[-] [email protected] 15 points 1 day ago

On Lemmy 0.19.3, reports go to:

  • Community mods
  • Admins of the instance where the community is hosted
  • Admins of the instance of the reported user
  • Admins of the instance of the reporter
[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 day ago

They had this thread about it: https://hexbear.net/post/1712067

The decision on lemm.ee was much harder as the average user did express desire to remain federated however the admin team decided that a temporary removal from our allow-list was the best option.

as expressed by users belonging to marginalized groups, comments from .ee users are often lib-shit and in some cases outright hostile. While many on hexbear love dunking on these lost libs the duty to protect marginalized users is much more important.

I think the main issue is that for most of the time we were federated, lemm.ee admins were not getting reports about lemm.ee user activity on Hexbear communities (Lemmy didn't have this feature until 0.19), so if anybody used a lemm.ee account to harass users on Hexbear (and I understand this did happen), there was no way for lemm.ee admins to even find out about it. In general we have a very aggressive zero tolerance policy for bigotry (and that includes transphobia), but if we don't receive reports, then it's hard for us to take any kind of action.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 day ago

They turned off federation from their side, so their instance is not federating stuff to us directly at the moment, but other instances still occasionally federate things Hexbear users have posted there, so that's probably why you are seeing them around every now and then.

[-] [email protected] 9 points 4 days ago

It's not immediately clear from the title, so let me point out that they are talking about routers which are using default credentials and no automatic updates.

[-] [email protected] 10 points 5 days ago

They specifically called it "child abuse content", not "child abuse". This seems perfectly valid, no?

By the way, just because these are digital renderings does not mean that there is no harm. Seeing such content can still be harmful to past victims. Just try to put yourself in this situation: imagine just playing some video game online, and suddenly being exposed to people recreating traumatic experiences from your past. Not only that - you also discover that the creators of the video game are involved & actively enabling such content. Seems completely messed up to me.

154
submitted 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

The RFC PR is here: https://github.com/LemmyNet/rfcs/pull/6

Reposting RFC contents below:


Summary

Rather than combining all reports into a single report inbox, we should allow users to select whether they are reporting to mods or admins, and we should split reports into different inboxes based on that selection.

Motivation

The current approach has some shortcomings:

  • Users are not currently able to bypass mods and report directly to admins - this may allow mods to conceal instance rule breaking in specific communities
  • Admins are not aware of community rules, so they may wish to take no action for most community rule breaking reports. However, if an admin resolves such a report, the relevant community mods most likely never see it.
  • Different instances may have different rules, but somebody resolving a report on one instance will resolve it for other instances as well, thus potentially resulting in missed reports.
  • Mods might take local action on a report and mark it as resolved even in cases where a user should be banned from the entire instance. In this case, admins are very unlikely to see the report.

Guide-level explanation

When creating reports, users will be able to select if it's a mod report, or an admin report (or both)

image

Note: labels on the sreenshot are illustrative, actual labels can be more user-friendy. Maybe something like:

  • Breaks community rules (report sent to moderators)
  • Breaks instance rules (report sent to admins)

Instead of the current single report inbox, there will be three different kinds of inboxes

  • Admin reports - show all reports sent to admins (only visible to admins)
  • Mod reports - show all reports sent to mods for any communities the user moderates (visible to admins in case they are explicit mods in any communities)
    • This is equivalent to the report view that mods currently have in Lemmy already
  • All reports - Shows a view of all (admin and mod) reports, only visible to admins
    • This is akin to the current 0.19.3 admin report view, and would allow admins to still keep an eye on mod actions on their instance if they wish

The UI wouldn't need to change for mods, but for admins, there would be a new selection at the top of the reports page (the "mod reports" tab would only be visible if the admin is also a mod in any community): image

Resolving reports should be more granular

  • Reports in the "admin reports" tab can only be manually resolved for admins of the local instance
    • To reduce overhead, banning the reported user on the user's home instance + removing reported content should automatically resolve reports for remote admins as well.
  • Reports in the "mod reports" tab should be manually resolved by relevant mods (including admins, if they are explicit mods in the relevant community).
    • To reduce overhead, admins banning the reported user on the community instance OR the user's home instance + removing reported content should automatically resolve reports for mods as well
  • Admins could still resolve reports in the "all reports" tab
    • If it's not an admin report, and not a mod report from a community the admin explicitly moderates, then there should be an additional warning/confirmation when resolving a report here. This is to prevent cases of admins accidentally preventing mods from moderating according to their own community rules.

To further clarify automatic resolution of reports: in any case where there is no further action possible, the report should be automatically resolved.

Mods should be able to escalate reports to admins

This would generate a corresponding report in the admin inbox.

Reference-level explanation

  • In the UI, changes are needed for both reporting as well as the reports inbox views
  • In the database and API, we should split reports by intended audience
  • Federation needs to be changed as well in order to allow distinguishing the report target audience

Drawbacks

It might make reporting slightly more confusing for end users - the mod/admin distinction might not be fully clear to all.

