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Hey folks,

Lobsters launched 11 years ago today.

In that time our community of 16,009 users have submitted 96,480 stories, written 435,158 comments, and cast 2,882,419 votes. More detailed numbers and trends are visible at /stats.

Also, since 2017, our chat room has been moderated by 355e3b and aleph (Church on IRC). They’re now also mods on the site, and I’m very glad to have their help and judgment here as well.

Previously: 2013 2016 2017 2019 2020 2021 2022

As I say every year, it’s a good time to look back at the top stories of the year or all time, or review the comments and stories you’ve upvoted. What were your favorites?


    1. 117

      Occasionally non-technical friends and family ask me what the deal is with this oddly-named website I spend a bunch of time on. My answer is that I’m hosting a cookout in my backyard, and the cookout has been here 24/7 for the last six years. We’re all hanging out and having a nice time chatting about a shared interest. New arrivals are friends of friends, and every hour or two someone pulls up with more snacks or drinks. It takes some effort as host to keep the ice cube trays full or empty the trash cans so it’s sort of “my party”, but it’s really not because the value of a party is the socializing between the kind and generous people who have chosen to drop in. It’s a collaboration that can’t really be owned, and it exists as long as it’s an enjoyable place to be. So, my thanks to everyone who continues contributes to Lobsters. Hosting this party is endlessly rewarding to me, but the magic is your presence.

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        I’d be down for the IRL Lobsters cookout someday. Is your backyard big enough?

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          I live in an apartment. I’ve hosted plenty of dinner parties, but I think the largest was 12 people. Hosting 16,009 would pose several novel logistical challenges, including some inconveniences with the Pauli exclusion principle.

          1. 9

            ClawCon 2025?

            1. 5

              I was thinking semi-seriously about a Lobsters conference before the pandemic started. I talked to a few people with significant experience running conferences about what was involved, and it sounded like an enormous amount of stress with a low likelihood of breaking even, let alone compensating for the time and difficulty. Basically impossible without heavy sponsor involvement, which didn’t feel like a good fit for the site’s general vibe. An unconference might be a better fit.

              If someone here has run several conferences and would want to be involved in putting one together, please contact me, we could evaluate the topic some more and see if there’s something worth doing.

              1. 4

                I honestly believe that an unconference (even one that’s primarily streamed) would be a really good fit for this community. There’s a bunch of people here that I would love to hear give 10m talks, and a handful of predetermined tracks with a moderator and a signup sheet, IRC and some sort of streaming service would be really really cool.

                Really just “the front page, but live for a day.”

                Edit: call it “Lobsters: Active” ;)

          2. 8

            On the Internet, no one knows you’re a boson.

      2. 7

        what a lovely way to put it!

      3. 6

        Really cosy place in the Internet, thank you. Long Live 🦞!

      4. 5

        thank you so much for your efforts…

        just curious, do you have a plan in place to pass on the administration of lobsters to another if something were to change in your life?

        1. 8

          To the extent we can plan anything in life, I hope to continue running Lobsters for the next few decades. There isn’t a formal continuity plan, I’ll give it some thought.

      5. 4

        Thanks for welcoming me at your cookout the last five of those years. If the orange site is New York City, then Lobsters would be Fairfield County. So it’s been a rare treat getting to be one of the lucky few who hang out here.

    2. 91

      Thank you pushcx that you run this wonderful place on the internet for all of us. Thank you mods for keeping things under control and thank you all lobsters users for the many, many great contributions! 🦞

    3. 53

      What were your favorites?

      I can’t point to a specific story or comment, but more to a general thing that people here can (usually) disagree without hostility. A couple of weeks ago I had a long discussion about the merits of permissive licensing with someone who has completely the opposite view to me (I couldn’t find it in a quick search, but the exact post isn’t very important) and, at no point, did I feel that I was wasting my time trying to explain my point of view, or that I was being attacked. That’s pretty common here but it’s very rare in most of the rest of the web. Even in the ‘good old days’ of Slashdot (before about 2003), it was good because quite a lot of threads were like that, not because most were. I can’t understate how great that is.

      Many thanks to the mods who keep this a community and not a cesspool.

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        I had the mispleasure of visiting Hacker News a couple times over the past month and every time it’s shocking the fall in quality of discussion since I joined it in 2018. I’m glad that this place is still small and moderatable, having just been invited myself a month or so ago.

        1. 9

          I’m glad that this place is still small

          I do worry that this is what makes it good. I hope that it’s not absolute size but rather the rate of growth (as with pre-AOL USENET, where new people quickly learn community norms). It would be sad to think that there is some inevitable point where online communities are large enough to become toxic.

