18 votes

Statistics on bans and transparency

Do we have any statistics on how many users have been banned and why they’ve been banned? What information should be or remain public? Some forum sites let you see the banned users post and comment history from prior to their ban; is there any value in that?

Unrelated; how many Tildes-ers are we up to now?

38 comments

  1. [14]
    Deimos
    Link
    There have been a few temporary warning bans here and there, but the last time anyone got permanently banned was 3 months ago now. There were only 20 accounts banned in the last year total (and...
    • Exemplary

    There have been a few temporary warning bans here and there, but the last time anyone got permanently banned was 3 months ago now.

    There were only 20 accounts banned in the last year total (and some were alt accounts of the same users). A few were blatant trolls, a few were spammers that signed up entirely to advertise their site. The less obvious cases are mostly ones where the person repeatedly showed that they have trouble interacting with others without being an asshole towards them.

    And that's really the tricky part—situations like that can't be summed up simply in a short little "reason for ban". They're often about a pattern of behavior over weeks or months. Much of the "evidence" might be removed or deleted. Some of the behavior might have happened in non-public places. Sometimes they responded to private warning(s) I sent them by being indignant, condescending, or hostile. It can't all be easily explained to curious onlookers, and there's very little benefit to trying. It mostly just results in people wanting to argue about it, and insisting that they need more and more information and justification.

    As for total number of users, the 12,300 subscribers to ~tildes.official is about right. Here are the registration counts for each month in 2020:

    Month Registrations
    January 168
    February 74
    March 74
    April 74
    May 103
    June 113
    July 88
    August 128
    September 80
    October 38
    November 41
    December 45

    Yes, 74 in all of February, March, and April. Weird.

    34 votes
    1. [11]
      Good_Apollo
      Link Parent
      I’ve still only dipped my toes into Tildes so I don’t know if you ever answered these elsewhere but I’m just curious: what do you think of your site so far? Has it met any of your goals? Do you...

      I’ve still only dipped my toes into Tildes so I don’t know if you ever answered these elsewhere but I’m just curious: what do you think of your site so far? Has it met any of your goals? Do you want it to grow further or remain small?

      You don’t have to answer of course.

      17 votes
      1. [10]
        Deimos
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        (Sorry for the slow response, I've been meaning to get back to this for a couple of days) Overall, I'm definitely happy with the site. There are moments (or days) where I'm frustrated with it, but...

        (Sorry for the slow response, I've been meaning to get back to this for a couple of days)

        Overall, I'm definitely happy with the site. There are moments (or days) where I'm frustrated with it, but everyone has that with things that they care a lot about.

        My original thoughts were probably overly-ambitious, but I think it's turned into a great small community. I feel like the modern internet has distorted a lot of people's perspective about what level of activity makes for a "successful" site. Hundreds of people from around the world come here every day to hang out, share articles, and have discussions with each other. There are people talking with each other here all day, every single day. That's really cool, even if it's not at a level that a tech startup would be excited about.

        I'd absolutely like for the site to be larger and more active than it is now, and there are a lot of improvements I still want to make. I'd like for it to be able to support more specialized interests, instead of staying as general as it is now. But there's no particular need to rush with any of that.

        33 votes
        1. [4]
          Adys
          Link Parent
          I know it's hard to remind yourself how much of an impact communities like Tildes make on people, when a variety of different (and pretty easy to take) decisions could lead to a much larger...

          Hundreds of people from around the world come here every day to hang out, share articles, and have discussions with each other. There are people talking with each other here all day, every single day. That's really cool, even if it's not at a level that a tech startup would be excited about.

          I know it's hard to remind yourself how much of an impact communities like Tildes make on people, when a variety of different (and pretty easy to take) decisions could lead to a much larger website. So I'll just say it: Tildes plays a profoundly important role in my life, and I'm sure a lot of people here feel the same way.

          If Reddit, HN, Twitter, Facebook were to disappear (or rather, when), I'd lose a variety of news feeds and would replace them with the next one in line. But if Tildes went away, it would be much harder to replace. Not impossible, but difficult to the point that I probably would not bother.

          The type of relationship you form with a community where you can recognize each other's names/nicknames is very special. I think the last time I had this in an online-only form, aside from a couple of IRC channels, was in vanilla WoW (before the server boundaries were blurry).

