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FNN ceases operation in wake of hack attack, after 4-year run

Your rating: None Average: 2.6 (5 votes)

FNN 2014 Logo Furry news aggregator Furry News Network has closed its doors – for now – after an attack which left the site replaced with a password entry form.

While the attack was "the final straw", health issues had limited the efforts of FNN founder Markos for some time, as he explained April 1:

Due to health issues, and a recent hacking attack, I have decided to end this version of Furry News Network. The site and its content has been archived. I've been considering this for several months, and the hack attempt that took the site off line March 30, 2015 was the final straw. I've really enjoyed working with members of the Furry community to bring the content to you. For those of you who don't know my history, I've had health issues for the past 14 years. I lost a kidney in 2001, had heart issues start in 2007 and was hospitalized with an auto-immune disorder in 2009. In 2014, I fell and broke my hip and have never fully recovered. I am now fighting stage 3 kidney disease and anemia. I need to deal with my health. I will sorely miss many of you and look forward to the day I can bring Furry News Network back. Thank you!

FNN amassed over 20,000 followers across Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook through aggressive marketing of its social feeds. This led to wider distribution for its syndicated sources, including furry news magazine Flayrah, advice column Ask Papabear, and podcasts FurCast and KnotCast.

FNN launched in January 2011 – shortly after the closure of The Furtean Times – with a bold red theme and the slogan "Furry Fandom 24/7/365". It was redesigned in mid-2013. While the majority of the site's 2500 posts consisted of aggregated content, hundreds contained original news and profiles of artists, fursuiters, conventions and furmeets from Markos, Kijani, and others, especially in FNN's first two years.

FNN posts in Flayrah's archive have been redirected to the Web Archive. If you find a favourite story there, feel free to link it in the comments.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Flayrah is mourning this loss by aggressively updating its own social feeds with articles which were not posted on them when they were originally published.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Indeed - someone has to pick up the slack! I'm skipping a few, but many are of the form "X is coming in a year", which is still likely to be news to most of our readers a month later.

I fear we may never match the rapaciousness of the FNN Twitter bot, which as I recall managed to follow almost 10,000 furs in a matter of days before hitting a limit. It's hard to argue with the results, though - we're yet to hit 1k.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Sad that there's nothing living up to the potential FNN had :( Although whatever this spam thing is, I guess clickability of furry stuff doesn't happen without work.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

You mean the idea of a furry news agency? To be done professionally it would require significant time from several skilled people who'd have to be supported either through advertising, fundraising, or through a sponsor. I don't think it's feasible, because community that'd support that effort financially is too small at this time.

Add to that the factor that centralized news is less necessary in an age where everyone can broadcast information of interest to them - there are stories which require journalistic effort, but I don't think the demand is there.

There will continue to be volunteers, of course, running their own sites or collective efforts such as Flayrah.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Yup that's the challenge of a lot of cool things that could be. And mainstream news too these days!

I get a feeling that none of the furry blog type projects raise more audience than others... tens of thousands of hits per month not hundreds or millions. That's niche enough not to support one person. There's no reason not to think of ways to create an audience from nothing, but how... the people who succeed once don't even seem to know how to do it twice.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

That's so terrible... Really a blow for the Fandom indeed... I hope someone will continue the site!

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

But isn't this place ALSO a furry news network? I mean, it's not like FNN was the only news source. There is still this place, and many others. The contributors to FNN could just migrate here.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Yes, submissions are always open; we've had 500 contributors and our staff have posted over 5000 stories since 2001.

FNN may be down, but I'm sure others will emerge to serve its audience. Our links page, which I've revamped, has some. There's a trend towards focused outlets – you need an audience to market to, and a beat you can realistically cover.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Just lacking the syndication aspect (hence my comments above).

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

There's clear value to aggregation. Flayrah uses it to power several features of the front page, including the list of streams and podcasts, the source blocks at the bottom, and the Yerf Archive section (technically a database query, but equivalent to a syndication feed from 18 years in the past). I hope it helps furs find interesting sources.

You have to think carefully before including that content in your own syndication; not only for copyright reasons, but also because that makes it a part of your offering, and dilutes the value that a reader may get from following you. To be blunt, if all you're doing is repeating [part of] what someone else says, you're probably not adding much value.

That's also one reason we added newsbytes – for the cases where someone else has already written a good article on a news topic. The big loss there is the ability to comment locally; but it's fairer to the linked source, and you don't waste time rewriting them.

We do syndicate one external source, Rod's In-Fur-Nation, in part because he didn't have a well-developed system for that (it's now on Twitter - no cards yet, though), but also because I felt it complemented the content provided by our other contributors and it deserved access to a wider audience. Plus, it fit perfectly as a sidebar column.

