1. 11

    (I think this is about the political threads. Disregard all this if not.)

    I don’t think we’re experiencing growing pains. New members run into flags or apathy. People use comments and private messages to help them out. I usually just encourage thoughtful, tech-focused submissions after just watching the site for a while to get a feel for it. They get into the flow of things.

    What you’re seeing yesterday and today is a battle between people that do or don’t want political activism and enforcement. It goes back at least to the Community Standards discussion. There were a huge number of people for and against these positions. The beliefs of new and old members, plus changes in participation on political threads, led to changes in what people are doing here day-to-day. We also have new admin and mods whose own decisions feed into these things.

    In short, folks who want it one way are butting heads with those that want it another way during a period of change. This is natural, social evolution of forums that bring in all kinds of people. We’re already talking it out. Stopping invites won’t change the need for that. Just add to whatever onboarding you’re doing for new people that they should stay clear of tags marked meta, esp if political, until they’ve been on the site a while. That they’re really for users that really understand our community’s norms. Then, tell them to just focus on interesting stuff that helps people out, preferably with depth.

    That’s what I’m doing now.

    1. 7

      Oh, is this about the Palantir thread, then?

      Personally I was disappointed in the non-technical direction that conversation took, and in the totalizing, non-negotiable conception of ethics assumed by some commenters. I’m not convinced limiting invitations would significantly improve the quality of discourse on such threads, however.

      1. 4

        I was disappointed in the non-technical direction that conversation took

        I think what I really wish is that a thread that gets overtly political under an interesting story could be marked by the community as political. Not as a downvote, not as an upvote, but as a categorization. Allow users to filter conversation threads the same way they filter out stories.

        1. 4

          The political people voted against it when we tried. They want no compromises except on the other side. I speculate they believe it would let people ignore their political outreach easily. Whereas, their goal is to force us to look at their side’s political claims, whether we want to or not, in an attempt to try to change our views to match theirs.

          1. 4

            Seeing ethics, politics, and tech as inseparable is not the same thing as thinking the response to the Palintir thread was okay. That dumpster fire combined digressions, virtue signalling, and passive-agressiveness in a way that should not be allowed here.

            Personally, I’d rather reclaim politics, to be able to have threads about it on here without the team sports dynamics. We have to be able to discuss politics without the team sports dynamics, considering we already have a culture tag, which is pretty much a more innocuous word for politics. Adding a politics tag would just create a ghetto, instead of actually solving anything.

            1. 2

              I agree about Palantir thread. I was saying they wanted the ability to do stuff like that per their votes and comments. It’s them you gotta convince, not me.

              Re team sports, it’s not gonna change. They see people not complying with their politics as harm remaining or going up in the world. They’ll weigh that against aggressive comments in some kind of cost-benefit analysis the target probably didnt agree with. While some are highly civil, many of the active ones prefer insults added to many on one rebukes (aka mobbing on folks). They also get lots of upvotes by onlookers.

              So, what you see is what we’ll keep getting in any political thread where they see a dissenter that replies to them. Limiting politics to specific threads at least lets Lobsters choose to filter it. If I can, I dont care if it’s a dumpster in that comment section cuz Ill be posting and reading technical stuff.

              1. 2

                Quarantining doesn’t work; Reddit’s experience with its hate subreddits proves that. Hardcore activists use the ghetto to collaborate and fire each other up, then they go out and brigade the more frequently-read areas because that’s what being a hardcore activist means.

                But what really annoys me about this discussion is that lobsters already extensively discusses politics, it’s just almost always office politics, OSS project management, and economics. When someone makes a culture tag topic about spreading tribal knowledge through pair programming, that’s usually based on a collectivist political view of the company. The distributed tag is pretty much synonymous with the anarchist/libertarian side of the political compass, and not only is that perfectly acceptable, but I’m able to post an opinion piece against it, and in both cases, the comments were user-centric and substantive instead of ideological and shrill.

                All of that is fine, because while this is all political, none of it falls into party politics. It seems like everything that political parties touch turns to shit, and by trying to bury it all in a politics tag ghetto, you are ceding that territory to them. We already have a politics tag; we call it culture.

                1. 1

                  You’re talking as if there would be no moderation. People ignoring the tag would have comments deleted, possibly a suspension for repeat violations, and so on. The political part can be moderated, too, in the way we’ve been doing it or with stronger practices.

                  Far as the rest, theirs is party politics, it’s the majority vote right now, only a tiny handful of us counterpoint them in most threads, and it happens on every thread they want. This is already their territory. Pushing their political evangelism into purpose-made, filterable threads would be gaining territory since more threads would be technical like my side wants. That’s also exactly why they resisted politics tag: they can’t occupy more threads that way.

                  1. 2

                    The fight to keep party politics in the correct tags is going to be just as ongoing and messy as the fight to get it off lobsters entirely. It’s not always obvious; the activists are always going to push the edges of acceptability as much as possible, especially since the division between politics and culture, as I’ve been saying the whole time, is actually kind of arbitrary.

                    Party politics gobbles up anything it can. Net neutrality didn’t use to be a partisan talking point; now it’s a part of everyone’s political platform, either in the affirmative or the negative. The same thing is in the process of happening to social media; eventually, you’re going to wind up banning all discussion of the algorithms involved in ranking posts on Lobsters itself, because they’ll be too politically charged to have a reasonable discussion about, unless we draw the line now rather than later.

