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Analysis: Fur Affinity's staff revamped; dev team still lacking

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (10 votes)

Fur Affinity recently announced a restructuring and increase in staffing. On the main site, staff acknowledged "administrator inaction, bias, and a lack of accountability" but assured users that they "truly want to fix the issues, and [are] working toward a better Fur Affinity."

To see whether this change is going to be enough to improve Fur Affinity, I want to compare the administration structures of the three main furry art sites – Fur Affinity (FA), SoFurry (SF) and Inkbunny (IB) – plus a few details from commercial alternative deviantART (DA).

Site Users Staff^ Views/Month (est.)$ Views/Month/Staff
Fur Affinity* 516?225 30 6?958?710 231?957
SoFurry** 167?591 27 [19] 974?580 36?095 [51?294]
InkBunny# 55?660 7§ [6] 227?490 32?498 [37?915]
deviantART## >16?000?000 92 250?000?890 2?717?400

$ Page views as of 17 August from statshow.com. Note: Likely to be inaccurate, but close in relative proportions. ^ Numbers in brackets exclude technical staff.
* Users as of 26 August. Staff as of 17 August. Page views for furaffinity.net and forums.furaffinity.net.
** Users as of 22 August. Page views for sofurry.com and beta.sofurry.com. Staff as of 17 August.
# Users of 22 August. Staff as of 17 August. § One IB moderator has two accounts for technical reasons.
## Users as of 17 August. Staff as of 17 August.

Staffing levels and workload

As can be seen above, although FA may have four times as many users as SF, it has just slightly more staff, with some restricted to the forums. This shows most when looking at the number of page views per month per admin. While SF and IB are in a similar range, FA admins must handle six times the number of page views as other furry site admins. To bring the work load per admin to a comparable level, FA would need 174 – though naturally the number required will vary depending on the proportion of pure browsing to posts and submissions. FA admins must continue to do more work, as the site reports growth of 11?724 new users per month, with roughly 50 new support tickets a day (Ed: IB gets around 6).

Just because FA has a higher work load per admin doesn't mean that they are overworked. I do not know how many page views each administrator can handle, and it might be that SF and IB actually have more admins than is required. DA, for example, copes with 10 times as many views per admin as FA. DA is a commercial site, however, with full-time employees; furry sites are run by part-time volunteers.

Although FA does have a number of problems, the admitted "administrator inaction" could have a large role to play in that. I cannot say whether FA admins are working hard enough; all I can say is that compared to other furry art sites, they still have relatively few staff.

Organizational structure

Also important to how the site is run is the structure of the administration. IB is a much smaller site than both SF and FA, with it's staff split into administrators (2) and moderators (5). Both FA and SF have specialised staff, with the main split being administration and technical/development. FA is unique in having two site owners, although this is only after joining forces with Furocity.

FA has 30 administrative staff and SF has 19. Both sites follow the same pattern of having one or two admins in charge of various aspects and a collection of moderators for general rule-enforcing. FA has many more categories, with a head of art, stories, photography, etc. while SF and IB have a flatter administrative structure.

In addition, for FA the forum is a separate site; not all forum admins have staff privileges on the main site. SF has integrated forums, so its staff have privileges over the entire site. IB does not have any forum capabilities, just submission and journal comments.

Another split in FA is that it maintains an IRC channel (#furaffinity on irc.furnet.org) with some admins exclusive to IRC. Two IRC-exclusive admins were excluded from FA's admin count, as IRC activity was excluded from the page views count. SF again shows an integrated site with its own chat function included as part of the site, and three admins charged to focus on the chat. As SF has all features linked, they are included as part of the main admin count; any views for the chat will also have been recorded as page views. IB does not have a chat system.

Technical aspects

FA has a technical development team of either three or four members, with different sources giving different staff breakdowns. This is much smaller than SF's nine-member development team, eight of whom focus exclusively on development (DA has a team of 29, plus ten ops staff).

FA's developers all have other responsibilities in the forum and/or running FA's convention, FA: United. This is a known area of concern, and Dragoneer specifically mentioned new "coding expertise" when announcing that members of Furocity would be joining FA staff.

This is perhaps the aspect on which FA does worst, with very few changes being made to the site, or at least made public. FA's technical development has been consistently criticised; the new user interface is three months behind its promised release date. SF2.0 is currently in public beta, though with very active development and staff posting regular updates and dealing with problems as they are reported. IB, while neither having a specific development team nor making any major changes to their user interface, regularly reports bug fixes and feature changes.

