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Community Update - Something Different
I've decided I'm going to try something different with the community updates - instead of just posting them on the 1st of the month, instead, I'm going to try and post them when I actually have something to say. This probably means more frequent ones, since, as you'll see in the rest of this post, it'll help me get feedback faster and iterate on it. Other times there might not be anything if I'm just tinkering behind the scenes. There's a few things I want to talk about in this one though, so let's start with news on the update.
Updated Update Timescale
The original plan was December 17th. Fortunately for my health, the Discord has collectively bullied me (read: making me realise I was stressing myself doing 18 hour days for something that doesn't actually pay the bills) into taking it easy, and not worrying about meeting the deadline. This probably is going to frustrate some people, but overall, it's for the best - I was struggling mentally with the pressure and, now I took a step back to think about things, I realised I was cutting a few corners. I still don't anticipate the update being too long now, but this gives me an opportunity to take my time do things right instead of skipping them, so the update is something I'll be happy with, and not kill myself in the process.
Blocking in 1.0
Another thing worth mentioning for 1.0 is that blocking will be removed in the update. This is not permanent, and it will be re-added in a subsequent update as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I've found significant flaws in the design, including some fairly serious exploits, that were borne from me just not expecting people to use the system as they are. These technical flaws are not repairable, so the entire system needs to be redesigned from scratch.
Over the last few days, I've also realised I've not really liked the direction the site is moving for the last year or so. To go back to the blocking stuff, it was never meant to be a first-line action, and was meant as a last resort, but isn't being used like that - simply unfollowing or using the tag blocking stuff was meant to be what you do first. I spoke about the harm aggressive blocking does a few months ago, so shan't reiterate it here. Clearly though, when there are some users who've blocked more blogs than users who actually logged in this week, something, somewhere, has gone wrong.
Anyway. The original aim of the site was to be somewhere this isn't needed, and for a time, it worked. But, over the last year or so, all the toxic behaviours from other sites have slowly crept in to Waterfall, making it Just Another Tumblr. I don't want the site to be Just Another Tumblr. The goal was to be somewere people can communicate, learn from each other, and share stuff as a community, with less focus on it being a personal space exclusively for any individual user - that's what sites like Wordpress are for. Waterfall, on the other hand, wants to build an active community and encourage people to be a part of it.
So, with that in mind, I'm getting down to the bare essentials and deciding which direction I want things to go in in future updates, after 1.0. The Discord is helping with this process, having little discussions to help me see different viewpoints and then doing little votes on stuff to cement the opinions (if you're not in there, do feel free to join and participate!) and decide how closely I want to emulate Tumblr in future development, and how much forging my own path I can do without pissing everyone off.
Rules and Tagging
The major thing we've discussed so far is some changes to how the rules should work going forward.
There's a delicate balance to be struck between what is and isn't allowed on a platform. Too permissive, and you get creeps. Too restrictive, and you barely get anyone. Right now, Waterfall leans on the side of too restrictive - as evidenced by the constant misinformation on other sites about what we do and don't allow. Many artists don't post here because they think their art isn't allowed, even if it actually is.
So, the new plan we came up with in the Discord - make the rules more permissive. Some things will still be outright banned - loli/shota, shock gore etc - but for the most part, other stuff will be allowed with one very big caveat - I'll be overhauling the tagging rules, and there'll be a HEAVY emphasis on making people tag stuff.
Before I explain the tagging stuff - yes, this means that some stuff on the site may be stuff you and I don't like with the new permissive ruleset. However, we need to realise that even if the site is the most technically impressive around, it's pointless if there's nobody actually using it. And right now, the content rules do drive a lot of people away, either through misinformation or just being too restrictive in some cases.
Now, tagging - anything that's a common trigger MUST be tagged under the new rules. Not tagging stuff results in punishment (with some generous forgiveness if it's a genuine mistake/oversight - only people deliberately evading tag rules will get punished). This is the best way to be permissive with content, while still allowing people to curate what they see using the blacklist system. It's also worth noting at this point - the blacklist system has received significant upgrades in 1.0, which is when this change takes effect. It won't matter if the person who reblogged it to your dash tagged it or not as long as the OP did. We'll also be moving to a strikes system for the rules instead of a "one and done" thing, though obviously I can still insta-ban if I need to.
I realise this is a change that'll piss folks who like the strictness off, but the short of it is the site can't survive if we stay too strict. Other sites that are more lenient will simply attract more users, even if those users don't post anything that'd break the existing rules - there's simply more people, more content, and more clarity there by virtue of the site allowing more. This will hopefully also solve the problem with people reporting furry blogs for bestiality, highschoolers talking about their partners as minors posting NSFW, or other unreasonable claims where someone is blatantly trying to just get rid of stuff from the site that they personally don't like (it's a bigger problem than you'd think). I'm also hoping the emphasis with the system on tagging more reliably will result in people using tag blacklisting more, instead of defaulting to a block.
Once again though - anything genuinely gross remains firmly banned, tagged or not.
Feel free to join the Discord to discuss, comment, or help with the next discussion!
overall good changes. my only (minor) complaint is the discord is promoted as the place to discuss and suggest things.... large discord communities are intimidating in ways blogging platforms aren't, at least to me, and it's strange to see a staff post of a blogging community site encourage people to use a vastly different platform to give any kind of feedback...