this post was submitted on 01 Jun 2024
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TL;DR; Lemmy.nz turns 1 today! Watch the video. If it doesn't work on your app, try the peertube mirror.

On 2 June 2023, Lemmy.nz was created. I've put together the linked video as a recap of the past year (it's probably clear I don't make videos for a living, but it's the thought that counts). No sound, so you'll have to play your own backing music. If you can't watch the video, the events are all covered below (and more).

Here is a bit of history, though it's not strictly in order, and others will likely have more to add (please share!).

I was first to register the domain after a bunch of Reddit controversy had people discussing Lemmy as somewhere to jump ship to. Several others commented on the first day that they had also looked to register Lemmy.nz. In the first couple of weeks we went through a period of trying to work out who we were. Users more experienced with moderation than I had warned that we need clear rules, while I had believed a server of reasonable people would know what was or wasn't acceptable. After some early Nazis came looking for a home, I was finally convinced we would need some guidance, and as a community we worked together on a compromise: We would retain our one original rule (Don't be a dick), but there would be a fleshed out Code of Conduct that underpinned it. We adopted the still current Code of Conduct on 16 June 2023.

At the time I was running Lemmy on a VPS that cost $2 per month. Within a few days of Lemmy.nz being created, hundreds of other new Lemmy instances had been created, and it was also clear that the servers would need more power to support all the people flocking to Lemmy from Reddit, which only got worse when subreddits went dark to protest. Many of the large instances moved to requiring registration applications at this point, with Lemmy.world being the main large instance keeping open registrations and so they grew to be the largest instance.

Lemmy.nz was not unique in that we also fought to keep the server online with the influx. Fediservices.nz offered to provide hosting, and so on 11 June 2024 we migrated to the new, much more powerful server. However, part of the issue was that the Lemmy software was not ready for the influx, and regular patches were released in a rush to handle the technical performance, but these rushed releases also led to a lot of bugs.

Lemmy.nz kept open registrations through that period, it was quite a while later that we were forced to move to registration application after the number spam registrations passed legitimate applications. Some servers that weren't paying attention found they had millions of new accounts created by spam bots. Luckily we only ever had a few thousand, though to this day we still receive more spam registrations than legitimate ones.

Though in the early days I had my hands full keeping things running, things stabalised with the server and Lemmy software over time. Many of the early and very active users disappeared (back to reddit?), and Lemmy as a whole started losing users, though this is a normal thing to happen after a huge influx of people coming to check out some new thing. In fact, the retention rate over Lemmy as a whole was really quite a bit higher than you'd normally expect.

We had some fun, including Terrible coffee art Wednesday, the irregular Photo Friday (and once Snapshot Saturday), and Canvas, along with our daily threads. We also had some drama with Hexbear ending in them defederating us.

We started a Matrix chat, which was very active in the early days but not so active now. Everyone is still welcome to join, though, and we can change that! Early indications from the census survey show many people don't know it exists! Check out the post here.

At one point trolls posted loads of spam to !newzealand, and luckily @[email protected] was around and managed to clean it up in no time at all. To my knowledge, this is the only situation we have had like this on our local communities.

On 14 January 2024 we updated Lemmy to 19.1. This was a massive backend update that all intances were nervous about after many instances had issues with broken federation on 19.0 (we never applied that version). The update caused all login tokens to be invalid but didn't have a process to handle this, instead it showed a server error if a logged in user tried to visit the website or use an app. Some users managed to work it out in the next few days, others may have assumed Lemmy.nz was dead, never to return.

