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Author Topic: Improving the ability to make friends here in the web revival - a big proposal  (Read 2340 times)
Memory
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« on: March 08, 2023 @670.24 »

Hey there,

as part of a discussion I have had on the Web Revival telegram group about social media, prompted by my blog post on leaving social networks, we have recently been thinking about how making friends on the web revival works (or doesn't work) at the moment.

The Problem

We have found that although social media like Twitter, Discord or Instagram are shallow, unethical, toxic and "anti-social" in design, it is much easier to actually find and keep friends there as opposed to the web revival: forums, personal homepages, webrings, fanlistings, shrines et cetera seem to just not be conductive enough to personal one-on-one interaction that usually makes a friendship.

A lot of it, we agreed, was due to the following effect:

While the web revival allows us to express ourselves more freely and in far more detail and volume (which makes people more interesting in general), it also leads to people largely operating out of their own closed spaces, like a lord sending an orator to a plaza in his stead. Everyone has their own website e-bode, with webrings, links, projects and subpages; static, their own jurisdiction, non-interactive. Initiating a conversation with someone like this is a significant step not many people are willing to make: writing an email is the only way, mostly, and it takes effort and the guts to do it unprompted.

Interacting in forums on the other hand, which are more conductive to social interaction, is like talking on a market square: very public, slightly formal and not very nice to have casual conversation and small talk in. Writing personal messages is slow and feels like typing a letter  - which is cool, but holding a conversation usually is a real-time affair.

We came to the conclusion that in order to find online friends, as in, people you interact with one-on-one regularly, talk about your life, personally share hobbies, jokes and content you find with, in short, people you spend a part of your freetime with on a personal level, we need a less formal medium than forums and a more interactive medium than the existing simple website world - a persistant chat.

Proposed Solution


Simply making an additional chat community, like the Web Revival telegram group that exists, or Matrix spaces or a Discord "server", usually splits up the community even more and just creates further separation. People on Melonland might or might not be on there, people on there might or might not be on Melonland, so nothing really feels like one community.

What we'd need is some chat-based medium that is intrinsically and mechanically connected to the web revival to expand the dimensions of the existing communities (not to splinter it off into yet another new community). Like the shoutbox that is already there; but that feels like a place to announce things in, it saves only a few messages, and also does not allow personal chats.

@Frost Sheridan brought up a great point; forums of old used to have associated IRC servers that people usually socialized in more casually, and those were usually the conductor of actual friendships in communities. I remember the same thing!

Therefore my idea would be to have an official Melonland Matrix chat, directly accessible from the web and connected to your forum account (like the Minecraft server) to avoid splitting communities. It would only have one public chat channel (like an IRC #general) in order to still keep the forums the main attraction for proper discussion and topical conversation; but if you want real-time interaction with your forum pals, that'd be the place to be!

Matrix is perfect for it as it is a chat protocol that has web clients, external account verification (forum account connection), and due to the federation people with existing accounts somewhere else can join just as well as Melonland-exclusive accounts, it is not as feature-laden as Discord and therefore will also not create a "split-off" community, only an addition to what is already there, another dimension to the forum community here. It also most importantly allows personal one on one persistent chats that can make people hold conversations with each other daily, and log-in just to talk to their friends (in a cool early web chatbox-on-the-internet way)! You could call it Melontalk, and with the brilliant design talents of @Melooon it could also look as awesome or much awesome-r than the good old chat clients like AIM, ICQ or MSN!

What are your thoughts? Maybe we can collectively improve the experience of friendship making by solving this structural issue together. :loved: Because I think a lot of you are really cool, but I have no way of actually casually talking to y'all other than sending a very formal e-mail or forum message; and I think many people feel the same!
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2023 @680.45 »

Sounds like a fun idea! By chance I was already looking into Matrix today so I'm definitely interested to see where this would go. No pressure to @Melooon though, because this would be another pretty big addition to a project that's already growing rapidly in features that have to be maintained!
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2023 @702.27 »

this would be another pretty big addition to a project that's already growing rapidly in features that have to be maintained!
Melon is a tech wizard for some reason, just look how fast (and consistent, and cool) he implemented the new profile customization; across all themes! and everything else!

