This article was written in early 2020. A fair amount has since changed - both in the fandom situation, and also in my opinion of said fandom.
Updated followup to this article coming soon!
Homestuck is a webcomic that I've been enamored with since 2011, and been following it actively since then also (with a break in 2012, but since 2013 it's been without breaks). It's shaped my life in a very positive way, not only through it itself but also through various fan creations.
There were days where I got my laughs purely from watching Homestuck comic dubs from Octopimp, SenorPacman or many other dubbers on Youtube, read fascinating and varieted Homestuck fanfics on either fanfiction.net or AO3, all while listening in the background to the Homestuck soundtrack or fanmusic, sometimes even in the form of the fan-radio AlterniaFM.
That said, even though I was actively consuming Homestuck content and fan-content I was too shy to participate in the fandom. I remember distinctly how I sent a message with dares to a truth-and-dare fanfiction... and then stopped following it or any responses to the message out of fear. Later on it turned out that the author wanted a bit of clarification regarding one of the questions and I just abandoned them out of irrational fears that they would insult or degrade me (with no reason, that's just how I operated back then).
That's how it went for a good while. Me enjoying the content, feeling "in" the Homestuck wave, but being too afraid to actually participate in it.
I still feel regret.
Nowadays the fandom is way different than back then, less care-free and more serious, while I am still in the old zone, in some ways abhoring the new side, in some seeing the old carefreeness in it still, in some giving me completely new fun experiences. I yearn for the chance to participate in the "old" side of the fandom even if it's no longer feasible.
The rift in the fandom that formed changed my perspective on the outlook of the community quite a lot.
In the olden days there were many HS fan communities on various services - the MSPA Forum, Tumblr, Reddit, Facepunch Forums, 4chan (before /pol/ leaked and it fully became an gigantic shithole)... tons of places. The MSPA Forum was the "main" one but Hussie gladly communicated with various sides of the fandom.
Nowadays, after the closure of the MSPA Forum and various things rocking the fate of those sites, two "main" communities remain - Twitter and Reddit.
Homestuck Twitter is mostly filled with people migrating away from Tumblr after the Porn Ban. It also, arguably, inherited the most troublemakers that parts of Tumblr were infamous for (if they didn't migrate to the Steven Universe fandom or Undertale fandom).
Homestuck Reddit is a place filled more by the really, really old guard of the Fandom and the fans who followed in their steps. It does, however, house the more reactionary elements of the fandom, even if other people don't appreciate their appearance (that said, the most reactionary are sticking to 4chan still).
The Reddit and the Twitter sides of the fandom have been embroiled in a spat, and quite honestly it's the one case where I feel "both sides" criticism fits (albeit each side for different reasons)
The Homestuck Reddit community had Makin/Makinporing as its administrator for a very long time. He's a quite divisive figure and has acquired a less-than-positive reputation. The subreddit under him (and the Discord Server closely linked with the suberddit) was accused of harboring child predators and reactionaries. While I was not following the allegations closely Makin is quite trollish, and I've personally seen the amount of reactionaries that the subreddit gets (like one person who went in a post from hating rosemary to being a homophobe and then had everyone else take the piss out of him). He did make several interesting fan projects, however.
All in all, in my opinion he's someone who would best be suited to making some cool fanprojects on the side, not really as a community administrator & representative.
Hussie keeps the most contact with the Twitter side of the fandom, and in fact chose writers for the new Homestuck^2 & Pesterquest mostly from Twitter (albeit Griever, the writer of Eridan's route in Pesterquest who is most famous for his Jojostuck fanadventure, mostly hails from Reddit AFAIK)
The controversial figure in that community is one of the official writers, Kate Mitchell, who has pushed for her Trans Vriska interpretation to the exclusion of everything else, even talking down criticism from other trans people as transphobia (all while her opinions of Tavros's actions were critized by the community as being ableist - Vriska in the comic frequently makes fun of Tavros for his disability that, by the way, she caused!). A toxic person in general (the rest of the new writers, I should note, are quite level-headed). She has also encouraged witch-hunting against the subreddit.
All in all, while her writing in Homestuck^2 is alright she absolutely needs to lay off the social media.
One of Makin's projects got released recently - homestuck.net. It's meant to be an online archive of fan content released over the years - to "Save Homestuck from the heat death of canon", as the tagline on the main page exclaims. It's closely linked with the Homestuck Archives - a torrent version of the content on the site.
However, he went about this not asking for any permission and many fancreators subsequently got quite angry about this.
Now, I personally am in favour of saving culture regardless of author's intentions. (In the same vein, feel free to save anything on this website) There are, of course, many cases where not conserving the shit by request sounds alright (for example: the work contained some offensive stuff that no longer represents the author and as such they no longer want to be associated with it) but I feel the SMW Central approach of "archivizing while also allowing for anonymization of submissions" is the best one.
This view of mine comes from watching the Homestuck fan culture get deleted by authors, really. Many classic works are no longer existent, and exist only either in Youtube videos showing them or possibly reblogs on Tumblr.
When releasing media, they in a way stop being yours to keep - they become part of the wider culture. And culture preservation is very important.
The main crux I believe came from people wishing to not be associated with Makin - which is a fair point. In that sense an archive being led by a fully neutral figure would have been way better, and as such in this particular instance I'll have to side with the many fancontent creators. Any archival of their work should not be affected by any outside positive/negative reputation of the people doing the archiving.
Enter Kate Mitchell and her declarations that the subreddit "needs to be destroyed".
