57 votes

By making both "high-quality discussion" and "transparent community development" a core part of its identity, Tildes will always be dominated by people with "moderator/power user" personalities.

To me, Tildes is caught in a vicious cycle.

  1. Certain types of conversations are common on Tildes:
    • Discourse about community building, for a number of reasons: The work-in-progress, experimental nature of Tildes is public; users are encouraged to chime in with thoughts and suggestions; ~tildes and ~tildes.official suscriptions are on by default.
    • Lengthy discussions about "Important" topics, e.g. philosophical ponderings, thinkpieces, commentary on difficult issues. There's a pressure for responses to be weighty and meaningful, or else they might be shunned as Noise. Skilled link finders share only the most thought-provoking and stimulating articles they come across.
  2. With this sort of discussion being so common, I think it results in self-selection bias towards a specific... type? of person. There's a barrier to entry for participation, and discussion carries a specific mood/tone. "Pretentious", "curious", "pedantic", "encyclopedic", "likes to hear themselves think". The sort of qualities you think about when you peer behind the curtain of a Wikipedia talk page.

This isn't inherently a bad thing! I think the opposite is true: these qualities are a draw for the most active people on Tildes. But that results in <the people who like this sort of thing> sticking around to fuel further discussion, and <the people who can't adapt> taking the path of least resistance and leaving. 1 -> 2 -> 1 -> 2 and the cycle continues.

I brought up Wikipedia, and I think it's a good comparison to Tildes. Wikipedia has two main "sides" to it: the public-facing and default "Article" pages, and the more internal "Talk" pages. With this division, the people who like to plan and organize and nitpick and talk can do so to their hearts content, while the people who just want the goodies can choose to never click on the Talk tab. With Tildes, though, the two are combined into a sort of mish-mash of discussion by design. The integration is even viewed as critical to the identity and evolution of Tildes as a website. With that said, I'm not sure how Tildes will ever grow to the point where it can transition away from "moderator/power user paradise" with the way things are now.

What do you think of how I've described the current state of Tildes? And, what do you see as Tildes' path forward?

(As some context, I'm not sure how long I'll be staying on Tildes. I don't think the kinds of discussions I mention are healthy for me to be falling into. I really only realized it when I tried to recommend Tildes to a friend, and her comments snapped me out of it. But, I thought it would be good to talk about it before I quietly go away like many others.)

49 comments

  1. [5]
    Deimos
    Link
    I won't get too involved in this thread (I usually like to read what other people think, and I feel like having "official" responses shuts that down a bit), but I generally agree about this, so a...

    I won't get too involved in this thread (I usually like to read what other people think, and I feel like having "official" responses shuts that down a bit), but I generally agree about this, so a few quick thoughts:

    • I mentioned it on GitLab last week, but I specifically reduced the amount of meta topics I was posting because of this. I used to post an official "Daily Discussion" every day and they'd almost always get a lot of discussion, but I had multiple people tell me that they felt like Tildes was mostly a site for talking about Tildes. The type of person you're talking about loves those topics, but they're tedious and uninteresting to a lot of others.

    • It's the nature of community sites that you have to get started with "devoted" users. There's no way to somehow dump a few thousand casual users on a site and have it come to life. It's just not how it works. You're always going to have to start with a core group that cares more and will help build activity and content. Over time you'll probably end up with them being diluted by more casual users as the site grows, but you can't jump a community directly to that state.

    • I'm not sure what it is about current internet culture, but people seem to put emphasis on "choosing" a single site. You don't have to choose. You can use Tildes when you want the in-depth articles/discussions you mentioned, and go to other sites when you want different or lighter content. It's just clicking a different icon/bookmark/app, you don't have to pick one site as your "home".

      I think it might just be the current priorities of the sites themselves, where platforms like Facebook and Reddit are trying so hard to keep people exclusively on their sites for everything that it's seeped into the user culture a little too, and people feel like they shouldn't need to go to different sites. But there's no harm in getting away from that mindset and letting sites specialize, and I'd even argue that it's better that way.

    38 votes
    1. [3]
      vivaria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This might just be me, but I really like the idea of having a home. I don't want the internet to be a collection of links and one-off discussions -- I want it to be a place where I feel like I'm...

      I'm not sure what it is about current internet culture, but people seem to put emphasis on "choosing" a single site. You don't have to choose. You can use Tildes when you want the in-depth articles/discussions you mentioned, and go to other sites when you want different or lighter content. It's just clicking a different icon/bookmark/app, you don't have to pick one site as your "home".

      This might just be me, but I really like the idea of having a home. I don't want the internet to be a collection of links and one-off discussions -- I want it to be a place where I feel like I'm in good company. Where there are folks I know and like and feel comfortable talking to about the things that happen in my life and in theirs. For a lot of people (myself included), filling that human need IRL is hard. It often comes with being an outcast or not fitting into societal norms. Gender, sexuality, mental health, physical health, race, ethnicity, preferences/tastes. The internet in a lot of ways acted as this sort of... promise of finding a place to be, especially when you didn't fit with the people near you, proximity-wise. A hangout space for outcasts! Bridging physical gaps through cyberspace.

      I have lots of memories of specific forums or message boards or websites or chatrooms that filled me with a sense of community. But, with the consolidation of the internet into mega websites, I feel like I've lost a home, and I'm searching for ways to get it back. Looking for a little corner of the internet where I can settle down and be cozy. A chain I can be a link in. That's why I joined Tildes back in February.

