Question 1: How do you feel about the general post quality on the board? Have you noticed a shift in quality since the redirect or any other recent events? Does it need increasing, and if so how should it be done?
Cat 3. Users saying post quality has declined recently: 22 (46.8%)
Cat 2. Users who felt there had been no change to post quality and it was okay or good: 14 (29.7%)
Cat 4.Users saying post quality is bad, but didn’t indicate that had changed recently: 7 (14.8%)
Cat 1. Users saying post quality has improved or is improving: 4 (8.5%)
Cat 4.Users saying post quality is bad, but didn’t indicate that had changed recently: 7 (14.8%)
Cat 5. Users whose responses were not clear or ambiguous (not included in total): 2
Users total: 47
Users who think the board is okay or improving (Cat 1+2): (38.2%)
Users who think the board is bad or declining: (Cat 3+4): (61.7%)
Question 2: Recently /leftypol/ implemented a rule requiring OPs to have at minimum 150 characters in order for them to post the OP. Do you believe this has affected new OPs since then positively or negatively?
Cat 1 Users who thought the character limit was good or had a positive effect: 16 (34%)
Cat 2. Users who thought the character limit was bad or had a negative effect: 15 (31.9%)
Cat 3. Users who thought it made no difference: 11 (23.4%)
Cat 4: Users who said they didn’t know or weren’t sure: 4 (8.5%)
Cat 5: User said it was good but should be treated as a temporary measure: 1 (2.1%)
Cat 6. Posts whose meaning was unclear or incoherent (not counted towards total): 1
Users who said the limit made no difference, hadn’t noticed it, or had no opinion (Cat 3+4): (31.9%)
Question 3: Are there any posting trends or other forms of content in /leftypol/ that you have noticed that you feel is outside of the expected level of discussion in /leftypol/, and if so what is it and why do you feel it falls short?
Cat 1: Did not notice any particular trends: 14 (28.5%)
Cat 4: Too much idpol: 7 (14.2%)
Cat 8: Too many dumb threads and shitposts/not enough interesting threads: 5 (10.2%)
Cat 5: Too much gatekeeping and enforcing of similar/orthodox opinions: 4 (8.1%)
Cat 6: Too much soyjack spam: 3 (6.1%)
Cat 3: Too many general threads: 2 (4%)
Cat 10: Too rude to newfags/not accommodating/helping them learn: 2 (4%)
Cat 11: Lack of unique culture or confusion about site identity: 2 (4%)
Cat 13: Too many duplicate topic threads, threads that should be sorted into existing threads: 2 (4%)
Cat 18: Too much discussion of Infrared: 2 (4%)
Cat 2: Too many pseudo-intellectuals: 1 (2%)
Cat 7: Too much Dengism: 1 (2%)
Cat 9: Too accommodating of ‘debate’ threads (with outsiders like /pol/): 1 (2%)
Cat 12: Lack of knowledge of Marxism: 1 (2%)
Cat 14: Too many threads by mods like this survey: 1 (2%)
Cat 15: Too many attacks on AES countries: 1 (2%)
Cat 16: Too many namefags: 1 (2%)
Cat 17: Increasing traffic should be the priority and standards should be relaxed: 1 (2%)
Total Post number: 49
Users that seemed to want more quality control of ‘low effort threads/posts’ (by staff) (Cat 4, 8, 6, 13, 18, 9): 19 (38.7%, or 54.2% if ‘did not notice any trends’ excluded)
Question 4: How often do you tend to post? Do you have a regular schedule of when you come on to post or do you come on more at random?
Cat 2 – Randomly, or with no pattern (not indicating every day): 16 (36.3%)
Cat 1 – I post every day, or, I post too much: 15 (34%)
Cat 3 – I don’t post that much, mostly lurk and read, or I rarely post: 5 (11.3%)
Cat 5 – I post weekly, or only on weekends: 4 (9%)
Cat 4 – I post more in the evenings: 3 (6.8%)
Cat 6 – I post more in the mornings during commute: 1 (2.2%)
Question 5: Have you found yourself posting more or less often than usual? Is it because of something to the board or irl stuff or something else?
