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Fur Affinity bug permits huge avatars; former mod banned

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (8 votes)

A recently-reported bug in Fur Affinity and its subsequent exploitation has led to several user accounts being banned for periods from a few days to a few months. The bug allowed a user to modify an image file and then upload a giant avatar, unconstrained by usual FA limits.

Giant FA icon

The bug seems to have originally been found by Scott J. Fox, who posted about it on Twitter and made an FA journal which was later deleted. Around 10 hours later he was suspended from the site for three months (now seven days). Dragoneer maintained that the suspension was appropriate, saying that:

Promoting people to exploit an issue with "Enjoy breaking FA!" made your intent quite clear.

Also involved in the giant avatar episode was Benchilla, who served as an FA forum moderator for seven months in 2010. Initially he was suspended for two weeks, subsequently calling the episode "harmless fun" and the bans an overreaction. Less than an hour later, his two week suspension became a permanent suspension, and his forum account was soon banned as well. Dragoneer clarified that the two week ban was for the avatar, and it was extended because of his "previous history of hijinks" with the site.

A contributing factor in the decision to ban Benchilla could be that he is co-owner of Weasyl, a furry art site scheduled for release later this year. The site is to be in direct competition with Fur Affinity and has promised features that have been requested by its user-base for years. Also on Weasyl staff are Xipoid, who until recently was an FA admin, and current FA admin, FayV.

Eevee also responded to Scott J. Fox's twitter post. Like Benchilla, Eevee was banned from FA for bringing attention to flaws in FA's coding. Eevee was part of the team to design Ferrox, the proposed new interface for FA from 2006, until he resigned in 2009. In 2010 he exploited a bug in the newly released comment hiding feature and was permanently banned from the site.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

hes only now suspened for 7 days becuase he talked to dragoneer!

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (10 votes)

holy shit dude is obsessing over FA your job or something?

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

A huge icon is not really breaking FA, though I guess I could understand the whole "Broken Window" enforcement principals being applied here.

However, the windows have been broken on FA for awhile now.

Didn't know Scott J. had that civil disobedience streak in him, though as he knows by now his biggest mistake was telling people how to exploit it with (even joking) statement to enjoy breaking it. Enjoyment should have nothing to do with it if one's intent is to show a code exploit, and getting others to do it was unnecessary as he has plenty of twitter followers to see what occurred.

He says he sent a note to them about the exploit which went ignored, I wonder what the gap was between the note and the tweet. Mainly because the gap between showing the exploit and then moving to the "next step" and showing the public how to do it (which is quite a large gap) was relatively short.

7 days was fair on this, 3 months would have been ridiculous. Considering that Scott J. is not a person with harmful intent, I think he just got caught up in the moment.

Your rating: None

I'm not sure what the timing was like but some people are claiming that the big was around since 2008. https://forums.vivisector.org/index.php/topic,599.msg6626.html#msg6626 If that's true then the timing of his message really is unimportant.

The joking part reminded me of this other story where some UK tourists posted on twitter that they wanted "destroy America" and then got detained in Los Angeles despite saying it was just British slang to party. They also had quoted a Family Guy line about digging up Marilyn Monroe. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093796/Emily-Bunting-Leigh-Van-Bryan-UK...

"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)

Right, but in the later there wasn't a link on how to "destroy America" on the joke post. Scott did link to a journal on how to exploit FA to the general public, a journal on FA of all places.

I understand the "destroy FA" part was a joke, however he could have posted anything with that link. he could have simply said "Here's how it was done" and posted the link, it's still providing the information to the general public, probably still would have been suspended. Whether or not he would have been suspended by just showing his icon large? I don't know, and we can't since he took that extra step without waiting to see the full results of the first step.

In the grand scheme of things, a 7 day suspension from FA is far less an overreaction to someone publicizing a way to exploit the website and cause users headaches then banning someone from an entire country for not being able to interpret a particular dialect of English, or when an individual is being a smart ass.

Your rating: None

I get all that. I wasn't saying he shouldn't have been punished at all. I think the seven days is pretty fair because he did tell people how to exploit a bug. I only mentioned the tourist event because it reminded me of it, with a joke and an overreaction.

"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)

Why is it the only thing I think to say is, dude, what's up with that guy's foot in the illustration?

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The fox is in a box.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Well, glad we got that cleared up.

Now, may I ask what the fox is doing in a box, and is it related in any way to either the Flayrah contributor or a man named Sam who does not enjoy green food color?

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

They might have crossed paths in Columbus, Ohio, but their FA accounts are separate (and like different foods).

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

How cute!

/me goes to FA and adds the submission to favorites

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Find a flaw and help us fix stuff = ban?
Fuck that.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

In fairness, there's a difference between "find a flaw and help us fix stuff" and "find a flaw, exploit it, and tell your 2,800 followers to as well".

Incidentally, if the name Scott J. Fox seems familiar, it's probably because of an unrelated news story last year.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Of course if the flaw was there since 2008, see above, or Dragoneer uses it for fun at cons, alleged somewhere in the forum thread, then it's really their own fault.

