We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the design and layout of the site, and like the previous philosophy posts, I think it’s time again to detail our thoughts and explain why we do some things a bit differently than the rest of Lemmy.

This is not a reddit replacement

This is not and is not meant to be a Reddit replacement. The original community here has decided to carve out a space for itself because we grew increasingly upset with modern social media. Modern social media has become a breeding ground for hate speech, for trolls, and for bad behavior. We don’t want to recreate that environment. We want to explicitly make a nice little corner of the internet where we can hide from racist, sexist, ableist, colonialist, homophobic, transphobic, and other forms of hateful speech. We want a space where people encourage each other, are nice to each other, are supportive and exploratory and playful. We think this can incorporate many wonderful features and aspects that made Reddit and other link aggregator and discussion based communities popular on the internet but it is not meant to be a replacement- we are and want to do something different. If you’re looking for a straight Reddit replacement you should look elsewhere. If you happen to register on another instance you’re still more than welcome to participate in our communities but we will hold you to the standards we’re looking for, namely that you’re nice when you’re participating here.


We may be the only instance on Lemmy that has community creation restricted to admins. One of the big first discussions we had about communities was whether we should allow porn or certain kinds of NSFW content. In short, legally speaking, this is an incredibly risky move. We’re not a VC with a bunch of capital and lawyers on retention and we’re not particularly interested in taking on any of that headache. NSFW spaces on the internet inherently break a lot of social norms. I’m not sure the diversity of behavior seen in NSFW spaces can be easily moderated or is particularly compatible with our core ethos - creating an explicitly nice and safe space. If it is compatible, it involves answering a lot of complicated questions about acceptable behavior that I don’t think any of us have the time or energy for.

Another reason why we’ve locked down community creation also has to do with creating an explicitly nice and safe space here. One such suggestion we’ve seen discussed many times since our inception is a space on mental health. As many of you have rightly pointed out, these spaces often invite trouble for a number of reasons. To be perfectly clear we all take mental health very seriously. I’ve been in and out of therapy my entire life (diagnosed depression in the 3rd grade being my first introduction to mental health) and I’m extremely supportive of destigmatizing mental health. I can’t speak for all the admins, but I highly suspect they hold similar opinions on the importance of mental health. None of us are mental health professionals and ultimately if you’re seeking mental health care, we highly suggest that you speak with a professional. Communities like mental health often require users to be willing to hold the proper and healthy amount of space for someone to work through a problem (as working through these problems can surface strong emotions) and ultimately become a better person. Unfortunately, this can run counter to the need for members in the community to feel respected, to be treated nicely, and to be safe from feeling any need to carry anyone else’s emotional burden. Mental health is often an emotionally charged subject and even though we’re all human and want to hold space to allow this kind of healing, a dedicated community would be inviting the need for a lot of moderation to make it successful and compatible with our ethos and guiding principles.

Mental health isn’t the only community where we might potentially run into the issue of playing nicely with our only rule, to be(e) nice. Sometimes our hesitation comes from how we’ve seen communities focused on a particular subject play out across the rest of the internet. A few examples of this that you’re probably familiar with are incel and men’s rights communities (often misogynistic), free speech communities and platforms (often allow a lot of hate speech), and certain kinds of communities focused on taking pictures of humans (often becoming dominated by thirst traps). We don’t want our communities falling into any of these traps or creating a non-nice space on Beehaw, so this may be the reason behind a hesitancy towards creating certain highly requested communities.

In my experience, small communities on the internet need to reach a level of activity to sustain itself. People are typically not willing to eternally refresh and revisit a website that is not receiving a ton of traffic or populated on a reasonable cadence with content. Small communities remain dormant for a very long time until some kind of viral attention brings enough content to sustain the community on an ongoing basis. This is part of the reason that we have not split out communities such as gaming into tabletop gaming, specific platform gaming, or even genres of gaming. This will likely happen at some point in the future as the example of gaming is a rather popular community but it’s the reason behind our encouragement to post related content in the most appropriate existing community. I personally think that there is a lot of benefit to not getting hyper specific with communities, because too much granularity can lead to people not discovering related content organically (imagine communities only existing at the level of each video game, rather than at the level of platform gaming, video gaming, or gaming as a whole). However, this needs to be balanced against overall activity and the ability to interact with and comment on posts. If a community gets too large and the majority of the community is focused on a particular kind of content (such as just video games in the gaming community), then it warrants splitting the community or creating more granular communities so that people can find the content that they’re looking for rather than getting lost in the noise.