                    Have you actually watched /pol/ eat a subreddit alive? They’re famous for spammy comment brigades, but those are mostly there to strengthen the existing base. What they did to /r/conspiracy was centered around posts that carry political connotations, but perfectly on-topic (think of posts on Lobsters that are about unionizing, or censorship-resistance, or small-business vs big-business), and upvoting the ones with a connotation they agree with and downvoting the ones they disagree with. In other words, frog boiling. Getting a sympathetic moderator in was just the final nail in the coffin: by the time /r/conspiracy started removing posts about “Russia-gate” instead of just downvoting them into oblivion (which, being a conspiracy theory, is clearly on-topic but anti-Trump) they already had an unstated right-wing voting bias that “everyone knew about”.

                    You can see other subreddits in various stages of the same takeover, too. /r/politics will heavily downvote anything that contradicts the overarching left-wing bias, but, like /r/conspiracy used to, will not actually delete your post or ban you. They will probably eventually get a moderator who starts doing so, at which point very few active commenters will complain (because, after all, those posts were already disappearing into the hole at the bottom of the page anyway). I’m not sure if Lobsters is as far along as /r/politics is, but I can tell you right now, because subreddit takeovers are less about what gets posted and more about what gets upvoted, putting in place an area where political activists can openly-secretly decide what to upvote and what to downvote is not at all a good idea.

                    1. 3

                      I should probably just say outright, now that I realize I never said it explicitly and have just been assuming everyone already knew:

                      Lobsters should be more worried about vote brigading than comment brigading. The latter is easy for a moderator to do something about. The former is much harder, because a post being upvoted because it’s being brigaded looks the same as a post being upvoted because it’s interesting.

                      1. 1

                        “the activists are always going to push the edges of acceptability as much as possible”

                        I don’t follow Reddit much since it’s comment quality sucks compared to HN and Lobsters. I have no doubt people are using those tactics since they go way back. I agree with you that people will try stuff here. We’ll have to evolve with them. Might need to replace the culture tag, too, for reasons you outline. Turn it into culture/politics or politics just includes it. The fact that people will try to abuse the rules doesn’t mean we go lawless.

                        “You can see other subreddits in various stages of the same takeover, too. /r/politics will heavily downvote anything that contradicts the overarching left-wing bias, but, like /r/conspiracy used to, will not actually delete your post or ban you.”

                        That’s what the leftist activists do to their opponents currently on Lobsters. Especially to me. Sometimes they go further with a brigade of downvotes which I’ve avoided by investing tons of energy into being more civil than many of them in how I word things. Their strategy works since there’s little action by people on the other side, either votes or comments. There’s definitely a ton of resistance in what our side prefers. Just little to no action. That apathy toward the problem sends a signal to onlookers, old and new (esp new), that what the leftist activists are doing represents the site’s consensus. Again, you’re talking about a hypothetical future which is actually the present of Lobsters working best for leftist, activists’ goals.

                        “putting in place an area where political activists can openly-secretly decide what to upvote and what to downvote is not at all a good idea.”

                        They’re already doing it here. Since we can’t see their names, it’s not clear how organized they are, who always downvotes on what points, etc. All I know is one group is actively policing the comment sections while the others are much, much, much more apathetic. The result is the one group wins by default. Your future is my present along with anyone else that’s resisted.

                        Maybe I missed it, but you still haven’t told me what your solution is if the other side is 100% into party politics allowed, even encouraged, in any thread they can with current rules allowing that and active resistance to any changes. What do you think will let those of us wanting peaceful Lobsters to see no politics at all in technical threads without tagging or rule changes about politics in technical threads? They already got no tagging and politics is allowed with key members maybe quitting if second one changes. So, start with that and work your way up to a solution. I have my own, too, which I may do after holiday months are over.

                        1. 2

                          Maybe I missed it, but you still haven’t told me what your solution is

                          The type of comments that you would have put into the politics tag (that is, partisan politics) should be banned outright.

                          We should probably continue to allow non-partisan politics, and continue using culture as the preferred euphemism.

                          I have no idea what to do about vote brigading. I assume @pushcx can see who votes on what?

                          1. 4

                            The site shows moderators the reasons + usernames of story flags and comment downvotes. It looks like “+6, -3 incorrect (alice, bob, carol), -1 troll (dave)”. This breakdown doesn’t appear for a mod’s own comments; I haven’t checked if this is intentional or a bug because I figure it helps keep mod blood pressure down. User profiles show an admin (so, only me) the last 10 votes on stories/comments the user has made. I look at this to more-quickly figure out where the battle lines are being drawn when I step into a heated thread, or when I’m trying to figure out if an account is active or not. So there’s not really any way to look at or click on a comment and see who upvoted it.

                            Off-site, of course, there’s direct database access. (@alynpost also potentially has this because he has root on the server, but I doubt he’s used it.) I’ve used it five or six times to look at who’s voting on what in response to specific allegations by users. I’ve poked around for patterns of people upvoting or downvoting stories, comments, or users. I’ve haven’t found it. Even the couple times I’ve had to en-masse message stern warnings or disable invites for the tree of employees of a spammy company they weren’t particularly organized about upvoting their own stuff, and that spammer who tried three times to establish with a dozen sockpuppets wasn’t very good at it. I think the invitation system unintentionally helps a lot here.

                            If someone thinks brigading is happening, I’d appreciate if they’d start writing the queries they think would prove or disprove it, in part because it’d force them to explicitly define what they mean by brigading and how they’d differentiate it from users who happen to share opinions tending to vote in similar ways.

                            I’d especially like to see folks writing queries to produce evidence for beliefs regarding us sinking into an eternal september or otherwise failing to acculturate new users, because it seems to be growing in popularity as an explanation despite nobody presenting reasons for it and the query I’ve thought to run) looking like weak evidence against it being a problem. It’s a plausible explanation, but I’d like to see it supported before I believe it.