"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 (4 votes)

I'll probably get more criticism for this particular comment, but I think it's important for everyone to see and adds to the repeated silliousness seriousness of FA exploits and their aftermath:

lol

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Yup.

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

It certainly seems like specific people were 'targeted' with permabans in this case because of their association with 'rival' sites, does it not?

+ Banrai
FurAffinity

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

The reason why that theory is false is because a couple other admins and moderators for furaffinity are working on rival sites as well and they're not banned. If that was true then everyone else that administrates and moderates other websites would be banned as well.

The theory only sounds logical at face value, but when you really look into it begins to crumble to pieces.

Your rating: None

There's a difference between saying someone is being banned because they are working on a rival site and saying working on a rival site contributed to the ban. Who else administrates and moderates rival websites?

FayV is the only one I'm aware of. Xipoid would've been on two sites but was removed as an FA admin. I'm not totally sure what Furocity does but I guess you could count Daemonshyai, only he is no longer listed on the main staff list.

"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 (3 votes)

Aden & Takun are on Weasyl
Surgat moderates wtf_fa, if anybody was getting rage banned for doing stuff on other sites it would be Surgat cause of what the livejournal group entails.
I don't know how many others, you'd have to ask them.

So that brings the list of fa staff that work on other stuff as well to-
FayV
Daemonshyai
Aden
Takun
Surgat

And NONE of these people are banned.

I actually saw the creation of this conspiracy theory evolve first hand while the thread was going on on fa's forums.
First it went from "Ben was banned cause dragoneer hates anybody that works on rival sites and wants to smother all competition and he did not violate the rules" and then the logical fallacies were pointed out, then the conspiracy theorists doubled down to "Ben was banned cause of his involvement to Weasyl not the rule violation" then the logical fallacies in that were pointed out and then the conspiracy theorists doubled down againt to the current theory of "Ben was banned partly because of his involvement with Weasyl"
Which is also false because other staff work on weasyl and other sites as well and they don't have squeaky clean records either and they're still not banned.

But we're forgetting the most important thing... he's a EX-fa admin. If he was still a admin he would have just been removed from staff.

Think about it, if you posted on Fa in a journal going "here's a site exploit, have fun" what do you think is going to happen?

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Whoops, typo.

I meant there's other fa staff that work on other sites as well and other fa staff that don't have squeaky clean records either and they are not banned.

Your rating: None

It does seem that there are more than I expected so perhaps it wasn't a contributing factor.

I don't accept Surgat as an example because the group doesn't sound like they criticise or compete with FA but just mock certain art that is posted to FA. I also don't accept Daemonshyai because, whatever he's involved in, he was brought in by Dragoneer to help the site. It's not like he was involved in FA and then got involved in another project. As it is he isn't listed on the main staff list any more so that is a bit strange.

Might be interesting to revisit this topic when Weasyl is up, particularly if it does well.

"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: 3 (2 votes)

Hey, CF. I wanted to clear something up since my FAF account was banned along with my FA one.

This isn't entirely related to what you wrote, but I'd appreciate it if you'd cool it with the "BEN IS ON WEASYL, THE SITE IS DOOMED" rhetoric. When I was an FA forum mod in 2010, I had this vision for the forum to make it a more respectable place, like Something Awful, which is a very strict place. This desire was misguided, as FAF simply wasn't that sort of community, and I made a mistake in trying to shape it in such a way. However, the reason I ran it this way isn't because I have this instinctively totalitarian gene in me, it really was just because it was a forum, and SA is the golden standard to me on how forums should be run.

However, with an art site such as Weasyl, I can guarantee this isn't how the site will operate. I realize that for a site like this to succeed, it can't be overly strict. This isn't about shaping a community to be what I want it to be, but a community where users are able to shape the experience into what they want it to be. As co-owner of Weasyl (along with Kihari), I'm doing what I can to make sure Weasyl isn't heavy-handed in the least. The Acceptable Use Policy and Terms of Servicce are still pending, but I can guarantee to you that they won't be anywhere near as strict as you seem to think they'll be. Trust me.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Actually Fay talked to me about that, and she did have a point and she already brought this up.

My point has changed to that anybody with past violations would have gotten banned as well and
I don't think your involvement with Weasyl had anything to do with it and hopefully the site will go all according to plan. I don't know what sort of history Scott has, but chances are had I or anybody with a track record done it they would have been banned as well. The last thing you want is for them to rack up otherwise risk a ban.

I don't know what sort of history you have, but at the very least I can guess it probably didn't help.
Much like if I had done so as well my history wouldn't help either.

If anything Dragoneer should be encouraging Weasyl and other sites in case anything ever happened to Fa that furries would have somewhere else to interact.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

It's more likely that they became associated with those sites because they were disillusioned with FA, which also led to antagonistic behaviour and sniping criticism. FA has a number of sniping critics, but I've seen this before on other sites. In general, the best solution is to show them the door, especially if they already have somewhere else to go.