:] i have full confidence in the Melon :melon:
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2023 @724.55 »

Hey there,

as part of a discussion I have had on the Web Revival telegram group about social media, prompted by my blog post on leaving social networks, we have recently been thinking about how making friends on the web revival works (or doesn't work) at the moment.

The Problem

We have found that although social media like Twitter, Discord or Instagram are shallow, unethical, toxic and "anti-social" in design, it is much easier to actually find and keep friends there as opposed to the web revival: forums, personal homepages, webrings, fanlistings, shrines et cetera seem to just not be conductive enough to personal one-on-one interaction that usually makes a friendship.

A lot of it, we agreed, was due to the following effect:

While the web revival allows us to express ourselves more freely and in far more detail and volume (which makes people more interesting in general), it also leads to people largely operating out of their own closed spaces, like a lord sending an orator to a plaza in his stead. Everyone has their own website e-bode, with webrings, links, projects and subpages; static, their own jurisdiction, non-interactive. Initiating a conversation with someone like this is a significant step not many people are willing to make: writing an email is the only way, mostly, and it takes effort and the guts to do it unprompted.

Interacting in forums on the other hand, which are more conductive to social interaction, is like talking on a market square: very public, slightly formal and not very nice to have casual conversation and small talk in. Writing personal messages is slow and feels like typing a letter  - which is cool, but holding a conversation usually is a real-time affair.

We came to the conclusion that in order to find online friends, as in, people you interact with one-on-one regularly, talk about your life, personally share hobbies, jokes and content you find with, in short, people you spend a part of your freetime with on a personal level, we need a less formal medium than forums and a more interactive medium than the existing simple website world - a persistant chat.

Proposed Solution


Simply making an additional chat community, like the Web Revival telegram group that exists, or Matrix spaces or a Discord "server", usually splits up the community even more and just creates further separation. People on Melonland might or might not be on there, people on there might or might not be on Melonland, so nothing really feels like one community.

What we'd need is some chat-based medium that is intrinsically and mechanically connected to the web revival to expand the dimensions of the existing communities (not to splinter it off into yet another new community). Like the shoutbox that is already there; but that feels like a place to announce things in, it saves only a few messages, and also does not allow personal chats.

@Frost Sheridan brought up a great point; forums of old used to have associated IRC servers that people usually socialized in more casually, and those were usually the conductor of actual friendships in communities. I remember the same thing!

Therefore my idea would be to have an official Melonland Matrix chat, directly accessible from the web and connected to your forum account (like the Minecraft server) to avoid splitting communities. It would only have one public chat channel (like an IRC #general) in order to still keep the forums the main attraction for proper discussion and topical conversation; but if you want real-time interaction with your forum pals, that'd be the place to be!

Matrix is perfect for it as it is a chat protocol that has web clients, external account verification (forum account connection), and due to the federation people with existing accounts somewhere else can join just as well as Melonland-exclusive accounts, it is not as feature-laden as Discord and therefore will also not create a "split-off" community, only an addition to what is already there, another dimension to the forum community here. It also most importantly allows personal one on one persistent chats that can make people hold conversations with each other daily, and log-in just to talk to their friends (in a cool early web chatbox-on-the-internet way)! You could call it Melontalk, and with the brilliant design talents of @Melooon it could also look as awesome or much awesome-r than the good old chat clients like AIM, ICQ or MSN!

What are your thoughts? Maybe we can collectively improve the experience of friendship making by solving this structural issue together. :loved: Because I think a lot of you are really cool, but I have no way of actually casually talking to y'all other than sending a very formal e-mail or forum message; and I think many people feel the same!

