Before you begin reading this essay, you must do one thing for me. I recommend you visit https://snowdin.town. Click the image and let the tab and music play in the background while reading this. Perhaps you will get a sense of my headspace when writing this.
The first time I had heard about Akkoma was sometime in December. Until then, I did not really know other Fediverse software existed beyond Mastodon. However, this is not an exploration of that. It’s an exploration of the last six months of my Internet life.
The traditional rules of corporate social media is that you have one account and one life on that service. No ifs, no buts. It’s something that coming to the Fediverse you have to shed. You will have many accounts, and therefore many lives.
In that sense, I could easily cleave my life into two parts: Mastodon and Akkoma.
Mastodon.lol was a server that existed and my first foray into the Fediverse. It is where I found a lot of my friends on here, some of whom are still with us, and some of whom are no longer. You can consider it the introduction to myself. The introduction to a better way of social media. I liked it there. A lot -- until the Harry Potter event. But that's not relevant any more and not worth discussing here.
The main problem with Mastodon as a software was that I felt limited by it. I felt constrained by the 500 character limit, the poll options being only four, pinned post count, no quoting, and no rich text.
In fact, I complained about these things in this post here.
“Like, I legit thought that because there's so many different options in terms of CWs, links, polls, etc, that there would be the option to bold/underline/italicise text... Even Facebook has this option! I honestly had this idea in my mind that bcos Mastodon was a bit more technical than than Tw/FB, I would find text formatting, but uh, I guess not.”
But other Fediverse software was not limited by these constraints. They could do so, so, much more. This right here, was my radicalisation – on 11 Jan 2023.
But where to go next? That’s the big question. Like I said, I was terrified of the idea of starting over. When you live with conventional social media for years and years, the idea that you move somewhere just did not exist. In the end, I settled on snowdin.town for a few reasons. My friends, Hera, Smitten, and UsernameSwift had joined there. I didn’t even know much about Akkoma or the Keys, etc, but I knew that joining somewhere that other people are, is always the best option.
And so, on 7 February 2023, I made the jump. There was a few funny moments, like how I accidentally kept quoting people instead of replying, discovering how reactions work, and— well, the funny thing is that I still accidentally quote people instead of replying…
I hit the “migrate” button. In doing so, however, I accidentally ground snowdin to a halt, oops, as it ported hundreds of followers over. There’s no turning back from this though.
However, I will not dwell on this part for now. It’s time to move onto the next.
If Mastodon.lol was where I found myself, then snowdin.town is where I became myself. I gained more friends and more followers, and I really came into my element. I spent twice as long on snowdin than I did mastodon.lol, which is why I am so inextricably linked with the place, unintentionally so.
The thing about snowdin.town is that it was a community. It was a place to be. Snowdin really was a town. In fact, I mentioned that Snowdin Town had a highspeed maglev (travelling at 420 km/h) linking it with Cutie City. It felt like every morning, I would log on and it would be like hanging around with people I saw every day.
Mastodon.lol was like a conference, but Snowdin felt like I had a cosy little house squished next to everyone else’s cosy little houses.
The draw of anything is community, and snowdin had a wonderful, amazing community. I made so many lovely, wonderful friends there, people I am still friends with now. Nothing is better than friends, after all, and nothing is better than friends that you get to hang out with every day. I feel like I was privileged to even be around so many cool people.
Mettie@froggie.town said it best: “it’s like being able to say hi to your neighbours all the time”.
If I could describe snowdin.town in one word, it would be “irreverent”. Nerds, hackers, shitposters, intellectuals, and deeply hilarious people all created this air of irreverence. I think that’s why I stayed as long as I did. Everyone meshed with each other in this very good vibe of irreverence. There was no point being serious about it all. We’re just having fun on the Internet.
Isn’t that what matters? Isn’t that what matters the most? Isn’t that what matters the most of being online?
More importantly about snowdin, it is where others found me. The comfortable, expressive, and laid-back space that snowdin afforded me, afforded others to find me. My popularity inexplicably grew. While it wasn’t uncommon for me to post Very Good Posts™️on Mastodon, the combination of the tight-knit nature of snowdin plus sister instances meant that a post was quick to hit escape velocity and zoom around the fediverse. It was a different shift in my existence.
In fact, it feels so strange to consider that I influenced Fediverse culture – if you have ever seen the T2 copypasta, then that was me! I did that! For weeks after the event, even months, that copypasta was pushed around, modified, and moved.
I am a different person today than I was six months ago. I think nothing is more profound to me than knowing this. Perhaps there’s nothing better than changing as a person. I do not know in what ways though. Perhaps a little more self-assured, less anxious, more pleased that I have people that care about me. That was true of before but is more true of now.
Oh, and another honourable mention go to when I shitposted so hard that I got our entire instance defederated by some ass. I am very proud of that.