If you focus on aggregation (e.g. Google News), it can work for you; but for good or ill, it will be what you come to be known for. And ultimately, if the problem is a lack of raw content, all the aggregation in the world won't help – you need actual reporting.

The other danger of aggregators is that you may come to rely on them to get your content in front of readers. Flayrah got just 2.5% of its traffic through FNN, but that probably doesn't count the people who got "enough" from the summaries it syndicated. Those people now have to make the effort to re-follow the sources they were using (if they even remember them), or lose out on news.

It's less convenient but more stable for people to build their own aggregation system from a variety of sources, by subscribing to email newsletters, RSS feeds or following Twitter accounts (assuming Twitter stays up; though you don't always see everything on Twitter).

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Rod's is good content.

I wish the r/furry aggregation wasn't so constantly diluted with filler. It may get votes but its also empty and repetitive. Memes, etc. Better curation has a lot of value i think.

The headline content, newsbytes and bottom page feed here does pretty much make a news network. I think it could serve a lot more use if the other parts were better promoted. How often do people check the bottom? The queue time is a whole other topic :P cant help it if people are busy though.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Perhaps the biggest goal of the footer is for visiting search engines to pick stories up, index/archive them, and maybe associate them as part of a web of furry news sources.

I expect most readers to check the footer out, and maybe get snagged by a story title, drop by - and then, if they like the content offered, to subscribe separately to those sources.

We might reference their coverage in our own, if it was relevant. Otherwise, I'd expect people to read FurStarter if they want to keep up on furry crowdfunding projects, Dogpatch Press for assertive stories with bold claims and jaunty opinions about furry subculture, [adjective][species] for thoughtful essays on topics related to furry fandom, etc.

I don't see it as our primary business to convey (some of) their stories to our readers. I see that as the job of an aggregator. There's certainly value in news curation; but when it comes down to it, I'd rather time be spent on the material being curated. Newsbytes were created to enable curation and at the same time to discourage spending too much time on it by keeping it brief.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Ah, that's a shame--FNN was a good distributor of news, and iirc, didn't Ask Papabear start there?

I hope FNN's contributors decide to come here. Always room for fresh talent, and it would be a real shame if they stopped writing for furries altogether!

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Ask Papabear started on FNN and it got a lot of traffic through it, although it's been on its own site for years now. Grubbs also has a significant following on Facebook (rather less on Twitter).

A furry advice column can reflect the fears and aspirations of society, but such columns are weighted towards one person's opinion; and I have trouble seeing most of the topics raised as news, which is why it's not in our footer.

I could see Kijani's interviews working out well on Flayrah. There were good in-depth articles from others from time to time, including many stories from Markos himself. I'm sure some will be motivated to write for the fandom again, here or elsewhere.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

It's sad that a furry site had to close down, especially one dealing with a more niche topic, but I really just found myself disappointed by FNN. I had been excited when it first started but the lack of original content and the fidgety site (maybe it just gave me issues) quickly tempered that enthusiasm.

Aggregators are fine but so much mainstream news is just reposting the exact same thing that AP and Reuters puts out. I don't want to see furry news go that way. I think Flayrah's reporting quality is higher than quite a few mainsteam news outlets because we actually include links and relevant links. There are far too many news stories online that don't link to sources or only link to something vaguely related (usually tags on their own site).

"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: 2 (2 votes)

I also was not impressed with FNN, it seem to just repeated stuff found on here and other furry sites. but it was security concerns why I stop going to the site. I noted once a rogue banner ad malware attack, ( fake critical browser update attack)

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Ah, the never ending 'health issues' many furries seem to have. Looks like Mike is still working the sympathies of the furry community after his auto accident over 2 years ago. Mike has always put himself out there as a sort of self appointed 'leader' of the furry community. He is the typical 'Furry Lawyer' and never fails to make his bloated self importance known within the spaces he lords over. Perhaps his arrogant elitist swagger has been knocked down a notch by this 'hack' however if I were to guess, he has been looking for an excuse to bail out of it for a while as no one really cared to begin with. His constant lectures and finger wagging about 'art theft' and 'naughty posts' show the jaw dropping hypocrisy of the man who is well known to be anything but squeeky clean. He'd like everyone to believe that of course. Running a website from your home on a Apple Mac of all things was not a good plan. I suppose his constant pompous nasally commandment to 'Get a mac' falls flat here. In any case, good riddance Mr. 'Allgoood".

IB.

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from London, UK, 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.