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FA turns six; promises new layout, fixes in May

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Fur Affinity turned six this weekend, offering a preview of a new site template to go live May 21, plus a commission system with integrated ratings.

Site owner Dragoneer has promised that underlying security issues will be fixed too:

Things have been slack in the coding department, and we know that. It's time for a change, and we're long overdue. We're going to fix that. [...] The vulnerabilities will be fixed between now and then, and some of them require complete system re-writes

However, offers to help with these vulnerabilities have been rebuffed for now. It is also not the first time that a new layout has been promised.

Comments

Your rating: None

"However, offers to help with these vulnerabilities have been rebuffed for now."

You mean one aggressive offer by one unpleasant person was turned down. I can't tell from that "source" (a chat log of someone yelling at someone else) if any others are, so without other (less dramatic) examples that statement comes across as an unfair generalization.

Your rating: None

It is not the first time offers to help have been met with the answer that they need to get it secure before they can accept help with getting it secure. The attitude would be defensible if FA already had an established coding team well-versed in security procedures, and did not have well-known vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, neither of these are the case.

Web developers – including myself – have sent in specific guides to certain problems, many of which have trivial solutions. Such submissions have tended not to be implemented, leaving gaping holes in FA. This sort of thing is incredibly frustrating for a programmer (as expressed by verix), and it is why people seek the ability to do it themselves.

I appreciate that it is very hard to find "the right people", but I do not think a system administrator should be in charge of the development process. While their jobs may appear similar from the outside, sysadmins have a significantly different role to developers. Their job is to keep the servers running, and anything that might lead to instability (like a code change) is a threat to that. However, such changes are clearly needed if FA is to attain its immediate and long-term goals.

Your rating: None

Actually, I know of a whole slew of developers who have offered to help guide FA back onto a path that is more developer friendly and centric. The problem was, the developers in play there consider anyone new some sort of threat to their "job" and the attitude they fired back at me is somewhat acerbic. I am a software engineer with product management experience, as well as some project management work , and I offered, for free, to guide some requirements writing and what not for FA. This would have included some level of coding, and testing for them.

The response I got was so disheartening that I went off to write on my own for awhile, and then work liked it so much they bought it off me and subsumed it into the work's social networking functionality. I'm not nearly the only one, or the last, to offer services that I do professionally for a living, for free to FA. I'm not the only one who was met with that level of flame coming back. There are probably fifteen or twenty that I know of that wanted to give back to the fandom in this fashion, some of them very quietly approaching FA because they know what happens to people who offer to help.

The fact that they are going to start paying is hilarious, since they had some very capable software engineers and project managers and testers approach them, for free, and get treated like shit.

Your rating: None

Makes me wonder, if so many talented people have offered to help guide FA, it sounds like there's enough of these developers being rejected that they could band together and do the kind of site they could only dream of trying to achieve with FA.

Your rating: None

The problem is, we don't need a new site. And with the cost of new sites come hosting, and a whole bevy of other costs innate to the project. You have to worry about legal ramifications. Starting an incorporation so that you are protected from the legal backdraft that can occur, people DDOSing your site. In short, you have to become more than a development team, but an entire business structure. Some of us want to just be developers and sharpen the saw, as it were, in the off time, but we have no interest in having to form an entire business. That's why you're more likely to get people who want to work on something with an established business in place, instead of something that is completely new on the business front.

However, I was willing to make a new site, and I do know of other furs out there who are working on their own little skunkworks, but convincing them to go live and make it into a business is a lot harder. You have to understand, we see the customers out there in furry, and we know the shit Neer and others go through. Generally, we don't want to be involved in all that, we just want to code :P

Your rating: None

There are already quite a few sites out there who make respectable competitors in my eyes.

Though what I'd be interested in seeing is a federated network model be put in place between these sites. So far they are all walled gardens where you're data stays tied to the website. Don't like the policy of one furry art site? Then you have to do a lot of work to migrate to another service. Got a friend exclusive to one art site? Tough, you can't link up because you're on another one.

