Don’t tell people “it’s easy”, and six more things KBin, Lemmy, and the fediverse can learn from Mastodon

https://privacy.thenexus.today/kbin-lemmy-fediverse-learnings-from-mastodon/

Reddit’s strategy of antagonizing app writters, moderators, and millions of redditors is good news for reddit alternatives like KBin and Lemmy. And not just them! The fediverse has always grown in waves and we’re at the start of one.

Previous waves have led to innovation but also major challenges and limited growth. It’s worth looking at what tactics worked well in the past, to use them again or adapt them and build on them. It’s also valuable to look at what went wrong or didn’t work out as well in the past, to see if there are ways to do better.

Here’s the current table of contents:

* I’m flashing!!!
* But first, some background

  1. Don’t tell people “it’s easy”
  2. Improve the “getting-started experience”
  3. Keep scalability and sustainability in mind
  4. Prioritize accessibility
  5. Get ready for trolls, hate speech, harassment, spam, porn, and disinformation
  6. Invest in moderation tools
  7. Values matter

* This is a great opportunity – and it won’t be the last great opportunity

https://privacy.thenexus.today/kbin-lemmy-fediverse-learnings-from-mastodon/

Thanks to everybody for the great feedback on the draft version of the post!

#kbin #lemmy #fediverse @fediversenews @fediverse@kbin.social @fediverse@lemmy.ml

  • !ozoned@lemmy.world
    link
    fedilink
    149 months ago

    Don’t tell people it’s “easy” anytime. Anything is easy when you know how to do it. Learning new things is difficult and telling someone it’s easy just makes people feel dumb and that they can’t do it. Encourage folks to learn.

    • @SyJ@lemmy.ml
      link
      fedilink
      49 months ago

      I was a little perplexed to begin with but quickly got the hang of it. My biggest gripe is its difficult to link to or find communities outside of your instance.

      • ptsdstillinmymind
        link
        fedilink
        39 months ago

        Once the community figures out instance discovery or Super communities then the adoption process will be a lot smoother.

      • Die4Ever
        link
        fedilink
        19 months ago

        you can use relative links so anyone can click it, like

        !gaming@beehaw.org

        if you view source on my comment you’ll see it as

        [!gaming@beehaw.org](/c/gaming@beehaw.org)

    • SanguinePar
      link
      fedilink
      29 months ago

      I’ve been trying not to say it’s easy, but I can’t help but want to counter the claims that it’s too hard/impossible for average users.

      That was me two days ago, and after a bit of confusion, it’s fine. Am I an expert in federation? No. Do I need to be to enjoy Lemmy? Also no.

    • ShittyKopper [they/them]
      link
      fedilink
      1
      edit-2
      9 months ago

      The two words I hate in anything remotely instructional are “Just do” (as in, “Just paste it in the search bar” or “Just pick an instance”). In 99% of cases, that “Just” there is doing so much it’s almost unreal, yet most writers don’t exactly see that viewpoint as they’re already familiar with whatever they’re writing about.

      • !ozoned@lemmy.world
        link
        fedilink
        39 months ago

        Just solve faster than light travel! It’s easy! Go buy a faster than light drive and install it! 😉

      • Jon
        link
        fedilink
        29 months ago

        💯. With Mastodon, it turned out that “just pick an instance” was disastrously bad advice for many people – if you pick a badly-moderated instance, or one that’s widely blocked, you’re a lot less likely to have a good first experience. My guess is that’ll be equally true here once things get a bit farther down the line.

    • The Nexus of PrivacyOP
      link
      fedilink
      09 months ago

      @ozoned exactly! I’m working on a revision, can I add this as a quote to the “Don’t tell peole it’s easy” section? You say it better than I did!

  • generalEdo
    link
    fedilink
    89 months ago

    Today is my first day using lemmy on a desktop and not a mobile device. It was certainly not easy on mobile but finding and subscribing to communities was easy once I used desktop. But mobile is certainly not a good way to start. I would recommend to anyone starting out use web browser on your desktop first and then you can transition to mobile.