      I imagine that's part of why there's a desire to have a name for people who browse Tildes. Tildistas, tilders, tilderinos. People... want to feel like they belong? Like they're part of a clan, with people who help make them feel understood and accepted and appreciated. I used to be a 4chan person, then I became a Tumblr person, I was a person who belonged to <insert blank> IRC room. Take your pick of websites past and present. YTMND, Albino Blacksheep, Something Awful, LessWrong, Reddit, Digg, BBS corners even, etc. etc. etc. etc. Some of them are regrettable to think about, some of them I'm nostalgic about, but... I always want to work towards building something better in the future, I guess.

      18 votes
      1. [2]
        Deimos
        Link Parent
        Yeah, and I understand that, but there are always trade-offs involved. You're not going to have a small, tight-knit community that's also full of casual users that don't feel strongly about it....

        Yeah, and I understand that, but there are always trade-offs involved. You're not going to have a small, tight-knit community that's also full of casual users that don't feel strongly about it. Everything tilts the culture in different directions.

        16 votes
        1. vivaria
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Oh, sorry, I'm just trying to explain the motivation behind the behavior you described in your quote. S'why I quoted that specific part. <here is what it is about current internet culture>

          Oh, sorry, I'm just trying to explain the motivation behind the behavior you described in your quote. S'why I quoted that specific part.

          I'm not sure what it is about current internet culture [..]

          <here is what it is about current internet culture>

          11 votes
    2. NaraVara
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Anecdotally, one of the things that helps build and maintain a sense of community is having a spot for unfiltered discussion. A "Silly Hats Only" zone is a good way for people to get to know each...

      I mentioned it on GitLab last week, but I specifically reduced the amount of meta topics I was posting because of this. I used to post an official "Daily Discussion" every day and they'd almost always get a lot of discussion, but I had multiple people tell me that they felt like Tildes was mostly a site for talking about Tildes. The type of person you're talking about loves those topics, but they're tedious and uninteresting to a lot of others.

      Anecdotally, one of the things that helps build and maintain a sense of community is having a spot for unfiltered discussion. A "Silly Hats Only" zone is a good way for people to get to know each other as people rather than as sources of opinions or holders of ideas.

      Part of the problem is none of the groups really feel distinct from each other. This might just be a facet of everyone being subbed to everything, so there isn't really a different community from group to group, just the same gaggle of people in all the groups. The effect winds up being that rather than forming communities within the subgroups, the groups end up feeling like tags for types of content you're subscribing too.

      When I was very active on the RoosterTeeth forums I went to a meetup once and was very surprised to learn how many people knew of me despite never having spoken to me (online or in person) before. I was active on the philosophy and politics forums and lots of people from the sports and film forums would follow arguments I was in, but didn't participate. Stuff like this gave that community the feel of a biggish small town where everyone is, at most, 1 or 2 degrees removed from each other.

      Open discussion threads tend to work for this. There is always the risk of it turning into a dumping ground for stupid memes and "forwards from grandma" though, so it's a fine balance to strike. The way it worked in other forums was there would be a "social" thread where a clique of people would all get to know each other through shooting the shit. And when there was actually a subject they wanted to discuss they would go and make a thread for it. It works well at cultivating a sense of community and inculcating a sense of norms, but it can be a little newbie-hostile because of its tendency to organize into cliques. It's another fine balance that needs to be struck.

      Edit: Another thing that might help, I think, would be more of an emphasis on attracting creative people and input. Perhaps subgroups for people to share art, writing, songs, poetry, etc. might encourage more of a sense of sharing and bonding and all that other fuzzy stuff. I guess "hobbies" and "creative" kind of do this, but those are such broad topic areas that I'm not sure people really know what to do with them at first glance. Not having thumbnail images probably doesn't help either.

      8 votes
  2. [18]
    Cirrus
    Link
    My own reason for drifting away from tildes is different, but I suppose it's better to at least mention it than quietly fade away. I'm chinese, and over the months I've felt a distinct...

    My own reason for drifting away from tildes is different, but I suppose it's better to at least mention it than quietly fade away.

    I'm chinese, and over the months I've felt a distinct anti-chinese sentiment on here. There was a period where every day, there would be at least one article in ~news criticizing China, or expressing their dislike of China in some way. Even if I don't delve into the fact that many of those articles are pretty sensationalist, it feels really shitty seeing that everyday, and looking into the comments and seeing people generalizing all chinese people as brainwashed/spies/etc.

    I sense a similar rise in hostility on other sites, but the opinions there are more varied, while here it's more uniform, and I don't get as strong of an unwelcoming feeling.

    I think this is all due to the trade war, and the US ramping up it's propaganda against China. Whatever the case, I think I'll stay away for a while.

    16 votes
    1. [2]
      patience_limited
      Link Parent
      It's very sad that this is driving you away, and I apologize to the degree I may have contributed to it. I'd like to see you stay, and call it out when you feel that there's an inappropriate level...

      It's very sad that this is driving you away, and I apologize to the degree I may have contributed to it. I'd like to see you stay, and call it out when you feel that there's an inappropriate level of bias.

      Unfortunately, most of us are, in greater or lesser degree, drawing our news from English-language news sources, with the intrinsic biases of Western government influence.

      That being said, please don't take criticism of anti-democratic and human rights-violating Chinese government policies as criticism of Chinese citizens. You'll find a substantial amount of criticism of Western government policies here, but this isn't generally received as anti-Westernism globally.

      13 votes
      1. Cirrus
        Link Parent
        I think there is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. I read and hear chinese people criticize various policies of the government, and these people usually want to make...

        I think there is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. I read and hear chinese people criticize various policies of the government, and these people usually want to make China a better place to live in. I get the feeling that many people here wish ill towards China, not to make it better.