Hey @/home/user before I reply to the topic itself I just wanted to say I read through your blog post and I can sympathize with your struggle to find meaningful interactions and connections, and I applaud your strength and desire to do so. People like you help make these communities great and worth the time investment for anyone that does so!  :smile:

I don't want to be too picky about topic placement but I feel like this topic should be in Forum Discussion since it's suggesting a new feature? I'll leave that up to @Melooon.. but anyway, that's not the main point I wanted to make and I don't want to be poking unnecessary holes  :ok:

As for the actual topic:
I think you are potentially on to something in terms of facilitating more real-time interactions, since multiple forums I've taken part in previously would indeed have some form of chat component integrated into them, most noticeably IRC like you mentioned. My experiences with those were mostly positive, and I can say that I did make friends from sites that had them although I can't say how much of it was due to the chat specifically. If you imagine forums, forum chat and instant messaging clients like stepping stones, forum chat was just a bridging step between forums and adding someone to your personal instant messaging client whether it be MSN, Skype or whatever you used back in those days. I agree that the Shoutbox doesn't really serve the same purpose as those chat clients provided, although the shoutbox is great for posting quick little ideas or missives that come to mind, it doesn't act as one of those stepping stones as much as a chat client would (although I'm sure it wouldn't be impossible).
There are some considerations with adding a forum chat though, such as the extra manpower that would be needed to moderate it, and whether the community is large enough to even make it's inclusion worth the effort of implementing. Unless there are a sufficient number of users to make use of it, it could just end up being dead and unused. Maybe it would be prudent to gauge interest in it through interaction with this thread before actually implementing it first?  :dunno:  It should also be considered that it's much easier to cause drama, and the things people say in a chat room would be more unfiltered than they would be in forum posts. If it had good moderation then these shouldn't be a big problem.. but it wouldn't be immune from it completely. Even with the best of intentions, misunderstandings and such are much easier to come across in a close to real-time environment, and things can run away quickly. I've also known users to form 'cliques' within communities due to chat and they would cause problems for new users or people that didn't immediately share their views and sentiments with them, including moderators. I've known moderators to get 'power hungry' and manipulate users because of their status. These are just some of the things I can think of the community having to deal with if it's implemented.
But really what it boils down to is, if the goal is to have making friends from the community easier, then is implementing a chat function the best way to go about it? I'm kind of on the fence about it, since part of me feels like it would make things easier, but another part of me wonders if I really WANT it to be easier. Part of the reason I like this community is because writing posts, messages, comments etc takes more effort, and that facilitates more genuine, high quality interactions from people. And even though it may be harder to make friends using these methods, if you do end up making a friend then that friendship is likely to be stronger since it was built on more effort from both sides. (Does that make sense?)
Anyway, I apologize if this just comes off as a ramble, but hopefully this helps people get a view of the topic from all sides.  :ok: 
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2023 @749.13 »

I am nonchalant to this idea but if people want it I don't see why not.

I would just like to bring to attention this post by a yesterweb mod explaining why they decided on closing their discord after a while: https://forum.yesterweb.org/viewtopic.php?t=171

I don't agree nor disagree with all points they brought, I am just leaving this here as food for thought.
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2023 @759.98 »

I think this could be a great idea! I'd love to be able to more easily chat with forum users  :grin:
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2023 @762.55 »

I would just like to bring to attention this post by a yesterweb mod explaining why they decided on closing their discord after a while: https://forum.yesterweb.org/viewtopic.php?t=171

Huh, thanks for posting that, I always thought they shut down the Discord because it fragmented the community too much and because Discord as a proprietary, modern, centralized and spying corporate software was antithetical to their community goals. It is interesting to see they had different reasons altogether.

I do believe many of the reasons why they did shut down in the end were valid, but ultimately down to Discord as a platform and both its and Yesterweb's community.