Cat 9 – The same, no more or less: 11 (22.9%)
Cat 13 – Less, because I don’t have much to say, or I am engaging in real life more, trying to get off the internet, or I am no longer interested in talking to people online as much: 8 (16.6%)
Cat 5 – More because of lockdown/pandemic/nothing to do: 5 (10.4%)
Cat 2 – More (no reason given), or ‘always here’: 4 (8.3%)
Cat 4 – More because of current events/happenings or higher board activity: 4 (8.3%)
Cat 11 – Less, because of low board quality or too many shitposts: 4 (8.3%)
Cat 1 – Less often, because the board is too slow/boring: 3 (6.2%)
Cat 7 – More, because other sites are bad, or I’m using social media less: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 12 – More, because the site is good and I like it: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 3 – More because of unemployment: 1 (2%)
Cat 6 – It depends, my activity fluctuates: 1 (2%)
Cat 8 – Less (no reason given): 1 (2%)
Cat 10 – Don’t know: 1 (2%)
Cat 14 – Less, because of technical issues and/or not being able to post: 1 (2%)
I use the site less (Cat 13, 11, 1, 14): 17 (35.4% total, 47.2% excluding ‘same’ or ‘don’t know’)
I use the site more (Cat 5, 2, 4, 7, 12, 3): 18 (37.5% total, 50% excluding ‘same’ or ‘don’t know’)
Question 6: Do you often use the report feature? If so, what is the reason why you usually report posts?
Cat 4: I have used the report feature because of a post I didn’t like/thought broke the rules (that wasn’t spam/CP – for example, for idpol, or for being ‘glowposting’, etc): 16 (33.3%)
Cat 3: I don’t use the report feature at all: 13 (27%)
Cat 1: No, except for CP or spam: 11 (22.9%)
Cat 2: I usually report spam: 3 (6.2%)
Cat 5: I use the report feature very often (combination of reasons): 3 (6.2%)
Cat 6: I do not use the report feature anymore because I was not satisfied with the response/that posts were removed: 3 (6.2%)
Cat 7: I do not/rarely use the report feature because of captchas: 1 (2%)
I do use the report function when I feel it is needed: (Cat 4, 1, 2, 5): 33 (68.7%)
Question 7: Why do you browse /leftypol/? This is an open-ended question, answer as you like.
Cat 2: There is nowhere else to go, or all other sites are worse, or “I just hate Reddit”: 13 (27%)
Cat 4: I like to be anonymous, or I like the imageboard format while discussing leftism: 8 (16.6%)
Cat 7: Enjoyable or unique board culture, or “I like the posters and the community”: 8 (16.6%)
Cat 3: Because of effortposters, news posters, and/or people who use/read sources: 5 (10.4%)
Cat 1: I’ve been here a long time, it has become a habit, or I want to see it through: 4 (8.3%)
Cat 6: I enjoy having a diversity of opinions and different takes: 3 (6.2%)
Cat 9: /leftypol/ has helped me to become better read, or had made me a better Marxist: 3 (6.2%)
Cat 8: Joke answer or quip: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 5: Because of funny memes: 1 (2%)
Cat 10: There are just some specific threads that keep me coming back: 1 (2%)
Cat 11: Tor access/onion access, and general pro-security culture: 1 (2%)
Cat 12: To meet leftists from outside the west/outside my country: 1 (2%)
Non-sourpusses who had something nice to say about /leftypol/ in some way or another: (all Cats but 8 and 2): (70.8%)!
Question 8: Any comments for the mod team that is not related to any of the above questions?
Cat 4: Don’t know, or no comment, or nonsense/joke answer: 9 (18.7%)
Cat 7: You are better than other mod teams and/or I like you and you’re doing your best: 6 (12.5%)
Cat 2: Generic channer anti-jannie nonsense (no substantive criticism): 5 (10.4%)
Cat 5: You are not being strict enough, you are lazy, or you are letting board quality decline: 4 (8.3%)
Cat 11: Ban ultraleft anticommunists/liberals because they add nothing: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 13: Be more transparent, there is not enough transparency and user’s wishes are ignored (for example regarding the merger with Bunkerchan): 2 (4.1%)
Cat 14: Too many soyjaks on /b/: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 18: Don’t fight each other and cause another split: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 20: The website is too old-fashioned looking and needs updating, or the site lacks features/functionality: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 9: Stop LARPing about democracy and constitutions, or, don’t be democratic because it will ruin the board: 2 (4.1%)
Cat 1: You are too controlling: 1 (2%)
Cat 3: Mods should avoid unnecessary drama: 1 (2%)
Cat 6: Every thread should be auto-archived: 1 (2%)
Cat 8: You should focus more on converting /pol/acks and not nostalgia: 1 (2%)
Cat 10: There are too many Anglo mods, which doesn’t represent the community: 1 (2%)
Cat 12: The rules are inconsistently applied and the mods suck: 1 (2%)
Cat 15: Be more careful not to alienate the community and keep them in mind: 1 (2%)
Cat 16: Mods agreed to commit to clearly stating rule violations in their ban messages, but do not do this consistently – it reduces mod accountability: 1 (2%)
Cat 17: Remove the ban on identity politics, as it is admitting defeat: 1 (2%)
Cat 19: Don’t ban soyjaks: 1 (2%)
Cat 21: I miss oldBO/Che: 1 (2%)
Cat 22: Stop trying to be like 4chan: 1 (2%)
Cat 23: Some of you act rather immature when certain posters hurt your feelings: 1 (2%)
Cat 24: The gambit of taking Bunkerchan was admirable, put that effort into stimulating the users: 1 (2%)
Cat 25: I appreciate the effort being put into making connecting to the site is covert/TOR access: 1 (2%)
Overall analysis and my conclusions:
It is most clear from these results that /leftypol/ is a land of contrasts. The demands of users often contradict those of other users, which also reflects the divergence of opinions in the moderation team. While this obviously makes plotting a course as a site difficult, I also view it as a positive sign that there is largely speaking, no obvious direction which the moderators need to take – which suggests that we have reached a somewhat happy medium as a site. I believe that any corrections in course which still need to be made should be careful not to upset the existing balance by overcorrecting in one direction or another.