Rationale and alternatives

Alternatively, we could make reporting even more granular. It would be possible to allow users to select only a specific instances admins as the intended report audience, for example. However, I think this has several downsides:

  • Makes the report UI even more confusing
  • Potentially takes away valuable information from other admins (imagine a user only reports CSAM to their own instances admins, while leaving the offending post authors home admins in the dark)

Prior art

Most other social networks allow users to select whether they are reporting a violation of community rules, or site rules as whole.

Unresolved questions

Does ActivityPub properly support splitting up reports like this?

Future possibilities

In the future, it might be a nice addition to have some automation to always escalate to admins, even if they're submitted as mod reports, based on report keywords. For example, "CSAM", "Spam", etc.

255
submitted 2 weeks ago* (last edited 2 weeks ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey folks

Some of you may have noticed comments complaining about spam and lack of moderation within the past day or so. Maybe you've even noticed a few spam posts yourself (hopefully not too much, as we have automations in place on lemm.ee to remove the spam as soon as it is posted).

I just wanted to write a quick post with some context about the attack, what we are doing about it, and how you can help.

Context

Allegedly, a group of kids in Japan have created a bot, which signs up on different Fediverse instances and posts spam into different communities. The spam generally consists of Japanese text and/or an image and/or a bunch of random @mentions into different communities. You can check a post on Mastodon with more information here: https://mastodon.de/@ErikUden/111940301222380638

What we are doing about it

Many instances are actively working to limit this spam-wave, and lemm.ee is no different. Thankfully, we have not had to deal with any bot sign-ups on our instance (potentially as a result of different protections we have implemented for sign-ups), but we still suffer the effects of the spam, even if it's posted from other instances. To help us quickly eliminate most of the spam for lemm.ee users, I am continually tuning our @adminbot to automatically detect and remove content posted in this current spam-wave.

We cannot remove content from the wider Fediverse if it's not posted there by a lemm.ee user, so our automated removals won't help users on other instances, but we are at least improving the experience for our own users. For an example, you can compare how /c/[email protected] currently looks like on lemm.ee, to how it looks like on this screenshot I took from another smaller instance:

How you can help

First and foremost, please continue reporting any spam you find, so that relevant mods and admins can deal with it. I am very grateful to users who help us identify spam through reports, and your reports are precisely what allow me to implement automated content removal for more extreme spam-waves such as this current one.

Secondly, I am seeking for a few volunteers to grow the lemm.ee admin team. I am purposely burying this at the bottom of the post, to hopefully pre-filter out some candidates who would want to join for the wrong reasons. If you have read until this point in the post, then I assume you are already quite interested in improving the experience on lemm.ee, so if you feel like you could contribute to the admin team, please read on.

First, I will say a few words about who we are looking for, then I will describe what kind of tasks you would have as an admin, and finally, I will cover some significant downsides of joining the admin team.

We are looking for folks who more or less match the following profile:

  • You have already been active on the Fediverse for several months (not necessarily on lemm.ee)
  • Previous mod experience would be a huge plus
  • You should feel a strong agreement with our basic instance rules and our administration & federation policy
  • You should be prepared to be exposed to some vile content through reports
  • You are OK with using Discord as the main method of admin communication (that is what we have settled on and will continue using for the foreseeable future)

As volunteers, we don't expect admins to be available 24/7, but as our instance grows, I do think it would be quite important to achieve a state of pretty good timezone coverage with our admin team, so please only consider applying if you are already regularly active on Lemmy.

As for what tasks admins are responsible are for: it's mostly covered in the administration policy post linked above. But in short, you should be prepared to regularly check the report queue, contact users with friendly messages to de-escalate conflicts, issue bans, remove content, and monitor the activity of @adminbot. Additionally, if you're interested in taking a more hands-on approach to any kind of community-building on lemm.ee, then this would be totally welcome as well, but not strictly considered a core responsibility for admins.

Please note that the lemm.ee admin team has an absolute zero tolerance policy against any kind of abuse towards minority communities. If you do not share this mindset, then please do not consider applying.

Finally, let me share some negative aspects about joining the admin team. I think this will probably reduce the amount of any potential candidates, but I still feel it's important to be honest and upfront about this:

Through the report queue, you will regularly see absolutely vile content which you might otherwise never even notice on Lemmy. Many users come to Lemmy to spread hate, post disturbing images, etc, and in order to clean such content up for other users, mods and admins need to actually be exposed to this content in much larger amounts than regular users.

Additionally, while Lemmy is constantly being improved by the developers, the moderation tools are still quite rough around the edges. Lemmy is not at 1.0 yet, and that will most likely become even more obvious to you as you work on admin tasks.

Maybe this is the most important one: no matter what you do, there will always be people unhappy with how you apply our rules. I have seen countless comments complaining about lemm.ee admins specifically. I have been told by complete strangers that they hate me. I have seen many complaints about us moderating too harshly. I have seen complaints about us not moderating enough. I have seen users on Lemmy make up wild stories about our admin team, and share them as facts. There are of course plenty of supportive users, but the negative experiences tend to leave a much more lasting impression.

If after reading all of the above, you are still motivated to help make lemm.ee a better place through offering your help in the admin team, please contact me on Discord (@sunaurus)!