Snowdin.town was moderated fine. Sfr and Velveteen kept us safe from the hordes. I have never had any issues with their moderation on a personal level, and y’know, if I reported someone they would do something about it. Also, Velveteen and sfr would gladly take my constant requests for emojis on board.
Coming to the end
There is not really much here to dissect, in my opinion. The end of an instance can lead to introspection, like with any ending. However, in my opinion, I think two things led down to this path.
The Eve Event
We cannot talk about the end of snowdin.town without talking about the Eve Event. I don’t want to go into the detail, there is too much and it is too fresh. But long story short, Eve was found to be manipulating others and grooming younger users. Originally, it was a bit of he-said-she-said, but as time rolled on, the information became more concrete and real.
Why does this matter to snowdin? Well, as Eve was friends with many snowdin users, this embroiled them too (me included). In addition, one of Eve’s partners was our admin, sfr. The emotional and social toil this had on everyone was a lot, and I’m sure sfr felt the same way. The collateral damage that Eve caused in her wake was huge, and I could not imagine that such an event effectively knocked down some of the foundations of the Town. Even writing about it here is still a little shaky for me.
We’ll see who blocks who!
The problem, however, is with other people’s moderation. For reasons I do not know or do not care about, Snowdin has had some unfortunate run-ins with other instances. It’s enough that I know that for some people on the Fediverse, just the mere fact that one is from snowdin.town is seen as a negative against you. In fact, I have had a couple people mention that my snowdin heritage was a mark against me. Now that, is unbelievable. I do remember when snowdin.town went down for maintenance for a weekend, several people (including the admin of Cutie City, Nuz) lamented that we would be invisible for a little while. Obviously some people have taste. Whatever. Those other people suck anyway.
What I did not realise about moving somewhere is that not all instances are the same. This is an obvious, but key point. Not all instances federate with each other, and not all instances choose to federate with each other.
Snowdin was one of those instances that many choose not to federate with. There is a website (name forgotten) that catalogues who blocks an instance and which instances are blocked. For instances that block snowdin, I would need to scroll down several pages to get to the bottom.
The reasons for this are myriad and complicated, and even I still do not get it. Perhaps there was some bad blood many moons ago, but as far as I was concerned, it seemed to be unnecessary. About 150 of the 400 followers I had at the time did not move over. Some was due to migration issues, but others were due to the fact that their instances just had snowdin blocked. In my opinion, and still in my opinion, is that these blocks were unjustified.
Snowdin had a comprehensive, but small blocklist. My interpretation is that such a blocklist was too small – that is, because we did not block who others blocked, our instance was worth blocking. It is not enough to consider a place on its merits, but to consider it against an arbitrary, undemocratic, and closed system created by some self-appointed Fediverse elders. To criticise them, apparently, is enough to get you on Fediblock – even I was listed for 'dogpiling'! Dogpiling whom? I am not going to waste more time complaining about them though. They got what they wanted in the end.
The term you will see applied to snowdin was “the usual suspects”. I have no clue who these people are, but apparently there was enough knowledge that if you knew, you knew. If you didn’t, you didn’t. I’m not going to write more on this, because it’s a moot point.
But once one is tarred with the brush, it is difficult to ask others to clean the paint off you. In fact, in my period of snowdin, a few instances that I had links with defederated with us. Even with this in mind, I still did not waver in my support for snowdin.
Unlike with the closure of mastodon.lol, there is no animosity. Just sadness. Mastodon.lol went down because of the hubris of one man and his control. Snowdin went down because of the most human thing of all – the personal. In the end, snowdin was too big, too tangled, and too sullied by others’ views. A beautiful home and a beautiful space, but unfairly cast in a negative light.
The loss of Mastodon.lol was inevitable due to the personality of Nathan. It was not forgivable and it was asinine. The loss of snowdin was only because the Sisyphean task of administration became too Sisyphean. It is understandable and there is nothing to ask forgiveness for. I do not, and will not, forgive those outside of us who chose to downrank us.
So, where now?
Moving is a difficult thing. Snowdin was my home. Snowdin is my home. For as long as I am online, it will remain so in my heart. I will always be @email@example.com.
Anyone who has been following me knows that I had multiple alt-accounts. Creating alts is easy. Moving to one is a difficult choice. I always naturally gravitated towards Akkoma. Settling down is hard, after all. In the end, the choice was simple. I moved to 0w0.is, an Akkoma instance hosted by my dear friend and sister Autumn. I will stay there for as long as possible.
To anyone from Snowdin Town reading this: I am forever thankful and forever grateful that we got to be together. We were there for a good time, not a long time. We built up and cherished an anti-racist, anti-fascist, and welcoming space online. To live well, to post well, and to be well, is the best we did and the best we can do.
To sfr and Vel, I have only two words: Thank you.
Snowdin’s logo was the determination symbol from Undertale. In the game, it was used to mark save points. Every time I logged in, I felt like I was safe. Now, it is my turn to keep snowdin safe in my memory.