        There is another side as well. I don't think I would mind as much if I were living in China, but I'm in Canada, and so everything I read some post or comment (not necessarily on here, mind), I wonder if the people I interact with in real life secretly think like this. Canadians are very polite, and usually keep their judgements to themselves. But I had a friend who was publicly accused of being a chinese spy by coworkers. So every time I read something online, I wonder if some people I know talk like this behind closed doors, and I wonder what they think of me and my country. This is not good for my mental state. I would rather be in ignorance of these comments.

        As to calling out these bias, it is like trying to stem a tide with your hands. There is no point. I am not a historian, and I don't want to be bothered to research articles, journals or something else every time something related to China comes up. Some people will still think I am wumao. It's just not worth it, and it puts me in a bad mood as well.

        Thank you for your comment, patience_limited.


        PS: @deing I don't think you noticed, but I added more to the intro post a while ago. I would appreciate it if you updated the wiki. It is outdated nonetheless, but at least it is the latest outdated version. https://pastebin.com/Cv3i8bUc

        8 votes
    2. [6]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      While I understand it can be hard to see posters generalizing Chinese peoples, you leaving the site is certainly not going to make the situation any better. Certainly you are correct that the...

      While I understand it can be hard to see posters generalizing Chinese peoples, you leaving the site is certainly not going to make the situation any better. Certainly you are correct that the current economic war with China and the ensuing propoganda is likely playing a part in directing sentiments. With that said, as with any country, there are numerous issues going on within the Middle Country that merit discussion.

      Seeing as how anti-Americanism is common on this site, by American citizens themselves, and the American population isn't drifting away as a result, I would question whether or not thicker skin might be necessary. Then again, I'm Canadian and nobody ever says shit about Canada so perhaps I just don't understand.

      It would be a travesty to lose a non-Western voice on tildes.

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        Cirrus
        Link Parent
        Yes, I don't have the thickest skin, pretty thin in fact, but I don't think that makes my opinion less valid. Also, anti-China by Americans is definitely more hostile than anti-Americanism by...

        Yes, I don't have the thickest skin, pretty thin in fact, but I don't think that makes my opinion less valid. Also, anti-China by Americans is definitely more hostile than anti-Americanism by Americans.

        I'm not asking for a change - it is what it is, and I don't think any person can change it if they could - I just wanted people to know why I'm leaving, and to hear a "non western voice". It always feels strange to me when people intentionally want diversity on a site, especially when the site itself is not very friendly to minorities to begin with, and more so for people who are not familiar with western culture and English, i.e, the non-western people. It seems that I am valued solely for my ethnicity.

        3 votes
        1. [4]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          Your opinion is certainly valid. I haven't noticed your posting in particular (I imagine you started to fade out before I joined), however, I wouldn't say your only appreciated for your ethnicity...

          I don't think that makes my opinion less valid.

          Your opinion is certainly valid.

          I haven't noticed your posting in particular (I imagine you started to fade out before I joined), however, I wouldn't say your only appreciated for your ethnicity more so for the different perspective you can bring to the table than the dominantly 30 something westerner tech guy demo we have on tildes.

          I grew up in Calgary Canada which has a significant Chinese population (dominantly Hong Kong/Cantonese decendants I believe, but rapidly growing Han population from Communist China) so "Chinese" as an ethnicity really holds no special interest or surprise for me. With that said I am interested in yoir perspective whether it aligns with the generalized western perspective or it is distinctly non-western. Monocultures are not healthy in places of discussion, despite the propensity for them to occur.

          4 votes
          1. [3]
            jwong
            Link Parent
            FYI Most Hong Kongese are also Han :)

            FYI Most Hong Kongese are also Han :)

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              Loire
              Link Parent
              While I do know that, in Calgary we tend to distinguish the "original" Chinese immigrants as Cantonese vs modern immigrants which are a mix but mostly non-Hong Kong Chinese. I essentially don't...

              While I do know that, in Calgary we tend to distinguish the "original" Chinese immigrants as Cantonese vs modern immigrants which are a mix but mostly non-Hong Kong Chinese.

              I essentially don't know how to refer to "other" Chinese and defaulted to incorrectly using the ethnic group.

              2 votes
              1. jwong
                Link Parent
                Ahh okay. Usually I’ve heard people refer to them as where they’re from, so either mainlanders or HKese etc

                Ahh okay. Usually I’ve heard people refer to them as where they’re from, so either mainlanders or HKese etc

    3. [9]
      Defluo
      Link Parent
      I feel the exact same way, and it's the same reason I'm drifting away from tildes. People just turn off their brain when it comes to anything they hear about China or Chinese people. I tend to...

      I feel the exact same way, and it's the same reason I'm drifting away from tildes. People just turn off their brain when it comes to anything they hear about China or Chinese people.

      I tend to self censor myself now because I just feel this air of hostility lately due to the increased propaganda.

      1. [8]
        Staross
        Link Parent
        Do you have some examples of said propaganda posted on tildes ? Because we should probably do something about it.

        Do you have some examples of said propaganda posted on tildes ? Because we should probably do something about it.

        6 votes
        1. [7]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I have now seen several people say the reason they have distanced themselves from Tildes is because of anti-Chinese propaganda being posted here... but honestly, I am not aware of anything having...

          I have now seen several people say the reason they have distanced themselves from Tildes is because of anti-Chinese propaganda being posted here... but honestly, I am not aware of anything having been posted that I would consider propaganda (other than the Bloomberg Microchip story, which still hasn't been proven and is likely false). At least, nothing I have seen regarding China is any moreso "propaganda" than most objective news about the US and Trump is these days. So I would genuinely be curious to see what everyone is referring to here.