That's all from me for now. Thank you very much to anybody who went through this whole wall of text, and I hope you are all having a good weekend!

201
submitted 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey folks!

Just a quick update: we now have a dedicated status page for lemm.ee.

You can find it at status.lemm.ee. It currently contains three sections:

  1. A web status section, which I will update manually to communicate issues about lemm.ee
  2. A financial status section, which I will update monthly to give an overview of how we're doing financially
  3. A federation section, which automatically checks the current federation status, both incoming and outgoing, between lemm.ee and other instances. By default it shows 3 large instances, but you can also search for any specific instance you are interested in.

This status page is hosted completely separately from our main servers, so if there is any trouble with our servers, you can expect the status page to still be available!

If you have any issues with this page, or any other thoughts, feel free to comment.

427
submitted 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey folks

This is a heads up that I will be performing some maintenance and hardware upgrades on our database this Saturday.

We are currently experiencing several spikes throughout the day which cause our database to become overloaded - this results in degraded performance for many users. The spikes are happening due to a combination of continued growth of the database, some expensive periodic scheduled tasks which Lemmy runs, and fluctuating traffic patterns. Some of this can be optimized on the code level in the future, but it seems that the best way to deal with it right now is to add some additional resources to our database server.

I am intending to switch to slightly different hardware in this upgrade, and will be unable to make this switch without downtime, so unfortunately lemm.ee will be unavailable for the duration.

As our database has grown quite a bit, cloning it will most likely take a few hours, so I expect the downtime to last 2-3 hours. Sorry for the inconvenience, I am hopeful that it will be worth it and that this upgrade will significantly reduce some of our recent long page load times!


Edit: upgrade complete!

I have now migrated the lemm.ee database from the original DigitalOcean managed database service to a dedicated server on Hetzner.

As part of this migration, I have also moved all of our Lemmy servers from the DigitalOcean cloud to Hetzner's Cloud. I always want the servers to be as close as possible to the database, in order to keep latencies low. At the same time, I am very interested in having the ability to dynamically spin up and down servers as needed, so a cloud-type solution is really ideal for that. Fortunately, Hetzner allows connecting cloud servers to their dedicated servers through a private network, so we are able to take advantage of a powerful dedicated server for the database, while retaining the flexibility of the cloud approach for the rest of our servers. I'm really happy with the solution now.

In terms of results, I am already seeing far better page load times and far less resource use on the new hardware, so I think the migration has been a success. I will keep monitoring things and tuning as necessary.

300
submitted 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Happy new year!

Hi folks! I hope everybody had a good holiday period and I wish you all the best for 2024. I have some quick updates to share about lemm.ee:

Image uploads

Image uploads are now enabled for all lemm.ee users 4 weeks after account creation. The upload size limit is currently set to 500kb.

The 4 week account age requirement is in place to discourage spam and abuse. It is of course not a fool-proof solution, but let's give it a go and see what the results are.

Please note that lemm.ee is not intended to be a image hosting service! Feel free to upload avatars and banners for your profile and communities, but please be aware that we reserve the right to modify the upload limits going forward, as well as delete old images if storage costs become too high.

For image posts and comments, it would still be preferable for you to use an external image hosting service.

Federation delays

Over the holidays, our outgoing federation workers began experiencing some significant delays. I have been working on this problem for the past few days, and after updating to 0.19.1, applying some additional patches to the code, and changing our infrastructure a bit, I believe the issue has been resolved.

The good news is that now that we are on 0.19, problems such as this do not cause Lemmy to completely drop federated activities, as we now retain a persistent queue of federation activities for all linked instances. This means that after the issue was resolved, our federation workers started going through the backlog of likes, comments, and posts which you had made over the past several days, and sending these out to other instances. Essentially, all of your activities did end up reaching their target servers, just with some additional delay.

One quick side-note here, while we are now federating your activities in real-time again to most big instances, there is still a bit of a backlog left on the lemm.ee -> lemmy.world federation (it is a few days behind). I expect this to also catch up by tomorrow.

Performance

The new persistent federation queue is still quite a new feature in Lemmy, so it's a bit rough around the edges - after resolving the federation issues, our federation workers started going through the queue at extreme speed, which caused intense additional load on our database. This was one of the reasons for some performance degradation many of you noticed over the past few days.

Additionally, since updating to 0.19, there have been regular performance issues for many users. I have managed to solve a few of these by making some changes in our infrastructure, but I am also aware of a few more issues which I will continue to monitor and hopefully improve in the near future. Sorry for the inconvenience, I hope that the changes I have made so far will help make it a bit smoother already!

That's all from me for now, as always, feel free to comment if you have any thoughts, and have a nice day!

308
submitted 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey folks!

Lemmy 0.19 was released this week! It brings a bunch of awesome new features, so I hope you are all willing to forgive some downtime in order to upgrade to this latest version.

Unfortunately some migration will be necessary as part of this upgrade, so it might take a while, but I will try to keep it as short as possible.

I hope you are all having a great holiday period, and I will see you soon in 0.19!


Edit: Update complete!

Welcome to 0.19! Unfortunately, the upgrade took somewhat longer than usual, but I believe everything is in order now. As always, please let me know if you notice anything strange, and have fun!