The technology is in place to create a federated network, we have seen in in services like Status.net who are the developers behind the open microblogging site Identi.ca. Diaspora is a work in progress to make a federate social network. I think it would be great if furries were liberated from the wall gardens art sites erect, to be able to freely choose their service without punishment or to be able to host their own website.

Your rating: None

That has also been suggested in the past, and I wouldn't look for anything from Diaspora. How to put this. Of the furry sites, there is one that has the most people that absolutely and steadfastly refuses to be involved with anything behind the scenes from the other sites because of security reasons. There have been people who have written Upload Once/Upload Anywhere scripts that have been told by this one site that if they didn't stop "hacking the site" that there would be legal consequences.

What you're describing would be nice. But it also is already A-OK with two of the big furry sites out there. The biggest, however, has a SEVERE playing nice problem.

Your rating: None

The biggest sites are unfortunately the least likely to cooperate with the network you envision, as there is nothing in it for them. The research I conducted last weekend at FC suggests that that unless we have dA and FA on board, nothing will make a lick of difference.

As I hinted at below, I think the most realistic solution is to make it easier for users to work with sites in a generic manner, even if you have to do dirty work behind the scenes to get things up or down. Sure, you don't get a clean implementation or SSO, but it won't matter if your program handles your operations.

Friends may be a harder nut to crack, but at least with this system you can be in all places at once without too much trouble, so there is still the opportunity to interact.

Your rating: None

Well, this can be done seamlessly to the user via API.

But we all know that two sites have API out there, and one site is so positively afraid of anything like that that they refer to any automated programming involving their site as "hacking."

I count the two sites that share APIs as sites that would be good candidates to link up.

Your rating: None

Ease of programming is unfortunately not a benefit if your target users don't use the sites you support.

If I can achieve what I have in mind, it should be hard for anyone to think of a good reason to block it.

Your rating: None

Well, you know what we're dealing with :) A good reason to block it is a logical reason, and there's been very little logic with regards to this .. debacle.

Your rating: None

I certainly don't see FA being on board with a federated model, since they have proven resistant to change and would suffer most from having their walled garden torn down.

I imagine it's the smaller sites like ArtSpots, InkBunny and SoFurry who have more to gain and would probably be where the project would have to start. The technology and know-how exists in the form of XML, JSON, oAuth, xAuth, OpenID and XMPP, I don't know much about the technical side but it is feasible if someone had the right vision on how it would tie together and how it would clearly benefit everyone.

If the likes of ArtSpots, InkBunny, SoFurry and other small players were onboard for such an ambitious project, the next thing would be to create a kind of CMS system or a protocol an existing CMS can plugin which would enable outsiders, who don't want their art hosted on any of the existing galleries, to be able to enable it on their own art portfolio website. Like how Status.net works where people can be a member of Identi.ca, but you can host your own microblog on your own server and still be connected to Identi.ca. An artist could have his own art site which is decorated exactly how he wants it, but still have the benefit of social connectivity... what a pipe dream...

But it's only a dream at the end of the day.

The sad reality is for as much as people like to think furs are good with technical stuff, they're not that great. They have always been followers and never trend setters. The likes of FurAffinity, Furryne.ws and FurBook (defunct) do impersonations of the likes of DeviantArt, Reddit/digg and FaceBook respectively.

Your rating: None

Actually, there are a ton of good furs with EXTREMELY good technical skills. I know a number of them at Amazon, Google, MIcrosoft, and Apple. VERY talented coders and VERY skilled people.

The problem isn't that we don't have Great people. We have plenty of Great People. (tm)

GreenReaper, for example, is a pro in the software industry.

I am a pro in the software industry, and I hold multiple patents as well as several innovative awards from work.

The problem isn't great people. It's an unending lack of desire to play the political game that comes with this. I'm involved with side projects with very talented people (who happen to be furs) , that are innovative, fresh, and awesome. But, I don't really want to make those for furry audiences because, well, 1) There's no money in it, and 2) There's only a bunch of bullshit in it.

