How do we make this a safe space?

This came up in the What IS this place thread, and I want to elevate this aspect of this space up to its own discussion.

This is is THE reason I am here. I kept not feeling safe to be me due to the random flyby assholes.

If we are to create a place where you can be more revealing of your true self, then what do you need to stay feeling safe?


Well, establishing TL3-locked discussion categories, for starters. While initially the threshold for reaching TL3 will be lower, be advised that providing a safe space and way to winnow out the trolls is at the top of our charter.

At the moment, there are no categories that prevent any ol’ random asshat from reading. Member lists are always public on Discourse so please - if you feel that you may be at risk of doxxing and harassment at the hand of trolls - please do not disclose your full name.


I think this depends on the initial vision of the creators of this site. Is it intended as a replacement for the Lounge, open to members only, however they qualify, or is it a public space, open to the internet? If the latter, the answer is simple - we can’t make it a safe space.

Personally, I intend to keep visiting BoingBoing, both for the articles and the comments, and I sincerely hope other regulars do the same, since much of the best commentary comes from people who are moving here in droves. I’d like to see the whole HMS restricted to members, with BB used as the public area. After all, we need to identify and recruit new mutants, and BB needs the value that former regulars have always provided, to keep drawing users to the site.

These are my hastily-formed thoughts. I’d like to see a discussion of the philosophy of this new enterprise. @tinoesroho, @LockeCJ, what are your plans?


If that’s the case, it might be interesting for the publisher to get a feel for missing what he worked so hard to alienate. Besides, I’m not feeling too charitable towards them at the moment.


Locking it to already existing members of the BBS is doable (by making it impossible for new users to go beyond TL0) but not quite optimal - what happens when an existing member here invites a friend from offsite or meatspace? Making it difficult to reach TL3 should keep most of the trolls at bay - users can always be promoted to TL3 manually, in the case they are not an asshat or already an outstanding member at BB.

BB’s BBS may not be long for this world, depending on how manglement there continues to operate it. Enjoy the public topics there, come back here for privacy or for even weirder public topics, etc.

I, of course, am just some asshole who snuck onto the IT Committee. @lockeCJ and @messana are the ones you’ll want to ask, though I’d love to hear from the community at large.

– An asshole who blundered into committees


I’m pretty sure he will, but I don’t necessarily blame the other authors, and I have a lot of appreciation for most of them. BB has been a great place for me over the years. Also, for purely selfish reasons, I’d like to see the blog stay afloat. I don’t see this site becoming a complete replacement, articles and all, in the near future.


You don’t weasel out of it that easily. :grin:


Drat! I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids mutants!


That raises the question of how one qualifies.

I was never awarded Regular status on BB, so I have no idea how that works, or what the difference really was between the Lounge and, say, Fuck Today. I have been in some group invitation-only threads for this or that topic.

Maybe qualification criteria don’t need to be publicised so long as the committee members all agree what they are. I would suggest that they are agreed-upon, however, just so new blood at least gets considered.


At the old BBS, if you read enough topics, liked enough posts, visited every two days, and didn’t have a total of five different posts removed by flags in the past 100 days, you’d be a Regular.


As I said in my post, we need a constant supply of new blood*, so there must be a way of recruiting members.

*Just a metaphor. They promised this wouldn’t be like the old Lounge

That requires a large pool of members and a lot of topics, but maybe the numbers could be adjusted to suit this site. Maybe we could just poach regulars from BB. Or maybe not.



We can poach and also recruit new blood for here. It’ll be smaller and tighter knit, probably with more diverse topics and threads, but it would be doable. I’ve managed to read every single post here so far. Lowering the standards might help, with manual promotions done for people voted deserving it early. :wink:


Yeah there’s a voting mechanism in place in the one lounge thread going. Could use that mechanism to vote a member in.


I nominate @gadgetgirl :grin:


Rules and clarity. Rules can be flexible when needed, but that’s where the clarity comes in. Decisions should be accompanied by some explanation as to why the decision was made. Something from 4-H that sticks clearly in my mind was that the most important part of judging was not the order you ranked things in, but your reasons for doing so.

