Final proposal: Restricting posts on QOTO to english-only

Following up on several threads we discussed here I want to make a final proposal. Any objections are welcome and will be considered but this seems to be the ideal solution based on the discussions I’ve heard so far. If there are no objections we will enact this policy int he next day or two.

  • All posts listed in the local timeline must be english or include a english translation in the post written by a fluent speaker

  • Unlisted posts and private messages of course can be in any language you desire.

  • Existing QOTO accounts will be grandfathered in and will be allowed to continue speaking in their native tongue, though we do urge them to switch over to english where possible.

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Do you want to allow a link to an offsite translation to satisfy the requirement for the first rule? As written it doesn’t seem to allow this.
Pros: promotes tidiness, plays nicer with instances that expect a low character count in toots
Cons: mods must actively follow the link to see the translation, may succumb to linkrot in time

Why must the translation be by a native speaker? A translation by a competent nonnative speaker ought to suffice.

Only three of the four privacy settings are called out explicitly - is there a reason “followers-only” posts are omitted? I think the second rule should apply here.

Public replies are not, strictly speaking, covered by either of the first two rules as they are neither listed in the local timeline, unlisted posts, nor private messages. I’d be inclined to allow them under the second rule. As an exception, a reply to one’s own post will appear in the public timeline if the parent post did, so that should remain covered by the first rule.

We don’t currently have this feature, but a while back the idea was floated to have federated-only toots (i.e. absent from the local timeline). May be worth future-proofing the policy wording to cover them under the first rule.

I suggest actively messaging current users who post in other languages to apprise them of the new policy and its exhortation to switch to English, as many will not see the public notices due to language filtering features in Mastodon.

The policy doesn’t address the case of a link-only toot pointing to a foreign-language website. Frankly I think link-only toots in general are rubbish unless there is some context (in-joke with the recipient in a private message, relevance to the parent toot in a reply, etc.) but, since they aren’t banned from the local timeline, some thought should be given to how to address them.

Hmm. I got to this posts direct from the mastodon instance. Maybe just a link to your “Resolution” post was all I was lacking.

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I’m a new member of this community. Thanks for managing it! It would help if you could pull together what strands of discussion/thought landed you on the decision to do this.

Thank you, great post.

I still feel a bit sad about cutting out other languages from Qoto, I liked to be able to read more languages in the local timeline, I met good Italian-speaking people… but that’s ok.

This is my opinion, not the one of the mod team (we’ll discuss it here)

Do you want to allow a link to an offsite translation to satisfy the requirement for the first rule?

I woudn’t say so as it makes it hard to manage.

Why must the translation be by a native speaker? A translation by a competent nonnative speaker ought to suffice.

I agree, any translation should do

Only three of the four privacy settings are called out explicitly - is there a reason “followers-only” posts are omitted? I think the second rule should apply here.

I think the reason is “overwhelmed with work” =D Yeah of course I’d say that followers only posts should be allowed in any language. Actually, it would be easier to go in a negative way: can’t post in the local timeline in a non English language without a translation. Everything else should be fine.

We don’t currently have this feature, but a while back the idea was floated to have federated-only toots (i.e. absent from the local timeline). May be worth future-proofing the policy wording to cover them under the first rule.

If it would be possible to avoid it being public in the local timeline but public in the federated, that would be awesome. AFAIK that feature is not here.

The policy doesn’t address the case of a link-only toot pointing to a foreign-language website. Frankly I think link-only toots in general are rubbish unless there is some context

Personally I would consider like explicitly disapprove link-only toots. It’s such low effort that it’s terrible, but that’s a matter for another topic

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Hi, welcome here! It is still early to sum it up, the discussion is ongoing, after that we’ll apply, watch and readjust the decisions… once we feel like the situation is in focus we’ll surely summarize the whole problem, how it arose, why we chose to change policies etc.

Meanwhile, it’s still scattered in a few topics here.

