@Gargron is there an account of early mastodon history somewhere online? somebody wrote about it?

i'm interested in 'so heard' masto origins in queer/trans furry circles of developers (or non) (i might be wrong of course).

any links would be much appreciated. + sorry if this was asked before.

I'm working on a local presentation of fediverse and mastodon and want to present it right.

boosts also appreciated to reach anyone in the know.

@luka So this is my "I joined early April last year and have a bad memory and what I remember/heard about the then-recent-past-history."

Not really PoC, but definitely very furry, queer, and communist. I don't know to what extent the developers were a pre-existing group vs. came from people who were using it going in to help. I think it's more of the latter.

@luka (Although to be clear, Gargron did do the vast majority of the work, and while saying it was JUST him would be erasing the contributions of the other devs, it wouldn't be incorrect to, if there is a single The Credit to give, to give him The Credit for doing by far a huge percent of it, iirc.)

@luka (That said, the Big Feature of Mastodon is enabling and encouraging and tooling for solid and local moderation and adminning, and credit for that also goes hugely to the mods of the instances themselves. I don't know the full story behind how the different features got pushed for, so I don't know if there are certain people/groups of people who should be credited for that push/ideas.)

But like I have a bad memory, and wasn't there that early on. @shel would be a really good resource on this -- zie's been here since... probably the beginning? Very early on, at least, and has done a lot of dev work, including the introduction explainer popup thing.
(Assuming zie's not busy with stuff.)

@shel @luka Oh, right, also French. There was a huge French community that was also an early-on.

And from after that, but still kindaearlymaybe there is an even-huger Japanese community, although I think there's less crossover/interaction between them and the Anglophones than the Anglophone/French.

@gaditb @luka So the question of "who did the labor" is about what we're counting as labor. If we're talking github commits and programming gargron did 95% of that. If we're talking the emotional labor of reaching out to users, talking out what's needed, designing solutions, and convincing gargron to fucking do them then that was much more of a community effort and gargron was very much directed by the community and specific users especially in that process. Moderation and community management was us

@luka @gaditb And also a lot of the features that people like about Mastodon, visibility settings, CWs, anti-harassment, that stuff specifically was all conceived designed and sometimes programmed by the community.

Who managed documentation, who maintained the list of instances, who conceived the idea for a landing page and designed it.

Heck, who made new instances and brought the userbase here. Who gave mastodon a reputation that made it worth joining and told all their friends to join

@gaditb @luka the French community joined up around March or April; as did the Japanese community shortly after. Right now parts of Mastodon seem like a bilingual french/english community but from October to April it was much more a bilingual german/english community.

@luka @gaditb the closest thing to a written account of early mastodon culture would be @kibi's oh so controversial "mourning mastodon" pieces on Medium.



depending on who you ask they're a somber call-to-action which caused what we often call the "mastodon mutiny" that resulted in gargron hiring maloki to act as project manager for a while before she had to step down for health reasons. when Maloki was PM that was the best time in mastodon development

@gaditb @luka ask someone else and these pieces are just the account of how a white queer community repeatably pushed out and abused black queer people and now feels entitled to a special position in development.

and on that end of things I think a lot of the people who before were sort of passively "oh yeah i'm like... totally antiracist" were kinda shaken awake and realized how much we romanticize a time that was pretty fucked up for others and we need to make sure that doesn't happen again

@luka @gaditb but like, as someone who was considered "de facto project manager/volunteer coordinator" for a couple months or so and specifically spending a lot of my time trying to rapid-pace manage the massive April wave of users and new volunteers to keep shit from blowing up; i really think the history of mastodon is the history of various people taking on the role of "gargron management and damage control" and directing this from a hobby project to something with a roadmap

@gaditb @luka like, if it weren't for trev or crom or me or maloki or bea or whoever else took on this role at any given time, many of the times when gargron said something racist or was shitty would've spelled the end of mastodon imo. there were people out there saying like "i know gargron just called a black person a con artist for asking for compensation for labor so I'm gonna step in and offer up money to any QTPOC who wanna be consultants for a bit and tell me about what we could do to make this better

