Recently there have been some discussions about the political stances of the Lemmy developers and site admins. To clear up some misconceptions: Lemmy is run by a team of people with different ideologies, including anti-capitalist, communist, anarchist, and others. While @dessalines and I are communists, we take decisions collectively, and don’t demand that anyone adopt our views or convert to our ideologies. We wouldn’t devote so much time to building a federated site otherwise.

What’s important to us is that you follow the site rules and Code of Conduct. Meaning primarily, no-bigotry, and being respectful towards others. As long as that is the case, we can get along perfectly fine.

In general we are open for constructive feedback, so please contact any member of the admin team if you have an idea how to improve Lemmy.

Slur Filter

We also noticed a consistent criticism of the built-in slur filter in Lemmy. Not so much on lemmy.ml itself, but whenever Lemmy is recommended elsewhere, a few usual suspects keep bringing it up. To these people we say the following: we are using the slur filter as a tool to keep a friendly atmosphere, and prevent racists, sexists and other bigots from using Lemmy. Its existence alone has lead many of them to not make an account, or run an instance: a clear net positive.

You can see for yourself the words which are blocked (content warning, link here). Note that it doesn’t include any simple swear words, but only slurs which are used to insult and attack other people. If you want to use any of these words, then please stay on one of the many platforms that permit them. Lemmy is not for you, and we don’t want you here.

We are fully aware that the slur filter is not perfect. It is made for American English, and can give false positives in other languages or dialects. We are totally willing to fix such problems on a case by case basis, simply open an issue in our repo with a description of the problem.

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Can you post a link to your Lemmy? When I ask the Duck about it, it shows me this old guitarrist from UK. I don’t wanna ask Google. When I type “Lemmy net” it shows me an internet company in Germany but nothing with forums.

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
11M

I dont understand, you are using Lemmy right now. Welcome!

The way the first post was written leaves me with the impression that lemmy.ml and Lemmy are two different things ran by the same person or people. I also saw somewhere on this site the sentence “lemmy.nl is the flagman of the Lemmy network” which also suggest that .ml and Lemmy are two different things.

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
31M

Lemmy is the software project, lemmy.ml is one instance where it is running. There are also other instances.

I agree with the policy in concept, and I think it has generally done good. As a new user to the platform I am impressed by how friendly and non-vitriolic it seems to be.

Having the filter hard-coded and public is a great way to keep things transparent and free from abuse.

However, I do have some issues with the actual content of the list.

I’m not going to even allude to them for obvious reasons, but there are many slurs that really should be included and are not.

There’s also the case of reclaimed slurs. While some of the slurs on the list are pretty much purely used by racists, a few are frequently used in a reclaimed context, and excluding them may harm or exclude the targeted group - possibly more so than to allow them.

I understand the perspective of slurs being used in a reclaimed context. However I used to be an admin for a relatively large multiplayer MILSIM game and I can tell you right now that perspective falls apart the moment trashy people get their hands on it. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the excuse “but I am black” or “but I am gay” in an attempt to defend what is clearly a statement meant to harm a specific minority group.

This isn’t to say I don’t understand where you are coming from because I do but I don’t think that the internet is really a place that can be a safe space for people to anonymously use reclaimed words no matter the context. You would be surprised how many people may infiltrate a space just to get a pass to say slurs.

@Tomat0@lemmy.ml
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Isn’t instance-blocking alone sufficient for being able to prevent the environment from being overrun? I understand the hesitancy to platform reactionaries, but as it stands the network effect is easily the biggest hurdle the Fediverse is going to face. Right-libertarians and actual reactionaries might be a net negative on the main instance, but as far as the software itself goes, numbers are numbers, and could end up making a world of difference.

Let them form their own circlejerks away from everyone else and have slur-blocking be on a per-instance basis, after all that’s why the federated design works so well.

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
32M

There are more important things than making numbers go up. Just the existance of the slur filter makes right-wingers upset, and stops them from even considering to use Lemmy. That makes our job much easier because we dont have to deal with them.

m-p{3}
22M

Can’t they just remove the slur filter, recompile and join the federated network with their instance?

Would take a lot of effort and would be immediately unfederated when it was noticed. Not worth the time investment

@Tomat0@lemmy.ml
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I disagree just due to the aforementioned network effect. Numbers with social media have a snowball effect, where people make their decision on whether or not to participate based on existing levels of activity. What sets Lemmy apart from stuff like Lobste.rs and HackerNews IMO is that it’s integration of federation gives it potential to break out as a serious alternative to the platforms rather than catering a specific niche, so I’d say the snowballing is important also since it has the potential to help bring up the rest of the Fediverse.

Given Lemmy’s reputation as being a platform run by communists, the fact that such a hardcoded filter even existed to begin with, and also per-instance blocking/slur filtering, I’d think that should be enough to keep them away and stop them from polluting the communities associated with the flagship instances, then again I’m not an admin so I can’t say for sure. It’d also help the issue you mentioned regarding ambiguity of what slurs to include, since each community can decide that for themselves.