Hitting a character limit, post continued here.

  •  Gaywallet (they/it)   ( @Gaywallet@beehaw.org ) 
    4 months ago

    It would appear I’m hitting some kind of character limit… here’s the rest of the post


    It’s likely that in the future I’ll need to create another philosophy post dedicated specifically to this topic. I think in the long term moderation is likely the most important aspect of this instance and key to ensuring this community stays a nice place. Moderation is a tricky subject and something that I don’t think any platform on the internet has managed to figure out.

    Rather than try to summarize about our current philosophy on moderation I’d like to focus on some issues we’ve seen (some of which we may not have an answer to yet). To provide some background on the kind of stuff I’ve moderated, I’ll provide some examples- besides this website I’m currently a moderator for several discords running the gamut from small personal groups of real life friends, to internet communities from other websites, to communities focused around specific high profile musicians (and moderating their twitch channels). Years ago I used to actively moderate large and small subreddits, including some default subs. In general as my life has gotten busier and I’ve grown disenchanted with moderating in favor of simply participating in communities which are nice, and because of such I’ve slowly withdrawn from most of these responsibilities.

    As many of you new folks are refugees from Reddit, some of the problems I’m about to outline are likely problems you’ve seen with moderation. Reddit has an issue with a certain type of individual being drawn towards moderation and a subset of them really ‘succeeding’ in the accumulation of moderator power. Some people like to refer to some of the most prolific individuals who moderate on the website as part of ‘the cabal’. Some of these individuals are deeply emotionally invested in the platform in unhealthy ways or are seeking validation through their wielding of power and some of these individuals misuse it due to these factors. Some are also simply fairly regular humans who were around at the right time and place or otherwise social in the right way and ended up in their position. I’ve seen more drama than I really care to remember or waste mental bandwidth on. What’s important here, however, is that there’s a social component to this. These ‘cabals’ form because groups naturally occur and synthesize around power. This is true with nearly any community of a certain size, be it your local chapter of an international institution, your government, a meetup group, a convention you like to attend, or any other large gathering of individuals. Checks and balances of various sorts can and should be wielded to help prevent the slow corruption of power but I don’t think this is a problem we’ve managed to universally solve or that any solution doesn’t consist of both pros and cons that the community needs to decide are appropriate for it.

    Most communities self-police in some manor based on seniority. People who’ve been in a community for a long time are often seen as wise, as sages, or elevated to places of power. Our elders often know a community extremely well and can help provide context for the various factions within a community, the diverse opinions it represents, and can offer measured responses on the most likely outcomes or best solutions. However these elders are not infallible and any community needs to adapt to the changes building in said community from its amorphous organization- people join and leave throughout a communities existence. Fresh ideas and new viewpoints can carry a community to new heights and bring important changes. New blood breeds needed innovation and helps to center oppressed or unrepresented voices. There needs to be a balance between the old and the new to keep both sides in appropriate check. If you focus the too much on the opinion of elders, you end up with issues of seniority and cliquey behavior. If you focus too much on the new voices, you risk the community splintering or imploding on itself from a lack of stability or trying to cater to too many conflicting voices at once.

