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Furry chairman of New Milford, CT resigns due to SoFurry profile mishap: How site design flaws were to blame, and were fixed

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Grey Muzzle, statesman and furry fan. The fandom is alight with conversation over a recent political ouster of a Chairman in the small town of New Milford, Connecticut. The story is that a furry by the name of Grey Muzzle had images of his SoFurry profile pages posted on the Facebook page of Rick Agee, a concerned grandparent in the local area. It included Grey's Likes/Dislikes pages which had tied the website tag of “rape” listed under the section of “tolerates”. As a result, this Chairman whose real life name is Scott Chamberlain, was pressured to resign from office and obliged by announcing that would do so on Monday, September 11th.

But why would a politician knowingly put such information that is so obviously going to be exploited into the public eye? The answer is this, he didn’t do it knowingly. Upon further investigation it was found that this was an issue of user error caused by poor graphical user interface design (GUI for short). In this article we go over the causes of this error and how furries can prevent themselves and others from falling into similar predicaments in the future.

Updated 9/10 3:10PM: The Like/Dislikes and Tag Filtering functionalities have been changed to be separated from one another and be distinguishable. The items discussed in this article have been resolved.

Update 9/16: Headline updated to reflect fixes had occurred.

A victim of poor GUI design?

Interestingly, this is one of these kind of stories where all my areas of expertise line up: furries, politics, and computers. The spark that something wasn’t passing the smell test began with this line from the article released by NewsTimes. It led me to believe this was caused by a mistake on Scott’s part instead of naivety:

In the midday interview, Chamberlain had said the private site, sofurry.com, requires users to sort topics into four categories — “loves,” “likes,” “tolerates” and “hates” — to manage the content sent to them.

“It’s basically a search feature,” he said.

The problem here? His statement is false. The category tag system has no influence what so ever on the experience of the site. It's also not required. So in order to find out if this inaccurate assessment of the tool from Scott was not just a misquote I did an email interview with Scott to find out if my hypothesis was true. In the full interview posted as a sidebar to this article you’ll observe his answer to question number seven.

The main factor that seemed to lead people to question your fitness to lead was the placement of the tag “rape” in the tolerates section of your profile’s like/dislikes page. What was your intent on putting that tag into that section?

It was a filter that SoF used, and 'tolerates was in the negative half. I had no idea my filter preferences were public.

So there is clearly a fundamental misunderstanding by Scott when it comes to the usage of this tool. So this was his fault, right?
Actually, from my research into this tool on the SoFurry website, it is designed in such a way that a failure like this was inevitable. How?

Donald Norman released a pivotal book that most programmers must read in their time in college called The Design of Everyday Things. It is an awesome book not for only programmers, but will also make you understand that when you fail a task upon an object in the world, is it not always your fault, it may be the fault of the person who designed the object. It may be easy to blame Scott and say he’s stupid here, but he was deceived by the design of the site into believing his tags would have been private in many ways.

What happened to the ousted Chairman is he basically took a spill in SoFurry’s gulf of evaluation. Basically the user in this case performed the action they believed would yield the results desired with confidence, but ended up doing something entirely different. A common real-world example is if you see a door with a pull handle on the side you need to push. You see the handle and want to pull, but the correct action is pushing so the user ends up feeling dumb when it was the handle design that was at fault.

Interview with Grey Muzzle

1. How long have you been in the furry fandom? I assume by the name “Grey Muzzle” (a slang for and older furry) you joined when you were older?

Since about 2008

2. What influenced you to become part of the furry fandom?

I first became involved as a writer, although I suspect I've always been furry

3. How long were you a member of the New Milford Council?

Just completing my first 2 year term, although I've been involved with the town's Democratic party a few years longer.

4. When did you start your career in politics?

I've been in politics since the 60's

5. How public were you about your furry side?

My Twitter account was pretty much all furry. I was open with my colleagues that I wrote adult fiction.

6. Did the starting of the Tiny Paws convention in your local area make you slightly more vocal about being a furry to others around you?

No, that was just a coincidence.

7. The main factor that seemed to lead people to question your fitness to lead was the placement of the tag “rape” in the tolerates section of your profile’s like/dislikes page. What was your intent on putting that tag into that section?

It was a filter that SoF used, and 'tolerates was in the negative half. I had no idea my filter preferences were public.

8. The surveys done by Neko and the IARP team find that younger furries are more likely to wear their furry hobby on their sleeve. Given this recent event would you still encourage our future difference makers to do so, or keep it contained?

