Mastodon, Open letter and queer activism

There is since Yesterday a open letter circulating about Mastodon main dev, Gargron. While the content of the letter is not relevant too much to Fedeproxy diversity, the comments from Ariadne Conill on the letter is a bit more interesting, as she quickly detail the dynamic around Mastodon, Pleroma and others Fediverse software, and how harassment drove out queer contributors (herself as a start) from Pleroma.

And so, since we talk about diversity, i think this is interesting to understand what happened there.

I doubt Fedeproxy will be in the same situation. My take on why people fight on fediverse is because it attracted people who were kicked out of Twitter for various reasons, some of them for ToS violations (eg, alt-right) and that would be kicked out of most Fediverse instances as well. And because the whole idea of social media is to share opinions (and make them viral with the retweet/repouet mechanism), clashes are unavoidable.

A forge focused project wouldn’t attract the same crowd (or at least, not in the same proportion), and while coders express opinions on bug trackers, etc, this tend to be a lot more narrow that regular medias, and so problems are less likely (it can still happen of course, but I would say a order of magnitude less).

And unlike microblogging, there is no built-in mechanism for virality, which would also reduce the blast radius of any fight/harassement (as it would already happen by usual non-fedeproxy mean, like “posting on forum to attract people”, etc).

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I’ve read the open letter and did not find links to verifiable information (there only are two links to articles that contain similar content with no links to facts). It is worded as a personal opinion rather than a dispassionate statement and demands that the author of Mastodon cease development (e.g “His goal is to bring Mastodon to a more homogenized state, prioritizing gaining as many new users as possible over the user experience of the existing community.”). It is an ad hominen attack on the author of Mastodon (e.g. "Eugen will get money from anywhere he sees fit. " and “Eugen is being hypocritical about his guidelines”).

The comments from Ariadne similarly do not contain links to facts that would allow someone like me (i.e. ignorant of the Pleroma & Mastodon history over the years) to make my own opinion on the matter. It also contains ad hominen attacks against the author of Mastodon (e.g. “Gargron doesn’t care, his groupies will run out any project that challenges him regardless of who runs it.” and “Gargron being a cis white man and non-benevolent dictator”).

Absolutely. I came across similar articles/blog posts/mail threads/forum topics in the past. As a reader discovering the topic and for the reasons stated above, I can’t understand what they refer to for lack of references from which I could form my own opinion on the matter. As a regular participant in a discussion spanning over the years, I often found myself acknowledging irreconcilable differences. They sometime manifest themselves in public statements like the above and I would have an informed opinion to share with friends and, rarely, write about it.

That rationale makes sense to me. But I think fedeproxy, as a project, will eventually be in this situation. Unfortunately disputes are not limited to large groups of people. Two is enough to have a heated argument :slight_smile:

IMHO the root of this kind of dispute (i.e. where ad hominem attacks dominate) is the centralized model that Free Software development suffers from. If a software is developed in a federated way, there are multiple domains in which it is distributed and there are multiple people distributing variations of the software. Developers should also refrain from impersonating the project because it re-centralizes: if a person is perceived by organizations and the general public as being the lead of a project, they will be in a unique position, they will de-facto be in control of the project.

This is something I’m trying very hard to fight against in fedeproxy. At the moment @pilou and myself are perceived as being leads of fedeproxy. And we are because we are paid to act. It is not too much of a problem at the moment because it is rather confidential and only a handful of people have this perception. But it must be fixed before there is any attempt at advertising fedeproxy to a larger audience. The horizontality of fedeproxy plays a key role but it is not enough. Ideally there would be two fedeproxy domains and two forges were it is developed and two repositories from which it can be installed. They would be run by independent people who manage to continuously diverge / disagree and converge / reconcile instead of drifting away.

It is a difficult but fundamental problem and I’m not sure how or when it will be fixed. Hopefully fedeproxy will go in this direction instead of being stuck / handicapped by centralized development practices that should be a thing of the past.

The comments from Ariadne similarly do not contain links to facts that would allow someone like me
(i.e. ignorant of the Pleroma & Mastodon history over the years) to make my own opinion on the matter

That part, I can fill if needed. Ariadne is a trans women, and was a dev working on Pleroma. Then came Alex Gleason, who is the partner of Mary Kate Fain, the creator of, a micro blogging platform for TERF/Gender Critical who got kicked from Reddit (a summary in french can be found here ). So Ariadne decided to leave, since she wasn’t keen on helping folks who are actively creating a community dedicated to fight against her rights.

I would say this is like a developer at Google refusing to work on a project if Larry Ellisson in person came to submit patches in 2012, but that kind of disagreement are 1) resolvable with enough lawyers 2) a purely economical question.

Yeah, this is also a issue I had seen on WIkipedia. I think the issue is not so much the centralization in itself, but the need for 1 single true project. In the case of Wikipedia, that’s because you can only have 1 introduction no matter how hard you try. So this become a space of dispute. On commons.wikimedia, you can have multiple images per objects, so there is less fight.

Given this is embedded in everything on the internet (for example, as a domain name can’t be shared, etc), I doubt we can avoid it, per Zooko’s triangle. However, i would concede that we have currently several Linux kernel forks being used by people (eg, distro forks with backports) and the same goes for most packages, even if there is still the perception that there is only 1 single kernel.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Federating a domain name… how?