Statement on Politics of Lemmy.ml
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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.

@Valso
21M

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
admin
creator
21M

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

@Valso
21M

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
admin
creator
31M

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

@threethan
32M

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
4
edit-2
3M

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
admin
creator
43M

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?

@jadziadax
116d

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

@Tomat0
4
edit-2
3M

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
admin
creator
43M

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.

@SloppilyFloss
34
edit-2
4M

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
admin
36
edit-2
4M

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