There’s been an ongoing debate about whether communities should combine or stay separate. Both have significant disadvantages and advantages:

Combine:

  • Network effects. Smaller communities become viable if they pool together their userbase. Communities with more people (up to a point!) are generally more useful and fun.
  • Discoverability. Right now, I might stumble on a 50 subscriber community and not realize everyone has abandoned it for the lively 500 subscriber community somewhere else, maybe with a totally different name.

Separate:

  • Redundancy. If a community goes down, or an instance is taken down, people can easily move over.
  • Diffusion of political power. Users can choose a different community or instance if the current one doesn’t suit them. Mods are less likely to get drunk on power if they have real competition.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I just want to show that each side has significant advantages over the other.

Sibling communities:

To have some of the advantages of both approaches, how about we have official “sibling communities”? For example, sign up for fediverse@lemmy.world and, along the top, it lists fediverse@lemmy.ml as a sibling community.

  • When you post, you have an easily accessible option to cross-post automatically to all sibling communities. You can also set it so that only the main post allows comments, to aggregate all comments to just one post, if that’s desirable.
  • The UI could detect sibling cross-posts and suppress multiple mentions of the same post if you’re subscribed to multiple sibling communities, maybe with a “cross-sibling post” designation. That way it only shows up once in your feed.
  • Both mod teams must agree to become siblings, so it can’t be forced on any community.
  • Mods of either community can also decide to suppress the cross post if they feel it’s too spammy or not suitable for cross discussion.
  • This allows you to easily learn about all related communities without abandoning your current one. This increases the network effects without needing to combine or destroy communities.

Of course, this could be more informal with just a norm to sticky a post at the top of every community to link to related communities. At least that way I know of the existence of other communities. I personally prefer the official designation so that various technologies can be implemented in the ways I mentioned.

  • queermunist she/her
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    1811 months ago

    Redundancy has been so important recently with the DDoS attacks, and even as that subsides it’s still definitely an important infrastructural perk that federation offers. It’d be a shame to lose that to centralization.

    • @dbilitated@aussie.zone
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      1211 months ago

      it would be good to have some kind of linking.

      my feed is usually ten copies of the same thing posted to similar communities on different servers

    • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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      711 months ago

      I agree. Do you feel this proposal doesn’t address that? My hope is that sibling communities would allow us to keep redundancy and diversity while still enjoying some of the benefits of sometimes coming together.

      • queermunist she/her
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        211 months ago

        I do! It’s why I thought it was important to highlight - I’m not too concerned about mod tyranny, per se, but I am concerned about servers going down.

    • Lucia [she/her]
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      211 months ago

      Since I don’t follow that much .world communities, I never really was affected by these attacks, so yeah, I totally agree with you! I hope we’ll end up more decentralized at time goes on. It was hard to navigate people during the migration so a lot of them ended up in a huge one.

  • @erlend_sh@lemmy.world
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    11 months ago

    The general idea is good, but I still believe the best solution is the ability for Communities to follow other Communities. That is essentially a fully automated version of this sibling proposal.

    This has been explained in great detail by ‘jamon’ here:

    https://github.com/LemmyNet/lemmy-ui/issues/1113#issuecomment-1595273502

    This basically lets Communities opt to federate directly with other Communities, abiding by the same network dynamics as the fediverse at large, I.e. cross-network moderation by (de)federation.

    Here’s a succinct description of the problem that C-C following solves:

    If you are an active user (not moderator) of Lemmy, the requirement for this becomes apparent almost immediately. One of the biggest strengths of these forum are communities-at-scale. Being able to easily post and interact with large groups of people is the benefit to the user that makes Lemmy (and all other social media) appealing.

    As a user, I recently wanted to post to AskLemmy. Almost every single instance has thier own separate AskLemmy implementation. Naturally, I’d tend to post to the one with the most users. But inherently, I’m missing the majority of users by only being able to post to one. I.E., I posted to AskLemmy@lemmy.ml (which had 3k users), but by doing that, I’m missing out on the users from lemm.ee, behaw, lemmy.world which in total are far more than 3k.

    • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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      11 months ago

      This is a good idea too, but I do see them as different implementations with different advantages.