          10 votes
          1. [5]
            Deimos
            Link Parent
            I can't be sure what they mean, but I'd guess that "propaganda" is probably too strong or loaded of a term, and they mean something more like what people often refer to as "FUD" (Fear,...

            I can't be sure what they mean, but I'd guess that "propaganda" is probably too strong or loaded of a term, and they mean something more like what people often refer to as "FUD" (Fear, uncertainty, and doubt). The type of articles that exaggerate or fixate on negative aspects to make people apprehensive about the subject.

            5 votes
            1. [4]
              Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              My guess is that it's more akin to what happens when criticism of the government of Israel is conflated with anti-Semitism. I assume that some people believe that a criticism of the government of...

              My guess is that it's more akin to what happens when criticism of the government of Israel is conflated with anti-Semitism. I assume that some people believe that a criticism of the government of China is somehow the same as being bigoted against Chinese people.

              And, seeing as there's a lot of criticism of the government of China being bandied about these days because the Chinese government is doing a lot of controversial things, it can look like there's a lot of negative feeling towards Chinese people here.

              Which almost certainly isn't true.

              But I can see how some people might take it that way.

              FYI: @cfabbro.

              8 votes
              1. [3]
                cfabbro
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                To be fair, the two are not always mutually exclusive and the situation can often get muddled as a result, even if the sources being shared are generally pretty objective ones, since bigots are...

                My guess is that it's more akin to what happens when criticism of the government of Israel is conflated with anti-Semitism. I assume that some people believe that a criticism of the government of China is somehow the same as being bigoted against Chinese people.

                To be fair, the two are not always mutually exclusive and the situation can often get muddled as a result, even if the sources being shared are generally pretty objective ones, since bigots are more likely to share articles that paint the target of their bigotry in a bad light and vote on/discuss any that do. So even if someone hasn't said anything outwardly bigoted or posted any questionable sources, if the only thing they post is anti-whatever news, that can still be problematic and troublesome. E.g. If ~news was absolutely dominated by topics criticizing the Chinese government, that would certainly be suspicious and I could see how that would be off-putting.

                But again, I have yet to see any evidence of that occurring on Tildes and there appears to be just as many (if not more) articles criticizing Trump and the US Federal and State governments (despite the majority of Tildes users being from the US), so I would be grateful if the people who do feel anti-Chinese sentiment, propaganda or FUD is being spread here could be a bit more specific in what they mean so that it could be investigated.

                2 votes
                1. [2]
                  Algernon_Asimov
                  Link Parent
                  I'll bet you $1,000,000 that the evidence will be articles and discussion criticising the Chinese government, rather than any actual bigotry towards the Chinese people.

                  I'll bet you $1,000,000 that the evidence will be articles and discussion criticising the Chinese government, rather than any actual bigotry towards the Chinese people.

                  1. cfabbro
                    Link Parent
                    I suspect so too, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and Tildes is finally starting to get to the point where none of us can really read/watch absolutely everything posted here,...

                    I suspect so too, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and Tildes is finally starting to get to the point where none of us can really read/watch absolutely everything posted here, so it is possible some comments have been made that were outwardly bigoted toward Chinese people. I would hope those would get labeled with Malice and thus removed... but you never know.

                    3 votes
          2. Staross
            Link Parent
            I guess just the focus could be regarded as propaganda (why this subject rather than another gets the spotlight), but the events in HK and Tienanmen anniversary are pretty newsworthy in my opinion.

            I guess just the focus could be regarded as propaganda (why this subject rather than another gets the spotlight), but the events in HK and Tienanmen anniversary are pretty newsworthy in my opinion.

            1 vote
  3. [6]
    alyaza
    Link
    i think something also worth bearing in mind with this is that it's also a matter of community engagement, which is one part of why me and other people have been pushing for bigger community...

    i think something also worth bearing in mind with this is that it's also a matter of community engagement, which is one part of why me and other people have been pushing for bigger community involvement in things and efforts to push people toward feeling like they're involved.

    tildes, right now, to me, pretty much doesn't have a "community" so much as a loose collection of people who share broad ideas of what a site should be, which is helpful for building a website but not so much for creating spaces of discussion like we want to eventually be the case. this also probably drives a lot of people away, honestly, or makes them only visit once in awhile; the reality is, as much as we should prioritize quality content and building standard around that, we also need to prioritize an actual community forming around that. the conversion rate for users around here is terrible, and lacking any sort of seemingly cohesive community isn't going to help that. we've made strides toward community involvement and engagement, and i feel like we're definitely a lot more community-involved than we were even a few months ago, but i still feel like i know pretty much nobody here (and i've been here for 9 months), and that's... really not that conducive to keeping people around here, especially given the stuff in the OP. we need to keep taking steps toward getting more people involved with the project, with the wiki, with submitting topics, and with feeling like they can actually contribute to discussion without needing to type up a gigantic wordwall.


    one of the other point in all of this worth bringing is also that more than a few people really linger on the "not feeling like they can actually contribute to discussion without needing to type up a gigantic wordwall" thing. i get that we are all for prioritizing good discussion and that often means longer comments, but i think at times people go too far in that direction and get into the territory of prioritizing length and verbosity over actually saying things of substance, and we end up creating community standards which push people already here toward saying more when they don't actually have that much to say or toward being very conservative with their comments. there is very much a place for middle ground, middle-length comments i feel, but as the OP notes, there's a pressure a fair number of people feel--whether you feel that's actually the case or not--for their responses to be weighty and deep and meaningful, and that deters them from commenting because they're never sure if what they're saying is good enough for us all and what not. you can of course say that it's not the site's job to address that and that people need to just go with the flow and not worry, but i feel like if tildes were to go down that route, we would be communicating to many people who might believe in the ideals of this website that they really don't matter, and push them away.