[-] [email protected] 101 points 6 months ago* (last edited 6 months ago)

FYI to all admins: with the next release of pict-rs, it should be much easier to detect orphaned images, as the pict-rs database will be moved to postgresql. I am planning to build a hashtable of "in-use" images by iterating through all posts and comments by lemm.ee users (+ avatars and banners of course), and then I will iterate through all images in the pict-rs database, and if they are not in the "in-use" hash table, I will purge them.

Of course, Lemmy can be improved to handle this case better as well!

500
submitted 6 months ago* (last edited 6 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey folks!

I made a short post last night explaining why image uploads had been disabled. This was in the middle of the night for me, so I did not have time to go into a lot of detail, but I'm writing a more detailed post now to clear up where we are now and where we plan to go.

What's the problem?

As shared by the lemmy.world team, over the past few days, some people have been spamming one of their communities with CSAM images. Lemmy has been attacked in various ways before, but this is clearly on a whole new level of depravity, as it's first and foremost an attack on actual victims of child abuse, in addition to being an attack on the users and admins on Lemmy.

What's the solution?

I am putting together a plan, both for the short term and for the longer term, to combat and prevent such content from ever reaching lemm.ee servers.

For the immediate future, I am taking the following steps:

1) Image uploads are completely disabled for all users

This is a drastic measure, and I am aware that it's the opposite of what many of our users have been hoping, but at the moment, we simply don't have the necessary tools to safely handle uploaded images.

2) All images which have federated in from other instances will be deleted from our servers, without any exception

At this point, we have millions of such images, and I am planning to just indiscriminately purge all of them. Posts from other instances will not be broken after the deletion, the deleted images will simply be loaded directly from other instances.

3) I will apply a small patch to the Lemmy backend running on lemm.ee to prevent images from other instances from being downloaded to our servers

Lemmy has always loaded some images directly from other servers, while saving other images locally to serve directly. I am eliminating the second option for the time being, forcing all images uploaded on external instances to always be loaded from those servers. This will somewhat increase the amount of servers which users will fetch images from when opening lemm.ee, which certainly has downsides, but I believe this is preferable to opening up our servers to potentially illegal content.

For the longer term, I have some further ideas:

4) Invite-based registrations

I believe that one of the best ways to effectively combat spam and malicious users is to implement an invite system on Lemmy. I have wanted to work on such a system ever since I first set up this instance, but real life and other things have been getting in the way, so I haven't had a chance. However, with the current situation, I believe this feature is more important then ever, and I'm very hopeful I will be able to make time to work on it very soon.

My idea would be to grant our users a few invites, which would replenish every month if used. An invite will be required to sign up on lemm.ee after that point. The system will keep track of the invite hierarchy, and in extreme cases (such as spambot sign-ups), inviters may be held responsible for rule breaking users they have invited.

While this will certainly create a barrier of entry to signing up on lemm.ee, we are already one of the biggest instances, and I think at this point, such a barrier will do more good than harm.

5) Account requirements for specific activities

This is something that many admins and mods have been discussing for a while now, and I believe it would be an important feature for lemm.ee as well. Essentially, I would like to limit certain activities to users which meet specific requirements (maybe account age, amount of comments, etc). These activities might include things like image uploads, community creation, perhaps even private messages.

This could in theory limit creation of new accounts just to break rules (or laws).

6) Automated ML based NSFW scanning for all uploaded images

I think it makes sense to apply automatic scanning on all images before we save them on our servers, and if it's flagged as NSFW, then we don't accept the upload. While machine learning is not 100% accurate and will produce false positives, I believe this is a trade-off that we simply need to accept at this point. Not only will this help against any potential CSAM, it will also help us better enforce our "no pornography" rule.

This would potentially also allow us to resume caching images from other instances, which will improve both performance and privacy on lemm.ee.


With all of the above in place, I believe we will be able to re-enable image uploads with a much higher degree of safety. Of course, most of these ideas come with some significant downsides, but please keep in mind that users posting CSAM present an existential threat to Lemmy (in addition to just being absolutely morally disgusting and actively harmful to the victims of the abuse). If the choice is between having a Lemmy instance with some restrictions, or not having a Lemmy instance at all, then I think the restrictions are the better option.

I also would appreciate your patience in this matter, as all of the long term plans require additional development, and while this is currently a high priority issue for all Lemmy admins, we are all still volunteers and do not have the freedom to dedicate huge amounts of hours to working on new features.


As always, your feedback and thoughts are appreciated, so please feel free to leave a comment if you disagree with any of the plans or if you have any suggestions on how to improve them.

769
submitted 6 months ago* (last edited 6 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Sorry for the short post, I'm not able to make it nice with full context at the moment, but I want to quickly get this announcement out to prevent confusion:

Unfortunately, people are uploading child sexual abuse images on some instances (apparently as a form of attack against Lemmy). I am taking some steps to prevent such content from making it onto lemm.ee servers. As one preventative measure, I am disabling all image uploads on lemm.ee until further notice - this is to ensure that lemm.ee can not be used as gateway to spread CSAM into the network.

