A day that will live in infamy: Twitter emailed me to make sure I knew I joined Twitter 11 years ago today (really?). And then put a banner in front of my notifications (which I still see even if I don't read my timeline), so I said fuck it and hit post, made the swamp a little shittier.

But. 11 years ago, Twitter was really fun. WWDC lunch & event planning, and other nerds finding our weird Objective-C hobby useful and profitable, and all the weird social events which even antisocial nerds would enjoy because it was software-mediated. The normals hadn't really found their way there yet.

At first there was just a little post form on a page, and you had to reload to get updates. Then nice clients came out, like Twitterrific (great for just reading the stream, invented "tweet" and the bird icon, his name is Ollie), Twittelator (great for lists and filtering), and Tweetie (neat UI design, invented pull-to-refresh). And favrd, which was like a leaderboard for funny Twitter.

Then everything started to go wrong. Normals and their predators got on, and humor took a nosedive as thieves stole jokes and reposted memes. Twitter started making their web app usable, and limiting their API, and telling the client devs to go away. Eventually they bought Tweetie and mangled it and then killed it, because everyone at Twitter is too stupid and tasteless to maintain good software.

I've told of the time around and on in Mastodon. I'm still there, generally quite happy with it; there's a bunch of refugees around. I'm kinda sad a bunch of people I like are still on Twitter, there's a hell of a good world out here away from all of that.

Kara Interviews Jack

But I can't read all the tweets in Safari, because the "moments" feature doesn't work: "403 Forbidden: The server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it." Reloading it in Chrome worked. Neither of them has me blocked.

As @ashleyfeinberg wrote: “press him for a clear, unambiguous example of nearly anything, and Dorsey shuts down.” That is not unfair characterization IMHO. Third, I will thread in questions from audience, but to keep this non chaotic, let’s stay in one reply thread.
—Kara Swisher
I grade you all an F on this and that's being kind. I'm not trying to be a jackass, but it's been a very slow roll by all of you in tech to pay attention to this. Why do you think that is? I think it is because many of the people who made Twitter never ever felt unsafe.
Got it. But do you think the fact that you all could not conceive of what it is to feel unsafe (women, POC, LGBTQ, other marginalized people) could be one of the issues? (new topic soon)
—Kara Swisher
Yeah, it's Chinatown, Jake.
—Kara Swisher

I would've quoted Jack, but he literally said nothing of substance in the entire thread, only "we tried". Tried and failed, Jack.

What a catastrophe, a giant horrible threshing machine of hate with a doofus asleep at the wheel.

The right solution is to shut Twitter down and switch to federated systems. Fediverse routinely "blocks" instances which allow abusers; those instances can remain their own little world, but not interact with the rest of us. And users can block or mute people and domains based on their own needs. I recently muted, the "flagship" instance, because it has many abusers and little moderation. The Federated timeline I see now is so much nicer without m.s. If I want to see what Eugen or their local timeline is doing, I still have an m.s account I can check in with, but I don't bother unless someone refers to current drama and I feel up to reading drama.

Don't Be a Dick

So, Wil Wheaton ( previously "I Hate Twitter" ) was just chased off the Fediverse (he still has an account on a siloed non-federating instance, which isn't really useful to anyone else). His last statement's pretty clear, so I put that down below.

"Please do your very best to be kind to each other. The world is a terrible place right now, and that's largely because it is what we make it."

I know some of the people doing the harassing. There's no point in even arguing with them: They've decided he's in Two Minutes Hate, perhaps because he has a friend whom they don't like, and won't consider "Don't be a Dick", or having empathy, tolerance, or self-awareness that some of them aren't such great friends to have, for one hot second.

While Gargron has condemned harassment, it doesn't fix the problem, since there are entire instances where 4chan-like behavior is accepted; all you can do is block accounts or those entire instances, and it still poisons the Federated timeline for a while.

I'm not sure any level of moderation fixes this shit.

This is why I highly recommend owning your own blog, and broadcasting that out to other services where people can read it; even better, read this and many other blogs in your RSS aggregator or RSS reader ( currently free! ) of choice. It's OK to put some ephemeral chat on other services, but remember those are owned by other people, and are easily attacked by angry, stupid mobs. If a stupid mob shows up here, I don't approve their comments and it's done. It's the Castle Doctrine of online posting.

Wil Wheaton August 29, 2018, 3:02 PM (will be a dead link soon)
I have been notified by an Admin here that they are getting 60 reports a day about my account. As far as I can tell, I'm not breaking any rules, and I've done my best to be a good person here. But this admin is going to suspend my account.

It's the Admin's instance, so I fully support their choice to eliminate a source of frustration, but something to consider: a person who is doing nothing wrong can be run off one instance by a mob from another instance. That seems ... not cool. 1/x

But it's been made very, very clear to me that I am not welcome in the Fediverse, and I hear you. I hoped to find an alternative to the birdsite where I could find the same fun community that existed over there in the beginning, and it's clear to me that I won't be finding that. Before I leave, I want to just make something very clear, because I've spent most of my life being yelled at by people who don't know me at all, and I want the record to be clear. 2/x

During GamerGate, I was dogpiled and mobbed and brigaded and attacked by thousands of accounts. I started using a blocklist that was supposed to help stop that. I did not know that the blocklist I signed up for also had a lot of trans women on it. When I found out, I did everything I could to remove those women from the list I shared. When there were still innocents on the list, I stopped sharing the list entirely. Despite this, a mob has decided that I'm anti-trans. 3/x

This lie that I am anti-trans, or anti-LGBQ, is deeply hurtful to me (I know it's nothing like the pain LGBTQ people deal with every day, as they simply try to exist in a world that treats them so badly, but it is still hurtful in its own way to me). I just want to make it extremely clear: that is a lie, and the people spreading it are misinformed.