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
32M

Lemmy is growing quite well, one year ago we only had 800 users, now we are already at 13.000. Sure the slur filter might limit growth a bit, but we are not a silicon valley company whose goal is growth at any cost.

Seeing the pile of comments on here, I just wanna go out of my way to say I think the slur filter is a great idea. Fascists will appropriate any leeway they’re given regardless of the ideological motivations under which said leeway is provided

It is but hardcoding it isn’t. First of all the server admin should be able to change the regex (preferably without editing the source code) to fit the community’s need.

And developed by people who hate the fact that you’re alive!

A comment about Lemmy I saw on Reddit. The slur filter really pulls its weight and keeps the bigots out, it was a great idea.

Dessalines
mod
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Every time we get recommendations to remove the filter I think of this. These bigots end up staying on reddit, or moving to other bigoted platforms, and avoid lemmy, making our lives a LOT easier :smiling face: . I could care less about “growth” if that growth means an influx of disgusting racists. I’d much rather have a smaller, positive community that defends members of targeted communities.

I keep saying this: the very existence of the slur filter, even though it’s actually trivial to remove or modify, acts like an alt-right/MAGA/bigot/freeze-peach repellent even though it’s trivial to remove or modify. Just look at the types of people on /r/RedditAlternatives who say they’ll never go to Lemmy because of this, and what their priorities on platforms they’re actually interested in are. To me, that’s half the battle.

I could care less about “growth” if that growth means an influx of disgusting racists. I’d much rather have a smaller, positive community that defends members of targeted communities.

You have no idea how good it is to see this attitude from the central developers of the platform. How much better wouldn’t the world be if more people were thinking like this? Kudos to you all!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this stance!

I think the slur filter is a brilliant idea, especially given the type of person it seems to bother most, and this site feels a lot less toxic than other online communities, probably as a direct result.

Dessalines
mod
74M

Thanks! :)

Federated social media platforms may always be smaller than the for-profit platforms which use all kinds of tricks to turn people into commodities: tracking users, using targeted advertising, having psychologists on the development team to “gamify” everything, incentivizing people to turn themselves into “content creators” and “influencers”, create and exploit addictive behaviour by having infinite scrolling pages and adjusting content based on “engagement” data.

So Lemmy won’t make you rich - but I think you’re ok with that.

Question: is it hardcoded or just active on lemmy.ml? Can it be disabled (by an instance admin)?

From my understanding it is hardcoded into the source code. Not sure how hard it would be to remove if you ran the site yourself.

I guess should not be hard to just change the regex to ^$ so it only matches an empty string… then there is also Lenny

I’m a fan of the current approach, especially if it allows the devs to focus their resources elsewhere. Can always be revisited later.

We also noticed a consistent criticism of the built-in slur filter in Lemmy.

  • The funniest and most ironic thing about this is that the same people who criticize the filter are the first to insult you… These people already have a home. That home is called Reddit. And even if they’re more fascist, they’d better use Gab. But no, this social network better not be corrupted. Lemmy is a very healthy social network. People are friendly, curious and intelligent. It sounds a bit cliché, but it’s the truth. I like to make comments and posts here. I feel more free to express myself, unlike in Reddit. I just hope the core developers continue to moderate as well as ever, without giving in to pressure from those troublesome users. Keep it up 💪🏽💖

You have obnoxious people on all sides of the debate, including people who avoid listening to foreign ideas by labeling the other sides.

To be honest, nobody knows how the culture would be different under a different sweet of rules, especially the people who act most confident about it.

Social games, that is, sets of rules, are studied under many different disciplines. Things have been tried. Experiments have occurred, papers written. We know some stuff about how different kinds of rulesets work. Sorry if you dont like the fact that others have studied and tested things, but that does not mean you get to deny their knowledge.

nBee
264M

Lemmy is run by a team of people with different ideologies, including anti-capitalist, communist, anarchist, and others.

❤️❤️❤️

Looks like we got a team of based badasses developing this platform

I didn’t even notice there was a slur filter. It seems to me that if you’re not an asshole, it doesn’t affect you one way or the other.

It does: there are languages other than English, as suggested in the original post itself.

I find it quite sad that people are bothered by the political views of others enough to ignore the good things they do for the community. Even if the misconceptions about the political stance of Lemmy devs were to be true I wouldn’t care as Lemmy as a piece of software is good, and admins are quite polite on general discussions. I don’t remember even one political post made by any of them.

@PP44@lemmy.ml
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I agree with you for the most part but like to discuss detail, no need to answer me if you don’t want to i’m being picky !

If I have to be honest, political view of the devs do matter to me. I’m glad I’m close to their ideas, because I clearly would not want to use something not only made by fascists, but at a stage where their control a flagship instance as important as this one is. I would be afraid of direct censorship of course, but also of the general spirit driving the project. So I think it is in fact an important question. I just happen to be cool with the situation here because I think I will agree with the vast majority of the important decision.

(edit : typo)

No need for slurs in discussions. There are better ways to express anger , disgust or other “hot” emotions.