Thanks for your interest, it’s appreciated

I was wondering, are unlisted posts very difficult for us to mod? How would we see them?
I’m sorry if I keep having thoughts and doubts, but this is a major change and I think we should do it right, even if it takes us a bit longer

I know private messages are not controllable. But unlisted posts?

Anyone can read them by the subscribe function, it’s not a huge different with local timeline… If you want to block some foreign language message could be illegal, this is not the best option.

The rule should change to

  • Private messages of course can be in any language you desire.

Unlisted posts are shown in the users Profile, as they are not Private – only a DM, Direct Message has some privacy, although it is in plain text in the databases in any instances whose users are participating in the DM thread of messages.

Theoretically, a database could be scanned and the bytes read from there, as they are not encrypted at all.

Going back to previous comments in earlier posts ::

  • Kyle’s suggestion of external translation services and linking, I think that is unworkable. I would support that Bing Translator or similar machine made ones could fulfill the need to include an english version in a toot.

However, even this will be resented by the foreign language users, and cause some backlash.

  • grandfathering existing foreign lang users, ok, since they are established. Inactive accounts have less of a stand in this case, something we could use possibly.
  • Unlisted posts can be visible to anyone in the Fediverse who bothers to look at the user profile – and in that sense ARE somewhat Public. I would argue this content would require monitoring and possible moderation, in case it has offending content.

A user here creates content and we are liable in some sense for it. Unlisted should follow the SAME rule as Local and public feed toots, imo.

  • Followers ONLY toots I believe will not show in the users profile – unless the person observing it is also one of their Followers. For this security option, I think lang rules can be relaxed, similar to Direct messaging.

I remember that “subscribe” can bypass it…

I get this, but what should we do, go patrolling on every users profile?
Well this is a problem we are having right now too actually, wouldn’t change much… ok, doesn’t matter

As a new member in QOTO and mastodon in general, I am confused about the principles that define moderating policies. Perhaps I just registered during a transitional period, but I think it should be clearer to new users how limiting an instance is, in comparison to other social media.

I did plan to use mastodon mainly in English, but if I bring over Greek friends it doesn’t seem to be the best platform for small in-instance communities. Correct me if I still don’t get the hang of how this works. When choosing an instance to start using mastodon, QOTO seems to be one of the most important ones, thus policies applied here colourize the mastodon platform.

A change like this, in combination with the proposed new limitations in registrations, determine how free the new members will feel. I would like to have known during my first exploration of mastodon, even when the change of instance is relatively easy. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect and appreciate all the work you do, even if you choose this path. Nevertheless, it was a little misleading.

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Hi, welcome here and thanks for your message.
Yes, you are coming in a transition moment, this is not how we operated so far.
What happened is that we had a lot of people coming in the server that speak languages we do not understand, mainly Chinese, but also Indian languages. That makes it impossible for us to mod, so illegal content, stuff that breaks our ToS, it is all slipping through.

You can see how that is a problem: other instances defederate with us, because of our content, and we are legally responsable for it.

Right now we haven’t decided anything regarding the language, we are still discussing it here, in the clear. Only thing we have done so far has been putting a box when the user registers and ask them to fill it with the reason why they want to join.
In I think around 50 requests since yesterday I can tell you I accepted only 1, so it’s been very effective. A few words would suffice, but they don’t even do that.

Regarding the “English Only” I am still a bit skeptical myself, maybe because I’m the only non-native English in the team (I’m Italian).
I lean more on the idea that every European language should be allowed in basically the same way, as what’s important in the fediverse is the quality of the content and we may manage to mod that, but this is a team work and if the others agree on another route I’ll accept it and help them.

I get that, and I’m sorry about that. Mastodon is still very young, and this kind of problems usually do not arise in centralize platforms… a whole new set of troubles emerge that we didn’t anticipate. This is a very interesting experiment, and sometimes things go a bit sideways.

I feel the same way, as I wanted to add Italian friends. Well they can still come, it’s just more complex if they have to choose the timeline and understand it before using the software.