      • “Following” is much simpler to implement, because it uses mostly existing systems. That’s a big bonus.
      • “Following” is essentially automatic cross-posting, right? Presumably, everything from the followed community is cross-posted to the follower communities. I can’t think of when I would ever prefer that over getting selective cross-posts. Sometimes I don’t want to blast stuff out to all communities. Sometimes I want to post something in a local community, and other times I want to hear from all related (sibling) communities. Maybe it’s just too centralized for me.
      • Siblings are related to each other but retain their unique identity. A followed person doesn’t need to know or care about the follower, and doesn’t have to allow any input from the follower. “Sibling” relations are bidirectional, while “follower” relations are unidirectional (though both sides can follow each other). I think all this has a big functional difference.

      I suppose some of this is a matter of taste as well.

      • Hot Saucerman
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        211 months ago

        I suppose some of this is a matter of taste as well.

        I think it’s a little like the competing Lemmy android/iOS apps. It’s totally fine for there to be multiple ways to do it, and some people can adopt multiple types, or just one, or none.

  • @Mane25@feddit.uk
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    1711 months ago

    You’ve just reminded me of something that used to happen around 20 years ago on smaller forums which is “forum affiliates”, where two or more forums with overlapping discussion interests would simply agree to link to each other to drive traffic.

    I’m not sure how common that ever was or if it just happened with the types of forums I would visit, but it worked and there’s nothing really similar in the Fediverse. Normally as a rule I tend towards the “stay separate” camp for communities - but something to boost visibility of related communities might at least help with the perceived drawbacks.

      • @Mane25@feddit.uk
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        411 months ago

        According to my memory web rings were a bit earlier than the time-frame I’m talking about, but similar thing.

    • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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      511 months ago

      That’s interesting. I think I vaguely remember those too. The term “affiliates” sounds so corporate nowadays, but I think it’s a similar idea.

      I’m also strongly in the camp of “stay separate”. I wouldn’t ever want to give that up. But I’m also frequently frustrated by discoverability of related communities and needlessly separated small userbases.

  • Lazerbeams2
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    1111 months ago

    This sounds good to me. I’m subscribed to c/rpgmemes which is run by the the old mod team of r/dndmemes but I’m also subscribed to c/dndmemes which is apparently run by people who wanted something like r/dndmemes. It’s a little redundant and confusing but I wouldn’t want either mod team to lose what they made

    • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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      611 months ago

      Yeah that’s a great example, especially because they have slightly different names. If you’re not in the know, you might never know.

  • @maegul@lemmy.ml
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    611 months ago

    Yep … agree! And have basically thought similarly on my own too. Thanks for proposing and writing this up!

  • Lucia [she/her]
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    11 months ago

    There’s something similar on Beehaw: on !technology@beehaw.org sidebar they include links to “subcommunities”: for c/foss, c/programming and c/os. I would love to see more communities add related c/'s in their description too!

  • Hot Saucerman
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    11 months ago

    These are excellent suggestions, and I agree wholeheartedly. I think the main difficulty is in labeling “sibling communities” as such, because when you create a community, it’s not like you magically know which ones are supposed to be siblings to you.

    What happens when you have two sibling communities that seem like they’re the same based on name and topic, but when it comes to moderation, they’re so different, you couldn’t really call them “siblings,” up to an including the mods from one not wanting to be associated with the other sibling community. Would there be an option to sever that relationship?

    • Lucia [she/her]
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      311 months ago

      I think the main difficulty is in labeling “sibling communities” as such, because when you create a community, it’s not like you magically know which ones are supposed to be siblings to you.

      Users will most probably cross-post from them.

    • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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      211 months ago

      Good points. I’ll be more explicit about the details:

      If, at the time of formation, you don’t know which communities would be siblings, then it’s the same as the current status quo, so I don’t see that as a comparative disadvantage. In any case, there’s no reason to rush into siblinghood. One hope would be that the existence of the term “sibling community” itself would encourage people to discuss possible connections, even when they’re not yet connected. I hope it brings like-minded groups together.

      The sibling relation would need the consent of both mod teams, not just one side, so it can be unilaterally severed, but only jointly formed. No one would force lefty news and righty news to become siblings. But there are currently 5+ major “Technology” communities that are almost entirely overlapping. I hope siblings would allow them to overlap where appropriate but maintain their unique identities.

  • ᴇᴍᴘᴇʀᴏʀ 帝
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    311 months ago

    I think multi-communities will solve a lot of this - you can group, for example, all the movie communities together or the meme ones and get a coherent feed, so it wouldn’t really matter which you posted to.

