1. 22

I never get a good feeling when someone posts a link to their own blog here. At a minimum it feels like a misalignment of incentives, and when it happens enough over time it seems indistinguishable from spam. Even if you’re really proud of an idea you had and think it’s topical and interesting I think it’s always going to be better for the community if we require at least 1 other person who isn’t you to think the same thing before it appears here. Thoughts?

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      I don’t see users submitting their own content as a problem, as long as it’s on-topic.

      Thus I don’t support this proposal.

      1. 1

        Is there a limit?

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          In the absence of mod action, certainly. But the site/community will have degraded beyond salvage before that happens.

          To prevent this sad state of affairs, flagging submissions as “spam” or “off-topic” suffice.

        2. 3

          The limit is when you notice it and flag it. You being anyone that would like to see fewer self serving posts.

          I don’t have an issue with someone posting their own blog. Full disclosure I’ve done it myself.

          I do however flag things like this when I begin to notice them. If I’ve noticed it then it’s too much in my opinion.

        3. 2

          At some point I think @pushcx was talking about tom sawyering someone else into writing some kind of sliding window rule where if you submitted your own posts or from a single site more than a certain number of times in the window either it would be brought to mod attention or you might be blocked from posting it (though I have not been able to find the post in question through search). The suggestion that I have seen come up in previous discussions has been something like at most half of the links you submit can be from your own stuff, and if you are submitting links to your own stuff you should actually be interacting with the wider forum, not just commenting on your own posts.

          Edit: Once I finally pop enough things off my yak stack to have a working blog, I intend to submit things from it from time to time, so I obviously think that non-spam good faith links to your own stuff is good.

    2. 90

      Wow, that would be terrible.

      Makers are the people I am looking for on the internet. Self made content and tools is what I like to read and play with.

      I find the vast majority of content written by journalists boring. Because they don’t write about what interests them. But because they have to write. Every day. No matter if they have something to say or not.

      And I am also not that interested in polished shiny new products made based on marketing research. I prefer to try tools that are rough around the edges but made out of necessity.

      I’d like to encourage everyone here: Write something! Build something! And show it to us!

    3. 42

      I don’t have a problem with people submitting their own content. It doesn’t matter who submitted it; if it’s blogspam or such, it’d get downvoted no matter who.

    4. 37

      How would you find a new and interesting blog post when all communities ban this?

      1. 2

        Huh? First of all, I’m not asking for a blanket ban across the entire internet, I’m talking specifically about this site. Second, plenty of ways: social media, Twitter, RSS, word of mouth…

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          • Social Media: this site is social media. If you meant Facebook, no thanks.
          • Twitter: Maybe, but for me it would be rare.
          • RSS: not for discover new blogs
          • Word of mouth: This site is that for me. I don’t share links with friends all day long.
    5. 37

      I don’t support this idea. Over the years I’ve derived significant value from posts the authors themselves shared here, and based on the discussions within those topics other members of the community are finding value as well. Frankly, I could not care less about the motives of the author so long as the content is relevant and thought-provoking. The community seems to handle low-content or spam posts with derision or neglect and the mods tend to do a good job of removing posts that are clearly not a fit. If you don’t think enough is being done to fight low-content posting then perhaps the discussion should be around that rather than calling to put in place policies that will undoubtedly discourage people from contributing to the community.

    6. 33

      I think we should flip it around and encourage lobsters members (in good standing) to contribute back with their own writing.

      1. 2

        How would you define “in good standing”?

        1. 3

          People look at the name/gravatar and think “oh that person makes good comments” vs “oh that person is a troll/asshole/spammer”.

    7. 25

      But… I actually like reading articles from fellow lobsters!

    8. 23

      I like seeing that the poster is the author; it means that they’ll be able to respond to comments and questions in a highly informed way.

    9. 16

      A blanket ban seems like a bad idea since there are certainly some people who post good stuff that is relevant, for example @ltratt’s latest submission.

      Drawing the line is really hard. Some accounts are just using the site to promote every little thing they write, regardless of how trivial it is, or they are submitting what are clearly unthought out code ideas with no real implementation behind them, possibly looking for feedback. I really don’t care for these submissions and I think they de-value the site.

      I really want to discourage the latter and I really want to see more of the former. I’m content with the system of raising concerns on IRC or to the mods and having a judgement call made that way rather than banning it. Maybe we can stress something on the submission page.