@glennsl@lemmy.ml
9
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What if the intent is not to express “hot” emotions? What if I just want to point someone to a book that happens to use a slur in its title? Or even just a URL to said book (or are URLs with slurs allowed?) Or quote a scottish person?

You assume intent, completely disregarding context. That’s a general problem with superficial slur filters.

skull
194M

I’m brand new to Lemmy but overall so far I think you all are doing great. I appreciate the diversity in the political views of the team too. I find Lemmy much more usable than other sites too in how it’s not as overfilled with garbage like a lot of digital media has become. Overall great app, no complaints from me and thank you for running Lemmy.

RoAe
174M

Although I’m more right-leaning than left, I personally think it’s great that the people leading lemmy are communists, anarchists, etc. I think it helps provide a counter-balance to the more right leaning groups trying to avoid mainstream social media.

I like the idea of a slur filter as a moderation tool for any instance I am a part of, but I feel like it goes against the whole purpose of federated social media. Isn’t the point of federated stuff that you are free of centralized control, with the freedom to pick an instance which suits your desires? It seems wrong to impose any moderation, no matter how justified, on an entire federated platform.

Generally though, I love this platform! Thanks so much for all your hard work!

I think it helps provide a counter-balance to the more right leaning groups trying to avoid mainstream social media.

I think this point is important regardless of political spectrum. Lots of really nasty people have migrated to alternative platforms so that they can be nasty, but I’m glad Lemmy makes it clear enough that it’s not one of their nasty spaces.

Ideological freedom encourages nasty people. And restrictions encourage thoughtless people.

You can go on notabug and ignore the crazy psychos and chat with the creative people.

You can go on reddit and find endless people with no independent thought, repeating things and not listening to reach other.

Lemmy is in the middle. But IMO that’s not an objective good thing, it’s a preference.

False dilemma, no?

How so?

You have to assume that the devs’ rules do restrict the types if discourse which happen. But other than that, it all follows.

Maya
154M

So as @PP44 is saying, it’s open source. The devs work to make sure that anyone can set it up straightforwardly to run with their own modifications, not just the main version – and that means modifying the slur filter is also supposed to be straightforward, even though it’s not encouraged. There isn’t actual moderation on the whole platform per se, since two instances can federate even if one has no slur filter. There are lots of “points” to federated stuff, though, so the existence of a slur filter works well to help keep Lemmy from attracting the cesspool-types while still enjoying those other benefits.

It should be in a config file IMO, so communities can add/remove things based on their needs. There might be a community consisting of black people, for example, who would want to jokingly use the n-word between themselves. Hardcoding it into the code makes it harder to change it for legitimate use-cases. Putting it into a separate file could also help people to customize Lemmy for their language (there are languages where offensive words in English are just ordinary words).

Not everyone is tech-savvy enough to find the regex in the code and patch it out, and that could make a lot of people’s life a lot harder

I’m clearly “left-leaning”, so I might be biased, but I don’t agree with your criticism toward the slur filter : the project is open source, and as such people wanting to use these slur can work they way to another version. The devs explain here a clear intention to make this change difficult enough to prevent at least partially the migration of some communities they don’t want to support and/or give a platform to. I think that’s an honest way to do things ?

It also open up the debate on free speech and how saying some things actively attacks fundamental rights of others. In those cases, defending free speech as a “right” becomes irrelevant since both sides of the debate can use this logic to defend opposing actions. Trying to be short here, hope you understand what I mean !

The devs explain here a clear intention to make this change difficult enough to prevent at least partially the migration of some communities they don’t want to support and/or give a platform to.

I’m happy it’s becoming harder for neonazis to find a home online, however i’m not happy that this makes lemmy english-centric, and i’m not happy that honest discussion about some topics (including thoughtful criticism) will be made harder.

Related example: on another message board a few weeks back i couldn’t post a message containing my criticism of “bitcoin” because bitcoin was part of the slur filter to filter out the crypto-capitalist clique… i understand and appreciate why it was put in place, but i felt really powerless as a user that a machine who lacks understanding of the context of me using this word, decided i had no right to post it. I appreciate strong moderation, but i don’t trust machine to police/judge our activities.

I quite agree with you that moderation is hardly a machine job, and not saying it is the perfect solution. It sure as it’s drawback. I am just arguing that the benefits outweigh them. I would prefer to be in a world where there are not needed, be as of the world today, I admit I prefer having this filter rather than not having it, mostly because of the systemic effects I explained.

I agree that the relevance of he content of the filter can be discussed too, and that banning some words can make it difficult to discuss certain topics. But I think some words are almost always meant to harm, and can be easily replace by more positive or neutral term.

As a direct example : I can talk in this post about homosexuality, and I can event paraphrase to talk about the way some f word is used as a slur for it and how I think allowing it here isn’t a good idea in my opinion. See, I can talk about it, be respectful about it. I just prevent to call you a [insert here whatever banned slur] pretending to use my free speech.

I prefer having this filter rather than not having it, mostly because of the systemic effects I explained.