    Solutions to ensure fair moderation often center the voices of the individuals in each community and give them the authority to govern themselves. As an anarchist at heart I deeply want this community to be able to govern itself at multiple levels. However self-governance is difficult. Often people like to point to elections as a way to self-govern. Without even naming some of the issues with elections I’m sure most of you can look at existing elected governmental officials in nearly any country and easily identify at least one person who highlights issues with this process. By its very nature, election often becomes a popularity contest, rife for abuse in a plethora of ways that humans which are good at social skills often use to their advantage. Ideas like sortition may offset some of these problems but also have their pros and cons and perhaps most importantly I don’t want to burden anyone who’s not interested in moderating with that responsibility. I think people would be well served to examine the social groups which exist in their lives which aren’t governed via direct democracy and to spend a bit of time considering what model is most appropriate in each sphere of their life. I certainly don’t want to receive medical care from an individual which was elected by the vote of non-medical professionals. The same would be true of legal advice. Big thinkers in activism often find themselves at the center of movements precisely because they are experts on the topic, not because they’re great at marketing themselves. I personally would like my moderators to be educated and skilled in moderating, and elections don’t always center these values. Ultimately we haven’t decided on a sustainable long-term solution to moderating, and have been choosing active members in communities which seem to embody or align with our ethos to elevate to a moderating position. As it is, we have not had a ton of need of moderating content, but we understand that this need will grow in step with the size of our community.

    New users, and maintaining our promise

    I want to draw attention back to our ethos, our core value - to be(e) nice. We’ve seen our little website rapidly expand, quadrupling in size in less than 72 hours. We want to support this growth because we think it is useful to keeping interesting people around and populating the website with content that we’re all interested in. However, the most recent flock of individuals was primarily driven off of Reddit due to API changes. Up until this point, people who had found our community were directed towards it because they were upset with the way social media on large platforms was playing out. While I suspect that many of you, and perhaps most of you also reviewed our ethos and philosophy, some individuals probably found their way here simply from the list of Lemmy communities or because someone happened to drop them a link. Luckily, so far we have not run into a lot of bad behavior, but we need to balance growth against the support of our ethos because we are an explicitly nice and safe space. This means that while we are doing our best to accommodate all of the new growth, we need to be mindful of whether the communities are appropriately monitored and whether we have enough individuals paying attention to and starting conversations when questionable behavior arises. We’ve already updated our registration process to reflect this and have started more aggressively denying applications which do not signal that they are in line with our ethos.

    Ultimately, we are a bunch of hobbyists volunteering our time to create a community that we wish to see on the internet. This is not our job and we do not wish to make it our job. We don’t have unlimited resources and we don’t want to look to capitalism to solve that. We may push back against suggestions or not make changes simply because they are not sustainable with our current level of involvement. We’re doing our best to honor others who wish to volunteer and to listen to the community’s voice, but every time more people are added we’re also necessarily adding complexity to managing the website. We ask for your trust, your patience, and a little leeway in order to balance what we’re trying to do here with our capacity.

    • I’m one of those people who came here from reddit, and I couldn’t be happier with the way things are run, with what you have to say in the “New users, and maintaining our promise” section, and the “be(e) nice” philosophy in general.

      I’d become much less active on reddit over the last few months. In particular, I’d gotten sick of people who seem to think that “free speech” is a license to stir the shit and face zero consequences. I wasn’t crazy about the for-profit mindset of the owners, either.

      I’ve only been here a few days, but it looks like the Beehaw community is what I’ve wanted all along, but didn’t know it!

    •  d3fc0n1   ( @d3fc0n1@beehaw.org ) 
      94 months ago

      I just want to say thanks for such an honest and comprehensive explanation. I don’t think I have much to offer, but I feel very welcomed (is that a word?) here. The choices you made and the ethos you hold yourself and the instance against seem very well intentioned and a good way to circumvent some of the nastiest things social networks brought to this world. There are lots of places in the internet to get ethically subjective content, for those who want it. This doesn’t need to be a place for it.

      The “growing” part of the network project it’s very subjective. Of course that a network needs a good amount of users to generate enough content and discussion, but at the same time, crowds usually don’t add much to the niceness of any place.

      Thanks once again for creating this.