@luka @gaditb as for how the commie queer furry crowd got here in the first place? Im really not sure myself. I found it because Nicky Flowers tweeted "Mastodon is gay communist furry twitter" (and she's not active on here anymore) and the other main person I think brought people over (I think it was Ellen McGrody?) left in solidarity with voz and tronmaximum back in January? or maybe it was in April during another Incident? (which i take partial blame for. the infamous "at least Jack doesn't @ u" incident)

@gaditb @luka we weren't the First Wave though. we were the second, the November Wave. Mastodon started in October and the fist wave was from when it made the front page of Hackernews in October. The only first-waver I know of on here is halcy. Most of the October-Wave users left pretty soon after realizing that, at the time, Mastodon was in a very underdeveloped stage. the November wave is often considered "the beginning" because that's what pushed Mastodon into a site with an active non-techie userbase

@luka @gaditb it should also be noted that until the French wave arrived in April pretty much all of mastodon was on mastodon.social. We didn't decentralize until the massive April wave crashed mastodon.social and caused a sort of diaspora. Until then the only instances were mastodon.social, awoo.space, icosahedron.website, and tchs.de (or however you spell it); & each of those only had a few users at most. back then private posts didn't safely federate so you kinda had to be on the same instance as friends

@gaditb @luka also i rly wanna emphasize the role community filled in filling in the gaps in the featureset. Before my welcome-box was merged from November to April we literally had a bot that tooted every time it saw someone post on the public timeline for the first time and it'd ping me and I'd go welcome them myself personally lmao. the 'welcome-modal' while in development was "robo-shel" lmao. that it wasn't just me doing this shit it was a massive community effort.

@shel not gonna fav the whole thread just wanna say thanks shel, for doing history and bein shel

@frankiesaxx @gaditb @luka and I've never seen Richard Nixon wiretap the watergate hotel. You joined in the April wave so you weren't here when the main incidents I'm talking about happened; and you also are not omniscient and all-seeing. Trust me, someone who's been here since "the beginning" and did damage control for this shit. It Happened and it's affected his reputation and by extension the reputation of Mastodon as a whole and it's only recently started slowly recovering.

@luka @gaditb @frankiesaxx i'm not going to dig up specific incidents because it's still "recent history" and I like to think he's learned / there's no reason to be talking about the specifics at this point in time. not unless there's another incident and we need to talk about A Pattern Forming. But it's been a while since the last Incident so hopefully it'll stay that way and he's learned and gotten better.

and for what it's worth most of what he did is typical "europeans with bad social skills" fuck-ups


I thank you and appreciate your sharing this insight into the history. I think it's common to over-romanticize the software and network on the surface, but there are deep threads of both pain and joy running through the fabric of it.

I'm sensitive to QTPOC stories within this project. It seems to point to the idea that there's a strong mesh of community efforts and software development, and the former is forgotten too quickly.

@frankiesaxx @gaditb

It's possible it's true; I'm not @gargron 's fairy godmother and I don't watch him every second. But it's not something I've observed.

When someone just tosses off an allegation without support like that I feel weird not at least saying it hasn't been my experience. If someone casually tossed allegations about you into a conversation without evidence, I'd say "I've never seen @shel do that" too.

@gaditb @luka

@frankiesaxx @luka @gaditb yes but you're not... like... you weren't in the story? Like I'm giving an account of the early early days of Mastodon and you weren't there. I'm giving it from the perspective of someone who worked closely with him and was heavily involved and you weren't there.

like this is me making allegations of someone being a racist I'm giving an account of history. I'm intentionally being vague because I *don't* want to dig up old stuff. But I'm not going to pretend that didn't happen

@gaditb @luka @frankiesaxx like what I'm saying is there wasn't a reason for you to say "I've never seen that" because as a statement that's not any more meaningful than saying you've never seen Obama order a drone strike. You have no authority on the matter there's no reason for you to butt into the conversation

@shel @gaditb @frankiesaxx @luka Ok, I'll butt in then. I've been on the Fediverse for a decade, and I have been watching Big G and Masto from the sidelines every since they made HN, and I can say that if he made some insensitive gaffes, then maybe they were known to the close and active people, and maybe they spread through certain affected circles, but they never spread to my side of the Fediverse, and they are not likely to have affected his reputation with the general netizen.
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@shel @gaditb @kibi @luka Good read, sounds accurate and I learned a few things. I'm not sure though how often community representatives and such have worked out well in other projects. And when the community changes, is there really a right for some original community to have a stronger influence than the community in general?