That’s also the case for me, in case that was not clear :)

I think some words are almost always meant to harm, and can be easily replace by more positive or neutral term.

I don’t think it’s that easy, because of the context. Should all usage of the n***** word by black people be prevented? Should all usage of w****/b**** words by queer/femmes folks in a sex-positive context be prevented? etc… I agree with you using these words is most times inappropriate and we can find better words for that, however white male technologists have a long history of dictating how the software can be used (and who it’s for) and i believe there’s something wrong in that power dynamic in and of itself. It’s not uncommon that measures of control introduced “to protect the oppressed” turn into serious popular repression.

Still, like i said i like this filter in practice, and it’s part of the reason i’m here (no fascism policy). As a militant antifascist AFK, i need to reflect on this and ponder whether automatic censorship is ok in the name of antifascism: it seems pretty efficient so far, if only as a psychological barrier. And i strongly believe we should moderate speech and advertise why we consider certain words/concepts to be mental barriers, but i’m really bothered on an ethical level to just dismiss content without human interaction. Isn’t that precisely what we critique in Youtube/Facebook/etc? I’m not exactly placing these examples on the same level as a slur filter though ;)

@PP44@lemmy.ml
12
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As often in cool debate, I think in the end we mostly agree. I especially agree with you on the point that reclaiming a word is a valid way of using some slur, and that it should not be to a privileged group to choose when a word is ok or not. On this point I have to point out that this is still the case with manual moderation, if most moderator are privileged. So I agree that diversity should be push in all places of power, and all decision are better made (and more legitimate) with a diversity in the group that make them.

But on the automated part, I really think the psychological aspect is strong and should be questioned. You talk about “human interaction” but this definition is really hard non only to define, but also to defend as an efficient way of reaching you goals. I am quite sure that when the devs made their filter, there was quite a lot of human interaction and debate around it, and the simple fact the put one show that they interacted with other people around them. And is a “manual” moderation a human interaction when you don’t see or know the person, don’t know their culture, the context, their tone, etc. Moderation will never be perfect, will always involve bad decisions, errors. When errors are mades “directly” by humans, compassion and empathy help us to try and understand before judging (but judging nonetheless in the end don’t get me wrong). Why is it so different when an automated system (created by an imperfect human) ? Why is an automated error worse than a human one if the consequences are the same ?

Long story short, I don’t like thinking along great principles like “automated moderation is dangerous”, but rather try analyze the situation and think : would this place be better if there was not this automated moderation ? I agree that this is a wide and difficult debate one what is “better” of course, but the focus should always be this one : how to make things better.

Thank you so much for your answer, i’m not used to debate online because I didn’t feel at ease anywhere else before, but I love it and it is thanks to people like you and all the other interesting answers I get that I can enjoy that and think about it so much ! Thank you thank you <3 !!

(edit : typo)

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
9
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Thanks for your comment, I’m really happy to read something like this. I’m glad that people can really get along here :)

this is still the case with manual moderation, if most moderator are privileged

Sure, but given a /c/blackfolks community, a white admin would probably think twice before getting involved in internal matters over there. Which an algorithm will have no clue about.

I am quite sure that when the devs made their filter, there was quite a lot of human interaction and debate around it, and the simple fact the put one show that they interacted with other people around them.

The latter is true, but i believe the former isn’t. Having some kind of filter shows great concern for people experiencing harassment/bullying online, but using a word-based filter is a known anti-pattern since about the end of the 90s. I remember i used to go to this library, and from there you couldn’t access the library’s own website because the name of the library contained a french slur inside (though the whole was not a slur really) and the library-wide MITM proxy had a slur list like the one lemmy implemented. That’s how clueless such systems are.

Why is an automated error worse than a human one if the consequences are the same ?

For the reason you mentioned: lack of context and empathy.

would this place be better if there was not this automated moderation ?

Certainly not. I’m not advocating for removing the slur filter on this specific instance. I’m arguing having it hardcoded into the source is a strong political posture and we don’t really measure the variety of consequences it may have on the ecosystem as a whole.

Thank you so much for your answer (…) <3

Thanks to you too <3! I strongly appreciate online debate in such settings. Are you by any chance too young to remember when (before Facebook) forums/BBS were the craze? We really lost something (on a human/political level) when everyone moved to these centralized platforms where interactions were turned uniform and bland, and real-name policies have led to real-life crisis (bullying, suicides…).

a white admin would probably think twice before getting involved in internal matters over there.