Staff conduct and communication

FA's new staff has already come under criticism for being put in a high-level positions, despite only just having joined FA. The entire photography and written works departments of FA are formed of new admins who haven't been on FA for much longer than a month.

At the same time, one of FA's admins complained that existing staff hadn't been told a lot of the information about the new admin structure. This may represent a failure to properly communicate within FA (and with the users as well, even on important issues such as the rules) which could be responsible for many of the problems the site experiences.

Along with the new staff announcement was the announcement that "we have written a new Staff Code Of Conduct which outlines requirements that all staff must adhere to." When people asked why the Code Of Conduct was not available, staff revealed that the 'written' Code Of Conduct was still in draft form. If it is released, FA will be the first furry site to have released a public Staff Code of Conduct. It remains to be seen whether this is a progressive step with FA leading the way or a forced move to try and improve the behaviour of the admins.

Conclusion

FA has markedly fewer admins for its level of activity than other furry sites, though that may not represent a shortage of admins. As far as the structure of the admin team goes, FA and SF are using a very similar system, with some individuals focussed on certain tasks and others to do general maintenance. However, when it comes to technical development FA lags far behind both SF and IB in it's ability to implement changes and bug fixes, although it has promised to work on this shortcoming. The current staff structure appears sound and it would appear that the problems with the site are more to do with apathy and poor communication, both between members of staff and between the users and staff.

Comments

Your rating: None

I found the linked FA statistics quite interesting. That adult submissions are two to three times as popular as general ones is no surprise; that mature works are twice as popular as adult ones by views and favs is.

As an Inkbunny moderator I'd say we probably have more staff than we need on a ticket count basis, but any less and we'd risk going for extensive periods of time without a staff presence at all.

(For the record, we have also had an internal moderator policy from the start, though it's mostly common-sense.)

Your rating: None

Uh, what's the difference between mature and adult? Which one's the porn, in other words? Or, which one's the porn, and which one's the porn with pretensions?

Your rating: None

It depends on the site, but the line is typically actual sexual activity. On Inkbunny, visible arousal also falls under adult.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

So mature R, adult is XXX.

So, furries like softcore over hardcore.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Or maybe because drawing secks and making it look convincing is hard as Hell.

Your rating: None

I think the staff can act fast when they want to, from my experience they seem to react faster to some breaches then other, as in priority of wrongness as it were.

For example, has the author received any note about this article lately? I'm sure you have.

Your rating: None

I don't know how fast they respond. I've heard a lot of complaints about lack of response and I submitted a Trouble Ticket 10 days ago and have still received no response. I just looked at Dragoneer's FA page and found this shout. Mosa: "Backed up on your email again? I and others have been waiting for replies about ads for a while now, and just wondering what's up."

In the SoFurry beta I've submitted nearly 20 suggestions and bug reports and all of them were assigned to someone within 24 hours and a number of them have been replied to and fixed. So even if nothing is going to be done at the time you want the problem to at least be acknowledged.

And I haven't received any comment from FA yet but I now sent a PM so hopefull I'll get something back.

"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

I got a reply from Dragoneer. He doesn't want to comment because he says Flayrah is biased against FA. On the positive side he did give me some more accurate numbers.

"Membership Size: 516,225 users
Traffic/Page Views: 216,395 unique visitors a day viewing about an average of about 8,581,555 pages per day"

I can't edit after publishing, so GreenReaper can you please change the number of users. The new views are perhaps more accurate but totally different to the statshow.com numbers and if we change those then we can't compare sites. At least this way the error in the views will be the same across all the sites so the relative differences will still show.

"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

I have changed the number of users. I will give equivalent IB stats if authorized by Starling (who's on a trip right now).

Your rating: None

Inkbunny's Analytics statistics for mid-July show 20?522 visits and 252?138 pageviews a day; internal stats show 23?356 visits and 302?203 pageviews in the last 24 hours (traffic rose a little in the last week).

So if you change visits/month to pages/day, statsview.com's figures actually sound about right. ;-p

Both sites have around 2/5 of their user count in visitors/day, though these are not all visits by registered users. FA has a higher pages/visit (probably due to the community size - more for regulars to do - and varying use of AJAX).

Your rating: None

"I got a reply from Dragoneer. He doesn't want to comment because he says Flayrah is biased against FA."

And furries all fuck in suit... right?