Makin already didn't show much receptiveness towards the outraged fancontent creators, but then Kate did the equivalent of pouring gasoline all over the room and then releasing a lit match. Whereas people all over the spectrum regarding their feelings towards homestuck.net managed for the most part have a productive and thoughtful discussion about the nature of the fanwork (excluding Makin, who, again, rebuffed most of the suggestions aside from a paltry "you can ask for your content to get deleted") Kate very aggresively approached the topic.
Eventually the claim for the destruction of the sub was demoted into "Makin needs to resign", but that did not calm down the subreddit. And, honestly, rightly so. You don't get to simply clamor for a destruction of a community because of one fanproject done by one person. (regarding Makin's status as admin, he was most definitely not uncontroversial on /r/homestuck - and I'm speaking with experience by lurking on the sub since 2016)
Eventually Andrew Hussie himself stepped in. He took up negotiations with the subreddit team, which concluded ambicably with Makin resigning from the administrative positions on both /r/homestuck and the Discord server. Both Makin and the new admin, DrewLinky, commented positively on the way negotiations were handled by Hussie. All is well...?
Not really. While Hussie's negotiation skills & his calm are to be very highly commended it is not clear whenever Kate got a similar talk by the Huss.
Indeed, the person who ended up spreading vitrol & in previous cases toxicity even apparently got no reprimand for her actions, both in this and the previous situations.
This is a very troubling thing.
How can the fandom collectively be happy and secure in the knowledge that the controversial people are not having their controversies being dealt with in a fair way? What's the use of solving the problems of the Reddit side if the problems of the Twitter side are going to be left unsolved by the way side?
Speaking of which...
The Homestuck Twitter I've visited only a few times. Every time I did so I was met with toxicity and vitrol. In fact, out of the few people on Twitter I have blocked manually, and not through a blocklist (that, in my case, blocks all corporate accounts and also some alt-right accounts) one was a person from the Homestuck Twitter complaining about trans women. They were trans-masculine at the very least and yet they were posting some highly abusive stuff regarding people very similar to them.
That encounter permamently soured any want to participate in the Homestuck Twitter. It's basically the worst of Tumblr but amplified. (Tumblr itself becoming more calm surprisingly after the Exodus). I do not feel welcome there, and that honestly makes me wonder if Kate's abrasiveness is just something required in a community that, due to it's origins in Tumblr and as such being more imbalanced demographically in favour of trans masculine people, often tends to shit on trans feminine people.
Does Reddit have problems? Absolutely, and I'm looking forward to DrewLinky taking a harsher stance against transphobes/homophobes (whereas Makin was more trollish and more "don't give too much of a fuck" in these cases).
But Twitter's problems, unlike Reddit, make me want to never participate there due to the troublemakers not receiving any punishment. I am happier not being there. And the problems of Twitter effectively not being addressed at all make me worry highly.
In a way I view the fandom right now as being split in two. Where previously the many corners of the community usually tended to go together under Hussie's frequent communication nowadays there's the favored Twitter kinda left-behind Reddit. Both sides have problems with themselves, that either are beginning to be solved or are completely forgotten & disregarded.
I feel any unity is impossible.
And I think that unity is the last thing we need right now.
It's clear that what Homestuck is has diverged between those two sides. We are seeing two different outlooks on the comic. With the favoritism of Twitter these outlooks will further diverge. Personally, I hope they diverge further. I don't see any hope of Reddit and Twitter sides coming to an agreement & getting rid of toxicity from both sides, so I see no point in there being one central place for Homestuck content past the end of the actual comic.
The entire "non-canon" thing implied by Homestuck^2 was confirmed by lead writer, Aysha, to be a mere nod at how Homestuck is being handled by new people. But it also got me thinking about one thing - is there such a thing as canon anyway? I could say that I personally consider the Act 5 Act 1 and the stellar Herding Cats fanfiction as canon and nothing else! I could make Homestuck fanart blending the two together, I could write fan continuations to the "canon". Nothing's stopping me from doing so. And yet, someone else might consider the entire comic but also a fan continuation (be it Act 8 or Act Omega on MSPFA) to be canon. They can't stop me from considering my version canon and I can't stop them from considering their version canon.
There are, of course, the copyright & trademark which will always belong to Hussie & his squad. But that, in practice, only matters towards them being able to receive money for their work and being able to claim that they're official out in the open.
But I and anyone else have no obligations towards personally considering their work canon!
A group could make a work intending to continue Homestuck after the end of the comic, simply receive no money for it (though with possible Patreon for unrelated stuff - as "o" of CANWC fame is doing for example) and have a big UNOFFICIAL and HOMESTUCK BELONGS TO ANDREW slapped everywhere but still, personally, consider it canon & talk about it as if it was canon.
So here's my take: I do not expect the problems with Kate's communicativeness and the Twitter community as a whole to be resolved. As such, I'm going to personally consider any of the new works (Pesterquest, Homestuck^2) non-canon. I might build up my own perception of canon (and maybe, in the future, you'll be seeing Homestuck fanfics on this site as well!), incorporating stuff that I really like (and, given the stuff I stated at the very top of this article, it's prolly going to be a combo of fun, thoughtful stuff and silly, careless fandom fluff). And I recommend you do the same - not just for Homestuck! Every single one of you can have your own perception of canon for any work! In case of Touhou, you can consider the PC-98 non-canon, canon, or the only canon for example!
Canon, ultimately, is subjective in a personal sense, even if it does have an objective meaning.
The Homestuck Canon and Fandom is dead, long live the Homestuck Canons and Fandoms!