Yes, at least a sensible one ! But the term you used is great : “thinking twice”. I really do think that the admins though twice before choosing this filter. This is a human choice, just made with automated tools. As in your example, the moderation will be questioned in either case, and that’s great ! I’m here for it. And i promote a way of organizing the critique against moderation around the question “what are the concrete consequences of either choices”, kind of an utilitarian point of view I have to admit. I think that initializing this new platform with a quite strong political stance on these issue will help this place have a positive impact. It is “hardcoded” yes, but in an open source project. If the platform grows, forks will appear for sure, especially if strong opinion arises on this kind of “hardcoded” issues. So I think about it more as a launch measure than a definitive stance.

lack of context and empathy

  1. That does not make the errors worse, that makes them more probable. The same error made by an automated system isn’t worse than a human one.
  2. No perfect system, not perfect context or empathy. You go to a physical event, the are rules, laws that are arbitrary to some extend. you’ve got physical moderation that will make mistakes. You go online, manual moderation job is harder because you lack more of the context/empathy, but I think you are still relevant. You go system wise, automated moderation is even harder and will make more errors for sure, but it is not a definitive reason against it. Is online moderation worse than physical meeting ? Yes. Should we prevent it and organize physical court for every moderation case online ? No, even if the decision would be better for sure. Because moderation would be less efficient as a whole, and that is what matter. In the same way, is automated moderation worse than manual ? Yes. Should we prevent it and only accept manual one ? The “better decision” argument is not enough to defend the “no”.

Are you by any chance too young (…) ?

I’m too young yes, just missed it ! (I’m born in 1994). (I am very social AFK, but never used Facebook/Twitter/… so I’m not as used to online interaction, that I think have specific codes.) But things go back and forth, let’s hope projects like Lemmy are the sign of a new era of progress !

That’s the defence of the “slur filter” that everyone can agree on. It’s harmless because it does almost nothing. It has no real benefit or cost.

The people who say it deters fascists - it just doesn’t hold water.#

I don’t know, if I believe some comments around here, there are clearly some of them that explicitly explain they would not come here because they feel “hated”, in public, so clearly to deter anyone close to them to come here for these reason. If so, it means it has some positive effect, and it seems plausible to me.

I don’t understand a lot of your message.

But if i get the gist, that might not be so positive. People who feel hated, isolated, afraid to express themselves in public, they are the people we should welcome.

It sounds like they are teenagers who are just figuring out their views. They all have strange and offensive ideas at times, but with help most people figure out a sensible worldview in the end.

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
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As long as they can stop themselves from insulting or attacking other people, they can come to Lemmy with no problem.

You’re just the ones who can’t express themselves properly yet. They have to learn that by chatting with adults and getting negative feedback.

But that doesn’t have to be our problem, at least not while lemmy is still so small.

Sorry, it was not clear at all ! I was talking about fascist publicly denouncing lemmy as a platform suppressing their free speech, and that, as such, it should be avoided.

Okay i didn’t get that at all.

Bit this new idea sounds like a paradox - someone pro free speech would mind object to that denouncement at all.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean here sorry.

Trying to avoid someone denouncing you - it means suppressing his free speech.

If you don’t want someone denouncing you, then you are not tolerant of all free speech.

alive

They do not complain about lemmy only denouncing, but putting filter to prevent certain words, which they see as free speech denial. At least I guest, i’m not in their head. To be clear I’m referencing this citation (that I found in another comment on this post) :

And developed by people who hate the fact that you’re alive !

The strong political stance seems to really put them off…

RoAe
5
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Perhaps I was a bit too harsh on the filter. After all, you’re right that someone could just modify the code. Even so, it doesn’t really seem like it lines up with the philosophy of federated platforms. It makes it more difficult to customize moderation on the instance level. I also feel like the problem of platforming nasty people could be solved by moderation on the instance level and blocking instances which don’t have adequate moderation. That’s what it’s going to need to be in the end anyway if Lemmy grows enough and people customize the code.

It does bring up the free speech debate, but I find those usually aren’t very productive in these sorts of contexts. It’s not really a legal question since the government isn’t involved, and they usually just end up being each side stating their presuppositions.

It’s not terribly important in this case anyways, I just thought I’d share my thoughts on it.

I mostly agree. And I agree that if the platform really grows, it will come down to per instance moderation and instance admins choosing wisely the instances they choose to federate with. But I think the choice is to make sure to give a head start to the people they want to welcome here. With the recent events in the US, imagine lemmy being the next tool used by “some people” the devs wich didn’t come. Then the platform as a whole would be much less attractive to some other people the devs are more interested in helping and interacting with.

So I think we agree, on the long term, if Lemmy grow, someone will come up with a modified version without thoses filter. It will just take more time. Meanwhile, Lemmur gets to be at peace as much as it can ?

Thanks for your answer !

@glennsl@lemmy.ml
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I don’t t care what the developers and admins think. I care what they do. And for the most part I think what they do is very, very good.

For the thought police on the other hand, I can’t see what good would come out of what they’re trying to do. Addressing concrete decisions like the slur filter is of course fair game. At least take the time and effort to look into the what and why of actual decisions that have been made before criticizing something.

As a Scottish person, I’ve been tripped up by the slur filter only twice. Once was when I used the c word to describe Dominic Raab (I still stand by that), and the other was when I used twit by with an A instead of an I. I genuinely had no idea that it actually meant vagina! I’ve heard it since I was a child and had no idea what it actually meant.

Still, you can’t really complain about it, it’s more of a trivial thing to people who aren’t being offensive.

“Twat” doesn’t mean vagina, it’s a slang term for clitoris. In the US, “cunt” is slang for vagina, and it is also a derogatory term, typically reserved for women.

