43 votes

What is Tildes' plan for communities that "get too large?"

One of the consistent discussion points of why this place is so great is because it's small. Do you all have any mechanics thought up for how communities can limit growth?

I think I saw some discussion about parent/child relationships for the ~tildes groups where it looked like you were using dot notation - is that your mechanic? Endless children? Will ~tildes be able to cap their subscribers? I don't have answers, just questions now. :)

36 comments

  1. [24]
    Amarok (edited ) Link
    Here, it shouldn't really work out that way. See, reddit made a colossal mistake when they auto-subscribed all new users (to the tune of 8000-12000 per day) to all of the major subreddits on the...

    Here, it shouldn't really work out that way.

    See, reddit made a colossal mistake when they auto-subscribed all new users (to the tune of 8000-12000 per day) to all of the major subreddits on the site. That not only made them too large, it also made sure people were subscribed to topics they had no knowledge of or interest in - and worse yet, might actively take issue with, such as /r/atheism. That's the reason reddit's entire life cycle was such an unmitigated shitshow.

    Right now we are doing the same thing, but only because this place is young and we need to do it to make sure all the groups are active. We're trying to pick better default groups than reddit did, though - you'll notice we have ~creative rather than ~atheism and ~politics.

    Eventually, no one will be subscribed anywhere at all by default. Once the hierarchy is off to a good start with a few dozen subgroups humming along, we're turn off the mechanism and people will need to subscribe themselves to those communities. Since it's a nice tree view (or will be, rather like a usenet newsgroup listing), people shouldn't have the problem finding the places they like that they do on reddit where there's no listing or proper searching.

    Our group-subgroup system here should subvert the populism problem. Let's take ~games as an example.

    As the number of people, and therefore number of comments and submissions rise in ~games, eventually you'll notice trends forming. You might notice that for example threads with a [league of legends] tag are coming to utterly dominate the content of ~games. What's likely is that 5-10 popular games will come to utterly dominate the discussion in ~games and drown out the other content.

    This sort of thing regularly happened on reddit and pissed everyone off. That's why the reddit mods there 'banned' so much content - to try and keep the ratio in balance.

    Here, though, what we'd do is create those ten new sub-groups instead. Now, instead of just ~games, you have ~games.leagueoflegends aka ~lol and so on, for all the games that were interfering with the general nature of the ~games top level threads and comments.

    Now, all of those topics drop down one level into their own little sub-community. They no longer show up in ~games at all, and when people tag something as [league of legends] it's going to land in ~lol even if they wanted it to land in ~games. ~lol is now the gatekeeper of all of that content.

    If threads in ~lol do really well above average - meaning there's something awesome going on, the people in ~lol can use their 'exemplary vote' feature and mark those threads as exemplary. If enough people do that, the submission will level-up into ~games. The other 99 league of legends submissions that day won't. This way, ~games now only gets the quality threads from league of legends, and the people there are likely to be much more receptive because it's gone from being a wave of spam to a single good post.

    The mods and editors of both ~games.leagueoflegends and ~games itself will have some control over this level-up process above and beyond what the basic voting system provides, so that people can't just intentionally start sending crap up the page as a prank (like the_donald does all the time on reddit). They should be able to strike the proper balance for bubbling up threads necessary to keep both groups happy.

    In this way, when any ~group begins to suffer from an unbalanced content load, it can spin that load off into a new community, and the problems are solved. Eventually, when there are thousands of ~games.subgroups, it might even become impossible to post anything at all in ~games itself - the group is a gateway now, not a community of its own. The people there would be subscribing to consume all the content of the sub-groups.

    Also, the editors and mods of ~games would now be in a position to steward the entire games community, running events, AMAs etc that get posted to ~games directly and therefore get major action immediately. Those same editors and mods would be people with the highest trust levels from anywhere in the ~games hierarchy, earned over years of time, and there would be hundreds, possibly thousands of them - so it's unlikely that 'team' would ever end up working against their community, since in effect they are the people who built that community through their own comments, posts, and votes.

    This is what we mean when we talk about 'curating the space' instead of being a janitor of it like on reddit.

    While all this is going on for the mods/editors/site, the users themselves can filter on tag. If you want to camp ~games, but don't like league, you just tell the site to block submissions that have [league of legends] and you'll never have to see them. Self-selecting all the way.