There was some pessimism evident in the responses to question one, which is a worrying sign, but at the same time, pessimism is relatively common on the left and on imageboards in general. In many of the other questions, some users expressed that /leftypol/ was their only option, or lamented that the site was the best out of a bad bunch. This, when coupled with the fact that site activity is stable and has increased since the Bunkerchan merger in both PPH and unique IPs suggest that we have not gone too far wrong in our actions. We the moderators of /leftypol/ cannot be responsible for the wider internet or for the wider social trends. While I’m sure it would be more enjoyable to use /leftypol/ if a wave of revolution was sweeping the world, we must equally do our best to maintain the site even in an apparent age of stagnation and counter-revolution.
In addition, around 15% of users expressed that the board quality was inadequate, yet that it was no worse than it ever had been in the early years of the board. This raises the question of why those users decided to stay so long regardless, and gives more credence to my theory of ‘in-group pessimism’. Cultural factors also go some length towards describing the prevalence of generic anti-moderator rhetoric both in the survey and across the site as a whole. While we should not simply disregard such comments out of hand, we also should not give them too much weight and should focus on responding to substantive criticisms. After all, we cannot simply abolish ourselves, moderators are a necessary part of the operation of the imageboard.
With that said, we should address specific feedback as needed. For example, on the matter of the 150 character limit for /leftypol/ and /edu/, the feedback has been mixed, with a slight lean towards the positive. In addition, many users did not notice the change or had no opinion. Perhaps the next survey, which will take place after the limit has been in effect for several weeks, will be more conclusive one way or the other. A more obvious problem is the perceived decline in posting quality since the merger (or before it), which was highlighted by a decent number of users. By my analysis, 54% of users (who did not give ‘no opinion’) felt that we should make more of an effort in controlling low-effort posting and encouraging ‘higher’ forms of discourse. I believe we should take that feedback on board and should take action - yet while also taking note not to ‘overcorrect’ as I pointed out above.
Moving on, it seems clear that the coronavirus pandemic has influenced posting trends on the board. Many users expressed that they had spent more time on the board because of lack of employment, or lack of access to social and leisure activities outside the home. In addition, a large contingent (around 22%) of users expressed that they had begun to use the board less in order to spend more time offline or engaging in in-person leftist activities.
While this is obviously a negative impact on traffic, it is probably a good thing overall for users to have other outlets than /leftypol/, and it may serve to ‘refresh’ the discourse on the site for users in general to spend more time engaging in leftist activities outside of the board (or engaging in more social/leisure activities in general). These trends lead me to believe that, bearing other developments, we may see a reduction in traffic as coronavirus restrictions are eased and employment figures climb up somewhat, so we should try not to panic if such a thing occurs. After all, /leftypol/ is here for hard times.
To address another point, it seems that the majority of users (nearly 70%) who replied to the survey have used the report function before and continue to use it when they feel it is necessary – though some would only use it in response to blatant spam, this is a fine use of the system and a positive sign that most users feel invested in the quality of the site and of site cleaning. There is of course the point that the respondents to the survey may not represent the average user – the users who felt invested enough to engage in the survey are likely to be ‘power users’ who are among the contingent that use the site the most. This theory is backed up by the fact that most of the respondents expressed that their site activity was very high (relatively speaking) and most of them used the site most days, or every day.
This fact means that we cannot entirely rely on the results of this survey, but we should simply use it as one additional data-point which allows the most invested users to have their say. We should continue to use a variety of methods to build our models of user opinion and our own personal views on what direction the site should take. Our next survey will attempt to use more quantitative questioning methods in order to make analysis of the results easier. Hopefully, this will contribute to a greater understanding for us all and therefore better decisionmaking.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the survey, and to all users for their continued patience! – Caballo