Determining what is offensive and what is not is a complex matter. It isn’t only in intent that words become harmful. I have never heard a person use the word “kaffir” as an insult, so I might think that using it was inoffensive. The one time I asked a crowd of people what it meant, my two friends from South Africa turned pale and told me to never, ever, ever use that word again.

The Internet takes us from being citizens of a country, to citizens of the world. It’s on us to learn how to avoid insulting each other. Slur filters are one approach, but… they always have problems. Words aren’t in themselves offensive; people are offensive. Instead of blocking words, I prefer to corral people who won’t stop treating others badly. But I don’t run Lemmy, and I’m thankful that this isn’t a problem that I need to solve.

“Twat” doesn’t mean vagina, it’s a slang term for clitoris.

Google told me it meant vagina, lol.

Test: twat cunt

Guess that’s been removed now.

I really like this project. I think there are some areas for improvement in community building tools and moderation, but the software isn’t even at 1.0 yet. So, that makes sense. It will be interesting to see how the structure of the software influences community building. How will the up vote aggregation affect what is seen? How will that differ between instances?

As far as the politics of this instance. I’ve found it fine as an anarchist. As lemmy spreads and there are more instances I might find a more fitting home, but I feel welcome here in all my identities for now. There are certainly other lemmy instances I don’t feel welcome at so :woman shrugging: .

It’s certainly good have diversity of opinion, to keep it interesting for everyone. But how far would you extend that?

If there were more (or more active) fascists here, would that make it richer? Probably not - there ideas are empty and obtuse and self serving and racist. But i would have said the same about tankies before i joined Lemmy and listened to them.

The one thing you do not want is a circlejerk, where everyone agrees and is happy, but there is no important argument between people who strongly disagree.

I definitely wouldn’t feel safe on an instance that tolerates fascists and/or racists.

Personally, I don’t use the label “tankie” to describe people. I just think it’s outdated and doesn’t really relay where I might have disagreements with authoritarian leftists and staunch nation state supporters. Where I don’t feel welcome on some other lemmy instances has more to do with those authoritarian leftists and staunch nation state supporters not making enough room for a nuanced discussion about the balance and tension of individual autonomy and collective action (where does the liberation/rights of the individual end and the state/commune begin?). I don’t really feel like I would be silenced here for exploring that nuance though.

Yes good points.

Btw what’s a better term than “tankie”? I only learnt about this ideology recently, am ignorant of the details of it.

It’s okay IMO to have instances which are now closed, more restricted speech/ideas. There are good reasons why some people like them, and why they need to exist. But there must be other places where fee speech/free debate is possible. For example in France it recently became illegal to criticise a policeman by name, no matter what he has done. Very dangerous.

“Tankies” are marxist-leninists or marxist-leninists-maoists (or ML and MLM, it’s easier to write lol). The etymology specifically refers to marxists-leninists, but the thing is that today the word has been so overused after online leftists and “leftists” (V*ush loves using it) gave it a second life that it doesn’t mean anything beyond "leftist whom I disagree with). Now even neolibs are using it against anarchists, who popularized the word in the first place!

I set up a slur filter first thing when I made r/antifastonetoss – but I left reddit last year, so I don’t know how the discourse progressed after that. But the mod team on AST is composed of various ideologies and marginalised people which was instrumental in setting up a slur filter without seeming like we dictated our vision too much on the community.

We made it to foster a safe environment where people can feel welcome to, and so they feel they have the right to participate. Ultimately it needed some tweaking, because the community used some words a lot and their status as a slur was not entirely clear yet. IIRC we only ended up removing the words id.ot and st.pid from the filter. Overall, it worked well. It did remove a lot of bad actors straight up (fascists and reactionaries who wanted to argue), with very few false-positives.

Even in the case of words that could be used in several ways (homophones mostly), we basically knew how many instances of false-positives and true-positives there was and could decide to filter them on a case-by-case basis. Of course if you want to deploy this to a whole project and its future instances, it’s a different question.

It’s a dialogue between your users and your vision. I firmly believe you get the community you deserve, meaning that your actions as a community manager (or moderator or admin whatever) will shape your community. We removed the words mentioned above because it was causing a lot of frustration and we never had someone write us to say “hey I’m glad you filter these two specific words”. Or even after removing them, we never had someone say “I prefered when they were filtered because I feel targeted”. Lacking a proper audit of our community, this was our way to gauge . So in the end it removed some frustration and the users were overall happier that they could use these two words, even if I personally believe there are other words that work just as well. We felt we were driving people away and it was counterproductive to keep them in when it was having 0 noticeable benefits. Of course this doesn’t work for every word lol. I’m reminded of the “t-word” debate on animemes and in this case I think they were right to ban it.

Yes, some words have been reclaimed. And not everyone considers the same words to be slurs. What we did was err on the side of caution, and figure that words that have been reclaimed were allowed because there was only a very small chance of someone using it disparagingly – and if they did they would usually be mocked in the comments. Of course though this applied to a subreddit where a) we live with fascists on the whole site (one of the reasons I left reddit altogether) and b) our community was already mostly aware of these issues and knew not to push the buttons. We could also trust them to push back against people using these words as slurs, as did the mod team.