                            1. 1

                              Off-site, of course, there’s direct database access. (@alynpost also potentially has this because he has root on the server, but I doubt he’s used it.)

                              I do have root access to the server, and therefor direct database access. I do not use that access to exceed my lobste.rs account authority, which would include ad-hoc queries to see who upvoted a comment.

                              The Systems Administrators’ Code articulates the duty of service a systems administrator has in dealing with private, confidential, sensitive, or secret information. I was given it orally, early in my career, as an oath, when being instructed on my responsibility to my users attendant to my level of system access.

                              It appears in written form on usenix.org: System Administrators’ Code of Ethics, where it is also signed by LISA and LOPSA.

                            2. 1

                              Oh, OK, well banning politics was one of my preferences. IIRC, @Irene said she’d leave if that happened. I figured that meant it wouldn’t happen. From there, an ability to filter was my next option. I prefer your solution. I’m fine with other as compromise to see what happens. Non-partisan politics probably won’t happen since majority of votes on any political thread is already partisan.

                              Far as vote brigading, it will be harder to assess or deal with since many are probably voting in good conscience about stuff that represents their political beliefs. Some might work together or consistently hit specific opponents. We do have some activists here that were involved in coordinated or just pile-of-folks-show up hits outside of Lobsters. Otherwise, it appears to be a natural consequence of so many people having similar beliefs. Also, as I said, people on our side being far less active and/or leaving. Which I know they are since many told me.

                              @pushcx has said stuff that’s closer leftist activists than to our position. He seems to be doing what he sees as good for community based on our feedback. Other side is majority, though. So, the voting patterns are democracy in action from people participating the most who he won’t and probably shouldn’t punish. If anything, I expected him to read and deliberate on comments before rewarding some of them with his personal vote and no action as Sysop past sharing his opinions so long as folks behaved well. He did the second (idk about votes).

                              I don’t know positions of @alynpost and @kyle on these rules. Of the two, alynpost seems to be more active recently. I will restate there’s two positions that a significant subset of leftist-activist opposition might agree with:

                              1. No politics on Lobsters period. Just the deeply-technical stuff like in @friendlysock’s What Lobsters Is. I have little confidence this will happen.

                              2. For this site (not all), a politics tag or other rule that forces it into threads that are specifically inviting such discussions. This lets unwilling participants filter that stuff to have at least one place with high-signal, low-noise ratio for technical stuff. And more peaceful. Again, from an activist guy that risks his job on a daily basis to help consumers, minorities, etc. who sees value in a focused, peaceful site dedicated to tech discussion without political fights and judgment.

                              EDIT: I just looked at recent comments. I see two from pushcx interesting for this discussion. One is he wants it to be tech-focused but not miss out ethical issues/opportunities. That’s not surprising at all based on previous discussions. Having dedicated threads for politics gets closer to that. The other comment is here where he confirms my intuition with actual numbers that a vocal minority, about “5-9” people, do most of the downvotes. I still can’t say how good, bad, or biased that is. Just that it’s far from the overall vote count in metas regardless of political position showing most folks aren’t that active. It’s less than two hands worth of people dictating the perception on that most of the time with an auditorium’s worth debating the big metas with most wanting politics here in any thread.

                              1. 5

                                The big problem with wanting to entirely eliminate discussion on “politics and ethics” (I’m using this shorthand to try to encapsulate the debate) is that deciding what is political is itself political.

                                An example – the discussion on whether women are biologically less predisposed to be good at computer science is, in my opinion, a stalking horse for people who prefer that women have a segregated or unequal position in society. Now, holding that opinion openly does not give you much traction in debating in most liberal democratic countries, at least not on a policy level. But shifting the window of the debate does help advance the position.

                                So, people who have these opinions talk up, or sponsor, or perform, or find research that supports their position. If someone challenges their motives, they will respond “oh, we’re just raising questions, expanding research, doing science. Why are you bringing politics into this?” And if someone tries to challenge the results by pointing to external factors (such as structural practical discrimination against women or other minorities) they will respond “that’s actually not interesting in this case, we’re only looking at a sample group, conditions in country A and entirely different from country B”, etc.

                                In this case, the argument is made, and objections will be countered with the reason they are not addressing the argument, they are “political”.

                                Therein lies the danger in defining what’s political in nature, and banning it. The people who hold deeply unpopular beliefs are experts at skirting to “rules” of normal discourse, and we should not make their lives easier.

                                Does this mean that Lobsters should be a free-for-all? No! We still have tags, and rules for what is on-topic or not, and it’s up to us as a community to police ourselves. People who try to hijack or troll a thread with political rhetoric should be censored, but politics should be allowed to be expressed on the site when it’s appropriate.

                                1. 2

                                  You’re taking a guess at my positions, so, in the interests of not being coy and misinterpreted: I don’t generally talk about my politics online, I never have, and I’m very unlikely to start. I think “You Just Don’t Do That” is one of those family beliefs I absorbed growing up without ever thinking about. When I worked as a journalist I was in a culture that valued “no cheering from the press box”, as my boss put it, and that reinforced my reluctance. This attitude has turned out useful as a mod: if my opinion is private, there’s a better chance I can be perceived as the impartial arbitrator I try hard to be. I guess that also shows that I don’t feel so confident and righteous in my political positions that I’m seriously tempted to try to enforce them (though very little of politics is close enough to on-topic here to come up).