    I'm glad you asked this question, I hadn't had the opportunity to explain the populism mechanics of the sub groups yet. ;)

    56 votes
    1. [10]
      Michael Link Parent
      I like this idea of thinking of moderators as curators. "Moderation" has a negative connotation, i.e. policing and removing bad content, where "curation" is positive-- encouraging good content and...

      The mods and editors of both ~games.leagueoflegends and ~games itself will have some control over this level-up process

      I like this idea of thinking of moderators as curators. "Moderation" has a negative connotation, i.e. policing and removing bad content, where "curation" is positive-- encouraging good content and letting it shine. Having subgroups also may help rethink moderation by requiring each subgroup to have a submoderator (subcurator) who is appointed by the head curators of the group (or otherwise elected).

      24 votes
      1. [6]
        Shahriar Link Parent
        Curators is a really interesting spin on the take of moderators, and I'm actually surprised I've heard about this now. I agree that moderators is used a negative connotation now, you see the word...

        I like this idea of thinking of moderators as curators.

        Curators is a really interesting spin on the take of moderators, and I'm actually surprised I've heard about this now. I agree that moderators is used a negative connotation now, you see the word and think, enforcement and strictness to it.

        14 votes
        1. [2]
          Amarok Link Parent
          I tend to think of curators as the guys managing the smaller ~subgroups, and the moderators as a more abuse-mitigation oriented subset of the curators, with powers that extend past the subgroups...

          I tend to think of curators as the guys managing the smaller ~subgroups, and the moderators as a more abuse-mitigation oriented subset of the curators, with powers that extend past the subgroups and into the hierarchy at large. It might be wise if users become curators and then curators become moderators as their trust improves.

          10 votes
          1. Tardigrade Link Parent
            That's a good idea. Mods being higher and more cleanuppy (not a bad thing at all) and curators being people making it good.

            That's a good idea. Mods being higher and more cleanuppy (not a bad thing at all) and curators being people making it good.

        2. [2]
          Tardigrade Link Parent
          Curator gives a really nice museum or gallery vibe off. It makes it feel like they're the people giving you good content instead of screwing over bad content.

          Curator gives a really nice museum or gallery vibe off. It makes it feel like they're the people giving you good content instead of screwing over bad content.

          2 votes
          1. meristele Link Parent
            Does this mean that there will be docents too? :)

            Does this mean that there will be docents too? :)

            4 votes
      2. Awoo Link Parent
        I have always attempted to refer to myself as a janitor. I particularly dislike the waving around of moderator as a "status" and prefer janitor for this reason. I don't like modding being treated...

        I have always attempted to refer to myself as a janitor.

        I particularly dislike the waving around of moderator as a "status" and prefer janitor for this reason. I don't like modding being treated as a thing that is a status and I try very strongly to make sure a community knows that I think of them as responsible for the existence of the community. The community is the community, not the moderator. There are a number of mods that get a bit egotistical, and they fight with their community. The humility of being a janitor hits a good spot for me.

        4 votes
      3. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        I started a brand-new subreddit just over a year ago, I definitely feel more like a curator than a moderator. My biggest duty there is finding new content to post (I've committed to having at...

        I like this idea of thinking of moderators as curators.

        I started a brand-new subreddit just over a year ago, I definitely feel more like a curator than a moderator. My biggest duty there is finding new content to post (I've committed to having at least one new post every day, to work with Reddit's algorithm that only displays subreddits on subscribers' front pages if there's a post in the subreddit within the past 24 hours), and making sure that other people's posts are appropriate. It's a lot more about curating content than moderating behaviour.

        It's added a positive aspect to my previous, more negative, experiences as a moderator on Reddit, which were much more about moderating people's inappropriate behaviour.

        3 votes
      4. vakieh Link Parent
        I think curators should filter up, not down - the curators of ~games should be the most trusted curators of each ~games.*, not the alternative where the curators of ~games.somegame be appointed by...

        I think curators should filter up, not down - the curators of ~games should be the most trusted curators of each ~games.*, not the alternative where the curators of ~games.somegame be appointed by the curators of ~games.

        1 vote
    2. [8]
      ajar Link Parent
      Thanks for the detailed explanation, Amarok. It sounds like a good and reasonable system. There's, however, something that I find could be a bit problematic: This seems to imply that OP's tags...

