The FidoNet chapter from BBS: The Documentary (2004) is I think required viewing for fediverse admins.

Bulletin board services (BBSes) were pre-web online communities with forums, mail, games, etc. FidoNet was/is basically a volunteer-run federation layer that let BBSes communicate with each other.

The video talks about FidoNet's growing pains, especially around governance & a mismatch between what users wanted and what the sysops felt was required to maintain the net.

"It was fairly easy for a small number of people to wreak a large amount of havoc. It's also easy to lose perspective on that, and realize that on a large scale, the network crawled on. It breaks up into little pieces and it reforms and it doesn't really matter, because underneath there, there's people who are using the network technology to do some thing [...] and they just don't have to pay attention to any of it [...] It runs in spite of the idiots."

- Tom Jennings (~37:02)

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"A lot of times you don't get the praise until you leave. And when you throw up your hands and say 'Oh man I quit, I'm so tired of this' -- 'well you can't leave, you're the greatest we've ever had!". Really? Well why didn't you tell me that back then? Why do you wait until now?"

-Frank Vest on running a Fidonet node (~39:07)

tbh this is one reason I would never run an open reg fediverse instance. Friend Camp users are great at letting me know they appreciate my work... because we're friends!

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@darius i still vividly remember having conversations about cyberpunk novels over FidoNet and waiting a couple of days for responses to posts to travel around

as a non-FriendCamp user I'd also like to thank you for nurturing a friendly atmosphere on your instance :)

@darius I wish Mastodon had/encouraged more BBS feel—mostly, a greater distinctive feel from instance to instance.

That is, I wish we didn't have to fork it to have it.

@darius I agree - BBS, and Usenet history is fundamental to understanding how this has worked before, and could work again.

However I dislike Mr. Scott's documentary (and have told him this, he was not particularly happy with the criticism.) as it professes to be the authority, yet leaves out chunks of history.

Fidonet was one method - there were others. WWIVnet, for example. If we were to look at all of them, the various ideas, and take the ideas that worked for what people are trying to do - not neccesarily best of breed, but best idea for the intent - then we'd be better off in the long run.

But given there really isn't much on WWIVnet - this _is_ something we have, something we can learn from.

I can only speak to my own experiences on BBS's and how that changed with the addition of UUCP connections, merging the BBS world with Usenet. But I can say Mastodon reminds me a LOT of the days of Usenet - before it was destroyed by the users who usurped it for binary use.

@Truck Huh, I have literally never heard of WWIVnet, I'll dig into this. Thanks for the recommendation.

@darius It was, and is, the native implementation of WWIV's inter-bbs communications.

I ran it back in the early 90's on a PC-XT - or, 4 of us did, we lived in a shared house near Kent State University in Ohio. (In a graveyard (: It was cheap. (: )

That was during the pascal days of the source code.

- also, something that would possibly be very interesting to look into - QWK packets - for downloading messages, replying "offline" and posting when connected again. In today's "constantly connected" world, that's not really considered...
but it CAN provide a much more relaxed, more thoughtful way of communicating. And perhaps remove the stress involved with "oh, did someone reply, I'd better check" - something I have issues with (35 years or so into this connected-to-others via computers world.)

But that's a different thing.

Anyway, the WWIV source being open - maybe folks can learn from it a lot too (:

This is great.

The bit about downloading messages, replying offline, and posting when connected again is one of the main feature of Secure Scuttlebutt -- I sometimes download millions of messages from my corner of the network, get on a plane, spend the trip browsing the network offline and writing responses, and then resyncing on the ground.

@darius And I did not know of Secure Scuttlebutt - so now I have something to investigate.

Kiitos! (Finnish for thanks.)

@Truck @darius QWK packets :o Memories of Pegasus Mail for DOS.

@darius Maybe the most important thing to learn from this is:

Popular does not mean "only." And if a project you are involved with is not "popular" - that doesn't make it "bad."

I think in the west we struggle with this - perhaps more than the east. Not being from the east, I can't know fully.

But I see people choose things not based on merit, or how well it works, but by "what their friends use." And that is holding some folks from leaving oppressive systems for less oppressive systems.

Maybe that doesn't matter in the long run if the results are that people are communicating and making progress toward understanding, learning, and shared culture.

WWIV, Fido -both brought people together. So did Usenet, though in a different manner. None needed 'branding.' Or 'market share.' Though Fido had more than WWIV and other smaller nets; and Usenet was larger than Fidonet. Ideas behind them are not obsolete - though challenges have arisen which make them less viable.

@darius It's amazing you dug that out. FidoNet was actually my very first experience of sending a message to someone at a distant BBS. It was, really, my first experience of the promise of email or usenet. It was incredibly exciting to think that, in a day or two, their responses would be waiting at my home BBS.

@d I read this as "my first ever girlfriend was a BBS" which I would also believe

@darius I met a bunch of girls through that BBS, so it may as well be.

@darius I just found the Nodelist history search, and I'm in there from a brief chunk of time back in '93 when I tried to run a BBS. I think I topped out around ten users, total.

@darius Most of the management drama passed me by, though; I was tiny and in a rural area, so even the bigger systems I connected to had basically no interest in how the network was managed. So long as it remained free. If the nodelist had gone for-pay, FidoNet would have died twenty years ago.

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