          Small communities play an underappreciated role when online. I strongly believe that, in the future, we'll learn more about their lifecycle, what causes them to disappear/die, how to care for them long term, etc. It's all related to size, but I don't think it's the only factor, and I'm not opposed to Tildes growing or changing either. I kinda see it as a natural part of its life. It's like getting a pet: It'll certainly die before you do… that doesn't mean you can't love it. And being opposed to your pet growing old is ridiculous.

          Anyway, I don't want to be doom & gloom; I want to really thank you for taking good care of our collective pet :)

          23 votes
          1. LukeZaz
            Link Parent
            Right there with you. I don't post a lot here, but I visit this site on a daily basis at the minimum, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

            So I'll just say it: Tildes plays a profoundly important role in my life, and I'm sure a lot of people here feel the same way.

            Right there with you. I don't post a lot here, but I visit this site on a daily basis at the minimum, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

            8 votes
          2. tindall
            Link Parent
            I agree with this completely. Tildes is amazing, special, and worth preserving.

            I agree with this completely. Tildes is amazing, special, and worth preserving.

            7 votes
          3. kfwyre
            Link Parent
            I also agree wholeheartedly! If Tildes went away I don’t know that I would take the time and effort to comment online anymore. I haven’t found anywhere else that comes close to the kind of...

            I also agree wholeheartedly! If Tildes went away I don’t know that I would take the time and effort to comment online anymore. I haven’t found anywhere else that comes close to the kind of personal fit that Tildes and its (fantastic) userbase offers me.

            6 votes
        2. Good_Apollo
          Link Parent
          After many years on the very “loud” Reddit, Tildes feels like the days of yore when I used to post in very small video game forums as a teenager in the early 2000s, especially their “off topic”...

          After many years on the very “loud” Reddit, Tildes feels like the days of yore when I used to post in very small video game forums as a teenager in the early 2000s, especially their “off topic” sections. Less people, tighter community, more thoughtful posts. Feels right, as I slide into my mid 30s.

          13 votes
        3. [2]
          mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I find that, even though Tildes generates a lot less responses compared to other sites, the amount of rewarding interactions is way higher. Every time I see a Tildes notification I have a nice...

          I find that, even though Tildes generates a lot less responses compared to other sites, the amount of rewarding interactions is way higher. Every time I see a Tildes notification I have a nice feeling that can be translated as “cool, someone is either being super smart, super nice or both!”. When I get a notification on Reddit, my immediate reaction is “I hope I didn’t make someone angry”. I rarely post on Reddit these days.

          11 votes
          1. [2]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. mrbig
              Link Parent
              Sure, but I don’t think that’s only a matter of size. Tildes mechanics, philosophy, rules, and moderation play a large role as well.

              Sure, but I don’t think that’s only a matter of size. Tildes mechanics, philosophy, rules, and moderation play a large role as well.

              4 votes
        4. [2]
          Thra11
          Link Parent
          Do you have any stats on 'active' users, e.g. the number of users who have voted, commented or posted a topic in the last month or year?

          Do you have any stats on 'active' users, e.g. the number of users who have voted, commented or posted a topic in the last month or year?

          2 votes
          1. Kuromantis
            Link Parent
            He does know how many people have posted (voted or commented in something in) this site in the last 30 days, and last time he gave us a number (half a year ago), it was 538 and tracks generally...

            He does know how many people have posted (voted or commented in something in) this site in the last 30 days, and last time he gave us a number (half a year ago), it was 538 and tracks generally basic activities done in the last 30 days. You could also scrape these stats periodically or in retrospect yourself, like @Bauke with his site on tildes stats or the charts on these posts.

            7 votes
    2. emdash
      Link Parent
      Total aside: I love that you felt the need to add a footnote about the registration count for February–April, as if it could be construed as though you accidentally transposed one value thrice. It...

      Total aside:

      I love that you felt the need to add a footnote about the registration count for February–April, as if it could be construed as though you accidentally transposed one value thrice. It reminds me of how Mt. Everest (at the time known as Peak XV) was measured by an 1852 expedition of surveyors as being precisely 29,000ft in height. Not wanting to give the impression their measurement was anything more than an estimate, they chose to add an additional two feet to the measurement, producing a long-standing value of 29,002ft.[1]

      [1]: For those interested.

      7 votes
    3. nukeman
      Link Parent
      Thanks, Deimos. Only twenty bans sounds pretty good. I wonder if signups will continue to fluctuate seasonally?

      Thanks, Deimos. Only twenty bans sounds pretty good. I wonder if signups will continue to fluctuate seasonally?