      Thanks for the detailed explanation, Amarok. It sounds like a good and reasonable system. There's, however, something that I find could be a bit problematic:

      and when people tag something as [league of legends] it's going to land in ~lol even if they wanted it to land in ~games. ~lol is now the gatekeeper of all of that content.

      This seems to imply that OP's tags would be too powerful, whether knowingly or not. For example, if someone sends an article about MOBAs discussing different games and the OP tags it as "moba", "league of legends", "dota2", for example. What would happen? Would it be automatically sent to ~games.leagueoflegends? (Even if it's not the main topic of the article) What if there's also a ~games.dota2 group? Would it be sent to both or just one? What if there is also a ~games.mobas?

      I'm thinking if redirection to specific groups happens automatically, users should be very conscious when tagging posts, which I don't know if it's realistic. Tagging properly is not always easy, from what I've seen. I know the plan is to make tagging as automatic as possible (and also allowing other users to add tags?), but that doesn't avoid the problem.

      Maybe trusted users should be able to "verify" tags (maybe voting on them, but that might be too time consuming), but I'm still not sure how the distribution would be done. And what if tags are changed or added, etc.? Would the post be moved to a different group to align with the new tags?

      Also, will there be a limit to tags? Should there be? On the one hand limiting it might make the user to be more aware when tagging and just using the most important keywords. On the other hand, the fewer tags the worse the discoverability.

      So this started as a minor question in my head, but now it expanded into many issues! Maybe you have already discussed these though and have some ideas about how to deal with them.

      10 votes
      1. [7]
        Amarok (edited ) Link Parent
        I think we can sort submission location on tags reliably without an problems. If there are a lot of tags like in your example, the logical submission point is the spot in the hierarchy just above...

        I think we can sort submission location on tags reliably without an problems. If there are a lot of tags like in your example, the logical submission point is the spot in the hierarchy just above the place where all those tags appear. In your example, that submission would land in ~games because most of it's tags appear one level below ~games itself. We can experiment with this and see what kind of submission-home-finder-system we can come up with - but I don't think it's going to be all that difficult.

        I don't see any reason not to allow lots of tags, and users to even do some editing and voting on the tags once we've got enough people doing it all. The benefit of that is the tags with the most 'votes' can go to the left side (heaviest) and the weakest to the right, so it's kind-of auto sorting the tags based on relevance. If it's got a hundred tags, fine - we only need to display the strongest ones, with a click-to-expand option if people want to see them all. I expect submissions will all have a bit of a tag cloud in the submission sidebar at some point.

        Remember though, most users won't care. They'll just pick a community to submit something. When they pick that community, the submission is going to get that community's ~unique.tag.signature.list added by default, and it's also going to get all the tags the website can find at the other end of the link. That's probably all of the relevant/necessary tags, right there, without the user even adding a single tag themselves.

        After all, only a ~full.specific.community.location has a submit button. I don't think we're ever planning for a generic submission process that then gets auto-sorted into a site location, though we probably could do that. I think if we want this to work, the communities themselves need to remain the submission-point for all content.

        --- edit

        One other thing I forgot to mention that just might turn into a big, big deal. The submission page we have now is a very basic stub. Eventually we want the curation and moderation teams to be able to change the format into a custom submission page (or even pageS) that suits their needs. Take ~music.listentothis if it existed here - we don't need fancy title rules and bots to enforce them if we just have a submission form that has four lines - artist name, track name, genre tags, and year. The user just fills in the blanks (or more likely, verifies they are right once tildes itself auto-fills these based on the link the user pastes in the link box). Then a moderator-created regular expression can generate the actual title from those form variables. It simply sidesteps the problem, without making a giant mess of rules that end up pissing everyone off. ;)

        I have a philosophy about herding cats/users - make the laziest option into the correct one, the one you want people to use. Let people's own laziness and inertia do the work of getting them to post properly.

        10 votes
        1. [5]
          ajar Link Parent
          Haha, I can see you're n old wise dog. Good thinking! Makes sense. However, it would still require the user to tag properly/responsibly. If they only tagged "moba", "league of legends" and left...

          make the laziest option into the correct one, the one you want people to use. Let people's own laziness and inertia do the work of getting them to post properly.

