Folks on Reddit keep reminding me of this place.

It's the middle of the night. So what am I doing?

I'm sharing on Hubski again.

My brain keeps telling me it's a bad idea, like trying to reconcile with your ex...

...ah, fuck it, let's do the bad thing.

* * *

Who are you?

I'm ThatFanficGuy, also known as... FirebrandRoaring.


Well, not really. Most people knew whom the second account was, but I lied to them to hide it.

You lied to us!

Afraid I did.


Because I was ashamed. I was deeply, painfully ashamed about... me? me-as-I-was-on-Hubski? Not sure – but I guess I didn't want people to regard me in the same terrifying terms that I imagined were going around. So, I took up a new name; wore a new mask, to see if people would like me then.

Well, not entirely. I also wanted to try being someone new, void of developed conceptions; clean slate for my personality to reflect off of.

Are you still ashamed?

Not so much anymore. I have regrets, and I have scars that incur neurotic tics every time I remind myself about them, but I'm not ashamed.

So, why are you writing this, after all this time?


* * *

Aside from being reminded of this place, I was shown that a handful of people gave a shit about me here – to my surprise, don't get me wrong, but they did. Some I knew about: we spoke over PMs. Most were surprising. "TFG was a valuable member of Hubski". Really? I would've recused myself from food for a week just to hear something like that a year ago. "I liked some of his posts". I didn't realize how much I needed that from a bunch of people I barely interacted with. When friends say something like that, it's good, but when people who don't give that much of a crap about you do, it's that much better, you know?

Not that I have any intention of coming back. I loved the level of insight and discussion this place provided, and I got to share a bit about myself and learn about others here. But that hurt. Stung like a bitch. A stab through the ribs. And sure, you could argue that maybe what I said wasn't that good, or that I was off-tone, or maybe the wording wasn't perfect, but... nah, not today.

For a person who grew up in an abusive, neglectful household, this is like poisoning one's drink. Trust ceases. The whole place suddenly felt hostile, because no one said a thing against it, kinda silently supporting it in a way...

...which makes my posting an update a questionable decision...


...but, yeah, I'll post anyway. Still not sure why. Guess I like going to places I've been hoping to score a bit more love. Meeting that ex was educational, after all, so – here I am. Maybe I'm just too deep in my own ass to see clearly.

So, a few good people, yeah?

Yeah. I thought I'd share what's happened with me, because they might want to know.

* * *

I'm okay. Doing good, actually. Living on my own. Taking care of myself and my apartment is difficult, but I'm doing well about it.

Doing pretty much what I thought I was doing instead of getting my Patron-backed writer career going: building websites. Well, kinda. Only found a gig recently, helping a friend of mine make his app's site (and, as it turned out, the app itself) better. Pays small, for not a lot of work, and it's better than the zero dollars I've been banking every month since September, since I started doing all this. I have no faith to reach out to people I don't know about this, and not enough trust in strangers, either. (If you have my email from me, it's because I thought I could reach out to you. The offer still stands.)

In the meantime, I write. Right now, it's worldbuilding. That's right: I'm busting what limited energy I have for not even proper stories. Why? Because that's the kind of a geek I am. The last thing I posted was this. In the development branch, it looks like this. Which is to say: "Yeah, the initial version doesn't look so great. I took the time to make it better". It's 12.5k words in the dev branch. It's going to get 15k, easily. I can't stop myself from making long texts. It's an affliction.

In the meantime, I code. Developing cool little games, mostly. It's a matter of learning through doing, and a little experimentation with the medium. Right now, I'm figuring out combinatorics: how to make a game out of four keys without the combo list growing exponentially.

Mentally, I'm in a better place. The baseline of "doing what I love" changed the tune significantly from when I was doing things mostly to please others. I made a bold choice, and despite all the hardships in-between, it paid off as far as I'm concerned. Not beating myself up over slight mistakes helps, too; there's a certain serenity in self-acceptance that I didn't know before.

Still no girlfriend. Still very few friends. I'm okay with that.

And... that's it, really.

Oh, no, wait.