Multiple association per se is only a problem in as much as it becomes a conflict of interest.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

If there's enough of them, "showing them the door" is only going to remove the database (ignoring, for now, FA's already-massive userbase and its ratio of new registered users each day).

If enough people are criticizing one thing, I think that's a hint that something should be done about it.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Wouldn't the best solution be to fix the problems, if they are genuine?

"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)

Yes – if the problem is something that can be solved, rather than an incompatibility between goals, values or personalities. However, even if resolved, it may be too late to salvage the relationship.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Maybe there are ban gods in the back room at FA that need so much blood from people banned. When they shortened Scott J Fox's term of ban, they had to do it at the exchange of someone else.

Apparently 2.75 months of Scott J time is worth all of Benchilla's, the gods are satiated with this exchange.

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

On the other hand the other option is complete and total anarchy with the staff no longer enforcing rules in which the site would delve into a cesspool of trolls, spambots, people posting x-rated pictures of themselves and labeling it as general, allowing racist comments to slide, real life gore pictures, etc... basically without the staff fa would slide into becoming 4chan and do you really want that?

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

you're really thinking in black-and-white here, aren't you?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

One could read what I had written you'd understand how silly the comment was, which was meant to parody the silliness that Benchilla's banning was some sort of nefarious deal of vengeance for working on another site when there was evidence of others who held that same variable still being allowed on staff.

Or one could not read the comment for what it is, pretend I seriously believe in demons who demand a form of equivalent exchange when lightening a sentence load on FA, and use it as an opportunity to present some kind of slippery slope argument at a target which actually agrees with the decision.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

I spoke to Dragoneer, and he insisted that Weasyl had nothing to do with my ban. Basically, I offered to stop criticizing FA and promoting Weasyl, as well as not exploiting anymore bugs, basically just to ease any potential tensions, and he basically latched onto "promoting Weasyl", and got offended that I would suggest that this was part of the reason. However, he said nothing about the "criticizing FA" thing, which leads me to believe that's more or less why he dislikes me so much.

At least, I can't think of any incidents where I personally offended him that would make him hate me enough to deal out the only permanent ban (and gallery purge too!) from this incident, especially when I've never been banned before, which really calls the "history of hijinks" thing into question.

Your rating: None

That fits with my experience too. The problem is criticising FA, not anything else. Then, when there's even a slight violation, he takes it as an excuse for a permanent ban to get rid of you. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the early ban was a different admin and the permanent one was Dragoneer personally.

"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)

I don't really think banning was a good idea in this case, although I agree that one week is better than permanently.

I'm not aware of Benchilla's "history of hijinks[sic]" with the site; from what I've seen he/she is pretty okay.

That also means I'll have to actually access their tumblr sometimes for Weasyl updates, instead of just checking his/her FA journals.

Why was the forum account banned, however?

Your rating: None

I'm also curious what this history is that it was enough to get them banned for this small infraction. Maybe some will come tell us.

I think the forum account is banned because if they're banned from the site then you probably don't want them involved at all. I think it's more surprising just because they seem like completely separate entities. For SoFurry the forum and the main site are the same thing, it is all SoFurry. FA isn't unified so is made up of all sorts of separate pieces.

"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)

Exactly; I thought (but I'm not certain) that there have been cases where a user is banned from the main site without being banned from the forums (I know this is true for temporary suspension).

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

As far as I can tell, nothing substantial, really. I've never been banned from FA, and I once was banned from FAF for a day because one of the staff thought I was drunkposting (this wasn't when I was a mod). There was one time in December where Dragoneer reinterpreted the rule about not posting videos to FA because "no really, it's just not possible" to mean that "gifs are videos", and delete a quarter of my whole gallery, all because I linked one of these gifs in the shouts of a banned user (my friend)'s shouts as a joke, since he was in the gif.

He later conceded this 2 months later, after claiming the AUP would actually be updated to explain animated photo gifs aren't allowed, only to not do so, and tell me he had gone back on that, essentially admitting that the AUP was never written to somehow mean that an animated gif is a video.

Then, about a few weeks ago, he deleted one of my gifs which was a 2-frame animation of two similar photos rapidly changing, claiming it violated the rule about "flashing" images because "It was going fast, like the flash!", completely disregarding the obvious fact that the rule exists for seizure inducing images where colors change rapidly, not images where the frames change rapidly, but no color change is present (i.e. an image that can't possibly induce a seizure)

And that's it really as far as "rule violations" go. As far as I can tell, he's really just upset with me because I can tend to be a vocal critic of FA. Admittedly I haven't been anywhere near as vocal as I used to be ever since 2012 began, but that honestly seems to be what it is, because there's nothing in my history that would cause him to have such a hateboner for me aside from criticizing his website, and not even viciously at that. But yeah, Weasyl had nothing to do with it, since he unbanned the FA Weasyl account after one of my team members appealed the decision. It was purely personal, and I'm not even sure why.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Banned for oversized avatars? SERIOUSLY?!?
This just continues to prove that Dragoneer is messed up. That or there's definitely more that's not being told.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

My reaction:

"Mother of God..." *rubs temples*

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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.