About

Bitmia is an investing and personal finance community launched by Andrey Orlov ("phatcat") in September 2018. The primary focus is to discuss financial news and theory. Our members also welcome less experienced investors who have questions about investing or who need help to develop their portfolios.

We believe in starting early, living below one's means, regular saving, broad diversification and simplicity.

Invitation tree

New users must be invited by a current user, though there is no formal vetting process. Invitations are used as a mechanism for spam-control, to slow registrations to a pace we can acculturate and to encourage users to be nice, not to make the Bitmia userbase an elite club. The quickest way to receive an invitation is to talk to someone you recognize from the site or request one publicly. If you wrote an article or a blog post that was posted, definitely contact someone for an invite, we'd love to have you in the discussion.

The full user tree is made public and each user's profile shows who invited them. This provides some degree of accountability and helps identify voting rings.

There's no limit on how many invitations a user can send. When accounts are banned for spam, sockpuppeting, or other abuse, moderators will look up the invitation tree to consider disabling their inviter's ability to send invitations or, rarely, also banning.

Transparency policy

Some other personal finance sites are operated by corporate entities which may have significant financial incentive to censor or artificially promote the links and discussion that relate to those entities, their investments, or their competitors. Some of these sites have had moderators of popular sub-forums banned after it became known that they were being paid by 3rd party companies seeking special treatment of their submitted stories.

All moderator actions on this site are visible to everyone and the identities of those moderators are made public. While the individual actions of a moderator may cause debate, there should be no question about if an action happened or who is responsible.

All user voting and story ranking on this site uses a universal algorithm and does not penalize or prioritize specific users or domains. Per-tag hotness modifiers do affect all stories with those tags, but these modifiers (and changes to them) are made public.

If users are disruptive enough to warrant banning, they will be banned absolutely, given notice of their banning, and their disabled user profile will indicate which moderator banned them and why. There will be no shadow banning or other secret moderation actions.

The source code to this site is based on Lobsters codebase generously shared by Joshua Stein.

Tagging

When links/stories are submitted, they must be tagged by the submitter from a list of predefined tags. Users can choose to filter out or subscribe to all submissions with particular tags (example). All users see all stories by default. The tagging system works this way for three reasons:

  • It keeps the site on-topic by only allowing a predefined list of tags. These tags represent what most of the users of the site want to read, so content that does not fit into any of those categories should not be submitted. It also keeps stories organized and more easily searchable.

  • It keeps the conversation centralized. Often stories contain discussion about more than one topic, yet on other sites they are confined to a single category/forum, limiting the exposure. The link could be submitted to more than one forum, but then each conversation would remain separate and users would rarely interact with users from other forums. On this site, the story would simply be tagged with multiple tags and all users would see all discussion about the story in a single location.

Creating new tags and retiring old tags is done by the community by submitting, discussing, and voting on meta-tagged requests about them, and these events are logged.

Downvote explanations

Often on other sites, a user would have his or her comment downvoted without explanation and then edit their comment to ask why they were downvoted. On this site, voters must choose a reason before downvoting comments and those votes are tallied and shown to the original commenter.

For submitted stories, downvoting is done through flagging (also requiring a valid reason) and these flag summaries are shown to all users.

Other features

  • Private messaging enables users to communicate privately without having to publicly disclose their e-mail address.

  • Responsive design enhances functionality on smaller screens such as phones and tablets without having to use a separate URL, 3rd party (often read-only) websites, or proprietary mobile applications.

  • Integrated search engine covers all submitted stories and comments, including full-text caches of all submitted story contents. Searching for a keyword will often bring up relevant stories that don't even mention that keyword in the URL or title.

  • Story merging combats the problem of multiple stories at different URLs being submitted in a short timeframe about the same news subject. Rather than have multiple stories on the front page with fragmented discussions, all similar stories can be merged into one.

  • Fuzzy-matching of submitted story URLs to avoid duplicate submissions of similar URLs that differ only in http vs. https, trailing slashes, useless analytics parameters, etc. When using the story submission bookmarklet, story URLs are automatically converted to use the page's canonical URL (if available) to present the best URL to represent the story, as defined by the story's author or publisher.

  • User-suggested titles and tags can be automatically applied to a story when a quorum of users agrees on a new title (such as removing a site's name, or appending the story's year of publication) or set of tags, without any moderator action required. (Log)

  • Hats are a more formal process of allowing users to post comments while "wearing such and such hat" to give their words more authority (such as an employee speaking for the company).

  • Per-tag and site-wide RSS feeds are available to the public and logged-in users have private RSS feeds that filter out each user's filtered tags.