) have failed to do.

        Of course, these ideas only really apply in drastic situations of influx. As far as I know, there isn't anything keeping Deimos from flipping a switch to change the state of Tildes from say, open to closed registration. It's something that should be relatively easy to implement in the code base, and I cannot think of any reason this website or community would not be able to follow through with that procedure. Tildes is meant to be sustainable. Once the costs of hosting the site are covered (they already are, I think) and the cost of Deimos' salary is covered (it's getting there, donate!), then Tildes is right where it needs to be. The activity level is already "good enough" even now, and in the future there certainly won't be an arbitrary impetus for growth, it'll be a calculated desire.

        Depending on the growth exhibited when Tildes is made openly viewable, we'll have a better idea of how far this website is going to go. As of right now though, Tildes already has more activity than Lobste.rs, an invite only, openly viewable community since July of 2012, and we've accomplished this by being invite only, register to view. Impressive.

        In short, I have no doubt that Tildes has a bright future, built on a model of success.

        6 votes
        1. nsa
          Link Parent
          We could even automate it to turn off registration if, in one day, registrations exceed like maybe 3x the average, to stop the flood before its really even started.

          We could even automate it to turn off registration if, in one day, registrations exceed like maybe 3x the average, to stop the flood before its really even started.

          8 votes
        2. [2]
          elcuello
          Link Parent
          Thank you for that thorough response. I like where this is going.

          Thank you for that thorough response. I like where this is going.

          1. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            I think it's necessary to point out that @hungariantoast's opinions are not those of Tildes or its creator, Deimos. While hungariantoast has built on some things that Deimos has said, he has also...

            I think it's necessary to point out that @hungariantoast's opinions are not those of Tildes or its creator, Deimos. While hungariantoast has built on some things that Deimos has said, he has also extrapolated some things in ways that I've not seen proposed elsewhere. Don't assume that everything hungariantoast talks about will actually happen.

            2 votes
      2. [2]
        musicotic
        Link Parent
        Private torrent trackers do that all the time

        Private torrent trackers do that all the time

        3 votes
        1. elcuello
          Link Parent
          You're right I didn't think of that.

          You're right I didn't think of that.

      3. Holiday
        Link Parent
        There are subreddits that have handled influxs of users in the tens of thousands or changes in sub population in the same manner. I've been apart of one of them. Locking the doors and saying "Ok...

        There are subreddits that have handled influxs of users in the tens of thousands or changes in sub population in the same manner. I've been apart of one of them. Locking the doors and saying "Ok gang, let's sort this out" is more than an adequate approach for things like Tildes situation.

        3 votes
    3. Nmg
      Link Parent
      Hmm, why not set a cap on the max number of active users? If X is the cap and Y users haven't been active in the past Z days, then the next day, Y new accounts can be created, and the inactive...

      Hmm, why not set a cap on the max number of active users? If X is the cap and Y users haven't been active in the past Z days, then the next day, Y new accounts can be created, and the inactive accounts can either be recycled if there are no posts, or archived.

      1 vote
  3. emdash
    Link
    I mean, I am also not in support of making the site free to sign up to at the moment, but yikes, it's been a bit quiet around these parts recently. I'm trying to submit interesting posts fairly...

    I mean, I am also not in support of making the site free to sign up to at the moment, but yikes, it's been a bit quiet around these parts recently. I'm trying to submit interesting posts fairly frequently, but commentary wise, I've never really felt my opinions or comments are worth sharing so I rarely post much on that end. Plus remnant PTSD from being a mod on reddit makes me wary to share opinions.

    I think making Tildes public read/invite write needs to happen soon if we want Tildes to continue to have momentum.

    21 votes
  4. clone1
    Link
    Reasons why it does need to be public: the activity level is fairly low and likely won't increase significantly while it remains private. There's no reason to use a site like this without people...

    Reasons why it does need to be public: the activity level is fairly low and likely won't increase significantly while it remains private. There's no reason to use a site like this without people on it.

    17 votes
  5. [4]
    TheSaltShaker
    Link
    This is the first thread I’ve seen on tildes in several months. I stopped checking Tildes because there is so little new content. I’m coming back to Tildes now, because I’ve gotten tired of...

    This is the first thread I’ve seen on tildes in several months. I stopped checking Tildes because there is so little new content. I’m coming back to Tildes now, because I’ve gotten tired of Reddit's problems, namely viral advertisement and the growing toxicity. I was thinking how I really liked the smaller communities, since nobody bothered spamming ads, and it kept the toxicity relatively low, then I realized Tildes was the solution to those problems.

    One of the good things about Tildes is the amount of control Deimos has over it. It’s a double edged sword, but as long as users trust the people running the site, it isn’t an issue. Censorship isn’t an issue if nothing valuable is removed, and the community recognizes things like spam and hate speech as valueless “content.” Tildes has the ability to keep the smaller community feel through invite only sign ups.

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      elcuello
      Link Parent
      Given the meaning of the username this sentence is brilliant. Welcome back.

      One of the good things about Tildes is the amount of control Deimos has over it.

      Given the meaning of the username this sentence is brilliant. Welcome back.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        nsz
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Isn't Deimos a moon of Mars? and then a Greek god, the god of dread/terror.

        Isn't Deimos a moon of Mars? and then a Greek god, the god of dread/terror.

        1. Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          Yes, Deimos is one of Mars' two moons. However, because Mars itself is named for the God of War, its two moons are named after the God of War's two sons: the God of Panic (Phobos) and the God of...