It will not possible to upload any new avatars or banners while this limit is in effect.

I'm really sorry for the disruption, it's a necessary trade-off for now until we figure out the way forward.

35
submitted 6 months ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]
[-] [email protected] 62 points 6 months ago* (last edited 6 months ago)

First, personally, I am one of the people who accused him of engaging in behaviour that was tantamount to Holocaust denial. I did so after his repeated, blunt, assertions of false equivalency between the undisputed horrors of Nazi Germany and those - some true, many disputed, some outright refuted - of the Soviet Union. I explained that this practice is known as the ‘Double Genocide Theory’ and even linked to articles by Jewish historians and Holocaust academics that explained the issues with the theory and the history of its official use to whitewash far-right movements, particularly in post-Soviet states. Instead of receiving a modicum of serious engagement he instead deliberately and grossly misrepresented and dismissed not only my point but the work of the Jewish academics I linked before leaving with an insult.

Your position is impossible to argue against in good faith when you start with "any Estonian who is critical of both of their occupiers is a holocaust denier".

Let me also say for the record that I have not once, in any of my posts, attempted to compare the "level" of evil of the soviets and the nazis. If by "assertions of false equivalency" you are referring to the fact that both the nazis and soviets did indeed occupy my country and commit crimes against humanity here, then sure, that is something I have been asserting. Still, I have never tried to downplay the horrors the nazis committed, I have only condemned them in the strongest possible terms. I am asking to please include this context about me if you ever feel the need to call me a holocaust denier. Please also remember that I am a real human with a public identity, and words you post on the internet can have a real effect on my life.

As for "leaving with an insult", I do not believe I have written a single insult to anybody on hexbear (or elsewhere on Lemmy), but I'm sorry if you feel like I was rude at any point. I was simply trying to disengage, because it was clear that the more I interacted on hexbear, the more personal attacks I was receiving.

Secondly, what exactly constitutes Kremlin propaganda?

I think this question is bait, but I will answer in good faith with an example to hopefully drive the point home.

Posting "[hammer and sickle] 10 reasons why we need communism..." is clearly not Kremlin propaganda. Posting "[hammer and sickle] Ukraine shouldn't even exist, long live CCCP" is clearly Kremlin propanda.

968
submitted 6 months ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey folks

I have been receiving a lot of messages every single day about federation with hexbear. Some of our users are vehemently against it, others are in full support. The conversation does not seem to be dying down, rather, the volume of messages I receive about it seems to be increasing, so I am opening this public space where we can openly discuss the topic.

I am going to write a wall of text about my own thoughts on the situation, I’m sorry, but no tl;dr this time, and I ask anybody participating in this thread to first read through this post before commenting.

Before I go any further, I want to be clear that for anybody who participates here, it is required to focus on the quality of your posts. That means:

  • Be kind to each other, even if you disagree
  • Use arguments rather than calling people names
  • Realize that this is a divisive topic, so your comments should be even more thoughtful than usual

With that out of the way, there are a few things I want to cover.

On defederation in general

First of all, I am a firm believer that defederation must be reserved only for cases where all other methods have failed. If defederation is used liberally, then a small group of malicious users can effectively completely shut down the federated network, by simply creating the type of drama between instances which would inevitably result in defederation. In my view, federation is the biggest strength of Lemmy compared to any centralized discussion forum, so naturally I think maintaining federation by default is an important goal in general.

I am also a believer in the value of deplatforming hateful content, but I think defederation is not the best way to do this. Banning individual users, banning communities and establishing a culture of mutual support between mods and admins of different instances should be the first line of defense against such content. There are some further steps that can be taken before defederation as well, but these are not really documented anywhere (in order to prevent circumvention). The point is: for myself, defederation is the absolute last resort, only to be used when it is completely clear that other methods are ineffective.

Finally, I am wary of creating a false expectation among lemm.ee users that lemm.ee admins endorse all users and communities and content on instances we are federated with. Here at lemm.ee, we use a blocklist for federation, which means our default apporach is to federate with all new instances. We do not have the resources (manpower, skills and knowledge) necessary to pass judgement on all instances which exist out there, as a result, users on lemm.ee are expected to curate their own content to quite a high degree. In addition to downvoting and/or reporting as necessary, individual lemm.ee users are also able to block specific users and communities, and the ability to block entire instances is coming very soon as well.

Having said all that, in a situation where all other methods do indeed fail, defederation is not out of the question. Making such a call is up to the discretion of lemm.ee admins, and doing it as a last resort is completely in line with our federation policy.

Regarding hexbear

Hexbear is an established Lemmy instance, focused on many flavors of leftism. They have quite a large userbase who are very active on Lemmy (often so active that they leave the impression brigading all popular Lemmy posts). One important thing to note is that while some forms of bigotry seem to be quite accepted by many hexbear users (but seemingly not by mods - more on that below), they at least are very protective of LGBT rights (and yes, I am quite certain that they are not just pretending to do this, as many users seem to believe). Additionally, while I have noticed quite high quality posts from hexbear users, there are also several users there who seem to really enjoy trolling and baiting (very reminiscent of 4chan-type “for the lulz” posting), and it’s important to note that this kind of posting is in general allowed on hexbear itself.