      • First Post! As we used to say on /. Actually this is the first thing I’ve posted on Lemmy, period. Old time slashdotter, then I was on reddit for years, but see the writing on the wall. I too really liked the cogent and thoughtful lowdown on what you’re aiming for, and wish you the best. There’s a whole army of really sharp people who want to help you out, and good on all of you!

  • Plenty of oldschool message boards had strict moderation policies in place to keep things civil. One of the big ones which many subreddits are bad at enforcing(in part because of its size) is no trolling. Its a vague rule but its definitely a know it when you see it kind of thing and the trolls really do bring the whole site down.

    Reddit often idealized and then abused the concept of “free speech” to the point where early on where the idea of banning subreddits like /r/jailbait and r/fatpeoplehate was controversial. The eventual banning of r/jailbait caused quite the stir back in the day. Then fascism started rising on the internet and again the cult of free speech allowed the people who’s goal was to trample their own freedoms a platform to grown.

    On some level I understand why freespeech was so sacred to the redditor. Reddit came it, replaced digg, got big, and then it’s monolithic nature allowed them to kill off the messageboard ecosystem. On some level there was a fear of things going too far and there not being a way to replace their community. Some communities deserve the ban hammer, and some communities arent quite as appropriate for others.

    I think the fact that lemmy is a federated site solves the issue that many would have had. So there’s no nsfw beesgonewild subreddit for sexy pictures of bees. Thats ok because it’s easy for someone to join or create an instance that caters to that kind of content. It’s actually kind of toxic that the modern day internet wants every site to hold your attention and be everything.

  • Personally, I think a link aggregator community focused on having on-topic and thoughtful discussions is what Reddit always wanted to be. Or at least, what Aaron wanted Reddit to be. They’ve come so far from that that they won’t even talk about him anymore (note I’m not referring to him not appearing on the founders page - he was never on that page, and he wasn’t a founder, but joined very early on).

    Trying to not be like Reddit is a good thing. A focus on being nice will naturally lead to on-topic and thoughtful discussion. In 15 years , I’m hoping I’ll be able to say “I’ve been here for 15 years” and be proud of that. The transparency is great and I think you (or “we” as it may be) are building something amazing.

    •  karce   ( @karce@beehaw.org ) 
      124 months ago

      I mean the site was literally named ‘Reddit’, for “Read it”, referring to news that people read and could discuss. So I think that is a pretty good guess as to what its goal was at the start.

  •  danc4498   ( @danc4498@beehaw.org ) 
    334 months ago

    Keep in mind that many of these Reddit deflectors (myself included) had no idea something like Lemmy even existed.

    I posted a comment that I wished a Mastodon version of Reddit existed and was shocked to find out it already did and was based on the same technology.

    Looking forward to seeing this technology and community grow.

  •  Rentlar   ( @Rentlar@beehaw.org ) 
    294 months ago

    I want to thank you Gaywallet, Chris, Alyaza for managing such a wonderful website and community that is Beehaw… You’ve really thought this out, and I admire the transparency that is prevalent through much of Beehaw’s management thought process and actions to date.

    I would like to mention that this isn’t an easy feat, and as the community continues to grow it can be more challenging to moderate. It’s a big commitment of time and energy and you may find yourself exhausted and certain things could be getting to your head. Examples could be repeating things ad nauseum to well-meaning but confused users, or being exposed to increasing amounts of toxicity, even if it’s less than 1 nasty interaction after 199 nice ones.

    All this to say, I hope you all continue to take good care of yourselves, because from both first and second hand experience I know that being truly dedicated to something can make a person forget about their own well-being. Take breaks when you need them, own up and forgive yourself if you make mistakes because it is bound to happen at some point. We are only human after all. Wishing you the best.

  • Thanks for mentioning the “thirst” problem in certain communities, because that’s one of my biggest frustrations on other platforms right now. It gets aggravating in communities about anime, gaming and other entertainment, when where there’s very little discussion about the media itself, just simping for the female characters. I get it, One Punch Man fanbase. You think Tatsumaki and Fubuki are hot.