          Yes, Deimos is one of Mars' two moons. However, because Mars itself is named for the God of War, its two moons are named after the God of War's two sons: the God of Panic (Phobos) and the God of Dread (Deimos).

          Deimos is the God of Dread - and he controls this website.

          4 votes
  6. Silbern
    Link
    Oh, they can definitely be made. I still have my 10 invites saved up for example, which would in theory give me room for 10 alts. I think the bigger factor is that accounts can be traced by who...

    Throwaways can't be made. Making a throwaway account on Tildes costs one of your invites, so it's much more annoying to do so.

    Oh, they can definitely be made. I still have my 10 invites saved up for example, which would in theory give me room for 10 alts. I think the bigger factor is that accounts can be traced by who invited them, so it's very easy to see if someone is consistently inviting trolls into the platform, or if they're creating alts to troll. The inconvenience itself isn't that hard to get around.

    Personally, I guess I could support requiring an invite or application to make an account, but at the very least the site should be open for people to browse and read. Staying as private as it is right now isn't viable for keeping the site floating in the long term, and tbh unless trolling becomes an issue, I think we'll be okay with public registrations. If someone really wants to troll, they can so far more easily at Reddit, where the punishments are easier to evade and they have a much greater audience. I don't think they'd waste there time trying to do so here.

    6 votes
  7. life
    (edited )
    Link
    It definitely needs some advertising if its to grow I think, and recruitment can be done rather than having open registration. Ultimately I guess it depends on what the goal is - if its to have...

    It definitely needs some advertising if its to grow I think, and recruitment can be done rather than having open registration.

    Ultimately I guess it depends on what the goal is - if its to have specialized discussion for other things in the future, then it'll have to open up more.

    4 votes
  8. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    If we don't get more people, internet addicts like myself will have to rely on less friendly places to find great articles and engage in conversations with cool interesting people. In order to...

    If we don't get more people, internet addicts like myself will have to rely on less friendly places to find great articles and engage in conversations with cool interesting people.

    In order to develop a vast and sustainable culture, we must have more people. With all the issues this entails. I'd rather deal with the growing pains than with the boredom of purity.

    2 votes
  9. [7]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    @Deimos, do you consider invite trees when you ban someone? As long as users are able to create invite codes, they could simply invite themselves to create a backup account if they plan to troll....

    Bans are actual bans. Getting beyond a ban is ridiculously hard compared to on Reddit, where someone just makes a second account. On Tildes, if you're banned, you're banned. That's it. It weeds out a lot of trolls.

    @Deimos, do you consider invite trees when you ban someone? As long as users are able to create invite codes, they could simply invite themselves to create a backup account if they plan to troll.

    Throwaways can't be made. Making a throwaway account on Tildes costs one of your invites, so it's much more annoying to do so.

    I get the feeling most people don't send out many invites. The cost is more than on reddit, but it's not like you couldn't have a few spare accounts even after inviting 2 or 3 people.

    1 vote
    1. [4]
      cfabbro
      Link Parent
      https://tildes.net/~tildes.official/26m/invited_by_information_for_users_is_no_longer_displayed (emphasis mine)

      https://tildes.net/~tildes.official/26m/invited_by_information_for_users_is_no_longer_displayed

      After we discussed this the other day, I've now changed it so that you can no longer see who a user was invited by. While some people did like it being public, I think the benefits of keeping it public were pretty minor, and there were legitimate concerns about privacy on the opposite side.

      So now it's still stored internally and I'll be able to use it to see if someone is repeatedly inviting users that cause problems, but it won't be shown on the site any more.

      (emphasis mine)

      9 votes
      1. [3]
        elcuello
        Link Parent
        This might be a weird question but is it possible to invite someone anonymously? I mean it would still be stored internally but to the person invited.

        This might be a weird question but is it possible to invite someone anonymously? I mean it would still be stored internally but to the person invited.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          There is no publicly visible connection between the invitee and invited account anymore, and all that is required for someone to register is the invite code you generate, which has no visible...

          There is no publicly visible connection between the invitee and invited account anymore, and all that is required for someone to register is the invite code you generate, which has no visible connection in it anywhere either, so if you send that code to someone anonymously/pseudo-anonymous somehow (e.g. using a throwaway email or social media account) then yes, at least in theory they should have no way of knowing anything about who you are here or elsewhere.

          5 votes
          1. elcuello
            Link Parent
            Ahh OK well TIL then. Thanks.

            Ahh OK well TIL then. Thanks.

            1 vote
    2. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      I can look at it, and usually take a quick glance if I'm banning someone for bad behavior, both to see who invited them as well as check if they invited anyone else or have unused invite codes...

      @Deimos, do you consider invite trees when you ban someone?

      I can look at it, and usually take a quick glance if I'm banning someone for bad behavior, both to see who invited them as well as check if they invited anyone else or have unused invite codes that they might have stashed to be able to re-register.

      I haven't actually seen any issues or needed to do anything related to this so far though, most of the time the person that had invited them was me, via them requesting an invite through email.

      4 votes
      1. cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Huh... I honestly thought for sure it would have been me with the most banned users under my invite tree given how many I have sent out via reddit. I guess my basic vetting is kinda working (at...

        most of the time the person that had invited them was me, via them requesting an invite through email.

        Huh... I honestly thought for sure it would have been me with the most banned users under my invite tree given how many I have sent out via reddit. I guess my basic vetting is kinda working (at least % wise)? :P

        1 vote