                                  To expand on the other comment you linked, here’s a raw tally of how many users have given how many downvotes in the last 90 days:

                                  MariaDB [lobsters]> select count(*) as n_users, n_votes from (select count(*) as n_votes from votes where vote < 0 and updated_at >= (now() - interval 90 day) group by user_id) totals group by n_votes order by n_votes desc;
                                  +---------+---------+
                                  | n_users | n_votes |
                                  +---------+---------+
                                  |       1 |     471 |
                                  |       1 |     207 |
                                  |       1 |     112 |
                                  |       1 |     102 |
                                  |       1 |      92 |
                                  |       1 |      77 |
                                  |       1 |      73 |
                                  |       1 |      57 |
                                  |       1 |      49 |
                                  |       1 |      46 |
                                  |       1 |      45 |
                                  |       1 |      43 |
                                  |       1 |      41 |
                                  |       1 |      40 |
                                  |       2 |      37 |
                                  |       1 |      36 |
                                  |       1 |      35 |
                                  |       1 |      34 |
                                  |       2 |      31 |
                                  |       1 |      30 |
                                  |       4 |      29 |
                                  |       1 |      26 |
                                  |       4 |      24 |
                                  |       3 |      23 |
                                  |       1 |      20 |
                                  |       4 |      19 |
                                  |       2 |      18 |
                                  |       3 |      17 |
                                  |       4 |      16 |
                                  |       3 |      15 |
                                  |       3 |      14 |
                                  |       3 |      13 |
                                  |       2 |      12 |
                                  |      10 |      11 |
                                  |       8 |      10 |
                                  |       9 |       9 |
                                  |      11 |       8 |
                                  |      13 |       7 |
                                  |      17 |       6 |
                                  |      16 |       5 |
                                  |      20 |       4 |
                                  |      46 |       3 |
                                  |      80 |       2 |
                                  |     130 |       1 |
                                  +---------+---------+
                                  44 rows in set (10.46 sec)
                                  

                                  As I mentioned there’s a judgment call as to whether some of the folks at the top of the chart vote this often because they’re trying to punish perceived foes, or because they’re reading nearly every comment, or because they just set the bar a lot lower than the typical user. Though now that I think about it, maybe the first situation could be differentiated from the latter two by counting how many distinct stories and authors they’ve downvoted.

                  2. 1

                    when we tried

                    A similar idea was pitched? I couldn’t find it, any more information on it / links?

                    their goal is to force us to look at their side’s political claims

                    I think it is fair and reasonable at this point to crave apolitical spaces. As politics starts to get crammed into every little corner of our lives, I think the value of being able to have (or create via filters) an apolitical space is growing in importance. Also, I sincerely believe it doesn’t take anything away from those who still want to engage in political discussions, even interwoven with existing stories.

                    1. 2

                      I dont have a link. They say it in different ways in every meta on this. Look at the last one to find several people saying they want tech/politics to be inseparsble, want it in any thread, etc.

                      I voted for Lobsters to be tech-focused with politics on other sites or tagged for filtering. We lost every time. Plus, several people kept threatening to quit if Lobsters was apolitical. My side lost over time.

              2. 6

                I agree wholeheartedly with this. As a relatively new user, it took me a while to get the hang of participating constructively on this site, and it was you and a few others who helped me to get onboard with this site’s culture and ettiquette. One thing I’d note is that during registration, a new user is encouraged to invite other users. Maybe delaying that privilege (and others) until a user has accrued a certain amount of reputation would help to moderate the growth of the site and give new users some time to acclimate - more like the StackOverflow model.

                1. 10

                  One thing I’d note is that during registration, a new user is encouraged to invite other users

                  Yeah, that weirded me out. I don’t know that the privilege needs to be delayed per se, but being immediately prompted with a form telling me to run right out and invite new people seemed off. “Invitation only” (to control quality here) and “Please promptly spread the word, promote the site, grow the site, We Need You To Grow It!!!” just seems at odds on the face of it.

                  The second is the purview of cheesy, growth-at-all-costs projects. It just seems like immediately taking me to an invite form full of boosterism language doesn’t at all fit with an ethos of “Invite only” combined with holding people accountable for the behavior of the people they invite. That is the opposite of encouraging people to first get to know the culture themselves and second do some vetting before sending invitations.

                  I just joined yesterday, so that impression is fresh. Seems like there’s some value in sharing it, though I’m self conscious about doing so having said yesterday that there’s no intent on my part to try to shape lobsters immediately upon joining.

                  Edit: I will add this is probably a case of “victim of your own success”. It probably was done at the start when it actually made sense and then no one ever thought about again particularly, in part because it only happens when you join, which helps make it an invisible thing. Now that there are 10k members, it would make sense to revisit it.

                  Having gone to brunch and had time to think about it, I’ve concluded a delay in receiving the privilege probably makes sense.

                  1. 6

                    That is probably an accurate characterization of how and why it appeared and lingers. It was added ~6 months after I signed up, so I think the only time I’ve noticed it was when merging this PR in March for the sister sites and it slipped out of my head.

                    I see how this is kind of dissonant, maybe there’s some better text to put on that page. I ran a query to see if we’re seeing an influx of users who are invited off that form, and it doesn’t appear to be the case, so I don’t think removing or postponing it is likely to be a significant step. (For context below, it was added in 2013-02.)