      1. 4

        I agree with your point more than others’. The issue IMO is not self-posting, it’s low-effort posting.

        Stuff like “OpenSSL 1.1.1x released” is worthless, I’m on the mailing list for that. Same goes if your own blog post if it was written in 30 minutes.

        On the other hand, I found @gthm’s latest post about backups to be great, and it sparked a very interesting discussion in comments. The post was submitted by @gthm him/herself.

        1. 3

          Stuff like “OpenSSL 1.1.1x released” is worthless, I’m on the mailing list for that. Same goes if your own blog post if it was written in 30 minutes.

          Yes, exactly. Low-effort blog posts are actually the thing I’m talking about and want to curtail, and my experience is that they’re pretty highly correlated to self-posts.

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            A blanket ban on posting your own articles would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater, IMO. Besides, I don’t have the impression that people who post low-effort blog posts are especially concerned with following community rules/etiquette, so they’d probably get posted anyway.

            I think a discussion on how we can curtail low-effort self-promotion would be useful, but I’m not sure if anything further can be done about this outside of some drastic limitations which would limit the normal usage of the site too. I think this is one of those “it sucks, but it’s the best we’ve got” kind of things.

          2. 4

            and my experience is that they’re pretty highly correlated to self-posts.

            Do you have any sort of numbers, or is that merely a feeling? If it’s a feeling: mine is that it only correlates to self posts of a few notorious offenders (who get flagged or banned after a while anyway), most others are quite selective of what they share, and most likely it’s content that is not low-effort, even if it doesn’t interest me personally. A blog post every few weeks is certainly fine by me, and I’d consider it harmful to give those people the feeling they shouldn’t share what they do or think about. Don’t let a few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us. After all, there are other safe-guards in place (up-votes, flagging posts, etc…).

    10. 12

      I can certainly be blamed of doing this, all submissions of texts I wrote were posted by me (sadly). And if all I did here (not posting any other articles, not engaging in other discussions, or only below my posts), then I’d say it was wrong.

      My hope is that by showing that I don’t regard Lobsters as a means to an end, I compensate this. When I post an article here, I do “profit” from this, because the link gets shared on other sites, and the chance is higher that it will be noticed due to the slower pace of the site. But at the same time, I enjoy – as I hope others do too – the (usually) informed discussions, asking critical questions, suggesting further resources, expanding on points, etc.

      Tbh I have no idea where else I could find something like that, but here.

      1. 5

        For what it’s worth, I would most likely be submitting your articles if you didn’t get there first; I’m just quite slow on checking RSS :)

        I also agree that it’s not a problem as long as the author engages in discussion. In my eyes it’s the same as anyone bringing up their own opinion in a class - that’s what we want!

    11. 10

      I don‘t have a strong opinion here (although a fair amount of my posts are self-submitted), but I want to note that „submitted by someone else“ biases the content to blogs by already famous bloggers.

      If you are a new blog author and if you don‘t use Twitter/Facebook (my case), then it may be hard to make people notice your blog and subscribe to it by RSS without self posting. The reason why folks sometimes post links to my stuff is that I started with self-submitting interesting articles to r/rust several years ago.

    12. 12

      that’s dang near the last thing wrong with lobste.rs 🤦‍♂️

    13. 7

      I don’t support this. A fair chunk of things I read on this site are “self-promotion” by creative minds. @pushcx has been awesome at banning people who over-do it. Also, I don’t agree with “require at least 1 other person who isn’t you”, what gives leverage to that “other person” over the creator to determine what’s on-topic? We’re all members here.

      If you’re concerned about the quality of posts, we already have a solution: flag (as spam or off-topic).

    14. 7

      I’m surprised no one has mentioned there’s a “show” tag, which I think is used for sharing projects one has worked on and would very much be a form of self-promotion.

    15. 15

      I don’t know OP. I would probably feel better about your proposal if someone else posted it for you.

    16. 6

      The main selling point of lobsters to me is the authored posts and interaction in the comments. I’d rather not see a blanket ban just because there’s some abuse of it.

    17. 6

      As a data point, I’ve posted ~two things that I authored, both of which I strongly expect no one else would have come across (I don’t have a strong “brand” and don’t use any one blog regularly). One received 15 upvotes and some encouraging discussion, the other received 57 upvotes and also mostly-encouraging discussion. I think neither was flagged even once. It seems to me that banning or discouraging authored-by posts would basically mean that no one would have read either of these, or similar submissions, and I (biased-ly) think that would at least be a cost of your proposal.