What I mean by that is that sure, there are some members here who certainly may have vendettas against FA, particularly when this is the second article you have written this summer to 'statistically compare' FA to its competitors, the first one not really hiding your thoughts on FA's behavior. And by your history of comments on this site I think there are clear motives as to why you would certainly not mind seeing FA, or the people running it, go. So if Dragoneer thinks Flayrah is biased because of the article of a few of its members, that's his prerogative, but that would also mean FA is 'anti-FA' because of people's similar criticisms on his own site.

I think it's important for a leader to understand the difference between legitimate concern and sabotage. Clearly, I don't see yourself having any love for FA's policies, but I really hope that Dragoneer does take this information and use it for the advantage of his site rather then dismissing its entirety purely on the fact of the hand/hands that wrote it. I know he listens even if he doesn't always speak.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

This is the first one using stats. I don't want to see FA go, I want to see it improve. There's a big difference. You can perhaps see my articles as biased against FA but I would say they aren't. What they do do is point out FA's failings. That's not biased or opinion, that's fact. FA has not been able to deliver and has been criticised heavily. I was worried about seeming anti-FA and did ask some other people if they knew of any major complaints against IB and SF leadership but no one could think of any. Just that I need to ask about other sites when I can name a number of complaints against FA offhand shows something about that.

I'm glad you see the difference and I hope Dragoneer does. I assume he's at least read the article but even if he hasn't I think he is aware of all the problems in FA and I do think the "joining forces" with Furocity is meant to solve those problems. Perhaps this is all too soon to be commented on but, as far as I can see, the development issue is the major problem with FA and the one about which's solutions I've heard the least.

"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 Average: 1.9 (7 votes)

For what it's worth I've felt your articles had an anti-FA agenda. Since you have a lack of complaints about FA's competing sites maybe your articles would seem less anti-FA if you weren't using that comparison at all.

Honestly I really don't think this article is necessary. Anyone using the site will know the pros and cons of using FA. It's not really news. In my opinion, complaining about FA would be better suited to a personal blog.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Is that really the way you're going to explain your feelings? Let's just put it in another context. A beverage company is found to have unsafe levels of heavy metals in their drinks but none of the other drinks companies have any similar complaints. Would you still say, "Well there are no complaints about their competing compainies so it's unfair to compare their health records?"

This is necessary because not everyone using the site knows the pros and cons. If they don't visit the forums it's quite possible they are unaware of the problems. They also might not even be aware that there are alternative sites, or what those sites are doing differently. This information is also useful for the sites themselves to see what does and doesn't work.

"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 Average: 1 (1 vote)

Bad example to compare whether a furry art gallery updates its code or not to getting sick and dying due to drinking contaminated beverages.

I'm well aware of the pluses and minuses of using FA and I'm rarely on the forums, sometimes years go by and I forget they're even there. All that's required to know whether you want to use one of these sites or not is to register, use them and observe. It costs nothing.

Like I said, it is my opinion and my personal feeling upon reading your articles that you have an axe to grind when it comes to Furaffinity. You can make of that whatever you want. It's just a sort of FYI that for at least one reader, this is how your articles come off.

Further more, again, this is not news. FA posted to their main page, dated 8/16/2011, their acknowledgement of things they want to improve in the site and even listed most of these concerns. If this article had been, 'hey FA acknowledges these problems and says they're going to fix them' that might be acceptable. Right now the article is more like 'here's my beef with FA and btw Inkbunny and SoFurry are awesome'.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

"If this article had been, 'hey FA acknowledges these problems and says they're going to fix them' that might be acceptable."

But that's just what it was about!
They said they're bringing in new people, so I looked at how the number of people they have compares with other sites.
They talk about new coding talent from Furocity but there's no sign of that on any of their staff lists.
They say they have written a Code Of Conduct for the staff but it's not been released nearly two weeks after the announcement.
The thing is FA has a history of saying they'll do stuff and it just hasn't happened. Yes, they acknowledge the problems but nothing has been done about them. Other sites do not have these same issues or a history of ignoring complaints. IB is new and the only real criticism I've heard about it is misinformation. SF has been criticised before but they have responded and tried to improve, first by moving to a community focus instead of being a porn site and secondly by now completely redoing the user interface in a manner that is determined by the users.

"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

Hey, I gave you my impression, my opinion. It's free advice, do with it what you will. I'm not interested in continuing to listen to you justify your reasons.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Well, yes, but your article was ended on the note of opinion: "In an attempt to improve efficiency, Fur Affinity has joined forces with fellow furry site Furocity, hoping to acquire new coders and administrators. However, the ability of SoFurry to answer the call of users and develop itself may make it a more attractive choice for furs."