The reason this whole topic is important to so many people right now (despite hexbear being a relatively old instance), is that hexbear only recently enabled federation. A combination of their volume of posts, their strong convictions, the excitement about federation, and the aforementioned trolling has made them very visible to almost all Lemmy users, and this has sparked discussions about the value of federation with hexbear on a lot of Lemmy instances.

My own experience with hexbear

I want to write down my own experience with interacting with hexbear users, mods, and admins over the past few days. I believe this experience will highlight why I am hesitant to advocate for immediate full defederation from hexbear at this point in time, and am for now still more in favor of taking action on a more individual user basis. Please read and see how you feel about the situation afterwards.

Background

My first real contact with hexbear users was in the comments section of a post in this meta community requesting defederation from hexbear by @[email protected]. That post is now locked, because several hexbear users very quickly started doing the aforementioned “for the lulz” type spamming of meme images in the comments (these are actually just emojis, but they are rendered as full-size images on all instances other than the source instance, due to a current Lemmy bug).

I did not want to take further actions in that thread in general (for archival purposes), but I did take one action, which in retrospect was a mistake: I removed a comment which contained the hammer and sickle symbol. I ignorantly associated this symbolism with Kremlin propaganda, and the atrocities my own people suffered at the hands of the soviet union during the previous century. Many users (including hexbear users) correctly (and politely) pointed out to me in DMs that the symbol has a much broader use than just as the symbol of the USSR, and people elsewhere in the world may not associate it with the USSR at all. I am grateful for users who pointed this out to me without resorting to personal attacks.

Let me be clear here: while I do not have anything against leftism or communist ideas in general (in fact in today’s world, I think discussion of such ideas is quite necessary), Kremlin propaganda has no place on lemm.ee. Any dehumanizing talking points of the Kremlin on lemm.ee are treated as any other bigotry, and if communist symbolism is used in context of Kremlin propaganda (that is the context in which I have been exposed to it throughout my whole life), then it will still be removed. But there is no blanket ban on communist symbolism in general on lemm.ee, and discussing and advocating for leftist and communist topics (as distinct from the imperialist and dehumanizing policies of the Kremlin) is certainly allowed on lemm.ee.

Hexbear user response

Coming back to the events of the past few days: soon after my removal of the comment containing the symbol from the meta thread, two posts popped up on hexbear. One was focused on insulting and spreading lies about me personally. Another was focused on diminishing the horrors of the soviet occupation in my country. In the comments under both of these posts (and in a few other threads on hexbear), I noticed some seriously disturbing bigotry against my people. There were comments which reflected the anti-Estonian propaganda of the current Russian state, things like:

  • Suggesting that my people has no right to exist
  • Stating that my people (and other Baltic nations) are subhuman
  • Claiming that anybody critical of both nazi and soviet occupations is themselves a nazi and a holocaust denier

I expect to hear such statements from the Russian state - here in Estonia, we are subjected to this and other kinds of bigotry constantly from Russian media - but to see it spread openly in non-Russian channels is extremely disturbing. Such bigotry is completely against lemm.ee rules in general. Additionally, my identity is public information, because I feel it’s important for the integrity of lemm.ee that I don’t hide behind anonymity. Considering this, I’m sure you can understand why I am very worried about my own safety when people leave comments in many unrelated threads (where my original posts are not even visible), baselessly calling me a nazi and a holocaust denier.

Note that the goal of this post is not to start a new debate in the comments about the the repressions of the soviet union in Estonia or other occupied territories, but if the topic interests any users, I can recommend the 2006 documentary The Singing Revolution (imdb). The trailer is a bit cheesy, but the actual film contains lots of historical footage from the soviet occupation, and also many interviews with people who experienced it, who share stories which are deeply familiar to all Estonians. If anybody is interested in further discussion, then I suggest making a post about it in the Estonian community here: [email protected].

Hexbear admin response

After the above events had played out, I reached out to hexbear admins for clarification on their moderation policies and how they handle such cases. I was actually very happy with their response:

  1. They immediately removed the personal attacks and dehumanizing comments containing Kremlin propaganda from Hexbear, and assured me that such content is always handled by mods
  2. They told me that while there are all kinds of leftists on hexbear, Russian disinformation is generally either refuted in comments or removed by mods
  3. They implemented some additional rules on hexbear to try and reduce the trolling experienced by many other instances, including ours: https://hexbear.net/post/352119
My personal take-aways

Let me play the devil’s advocate here and employ some “self-whataboutism”: among all users that have been banned on lemm.ee for bigotry, the majority were actually not users from other instances, and in fact people with lemm.ee accounts. If we judge any larger instance only by bigoted posts that some of its users make, then we might as well declare all instances as cesspools and close down Lemmy completely. I believe it’s far more useful to judge instances based on moderation in response to such content. Just as we remove bigoted content from lemm.ee, I have also witnessed bigoted content being removed from hexbear.

At the same time, I am aware of some internal conflict between hexbear users over the more strict moderation they are now starting to employ, and I am definitely keeping an eye on that situation and how admins handle it.