    this is all not to say that those things i mentioned aren't valuable: i do obviously think that we should continue to uphold quality standards, and there is merit in wanting tildes to remain more 'discussion' focused than 'community' focused. but at the same time, i think people never really consider or discuss whether or not we are sometimes being too overbearing, as people, with our standards and genuinely coming out the other side as overly pretentious and too interested in hearing our own selves talk to recognize that we're essentially just being demagogues to one another and not actually facilitating discussion in doing so, leading to us pushing away others who might otherwise be interested in the website. i also think that our general lack of an identifiable community and our few-and-far-between efforts to promote and cultivate the creation of them is a big roadblock in getting people to stay active and engaged here. i dunno, maybe i'm just shooting off blanks, but it does feel like this all is a big knot of things we should be talking about and just haven't ever considered seriously.

    21 votes
    1. [5]
      gpl
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I agree with pretty much all of your points here, thanks for taking the time to write them up. I think this distinction gets to the heart of the issue. I believe that better discussions happen...

      I agree with pretty much all of your points here, thanks for taking the time to write them up.

      there is merit in wanting tildes to remain more 'discussion' focused than 'community' focused

      I think this distinction gets to the heart of the issue. I believe that better discussions happen when the community it is taking place in is strong, as people feel comfortable sharing their view and confident that they will be heard out. I think Tildes (either officially or unofficially) should place a bit more focus on building a community up if it really wants to promote good discussion.

      Anecdotally, the strongest online communities I have been a part of tend to have some type of interactions outside of the forum. IRC channels used to be big for this, and are still my personal favorite solution. They provide a space in which the standard for discussion is much much lower than the big 'think comments' that Tildes promotes. Just being able to chat casually with people you are sharing an online space with really helps when it comes to getting to know others and building a community. I would be interested in a Tildes IRC channel or something similar. In any case, I definitely agree that there should be more discussion around what can be done to promote the health of the community.

      EDIT: Another thing I just thought of again, which I know has been discussed on the site before, is adding some type of friend mechanic. There are many users here whose interests align pretty well with my own, and whose comments I often find insightful. Being able to have a feed of their posts, I think, would go a long way to feeling like I am familiar with them and staying 'up to date' with them, so to speak. But I know opinions on such a feature vary.

      6 votes
      1. [4]
        Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        Unofficially there's a discord

        I would be interested in a Tildes IRC channel or something similar

        Unofficially there's a discord

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          MetArtScroll
          Link Parent
          The link is not working

          The link is not working

          1. Nephrited
            Link Parent
            Links cease to work for one of four reasons: The link has been manually deleted by an admin. You've been banned from the server being linked to. The link's time limit has been reached. The link's...

            Links cease to work for one of four reasons:

            • The link has been manually deleted by an admin.
            • You've been banned from the server being linked to.
            • The link's time limit has been reached.
            • The link's user cap has been reached.
            6 votes
  4. Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    You've raised a few points here: Power users dominating the site Meta discussions being too prominent A culture of wordiness putting people off Power users It's easy to dominate Tildes at the...

    You've raised a few points here:

    • Power users dominating the site
    • Meta discussions being too prominent
    • A culture of wordiness putting people off

    Power users

    It's easy to dominate Tildes at the moment because the population of this website is quite small. It's easy to be a big fish in this small pond. I'm one of the most prolific posters here (definitely in the Top 5). I've therefore been accused of being a "power user" (someone even had the audacity to call me a leader of the community!). However, if I took my current activity over to Reddit, noone would notice me at all. Among the thousands of posts and hundreds of thousands of comments they get every hour, my activity would be just a drop in the ocean. There's no way I could be a power user over there. It only happens here because Tildes' current level of activity is so low.

    As Tildes grows (and it will grow), it will become harder for any small group of people to dominate it. The so-called power users will become less noticeable in the ever-growing crowd of people who just want to read articles and talk about what they read. That problem will solve itself as Tildes grows. In fact, I look forward to the day when I stop being seen as a power user, and when I can go back to blending into the crowd, because it will mean Tildes is succeeding.

    Meta discussions

    "Meta" discussions are visible now because, as you point out, all new users are currently subscribed to all existing groups automatically (not specifically ~tildes and ~tildes.official: they're just included by default). However, Deimos has repeatedly said he plans to eventually drop this automatic subscription to all groups for new users. At some point in the future, new users will have to choose which groups and sub-groups to subscribe to. When people have to choose to subscribe to ~tildes, the subscription rates here will drop, and these navel-gazing conversations will become less visible.

    Wordiness

    You say that Tildes is building a culture where so-called "important" topics and long reads and in-depth comments are seen as preferable.

    Why is that a bad thing? In places throughout this thread, you touch on the concepts of Tildes' character and having a sense of community. Maybe that is Tildes' character. Maybe, to borrow a tacky marketing phrase, that is Tildes' "value proposition". That is what Tildes does which is different to other sites out there. Remember: Tildes is not trying to be a replacement for any other forum - not Reddit or Hacker News or Twitter or Facebook or Stack Overflow or any other site you might think of. Also, Tildes is not trying to be all things to all people. Tildes is trying to be its own thing, and maybe that's what its thing is: in-depth high-quality discussion.

    And that's not for everyone. It may not even be an everyday thing for those people who do like Tildes.

    Tildes can't - and shouldn't - be all things to all people. That's the way for a site to fail. We need to have our own individual style and purpose. There's no point being a copy of something else. We need to be our own thing.

    13 votes
  5. kfwyre
    Link
    Tildes is the first place on the internet that I've felt comfortable in a long, long time. I'm a wall-of-text type of commenter. I always have been. Writing things out is how I process. Most of...