    The UI could detect sibling cross-posts and suppress multiple mentions of the same post if you’re subscribed to multiple sibling communities, maybe with a “cross-sibling post” designation. That way it only shows up once in your feed.

    Doesn’t this already happen? At least within an instance, my experience is that, if you cross-post, the second post doesn’t appear in your all feeds.

    • @spaduf@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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      511 months ago

      One big issue with the existing cross-posting feature is that it does not work AT ALL with text based posts, just links.

      • @Die4Ever@programming.dev
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        11 months ago

        one thing that’s annoying about this is that sometimes new content will be added to an old URL

        like Steam Hardware Surveys, there’s no way to perma-link to a specific month, their page only shows the most recent results

        https://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/

        which can cause weird issues with Lemmy thinking it’s the same post and only showing 1 of them

        I had this issue with one of my own communities, I was posting links to the Github Releases page for every new release (which is usually good because people finding old links on Google should see the latest release and the full list of releases, not the one specific release)

        but I realized only 1 post would be visible at a time, and if you did Top All sort then it would be a post about an old release, now I gotta post directly to the specific release

        when Lemmy has some form of sibling communities or grouped communities, I think it can be less aggressive in detecting “cross-posts” and only explicit cross-posts would be handled as such

    • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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      311 months ago

      Maybe it does already happen? Then again, I don’t want it to always happen!

      Cross-posting itself can also be a form of commentary. For example, c/London might cross-post something from c/NewYork — “Hey, this would be a cool idea for our city too!” Or “They’re talking about us. Thoughts?” — and the separate set of comments are desirable because they come from a different community. I want these to be two separate posts sometimes.

      ——

      Multi-communities seem similar. Is that a grouping the user makes? If so, I think that’s too much work and will still lead to unnecessary fracturing. What if I follow a few Technology communities and a new one is made since the last time I checked? Do I have to go through and manually check if all my multi-communities are current?

      • ᴇᴍᴘᴇʀᴏʀ 帝
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        111 months ago

        I want these to be two separate posts sometimes.

        They are two separate posts, it’s just cross-posting won’t flood your instances “all” feed. They would still appear as a post in /c/London and one in /c/NewYork with separate comment threads

        Is that a grouping the user makes?

        In the Reddit apps that had multi-sub functionality then I believe they were user created but this is a brave new world and we don’t have to do it that way. People or instances or communities could create multi-communities and people could subscribe to them so only a central file would be updated. If it stopped being updated or was too broad or too specific, it could be forked. I wonder if that could even be rolled into a possible future wiki system as it need only be a text-based file listing the communities.

        • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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          311 months ago

          So, if cross-posts are not showing up in my feed, then I have to actively look for cross-posts separately in the communities? How would I even know they exist? That’s still not what I want. In other words, there are two kinds of cross-posts: (1) redundant posts to overlapping demographics. I don’t want to see more than one of these. (2) commentary cross-posts. I want to see these as separate posts.

          Sibling communities would hide (1) and not (2).

          I like that you’re imagining new ways to do this. That’s what I’m trying to do too. This brave new world of community created multi-communities honestly sounds a lot like sibling communities to me. There’s the question of who is making the multi-communities, and to me the natural response is “the communities themselves”. There’s less user friction if a community is just already affiliated with a bunch of other communities voluntarily.

  • metaStatic
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    -511 months ago

    cross-post automatically

    if you cross post to more than 3 communities I’m blocking you, especially if you have more posts than comments.

    I don’t need my entire front page to be your post thanks.

    • @KoboldCoterie
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      811 months ago

      Their suggestion addresses this:

      The UI could detect sibling cross-posts and suppress multiple mentions of the same post if you’re subscribed to multiple sibling communities, maybe with a “cross-sibling post” designation. That way it only shows up once in your feed.

        • @KoboldCoterie
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          111 months ago

          Cross-posts on Lemmy show links to the other posts on each of them, so you wouldn’t be missing out on anything - you’d just have to click through to the other posts from the one you could see, rather than seeing multiple copies of it.

    • southsamurai
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      711 months ago

      That’s kind of not the poster’s fault.

      When a given interface respects the cross posting method, it doesn’t show multiple posts, it shows one post with a list of places it was cross posted to.

      Unfortunately, not every interface respects that part if federation. Most lemmy apps don’t (afaik, none do, but I can’t claim to use all of). If kbin via web isn’t following that, it isn’t that person’s fault.