      A thing that does consistently bother me, in a similar vein (for example with this proposal) is that comments seem to count as upvotes, which makes unpopular-but-inflammatory posts stay on the home page for a long time.

    18. 6

      I’m against this idea. That would make lobste.rs a pure reading community where writers and creators from the circle have no place.

    19. 5

      I don’t support this proposal, because it’d block out a lot of good content, and @andyc’s posts on Oil. Do you think moderation isn’t keeping up with the problematic posts?

      1. 2

        I’m glad you brought that example up, it’s one of the things I was thinking about when I made this post. I don’t agree that those posts are good content, at this point — I think they’re made too frequently and without enough “meat”. I think this website would be better if they were fewer of them, and I think the requirement of someone other than the author needing to submit them would act as a pretty good means to that end.

        1. 4

          OTOH, this LLVM’s getelementptr post on the front page is exactly the type of stuff I want to read on lobster.

          1. 2

            I agree, that’s great! Would requiring it to have been submitted by someone other than its author represent an inappropriate burden or barrier? I don’t think so, personally.

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              Yes, it would be. Despite your intent it would very clearly and obviously suppress good content while also suppressing what you consider bad. I have found community moderation more than sufficient

    20. 5

      As someone who wants to start writing more content, I find this a little demotivating.

      I have no desire to self-promote, but I do desire criticism of the posts that I author. It helps me become a better writer. And maybe I make mistakes that people on here could catch. I haven’t written many posts, and the ones I have aren’t submitted here. But I have been trying to get the motivation to write some because it’s a shame that what I want to write about doesn’t have much written about it before.

      I’m also not that active either, so the activity-to-authored-posts ratio won’t be in my favour.

      My 2-cents.

    21. 4

      What about adding a “self” tag? Enforce one self’s content to be tagged if submitted, else ban/remove/etc.

      1. 9

        There is a “self” option in the submission page. Maybe the solution would be to display that somewhere in the ui so that it’s more obvious. As to enforcement, I think @pushcx has been really good at enforcing blatant and obvious self-promotion, and I think he catches on quickly to members of the community who are here solely for self promotion

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          It’s already very obvious: “authored” vs “via”

          1. 5

            interesting and extremely non-visible. Some sort of UX fail. It should appear like a flag, then it’d have great visibility and allow filtering, to top it off.

            1. 11

              I thought it was quite obvious, especially with the colors (blue for author, green for fresh account, and black otherwise).

              1. 4

                I have to be honest, I didn’t even know what the colors were for (thought it was green for admins for some reason, I guess Reddit influence) before reading your comment.

              2. 1

                I totally missed it until it’s been pointed out.

              3. 1

                I had no idea that the colors meant anything. Is there a doc somewhere that explains all of these “obvious” UI indicators?

                1. 1

                  You kind of grok it from context.

                  A green username’s profile will say “new user” or similar.

                  A blue username is subtly echoed in the “Authored by” text at the top of a comment page.

                  But yes, maybe this should be explicitly mentioned in the About page.

          2. 1

            I’m not sure it’s that obvious. I’ve been on lobsters for a while now and this is the first time I’m aware that there is a difference between “authored” and “via” and there is a distinct meaning to each of those.

      2. 2

        Maybe a good compromise.

      3. 1

        Does it even cause any visible difference?

        I don’t think it does, or rather, I’ve never noticed it if so.

        It would be a start to make this visible. Something to consider before taking the next step suggested by the OP.

        1. 5

          9 of the 25 entries in /newest are “authored by” as opposed to “via”.

          It’s definitely something I note when looking at a submission.

        2. 3

          You can filter out tags, if you don’t want “authored by” posts, filter it out.

          I don’t use filters myself, and I wouldn’t use this one as I think some of the coolest posts are authored by this community itself, but it gives OP and others the choice to stop getting that.

          1. 4

            I don’t think it’s possible to filter on the state “authored by/via”.

            I’m tentatively positive to supporting new functionality to do so, but it would have to be created as a pull request as it’s a new feature.

            1. 1

              That’s why I suggested a tag, even if it uses the “I authored this post” checkbox data.

              1. 1

                Ah ok, I missed that context!

          2. 3

            IMO filtering by “self” would be an anti-feature. Stories should be judged on their own merit, not by who submitted it.