Let’s see what the others say

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Thanks for the elaborate reply. I’ll stay tuned.

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Sorry I should have said “a translation by a fluent speaker”… What i really meant is that when a user posts they should include english text. I want the poster to understand english well enough to write text that is easy to understand and thatthey themselves are agreeing is a proper translation of the text they submited.

The point being poor translations (which we often get from translating tools) are usually fairly useless to us.

When I say “unlisted” it pretty much just means any post that is not public. That would include DMs, and follow-only. I’d be fine with those being in any language the user likes.

The thinking behind moving from any language to english only is two fold 1) it lets all the moderators be able to moderate and discuss a post. 2) it makes for a stronger community so all the members can interact and discuss among eachother

I would be ok with federated-only tooks being in any language the user posts. In fact if we move to english only there is an increased need for federated only toots so people can still talk in their desired language.

I was wondering, are unlisted posts very difficult for us to mod? How would we see them?

unlisted posts would be seen if you follow someone, go to their profile or if it is reported directly.

While unlisted posts would have all the same difficulties moderating as normal posts I think that because they have a very limited audience there is less need to moderate it in the first place, they will be reported far less often. When they are reported we also have a history of english posts from the user which we can use to get a sense for the nature of the person which will help us to decipher any automated translation service I would hope.

I know private messages are not controllable. But unlisted posts?

Anyone can read them by the subscribe function, it’s not a huge different with local timeline… If you want to block some foreign language message could be illegal, this is not the best option.

Legality is not really my top concern, being able to implement our ToS is. I do agree that unlisted is debatable, we may change the rule on that. My thinking is simply that unlisted content is likely to have a very small and more personal audience so it is far less likely to be reported combined with the fact that we will have a history of english posts to better understand the nature of the poster and the types of ideals they are likely to be promoting.

I remember that “subscribe” can bypass it…

No subscriptions can not bypass follower-only toots. When you subscribe it will only let you see public and unlisted toots.

A user here creates content and we are liable in some sense for it. Unlisted should follow the SAME rule as Local and public feed toots, imo.

I am willing to apply the same rules to unlisted posts. I was trying to give a way for arteteco and others to be able to still speak in non-english languages while not polluting the local timeline. The reason I pushed for english only (rather than simply the set of languages the moderators can speak) was for a sense of community. While using translators on toots is an extra burden on moderators if we only had to do it rarely for a few unlisted posts that happen to get reported then it wouldnt be nearly as much of a burden. In most cases moderators will never see a unlisted post unless someone reports it.

Kyle’s suggestion of external translation services and linking, I think that is unworkable. I would support that Bing Translator or similar machine made ones could fulfill the need to include an english version in a toot.

Allowing automated translations inside posts would just bring us back to the original problem. There are plugins out there that make it easy for us mods to translate every post at a glance with no added effort. The issue we faced wasnt so much the added effort of doing the translation but rather the inability for the translation to accurately represent the post’s content with any assurence.

What I want to see is whatever english translation a user happens to add to their post the user should be able to read and speak english well enough to indicate that the english translation is an accurate representation of their main language post, and written in a way that is easy to understand for a native speaker. As long as they do that I dont really care how the translation is created.

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I did plan to use mastodon mainly in English, but if I bring over Greek friends it doesn’t seem to be the best platform for small in-instance communities.

It’s great to have you int he community.

I am trying to push for a solution that is the best of both worlds. The way I see it the local timeline is a community, for that we are served best by having one language. On the other hand other forms of posting (follower only, unlisted, etc) could be free for people to communitcate in another language if they wish. Also I see no problem with them posting in the local timeline if they provide an english translation. We need a balance between the two.

Also keep in mind because instances federate there is no reason a greek user couldnt be on a greek-friendly server and still have all the same interaction with users on our server. The only thing they wouldnt share is the same local timeline, but even then QOTO has special features that would let you pull in the other users timeline (no other instance has that), so you could even pull in a foreign greek local timeline if you wished.

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