I am also still quite worried about the amount of distinct users on hexbear who have posted Kremlin propaganda. I so far don't have reason to believe that these users are employed by the Russian state, but the fact that they are spreading the same hateful content which can be seen on Russian television seems problematic to say the least, and it remains to be seen if moderators can truly keep up with such content.

Where thing stand right now

I am not convinced that we are currently at a point where the “last resort” of defederation is necessary. This is based on the presumption that our moderation workload at lemm.ee will not get out of hand just due to users from that particular instance. My current expectation is that as the excitement of federation calms down (and as new rules on hexbear go into effect), the currently relatively high volume of low effort trolling will be replaced by more thoughtful posts. If this is not the case then we will certainly need to re-evaluate things.

Additionally, nothing is changing about our own rules regarding bigotry. Especially relevant in the context of Kremlin propaganda, I want to say that dehumanizing anybody is not allowed on lemm.ee (hopefully I do not have to spell it out, but this of course includes Ukrainians, LGBT folks, and others that the Kremlin despises), and action will be taken against any users who do this, regardless of what instance they are posting from.

Finally, I am very interested to hear thoughts and responses from our own users. I am super grateful to anybody who actually took the time to read through this massive dump of my own thoughts, and I am very interested to get a proper understanding of how our users feel about what I’ve written here. Please share any thoughts in the comments.

223
submitted 6 months ago* (last edited 6 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey all!

I promised to write an update about our current financial situation. This post will list all the incomes and expenses for the past few months up until today. I will also try to give some estimates on future expenses.


Let's start with expenses

June

  • 14.12€ - Outgoing e-mails
  • 222.28€ - Cloudflare Pro (1 year subscription, paid upfront)

July

  • 94.32€ - Server infrastructure for June
  • 22.06€ - Outgoing e-mails

August

  • 280.70€ - Server infrastructure for July
  • 13.84 - Outgoing e-mails

Total expenses so far: 647.32€


Next up: income

June

  • 500€ - initial contribution by myself

July

  • 174.66€ - Ko-Fi donations for June

August

  • 247.64€ - Ko-Fi donations for July
  • 1358.95€ - GitHub sponsorships for June, July and August (pending until the 22nd)

Total income so far: 922.30€ + 1358.95€ (pending)


Current balance: 274.98€ (cleared) + 1358.95€ (pending)


One more note regarding the donations: the bulk of the donation income is actually from early July. Initially in July, the split between one time and recurring donations was roughly 50%-50%, but at this point in August, most (over 90%) of income is generated by recurring donations.


Let me also try to answer a few potential questions:

Why is the GitHub sponsorship income pending?

I opened GitHub sponsorships in June. GitHub has a policy to initially hold all funds for a 60-day probation period to prevent abuse, so they have been holding all sponsorships for the past few months. As of today, we have passed the 60-day period, and I can see an update in my dashboard which says that all accumulated funds will be released on the 22nd (and any future funds will be paid out monthly after that).

Will infrastructure costs keep increasing?

I don't want to jinx it, but in fact I believe we have managed to stabilize costs for now. I expect August costs to be more or less similar to July. I don't have an exact figure here, because I am constantly scaling resources up to respond to spikes in traffic, and scaling down whenever I am able to optimize any slow parts of Lemmy. But on average I believe we won't be using more resources in August than we did in July.

By the way, quick side note here: many developers have submitted several great optimization patches to Lemmy over the summer, and without this, it would be almost impossible to run Lemmy at its current scale. I'm 100% sure that if the whole network downgraded to 0.17.4 today, the network would just collapse. Having said that, there is still a long way to go with optimizations, with many known issues that still need to be solved.

How long will our current funds last us?

Assuming we don't need to massively scale up servers any time soon, our current buffer will last us at least until the end of 2023, if not longer.


I want to give a huge thanks to all sponsors and donors - as you can see from the numbers, you are having a huge effect on the financial viability of lemm.ee!

We have certainly scaled past a point where I could financially support lemm.ee just on my own, so all lemm.ee users truly owe their gratitude to all sponsors for covering the costs of this platform.


As always, if anybody has any further questions or comments, please let me know!

[-] [email protected] 114 points 7 months ago* (last edited 7 months ago)

This particular community was removed this morning.

I don't want to go into too many details, but suffice it to say that this is not the first time the responsible users (or, potentially, single user with multiple accounts) has tried to cause disruptions on lemm.ee, so this is why they have been banned from lemm.ee as well.

I know the community is still visible on sh.itjust.works. The reason for this is most likely technical - either the community removal action did not get received properly by that instance, or the fact that one of the mods was a user of that instance has prevented the removal from being acknowledged by sh.itjust.works. Either way, lemm.ee is not hosting this community anymore.

516
submitted 7 months ago* (last edited 7 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

Hey folks!

It's time for some lemm.ee updates! Feel free to skip ahead to whichever sections seem interesting to you.

New bot rules

The reception to my previous meta post was very positive, so we are going ahead with the new bot rules on lemm.ee. The new rules have been added to our front page sidebar and will be enforced by admins starting on the 1st of August.