      Now, that’s different from someone making multiple posts of the same thing because they don’t know how to cross post lol.

  • Rottcodd
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    -611 months ago

    For fucks sake - which part of “decentralized” do you people not understand?

    • Hot Saucerman
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      1111 months ago

      I don’t know, OP sounds like they understand it pretty well with well-considered suggestions that take decentralized federation into account. Sorry you don’t like them.

      • Rottcodd
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        -111 months ago

        The entire thread and the entire concept underlying it and all the other threads in which people yammer on and on about what “we” should do plainly miss the most crucial part of the fact that the fediverse is decentralized - it’s not just that you don’t have the power to decide what “we” should do, but that the power to decide what “we” should do does not and can not exist at all.

        • Hot Saucerman
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          11 months ago

          but that the power to decide what “we” should do does not and can not exist at all.

          Man, wait until world governments find out! They’ll be so happy that don’t have to interface with other countries for anything or care what their citizens think. Because apparently the ability to organize does not and can not exist at all! Geographical separation!

          The fuck are you on about, mate? Humans organizing in different formats is basically all we do. This is also literally about how you go about doing that. Is your problem that some people get to say “No, I don’t want to be part of that” because if you don’t like it, then don’t use it, and don’t communicate with others to try to create loosely interconnected communities. Just sit by yourself on your own instance and play by your own rules. Literally no one is saying you can’t.

          • Rottcodd
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            011 months ago

            Okay - let’s pretend that everyone on this thread agrees that X is what “we” should do.

            Then what?

            • Hot Saucerman
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              11 months ago

              The moderators on communities that have decided to approach this in this way will discuss it amongst themselves and begin a thread requesting a new feature on the github. In the meantime, the moderators can work together to sketch out a plan of how to connect their communities in a loosely organized manner, where each community links to one another, and cross-posts will be recognized, while not explicitly favoring one community over another. Basically, just moderators working with other moderators and communicating and making a plan that works for those communities, and will likely be different for each set of communities.

              If the feature fails to gain traction because there aren’t enough interested parties, then oh well. Maybe one of the interested parties knows a little Rust and will write in the feature themselves and ask for their work to be added to the mainline project. Anyway, these things take time, and running around howling about how it won’t work before people have even really had formative discussions about it isn’t helpful. Yeah, it’s decentralized, which means some people will take longer to find out that the option exists, because they’re on a site that isn’t federated with somesuch other site, and the meandering path of news of “tools to organize multiple communities as a larger whole,” might take longer to get to them. That’s… not the end of the world, you know? That’s the nature of decentralization, initially, the conversation won’t involve everybody. Over time, maybe it will, but likely some areas of the fediverse will wall themselves off and not be interested in connecting their communities to others and that’s fine. That’s literally the point of the federated decentralization, so people can be allowed to make their own decisions on how to interact, everything from not interacting at all, up to and including making “webrings” of related Lemmy communities. I’m not sure why you need a whole gameplan laid out for you, but it feels like maybe you haven’t been part of a lot of self-organizing communities in your life. These things grow organically. Yes, that includes competing standards growing at the same time, much like there being a bunch of different Lemmy apps existing at the same time.

              • Rottcodd
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                -111 months ago

                That was a rhetorical question.

                Ah well… I didn’t have much hope that it’d work.

                That’s literally the point of the federated decentralization, so people can be allowed to make their own decisions…

                This is not quite accurate, and it neatly illustrates the problem.

                “Allowed,” in this context, is incoherent. There can be no “allowed” unless there’s some authority empowered to, and mechanisms by which to, allow this or disallow that.

                The literal point of decentralization is to move entirely away from institutionalized, hierarchical authority by arranging things so that it can neither be claimed nor exercised in the first place.

                And one problem is that people tend to drag their authoritarian habits of thought along with them.

                • Hot Saucerman
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                  11 months ago

                  If you think organizing in groups at all is authoritarian, that’s on you dude. Take your pedantry to someone who cares.

    • @fresh@sh.itjust.worksOP
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      311 months ago

      I think you’re forgetting the other half of the slogan: decentralized social network. You want to maximize decentralization? Disconnect from the internet and type to yourself on textpad. What we want out of the fediverse are the advantages of bringing people together, with the benefits of decentralization. No one wants decentralization as an end in itself.

      • Rottcodd
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        011 months ago

        Decentralization isn’t an ideal - it’s a fact. It’s the reality of the fediverse.