          Haha, I can see you're n old wise dog. Good thinking!

          If there are a lot of tags like in your example, the logical submission point is the spot in the hierarchy just above the place where all those tags appear. In your example, that submission would land in ~games because most of it's tags appear one level below

          Makes sense. However, it would still require the user to tag properly/responsibly. If they only tagged "moba", "league of legends" and left out "dota2" (because laziness, yes) it would end up in ~LOL. Even if submitted to ~games and related to more games than LOL.

          it's also going to get all the tags the website can find at the other end of the link

          Good. What about text posts though? I'm guessing tags will be extracted from OP's text? But what if the text is too short or not elaborate enough? Or image links. Probably the custom submission pages (sounds amazing) would help, when posting questions for examples.

          2 votes
          1. [4]
            Amarok Link Parent
            People will be able to tag other people's posts, so when someone makes a mess of it, the group can step in and finish/clean up.

            People will be able to tag other people's posts, so when someone makes a mess of it, the group can step in and finish/clean up.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              ajar Link Parent
              I see. Would that change in tags also change the group where the submission is posted after the fact?

              I see. Would that change in tags also change the group where the submission is posted after the fact?

              1 vote
              1. [2]
                Amarok Link Parent
                I doubt it. We might make it so curators and mods can send posts off to a different place, though, if it's not on topic for them.

                I doubt it. We might make it so curators and mods can send posts off to a different place, though, if it's not on topic for them.

                4 votes
                1. vakieh Link Parent
                  There should probably be a 'volatile' stage (which would vary depending on the level of activity of the root tilde) where a post could move around based on changing tags.

                  There should probably be a 'volatile' stage (which would vary depending on the level of activity of the root tilde) where a post could move around based on changing tags.

        2. Natanael Link Parent
          On reddit I moderate the cryptography subreddit /r/crypto. Being able to enforce a big fat disclaimer that everything cryptocurrency is off topic and will be deleted, and require an...

          On reddit I moderate the cryptography subreddit /r/crypto.

          Being able to enforce a big fat disclaimer that everything cryptocurrency is off topic and will be deleted, and require an acknowledgement of the rules, would immediately stop over 95% of the spam we get. No exaggeration.

          2 votes
    3. Boh Link Parent
      This sounds like such a perfect system in theory I so hope it works out.

      This sounds like such a perfect system in theory I so hope it works out.

      1 vote
    4. [2]
      efraimbart Link Parent
      Wouldn't it make sense for for subscribers to ~games to be automatically opted in to all subgroups while maintaining the ability to opt out, whereas nonsubscribers to ~games would have the ability...

      Wouldn't it make sense for for subscribers to ~games to be automatically opted in to all subgroups while maintaining the ability to opt out, whereas nonsubscribers to ~games would have the ability to opt in to subgroups?

      1 vote
      1. Amarok Link Parent
        It's possible. We haven't really discussed the mechanics of how a group's users will be notified of a new subgroup or how their subscriptions to it are handled in any real detail. That'll make for...

        It's possible. We haven't really discussed the mechanics of how a group's users will be notified of a new subgroup or how their subscriptions to it are handled in any real detail. That'll make for a great daily discussion topic at some point.

        2 votes
    5. [2]
      Ten Link Parent
      Ok I have a question. I run /r/disneymusic over on Reddit for the last two years and how would that be categorized here? ~disney.music or ~music.disney ? I have different sub category tags set up...

      Ok I have a question.

      I run /r/disneymusic over on Reddit for the last two years and how would that be categorized here? ~disney.music or ~music.disney ? I have different sub category tags set up over there and I'm just very curious how something like that would be handled on Tildes.

      1. Amarok Link Parent
        It would probably end up as ~music.movies.disney. There may be a cross-hierarchy connection with ~movies.music - we're just going to have to play it by ear as the site evolves and see what happens.

        It would probably end up as ~music.movies.disney. There may be a cross-hierarchy connection with ~movies.music - we're just going to have to play it by ear as the site evolves and see what happens.

        1 vote
  2. [12]
    cfabbro (edited ) Link
    We're all pretty exhausted after a long day but just to give a quick and dirty answer: We can simply just spin off new groups. E.g. If ~games starts getting so populous and active that it starts...