  • The Yesterweb community is the "first stop" and first exposure for many people into the web revival, which also means that a lot of people who do not completely (yet) grok its goals and vibes will be part of it. For many, especially young people, it was merely an alt aesthetic/cool identity and nothing more, so they kept bringing their normal, toxic social media personalities to the place, which is also why I was never active in the Yesterweb community as a whole. Melonland is a bit more "obscure", as in, people who find this place will usually also have a better idea of what we want to build here socially and culturally.
  • Discord itself is something that many people who are more "hardcore" into the web revival won't use (or at least won't use much), so its userbase will mostly skew toward people who use Discord already, who are, again, likely to be not that adjacent to the values of the web revival and more in it for the aesthetic. This is all a big generalization, the trend seems to be there, of course it's not true for everyone.
  • The way most people have learned to interact with Discord communities will also influence what they do on there; the problems with unwelcome venting, ranting into the void and interrupting conversations are from my experience rampant on all Discord servers but not much in other chats, especially online chatbox rooms. Again, in my experience.
  • A big problem is also that Discord servers usually have many different channels and threads, whereas what I am proposing would only have one big chat box - it would certainly help curb "ranting into the void" and fragmenting the community. It would be nothing more than a persistent webchat.

These might all be reasons why our project might fare a different way, but if it really was that bad in the YW community, I feel for them and their reasons sound valid.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2023 @768.10 »

Part of the reason I like this community is because writing posts, messages, comments etc takes more effort, and that facilitates more genuine, high quality interactions from people. And even though it may be harder to make friends using these methods, if you do end up making a friend then that friendship is likely to be stronger since it was built on more effort from both sides. (Does that make sense?)
I do agree and that's why I stressed that it should definitely be an addition, another dimension to the high-effort community we have built. :) I agree that things should not always be "easier" in exchange for less deep or authentic interaction (that's why I wouldn't recommend an external Discord, for example).

For example, I thought your comment was super nice, so I looked at your website, and I thought the musical autoplay themes for each page were really cool! Perhaps I also would ask a few questions about your hobbies and thoughts, who knows. But, like, I wouldn't write a personal message or an e-mail about it, because that's just so formal and I don't really have much to say, and I don't want to weird anyone out or put anyone under pressure; so I didn't, and this moment kind of would have faded away.
If we had a chatroom connected to the forums, I would just be able to write you a quick PM on there; much more casual, and real-time communication/instant messaging has a smaller barrier of entry, too. And if we theoretically would have talked more, perhaps we had things in common and wanted to talk about it; again, it would be something that would be cumbersome using forum PMs where you have to refresh all of the time and wait hours for a response. Making friends online really depends on instant communication, in my opinion.

That's why I think making friends would be much more possible on here if we had this One Cool Addition. :)
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2023 @770.66 »

Therefore my idea would be to have an official Melonland Matrix chat, directly accessible from the web and connected to your forum account (like the Minecraft server) to avoid splitting communities. It would only have one public chat channel (like an IRC #general) in order to still keep the forums the main attraction for proper discussion and topical conversation; but if you want real-time interaction with your forum pals, that'd be the place to be!

i haven't used matrix before, but i think this would be a great idea!

adding on to your point about forums having associated irc channels - a lot of the forums i used to hang out on that had irc channels would also link their shoutbox to the channel (using a bridge bot of some sort) so that the people on the forum website and the people in irc could chat with each other. it really helped link the chatroom and the forum together as one big community. i'm not sure if that would be possible with our current shoutbox here, but i think it would be a good idea!

EDIT: how would you guys feel about just making an irc channel instead of using matrix? i know that irc is old, outdated, and severely feature-free in comparison to something like matrix, but it's super simple to get started with, works on basically every internet-connected device out there, and doesn't require creating or linking an account to use.