You may be just stating and comparing abilities to update, but the conclusion derived is certainly advertisement in nature. I mean, it'd be the equivalent of a news organization going.

"BlowhornsRUs is having its second recall of blowhorns this month. Because of this a more attractive choice for your blowhorn needs may be BlowHorn city."

Stating issues and problems that people know exist are one thing, but has SoFurry really had/has no issues in development. If SoFurry were as popular as FurAffinity would it also be coming under more hard attack? Would its code be put more to the test by hackers?

Sure, I as much as the next guy would like to see FA improved, but I know it's more then just development problems that make your facts so easily shift to advertising. I mean judging by that last sentence, FA isn't what you want to see improved, but SoFurry's membership.

While I personally have no stake in the matter, as SoFurry and FA are just two means to an end to me. I'm just sort of trying to point out that the article's tone did seem to set a "Look SoFurry is updating, and FA has failed to do so, nyah-nyah." You even dug to 2009 issues to make the comparison on what SoFurry was doing now now. What about SoFurry's past? Was there any criticism on site improvements or lack thereof?

If I were the one making it I would have more went along the lines of explaining that SoFurry was releasing a Beta of 2.0, and that FurAffinity had plans on releasing their own improvements for this summer. The history of SoFurry and FurAffinity's ability to make updates is irrelevant to the article, and more likely at this point FurAffinity might miss their deadline again, so instead of concentrating on the past, looking to the future and highlighting it would put more on what they should be doing then dwelling on what's already been done.

One does not have to go about preaching the past of an organization, if you are right about their shortcomings, they will always present them time and time again. And if one does go for a historical viewpoint in their article, it's only fair we get the history both.

Your rating: None

BlowhornsRUs is having its second recall of blowhorns this month. Because of this a more attractive choice for your blowhorn needs may be BlowHorn city.

And yet, isn't that exactly the kind of information – if accurate – that community members would benefit from?

At this point, I again suggest reading What the Public Expects of Local News. In brief, some see news outlets simply as places to find facts. Others - and it tends to be the majority - expect them them to act as a trusted advisor; to make expert judgements, to have measured opinions, and to offer solutions to the community's problems.

I support the publication of the latter kind of article here, but they could always be done better. Unfortunately as the person who has to decide whether to publish something or ask for further revisions, there is a limit to my own knowledge. In particular, I can say "why didn't you say anything bad about X", but I don't know if there actually is something bad – and I wouldn't want submitters to dig and dig just to try to "balance" the article. If X is really better than Y in some way, the article should say so. The question is at what point we draw the line and say "this is an opinion piece", and how to disclose any relevant conflicts of interest. The word 'Analysis' in the title was intended to hint that there'll be some kind of reasoned conclusion at the end.

Yes, organizations can change, and it is obnoxious to harp on past problems if those problems are resolved. It's especially poor form to bring up old bones when they achieve something concrete ("sure, they fixed a bug this time, but last time they didn't"). However saying "they haven't done A when they said they would, and they didn't do it last time either, so consider using provider Y instead until they do" . . . that seems reasonable if you also mention Y's shortcomings in that area, if any.

(I would note that this article does not make such a recommendation. Be careful not to do the very thing you're complaining about and judge an author's current articles based on past ones. We're all learning, here.)

Your rating: None

But then why SoFurry? Why not Inkbunny? If one is going to say, "you should look to a competitor" why look to one competitor or the other? Why not give all candidates an equal say even if they are not of the two major parties? Isn't this kind of journalism, in practice is the reason we have a two party system in this country? It should purely be up to the people which competitor they go to, not a small group using their platform as a way to influence that decision.

Going back to the example, should they not be going. "Other local blowhorn sellers include Blowhorn City, Blowhorn Inc, and Blowhorn Emporium have not had any recalls this month and will surely benefit from the recent recall." instead of coming out and saying, "You should go to Blowhorn City." That is hardly fair to Blowhorn Inc or Blowhorn Emporium.

There is enough information out there where if they don't like facts that are put up about an organization they know the options they have available to them. Just state the facts, it is up to FA's users to decide whether the facts presented are reason to leave them for a competitor, and it is up to them to pick which competitor gets their usage, not us.

As you said, there is a reason you don't speak about FA. Because you work for a competitor, even if Rakuen doesn't work for SoFurry on has to wonder why he suggested them and not Inkbunny? Was he worried that using that phrase would make it fall back to you?