      6 votes
  2. [17]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Previous discussions: August 2018, September 2018, April 2019 On paper, I like the idea of more transparency into admin actions...but in practice I think it would probably create more problems...

    Previous discussions: August 2018, September 2018, April 2019


    On paper, I like the idea of more transparency into admin actions...but in practice I think it would probably create more problems than it solves.

    User A does X, and gets banned for it.

    When that's publicly available, it's likely to generate a lot of meta-discussion and commentary on "why shouldn't X be allowed?", "so if X1 is over the line and results in a ban, what about X2?", and so on.

    The goal of the ban was to reduce the amount of X and related discussion on the site. Having the ban be public, and particularly the post/comment history that led up to the ban, would have the opposite effect.


    ~tildes.official has 12,302 subscribers, per its sidebar. That's the best "unofficial" user count we have, without having Deimos' access to the user database.

    19 votes
    1. [16]
      nukeman
      Link Parent
      Thanks for the links to the previous threads. I understand the concerns, including about meta-discussion derailing threads, and I do think that any proposal will need to be thought out and...

      Thanks for the links to the previous threads. I understand the concerns, including about meta-discussion derailing threads, and I do think that any proposal will need to be thought out and implemented carefully.

      However, given the fact that Tildes is not a free speech absolutist site, I do think there needs to be some discussion as to what is and isn’t allowed, as a part of forming a consensus as to the specifics (beyond “Don’t be a duck”). Some of the banned users, such as mu*******ax, did not seem to have anything particularly objectionable occurring in their terminal posts and comments.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        tindall
        Link Parent
        Presumably because the particularly objectionable posts and comments were removed.

        Some of the banned users, such as mu*******ax, did not seem to have anything particularly objectionable occurring in their terminal posts and comments.

        Presumably because the particularly objectionable posts and comments were removed.

        15 votes
        1. nukeman
          Link Parent
          Which makes it difficult to see that “Oh, that was really bad.” I understand not wanting things to become a meta-spiral, but some sort of explanatory tag or phrase (e.g., Removed: slurs on a...

          Which makes it difficult to see that “Oh, that was really bad.” I understand not wanting things to become a meta-spiral, but some sort of explanatory tag or phrase (e.g., Removed: slurs on a comment or Banned: continued use of ad hominem attacks at the top of a user page) could be helpful in explaining why users were banned.

          3 votes
      2. [8]
        suspended
        Link Parent
        This is covered in the 'terms of use' and 'code of conduct' sections here. Everyone agrees to this when they register an account here whether or not they have read them.

        I do think there needs to be some discussion as to what is and isn’t allowed...

        This is covered in the 'terms of use' and 'code of conduct' sections here.

        Everyone agrees to this when they register an account here whether or not they have read them.

        7 votes
        1. [7]
          nukeman
          Link Parent
          Certainly, we all agree to those rules, and in most cases they are clear. However, there sometimes can be vagueness in what would be grounds for banning. This comes to mind. To me it seems there...

          Certainly, we all agree to those rules, and in most cases they are clear. However, there sometimes can be vagueness in what would be grounds for banning. This comes to mind. To me it seems there can be a narrow line between a well-sourced post and a cherry picking one, and a narrow line will need carefully defined.

          Right now, I’m generally fine with Tildes as it is, including being more heavily moderated than most Reddit alternatives (I like not seeing “Da joos” posts all over the front page). I think any major changes to mod/admin logs, banning, etc will require significant community input and take time to flesh out. It isn’t needed right now, but it is something to keep thinking about in the back of our heads.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            spit-evil-olive-tips
            Link Parent
            I think you're misinterpreting the thrust of that reddit comment. I don't think the idea is that a Tildes comment with cherry-picked sources would be potentially ban-worthy, and therefore we need...

            This comes to mind. To me it seems there can be a narrow line between a well-sourced post and a cherry picking one, and a narrow line will need carefully defined.

            I think you're misinterpreting the thrust of that reddit comment. I don't think the idea is that a Tildes comment with cherry-picked sources would be potentially ban-worthy, and therefore we need to define a bright line between what makes a post well-sourced vs. cherry-picked.

            Rather, for any given topic (such as Islam, in the example you linked), Reddit has any number of subreddits that discuss the topic. Each subreddit has its own moderators, and the site-wide Reddit admins generally leave them alone as long as they don't egregiously break the site-wide rules.

