Dec. 5th, 2018

greywash: A lounging pinup girl, holding a cocktail. (Default)
[personal profile] greywash
Yesterday (4 December 2018), I made a post on my personal blog that I am quoting and linking here for now: "State of the Migration: On fannish archival catastrophes, and what happens next":

First: let me start off by saying that it is very probable that Tumblr will back out of this particular bad idea. They often do. The pattern of fannish archival catastrophes at the hand of corporations almost always has five stages: 1) a sale, or rumored sale, of the platform; 2) falling or nonexistent profits; 3) pressure from (pick at least one) governments, morality warriors, and/or advertisers/other corporate interests; 4) the actual fannish archival catastrophe, caused by a change in the TOS or in the enforcement of the TOS, which itself frequently comes in multiple stages; and 5) a second sale of the platform.

Strikethrough, for example, wasn't a single terrible idea executed badly, it was at least two terrible ideas executed badly: first Strikethrough, which happened in May 2007; and then, following masses of outrage (particularly outrage from fans), some limited concessions from LJ management; followed by a second round of permanent suspensions conducted a little bit differently, a.k.a. Boldthrough, in August 2007. These tend to get lumped together in fannish memory, but I want people to remember that they were not a single event.

And those two events, themselves, are also not the whole story: Strikethrough itself followed on well over a year of rumors that LJ was changing its TOS/enforcement of its TOS, ever since LJ had been sold to SixApart in 2005, who were trying to monetize the site. Likewise, alongside those rumors, LJ's adult content—which, unlike Tumblr, may actually have been predominately fannish, because I don't think actual porn producers used LJ anywhere near as heavily as they use Tumblr—had been under continual attack from Christian pressure groups because it hosted material that they claimed was "harming children" [I can't find a source on this, but I remember it very clearly—if anyone has a source, lmk in comments and I'll link ETA: it was Warriors for Innocence, thanks [profile] kink_tomato], what with all the fannish erotica with clear disclaimers on it that it was intended for adult audiences, frequently (as with pornish_pixies) posted in locked communities. There was, simultaneously, a lot of pressure being put on LiveJournal by the Russian government, because another group that heavily used LJ at the time was Russian political protestors. On top of that, there was a lot of rumor about LJ/SixApart's advertisers getting antsy about blogs containing adult content [I can't find a source on this either—if anyone has a source, lmk in comments and I'll link].

So, in short, here is what happened to LJ: 1) LJ was sold to SixApart; 2) SixApart tried to monetize it; 3) SixApart got pressure from a) the Russian government, b) the Christian anti-porn police, and c) advertisers to bring its "adult content problem" under control; 4) LJ deleted a whole bunch of blogs, backed up and said "mea culpa", and then... deleted a whole bunch of blogs; and 5) SixApart sold LJ to the Russians.


Following this pattern, here is what I suspect is going to happen to Tumblr: 1) Tumblr was sold to Yahoo (now owned by Verizon); 2) Yahoo/Verizon tried to monetize it; 3) Yahoo/Verizon got pressure from a) various governments, including Indonesia and China, b) the anti-porn/anti-sex-work/anti-shipping moral purity police, and c) [ETA for advertisers link] advertisers/the Apple Store to bring its "adult content problem" under control; 4) starting earlier this year, Tumblr deleted a whole bunch of blogs, backed up and said "mea culpa", and then... changed its TOS and started deleting content [← we're here right now]; and 5) Verizon will sell Tumblr to ? ? ?

It's possible that we'll have another couple rounds in Step 4. It's not like 2 rounds in Step 4 is magic, or something; my point is just: Tumblr has already backed down once. You see where that gets us (fucking nowhere, that's where). That said? The death throes are going to take a while. I was still reluctantly cross-posting to LJ in 2015; as late as 2013, LJ was still a lot of fans' primary home. Six full years after Strikethrough!! Six! Full! Years! After they started deleting our shit, and banning our friends!!! And in that six years, all that happened was LJ's TOS got continually and aggressively more restrictive, while the Russians were banging up all the political dissenters whose content they'd purchased into jail.

My point, here, is just that we have been here before. Exactly here. We have done this before, exactly this. Tumblr may take a while to bleed out, and they may try to triage it, but the writing is, in fact, on the wall: Tumblr will throw us off whatever cliffs they need to to try and eke out a profit for the morons in Verizon's boardroom; and in the end, our data's going to get deleted, or it's going to get sold, because that is just how these things go.