The final version of the rules look like this:

  • All bot accounts must be explicitly marked as bots
  • Bots must not vote on any posts or comments
  • Bots must disclose their specified purpose in their profile
  • Bots must not be responsible for the majority of content in any community

The goal for now is to limit bots to a support role. In other words, we have nothing against bots which are used to support running a community for real people, but we do not currently want to host communities which are completely filled with bot content on lemm.ee.

It's definitely true that bot-only communities might provide valuable content, but we need to balance this value with how bots affect our feeds. If in the future the volume of organic user-created content on lemm.ee increases to a point where bots can't easily overwhelm the local feeds, then we may reconsider the last rule.

I apologize again to any bot developers who have chosen lemm.ee as the home for your bot-driven communities, I hope you can find another instance without too much trouble.

0.18.3 update

Last week, lemm.ee was updated to Lemmy version 0.18.3. We were previously already running a patched version of 0.18.2 which included many of the performance improvements that landed in .3, so the upgrade did not have as much of an effect on lemm.ee as it probably did on many other instances.

In any case, we are now again running on a completely unmodified version of Lemmy, and will continue to do so until there are performance or security reasons to run a custom patch again.

lemm.ee stance on hosting alternate Lemmy frontends

In the past few months, a lot of alternate web UIs for Lemmy have started cropping up. I've checked out a few of these and I think a few look really cool!

While such frontends generally provide ways to use them without being directly hosted on any specific instance, some instances have begun hosting such frontends on their own servers as well. I've also received a few dozen requests to host such frontends directly on lemm.ee. I would like to address these requests directly here.

For the time being, I am not planning to host any other frontends than the default lemmy-ui on lemm.ee. There are several reasons for this.

I am personally familiar with lemmy-ui code (to a reasonable extent). I know what it's doing overall, I know several of its pitfalls and I am able to quickly react in case of issues. As just one example, lemm.ee was the first instance in the world which fixed the weak script-src CSP in lemmy-ui that enabled the recent login session breach on some other instances - this is because I deployed the code on lemm.ee before I submitted a PR to the lemmy-ui repo with the fix.

The above would not be true for alternative frontends. I don't have the capacity to go through the implementation details of additional projects at the moment, so I have no idea what the code would be doing in any third party UI. I have no way to guarantee that it's not malicious to begin with. Even if the code is not malicious, I would not be able to quickly apply patches if problems crop up.

As a result of all this, I am not comfortable with hosting these third party frontends on lemm.ee for now. Note that this does not mean you're not able to use such frontends with lemm.ee - all the ones I've checked will work perfectly fine without being hosted on the same domain as the instance itself. But as with any 3rd party app, please be careful when using these frontends - by doing so, you are effectively sharing your username and password with anybody who is developing and hosting them.

Personal note

Some of you may have noticed that I have been a bit less active in the several Lemmy-related communication channels & GitHub for the past week or so. The reason for this is that I've had two stressful things happen: earlier this month, I found extensive water damage in my house which is not covered by insurance. Even worse, shortly after this discovery, I received news that my current place of work, a startup, is shutting down at the end of August (mostly due to changed market conditions).

As a result, I've been spending a fair bit of time trying to deal with the renovation of my house & now am also spending additional time trying to figure out where I can land in terms of employment in order to keep putting food on the table. Nevertheless, I am hoping to get back to more Lemmy contributions soon.

Sorry to use this space for selfish purposes, but I would like to take this chance to note that if anybody is looking for a remote software engineer, I am currently open to new opportunities! Just as a short overview about myself:

  • I've been working as a software engineer for over a decade, about 5 years in technical leadership roles
  • I have experience with end to end ownership of software platforms - everything from writing code to running it in production
  • I'm based in the EU but happy to work in either EU or US timezones
  • For the past few years, my main tech stack has been TypeScript (nodejs/react) + Postgres + Terraform, but I have extensive experience with a lot of other technologies and generally am quite adaptable
  • I have experience running platforms at considerably bigger scale than Lemmy

I would of course happily go into much more details if you contact me directly, so if this is interesting to anybody then please feel free to reach out!

Also, please let me assure anybody who is worried: lemm.ee funding is not currently in jeopardy. For the next couple of months, lemm.ee is not even dependant on a single cent of my own financial contributions, as community support has provided enough money already to give us a nice buffer. I am planning to write a summary of our financials in the next few weeks, please keep an eye on the meta community if you're interested in seeing this!

That's all for now, thanks to anybody who has made it this far! As always, please feel free to leave comments below if you have any thoughts or questions.

[-] [email protected] 116 points 7 months ago* (last edited 7 months ago)

I think voting based on quality of content (and NOT whether you agree with it) is the best approach for healthy discussions. If somebody is a low effort troll, then for sure downvote (and maybe even consider reporting).

OTOH, if somebody makes a well written and thoughtful post about why Totoro is the best Ghibli movie ever, and meanwhile you think Totoro is not even in their top 3, then I would still recommend NOT downvoting 😃

[-] [email protected] 77 points 7 months ago

Thanks for releasing it so quickly!

This "sunaruas" sounds like a cool guy 😛

[-] [email protected] 62 points 8 months ago

Awesome work, big thanks to all who contributed!

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sunaurus

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