As for words that some didn’t consider a slur when it applied to them, we kept them in if the status was unclear. Because while some people didn’t think it was a slur and laughed about the word, others did consider it a slur, and we took the stance of doing more good than harm which was to ban the word.

We also allowed people to censor the words with some characters (asterisks aren’t ideal because markdown uses them), YMMV. We figured that in most cases a censor would be enough not to trigger anything but we’d see if someone would mail us to say censors are not enough for them. Ultimately nobody did, so we kept it like this because

There’s also one other very important benefit to a slur filter: not only does it frustrate fascists so much that they just stop writing (and their comments are not seen, that’s a win-win), but the filter also helps keep conversations level-headed. I don’t want to be a lib and worship peace, but in our project it was important that people could get along and focus their anger at stonetoss, not at each other. If your comment gets removed because you didn’t think and used a slur, it would get removed, and you’d get a private message telling you which word you used and to please censor it or delete it. That also gave them time to think about what they really wanted to say, because often you realize after writing your comment that you don’t really care all that much and what is even the point of sending it?

People circumventing the filter was never an issue, except to fascists who would get banned for other reasons. We did take a no-nonsense policy on this and flat out said in the private mail that circumventing the filter on purpose will result in a permanent ban. Most of the time if there was any issue, it was people not understanding how some word was a slur, but after explaining it they usually understood. That’s why people – in this particular community at least – didn’t circumvent the filter; they understood to some extent that the word wasn’t a good one to use. And really it’s easier to put in an asterisk or period than to try and make it go through.

But I wanted a slur filter day one on antifastonetoss to make people understand what kind of community we wanted. We didn’t want the edgy teens, we didn’t want the cryptofash, we didn’t even want the libs. We wanted leftist people who wanted to really hurt a fascist and could remain respectful between themselves. We wanted people who had some amount of knowledge about these issues in the first place because again, you get the community you build. Of course we had no issues with newcomers and understood that some people had no idea about fascism (which is why I wrote some articles for the subreddit) or that they may not understand why we had a filter, and we were prepared to explain that with the help of the more knowledgeable part of the community.

I’m always the first to start these threads.

But it’s good to remember, we chose Lemmy over sites like notabug because it works better. Some good decisions by the devs created a good website, enabling good discussions, which you just don’t see elsewhere.

Some things like the “slur filter” seem sketchy, but you have to give the devs the benefit of the doubt. They clearly know a couple of things about forum design.

At the same time, it’s important to talk about this stuff. Better ideas usually come from debate.

@Zach777@lemmy.ml
8
edit-2
4M

Wait suck is on the slur filter? Really?

Edit: Guess not lol.

Edit2: Wow there really is no reason to complain about that slur filter list. Keep it.

I think the sucker one has to have a word which means “male chicken” as a prefix to kick in.

Now I feel the urge to put that to the test, but I suppose i will suppress said whim.

Yep, I was right.

I don’t see how filtering very few words could annoy anyone, none of them are used in normal circumstances (except b***h I guess).

Instead of filtering the words, you could change them for something nice. Like changing “idiot” for “dork”; sounds like it’d make it fun (and of course, still filtering the worst offenders).

Replace them with cat emojis?

That’s the spirit :D

Myself I’m personally not sure what is a slur about the term for a female dog, or a prostitute for that matter. Seems like those words can be used for expressing more than simply misogynist rhetoric, but whatever. Or maybe my belief that the phrase "ain’t that a b**ch* isn’t offensive is outdated. If that’s the case, so be it.

Don’t have much against a slur filter per se, but it will always be controversial, and I don’t necessarily believe some of those who view it negatively are better off not joining. But, it is what it is.

Just because a particular word isn’t offensive to you, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a population that itvs meant to insult. Claiming that you find an insulting term to be fine suggests that anyone who is offended by it is just being overly-sensitive. That’s not a great way to approach looking for methods of reducing insulting speech.

I’m not even implying the words bch or wh* to not be offensive, because they are. I’m saying I’m not sure if those words specifically (out of all the very specific and pointed offensive terms to use towards a certain group or subset of individuals which are also banned on here) are so pointedly offensive to warrant an outright ban on them. I’m also not entirely convinced those words were or ever have been used to disadvantage an entire group of people in the way the words that I feel are justifiable in their banning have been. If anyone feels calling a woman those two terms is on the same level or at all comparable to the other words on the list then I absolutely disagree, even though I also agree that calling a woman either of those terms to be offensive and wrong.

At the same time I feel their use outside of that context warrants allowing them to be used even so. Especially if we’ve decided the term cunt is evidently fair game when to call a woman that would be much further over line than either of those other two banned terms.

Geotechland
64M

@nutomic@lemmy.ml Glad you posted this! I’ve been getting a lot of comments on my video about Lemmy regarding the political views of the Lemmy devs.