Through January and February we had various host instability issues, and after lots of work on their part (and a bunch of new hardware) things stabilised just in time for issues with federation with Lemmy.world start. It turned out that Lemmy could only send one single update at a time (say, an upvote, post, or comment), and when a server was federating something to other servers it would wait for it to be received before sending the next one. This round trip meant a limit on how many items could be sent each second, and the further the servers were from each other the smaller the number of items that could be sent. The largest Lemmy server Lemmy.world is hosted in Finland, about as far away as you can get from Lemmy.nz hosted in Auckland. We could only receive about 4 or 5 updates per second, and once Lemmy.world started creating content faster than this, we couldn't keep up. Issues with Kbin sending Lemmy.world hundreds of thousands of repeated items just exacerbated the issue, and Lemmy.nz along with others hosted nearby (like Aussie.zone) ended up not getting content from Lemmy.world until hours later, which grew to days. Lemmy.nz peaked at about 4 or 5 days behind, but I was offered help to resolve this and now we have a separate server in Finland that collects the updates from Lemmy.world and sends them to the Lemmy.nz server in a batch instead of one at a time. Over time we should see a solution to this implemented by Lemmy, but for now we have a temporary solution in place.

In February, some kids in Japan started a spam bot attack on the Fediverse. This was mainly across Mastodon but Lemmy also got caught up in it. Hopefully the Lemmy.nz users didn't see much impact, as through a combination of instance admin coordination and setting up an Automod, most of the spam should have been removed pretty quickly.

In March we added the first new community we have had since the ones created in the first few days of the instance being set up. The new !rocketlab community hosts launch threads and discussion about Rocket Lab, the aerospace company founded in NZ but who later moved their headquarters to the US, though they still do many of their launches in NZ. Before adding this community we took a vote, and determined that the majority of people were happy with adding this new community but thought new communities should be added on a case by case basis. As part of the survey, we also took our first look at some basic demographics of the community.

In April, Lemmy.nz voted to enter (Tiki Taane and the CSO](https://lemmy.nz/post/8637794) in the Lemmyvision contest, and we won 5th place overall.

Over time we also added various front ends to access Lemmy.nz.

Earlier in the week I posted a census questionaire to get more detailed information about our community. Once I feel like everyone has had an opportunity to fill it in, I'll start some analysis and put together a results post. If you haven't filled it in, please do!

Through May have been back to having server issues. With all the components (lemmy's containers, automod, cache cleaner, lemmy.world batcher, and supporting components) all interacting with Lemmy internally, it has been hard to track down the issue. On top of this, the host has been having issues, which make it harder to determine where the issue is. It seems to have been better the last week or so, so here's hoping that continues.

This brings us up to today, when we are celebrating our first birthday! Feel free to contribute your memories below.

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[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Happy birthday Lemmy.nz! πŸ₯

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago
[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago) (2 children)

Thanks Dave, you're doing an awesome job.

I feel like a traitor as a kiwi that joined lemmy.world instead of lemmy.nz (I was part of one of the early Reddit exodus's and didn't know any better) but thanks to federation I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks for being here!

I feel like a traitor as a kiwi that joined lemmy.world instead of lemmy.nz (I was part of one of the early Reddit exodus’s and didn’t know any better) but thanks to federation I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything

Nah, don't feel like a traitor, that's what federation is for! We have heaps of kiwis from other instances participating.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Is this a typo? I'm sure lemmy.nz has been around longer than yesterday

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Happy Birthday, and thanks Dave for your untiring efforts in keeping it going πŸ‘πŸ‘

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks for being here!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)
[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago
[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Happy birthday, guys!

I know I don't comment a lot, but I do read most of this community as time permits.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Happy birthday and thanks @[email protected] for creating and maintaining this cool part of the fediverse.

The recap is really interesting as someone who came a bit late to the party. And the video is cool!!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Thanks for being here!

And the video is cool!!

Aw, you're just saying that because I put one of your pictures in it πŸ™‚

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Ha ha of course... Seriously though, I really liked the upbeat, memey feel of it and especially the repeated imagery of the servers that turns into weird things happening to them!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

I'm hoping next year I won't need to put all the server problems in the video, because I'm hoping for 100% uptime in the next 12 months πŸ˜†

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Happy Birthday Lemmy.nz πŸ₯³πŸŽ

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago
[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

1 year really goes by fast, thanks Dave for keeping it going!

I also enjoyed the effort we put in on the pixel canvas thing, I think we punched above our weight for the size of our userbase

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

1 year really goes by fast, thanks Dave for keeping it going!