  • modulus
    link
    fedilink
    59 months ago

    Blind user. So far my experience with Lemmy is good, slightly better than Reddit. The major accessibility hurdle is some way to easily navigate through comments. Possible ideas would be using HTML landmarks, headers, or invisible (to sighted users) separators.

    • @tetris11@lemmy.ml
      link
      fedilink
      49 months ago

      Wow the comments are are all nested under the same parent, without hierarchy.

      See:

      document.getElementById("comment-517862").getElementsByTagName("p")[0].innerText
      // and 
      document.getElementById("comment-517862").parentNode.getElementsByClassName("comments")
      
      • megane-kun
        link
        fedilink
        19 months ago

        Agreed. I remember being confused as all hell back in early 2018 when I made my Mastodon account (at mastodon.social).

        Had I not been previously exposed to the Fediverse (through Mastodon), getting into Lemmy would have been equally difficult, if not even more so because of the rush.

        • @DidacticDumbass@lemmy.one
          link
          fedilink
          19 months ago

          When people see “alternative to” they absolutely expect the exact same experience, just in a different skin.

          Only people comfortable with problem solving computers and no streamlined on-boarding will not get turned off.

          • megane-kun
            link
            fedilink
            29 months ago

            I mean, I consider myself to be one of those people “not comfortable with problem solving,” but my curiosity saw me through. 😅

            Anyways, my point is that had I not been previously exposed, I might have found getting into Lemmy difficult as well.

            • @DidacticDumbass@lemmy.one
              link
              fedilink
              19 months ago

              For sure. I do not know anyone to whom I could mention Lemmy or then Fediverse and expect them to make an account with no issues.

              Hell, I still do not fully understand how to work this thing.

  • Grumpycat8
    link
    fedilink
    29 months ago

    @thenexusofprivacy @fediverse@kbin.social @fediverse@lemmy.ml

    I’m a first-wave Reddit refugee and I agree, don’t say the fediverse is easy. I’ve been online since the early 90s and it’s not an easy transition. I wish there was a map. I wish it were easier to set up new communities for chatting.

    But having been through these cycles (online and IRL) before, I must say that maybe you *don’t* want it to be too easy. You *don’t* want to get too popular.

    I hope the Reddit revolt works. I want my niche communities back.

    • Hot Saucerman
      link
      fedilink
      7
      edit-2
      9 months ago

      I stated a similar sentiment elsewhere. The reason the discussions on reddit became less rigorous and interesting over time is a case of Eternal September. As you make a site more user-friendly and accessible, you actually are inviting a lot of users who are would have been unwilling to learn a slight learning curve, whether technical or social. Maybe it’s remiss of me to say, but I think it speaks to their unwillingness to change their minds or being willing to view a new perspective about much.

      As an older person here who was on Slashdot and left for Digg and then left to reddit, I genuinely think having a slight learning curve prevents people who would otherwise be shitposters and nothing else from joining the fray. I really would like to see high quality discussions online thrive again like they often did in the early days reddit (and where they often still do on its predecessor, hackernews), and as elitist as it is to say, I think having it be a little more technical and confusing isn’t a bad thing.

      Also, as an older person here, if people are willing to figure out the initially quite confusing way (to me anyway) that Discord works, they can figure this out, too.

      • Jon
        link
        fedilink
        2
        edit-2
        9 months ago

        @dingus@lemmy.ml I strongly disagree. Most people have better things to do with their time than fight their way through buggy and confusing software. And as I say in the essay, if it were harder to sign up for Gab, would that make the quality higher? Of course not.

        @Grumpycat8

        • Leigh
          link
          fedilink
          09 months ago

          The more popular a community becomes, the shittier it gets. The easier you make it to join and interact with, the more popular it will become.

          In the case of places like Gab, Truth Social, Parlor, and other right wing nut job havens, while the quality of users might not get higher if you raised the barrier to entry, those places certainly wouldn’t have become as popular as they have.

          But the barrier to entry isn’t the only reason they’ve congregated there, they have other cultural reasons driving them, primarily the owners or moderators being friendly to that kind of mindset. I don’t think the same crowd would be able to gather here as they’d just get defederated.