                    MariaDB [lobsters]> select extract(year from new.created_at) as y, extract(month from new.created_at) as m, sum(timestampdiff(day, exist.created_at, new.created_at) < 1) from users exist join users new on exist.id = new.invited_by_user_id group by y, m;
                    +------+------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
                    | y    | m    | sum(timestampdiff(day, exist.created_at, new.created_at) < 1) |
                    +------+------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
                    | 2012 |    7 |                                                             8 |
                    | 2012 |    8 |                                                            39 |
                    | 2012 |    9 |                                                            92 |
                    | 2012 |   10 |                                                             3 |
                    | 2012 |   11 |                                                             5 |
                    | 2012 |   12 |                                                            10 |
                    | 2013 |    1 |                                                             3 |
                    | 2013 |    2 |                                                             1 |
                    | 2013 |    3 |                                                            10 |
                    | 2013 |    4 |                                                             3 |
                    | 2013 |    5 |                                                            10 |
                    | 2013 |    6 |                                                            14 |
                    | 2013 |    7 |                                                            11 |
                    | 2013 |    8 |                                                             5 |
                    | 2013 |    9 |                                                             3 |
                    | 2013 |   10 |                                                             7 |
                    | 2013 |   11 |                                                             8 |
                    | 2013 |   12 |                                                             9 |
                    | 2014 |    1 |                                                           137 |
                    | 2014 |    2 |                                                            57 |
                    | 2014 |    3 |                                                            27 |
                    | 2014 |    4 |                                                            44 |
                    | 2014 |    5 |                                                            26 |
                    | 2014 |    6 |                                                            13 |
                    | 2014 |    7 |                                                            18 |
                    | 2014 |    8 |                                                            22 |
                    | 2014 |    9 |                                                            11 |
                    | 2014 |   10 |                                                            16 |
                    | 2014 |   11 |                                                            14 |
                    | 2014 |   12 |                                                            13 |
                    | 2015 |    1 |                                                            35 |
                    | 2015 |    2 |                                                            16 |
                    | 2015 |    3 |                                                             8 |
                    | 2015 |    4 |                                                            27 |
                    | 2015 |    5 |                                                            18 |
                    | 2015 |    6 |                                                             8 |
                    | 2015 |    7 |                                                            32 |
                    | 2015 |    8 |                                                            15 |
                    | 2015 |    9 |                                                            11 |
                    | 2015 |   10 |                                                             8 |
                    | 2015 |   11 |                                                             6 |
                    | 2015 |   12 |                                                             8 |
                    | 2016 |    1 |                                                            10 |
                    | 2016 |    2 |                                                            16 |
                    | 2016 |    3 |                                                            10 |
                    | 2016 |    4 |                                                             7 |
                    | 2016 |    5 |                                                            16 |
                    | 2016 |    6 |                                                             6 |
                    | 2016 |    7 |                                                             7 |
                    | 2016 |    8 |                                                            13 |
                    | 2016 |    9 |                                                             3 |
                    | 2016 |   10 |                                                            13 |
                    | 2016 |   11 |                                                            20 |
                    | 2016 |   12 |                                                            10 |
                    | 2017 |    1 |                                                            58 |
                    | 2017 |    2 |                                                            16 |
                    | 2017 |    3 |                                                            10 |
                    | 2017 |    4 |                                                            12 |
                    | 2017 |    5 |                                                            13 |
                    | 2017 |    6 |                                                            28 |
                    | 2017 |    7 |                                                            26 |
                    | 2017 |    8 |                                                            17 |
                    | 2017 |    9 |                                                            11 |
                    | 2017 |   10 |                                                             7 |
                    | 2017 |   11 |                                                            14 |
                    | 2017 |   12 |                                                             7 |
                    | 2018 |    1 |                                                            18 |
                    | 2018 |    2 |                                                            13 |
                    | 2018 |    3 |                                                            13 |
                    | 2018 |    4 |                                                            22 |
                    | 2018 |    5 |                                                             5 |
                    | 2018 |    6 |                                                             5 |
                    | 2018 |    7 |                                                            14 |
                    | 2018 |    8 |                                                            12 |
                    | 2018 |    9 |                                                             6 |
                    | 2018 |   10 |                                                             8 |
                    | 2018 |   11 |                                                             3 |
                    +------+------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
                    77 rows in set (0.04 sec)
                    
                    1. 5

                      I don’t remember the exact details of the form. I’m not surprised you aren’t seeing significant numbers related to the use of the form per se.

                      But I’m not really a tech person. I’m more of a social creature. If it were my forum, and it’s not, my reasons for changing it would be related to the psychosocial impact.

                      My first thought was that I simply wouldn’t take people to that form when they first join, but I wouldn’t change the privilege. They could still invite people if they desired, but the messaging would be different.

                      I’m kind of on the fence at the moment whether delaying the privilege is a good idea or not. Seemed like a good idea after brunch. Seems less clear and unambiguous now.

                      But the messaging has a psychosocial impact and that’s the sort of debugging I get into.

                      Which isn’t an attempt to convince you to do anything whatsoever. It’s just an attempt to communicate my thoughts on the subject as clearly as I know how.

                      And thank you for replying.

                      1. 4

                        I should’ve thought to link the source for the page you’re talking about, and the users/invitationform it includes.

                        And it case it wasn’t clear, I ran that query because I read your comment because you might have recognized an important factor we’re not considering. I posted the query because maybe I made an error or someone will suggest a better way to express that or another similar question, and I posted the full stats because it’s the foundation of a productive discussion.

                        I think we’re on the same page about the importance of good messaging. If you poke around the “app/views” folder there you can read almost all of the site’s messaging. (“Almost” because the about page lives in another repo for historical reasons.)

                        1. 4

                          “This community can only grow when members invite new users, just as <%= @user.invited_by_user.try(:username) %> invited you. Take a moment and invite someone you know.”