    We're all pretty exhausted after a long day but just to give a quick and dirty answer:

    We can simply just spin off new groups. E.g. If ~games starts getting so populous and active that it starts having issues (like new queue going too fast so niche subjects can't compete anymore, etc)... we can take the top 5 most popular games and give them their own groups.

    And we have also talked about potentially using a "bubble up" mechanic where the best content from those new subgroups can be included automatically in their parent group still so our communities don't lose the feeling of connection they have with each other like they do on reddit when a spinoff happens and the mods prevent that kind of content from ever being posted there again.

    11 votes
    1. [5]
      Michael Link Parent
      This is exactly how I'm envisioning it. I think the key to Tildes will be curation. Making groups claimable by the first person who creates them is an incredibly flawed system. Creating spinoff...

      This is exactly how I'm envisioning it. I think the key to Tildes will be curation. Making groups claimable by the first person who creates them is an incredibly flawed system. Creating spinoff groups, as you mentioned, and perhaps implementing a voting system for new groups like a watered down version of how Stack Exchange handles it should be the mechanism for creating new groups.

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        cfabbro Link Parent
        I was answering a question about hate groups specifically earlier, but it covered a lot about our potential methods for group creations too so is relevant:

        I was answering a question about hate groups specifically earlier, but it covered a lot about our potential methods for group creations too so is relevant:

        Will communities that exist only to propagate/discuss hateful activities hate be removed

        They won't be allowed to exist on ~ in the first place. ~ is using a group hierarchy structure similar to usenet (e.g. ~music, ~music.blues, etc) so will require much more organizational oversight than reddit and as such, all groups are currently admin created only. We have already added several new groups by popular demand such as ~comp and ~creative and intend to add more as traffic increases enough to justify them. But it is unlikely groups will ever be entirely open to new user creation like on reddit, voat and imzy (RIP).

        We have considered opening up creation to more than just admins by tying it to our trust/reputation system, where if enough trusted users vote to add a group it will be created automatically. And we have also considered allowing groups to form organically based on tag use (we have a submission tagging system on ~) so that if a certain topic overwhelms a group, e.g. #rocketleague floods ~games, then a ~games.rocketleague will automatically be created.

        All of this is subject to change though since, in truth, we're not entirely decided on how best to handle group creation yet and ultimately we may stick to admin created only (taking user requests into consideration of course). As with all things on ~ we will solicit feedback and ideas through our "daily dicussions" from our community before implementing anything though.

        5 votes
        1. Michael Link Parent
          Very relevant, thanks for sharing! I strongly believe this is the right direction. Sub-comunities should be created by moderators (curators) and promoting them to their own communities should be...

          Very relevant, thanks for sharing! I strongly believe this is the right direction. Sub-comunities should be created by moderators (curators) and promoting them to their own communities should be done by admins I think

          3 votes
        2. [2]
          Kenny Link Parent
          With the rocketleague example, how are you going to distinguish between fads and actual communities that would be long-lasting if that process is automatic? I feel like the system should maybe...

          With the rocketleague example, how are you going to distinguish between fads and actual communities that would be long-lasting if that process is automatic? I feel like the system should maybe help suggest communities to be created based on that algorithm, but it might be that the curators of the group wouldn't want to segment that audience out. I like the idea of the site helping the curators out but I'm not sure group creation should be autonomous.

          2 votes
          1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
            Nothing is set in stone... all of these are just ideas for experiments right now, but one thing to keep in mind is that groups here don’t have to be permanent. Even if something is a fad, if the...

            Nothing is set in stone... all of these are just ideas for experiments right now, but one thing to keep in mind is that groups here don’t have to be permanent. Even if something is a fad, if the flood of content for a subject is overwhelming a group so nothing else can compete with it, a subgroup can be created as a stopgap measure to relieve the pressure from the group... and if the fad dies, the group can always be remerged with its parent again once the hype dies down... if it turns out to not be a fad and the subgroup remains relatively active it can be kept.

            And with the “bubble up” idea we also came up with, where the parent group can set some sort of threshold where X% or X# of content from subgroups will show up in their group as well, it’s possible to keep related group/subgroups somewhat connected still. E.g. some of the best ~games.rocketleague content will still show up in ~games.