            1. 1

              Fair enough, the thing is, flags are opt-in. It’s your choice to filter out self-posting.

              Edit: I actually agree, in fact, I’ve posted my own content here many times in the past, and I wouldn’t filter a “self” tag, just thinking of an easy solution for OPs problem, which I also understand.

    22. 4

      What’s your plan to prevent people from creating sockpuppet account to keep posting their own content?

      1. 5

        I don’t think I need a plan, as there are already rules against sockpuppets, right?

        1. 3

          It’s worth noting that I don’t go looking for sockpuppets except based on user reports. Most of the time they point out (or I notice) that an account is posting vacuous compliments to an article posted by their inviter/invitee, or that low-quality self-submissions regularly show up on the homepage from someone who invited a half-dozen accounts in a day. It’s an infrequent problem that’s not so overwhelmingly compelling that I think it’s worth searching for effectively by site changes like indefinitely retaining logs, recording an IP/browser fingerprint with all user actions, or otherwise adopting other off-putting techniques and tools common in web advertising.

        2. 1

          Correct, also, it’s easy to link that, as Lobste.rs write-access is invite-only, and recorded.

          It’s trivial to see whether the sites an account is posting are the same as it’s “parent”.

    23. 4

      We have definitely had people abuse this, @pushcx cam almost certainly provide examples.

      I think there is good content to be had this way–if we don’t want to see it abused though we need to aggressively flag bad actors.

    24. 4

      I actually see this as a feature. The “authored” tag and everything - thought it is a big part of lobsters.

      If someone submits content that you think shouldn’t be posted here the best action, in my opinion, is to hide it and don’t upvote it or even flag it. But if someone submits a super nice article with deep insight it would seem strange if we banned it just because the actual author was the one who is sharing it here.

    25. 4

      As somebody who has posted their own content, I say this is a bad idea. You’re telling me that my participation is not wanted. NGL, it’s a bit of a slap in the face to say “the community would be better without this”

      1. 7

        Thankfully, it appears there’s an overwhelming consensus in the opposite direction.

    26. 3

      I have found most self submitted content to be of interest. That being said, submitting too often would be a problem. Some limit to the number of self submitted links?

    27. 3

      I don’t support this. I think part of the value of this community is reading what other members are writing.

      You’re right about the potential for problems, but that’s what voting and flagging are for. Seems to be working.

    28. 3

      To me there’s a fundamental distinction between self-promotion — “look at my blog!” — and self-publishing — “consider my idea / research / work / opinion, which happens to be on my blog!” — and I think we should broadly and strongly encourage the latter while letting lack of votes and considered human moderation alone police egregious forms of the former.

    29. 2

      Against this. Not that I remember posting more than one of my own, but I guess I’d have no problem just nagging a handful people here to submit it for me, if I wanted my stuff submitted so I don’t see how it would really help.

    30. 2

      There’s indeed been an influx of shameless spam in the form of self-promotion lately.

      The requirement of a layer of indirection would indeed help throttle this. After all, if it’s interesting enough to be in here, then it is likely that somebody else is going to post it.

    31. 2

      I don’t see the benefit over the existing voting system. Surely if another person upvotes it, then it was approved by your standard?

      That being said, self written posts could be limited to one a month/fortnight and probably not hurt anyone.

    32. 2

      There’s a certain amount of low-value self-posting, but for the most part it doesn’t seem to float to the top, and people sharing their own work seems like a perfectly valid use case for sites like this one. I don’t support this restriction.

    33. 2

      Also one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that there is actually a hotness penalty for aggressive self-promotion. I’m not sure if this has changed recently since I looked at the code though.

      I agree with most folks here that the mods are doing a good job and we shouldn’t blanket ban self posted content.

    34. 2


    35. [Comment removed by author]

    36. 1

      how bout self promotion is OK as long as what you link to has no tracking or ads

    37. 1

      I posted a thing a while back basically in response to a conversation in #lobsters on IRC. I don’t have an “audience” really, so the blog post existed to be talked about with people here.

      I also get annoyed at some self-promotion stuff (“sales pitches” in some sense), though hopefully spam-y content would get disincentivised in some other way. But I’m like 95% certain nobody would have read what I wrote if I couldn’t just post it here.

      To be honest I don’t see that much annoying spam, I would hope that we could figure out some other quality axis to push back on this, cuz in the end if content is good it’s good, right?

    38. 1

      So… I ask a friend to post something for me?