So I'm leaving the Fediverse, which has treated me with more cruelty, vitriol, hatred, and contempt than than anyone on the birdsite ever did. 4/x

I know that I'm well-off, well-known, and as a CIS white hetro dude in America, I live life on the lowest difficulty setting. I know that I have very little to complain about.

But I still have feelings, and I really do care about the world and the people in it. What I see is a lot of anger and cruelty directed at the IDEA of me, from people who I just hope don't realize that it really does hurt me, in my heart, to be accused of being someone I am not, and to be the target of a hateful mob. 5/x

Anyway, take your victory lap and collect your prizes. You've made it clear that I'm not welcome here, and even though I disagree with the action this Admin is taking (banning me when I didn't break any rules doesn't seem right), I respect and support the Admin's decision to run their instance the way they see fit.

Please do your very best to be kind to each other. The world is a terrible place right now, and that's largely because it is what we make it.



Twitpocalypse Now

The big winners of this so far have been ActivityPub servers, especially Mastodon, and, where I've seen a lot of people finally jump out of the boiling pot (I was gonna say "frogs" instead of "people", but the whole right-wing frog avatar thing…). My handles are in that About page above you, if you want to follow.

If you're picking an ActivityPub instance, be aware that is a giant possibly-hostile mess like Twitter, and not really a "community" like many other instances. Pick a smaller instance, read the timeline on their instance's front page, and make a more informed choice. You can communicate with almost everyone in the Fediverse and see a similar Federated timeline from almost any instance, but the Local timeline will be different.

You can ask me for a invite, it's mostly populated by technical weirdos. Pleroma is also interesting, and might be more to your taste.

Anyway, welcome to the free world, ex-twitterers!


[Update: No longer necessary, you can export your Mastodon content from Settings, Data Export]

After a while, you need to be able to back up your Mastodon content, and there is currently no way to get anything except your follow/block/mute lists.

So I whipped out Python and made a kind of brute-force scraper.

More details here: Mastotool


For the last few weeks, I've been getting into Mastodon, and last week I closed my Twitter account.

Begin personal history with Twitter:

Twitter used to be a good outlet for my humor, and I met a lot of people I like there, but it's always had a dark, abusive side. If you run into a clique of jerks, you may have a hard time ever avoiding them.

When came out in 2012, I left Twitter and went there, and met many more, much nicer people; the voluntary community, longer posts, and the secondary tools like Patter chat rooms ( was "app" because it made it easy to build other services using the same identity) all made it more pleasant. Sadly ADN was never funded well enough to keep growing, the originally very dynamic app community fell apart (raise a toast to Bill Kunz's Felix) by last year it was a ghost town, and this year it shut down.

I had a second run at Twitter, being much more careful to prune my followees (political whiners, rude punk-asses, and marketing douchebags got booted) and mainly lived in an isolated bubble of a few dozen friends, only dipping into the main timeline when I was very bored. Not perfect, but I wasn't too unhappy. Until the election season and the months since.

Now Twitter is just hate; even non-political posts all seem to be people having massive personal problems and snapping at each other, nothing but raw exposed nerves lashing out. There's no fun or laughter, I don't want to live in a place where everyone is screaming or crying all the time. The uncertainty of Twitter's future and their seemingly random engineering changes, certainly doesn't help.

So when Mastodon got its first major publicity, I tried it out, on the instance. The load of users on there flooding Local and Federated timelines quickly drove me to try smaller instances, so I'm now (a cyberpunk-themed instance) as well as (an OSR RPG instance). Within a week it was obvious that Twitter was done for me.

End personal history.

So what's the draw?

  1. Longer messages. It's hard for me to write anything meaningful without multiple tweets, but a 500-char Mastodon post ("toot" on standard instances, but "ping" on is pretty good. I live-pinged watching Arrival and Rogue One which would've taken a dozen tweets or a screenshot of a Notes page, and still left out detail or snark. I still need a blog for longer thoughts like this, but the intermediate space is covered.

  2. Home timeline can be kept small, just people you want to follow.

  3. Local timeline of people with common interests, everyone on your instance. This is why you go to a smaller instance rather than or other giant user spaces.

  4. Federated timeline of everyone that anyone on your instance follows, which after a while is like the old Twitter firehose or global timeline, just madness scrolling by. Federated is useful for finding people you'd never meet otherwise, and following them.

  5. Culturally, people put politics, spiders, clowns, memes, and other horrible subjects (as well as nice things the anti-fun people hate, like pornography) under Content Warning, so you have to click a button to see it… Or choose not to.

What's not so great yet?

  1. Not as many users. Yet. Mastodon's been growing at hockey-stick rates, currently nearly a half million users on Mastodon instances. Some of my friends have made it over, but not everyone believes yet, and probably some won't get out of the burning house of Twitter.
  2. Politics could still wreck it. There are some far-left-wing and far-right-wing factions out there, and little contact between them, but they're both intolerant and ready for war. I urge everyone to follow my philosophy:
    Be the STFU you wish to see in the world.

  3. Client apps aren't that great. I'm using a browser on desktop, and Amaroq on iPhone (where it's adequate) and iPad (where it's an iPhone app). But this is a far cry from Twitterrific, it's like 2008 all over again. The lack of mute filters other than a regular expression on home timeline is crippling when memes spread.

See also: Sarah Jeong's Vice article