    If you’re that thirsty, there are other sites on the internet for that. Plenty of them. Which is why I think it’s perfectly acceptable to not allow NSFW content here. Especially for the reasons you mentioned, it’s not worth the legal risk anyway.

    •  Pigeon   ( @Lowbird@beehaw.org ) 
      94 months ago

      Tumblr seems to have the opposite/equivalent problem with anime (and movies/tv too probably) content, where it becomes all about the shipping and fanart. I have no problem with that content at all, buuuut if I want to just discuss a show / read peoplesc thoughts about a show it’s hard to filter that out from the sheer volume of thirsty posts.

      Granted that depends on who you follow on there. Maybe it can be done with more feed curation than I’ve managed, idk.

      Anyway the idea of an pretty much entirely non-nsfw space is nice imo. There’s… Hardly a shortage of that content to be found very easily elsewhere.

    •  karce   ( @karce@beehaw.org ) 
      64 months ago

      I think often times discussion in those large subreddits are centered around megathreads that are pinned for a certain period of time. This allows people coming in for discussions to see them immediately on top and everyone else can post memes with tv show/manga/movie spoilers.

  • This is a very well-written essay and I appreciate all the thought you have put into this. These issues are nuanced and difficult to navigate I’m sure. I don’t envy you there but I’m glad that you are putting serious thought into this all. The mental health issue is one I’ve never considered. I don’t follow those kinds of threads usually. I agree with you on all these points you have raised and I’m happy to be here and away from all the yuck over at You-Know-Where.

  • Thanks for the post. I love the overall goals of Beehaw and I’m excited to be along for the journey.

    I was a digg user for many years before that exodus. I left digg altogether a while before it’s fall and moved to reddit where I found some very friendly communities. I think there are still a lot of kind and respectful and helpful subreddits, but they are mostly pretty small or niche. Things tend to trend away from that as they get more popular, which is a super bummer. And if subreddits don’t grow enough, they tend to eventually get overrun with memes and shit posts.

    Here’s to hoping Beehaw can grow and continue to be friendly and reasonably moderated. Cheers

  • I’m using it on a phone browser, and after a small adjustment period, I have gotten used to the layout. What I prefer online are interfaces that are sparse and efficient. All the buttons work and there is minimal fluff to distract from the conversations. The wasted space and distractions were a big part of what people didn’t like about Reddit, so I’d prefer not to emulate that.

    The lack of profile karma is actually really good for discussion. It prevents karma farming nonsense.

    Instancing felt a little strange but I do think the idea of different instances forming their own internal culture and having their own lemmy communities is a positive rather than a negative. Some people have commented that this creates redundancy since there might be multiple instances with “gaming” for example rather than a centralized one. I think this is a good model that has promise where instead of “the” gaming community, each instance can have one that fits the smaller culture of the instance.

    I would like an on the fly light/dark mode button rather than having to go into settings. Unless that exists and I just don’t see it.

    • By default it should follow your browser’s settings, which may follow your OS settings. Though this won’t work if you use Firefox with privacy.resiftFingerprinting turned on. Except if there is a way to set it from ad addon, a userscript, or a userstyle…

      Edit: that pref causes automatic theme selection to not work when it is turned on, not when it is off

    •  hadrian   ( @hadrian@beehaw.org ) 
      54 months ago

      I do understand the complaint about redundant instances, but also disagree with it - nobody looks at social groups IRL and thinks “Hold on, why are you creating a writing group? There’s already one in this city!”

  • Just wondering if it’s possible to add a ‘hide post’ button? It might be a bit churlish, but sometimes I get annoyed with seeing a post that I have no interest in, and can’t shift off my feed.

  • I’ve signed up at the same time as the Reddit influx but have been lurking here for a while.

    My interactions on Reddit were absolutely minimal, I’d only found one sub that didn’t make my anxiety flare insanely but I lost that space as the sub grew from a couple of thousand people that broke away from a big sub that was turning toxic to over 1M members and the safe friendly space I’d enjoyed got diluted by trolls and bots.

    I’m really hoping this stays a safe space that the mods can control & wish them luck with the task ahead.