                          At a minimum, I would update the wording to something more neutral. I would not literally ask someone seconds after they joined to “Take a moment and invite someone you know.” I might be inclined to frame it as “Now that you are a member, you also have the ability to invite new members that you think would be a good fit for the forum by filling out this form.”

                          One reason I am hesitant to say there should be a delay in receiving the privilege is because some people will be a better fit and just “get it” much more quickly than others. If someone is an actual programmer, spends a lot of time in other online forums that are similar, already knows multiple members here, etc they may not need much time to readily fit in. So I would be inclined to generally let members decide for themselves when they feel acclimated.

                          But the boosterism language seconds after joining a forum I’ve been curious about for years but didn’t feel I had the right connections to get into really rubbed me wrong.

                          And that’s perhaps a can of worms that would be socially problematic to try to open here wrt getting into my personal situation as an example of a thing. But most likely your early members had fairly strong connections to each other and joining a small forum is fundamentally different socially from joining a large one. And my suspicion is that those things are highly pertinent to the outbreak of concerns I happened to step into on day one here.

                          1. 4

                            Thanks, I’ve deployed new language for this page.

                            Invites, yeah, another topic. Feel free to message about personal stuff The very short version is that experiments with removing/weakening it have resulted in immediate, significant spam attacks so it’s unlikely to leave, but the biggest downside to it is that it’s a significant barrier to newbies and people who otherwise don’t have a low Erdős_number to the site’s founder.

                            1. 1

                              Looks good.

                              I think Erdős number adequately sums up what I was trying to get at and my personal stuff isn’t pertinent to your needs as admin at this time. But, thanks.

                  2. 7

                    “One thing I’d note is that during registration, a new user is encouraged to invite other users. Maybe delaying that privilege (and others) until a user has accrued a certain amount of reputation would help to moderate the growth of the site and give new users some time to acclimate - more like the StackOverflow model.”

                    @pushcx that sounds like a must have idea. Maybe three to six months delay. I say that based on my own experience where the slow movement and low comments led to me taking about that long to start understanding the community. Maybe being in IRC would’ve sped that up. Seems like there’s sort of a parallel community over there, too.

                    Anyway, a delay makes a ton of sense given people might send invites to different kinds of people if they only invite after grokking what the site is about.

                1. 28

                  Could you provide examples of the growing pains you’re concerned about?

                  1. 2

                    Nope. You’re for it, against it, or you abstain. :) Just pick one!

                    A related proposal (which I do not support) calls for shrinking the active user count rather than freezing it.

                    If you look at that whole post, not just the comment I linked to, you’ll see many of the “growing pains”.

                    1. 33

                      Well, no, then. Sorry, but why propose this action if you’re unwilling to make any argument in its favor?

                      While I’m not as active in the lobste.rs community as many others here, it is not obvious to me there’s a problem to address. But if there are specific growing pains we’re running into, and if there’s some plausible reason to think putting invitations on pause would ease those pains, then by all means let’s hear it—I’m open to persuasion, as I’m sure most others here are.

                      1. 5

                        Agree entirely. The unwillingness to respond to a very straightforward question feels absurd. Doubly so when requesting drastic action.

                        1. 1

                          Some days have passed and I think the 114 comments here demonstrate that I provided sufficient information in the initial post.

                          I regret my “nope! :)”, though. It was not well received. That crustaceans do not appreciate cute or coy is a lesson that just hasn’t sunk in yet.

                  1. 10

                    Given increasing evidence that organized human life might not be possible by the end of the century and possibly sooner

                    Becoming desensitized to this sort of absurd alarmism is partially why so many people quickly discard legitimate, science-based warnings about the actual risks of climate change.

                    1. 5

                      Just git?

                      I was kind of hoping that if we’re going to break the github hegemony, we might also start to reconsider git at least a little. Mercurial has so many good ideas worth spreading, like templates (DSL for formatting the output of every command), revsets (DSL for querying commits), filesets (DSL for querying files and path) and changeset evolution (meta-graph of commit rewriting).

                      1. 10

                        Don’t forget pijul!

                        Seriously, though, I don’t think there is any “github plus something” that is going to break the github hegemony. Github won because it offered easy forking while Sourceforge was locked in a centralized model. Sourceforge won because it was so much easier than hosting your own repo + mailing list.

                        The thing that will get people away from github has to have a new idea, a new use case that isn’t being met by github right now, and which hasn’t been proposed before. That means that adding hg won’t do it – not because hg is worse than git (honestly, git’s terrible, and hg is fine), but because hg’s already been an option and people aren’t using it.

                        Adding email commits won’t do it, because that use case has been available for a long time (as pointed out elsewhere in these comments) and people aren’t using it.

                        Until something new is brought to the table, it’s all “let’s enter a dominated market with a slight improvement over the dominant tech”, and that’s just not going to be enough.

                        1. 8

                          So, one thing that I would use a new contender for is being able to put my work under my own domain.

                          The “new thing” here is “have your personal branding on your site” (which is clearly fairly popular given how common personal domain/sites are among developers).

                          If I could CNAME code.daniel.heath.cc to your host to get my own github, I’d do it today (as long as any issues/wiki/PR state/etc remained usefully portable).

                          1. 8

                            That’s a really neat idea. I don’t think I can prioritize it right now but it’s definitely something I would consider implementing.

                            1. 3

                              I actually think that GitHub’s lack of branding and customization is a big reason for its success. When I go take a look at a new project on GitHub, I don’t have to figure out how to navigate a new site’s design, and this makes the GitHub ecosystem as a whole easier to use.