So we need to figure out where we go next.

You can read the whole (~5000 word) thing at the original post, and there are a TON of really interesting convos happening in comments.

My fellow mods are seeding conversations based on this post while I'm AFK, so watch this space!
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[personal profile] recently_folded
Some basics are in [personal profile] greywash's master post under the header "Current status notes": the [personal profile] copperbadge Google form that feeds a people-tracking spreadsheet and tumblr archiving.

There's also a list of artists and their patreons being made by tumblr user merindab that has links to the input form and listing in this post.

Tumblr archiving how-to: see also this thread.

Another useful thread would be "PSA: Stuff You Maybe Didn’t Realize You Can Back Up To AO3, And How To Tag it."

And for a thread on the Internet Archive as a backup, this thread, although [personal profile] kore reminds us here that they are having a fund-raising drive right now and we might help out with the influx that tumblr archiving might cause.

I know there's at least one other detailed tumblr post on backups but I'm not finding it at the moment so please add more useful stuff in comments as you find them. At some point we should probably copy at least the gist of these over so if they go away in the upcoming purge/exodus, the content isn't lost.
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[personal profile] recently_folded
As reviewed in [personal profile] greywash's master post under the header "Current status notes" we have:
  • Twitter
  • Discord
  • Pillowfort
  • Dreamwidth (as a place to use now; let's take conversation on a future fandom home, different software, partnership, etc to its own thread)
  • Vidders (see [personal profile] cesy's comment)
  • AO3 (for some content—see here)

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[personal profile] recently_folded
Let's start out with the master thread under the header "What I would like to see in the next fannish social platform" where [personal profile] greywash gets us started.

Now, here's where it gets tricky. I've broken out some specific suggestions made that have to do with specific existing sites like OTW, Dreamwidth, fan-created, and a possibility from Maciej Ceglowski (Pinboard) in addition to one on brainstorming a new social paradigm. P2P protocols, while not yet widely understood by fans, have also been proposed as an alternative to an actual centralized site. I've broken each of these out to be their own discussion threads and I hope that we can divide up conversation that way without getting too confused. I've also broken out some specific issues elsewhere: privacy, mobile access, money, abuse/harassment, and the whole thorny realm of adult content, porn, and legal issues. I'll come back and edit in links to each of these posts once they exist.  I'm proposing this thread for generalized thoughts, not specific to a given platform.

In the master thread, [personal profile] greywash launches some discussion on what [personal profile] pangodillo calls "whisperspace." This was what a lot of us used tags for on tumblr, and it's not particularly a feature of or dreamwidth. There's some feeling in the discussion on the Ceglowski idea document that implementing both this as searchable/archive tags would be technically challenging. It nonetheless seems to be something gaining some support in fandom.

[personal profile] thisaintbc makes the point about modes of communication here that
tumblr centers so heavily around reblogging means you can sort of passively follow someone and even interact with their posts without having to directly speak to them in a way that's just not possible on more traditional blogging platforms. And that tumblr encourages users to treat reblogs as their own, in a way, means that you can feel comfortable adding commentary even when you're not sure of OP's welcome (I feel like this in particular is actually a part of tumblr that catches a lot of flack but that I see as a fairly positive thing overall). Maybe that sounds a little silly in comparison to arguably more important concerns like a platform that support multimedia posts, but I can't possibly be the only person who found that tumblr provided them with the space to graduate from "permanent lurker" to "active community member" at the pace of a tortoise rather than a hare.

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[personal profile] recently_folded
This thread is for thinking outside the existing boxes, or using the existing boxes in new ways. Let's start out with [personal profile] greywash's post the idea of a network of persistent fannish apothecary chests of holding.

P2P options

Dec. 5th, 2018 07:11 pm
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[personal profile] recently_folded
This thread is about the possibility of using distributed networks/P2P for fannish content. This something that [personal profile] cesperanza and [personal profile] lim (sorry, I have no idea now to make the fancy tumblr links) have been posting about on tumblr and sharing thoughts here, including in this comment and several that follow on from it.

From the master thread, three informational links:
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[personal profile] recently_folded
[personal profile] pangodillo brings this up in a comment in the master thread, which has several follow-on comments beneath it, including several from [personal profile] naryrising,who talks about the challenges from the OTW side although NOT as representative of them.
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[personal profile] recently_folded
[personal profile] lirazel raised the issue that we'll have to look at no matter where we end up and how we do it in this comment.