    Tildes is the first place on the internet that I've felt comfortable in a long, long time. I'm a wall-of-text type of commenter. I always have been. Writing things out is how I process.

    Most of the time, when I start writing a lengthy comment for Tildes, I only know the basic direction I want to take, not the details. The actual act of writing for me is what causes me to solidify and expand my ideas, because I'm forced to articulate them, rather than leaving them as nebulous clouds of thought in my head. The act of writing helps me find the words I want to say, rather than having so much to say that I simply need to put it in writing.

    I was an early reddit user, and it felt very much to me like Tildes does right now. I recognized usernames. There was a casualness and a pseudonymous intimacy to it. While I don't feel like I know anyone on Tildes, I also don't exactly want to? That's not meant to be a harsh indictment of anyone here (I'm quite fond of most of you!) but that I am fine with us existing behind our usernames in a public-yet-semi-private social setting. I don't want anyone on the site to come closer to my real identity, nor am I interested in peeking behind that curtain for anyone else. I accept the people here as they present themselves here, and hope people will do the same for me. If the site started to move in a more personal direction, I would be less likely to use it.

    In early reddit days, I posted much like I do here now--at length, on issues that I care about or know a lot about. We're all aware of how reddit has changed, and I left because it was no longer the site for me. For a good number of years I was adrift. The other options for what I wanted in an online community either failed to launch, blended the personal and the pseudonymous, or were too tech-focused. I can hold my own in a techy community, but it's certainly not my area of expertise or desired discourse.

    With all that said, I will throw my hat in the ring and say that I'm not only fine with Tildes in its present state--I geniunely prefer it. It's the only place I know of where the type of posts I like to both read and write are valued. I'm fine with the culture of Tildes being a little bit stuffy and a little bit longwinded. I'd like to attract more people who fit that profile. If someone is interested in something different or finds Tildes' community to be too offputting, there are plenty of other sites out there that all have their own social models. I don't think we should fall into the trap of trying to emulate them in the interest of increasing the userbase.

    16 votes
  6. Greg
    (edited )
    Link
    I've also had this on my mind for a while. There's definitely a sort of formality to most of the conversation here - almost a scholarly tone. Hell, I'm using a fairly formal register right now and...

    I've also had this on my mind for a while. There's definitely a sort of formality to most of the conversation here - almost a scholarly tone. Hell, I'm using a fairly formal register right now and I didn't even consciously choose to.

    I'm ambivalent. I enjoy talking seriously about serious things, but it takes an active effort that I'm only sometimes in the mood to make. I find myself treating Tildes more like a panel discussion than a chat at the pub - even though the latter can still be serious, meaningful, and important (or not, as the case may be). Quality content can be causal casual as well.

    My gut tells me that some "softer" conversation alongside the formality would be a good thing, but I can't quite put my finger on why. In either case I certainly haven't been leading by example there, quite the opposite, but at least this thread has prompted me to think about it a little more!

    14 votes
  7. [6]
    Whom
    (edited )
    Link
    First of all, I hope you choose to stay, it's been nice having you here and in the unofficial chat. That said, while I would like to see Tildes move in some different directions (more lighthearted...

    First of all, I hope you choose to stay, it's been nice having you here and in the unofficial chat.

    That said, while I would like to see Tildes move in some different directions (more lighthearted / friendly topics, a bit less enforced dryness, more community, diversity, etc), if we bend to too many complaints about our attitude we'll lose all character. Just like a musician only holds themselves back if they try not to come off as pretentious, so would our posts and discussions. Others will always see any kind of ambition or serious undertaking as pretentious—that's okay. What we want to do might just not be for them, and that's fine. We don't have to sacrifice what makes us good for them. Other sites might be making punk or pop music, but let's be the ones making prog rock and jazz fusion. That isn't inherently better but there's certainly those of us who have more of a taste for that and are underserved by most of the internet. If that's pretentious, so be it. Let's embrace it :)

    I think there's a bit of a need for a push and pull. I've been pretty vocal about how this site overprioritizes long posts and if you post something long and empty you'll probably get more support than if your comment is short but content-filled. Yet I think we still need to have our taste for long comments, it just needs to be challenged and not made to be all that counts as valid.

    What you describe as a site that can't move beyond poweruser types just sounds like an opinionated site that has mostly passionate users who care about the state of the forum. Not only are these people more likely to further the goals of the site than other audiences we could capture if we took another route, but they also tend to be the ones who give faces and character to the site. So idk, I don't see an issue with that part. If the design of the site nets us more cfabbros and alyazas, that seems like a good thing to me :P

    I wish we were more flexible to things that aren't dry and serious, but at the same time I have a hard time thinking that we should bend if someone is turned off by seeing those things, yknow?

    13 votes
    1. [5]
      vivaria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Is Tildes' goal to have character on a side-wide scale (i.e. a "Tildes" identity) or is it to have character on a mini-community scale (e.g. a "Tildes.anime.slice of life" identity). It was my...

      if we bend to too many complaints about our attitude we'll lose all character

      Is Tildes' goal to have character on a side-wide scale (i.e. a "Tildes" identity) or is it to have character on a mini-community scale (e.g. a "Tildes.anime.slice of life" identity). It was my understanding that Tildes wanted to grow until the point where it had a bunch of isolated splinter communities with different aims and feels for each.

      But, I also think you mentioned (elsewhere) that you're not sure growth is what we should be focused on right now, right? I guess growth is what my OP was asking about. Long-term, how do we get to the mini-communities if the site has a hard time keeping newcomers? And, what are some possible reasons why newcomers aren't staying?

