The gentle sussurration of Lines. Why is there less AAARGH here than other places?

This is not a tribute thread, although I could veer into that place with this. It’s not a way for me to say something negative about any of the people who camp in these lands. It is a genuine question that I have some thoughts about.

Firstly, you may disagree with me. This place could AARGH the hell out of you. It doesn’t do that with me. I always think that the culture of any place takes a cue from the people who own it. The people who pay the bills, that is. I feel like that about places where any humans are wrangled. Work, play and a third thing that, annoyingly, cannot be put into a single word. It is always coloured by that one who says yes or no and when and where they say it. I don’t know the people who do that here but I have watched them, stalked them, put cameras in their homes. Only joking. They seem decent and I feel like I would breathe around them.

So there’s that. I guess it is about the willingness to be open. Someone once said to me that being open is just a matter of not being closed. It was one of thosed infinitely irritating sayings that means absolutely nothing but it stayed with me. Do not be closed. It feels open here. I have to say that in my country there is very much a culture of Closed. I like being here and being open. As much as I can, I guess.

Do you have any thoughts about the culture of Lines and why we want to be kind here? First person who links me to the Lines Culture thread gets a boiled sweet.


Where to begin?

Edit: Lines is a well cultivated garden.

Lines grows out of monome, which grows out of a vision of making tools that are largely defined by the users, with an open source philosophy baked in from the beginning.

The beauty of this vision and these tools and the creativity evoked by them coalesced into a community devoted to sharing.

Like all communities, this one needs gentle guidelines and thoughtful moderation lest it slide into the kinds of unpleasantness that one can find elsewhere on the webs. We are fortunate to have both guidelines and moderation that I consider to be excellent.

You might have a look at this:

And welcome!



I think it’s a minor miracle that a forum like this can exists in such a state of harmony. However, one of the few times I have been open on Lines with a post that I thought gave some genuine personal insight and reflection on a topic, the response was unnecessarily harsh and critical, and felt like a personal attack. Since then I have been very hesitant to engage in Line beyond ‘liking’ something - I’m even a little wary about posting this to be honest. I enjoy Lines as an observer, but I still feel like maybe I’m a bit to sensitive to risk opening up, because I was actually and honesty really upset by what had happened before.


I am always sad to hear about such interactions.

Clearly we are all humans prone to the kinds of things that humans do that are hurtful.

However I have seen a lot of forgiveness practiced here, both in the asking and the extending…. More than in the run of the mill web environments for sure.

Thanks for being honest :pray:t2:


This is exactly my experience. I think that this place works so well for those that participate in the discussion because it is extremely exclusionary to views that disagree with the general consensus, even if that disagreement is not in principle, but just in the radicalism of the approach. My political views are very far on the left side of the spectrum, but I regularly find myself disagreeing with the way that people here talk about human beings that don’t share their opinions. I generally stay quiet because I enjoy the musical side of this place and don’t want to taint that by getting ostracized (as i have seen happen with others). I tend to simply mute all political discussions after a while, as that seems to be the best approach for my mental health.


I think lines is harmonious because

  • it’s strictly moderated
  • there are “trust levels” built in
  • many/most people here who share openly are part of a small monoculture (to be reductive, white progressive millenial men)
  • the community expectation is to be relatively soft and kind in affect, which most people are down to participate in, myself included
  • heavier topics are quarantined

It’s a nice place. I love it here. But I think it’s important to be candid about context. I administrate a community of 160-ish people and I have massive respect for the way this community has been built and maintained.


We value the small details, both in what we create and how we interact

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It is also much easier to maintain culture and behavior in smaller scale communities.


Maybe it’s time for an all lowercase flame war thread


I agree with others who have said that we can thank the mods. I lurked for probably a year before posting anything and then another year before being a regular. I really enjoyed the topics of conversation and reading others’ thoughts but I grew up on forums with more combative conversation styles and I didn’t feel like having to argue about any and all opinions which is what I was used to. Sometimes people have complained that the users here are too eager to flag comments and mods are too eager to merge topics or intervene but my experience elsewhere has been that without that level of intervention the most aggressive users thrive and everyone else lurks or leaves. Is Lines it’s own monoculture? Yeah probably depending on how wide or narrow you define the culture. But at least it’s an overall friendly place where I’ve had deep and interesting conversations. I don’t know if it is actually possible to have an online community with a variety of very different points of view and minimal moderation without it turning into trolling and name calling.


I honestly don’t think Lines is more of a monoculture than some of the other electronic music forums I read which are much more confrontational – so I don’t think that’s why this place is less fighty.

I was reading another forum this morning where someone asked a simple question about a specific synth’s capabilities. It immediately turned into two people sniping at each other, a third person pointing out where the information is in the manual and then getting jumped on for doing that instead of just answering the question, and a fourth person calling out the first one for rudeness in a rude way. This is pretty typical; the moderators don’t do anything to make it a more civil environment and will only stop blatant racism, promotion of software piracy, or “you couldn’t say that on Fox News” levels of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, severe personal attacks etc.