            Again though... all these are just ideas at this stage and we have no idea if or specifically how they will actually work yet. ;)

            3 votes
    2. [6]
      Silbern Link Parent
      I do wonder about this though. So as I understand, the higher level subs would then be for content that didn't fit the subgroups, correct? If the content is bubbled up, wouldn't that displace the...

      And we have also talked about potentially using a "bubble up" mechanic where the best content from those new subgroups can be included automatically in their parent group still so our communities don't lose the feeling of connection they have with each other like they do on reddit when a spinoff happens and the mods prevent that kind of content from ever being posted there again.

      I do wonder about this though. So as I understand, the higher level subs would then be for content that didn't fit the subgroups, correct? If the content is bubbled up, wouldn't that displace the miscellaneous content because it's much more highly rated?

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        cfabbro Link Parent
        Not all the content from the subgroups would bubble up. We were thinking of allowing groups to be able to set a "popularity threshold" that could determine the amount of content from their...

        If the content is bubbled up, wouldn't that displace the miscellaneous content because it's much more highly

        Not all the content from the subgroups would bubble up. We were thinking of allowing groups to be able to set a "popularity threshold" that could determine the amount of content from their subgroups that bubbles up.

        E.g ~music sets popularity threshold of # to ~music.blues so that only a # derived value of the most popular blues content gets shown on ~music. So only a small percentage of the absolute best content from ~music.blues will make it to ~music. This # can be tinkered with so that the music that doesn't have its own subgroup doesn't get overwhelmed.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          not Link Parent
          I really really like this idea. Giving curators/moderators controls to shape their tildes sounds great. However, if you are able to specify it per sub~, I think that would cause a lot of arguments...

          I really really like this idea. Giving curators/moderators controls to shape their tildes sounds great.

          However, if you are able to specify it per sub~, I think that would cause a lot of arguments about how much % each sub~ should get. I think ideally, this process should be automatic and algorithmic, while still giving curators some knobs to turn. If you do this, a neat idea could be to inject some randomness into it, like promoting a specific tildes sub~ for some limited time.

          3 votes
          1. cfabbro Link Parent
            Yeah that's pretty much the idea AFAIK. A flat value (e.g. only allow # posts from sub-group X a week) is a bit too hard a control and bound to cause conflict... but a rough setting based on a...

            Yeah that's pretty much the idea AFAIK. A flat value (e.g. only allow # posts from sub-group X a week) is a bit too hard a control and bound to cause conflict... but a rough setting based on a derived value taking into account other factors (e.g. performance of a post over mean in that group, how many "exemplary votes" it received, etc) could be used to to abstract it a little and give added odds to a post showing up in the parent group if it's truly remarkable.

            There was even some discussion of allowing trusted users of the parent group to vote on posts from subgroups they think should be showcased in said parent as well. All this stuff is just ideas at this point though and will probably require a lot of refinement before they're ready to be attempted.

            2 votes
        2. [2]
          Silbern Link Parent
          Nice! I was thinking of whether you were planning on setting a upvote level but that makes much more sense, to limit by number of posts instead of just vote level :D And actually now that I think...

          Nice! I was thinking of whether you were planning on setting a upvote level but that makes much more sense, to limit by number of posts instead of just vote level :D And actually now that I think about it more, Tilde has tags, so you can also auto-tag them then too, and once Tilde gets really big maybe keep them in a small box to the side of the content flow by default or something.

          2 votes
          1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
            Yep that was the plan... and the nice thing about tagging and hierarchies is we can experiment with all sorts of neat inter-relational ideas like that. We plan on implementing a bunch of powerful...

            so you can also auto-tag them then too

            Yep that was the plan... and the nice thing about tagging and hierarchies is we can experiment with all sorts of neat inter-relational ideas like that.

            maybe keep them in a small box to the side of the content flow

            We plan on implementing a bunch of powerful custom filtering features so that probably wont be necessary... if a ~music subscriber really doesn't like blues, they can just filter out the ~music.blues content. So there shouldn't be a need to shove it to the side in any way.

            We will most likely distinguish content that bubbles up in some way though so users don't think it was posted to parent group. This also should help with subgroup discovery as well since people can be made aware of subgroups by seeing the content from there occasionally bubble up to the parent group.

            1 vote