Please post your experiences as a Lemmy or Kbin moderator/admin, and I’ll type them up into a guide that’ll exist as a living document in the sidebar and on the wiki entitled “Building a Lemmy Community From Scratch”. If applicable, please make note of what efforts did NOT work as well as what did.


A draft of the document will appear here after a minimum number of responses have been collected.

  • Unruffled@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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    6 months ago

    Hi guys, just adding a few thoughts on this from my perspective as a lemmy admin/moderator on lemmy.dbzer0.com. Obviously it’s not a complete list, but I think these are some of the key things we have done well that may help other instances. I’ll acknowledge the content is a bit lemmy-centric, but I don’t have much experience with kbin.

    1. Robust application process

    One of the things that has worked particularly well for us is ensuring manual review of all applications. Compared to most other popular instances, we have had very few issues with spam bots and troll accounts because of our application process.

    Users have to answer three specific questions when they apply, which our instance admins manually review before approving the application. This helps ensure that all registrations are real people, and because there is some level of effort involved in the process, it deters spammers and bots who prefer instances with auto-approvals so they can create bulk accounts quickly.

    The nature of the three questions should obviously be tailored to your specific instance, but for us these have been working very well in filtering out certain types of users who we simply don’t want in our community (e.g. extreme right wing nutjobs). Of course, people can simply lie on the application, but anyone who refuses to say “trans rights are human rights”, or finds answering three simple questions too onerous, are probably not going to be productive members of the community anyway.

    We’ve also got a matrix channel setup for application appeals, in case someone is motivated to join but didn’t answer our questions correctly initially. The vast majority of people who take the time to appeal are successful and become active community members.

    2. Be clear and upfront about your instance’s political & philosophical identity

    I think it’s helpful for the community to have a clear idea of who it is for, and what it stands for. This benefits the users because they know where we stand, and can quickly assess whether the instance is likely to suit them. This makes the community stronger, because it is comprised of people with fundamental things in common, beyond just the topic(s) of the communities hosted on the instance. It also makes moderation decisions much more straightforward, because we have a clear set of guidelines and principles for both our users and our admins & moderators to abide by.

    Also, IMO trying to adopt a “free speech” policy on your instance will just lead to it becoming overrun by trolls, nazis and other undesirables. I’ve seen it happen to a number of instances in the past and they have all been almost universally defederated and shunned by other parts of the fediverse. Take “X” as a cautionary tale. Have some standards of human decency if you want to lay the foundation for a decent community, and want to engage with the wider fediverse.

    3. Don’t over-moderate

    If you are finding yourself getting overwhelmed with reports, you probably have an problem with your application process. You won’t be able to moderate yourself out of an application process problem, because bots and trolls will just keep spooling up new accounts. If you’ve done the basic work up front to ensure (most) successful applicants are good eggs, then your number of actionable reports will be small and easily manageable. In fact, you can freely ignore the vast majority of reports, except in specific scenarios.

    For our instance, the majority of reports are made by one of our users about a post hosted on another instance. >90% of these can be ignored as they are better handled by a moderator from the other instance. If the report is about a post/comment made by one of our users, or about a post/comment in a community hosted on our instance, then we do look closely at what mod actions may be required. But these reports are usually in the single digits on any given day, and many do not end up requiring any mod actions.

    The community will also self moderate to a large extent, or at least ours does. If someone posts something that is unpopular, offensive, or downright stupid in one of our communities, then they will usually get downvoted and/or someone from our community will step in to put them right. Those sort of comment threads will sometimes end up with the OP deleting their comment. We would usually only step in if the situation is escalating and/or if community/instance rules are broken. But as I said, situations will often resolve themselves organically.

    4. Run your instance professionally

    • Vet applications properly
    • Have an appeals process
    • Write a moderation guide for mods/admins so that moderation is consistent
    • Ask community members for feedback regularly
    • Have someone experienced do the sysadmin work, because hosting lemmy is complicated (shout-out to db0 here)
    • Leverage the fediseer project “to provide a crowd-sourced human-curated spam/ham classification of Fediverse instances as well as provide a public space to specify approval/disapproval of other instances.”* (another shout-out to db0 here!)

    Anyway, bit of a brain dump from me, but hopefully it will help kick things off. And let me know if you want a copy of our moderation guide (it’s just a page or two) for reference.