Contributing to Mastodon

So Mastodon. Obviously, I’m into it.

I’ve been running an instance for weeks now and it’s been great! Some tensions, some conflicts, but overall very rewarding and worth any costs.

My Patreon to pay for server costs is fully funded, the switch to Digital Ocean has gone smoothly, and so I’ve begun looking for more ways to contribute.

See, the web is something we create, and I want to help create Mastodon. Yeah I do that by hosting an instance, but I’m a software developer and I love to build things. So I’ve been picking off easy issues on the repo, gradually moving towards harder ones. I took a look at all the issues/pull requests I’ve opened, and wow. I’m getting to know the project better and better over time, including things outside the codebase. The creator granted me rights to manage GitHub issues, so I’ve been deduplicating bug reports, reviewing pull requests, and labelling issues. It’s been great!

While the developer community has been welcoming, the Mastodon project (and leadership) have been straining under the stress of Mastodon’s meteoric rise in popularity. What’s nice is that they’re being very conscientious and thoughtful about how to address concerns from the community.

While I have lots of experience in open source community management, I’ve never led a project operating at this scale, so I’m mostly listening and only offering advice where appropriate. I think this is especially important, as I live many dimensions of privilege, and the project started and continues to be run by many people of marginalized groups. Even the ability to donate my time to Mastodon is a form of privilege, so I’m trying to be conscientious of that.

I’m looking forward to continuing to learn about Rails, React, and the Mastodon community. It’s been a blast so far, despite being challenging, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon.

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