            This leads to wildly different standards of behavior from subreddit to subreddit. Again using Islam as the example, there's /r/islam which probably has very low tolerance for any Islamophobia, but there also used to be a subreddit called "religion of peace" or something which was nothing but a bunch of The_Donald types posting news articles about violence in the Muslim world. And the comment threads there were...about what you'd imagine.

            Reddit sets a very low bar for conduct on a site-wide basis, then allows subreddit moderators to voluntarily set (and put in the work to enforce) a higher bar. Tildes, meanwhile, has only a site-wide standard of good behavior. Individual groups don't have Reddit-style independent moderation (and, AFAIK, there's no plans for that). And Tildes' site-wide standard for good behavior is much higher than Reddit's, by design.

            So someone who was a regular on that "religion of peace" subreddit, if they came over to Tildes and started posting the same type of stuff...would not get a warm welcome. And that includes if they posted lots of in-depth links to back up their Islamophobic argument.

            10 votes
            1. nukeman
              Link Parent
              That’s an new view I hadn’t thought of, thanks!

              That’s an new view I hadn’t thought of, thanks!

              4 votes
          2. [4]
            suspended
            Link Parent
            As far as I know, the only user here that has the power of 'banning' is @Deimos. Furthermore, I don't understand why you are bringing up a two year old Reddit post surrounding a religious context.

            However, there sometimes can be vagueness in what would be grounds for banning...

            As far as I know, the only user here that has the power of 'banning' is @Deimos.

            Furthermore, I don't understand why you are bringing up a two year old Reddit post surrounding a religious context.

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              nukeman
              Link Parent
              Sorry if I wasn’t clear. The Reddit post was meant to contextualize that two similar posts on a contentious and potentially offensive topic could result in different outcomes, one banned, one...

              Sorry if I wasn’t clear. The Reddit post was meant to contextualize that two similar posts on a contentious and potentially offensive topic could result in different outcomes, one banned, one staying; dependent on the sourcing criteria and accuracy of the post.

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                suspended
                Link Parent
                So, you'd like to 'split hairs' here. Is that correct? Again, this is a conversational link aggregator site. This place is NOT concerned with whether or not you, my self, Jeff Bezos, Jesus, etc...

                So, you'd like to 'split hairs' here. Is that correct?

                Again, this is a conversational link aggregator site.

                This place is NOT concerned with whether or not you, my self, Jeff Bezos, Jesus, etc are 'right' or 'wrong'.

                Tildes is NOT the place to derive quantifiable scientific data about anything.

                2 votes
                1. nukeman
                  Link Parent
                  @lonk posted a great link below that has helped me understand some of the issues with rule making on forum/aggregator sites. I wasn’t intending to split hairs, but I recognize that might have been...

                  @lonk posted a great link below that has helped me understand some of the issues with rule making on forum/aggregator sites.

                  I wasn’t intending to split hairs, but I recognize that might have been inevitable based on my line of thinking. I wasn’t trying to argue about quantifiability, or right/wrong, just that it is difficult to determine whether a post can fall afoul of the rules.

                  I’m sorry if I came across as being ranty or trivial. I like this place, and want it to stay nice as it grows.

                  5 votes
      3. [3]
        spit-evil-olive-tips
        Link Parent
        We have the golden rule, and in particular: The rest of it comes down to trust in Deimos as the admin of the site and (for the foreseeable future) the only person able to hand out bans. I trust...

        there needs to be some discussion as to what is and isn’t allowed

        We have the golden rule, and in particular:

        low tolerance for people that consistently make others' experience worse

        The rest of it comes down to trust in Deimos as the admin of the site and (for the foreseeable future) the only person able to hand out bans. I trust that when someone is banned or has their comments removed, it's because they were breaking that golden rule. And conversely, as long as I follow the golden rule, I trust that I'm not going to get an arbitrary or capricious ban myself.

        We could have a Big List of things that merit a ban, but such a list would attract meta-discussion, arguments, nitpicking, and general rules-lawyering...which would make the site experience worse for everyone not interested in that.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          nukeman
          Link Parent
          That makes sense. If the site becomes much larger, are there plans for more admins, or a system of delegation?

          That makes sense. If the site becomes much larger, are there plans for more admins, or a system of delegation?

          2 votes
  3. [2]
    scrambo
    Link
    In response to some of the posts above I'd like to provide a rebuttal in the form of a blog post that's not mine (Author is eevee). I know I've seen this link pop up here before in other...

    In response to some of the posts above I'd like to provide a rebuttal in the form of a blog post that's not mine (Author is eevee). I know I've seen this link pop up here before in other discussions.

