|In this past October (2020) the Shifti Community lost Chris "Robotech Master" Meadows to an accident involving an SUV hitting his electric bike and leaving the scene. While we may never know the full story of this event, the administrators of Shifti will work to preserve his account and works here as he'd wish us to. Thank you all for being such excellent people.|
Shifti (the Wiki for Transformation Stories) was born in July, 2007. This is known by quite a few people. What most people do not understand is the reason that it was born. It can be summed up simply - one man got a bit angry. But why is that summation correct? And who was this "angry man"?
Shifti is a distant relative of the Transformation Story Archive, which, sadly, has closed it's doors to new admissions. That site is where most of the administrators of Shifti first found quality Transformation Fiction and it's sister-project, the TSA-Talk Mailing List, is how most of them met. TSA-Talk played a huge role in the birth of Shifti.
Around 1997 ShadowWolf first found the TSA-Talk mailing list and the Transformation Story Archive. While he never remained subscribed for long (his current subscription - dating back to 2004 - is the longest he's been continually subscribed), it proved to be a source of motivation for his own writing. But it would be several years before he actually shared anything he wrote, preferring, instead, to read stories posted to the list and finding that he had a very long road ahead of him.
Then, in 2003, the Transformation Story Archive stopped updating. Hoping that the archive was just seeing a lull in activity, ShadowWolf noted the cessation in updates and moved on with his life. He eventually managed to get his writing abilities polished with the help of good editors - like Cubist and Michael Bard - but was still left feeling like the community had lost something when the Transformation Story Archive stopped updating.
In 2005 Bryan started a Wiki on the old menagerie.tf server. This Wiki was named "Shifti" and, though it was based on the MoinMoin engine, is the direct ancestor of the modern Shifti. It never saw a lot of author traffic - whether due to lack of exposure or because the MoinMoin engine was hard for people to get used to - and only lasted a few months (the server was moved across the country to become Lapinia and the database never recovered).
In late 2006 a very vocal conversation started on TSA-Talk about how the Transformation Story Archive hadn't updated in three years. After a while the thread died down when several people (ShadowWolf included) reported that Thomas Hassan and others were working on a massive overhaul of the site.
This calm was short-lived - by May of 2007 it had resurfaced. At this point ShadowWolf had been working on an entirely custom code-base for a story archive for nearly five months. His progress was slow - the requirements he'd come up with for the site were very complex. When the new thread started Bryan said that he'd been thinking of restarting his Wiki project ("Shifti") but he would base it on a code-base he was familiar with from his work editing Wikipedia.
Angered by his own stupidity at wanting to write the code-base completely from scratch as much as he was by a perceived lack of any action on the parts of the people actually complaining, ShadowWolf downloaded a copy of the MediaWiki engine. After making sure his server had all the tools needed to support the Wiki engine, he created a database for it, created a special user and installed the software. It was then that Bryan was contacted and privately "handed the keys". A few weeks later Shifti went public. Within a week Viqsi had registered the domain-name shifti.org and donated it to the project.
In early 2008 the router providing the gateway between Shifti and the Internet began to experience problems. This was corrected with the purchase of a new router and Shifti went back to its steady growth. Within three months of that Shifti's server began experiencing problems because of the amount of traffic. Jon Sleeper, a long time "list uncle" (administrator) of TSA-Talk and founding administrator of Shifti donated a computer to the site. When the donated computer was brought online the problems with the site timing out soon disappeared, though it took some work to get rid of the bugs that had crept into the small network that the machines are on.
Starting in Late January 2009 a very vocal thread started on TSA-Talk about the merits of Shifti. That thread started to spiral out of control, but by the end it was clear that there were some people that were not happy with an "archive" that was an open Wiki. It also brought to light that there were people that believed Shifti was setup as direct competition for the Transformation Story Archive.
Shifti was created with a different goal in mind. It was created to solve a problem - with the Transformation Story Archive being essentially defunct, there was no longer a single site dedicated to TF fiction. There were numerous sites that specialized in one form of Transformation - but the TSA had long been the only site that covered all the numerous branches. With it no longer updating, there was no place to look for new stories - this was the reason Bryan started the original Shifti. And while it was simply anger at people complaining instead of doing that motivated ShadowWolf to setup the current version of Shifti, it cannot be doubted that somewhere underneath the anger he also wanted to correct that lack.