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        Whom
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        The eventual splintering is all the more reason to have a common ground for site culture. We want to hammer in what we consider high quality so that when we all move in our own little directions,...

        The eventual splintering is all the more reason to have a common ground for site culture. We want to hammer in what we consider high quality so that when we all move in our own little directions, we at least all have that. That's hard, and I think the trend is going to be the opposite of what you describe. There will be a tendency for it to be just like Reddit or other platforms and trying to keep in place the things we value now will be something we actively have to fight for (see: every platform which has lost its identity with scale), not a default that's hard to break from. That's one of the top problems we have to face.

        I guess growth is what my OP was asking about. Long-term, how do we get to the mini-communities if the site has a hard time keeping newcomers? And, what are some possible reasons why newcomers aren't staying?

        We're niche, and it really depends on if you think there's enough people out there who would enjoy and fit into this niche. I think there are plenty of people out there who would love high quality serious discussion of highly specific things that there aren't many opportunities for elsewhere on the internet. I have faith that if Tildes can be built to accommodate those things as well as possible, it can be home to a lot of niche subjects. I don't think the kind of person who Tildes attracts is so rare that we can't make a site out of them.

        Why aren't newcomers staying? It's niche, ideological, and unfinished. If people stay around, it's because they share the ideological direction of the site and maybe because the people grab them. It's an alpha that doesn't have its distinguishing features yet which enable its goals. When we get there, then Tildes can really appeal to the group that I have faith will be well-served by it

        19 votes
        1. Amarok
          Link Parent
          There's a culture here of 'this post is not worthy' that pops up from time to time. It's gotten a lot better than it was during the first six months, though. I think some of this is an...

          There's a culture here of 'this post is not worthy' that pops up from time to time. It's gotten a lot better than it was during the first six months, though. I think some of this is an over-compensation for seeing all of the other platforms get overrun with fluff or bile. A lot of people want a site where that just doesn't happen.

          That's not really how it'll work, though. Tildes isn't going to be a place where posts are aggressively held to subjective standards of quality and removed by an army of content police. Instead, here, tools will exist to find and promote the quality content above the rest. That's what exemplary labels are for, and once there is enough submission activity, some kind of exemplary submission token will also exist. The group-subgroup mechanics will also help with this. We'll end up in the mindset of highlighting the best, rather than burning everything down.

          13 votes
        2. alyaza
          Link Parent
          yeah, i don't think actually attracting people of the sort here will ever be a particularly big issue, especially given how few people are needed in practice to keep this place going at a...

          I have faith that if Tildes can be built to accommodate those things as well as possible, it can be home to a lot of niche subjects. I don't think the kind of person who Tildes attracts is so rare that we can't make a site out of them.

          yeah, i don't think actually attracting people of the sort here will ever be a particularly big issue, especially given how few people are needed in practice to keep this place going at a reasonable pace (although we should definitely promote getting more people to submit things). i'm guessing that it's the keeping more of them around even semi-consistently that we'll have to improve on in the future.

          6 votes
        3. vivaria
          Link Parent
          Thanks for clarifying your thoughts. I don't have much more to add, but it's nice to hear your view on the site.

          Thanks for clarifying your thoughts. I don't have much more to add, but it's nice to hear your view on the site.

          3 votes
  8. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Your criticism is mostly valid, but precocious, in my opinion. This is a closed alpha for something that is not a game. Technology enthusiasts are over-represented. Technology enthusiasts tend to...

    Your criticism is mostly valid, but precocious, in my opinion.

    1. This is a closed alpha for something that is not a game. Technology enthusiasts are over-represented.
    2. Technology enthusiasts tend to provide more discussion and feedback regarding technology.
    3. ~tildes is currently a default group, so it's content appears in the front-page (or however we call it).
    4. In conclusion, when Tildes ceases to be invite-only, it is likely to attract a more diverse group of users, and the over-representation mentioned in 1 and 2 will likely be reduced. The "front-page" will probably be reworked too.

    Additionally, I don't think Tildes's preference for long-form content is an issue at all, and I personally haven't encountered much "pretentiousness" or "pedantry" around here — could you provide examples? Cause my experience is quite the opposite, I find Tildes extremely friendly!
    Sometimes it's difficulty setting aside the time to write proper threads and answers, but that's also very rewarding. And most of our interactions are not even near article-length anyway.

    10 votes
  9. [4]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    This is just one perspective: I'm by no means a power user nor mod on any site online, and I quite enjoy Tildes so far. I think your description of the discussion here, if I'm interpreting you...

    This is just one perspective: I'm by no means a power user nor mod on any site online, and I quite enjoy Tildes so far. I think your description of the discussion here, if I'm interpreting you correctly, goes a little too far. Yes, there is a bent towards "serious" and "thoughtful," which is by design, and I can see how that can potentially leave a dry, humorless impression on newcomers... but I'm wary of label of pretentious, as it's mostly used online by people who are unable or unwilling to think about things beyond their comfort level.

    Beyond that, isn't any online forum going to be dominated by mods and power-user types? As in, the ones who invest the most into the community?

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      vivaria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      "Pretentious" wasn't necessarily my description. It was the takeaway from the friend who saw the front page and noped right on out of there. I probably should have included this in the OP.

      "Pretentious" wasn't necessarily my description. It was the takeaway from the friend who saw the front page and noped right on out of there. I probably should have included this in the OP.