Private Kvetching and Hey Rube type threads can work well, in conjunction with an appeals system of some sort (a “where did my post go?” that a user knows they’re allowed to post in once per incident) for members at TL3 (because by TL3 we should already have an idea how trollish someone is). Long term and perma-bans (especially of higher TL members, basic drive-by spammers and trolls can probably be summarily banished without to much worry) should be justified in a thread that can be seen by more than just the mods, and those justifications should be posted ASAP after the incident. Jokey or vague reasons on the profile are fine for a short term ban, but there should be good reasons for going nuclear.

Uncertainty and anxiety are not my friends. People in general like it when they know things happen for a reason (even if jsome lpeoplew can’t be reasoned with).

Clarity too, on just what people’s privacy expectations should be. The note about userIDs is a good one.

State up front that there are different TLs with different privileges. I knew this ahead of time from lurking and listening to regulars (including those who drifted in and out of staus) so the Lounge threads didn’t come as a shock, even if I was a little shocked by how easily I got in. Maybe that’s why I was surprised by the hostility of certain people towards the lounges. I am of two minds regarding posting the requirements until you meet them. On the one hand, people know what they need to do to get into the higher level, but on the downside, a determined bad actor could game their way in with enough co-conspirators or sock puppets. Instead, just make it clear that certain threads are locked until we know the nature of your character (and that all we want to know is that you know how to behave yourself).


Poaching trusted users works in the short term, but in the long term, this site has to stand on its own, especially since many (myself included) probably won’t visit BB if this site is vibrant enough. And seeing what’s happened in the last 24 hours, I expect it will be.

We need to think ahead - realize this main board isn’t the Lounge of yore, but a site unto itself, that may need its own Lounge. And if thats the case, how we make the Lounge here better and more equitable than the old Lounge. I really liked the nomination and voting system that @gracchus set up in the “Regular Solutions” thread and I’d like to see something like that included in our process. Right now everyone here is pretty much trusted, but that might change so let’s prepare for that.

So we need to outline community guidelines and make sure they’re fair and inclusive but also clear and enforced. We already have a team of volunteer mods, so let’s tap that crew to start the discussion on community guidelines and enforcement mechanisms. And of course, we will need to have a mechanism for moderating the mods, so we don’t repeat past mistakes.

We also need to decide if there is going to be a topic, like Lounge, that is only going to be accessible to a select group of people. For some, that is the whole raison d’etre for joining this site, so I think we should consider it, and define the criteria for access.

TLDR: right now this space is safe, but it won’t be forever. Let’s plan for that.


Is it possible with Discourse to just make all posts hidden unless we’re logged in, regardless of trust level? Much of people’s concerns about safety and privacy would be about Google crawling and scraping everything.


It should be possible. We can also use the .htaccess method to deny Google and Baidu access to the webpages served by the VM.


Copying over my comment on the subject from What Is This Place?:

My concern is about … ahem … “problematic” users from BoingBoing being made aware of this site and invited over.

The nomination vote provides a good balance that doesn’t close the doors on membership: nominate someone, put it up for a vote by the community here, and if the vote passes the nominator gets to go back to BoingBoing and PMs them to notify the nominee. If the community here has doubts about the nominee you’ll find out very quickly. From the experiment on BoingBoing, most passed with 90-100% of the vote – really only one exception who lost out around 40% yea to 60% nay.

For reference, here are the rules I used, slightly re-written:

  1. If you want to invite someone else, please post an “INVITE: user” comment here, a single-choice anonymous Yes/No poll (you can build and insert polls from the gear icon in a new comment), and optionally why you think he/she/they would add value. One user per comment/poll.

  2. Threshold Info: if that comment gets eight or more “Yea” votes within 12 hours then the nominee gets an Invitation, unless he also gets 10 or more “Nay” votes in the same time period, in which case he doesn’t. If someone objects to the “Invitation” comment or a vote feel free to reply to it with an “OBJECT: user” comment detailing the reasons why. If you want to change threshold info we can discuss it in the thread.

  3. Once you close a poll you’ve set up please delete it if you can. If you’ve objected to a user you might delete that too if the poll goes in his favour.

  4. People who don’t pass the threshold can be re-nominated, but only 8 weeks after the poll has closed.

Adjust threshold levels as appropriate to here. The ones I provide give enough people plenty of time to vote and still allows the new user to come here relatively quickly.


I’d exclude Yandex, too. We don’t need Uncle Vlad peeking in. Robots txt should also be configured to allow most search engines.