So , if you want great people to be using their great talents on great things, you have to appreciate it. You have to not burn them and push them away.

You point to sites like FA, FurryNe.ws, and Furbook... all those sites, save FA, use CMS's built to mimic. FA didn't use a CMS built to mimic, but instead mimiced on their own.. and did a shoddy job of it, apparently. There wasn't a need or desire to innovate there, all people wanted to do was have their own furry version of "site X."

We have the talent. We are great. We work in some of the highest technical fields in the world.

What we don't have is the desire to do work for furry.

Your rating: None

Thanks GraemeLion for the insight, it's interesting to know. :)

I hope I didn't offend anyone there, but I merely gave my own frustrated conclusion on why such and such has never happened, but now I have some insight into why there's a lack of motive it is appreciated.

Still frustrating though. I'm frustrated mostly with myself. I can design, think of ideas and have visions of how a product should work, but I lack the development know-how to ever bring these things to life.

Your rating: None

I know the frustration. I look at the things like FA, how I was treated when I offered to help. I look at how Dragoneer gets treated, or Toumal, or the Inkbunny crew. (though, they aren't nearly as vividly in front, so they get spared a lot of it.)

Coding is fun, I live for it , and I love it. I do a full day of work doing it, then I come home, and do it more. We all would like to find "the thing" that makes us rich and gets us out of the 9 to 5 doing other people's work. We all want to innovate, and do our own stuff. :)

And we don't need ass-pats, but we do need to not be treated like dirt. :P And if you look at how people in this line are treated, they get treated horribly.

If I wanted to get treated horribly, I'd go present to the sales team again :P At least we get paid for that ;)

Your rating: None

For a site that includes stories, poetry and music as well as art it's quite sad to see that their 'submit' and 'browse' buttons have art in their names. It's also a bit sad that favourites are no longer visible by default and having an info area for user and character seems to be going a bit over the top. Still, it doesn't look bad and I'll reserve judgement for once it's completed. I just hope they don't pull an upgrade like Sofurry did.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

Aren't writing, poetry and music all subsets of art, along with visual arts?

Your rating: None

In a broad sense, yes. However in general usage people will differentiate between furry art, stories, music etc. Art is generally taken to mean visual and so I don't think it's the write way to title the buttons. It's almost as though FA sees visual art as superior to the other media it accepts. That is actually a criticism that has been made by authors due to the way FA generally treats story submissions.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

Tell me about it. Story podcasts, audio dramas, etc. have to be categorized as "Music" because there is no other category for audio files. That suggests the categories are hard-coded. Lame.

The only reason a lot of people are still on FurAffinity is, well, because a lot of people are still on FurAffinity.

Your rating: None

Because nothing screams creativity like selecting from a list of preconceived parameters, am I right?

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If you think that's bad, try writing a program to upload to all art sites at once. Narrowing down a user's selection to pick one category from FA's odd collection is bad enough, but then you have to link it to dA's crazy tree of options. Thankfully most sites are moving more towards tags, but still.

Your rating: None

Pretty cool there's now a live preview rather than just a static picture to look at. Aesthetic wise it's a good and the usability appears to be good as well though the test is in tasting the pudding really, once a proper change is made.

Either way the competition is getting interesting, what with SoFurry having a redesign in the works and InkBunny doing well from what I perceive.

Your rating: None

Competition is usually healthy. As for Inkbunny, the site's progress is public knowledge.

Your rating: None

Agreed. Though I am appalled by some people I've spoken to who vigourously believe choice is a bad thing. I find it inconsistent as I'm sure if something like being able to only use one kind of ISP or search engine happened, they would say the lack of choice was bad, yet they don't apply this belief in free market equally across.

That said, the problem with competition in the art hosting service as we all know is that it's locked in and designed to punish people who try to move to where the grass may be greener. It is of course though their right to have a walled garden, it is their service on their server and they're not obliged to make it easy on people to leave. It's a tough nut to crack. :/

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from Irving, Texas, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.

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