This is doubly unfortunate timing because one of the reasons this happened in an SFW listed community is that I was on a holiday break (just came back now). Normally, the core position here is that the moderators of SFW listed communities are required to keep their community as such, else they’ll get removed from the list. Outside the list, generally speaking, the limitations are only of what the US law allows for in its definition of free speech, but those communities would only be visible to people who explicitly look for, and subscribe to those communities.
I’m the mod of b/Meta, and I was out of the office, and I missed that. It was my responsibility (which is separate and distinct from being the maintainer of Aether) to keep it clean. For other SFW listed communities, this is the general idea as well. We want to be welcoming to the many new users we’ve got, but we also want to make sure that they understand what Aether is, and what its rules are. They are free to create their own communities and moderate themselves, but if a community is not theirs, and if that community is SFWlisted, that means a certain standard of quality or ‘SFW-ness’ has to be met.
There are two approaches we can take here between balancing the need for free speech and keeping it sane here, plus one improvement we need so that it’s easier to deal with these cases.
One of them is the system I mentioned before: we need to make it so that people won’t have to host content that they don’t want to host, not just see. Essentially, if you see a community of Nazis (not the kind where people call each other Nazis, but a community of actual Nazis), you should have the ability to retract (or never give) your consent that your computer be used as a conduit for broadcasting this message, which I believe is fair. Everyone is entitled to free speech, no one is entitled to using other people (and their computers) as a megaphone. This also nicely avoids the issue of several corporations controlling what is acceptable and what is not, since Aether is a P2P network and by proxy, the decision on acceptability is made by the users themselves, one by one, by them not giving you access to their computers for your broadcast. It’s the fairest kind of control on speech — if most people block (or not allow in the first place) your community by not propagating messages originating from that community, by definition the masses have voted in such a way that your message is not welcome. If on the other hand, your message finds purchase and people decide to propagate your message, you get a wider and wider reach, and then you will also know that your message resonates.
The second one is that we need to give moderators better tools. For example, one thing I’m working on right now is machine learning. Moderators (i.e. everyone who wants to be one), in their own communities, can now run an ML model running on your own machine that can read these messages and flag the ones that sound off. This would still require human intervention and decision-making, but it would no longer require the moderator to read literally every message in the community. If we had this, for example, I would have been able to get notified of these issues by the ML algorithm, so that even if I wasn’t particularly looking for them at that point in time, I would be able to react.
Third and the last one is that we need an official Aether server installation that is capable of running on a Raspberry Pi or a device of some sort, or in a more common hosting setup. Why is this relevant to this discussion? Because I was travelling internationally over the holidays, my machine also has been, which meant that my IP address was changing. The network does take a bit of time to realise your new IP and start connecting to you, so I ended up in a place where the messages have been arriving a little late, which also contributed to the issue. Normally this issue is generally only for sending and not for new data coming at your computer, but in this case, combined with my general busy-ness with family, it made me miss what’s happening.
If I had, say, a Raspberry Pi that was hosting my actual Aether instance, instead of it directly running on my computer, it would be the case that the IP address would not change and the information flow would not have been disrupted, even if only somewhat. This would have helped me stay in the loop a little better since it would also have allowed me to use my phone to check out Aether.
I think this is also a good roadmap of where Aether P2P is going as well. Would love to hear any comments or suggestions.