And as always with free software. In the end it's the developers who develop. It's hard to get around that.


what I gather from different accounts it seems that main mastodon developer is sensitive enough to the issues of queer folk to be persuaded by the community to incorporate certain features that are important to the marginalized.

i think that's rare in the floss world. and to me that constitute main part of origin of mastodon, not the amount of users from japan

@mattskala @shel @kibi @gaditb

@luka @gaditb @kibi @shel @clacke If you think having been first is at all important, then I think you must pay a great deal of attention to what came before Mastodon - in particular, GNU/Social. *All* of Mastodon - French, Japanese, English-speaking "queer," moved in after the fact to a community that was built on other software and by other people.

@mattskala @clacke @gaditb @kibi @shel @luka Somethingsomething StatusNet.  One thing history seems eager to forget is that Twitter was originally basically ripping off StatusNet.  We've come full circle in some ways.

@maiyannah @shel @kibi @mattskala @gaditb @clacke I actually never checked. Did StatusNet started before Twitter? Ugh!

BTW: the @ list is growing. I apologize for the noise!

@luka @gaditb @mattskala @shel i would be careful about conflating any of:
- OStatus, ActivityPub, etc., which are federation protocols
- GNU Social, Mastodon, etc., which are softwares
- Any of the various communities *on* GNU Social, Mastodon, etc.

these all have different points of origin and histories and it's important to be clear about which one you're talking about when you discuss them

@luka @gaditb @mattskala @shel when talking about Mastodon *as a phenomenon*, it had diverged from GNU Social pretty starkly by November of 2016 and was pretty much fully distinct by April of the following year

i think it's safe to say that anything before that point isn't *really* the same fediverse (demographically, culturally, or technologically) as we have today, which isn't to say those histories aren't still meaningful.

@luka @gaditb @mattskala @shel when you're talking about where we are *now* with mastodon as a culture and software, and also ActivityPub, but not OStatus, a lot of that is the result of people who joined Mastodon in November and made that software then big. Of course the initial conditions for that were predicated on everything which came before, though.

@luka @gaditb @mattskala @shel If you really want to get into those initial conditions though, you also need to talk about Twitter, TweetDeck, the US Presidential election, etc, etc, which all *also* had a profound influence on how things turned out. Eugen never would have made Mastodon if Twitter was just fine, and likewise nobody would have joined.

@luka @gaditb @mattskala @shel basically imo a lot of things, including prior work by GNU Social, including the mistakes of Twitter Inc, including the political climate at the time, all converged to make Mastodon attractive to the early adopters who pushed forward its development, and then *that development* (and not the previous factors necessarily) led to the more widespread adoption that we see today

@luka @gaditb @mattskala @kibi @shel

By November 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20061109101219/http://twitter.com:80/public_timeline , twitter already had 60k updates.

Evan's "This is my first post" is from May 18th, 2008.


Twitter ripping off laconi.ca/StatusNet is just plain false, unless @maiyannah means that twitter learned and improved by looking at laconi.ca features. But I wouldn't agree with that either. If it had features over twitter at that time, apart from the federation features, it learned them from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaiku .

(another innovative and service acquired and shuttered, Sir Tim bless its soul, by Google)

@mattskala Okay so your question is kind of seemingly deliberately obtuse, so I'm going to answer it, but I'm going to answer it with a hefty amount of snark, because like yeah, sure, Mastodon was built on top of and "join" the GNU Social community.
But ahh, the GNU Social community actually waan't first either! CLEARLY we must also focus on the REST API community!
But before that we must focus on the HTTP community!

Mastodon as a community is a very specific community that is being talked about -- it's not just a disconnect set of people who happen to be using a piece of software called Mastodon.

I don't know if you read any of the above thread, but the way the Mastodon software developed was shaped to an extraordinary degree by the Mastodon community.

@mattskala And if you assume that the success of Mastodon is anything beyond pure dumb luck, you actually do want to be looking at the specific shape of both the software capabilities which the community pushed for, and also the community reputation and self-conception/-description, in addition to social norms -- all of which played into attraction people.

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