                              1. 3

                                I don’t mean corporate/design branding.

                                I want to use my own name (and be able to move providers without breaking links).

                                1. 1

                                  I want to use my own name (and be able to move providers without breaking links).

                                  But that will happen anyway, unless your new provider uses the same software as the old one.

                                  1. 1

                                    Yep - so it has to be oss too.

                                    1. 1

                                      That makes sense actually. sr.ht supporting the ability to use your own domain name (presumably a subdomain of your personal domain name for personal projects?) would make it really easy to migrate away from sr.ht in the future if you felt it was more cost-effective to host your own. Although I don’t know what the pricing model is intended to be.

                              2. 2

                                You can do that with Gitlab (or Gitea if you prefer something lightweight). Only thing is you need to take care of the hosting yourself. But I’m sure there are companies offering a one-click setup, to which you can later point your own domain.

                                1. 2

                                  If you host your own gitlab instance, can you fork and submit patches to a project that’s hosted on gitlab,com, as easily/seamlessly as if you were hosted there?

                                  Centralization has benefits that self-hosting can’t always provide. If there were some federation which allowed self-hosting to integrate with central and other self-hosting sites, that seems like a new and interesting feature.

                                  1. 5

                                    Git is already federated with email - it’s specific services like GitHub which are incompatible with git’s federation model (awfully conveniently, I might add). sr.ht is going to be designed to accomodate git’s email features, both for incoming and outgoing communication, so you’ll be able to communicate easily between sr.ht instances (or sr.ht and other services like patchworks or LKML).

                                    1. 2

                                      As I mention earlier, though, federation by email has been available for a long time and hasn’t been used (by enough people to replace github). The (vast) majority of developers (and other repo watchers) prefer a web UI to an email UI.

                                      1. 4

                                        I intend to build a web UI which is driven by email underneath.

                                    2. 4

                                      The gitlab, gitea, and gogs developers are working on this but it’s still very much in the discussion stage at this point. https://github.com/git-federation/gitpub/

                                      1. 1

                                        Oh, definitely no federation. Didn’t know that federation was what he was looking for.

                                        1. 2

                                          I don’t know exactly what he was looking for, but It seemed like one of:

                                          • hosted, centralized, but with my domain plus some branding, or
                                          • self-hosted but with the features of centralization, including community, etc

                                          The latter sounds to me like it would need federation.

                                      2. 1

                                        It’s currently awkward to run multiple domains on most OSS servers which might otherwise be suitable.

                                    3. 3

                                      hg isn’t really an option right now, though. There’s nowhere to host it. There’s bitbucket, and it’s kind of terrible, and they keep making it worse.

                                      If you can’t even host it, people won’t even try it.

                                    4. 14

                                      I’m afraid you’re not going to find a sympathetic ear in sr.ht. I am deeply fond of git and deeply critical of hg.

                                      The GitHug hegemony has nothing to do with its basis on git. If git were the product of GitHub, I might agree, but it’s not. If you really want to break the GitHub hegemony you should know well enough to throw your lot in with the winning tool rather than try to disrupt two things at once.

                                      1. 3

                                        Do you mind expanding on why you are deeply critical of mercurial?

                                        1. 8

                                          Perhaps some day I’ll write a blog post going into detail. The short of it is that git is more Unixy, Mercurial does extensibility the wrong way, and C is a better choice than Python (or Rust, I hear they’re working on that).

                                          1. 4

                                            Git IS more unixy! Using hg feels suspiciously like using a GUI and I can’t figure out why.

                                            1. 4

                                              because hg‘s command-line interface was “designed”, whereas git’s command-line interface “evolved” from how it was being used.

                                        2. 2

                                          The GitHug hegemony has nothing to do with its basis on git.

                                          Exactly; it’s the other way around. Git got popular because of github.

                                          Git was much worse before github made it popular. It’s bad now and difficult to use now, but it was much worse before 2008. So if you just want to get away from Github, there’s no need to stay particulary enamoured with git either.

                                          And whatever criticisms you may have about hg, you have to also consider that it has good ideas (those DSLs above are great). Those ideas are worth spreading, and git for a long time has tried to absorb some of them and hasn’t succeeded.

                                      1. 13

                                        A person I know who was active on Twitter around 2010 said that he felt at home with the geeky culture on twitter then, and regrets the loss of that culture as twitter became more mainstream and politically relevant on an international scale. I suspect that some of the homey feeling of mastodon is this same effect - because of its newness, and lack of backing by an expansion-seeking corporation, it hasn’t attracted enough people the author doesn’t like yet. Just like Twitter in 2010.

                                        This doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Mastodon. In fact, I’m strongly in favor of it, and I hope it gains more adoption as a competitor to Twitter. I’m always in favor of open, decentralized platforms that are not controlled by a profit-seeking corporation. But I’d like to see the author revisit this article in 1 or 3 or 5 years, if the same people who he thinks make Twitter a “garbage pile” are on Mastodon as well.

                                        Of course one crucial difference between Twitter and Mastodon is that by design Mastodon makes it easy for communities to arise that have the power to systematically block content they don’t want to see. So maybe even in that future, the author would still feel “at home” on Mastodon, and so would the garbage pile people, and everyone would be happier than they are today.

                                        1. 6

                                          if the same people who he thinks make Twitter a “garbage pile” are on Mastodon as well.

                                          Some of them are already on the Fediverse, if not using Mastodon. Each instance can control who it federates with, and life goes on.