I’ve think I’ve handled them like a champ but they seem to be so afraid that Lemmy will be used to “convert” people to communist ideology which is absurd.

As for the slur filter, while I personally don’t think it’s a good way to deal with abuse on Lemmy instances (e.g words can be used in different contexts). I understand the reasoning behind it.

@hkhwbnbbb@lemmy.ml
6
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4M

Disclaimer: I am a multiply marginalized person on the radical left.

I see various issues with the slur filter.

The biggest one, I feel, is that many, many people in marginalized communities have reclaimed slurs. I’d go as far as to say that some (myself included) strongly identify with reclaimed slurs. The word “queer” is a very common example. Will those who identify with it not be allowed to express themselves fully here? The ban on slurs actually makes me feel far less welcome here as a marginalized person as a part of my identity that I am proud of, embrace, and find power in is banned. Most of my friends with various marginalizations have reclaimed slurs as well and would not feel welcome in this space. The reclamation of slurs can be an essential tool for marginalized people. Who are non-marginalized people to decide which slurs marginalized people are allowed to reclaim? I encourage you to read more about this, because it is incredibly important.

Additionally, the code used to filter slurs is flawed. Does it handle if users use alternate Unicode characters to write slurs? Replacing "O"s with "0"s? Slur filters have been implemented time and time again and the result is always the same: users get more creative in their use of slurs or even invent new ones. There are so many variations of slurs, and language is far too complex for this to be enforced with a simple regex. It’s also critical to consider different languages here. If Lemmy centers English in its slur filtering, it will inadvertently censor non-English words that are not slurs as well as not censoring non-English words that are. Not to mention – centering English is incredibly problematic.

Finally, the code is easily removed, and I speculate that if anything, it will lead to a fork of Lemmy by the alt-right even sooner that will gain significant traction. At the very least, marginalized users such as myself who simply wish to reclaim slurs will have to go through the labour of modifying the code and hosting our own instances.

tldr: as a multiply-marginalized person with experience developing and running community platforms, this is a huge mistake, and will end up alienating many of those that you wish to protect.

Please reconsider this change as it is far more nuanced than it appears on the surface. Thank you.

edit: a simple solution would be to allow individual users the ability to filter out slurs (or phrases, or whatever) that they are uncomfortable with.

The question is where you draw your line. Yes you have written rules, but rules are never clear enough not be overstepped or interpreted to the liking of the admins. Most abused rule would be “hateful, hurtful, oppressive remarks”. These are the same rules that made reddit a liberal safe space. If that is your goal, then I deem lemmy redundant.

I ask you concretely what is your stance on reddits ban of:

r/the_donald r/gendercritical r/braincels r/pizzagate r/darknetmarkets

Your answer I have to take as a starting point of where things will be in 1, 2, 3 years, because a development towards abuse of power is almost inevitable.

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
12M

I can tell you one thing, your username is not acceptable.

Because it has “hitler” in it? because that automatically makes me a fan of him? If that’s all you can answer to my post that’s incredibly sad. Go on living in your little bubble, go on living a life where the main purpose is to identify people to look down on from your little ivory tower of virtue. Congratulations, you’ve created a completely useless project. Bet you think you’re a man of great thought. What makes a man great is going beyond his ego, having original thought and the integrity to stand by it. So literally the opposite of you. Bye.

Jama
64M

I’m not a fan of slur filter. IMHO words aren’t the problem, the context is. I could use a word to describe a problem or to link a paper, in a sarcastic way, as a slang, or to make examples for something else. I don’t think just banning some words will solve any problem, this should at least be opt-out, and I really think a different way to check for offensive content need to be found.

Anyway: keep up the good work! Lemmy seems an awesome project and I really hope this will grow

@nutomic@lemmy.ml
creator
194M

The slur filter is certainly not perfect, but so far it has been very effective at preventing bigots from using Lemmy. If anyone has a better idea how to achieve that goal, we will definitely consider it.

What if the filter sends a notification to the communities admins, so then they can read it and decide for themselves if it deserves a ban or not? It would require human moderation but it’s an idea.

I agree it would be more efficient in general, but it would allow the creation of spaces dedicated for people ok with using those words. And I do agree with the “clear net positive” of preventing creation of the accounts and communities here.

The idea is to ensure the maintenance in every instance built. Moderators here are not the same as other instances. The software could be used for really bad things.

Well, I don’t think that’s the problem, though, anyone could literally use Lenny which is Lemmy without the slur filter, so if people in other instances want to take that route they already can. The important thing that could cause issues with this idea is that A. You need active moderators in all communities who are willing to cooperate in this and B. The instance admins need to want this, too.

@Echedenyan@lemmy.ml
6
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4M

Lenny is the proof that it works. They were forced to fork it and remove it by hand and even to maintain backporting every time which could lead into incompatibilities and slow maintenance.

It is proof that it doesn’t work. They managed to remove it pretty trivially.

The software could be used for really bad things.

Open-source software is supposed to serve its user, not your political goals, no matter how holy said political goals are.