I was working on a redesign for Hubski for a long time, on and off, mostly on the impulse of designer's improvement. I felt like Hubski was getting stale, was rough around the edges and too low-key for its own good.

I didn't finish it. Didn't have the energy or the desire to. But, I think what's been made has some good ideas that I'd like to share.

This is halfway through what the front page was supposed to look like:

(oh yeah, you can see from the corner link that got captured: I had a new logic figured out, too. New design system, new pages for response to make Hubski look sleek like it's just outta expensive tailor...)

The header is semi-full-width. The scrollbar side is pushed all the way to the right to make the "+post" the main button, and the opposite side is aligned with the feed along the line of the start of the username. The Hubski icon was supposed to align perfectly with the posts' hubwheels. They weren't supposed to be gone: I think I wanted to re-implement them in a lighter (kilobytes-wise) fashion, and forgot to.

I couldn't resolve the seeming tension between the Hubski icon and the badge-o-meter/message-indicator, so I removed the latter. The orange dot after the username is meant to represent the new messages; it would turn cyan when you have unread/unreplied messages, and disappear when there's nothing in the personal feed. I felt like I couldn't just merge the two round icons because that would violate the symbol, which is iconic to this place.

"+post" seemed the most important button of them all on the navigation panel, so I pushed it into the corner, making it crucial, and turned it all sorts of colors. In retrospect, gray as background color wasn't the best choice: it should stand out but not make you feel depressed. Everything else should go to the left of "+post": the search button, the donate button, the navigation...

The current page is clearly indicated with the Hubski cyan text color and top border.

The new font is IBM Plex Sans. It's sharper, more modern, and has a wider support for different scripts – something Hubski had always lacked (the default styles right now don't even specify that the fallback font should be equally sans-serif, so my Russian or someone's Polish would look all sorts of off). The text is also a bit bigger. The non-essential parts to a post are subdued in color. The octothorpe – the # thing – is also subdued, in an effort to bring slightly more attention to the tag itself. Ideally, the dot between the tag and the personal addition (i.e., #design.ThatFanficGuy) should also be subdued.

Posts each take more space, and there's more space between the posts and each post's description. This is supposed to give each post more importance. The link-buttons were replaced with actual link-buttons that align with the scrollbar end of the post's width (which is capped at 60rem on devices the width of a laptop screen and wider). The buttons for each post appear once you hover over the post; they would cover the longer titles for posts – which is not perfect. Each button was supposed to stand out even in non-hover state, but I only figured out how to make them 5 mins ago. Each button would change background color (and text color to white, if necessary for contrast), with each button having its own color to correspond with the meaning ("hide" is dark-gray with white color, for example; here, "save" is in the hovered state). Ideally, they would also have icons.

And by pressing the magnifier icon or tapping Ctrl twice, you'd get a slick new search modal:

Ideally, it would feature live-filtering of the first few results underneath, if the screen height allows it. (Mobile devices with their massive virtual keyboards would, therefore, not have the live filtering.)

I had more ideas for this, but – again, can't finish it. Maybe you can do something about it. Maybe you can hire me to make it happen.

Now that's it.

Have a good one, y'all.

P. S. Characters still randomly unescape. Some things never change.


Empathy is understanding that everyone sees the world through their own filter that causes them to interpret everything their own way. This is particularly difficult on the internet where we know so little about anyone else; we occupy a funhouse full of mirrors reflecting ourselves back at us, each with opinions and thoughts loaned by a disembodied voice we will never truly hear.

Likewise, there are some lies we tell ourselves while believing we're telling them to everyone else. The heartbreak is that no one else cares enough to try to tell the difference.

Welcome. Stay a while. And should you run into difficulties again, try to work it out with that person instead of marshaling the court of public opinion. We're all humans. We'd all rather get along than otherwise. But we're all dealing with our own bullshit and it takes more patience than we can muster sometimes to pick our way through the minefield of someone else's neurosis.

PS. If you were to write a theme for Hubski, rather than rewriting Hubski, I would happily try it out.

posted by ThatFanficGuy: 207 days ago