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Lobsters (website)

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki
Lobsters logo.png
Lobsters 2019-01-21.png
Type of site
News aggregator[1]
Available inEnglish
Created byJoshua Stein
Launched1 July 2012; 9 years ago (2012-07-01)
Current statusOnline
Written inRuby and JavaScript

Lobsters or Lobste.rs is a social news[1] website mainly focused on computer engineering articles. It is based broadly on the threaded "upvote/downvote" functionality The site is invite-only.[1]


In 2012, Joshua Stein was shadow banned from Hacker News by its administrator, Paul Graham.[4] Stein decided to build an alternative website focused on moderation transparency.[5] Lobsters has an official transparency policy concerning moderator actions that makes all moderator actions public and prohibits shadow banning.[6]

In October 2017, Stein retired from administrating the site. Ownership was transferred to Peter Bhat Harkins, known on Lobsters as pushcx.[7] As of October 2019, Bhat Harkins remains the administrator of the site.

In February 2018, Lobsters helped to sponsor the lobster emoji (🦞) with the Unicode Consortium.[8][9]

Notable features[edit]

Invite tree[edit]

A feature distinguishing Lobsters from other news aggregator websites is that Lobsters requires users to receive an invitation before registering on the website. The website makes use of an invitation tree,[10] where each new user is invited by an existing user, becoming a branch off of the existing user in the tree. The full invitation tree can be viewed on the website.[11] The goal of using an invitation system is to both prevent spam and slow the rate of new users beneath the acculturation rate, preventing an Eternal September[10].


Hats are a feature where users who belong to a company, project, or organization may choose to wear a "hat", indicating that they are speaking on behalf of the organization. This allows users to fluidly move between commenting as just another user, to commenting in an official capacity, to commenting as themselves, without changing accounts. Specially colored red hats are worn by members of the Lobsters community that upkeep the site, marked as "Sysop".[12]

Downvote explanations[edit]

Downvote explanations are a way of ensuring that all downvotes are accompanied by feedback that is then shown to the user receiving the downvote.[13] The explanations are intended to discourage users from complaining about downvotes or editing their posts to ask why they were downvoted.

There are several possible justifications that can be given in a downvote explanation: "Off-topic", "Incorrect", "Me-too", "Troll", "Spam".[14]

"Off-topic" downvotes may be given to any post or comment that is viewed by the downvoter as irrelevant to the topic at hand. "Incorrect" downvotes are given for stating information that is incorrect, and cannot be given out for matters of opinion. "Me-too" downvotes are used "when a comment signals agreement to a parent comment or submission without adding significantly to the conversation".[14] "Troll" downvotes are used when the downvoter believes that the downvoted commenter is failing to engage in an honest dialogue, particularly when the comment is intended to provoke or aggravate another user. "Spam" downvotes are used whenever a post or comment is obvious spam.

Moderation log[edit]

Lobsters keeps a moderation log, that reports all moderation actions taken by the community or by specific moderators.[15] The log keeps a record of any user actions that change the features of an account, such as a username change, any actions made by moderators, such as post title changes or bans, and changes made by community vote.

Category tags[edit]

Lobsters has a number of category tags, that are applied to any post that they are relevant to.[1] This allows users to quickly sort out topics that they are especially interested in, or don't want to see, without fragmenting the community between different boards.


Lobsters is hosted on a custom open-source software stack built with Ruby On Rails.[16] Originally, Lobsters ran on top of OpenBSD, but during October 2017, it was migrated from OpenBSD to Linux during the handoff to Bhat Harkins.[17][18] The code is hosted on GitHub and is licensed under a permissive license.[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "About Lobsters". lobste.rs. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  2. "Users".
  3. "Usage statistics".
  4. "Hellbanned from Hacker News".
  5. "Moderation log".
  6. "Transparency Policy".
  7. "Passing the torch".
  8. "Lobster emoji adoption".
  9. "Sponsors of Adopted Characters".
  10. 10.0 10.1 "About Lobsters". lobste.rs. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  11. "Users". lobste.rs. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  12. "Hats". lobste.rs. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  13. "About Lobsters". lobste.rs. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "DownvoteGuidelines". github.com. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  15. "Moderation log".
  16. "GitHub repository". Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  17. "What kind of hardware/cloud does lobste.rs run on?". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  18. "GitHub repository". Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  19. "Lobsters License". Retrieved 23 January 2019.

External links[edit]

Other articles of the topic Free and open-source software : KonsolScript, GWT Highcharts, MiniD, Aigaion, Aria Maestosa, vimb, Daylight Linux
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