      You’re referring to tildes.net right? It looks like it’s invite only - do you have an account?
      I spent some time browsing the site and it seems a little... pretentious? But in a self deprecating way. A couple topics:
      -What my Ivy League education didn’t teach me
      -Is it immoral to have children?
      They seem like important topics to discuss at the surface, but they seem off putting to me for some reason. Sort of like a posting board for a very specific group of people. There are other topics less specific, like the poetry or ‘What are you listening to this week?’ threads, but the topics turn out to host a similar mentality.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Loire
        Link Parent
        I feel like I am pulling up the metaphorical draw bridge a lot late but maybe tildes won't be for everyone. I preface this by saying I want to see more people here with more varied views, but if...

        I feel like I am pulling up the metaphorical draw bridge a lot late but maybe tildes won't be for everyone. I preface this by saying I want to see more people here with more varied views, but if someone sees a semi serious topic and immediately "nopes out" then perhaps they should stick with all the other options the internet provides.

        I'm tired of the lowest common denominator. I want to come into a thread and just know there will be relevant, intelligent comments. I want to read someone's pretentious poetry. I havent touched Linux in a decade but I want to read someone's overly long distribe on why Arch Linux is the one true distro.

        In a further.comment you wrote:

        Allow Tildes to grow to the size it hopes to grow to.

        What size do we hope to grow to? What is the point of the project if we must sacrifice quality. Are we trying to be another reddit? Because if so, why wouldn't I just go back to reddit?

        14 votes
        1. vivaria
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I edited that last bit just now. I referenced size because I recalled that being tied to the goals of Tildes, but I clarified the wording of that a bit more. IIRC Tildes wants to grow to the point...

          I edited that last bit just now. I referenced size because I recalled that being tied to the goals of Tildes, but I clarified the wording of that a bit more.

          IIRC Tildes wants to grow to the point where it can get more specific with its groups. To have more and more niche group topics, and for each one to have its own little community. Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

          6 votes
  10. Neuroflux
    Link
    I'm the type of casual Tildes user some have spoken about in this thread. I haven't posted much since joining, but I visit daily and I'm rooting for the community. I just want to make two quick...

    I'm the type of casual Tildes user some have spoken about in this thread. I haven't posted much since joining, but I visit daily and I'm rooting for the community. I just want to make two quick points.

    1. I tend to read comments which are both concise and substantial. There's nothing wrong with long comments as long as you acknowledge that I'm only going to read a small percentage of them, unless I'm extremely invested in the topic being discussed. When I am unable/unwilling to read all of the most popular comments in a thread, I am also unlikely to comment in that thread because I feel ill-prepared to do so.

    2. Tildes feels more intimate because it is small. On reddit, you can post and trust that your comment will be lost in the noise if it lacks merit - most people won't scroll far enough down to see your poor excuse for a comment. On Tildes, every post has a strong likelihood of being read because there just aren't that many. Reddit is like shouting from a crowd whereas posting on Tildes is like stepping onto a stage with bright lights. For this reason, combined with the cultural pressure to raise the quality of comments above that which can be found on reddit, casual users may be less inclined to comment unless they feel a high degree of confidence other users will value what they have to say.

    8 votes
  11. Barskie
    (edited )
    Link
    In short, no. I do not think Tildes will be trapped in a never-ending cycle of snobbishness and stuffiness until we are speaking like Victorian-era gentlemen ("Greetings, my dear colleagues,...

    In short, no. I do not think Tildes will be trapped in a never-ending cycle of snobbishness and stuffiness until we are speaking like Victorian-era gentlemen ("Greetings, my dear colleagues, wouldst thou like to indulge in a strenous bout of politic waffling?").

    It is easier to tend towards low-effort instead of high-effort. People naturally gravitate to easy digestible content. Once you lose the culture that enforces the necessary standards, it's hard to get it back.

    7 votes
  12. [3]
    aphoenix
    Link
    It can't be both a vicious cycle and a good thing. I realize this is nitpicky, but it's kind of hard to tell what your motivation here is. Regardless, I think you've over analyzed things. There...

    It can't be both a vicious cycle and a good thing. I realize this is nitpicky, but it's kind of hard to tell what your motivation here is.

    Regardless, I think you've over analyzed things. There are over 10 thousand users. They aren't all "power users", which is an ill-definied term.

    If you don't want to take part in certain discussions, it's very easy to just not take part in them. I rarely take part in the discussions you've brought up, and I don't consider myself any less a Tildes member for it.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      vivaria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      My motivation is to spark some self-reflection on Tildes' "culture" so to speak, and whether that culture is going to allow Tildes to achieve the goals it has in mind. How many of those users have...

      My motivation is to spark some self-reflection on Tildes' "culture" so to speak, and whether that culture is going to allow Tildes to achieve the goals it has in mind.

      There are over 10 thousand users.

      How many of those users have we retained, and how many stay active months after signing up?

      10 votes
      1. Amarok
        Link Parent
        It's worth pointing out that at first, an invite was required to view the site, so large numbers of people signed up just to see it, and probably left after that. Now that it's publicly readable,...

        It's worth pointing out that at first, an invite was required to view the site, so large numbers of people signed up just to see it, and probably left after that. Now that it's publicly readable, the only invite requests we'll get are those from people who want to participate. That's a good thing. A better way to measure the site is based on the number of submissions and comments over time, compared to other similar sites.

        8 votes
  13. etc
    Link
    Yeah, I can easily see the potential for ego bullying here. Seeing little bits of it in powerusers' comments here and there, and a mod is just a poweruser with a banhammer so. I don't think Tildes...

    Yeah, I can easily see the potential for ego bullying here. Seeing little bits of it in powerusers' comments here and there, and a mod is just a poweruser with a banhammer so.
    I don't think Tildes is a solve to that problem any more than other alternatives before it, it just also sidesteps it (for now) with being small enough for it to not matter as much (similar to niche communities on reddit).

    3 votes