          I think a lot of what caused other sites to fail was profit driven. They had to make money to justify their existence, whereas this place has only volunteer moderators. I believe the hosting costs are paid by a single person, which probably doesn’t scale arbitrarily (I’d happily donate to help cover those costs, but I understand the rationale for not taking money).

          1. 5

            My feeling is as follows: humans are currently incapable of dealing with massive absolute scale; however, scale is helping to expose some preexisting problems by magnifying them considerably. Possibly, some cultural innovation (or slow development) will eventually resolve or ameliorate them. But this is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future—timeline of hundreds of years seems more plausible—so it is not of practical significance to us.

      2. 8

        Good lord, how far Slashdot fell. Honestly lobste.rs is better than Slashdot ever was, I think the invitation system really helps.

        1. 16

          Good lord, how far Slashdot fell

          I remember when Slashdot had a load of active F/OSS contributors. There were gems like the time someone asked why Apple didn’t just use X11 and someone from Apple’s graphics team replied with a list of all of the things that they’d have needed to add to X11 to make it do the things Quartz did and that at the end they’d have been using none of the core bits of X11 and 100% extensions (X11 subsequently gained almost all of those things as extensions and the end result was, indeed, quite clunky). Even then, there were a lot of trolls, including a load of copypasta nonsense (things like the ‘NetCraft confirms it, BSD is dying’ thing were common even then, for example, as were people posting vaguely plausible things with goatse.cx links).

          Even at its height, Slashdot was nowhere near as pleasant as this place, but it became awful. Soylent News looked promising briefly but rapidly became a ‘freedom means the freedom to be an asshat to everyone’ dystopia. I didn’t learn about this place until a friend mentioned seeing a Verona thing here in early 2020 and it was such a refreshing change.

          1. 8

            Hey, look, I like lobste.rs as much as the next lobster, but it’s not going to be in the same league as Slashdot until someone asks the love of their life to marry them.

            (Background info because *checks calendar* shit no wonder my back hurts all the time…)

            1. 3

              I bet you could make the idea of replying “first post!” into a TikTok meme somehow. Call it the first post challenge or something.

      3. 7

        it’s a pleasure. <3

      4. 4

        I can’t point to a specific story or comment, but more to a general thing that people here can (usually) disagree without hostility.

        ugh. whatever.


      5. 2

        (I couldn’t find it in a quick search, but the exact post isn’t very important)

        Not very important, but here: https://lobste.rs/s/tgj1he/write_free_software#c_efy8yy

      6. 1

        A couple of weeks ago I had a long discussion about the merits of permissive licensing with someone who has completely the opposite view to me

        I’m interested, so I tried to dig for this (the other side’s point of view still eludes me). Unfortunately I couldn’t find a way to access old threads from your profile… or even mine own for that matter. Is there something I missed, or is there no easy way to scroll through the entire history of someone’s comments just like Reddit?

        1. 2

          Maybe one of these?

          (found with “david_chisnall permissive licensing site:lobste.rs” on Kagi)

          1. 3

            I was actually thinking of the one that @5d22b linked, but apparently that’s a topic that I discuss a lot here.

            1. 1

              Oh, I missed that, thanks.

          2. 1

            That second link sounds like it, thanks.

    4. 42

      Hi everyone! Happy to lend a hand.

      1. 31


    5. 22

      This site gives me renewed hope that online community is possible. There’s some secret sauce here composed of good moderation tools, good moderators, strong social norms, and limiting growth.

      I remember shortly after I joined, someone made a heated rebuttal to one of my comments (I think the topic was Urbit, before I understood its origins) and I responded with a snarky put-down. I was surprised when my response was flagged as “unkind” — not because it wasn’t, but because I hadn’t expected a public forum to have such high standards. I like to think that I’ve adjusted my discourse accordingly. That’s an example of the secret sauce. Thank you, lobste.rs designers/ coders/ moderators/ community.

      1. 12

        A couple of days ago, someone with an upvote score thing (I actually have no idea of what it’s called) of over 20,000 was banned for repeatedly posting homophobic rants. That would be absolutely impossible on most for-profit platforms. Someone with that high a score is one of the people driving engagement on your platform and a key part of your revenue, so you have to excuse their obnoxious behaviour (worse, you may have to encourage them, because arguing with bigots also drives engagement).

        1. 2

          I like not naming the score-points thing clearly, so every time I can call the vote index something different.

        2. 2

          I didn’t realize it was possible to see other people’s karma until now. I only ever look at my own (because it’s on the page :D), and mostly just to see if I’ve said anything horrendous and should be apologizing for being an ass.