[personal profile] trascendenza speaks here about some organizational modes and their financial implications.
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[personal profile] recently_folded
This was lightly dealt with in [personal profile] greywash's master thread and its comments, but not beyond wondering whether they would have room to expand into a broader social site or whether their code could be used to create one. This thread is to push that idea around further.
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[personal profile] recently_folded
Again, this topic was raised in [personal profile] greywash's master thread and its comments, with some preliminary thoughts. Clearly, creating a whole new site would be a major undertaking, but so was AO3 and they're kind of the role model now. Can we do this? What do we need to do this? Who's interested in kicking this idea around?
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[personal profile] recently_folded
This came up as an important issue in [personal profile] greywash's master thread and its comments.

What needs to be kept private and how should it be done? How can fans get durable, reliable separation from meatspace? Are we worried about IP recording? Does fandom participation require a VPN for safety? How can we prevent doxxing as much as possible. What privacy protections should we expect from a new home?
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[personal profile] recently_folded
There was some mention of this in [personal profile] greywash's master thread and its comments.

A lot of the concern has to do with the fact that for a mobile ap to be listed in the two major ap repositories, it has to be squeaky clean and have nothing to do with what the repositories view as porn—which is basically all that fandom considers adult content, marginalized communities, gay content, etc. There are ways around this, but they tend to be obscure for many users.

Is this a make/break issue for a new fandom home? Is a mobile-optimized site meant to be used in a device's existing browser ap adequate given the adult content issue? Is creating a mobile ap best left to someone outside the new fandom home?
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[personal profile] recently_folded
As discussed in [personal profile] greywash's master thread and its comments, this is a major concern for fans.

Tumblr, while convenient in many ways, kind of died on this hill for many fans. It's certainly been a major issue in the devaluing of predominantly-female fandoms in the eyes of outsiders, and it's gutted more than one fandom (Sherlock BBC, I'm looking at you). How many of us have burned old fandom identities behind us to shake toxic attention or orphaned works on AO3 to avoid old associations?

In existing sites, Pillowfort is trying to take a strong stand against this and has some interesting—if confusing to new users coming from tumblr—measures in place to try to combat it. As do Dreamwidth and AO3 and perhaps others I'm not sure about.

What do we need to keep fans safe from abuse? What kind of measures do we expect from a site that wants fans?
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[personal profile] recently_folded
And here is the elephant in the room. We get some starting thoughts in [personal profile] greywash's master thread and its comments, but there's a lot of thought that this will require because this is the one that can bite us all in the ass no matter how well or creatively any site is designed.

Many of us are leaving tumblr because we just don't see the world in binary sanitized terms with sexuality and sexual conduct the evil mirror presence to be kept locked in the closet. Adult content is fundamental to shipping, which is a huge component of fandom across a variety of media. Right now, that content is being pushed away in different directions, and with it, fracturing fandom. If we're going to have a common fandom home and protect our fandom legacy in all media, we've got to bring it right back to the table.

Nonetheless, child porn exists and porn purveyors will invade every toehole they can find in search of profit. I think we laughed, those of us who saw PornHub's tweeted invitation to tumblr refuges, but that's kind of the side our allies may turn out to be on in this. So drawing difficult lines between adult content and exploitative porn are going to have to be part of our planning.

Dreamwidth has a policy; Pillowfort has a policy (although the issue of their domain not permitting "porn" bit them despite their good intentions). AO3 has a strong presence in this game, and it's also been a controversial one that has been used as an attack vector.

What are we going to do about this?

Note to other mods: do we need to raise the age restriction on this thread? Please edit in and fix if indicated.

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[personal profile] prettyarbitrary
From @ajaromano on Twitter (
"FANDOM: @Pinboard, who I would trust with the entire internet, is working with @pearwaldorf to spec out the kind of fandom social media platform we would all like to build. Please check the spec doc out, contribute, and circulate it!"

The link:

Opening to the doc: "Hi! I made a tweet, and then Maciej Ceglowski DMed me and said if fandom (I realize this is not going to be all parts of fandom) could come to a consensus about what such a platform should look like, he said he’d see what he can do."

Reading through this, I am quickly seeing congeal a genuinely functional, thoughtful wishlist of functionality for a social network made by fans for fans--with multiple potential approaches to make them happen, some of which are looking to me, admittedly a coding dilettante though a tech professional, eminently possible.


Some discussion space for where we go next.

March 2019


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