Your rating: None

Why not give all candidates an equal say even if they are not of the two major parties?

Few can be expert on all sites. I imagine Rakuen chose the ones he knew best. But to an extent, I agree, and that was one area improved this time around – both Inkbunny and deviantART were considered.

Isn't this kind of journalism, in practice, the reason we have a two party system in this country?

I think you'll find that's more to do with the winner-takes-all system, though doubtless one hand washes the other.

Because you work for a competitor, even if Rakuen doesn't work for SoFurry one has to wonder why he suggested them and not Inkbunny? Was he worried that using that phrase would make it fall back to you?

I doubt it. Few submitters appear mindful of the effect of stories on their own reputation, let alone that of their publisher. In turn, I see it as my duty to polish and publish their material without regard to its potential effect on my own name.

Your rating: None

I think GreenReaper has said most of what I wanted to say to your previous point. I brought up past issues because they have not been resolved and the new FA interface has been talked about and promised for years. SoFurry had complaints when it changed from Yiffstar. I myself hated the new site and practically left the site but they listened to the complaints and are now preparing to launch a new site taking into account what people complained about. FA hasn't done that.

Sure FA has more users and so their code might have more stress. But doesn't that then beg the question, why does SoFurry between two and three times as many coders? That is a question FA needs to answer.

The quote you used about recommending SoFurry isn't from this article. It's from my previous one and I don't think I recommended SoFurry in this one. But as for why I suggest SoFurry as an alternative and not Ink Bunny is simply because SoFurry offers more. Ink Bunny runs smoothly and that's great but it lacks a number of features that SoFurry has, such as groups, integrated forum, integrated chat, better display for stories and more users.

"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 Average: 4 (1 vote)

"SoFurry had complaints when it changed from Yiffstar. I myself hated the new site and practically left the site but they listened to the complaints and are now preparing to launch a new site taking into account what people complained about. FA hasn't done that."

I remember this, which is why I was going down this line of questioning on that topic.

The thing is that this shows that there was favoritism, bringing up the fact the FA had announced an update and then going "They did this before and failed to deliver." Yet in the article you failed to bring up that the last time SoFurry did update that people complained about the updates. I think that's important thing to realize coming into the SoFurry update, will it be a good update as you seem to believe, or will it flop again and people hate it?

Having faith in a company over another is normal, however if one is going to use the past of one to put doubt on the present, you can't ignore the other's past.

Your rating: None

I think in the SoFurry article it was mentioned that people did not like the new interface. Although the new interface was what they had when they had perhaps the biggest growth of new members and it did introduce new features and consolidate old ones. When it was Yiffstar it also had a separate forum.

I don't bring that up here because the focus here is on FA's staff changes and how the staff compares to the other sites. FA's history here is important because the changes in staff should be made to best address the complaints and history of the site. There is also the difference in the complaints. The SoFurry complaints were about the interface itself, not so much bugs. A lot of the FA history is actually of bugs or features being disabled (commission info, registration and search) or just plain stagnation.

As for will the SoFurry update be a good one. Yes. I don't think they originally did a public beta for the first one. They might have but I can't remember. SoFurry 2.0 has the public beta and I've found it very impressive and a huge improvement to SoFurry 1. It has problems still, but is a beta so that's expected, but complaints are being addressed. For example I've made comments on forum navigation and that has been changed. People have asked for new things added and that's been done. I don't think I've seen any people hating this version, except perhaps the colour scheme but they have promised to offer different skins once the designs are all finalised.

"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 Average: 5 (1 vote)

Honestly, he's probably more concerned that I'm on staff at Inkbunny and have both publicly reported on Fur Affinity and given my personal opinion elsewhere. There's a clear conflict of interest there, and it's why I'm more inclined to accept stories from others so I don't have to write them.

That said, Flayrah generally posts what we get. We have not been getting reports regarding Inkbunny or SoFurry. Still, if these sites had 10x the activity that they do now, it is likely that they too would be feeling the strain.

(In fact, I seem to recall noticing a certain fail-whale when the SF 2.0 beta launched . . .)

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About the author

Rakuen Growlitheread storiescontact (login required)

a student and Growlithe from South Africa/Austria, interested in science, anime and power metal

I'm a fur from South Africa, now living in Austria, who got into the fandom through my interest in pokemon and writing fanfiction. Outside of furry, I have spend a lot of my time in gaming (particularly Dota 2) and science.