I think these are all pretty accurate points. I tend to think that lines can be over-moderated at times, To the point of being somewhat dull. If you sand away all the rough edges, what’s left? I suppose some people are into that, so it’s good lines exists. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.


Some people are annoying, that’s life. I work within this knowledge to primarily protect my own sanity, and I do this by listening to wise people and refining my approach as I go along. Just like I do in other areas of life, like music.

What other people think does not matter at all, but what they do very much does. You are free to decide whether what they say matters or not. Getting quicker at identifying who is a waste of time has done me well over the years. You could even say that I visit some specific places just to keep that skill alive.

Sorry if I sound patronising, but you are resposible for your reactions. If something annoys you, either let it go or find out what’s really going on with you. That way, a problem becomes an opportunity. Some of the best learning opportunities sometimes come from the most unexpected directions. In my experience.


I agree with almost everything here. There is no perfect place online or in real life for open discussion. Or rather perfect for every type of person to be welcomed and involved.

Moderation is a necessity, otherwise yes, the loudest most aggressive people stand on a hill shouting down their own opinions. As seen in many other areas in life, politics being the most obvious to me.
I feel for the overall vibe here it is done extremely well and keeps out the trolls.

I am delighted lines has managed to continue to be the place it is, it is a one of a kind in my eyes.


To an extent, we all create the environment that we want. Only earlier today, I was really heartened to see someone given lovely help with the early stages of their modular synth journey by @nonverbalpoetry . I continually see great stuff like that happen here & it keeps me coming back.


Compared to anywhere else I’ve ever been online, there is more kindness, gentleness, open-heartedness, generosity, and what feels like “love” in the “brotherly” sense here by a long shot.


The problem with “personal responsibility” is that trolls tend to spread whether you respond to them or not.

Abstracting the problem, some years back at large corporations, “reply storm” reply-alls to full company mailing lists would perpetuate super angry responses, and include some active trolls along the way. It was both a technological problem (in that email admins may need ways to kill replies to a thread) and a social problem. Even as I did not respond to any of them, I received dozens to HUNDREDS of responses each time after every goof sent an email to the whole company and the “REMOVE ME” responses started getting responses :slight_smile:

What I’m saying is yes, self control is good. But occasional active methods keep any community healthy, because we can’t expect everyone to be perfectly grounded at all times with enough partipators. Things echo outward…


One other benefit of the monome FOSS-focus is probably deemphasizing the consumerist buy yet-another-gizmo compulsion (or worse, the consumerist tribes where values are granted based on what someone owns or doesn’t own. The “car tuner webforum” principle.)


I think the thing that makes Lines work well is because it seems most interactions are oriented towards learning. There aren’t many other places that I’ve encountered where someone of (more or less) any experience level can ask an earnest question and get a few helpful answers from someone who has already learned (or created a tool to do) the thing which that person is trying to learn to do. There isn’t as much RTFM here. That may have something to do with the relative complexity of the tools discussed, and the sort of learning and experimenting that a person has likely already done before getting here, as well as the generally (and this is maybe a bit of a weak point, imo, though maybe unavoidable to some degree) coherent genre aesthetics of the hivemind (using this word lovingly).

That said, I have observed that some members seem to get extended a bit less grace than others, and that there might be a correlation with whether that person approaches discussions with a sufficiently developed vocabulary for the community’s commendable sensitivity and aspirations toward inclusiveness. This is maybe not a bad thing, and possibly the real reason Lines ‘works.’ It’s a bit of a monoculture, and either not being a perfect fit for the values of the community, or lacking the foresight to frame things the right way can lead to individuals getting ostracized. It’s no one’s responsibility to teach others ‘how to act,’ but it seems like sometimes honest errors in self-awareness can get punished where an opportunity for gentle correction and guidance might exist.

And the other thing is that there are just some amazingly talented and generous individuals who make tools for this community to use, and people rightly feel a sense of personal responsibility to protect a place that makes that possible.


My experience of this is that it’s no one’s responsibility, but it is an opportunity to everyone to extend an invitation to become a new friend. It doesn’t always work, but again, I’ve seen some pretty remarkable turn-arounds from flame war to harmony. I don’t want to hang out too long in a place where folks aren’t getting along, so I do feel a responsibility to try to create the vibes I want to experience.

After all, aren’t we all here because we love music and the tools with which we make it? What’s particularly special about Lines to me is the way that many folks are willing to go quite deep into their inner lives and share some profound insights, experiences, wounds, hopes, etc. This is a wonderful thing.


A thing to me (been a long time lurker tbh): being drawn to honesty. People in here, sometimes, share stuff you maybe wouldnt in public (because too personal, too “heavy”, call it what you want …), in a way that it doesnt feel awkward. This is a unique treat.