          I’m curious how other people approach score (on lobster.rs or elsewhere)? I feel like reddit actively pushes a “increase your points” view, so I’m curious

          1. 3

            As far as I can tell, it seems to be monotonic (it’s incremented every time someone up-votes something you’ve posted, I don’t know if having posts flagged decrements it?) and so it should eventually go up over time. The metric that might be more interesting to care about is the average score per comment, but I wouldn’t want to actively try to maximise that because some of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve had here have been in a corner of a thread where the other participant and I care but very few other people do. I think this place does well for a few reasons:

            • The karma score is not shown with posts, you have to look for it, so you’re not constantly shown a score that lets you make snap judgements about a person, you have to either read their post on merit or based on your own experiences with that person.
            • Karma doesn’t buy you anything. On Slashdot, you needed ‘Excellent’ karma to be allowed to moderate, for example, which meant that a lot of people would spam a load of vaguely informative but fairly low-value things to get enough karma to then go and mod-bomb people they didn’t like.
            • Creating sock puppets is hard, so you can’t gave one high-karma account and a load of spam accounts (ever get into an argument with APK on Slashdot? 100 different accounts would all post variants on the same screes of barely comprehensible abuse).
            • There’s no notification when someone upvotes your posts. This means that you don’t get the little endorphine hit that people pushing gamified systems love, which drives an addiction-like response to encourage people to chase upvotes.

            mostly just to see if I’ve said anything horrendous and should be apologizing for being an ass.

            How do you do that? In a previous thread a year or so ago I found the thing that told me how to see which of my posts had been flagged but I can’t work out where it was. It doesn’t seem to be linked from my profile page.

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              I think that bad behaviour is basically a natural consequence of this medium. Karma doesn’t do that much on Lobsters, but it’s visible and it’s not totally meaningless. And engaging in thoughtful discussions is about the worst way to get it.

              The other perverse incentive, of course, is all the people who we imagine are reading. I don’t know how many people read Lobsters comment threads without engaging, but presumably it’s quite a few, and there have been occasions (though not with you, I think) when I’ve felt like I’m trying to discuss but the other person is just trying to refute my position for an audience.

              In general I think that Lobsters seems to work well because it has several of the attributes of a real-life gathering. But it fails where those attributes don’t carry over. For example, while soapboxing at a barbecue would probably ensure you didn’t get invited to the next thing, on Lobsters you are always on a soapbox, and not really socially punished for abusing it. Similarly, dropping a hot take and then walking away from a conversation generally doesn’t make you popular in real life, but it’s a relatively effective way to get attention/internet points and doesn’t really have any consequences (as long as the take isn’t too hot, of course).

              One last thought: @pushcx described Lobsters as like a cookout, but in magnitude it’s closer to Glastonbury. I wonder how many of those people are active members of the community.

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              Karma doesn’t buy you anything. On Slashdot, you needed ‘Excellent’ karma to be allowed to moderate, for example, which meant that a lot of people would spam a load of vaguely informative but fairly low-value things to get enough karma to then go and mod-bomb people they didn’t like.

              This reminds me that you need points on SO to do pretty much anything, and you get it by asking or answering questions… which, the frontier’s been already paved over by now.

            3. 1

              I don’t know if having posts flagged decrements it How do you do that?

              I’ve always assumed flagged posts would decrement it and that’s what I look for - it’s possible I’ve been wasting my time watching for it?

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                @pushcx Based on other comments it seems like I’m wrong to expect some kind of score based indication, I am curious if it’s possible to get [homepage?] notification of a comment being flagged a lot? I try to not be an ass, but it is something I worry about because I know inherently “going on a rant” is something everyone is capable of

            4. 1

              How do you do that? In a previous thread a year or so ago I found the thing that told me how to see which of my posts had been flagged but I can’t work out where it was. It doesn’t seem to be linked from my profile page

              This is what you’re looking for: https://lobste.rs/u/[your_username]/standing. It only shows recently flagged comments.

        3. 1

          How sad. I spent a few minutes looking for said rants in their comments but the worst I found was some OT Xtian proselytizing. I guess the rants were scrubbed. Other than that [Mrs. Lincoln…] their contributions seemed valuable.

          But yeah, if someone can’t control an urge to veer off-topic into controversial and hateful territory, ban them. I’m glad lobster.rs mods had the gonads to do it.

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            I read there the comment on the article about adding support for Unicode things in screen so the pride flag rendered correctly and it was definitely over the line. If it was representative of the other posts, a bad was due. It’s a shame there isn’t a mechanism for seeing deleted posts.