                                          1. 2

                                            I have heard it is even better: sometimes instance A federates with B, but only for explicit subscriptions and targeted messages (not for global search etc.). In this case, communicating with both sides of the schism of the day becomes feasible even on individual-user level, not just on the instance-level.

                                          2. 3

                                            Of course one crucial difference between Twitter and Mastodon is that by design Mastodon makes it easy for communities to arise that have the power to systematically block content they don’t want to see. So maybe even in that future, the author would still feel “at home” on Mastodon, and so would the garbage pile people, and everyone would be happier than they are today.

                                            I’m not familiar enough with Mastodon to know how this works. But if it’s as you describe above, then given the current highly-polarized state of Western democracy, we must recognize the downside of a system that would encourage people to disappear even further into the comfort of their own ideological ingroups.

                                            To the extent that Twitter users are confronted with opinions they vehemently disagree with, that’s a good thing for society. (Even though it’s notoriously rare for such a disagreement on Twitter to lead to a productive conversation.)

                                            1. 5

                                              On the one hand it is true; on the other hand, having a global conversation seems to encourage everyone to take a side in every conflict, which drives the polarization even deeper. It is not enough to show people things they disagree with, you have to show mostly the high-quality examples of the opposing views for anything good to happen.

                                              Maybe overlapping personal bubbles could provide better diffusion of ideas by avoiding indestructible walls? I am not sure this would work, I just don’t think we have any obviously-better simple options.

                                          1. 3

                                            I like it. There are clearly performance downsides to CGI (and does httpd support concurrent requests to a single FastCGI backend?), but I could see myself using this for a lot of real-world projects where those downsides don’t matter.

                                            I think the key takeaway from this project is that while C-based CGI web applications have traditionally been a security minefield, there are now fewer mines in that field thanks to usable sandboxing mechanisms like OpenBSD’s pledge(2) and wrappers like kcgi. Developers still need to worry about vulnerabilities that could leak or change internal application state, but the application itself can be fairly well contained without dealing with containers/jails.

                                            1. 3

                                              As far as I can tell from browsing the source code to httpd it does not support concurrent (fastcgi multiplex) requests to a single fastcgi backend. I don’t think nginx supports this either though. For higher performance you might just need to use proxy_pass in nginx which does support concurrent requests.

                                              1. 2

                                                IIUC, FastCGI has no notion of flow control when multiplexing connections, which seems a little scary if you have high load.

                                            1. 22

                                              This reads a lot like “Kotlin is better than Java, hence better than any other language”

                                              1. 12

                                                I think it’s because the article has the unstated premise that you’re stuck with Java for one reason or another—because of Android, as in the author’s case, or because the codebase you’re paid to work on is already written in Java. By “whatever dumb language”, I get the feeling that he really does mean precisely Java here.

                                              1. 1

                                                I am reminded of the article “The Profound Weakness of the .NET OSS Ecosystem”, by a developer frustrated by the lack of .NET alternatives to certain kinds of frameworks taken for granted in the Java ecosystem (Akka in particular). I wonder whether this would change his assessment of the landscape any?

                                                For my part I think this is a step in the right direction for Microsoft’s standing in the open source developer community—one of many we’ve seen them take lately.

                                                1. 4

                                                  Very interesting, thanks for posting this.

                                                  For someone who hasn’t had the chance to read through all the documentation (yet), what are the main ways Bond differs from Protocol Buffers?

                                                  1. 9

                                                    Hey, OP here.

                                                    The current offerings (Thrift, ProtoBuffs, Avro, etc.) tend to have similar opinions about things like schema versioning, and very different opinions about things like wire format, protocol, performance tradeoffs, etc. Bond is essentially a serialization framework that keeps the schema logic stuff the same, but making the tasks like wire format, protocol, etc., highly customizable and pluggable. The idea being that instead of deciding ProtoBuffs isn’t right for you, and tearing it down and starting Thrift from scratch, you just change the parts that you don’t like, but keep the underlying schema logic the same.

                                                    In theory, this means one team can hand another team a Bond schema, and if they don’t like how it’s serialized, fine, just change the protocol, but the schema doesn’t need to.

                                                    The way this works, roughly, is as follows. For most serialization systems, the workflow is: (1) you declare a schema, and (2) they generate a bunch of files with source code to de/serialize data, which you can add to a project and compile into programs that need to call functions that serialize and deserialize data.

                                                    In Bond, you (1) declare a schema, and then (2) instead of generating source files, Bond will generate a de/serializer using the metaprogramming facilities of your chosen language. So customizing your serializer is a matter of using the Bond metaprogramming APIs change the de/serializer you’re generating.

                                                  1. 7

                                                    I like the aesthetic of pattern matching and I agree that it can make things more readable, but this article presents a false dichotomy between either pattern matching with enum type safety, or procedural languages without it.

                                                    In the event that branching on the language is rewritten as a switch statement, I was surprised to find that Microsoft’s C# compiler apparently does not have any flags to enable the desired warning (at least such that I was able to find with a cursory web search). However, this isn’t a fundamental limitation of procedural languages. Take the following C99 code and compile it in GCC:

                                                    https://gist.github.com/318f6047ad167cf7cd15

                                                    You’ll get the following error message if -Werror=switch is specified (which is implied if you compile with -Wall -Werror):

                                                    % gcc-4.8 -Werror=switch -o switch switch.c
                                                    switch.c: In function ‘convert’:
                                                    switch.c:13:2: error: enumeration value ‘GERMAN’ not handled in switch [-Werror=switch]
                                                      switch (lang) {
                                                      ^
                                                    cc1: some warnings being treated as errors