Thanks for being here!

I also enjoyed the effort we put in on the pixel canvas thing, I think we punched above our weight for the size of our userbase

For sure! The Canvas dev is hard at work on getting ready for a 2024 version as well, so we should see it again. No word on a date yet, but they promise at least 30 days notice to help spread the word, as last time it all came up quite quickly and many people across Lemmy didn't realise it was happening.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

I'm glad this place exists, and I hope it continues to grow over time. Having a platform like this that isn't beholden to advertisers or the bottom line is incredibly fortunate, and I hope we can take a bite out the market share the more mainstream platforms have.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago) (1 children)

I think growing is both good and bad. As we (Lemmy as a whole) grows, the culture will inevitably change. The interesting thing will be to see if it starts to feel like mainstream platforms, or if it changes in new ways (good or bad).

But of course growth is needed so that we can support all the niche communities that everyone is missing. Plus it's a little greedy if we hog the platforms that aren't exploiting us all for ourselves.

It also didn't take long for spammers to find it worth their while to have real people spamming on Lemmy. Current tools do OK, but they aren't on the level of the tools the reddit and other mainstream sites have. I can't imagine what it will be like if the number of spammers grows exponentially with the number of users, we will definitely need new tools.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

I think the platform becoming more mainstream is a good thing, to an extent at least. At the moment we're kinda known for militant communists, tankies, and Linux evangelists, among other stereotypes.

This will definitely come with problems, of course, but it will also take some of the echo out of the chamber.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Yeah I agree, diversity is good. It's just all extra scary when you're an instance administrator πŸ˜†

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

I'm well aware that I'm not the one doing the hard work on this.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Thanks for all your work running this place, Dave. You do a great job

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks for being here!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Yes thank you for running this instance. It's nice to have a place to pop into.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks for being here! It's nice when people who joined in the first week or two are still around πŸ™‚

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Congrats mate! Thank you for all your hard work on maintaining this little piece of the internet for us!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks for being here, almost since the beginning!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Well done @[email protected]

I guess that no.lastname.nz will be 1 year in a couple of days (goes and checks, yep - on the 4th).

You have had a worse time than I have with server issues and spam, and I'm glad that you have kept it all together of the last year of very fast growth in lemmy.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks! Honestly, there is a lot of relying on other instance admins and tool developers to keep it all working. Without those connections there's no way I would have been able to keep things working! Everything from the automod and the spam defence chat for letting other instances know about spam accounts, through to the federation batcher that handles issues with lemmy.world federation, and the cache cleaner that keeps the hard drive space managable, there is so much we rely on outside of Lemmy itself that I could never have developed myself!

I hope that others haven't really noticed the spam. A significant portion is removed within a few minutes, I get occasional spam reports but only a small number compared to the amount of spam we (Lemmy as a whole) get.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Wow, what a great write-up of your journey so far. Brought back a lot of memories and added a lot of context I wasn't previously aware of, especially about the technical details of various bugs. And I loved the video! Well done Dave πŸ‘

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks! Coming to a cinema near you, just as soon as I can find a distributor πŸ™‚

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

I spent ages trying to work out how to get a video uploaded here, eventually I think I got it working but the video is mirrored on peertube.nz here if needed: https://peertube.nz/w/r1TGY7H51fYyijrGB6NLfa

There are more Photo Friday threads than what I linked above. I think this is all of them (including the Snapshot Saturday): https://lemmy.nz/post/3196453 https://lemmy.nz/post/2518280 https://lemmy.nz/post/4223998 https://lemmy.nz/post/2726876

The photos used are by @[email protected], @[email protected] , @[email protected], @[email protected] and one of mine.

Share your own memories as I'm sure to have missed something important!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Congratulations! πŸ‘ Happy B-day and here's to many more to my across the river friends πŸŽ‰

Ps. The video works and is great!

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago

Thanks! Also thanks to @[email protected] for the idea of doing a recap of the past year.