I would just like to bring to attention this post by a yesterweb mod explaining why they decided on closing their discord after a while: https://forum.yesterweb.org/viewtopic.php?t=171

this is a good point - we don't want to accidentally repeat what happened to the yesterweb discord. i think that if we keep our chatroom here to a single channel and don't make it the primary focus of the community, we should be ok. the yesterweb discord was huge - it contained dozens of channels (and even several subforums), and because it was designed to be the central location for that community, casual, off-topic chatting was discouraged there. i think for our chatroom, it should be a single channel for casual chatting (only a #general channel, as if it's an irc channel), and more specific in-depth conversations should be redirected to a forum thread instead.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2023 @774.85 by Frost Sheridan » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2023 @822.31 »

I suppose I'll chime in now since there are a few posts! I don't wanna influence the discussion too much, but I can provide a few facts that might help people think about this topic  :grin:

First, Matrix - it's a cool platform and it's very hip!
However, making a single-sign-on with this forum probably can't happen; they are very different technologies from very different eras; I floated the idea with one of the top support developers for the forum software and their reply was "OOF...  just looking at the API docs, that is going to be a lot of work for someone to create a mod for.... " - If you know a really great programmer who would be willing to spend a few weeks working on this, then its totally possible; but it's not something I have the time or will to do  :ohdear:  It would be MUCH easier to make an actual IRC, but people don't seem to be very into that idea; I think it might be too techy?

Second, Moderation - Those are all good points raised! @/home/user/ is correct in spotting that part of the MelonLand design is security through obscurity; in the same way as my personal site makes you jump through hoops to find information; ML makes you jump through hoops to participate, and that's part of what filters out negative energy - however, I think also the overall focus of this forum is to create positive energy; I call that moderation through vibe; and its something unique to MelonLand! That means that the challenges this community faces when it comes to moderation are really very different from other communities, and in a lot of ways less of an issue, because, for the most part, it works; people who want a good vibe, create a good vibe  :ha:

Third, Can I Do This? - I think this kind of social space is more or less what the Minecraft server is; @dotmidi  @Commodorn and me, seem to have an unofficial hangout most evenings on the MC server where we talk crap as we build; it's nice because people can drop in and out, ignore us, build, chime in, and it's very casual - it's kinda an ideal chat experience! I know that not everyone wants to be playing MC, but again, that's security through obscurity.

That said; it would be possible to link MC chat into some sort of IRC or Matrix chat system too, and possibly combine it with the shoutbox; and it could be cool to have a big cohesive chat space across multiple zones of MelonLand projects. I do like the idea of creating those kinds of connections, but I'm also starting to ask myself where the bounds of this project are; I don't have unlimited time after all!

Finally, I gotta ask, if all of this is coming from your Telegram group; is that not giving you the chat experience you want? Do you really need me to provide that kind of space? That's not a no; just a genuine question - MelonLand offers a particular experience with a particular energy; a chat run by someone else will never feel the same, but does it need too?
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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2023 @840.15 »

I do like the idea of creating those kinds of connections, but I'm also starting to ask myself where the bounds of this project are;

Well, eventually the whole thing would be finished, wouldn't it? I mean message boards didn't have the most innovations in the last 20 years, haven't they? They are somewhat fully developed technology.


Hot damn, that's an interesting idea to combine the best from two worlds, the Web 1.0 IRC chat with the newer Minecraft game. Combine that with requiring an account on the Melonland castle and you have a cleaner space and not [] brutal anonymity. Go for a webchat if that would be possible instead of a raw IRC server, that could only be accessed with a client. It's important to note that people here on the forum don't live in the stoneage anymore, despite liking it. So the habits are different nowadays, and having a web chat is much more accessable. And total freaks still have the option for their IRC client of choice. So IRC is technically very diverse!

If you put this together, I'll give you 100 Euros, if you like. Promise.

I wonder, how that project would scale. Melon, I wish you some good antennas to realise, when the "input load" would be too much for you alone to handle. Post numbers are growing monthly...

