Since there's been a lot of fandom history on my dash tonight, I want to tell you about something I've referenced before, and which always gets funny notes in my inbox whenever I do:
The day fandom collectively lost its shit after logging into Delicious and finding it was like, a horrible mix between MySpace and Reddit.
Like AO3, it's a story of fandom using a space that wasn't intended for fandom, and then being utterly destroyed when that space decided to adopt hostile policies.
Delicious was a social bookmarking site, which was basically a way for users to save content from around the web. This was during a time when browsers were notoriously awful, and saving bookmarks locally was guaranteed to end in you losing everything because Firefox updated and did something weird, or Internet Explorer just randomly shat the bed and reinstalled itself when you weren't looking. And it was superior to browser bookmarks, because it had tags and organisational structures that were set by each, individual user.
And it happened to be perfect for fandom, because at the time we were primarily using LiveJournal, another site that didn't want us, and was actively trying to push us out. Delicious was used in two primary ways:
Readers of fic would use it to save the ones they liked, often using their account to curate reclists.
Community owners would use it to organise posts to the community.
Free LJ accounts only allowed so many tags, and even paid accounts often didn't have enough for large communities. Roleplay was huge on LJ, and users would often want tags for all their characters so they could find old threads. Some megafandoms with huge ensemble casts would very quickly run out of tags on their communities, especially if they tagged for content creators, tropes, kinks, etc. With Delicious' tag system, it was a perfect site for both of these purposes.
And then one day, without warning, we all logged in to do our thing, and it was a completely different site. Tale as old as time, Yahoo! bought it, decided it wasn't profitable enough, and decided to rebuild it from the ground up without any warning. They got rid of the tag system entirely, and I don't think anyone ever truly figured out how the new site was meant to be used.
But fandom was utterly and truly in a mass panic, because this backbone of how so many things were run just evaporated. Ever wonder why AO3 has the tag system it does? It was built by the same people who used Delicious. Before AO3, fandom had collectively decided that the information AO3 displays on fic headers was what should always be displayed. People would have to build their own headers, but they always included the same general gist of fandom, characters, pairing, rating, word count, warnings, kinks, and summary. You could browse a stranger's Delicious account, and would have a reasonable certainty of seeing these same, or very similar prefixes in their tag system.
So. Fandom is panicking. Entire communities are un-searchable, reclists are broken, people have lost years of bookmarked fic, and we were all scrambling to find something that worked like Delicious, or build something like it, but it had happened so abruptly that there wans't time to really coordinate.
Then, from the shadows came Maciej Cegłowski, aka Pinboard Guy. (Not to be confused with Pinterest.) Pinboard Guy had heard that Delicious had shat the bed, because fandom wasn't the only group that used the site, and weren't the only people who lost their bookmarks, but we were certainly being very loud and obnoxious about it. Pinboard Guy reached out to fandom on the whole, with a glorious gift. He had his own Delicious clone, that he built from the ground up and maintained for better privacy and security, and he sold accounts. At the time, it was around a $5 one-time fee, with a structure that increased the fee by a fractional amount for each new account. Basically, as server load increased, so did server costs, and this is how he managed to keep up with that.
He also understood that by its nature, fandom is very social, where his site was very asocial.
So he asked, what does fandom need? And someone opened up a Gdoc, and a lot of people put together a very well-written and organised (and enormous) list of ways in which fandom used social bookmarking. How we needed prefixes, and bundles, and a way to discover other accounts, along with detailled explanations of why. A lot of work was put into this, which was basically a fandom manifesto explaining to an outsider everything he would need to know to rebuild Delicious. For a lot of us, we didn't expect anything, but just being humoured was validating.
And then this man implemented these features for us. When you go into your account, you can tick a box that says you're part of fandom, and it will open up an entirely separate part of the site, that he built, just for us. He didn't have to do this. But he did it anyway. He's changed the pricing model since then, and it's now a yearly fee instead of one-time, because Pinboard is still run by Pinboard Guy, and no one else. No ads, no sponsors. Just Maciej Cegłowski and his ancient-ass code that still looks like the internet did in 2009.
And then, a few years down the line, like the fucking baller he is, Cegłowski bought Delicious and shut it down. Just killed it dead.
Not a lot of people within use Pinboard anymore, because AO3 also serves the first reason people used it: bookmarking fic. Allowing for external bookmarks meant that the reclist people didn't need to rely on a service that might not always be friendly to us. And then, well. LiveJournal kicked fandom out through a series of hostile policy changes, and Dreamwidth failed to take off, so we no longer really needed that community archive aspect.
But 2009 was a rough year for fandom, because it was the year fandom pretty much everything changed. While we gained a huge, centralised archive that wasn't the Pit of Voles that FFN is, we lost that centralisation when fandom fled LiveJournal for this fucking hellsite. Some of us vainly tried to make Dreamwidth happen, and clung to it in the desperate hope that Tumblr would fail and people would miss journals and communities, but it never happened.
And I'm telling you. When this Post+ thing finally drives fandom off this site, I'm gonna be torn between sitting back and laughing because it's the same shit all over again, and collapsing into utter despair because I am too goddamn old to learn how to use another site that isn't built for the way fandom likes to shove square pegs into round holes to make sites suit our needs.
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