User Manual

What is Lyra?

Lyra is a useful, trustworthy tool for conversation.

Lyra puts you in control. It does not choose what you read or control your news feed. It does not rank or suggest conversations or evaluate their worth or interestingness. What you do next when you have finished reading a particular conversation is not Lyra's business.

Lyra aims to operate efficiently and usefully, without trying to capture your attention with an addictive user experience.

Lyra is a nonprofit, like Wikipedia. There are no advertisements or marketing messages. Your personal data will not be shared and your privacy will not be infringed. We ask users to kindly subscribe for £2.99 per year. Full use of our service is permitted without subscription.

Conversations are trees

A Lyra conversation is a branching tree of messages. This is very useful and convenient, since it is possible to reply directly to any message. In a tree structure:

Reading a message's replies

Each conversation is a tree, so any message can have its own replies. To see a message's replies, click/tap on it (not in the left quarter of the screen) or swipe left on it.

Going back up

Once you are finished reading a message's replies, you can go back up to the original message (their parent) by clicking/tapping anywhere on the left quarter of the screen, or swiping right anywhere on the screen.

Writing a message

Click on Reply to reply to any message. You can press shift-enter or command-enter to send your reply immediately.

Pressing enter once will display a carriage return in the finished message. Pressing enter twice will display a new indented paragraph. Pressing enter three times will display a blank line.


There are two ways to add images to a message:

JPEG, PNG, SVG and GIF images are supported. Animated GIFs will not work if pasted; they must be uploaded using the Image link (this is because most external programs only send the first frame to the clipboard, not the whole animation).

Clicking on an image will display it at full size.


To write inline mathematical equations using LaTeX, surround your equation with double dollars: $$f(x)$$ bescomes $$f(x)$$. To make a centered equation, use triple dollars: $$$f(x)$$$ will become:


Public, private and locked conversations

A conversation has one of three privacy levels:

This means that

If more privacy is needed, a public conversation can be switched to private or locked by its owner. A private conversation can be switched to locked by its owner.

However, to prevent private messages being revealed, a private conversation can never be switched to public, and a locked conversation can never be switched to either private or public.

public Can be viewed by anyone with the link, logged in or not. Can be converted into a private or locked conversation. There is not much control over the audience.
private Can be viewed by someone who has been given an invitation link. Can be converted into a locked conversation (not back to public). You can control the audience with invitation links.
locked Can only be viewed by someone who is invited to the conversation by email address. A locked conversation remains locked forever. The audience is fixed and members are authenticated by email.

Example conversations


A conversation can be accessed by its address, which looks like

You can also create an invitation to a conversation, which looks like You can share this invitation link however you like.

Invitations can be revoked at any time, and any number can be created. There are several options:

Lyra can send an invitation to an email address or a list of email addresses.

Please note that invitations cannot be created to locked conversations.

Watching conversations

Watching a conversation means that you don't miss any new messages posted in it. Ignoring a conversation means that you won't be notified of any new messages in it.

You are neither watching this conversation, nor ignoring it.
You are watching this conversation; new messages will appear in your News.
You are ignoring this conversation; new messages will not in your News (even direct replies).

How much does Lyra cost?

Lyra Communications Ltd is a non-profit company. Lyra is operated on the Wikipedia model, asking a subscription fee of £2.99 per year. Full use of the platform is permitted without subcription.

We derive no revenue from advertising or from tracking or selling user data. You retain all copyright over the messages and images you post.

Subscribe to Lyra


Lyra uses secure keys (such as abcd-efgh-ijkl-mnop) to protect access to conversations. There are 26^16 = 4.36e22 (43 sextillion) possible keys. This means that even with a billion active conversations, an attacker would have to make on average 22 trillion guesses in order to access a conversation by guessing its key.

Tracking and cookies

Lyra stores two cookies: remember_user_token, which remembers that you are signed in, and _lyra_session, which is not used and is empty. These cookies are used only to remember that you are signed in.

Lyra does not read any cookies from other websites, leave any cookies for other websites, track your external browsing activity, or share any information about your browsing activity.

In general, Lyra does not share any of your personal information and does not purchase or obtain any information concerning you from external sources.

The Lyra team

Fintan Nagle
Fintan is a cognitive scientist, educator, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Peter Burgess
Peter is a graphic designer based near Oxford. He specialises in typography and information design. As well as reference books such as dictionaries, his broad range of work includes electronic learning software and apps. He has a particular interest in computer art from the 1960s and 70s, and still loves printed books.
Mateus Bolson Ruzzarin
International Ambassador
Mateus is a MA graduate in Applied Philosophy, having studied at UCL and King's College London. He is an industrial systems engineer turned philosopher, and the founder of the Mindshop knowledge workshop.
A.C. Grayling
Professor A. C. Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSL, FRSA is Master of New College of the Humanities and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. Until 2011 he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written and edited over thirty books on philosophy and other subjects, and believes firmly in the value of open, trustworthy online communication.

Frequently asked questions

Why can't I paste a GIF image?

Most software does not actually send the full animation when you copy a GIF. If only one frame is copied, the entire animation cannot be pasted. To upload a GIF, use the image upload button.

How are my messages secured?

Messages are encrypted using HTTPS, the industry standard, as they pass between the web browser and Lyra's servers.

Conversation and invitation keys are highly secure: there are 43 sextillion (about $$10^{22}$$) possible keys, making guessing intractable.

One-page summary

A one-page printable summary of our service.

Contact details

Lyra Communications Ltd
71-75 Shelton Street
Covent Garden
London WC2H 9JQ

Registered in England and Wales, company no. 10534260

Get in touch:

Privacy policy

Lyra does not buy, sell, or share any of your personal information. You retain any copyright over your messages. Lyra's full privacy policy is available here.

Start a conversation