~Admin note: Removed reference to a community that's not within forum guidelines.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2023 @876.24 by Melooon » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2023 @859.47 »

It would be MUCH easier to make an actual IRC, but people don't seem to be very into that idea; I think it might be too techy?

I also wouldn't mind an IRC, and I think if it has a web interface, the barrier of entry is basically none; just enter your name and begin chatting. :) And... perhaps SSO with IRC would be easier? The only disadvantage an IRC would have is that it's non-persistent. Usually, having a chat history is somewhat conductive to keeping friends, but I am unsure on this point. Maybe the fleetiness of an IRC is also good in a way for smalltalk purposes.

Finally, I gotta ask, if all of this is coming from your Telegram group; is that not giving you the chat experience you want? Do you really need me to provide that kind of space? That's not a no; just a genuine question - MelonLand offers a particular experience with a particular energy; a chat run by someone else will never feel the same, but does it need too?

Right now, first of all it's very small (we're only four members).

Secondly, the advantage of Melonland as a "center" for various modes of social interaction (Minecraft, shoutbox, forums, ...) is that it is an established community now, so people will already know people that they also meet in other connected media. For example, the Melonland Minecraft server: I know @dotmidi from the forums, so I have a "face" and personality to connect to when I see them ingame next to my house; it enriches the social connection we have.

If there was only the Web Revival group on Telegram without any connection to the forum community, then we would all be faceless and I wouldn't know anything about the people I am talking to. But because through Melonland as a "hub", as a "connector", I know their websites, interests, writing style, hobbies(...) through that, that makes them much more humanlike for me, which is important to make friends and a big part of why we all like the web revival: authentic detailed windows into people's expression! :)

but I'm also starting to ask myself where the bounds of this project are; I don't have unlimited time after all!
I know and I think we're all super grateful for what you do! :)

... If you felt comfortable with having a ko-fi or a Patreon or something like that, I think many people would chip in to say thank you and support you for the work you do for all of us here. Or alternatively, if that makes you uncomfortable, people can also help out practically. :) If you need moderators, development help, or someone to look after this or that part of the community, I'd certainly be up for it (this is already my only community, haha), and I am sure others would too? Melonland can perhaps become even more of a collaborative project than it already is. :loved:

If this all sounds bad; perhaps affiliating with community-managed, unofficial Melon-inspired projects would be a solution to all of this. If you don't have time or energy to work on, say, a Matrix space for the forums, you could officially affiliate with an independent one managed by a community member, that way you aren't responsible for it nominally or practically, but the community can still draw off Melonland's community backbone and popularity.
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2023 @966.32 »

I do concur with the Minecraft server being a good hangout space already: it's always a surefire way to create bonds within a community. I like the idea of linking a IRC chat to the Minecraft server chat as well!
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2023 @3.55 »

i don't have much in-depth thought to add to this discussion BUT i would like to add my interest to the pile! i don't play Minecraft so i would  like to participate in a non-MC chat :ok:

also, i didn't know there was a Telegram group! i just re-downloaded Telegram after not touching it since like 2013, i may jump into that group.
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2023 @44.85 »

i think this is a very good idea! real time communication is definitely a lot better for getting to know people, so it could work quite well.

about channels: i think it’s a good idea to only have a general channel to keep topical discussions to the forum however it might start getting hectic and hard to follow or join in on if there’s just one channel, so maybe it would be better to have two or three general channels so multiple conversations can happen at once without getting mixed up with each other.

also regarding the minecraft server, while it does function as more of a casual chat environment i would like to say that it’s a higher bar for entry so to speak than just a chat. i don’t have a minecraft account and while i’d love one it’s not really something i can afford atm considering that realistically i wouldn’t use it all that much. plus, the process booting up the game and going into the server and all might discourage some people from just popping in to see what’s going on as opposed to just checking in on a chat program, and i worry that people new to the server might hesitate because they feel they need to have something to offer to it like a great idea for a build.
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"I would have thought you to be above something so banal as despair. Am I mistaken?"

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