          • Jon
            link
            fedilink
            09 months ago

            @SemioticStandard There are good subreddits with over a million users. At least up to some threshold, it’s just not true that the more popular a community becomes the shittier it gets.

            • crank
              link
              fedilink
              19 months ago

              I really do not understand this expectation people have that an online forum of 1,000,000,000 people would be full of deep nuanced conversations. Even if you got the smartest 1,000,000,000 people who ever lived and put them in some group, how could they consistently have interactions anything other than superficial? Communications will be flying around at blazing speed all the time.

              Any group that size is going to have only tenuous connections and contexts with one another. So it will suit certain kinds of topics and vibes and goals and not others. The lingua franca of funny cat videos will work. But some things require a more intimate approach where participants can create and become acculturated to group norms. Luckily all modern forum software and platforms have the ability to form sub groups and to choose what groups you attend to. Nobody was forced to spend time in /r/all. All this talk about how put upon the smarty pants geniuses are because easy to use technology compelled them to pay attention to dumb people does not impress me. Really just seems to be a lack of agency when it comes to deciding how to spend one’s own time.

              I think large communities can be perfectly fine as long as you have your expectations calibrated properly.

            • Leigh
              link
              fedilink
              09 months ago

              I disagree with that. The larger subreddits have significant moderation problems. Only through extraordinary efforts by the mod teams, such as at /r/askhistorians, are things kept in line. It’s simple math: the more users you have, the more likely you are to have people posting in bad faith. If a subreddit of 1 million users has only 0.05% of its users posting low quality content, that’s still 50,000 people that need to be moderated for.

              • Jon
                link
                fedilink
                19 months ago

                @SemioticStandard I agree that the larger a community gets the harder it is to moderate well (and the tools here are still much less advanced than Reddit, which is a big problem). But trying to deter bad actors by making it hard to sigh up doesn’t work. Spammers and other bad actors are typically more likely to make the effort than people who might well add a lot of value.

        • @LadyAutumn@lemmy.blahaj.zone
          link
          fedilink
          09 months ago

          I don’t think its nearly that bad. It takes time to get setup the way you like it, but so does reddit. So does other social media platforms.

          Having an easier search and community index system would be great though. I feel like that’s one of the biggest barriers to entry currently.

          • Jon
            link
            fedilink
            19 months ago

            Yes and no. In the article I say

            | Still, despite the quirks, once you figure a few things out, both Kbin and Lemmy can give you a surprisingly good reddit-like experience, and some of the larger communities have over a thousand active users which isn’t chopped liver.

            That said …

            • on lemmy.ml this post says it has 10 comments but only 8 are visible. Looking at it on blahaj.lemmy.zone it says 15 comments, also only 8 are visible.

            • Your comment showed up on Lemmy and (unlike other comments) didn’t show up on @thenexusofprivacy@infosec.social’s original post.

            • Even if you have a Mastodon account, if you click on that link it’ll most likely take you to a tab where you’re not logged in and can’t interact with it unless you know the magic way of cut-and-pasting it to the search window in a tab where you’re already logged in – and your account’s not on a site that’s defederated from infosec.exchange

            Most people (including me!) find stuff like that very confusing!

          • Hot Saucerman
            link
            fedilink
            19 months ago

            Yeah, so far it has been neither buggy nor confusing for me. It’s taken a small amount of research and being willing to ask fellow Lemmings how things work. It’s actually a much more fully fleshed out in many ways than a lot of other social media sites. I just learned how to do footnotes[1], for example.


            1. Ooooh, fancy! ↩︎

      • @fubo@lemmy.world
        link
        fedilink
        19 months ago

        It wasn’t really Eternal September that killed Usenet, though; it was spam, and the lack of effective means to control it — or the will to completely isolate the servers that tolerated it.

        The AOLers weren’t the ones with the Perl scripts emitting buy herbal teen viagra. Rather, the new popularity of the medium made it appealing to every unscrupulous idiot with a get-rich-quick scheme. The first commercial spammers went on to publish a book about how to spam Usenet, which instructed similarly unscrupulous businessfolks to “hire a nerd” to code up a spam bot.