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              Huh, archive.org had at least 3 snapshots, which are all gone now.

    6. 18

      Happy 11th.

      honestly this community means so much to me. You lot really are great people. I feel like this is a positive space that I can be a part of. A lot of work is done by you all in the background to keep it alive. It’s something special.

    7. 12

      My favorite story of all time was:

      Reverse Engineering the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine

      because software reverse engineering is close to me in general, but I’ve never had any contact with DNA. So it was something that I kind of knew, but also something that’s completely alien. Good article, definitely beyond my comfort zone. ;)

      1. 7

        You’re not alone, it’s the most upvoted story on the site according to my stats:


    8. 11

      Nice to see doubling of mod resources!

      And thanks for keeping this site up and running. It’s my favorite place on the internet.

    9. 8

      Happy 11th, everyone!

      8% of all stories were submitted by /u/calvin!

    10. 6

      Thanks @jcs!

    11. 6

      oh, wow

      amazing!!!! I can’t believe it’s been so long already

      I don’t know that I have specific favorite stories or discussions here, in the last year at least. I do know that I can always count on discussion here to be an actual conversation, not just people shouting slogans at each other or jockeying for attention. I admit I’m a little surprised sometimes how well it usually works :)

    12. 5


    13. 4

      Thanks lobste.rs and the community for making this an absolute haven of good content and civilized discussion on an otherwise generally unbearable internet.

    14. 4

      I’m grateful for this place and happy and proud to be a member.

    15. 4

      Thank you for everyone involved. Thank you conroy for the invite. I joined 10 years back, but lost access because I used a cool email provider Lavabit, Ouch!. I raised a support query for restoring access thinking it wouldn’t work. Well, guess what, admin(s) actually restored my account within a matter of days.

      Wonderful site and excellent administration. I must also add that Lobsters has the highest SNR to all similar sites I have used in the last 17 years. Great going and to many years.

      My favorites, out of many, on top of my head:

      1. The posts where the book Peak was discussed.
      2. Show your website/blog. Amazing energy in that post that day
      3. Comments on how did you learn learn aws or cloud
    16. 4

      Cool, I share the birthday with lobsters. <3

      1. 5

        Happy birthday!

        I hope you’re older than 11 though.

        1. 1

          Thanks. Unfortunately yes.

    17. 4

      Long time reader and first time poster. I hope the community grows and maintains the high quality of discussion.

    18. 3

      Thank you to everyone involved in bringing us this excellent site!

    19. 3

      Thank you to everyone involved in running the website and to the community!

    20. 3

      Happy birthday Lobsters!

      Thank you @pushcx and all the wonderful crustaceans floating around for running this site that keeps me fed with interesting articles and news every morning.

      I credit part of my curiosity for computer science to slashdot and lobsters.

    21. 3

      Hooray! Many thanks to @355E3B, @aleph, @Irene, and @pushcx, as well as to @jcs who raised the barn, and everybody here. You all make it a pleasure to be here.

    22. 2

      Yeah this place slaps, no cap. In all seriousness, thanks for everything!

    23. 2


    24. 2

      Will there be 🎂?

      Regardless, thanks for all your efforts pushcx & the mods & long may the site continue to flourish.

    25. 2

      Happy 11th! I still remember joining after fixing a weird scroll behaviour, happy to have given something back. I really enjoy reading it daily, thanks all for posting such great content and moderating it!

    26. 2

      Good website

    27. 1

      Where’s the page where I can see all of the comments I’ve made thus far? The “Threads” page stops arbitrarily.

    28. 1

      I recently joined, and I just enjoy the slower pace of the site. Gives me time to read through the comments and digest the articles. Thanks for being such a welcoming community!

    29. 1

      Happy birthday! 🎂

    30. 1

      Happy 11lth birthday. Interesting that Lobsters was founded near the 4th.

    31. 1

      Happy birthday, lobsters! Here’s to another good decade!

    32. 1

      I tend to like stories about interesting software. I have found several useful programs from the posts. Happy 11th birthday!

    33. 1

      Congratulations and welcome to the new moderators!

    34. 1

      holy heck, congrats!

    35. 1

      Congrats to those involved with the project, 11yo is a respectable age.

    36. 1

      Happy 11th!

    37. 1

      I’ve only been around here for about a year now, but it is my nightly go-to site now. There is an absolutely wonderful community here and I have learned so much and read so many blogs I didn’t even know existed.

      Here’s to 11 more years and beyond… this site is a marvelous piece of technology.