    In essence, it's stating that for a small website to sur-thrive it's admin needs to be a BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life) and to have loose enough rules to enforce when someone steps way over the line / toes the line repeatedly. Those who toe repeatedly will try to rely only on "writ law" not "case law" to escape bans, which can create a game of cat and mouse for the admin.

    To answer nukeman's questions up top; I personally don't really care about the amount of people that have been banned / why they've been banned. I don't actually think I've come across one openly hostile person since I've joined Tildes which I attribute to both the pleasant community that's been built here as well as the admin's doing their part when they must.

    13 votes
    1. emdash
      Link Parent
      I like this analogy quite a bit. And on the primary topic, I encourage everyone who argues in favour of transparency logs and ban reasons on any community discussion site to first try and be a...

      Those who toe repeatedly will try to rely only on "writ law" not "case law" to escape bans, which can create a game of cat and mouse for the admin.

      I like this analogy quite a bit. And on the primary topic, I encourage everyone who argues in favour of transparency logs and ban reasons on any community discussion site to first try and be a moderator of a community platform for a number of months, preferably Reddit or a really active Discord.

      The downsides to logs/rationale for bans, and the nuance that is lost by expressing a person's complete prohibition from a discussion platform in one sentence becomes readily apparent quite quickly.

      5 votes
  4. Parameter
    Link
    A while ago I was justifiably banned for, very poorly, starting a discussion on a serious political event. Nothing awful, only bad communication on my part so I was being offensive. But the point...

    A while ago I was justifiably banned for, very poorly, starting a discussion on a serious political event. Nothing awful, only bad communication on my part so I was being offensive.

    But the point is that it was an edge case.

    I appealed later with an apology and explanation and received a kind and fair reply as well another opportunity.

    I can't claim to have done so but it leaves me with goodwill towards this community and a sense of wanting to improve it when I do participate.

    On transparency for something like bans, I'm not sure that's better for people here. The categories are overt cases and subtle ones such as mine. I am confident that a lot of members of the community would be reasonable in their judgements but honestly I'd rather rely on trusting the admins to continue to act sensibly and not obsess over the occasionally sensitive details.

    10 votes
  5. [3]
    MetArtScroll
    Link
    As for the current number of Tildes users, there is the fantastic https://ts.bauke.xyz/ by @Bauke I totally agree with you as for the Tildes bans.

    As for the current number of Tildes users, there is the fantastic https://ts.bauke.xyz/ by @Bauke

    I totally agree with you as for the Tildes bans.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      nukeman
      Link Parent
      That’s a neat site (thanks @Bauke), thank you for the link! Do we have data or a graph on how the number of users has changed over time? It seems Tildes have slowed to about 50 new users per month.

      That’s a neat site (thanks @Bauke), thank you for the link! Do we have data or a graph on how the number of users has changed over time? It seems Tildes have slowed to about 50 new users per month.

      5 votes
      1. Bauke
        Link Parent
        I'm not sure if I did the SQL correctly but your guess of 50 per month seems about right. @Deimos may be able to give more accurate numbers. tildes-stats=# select (snapshot_id, subscribers) from...

        I'm not sure if I did the SQL correctly but your guess of 50 per month seems about right. @Deimos may be able to give more accurate numbers.

        tildes-stats=# select (snapshot_id, subscribers) from group_datas where name = 'tildes.official' and snapshot_id % 30 = 0;
             row     
        -------------
         (30,11990)
         (60,12135)
         (90,12188)
         (120,12221)
         (150,12274)
        (5 rows)
        
        8 votes
  6. dredmorbius
    Link
    Just noting that there's something of an industry initiative (dating to 2018 AFAIR), the Santa Clara Principles. There are three principles: Numbers: Companies should publish the numbers of posts...

    Just noting that there's something of an industry initiative (dating to 2018 AFAIR), the Santa Clara Principles.

    There are three principles:

    1. Numbers: Companies should publish the numbers of posts removed and accounts permanently or temporarily suspended due to violations of their content guidelines.
    2. Notice: Companies should provide notice to each user whose content is taken down or account is suspended about the reason for the removal or suspension.
    3. Appeal: Companies should provide a meaningful opportunity for timely appeal of any content removal or account suspension.

    (No comment on the inherent presumption that sites / platforms are commercial / corporate.)

    That's backed by the ACLU, EFF, Center for Democracy and Technology, and New America's Open Technology Institute.

    4 votes