Wow, that's a hard one. My advice would be to consider what you write, and what you post EXTREMELY carefully. All the recruiters I know scan social media accounts of applicants. That means politics, drugs, alcohol, hate speech, and general stupid behavior.

9. What are your plans for the future? Will you pursue you writing hobby and take actions to sell your work? Do you have any works for sale?

Tina's story is expected to continue on Patreon, and on the other present locations. I expect to continue to operate my businesses. Council was not a paying position.

In the next section I go over all the small failures in the site design that led to this disaster. Toumal, get out your notebook and prepare yourself.

The perfect storm of mistakes and the interface that allowed it

So let’s go back to Scott’s original quote: “It was a filter that SoF used, and 'tolerates was in the negative half. I had no idea my filter preferences were public”. Let’s break this into the two parts:

Tolerates was on the “negative ‘half’”
This indicates to me that as a user he was seeing the 'filter preferences' on a scale of loves to hates instead of four distinct categories. Therefore while many users see the categories purely as “Love, Likes, Tolerates, Hates”; this gentleman saw it as “On a scale of 1 to 4; how often do you want to see this stuff on our site: “Lots, Frequently, Sometimes, and Never”. Below is a screenshot of the settings page for these in the perspective of Scott:

Annotated screenshot of Scott sees the filters

Interestingly this first problem was actually a result of the second issue that is brought up by the next sentence.

I had no idea my filter preferences were public.
Scott believed the items he was putting in these categories was private tagging that would influence the content of the site. This is not the case, instead these four slots act as sort of a F-list-like interface for sharing bedroom preferences with other furries, publicly, maybe for purposes of role-play. Over time, SoFurry has been trying to become a multi-purpose furry hub and so new features like this could cause confusion if not properly implemented. To exasperate the erroneous action, items put into these four categories don't even show up on your main profile page. Instead you have to click a button on the left of your profile page to open the "Like and Dislikes" tab. Should the user not see these tabs on the left of their profile, they would have never known they were populated with the information they assumed was for content filtering.

To make matters worse, here's the links to the page where you update these likes and dislikes:

Link list containing 'Likes/Dislikes (tag filter)'

You see that bit in the parenthesis? Not only does it look horrific, it's unintentionally nefarious. It ties the Like/Dislike aspects of the resulting page with the tag filters in the mind of the user.

While it is true that there are the tag filters on the page as well as the Like/Dislike functionality, these are two separate functions. By putting the words tag filter in parentheses, the designer is conveying that the Like/Dislike are tied with the tag filtering. This link enforces Scott's incorrect mental model of the page shown above. Imagine if you saw a menu item that said: hamburger (with cheese and bacon). You would expect the burger to have the to have the cheese and bacon on it when served, not a burger with bacon and cheese sitting next to on the plate.

Once on the page, with very careful reading you can determine that this is in fact a burger with the bacon and cheese separate on the plate. It has a disclaimer in the upper area to hint at this. But the fact all these words are needed highlights the problem that the page is intuitive to the users. If you need three sentences to describe how your page works, it's not designed properly.

Here's a screenshot of the page with labels outling how the page actually functions:

How the filters work

In short the two problems in the design are this:

  1. The link to the Like/Dislike page made it seem like they were directly related to tag filtering.
  2. There is no indication that the items in the Like/Dislike section will be made public directly and clearly.

Every other error I explained in detail around this issue were caused by the above issues. If those were made clearer to users then information thought to be private would not have gone public.

The Lesson

It is important that sites that hold our most sensitive information don’t give us the means to be our own undoing, at least unknowingly. We as a fandom should want to protect those of us who are pillars in the community from being misunderstood or harmed. Therefore, if we are confused by a site layout and functionality, particularly those surrounding sensitive information, we have a duty to bring this confusion to the the attention of our site designers; and our designers have a duty to try and make things as easily understandable as possible.

If it were me? I’d separate the flag restriction tool and the flag categorization tool. They are two tools with two different purposes. By putting them together, the user believes they are connected when they are not related in the slightest.

If I have to take a full four page article explaining the flaws of a site and the incident it caused then that is quite a problem, and hopefully next time we won’t be so lazy and slap-dash with our updates that it causes one of use to lose our job. We’re counting on you, interface designers, don’t let us down.

Because the real tragedy here is this man was let go from his job not because he tolerated rape, but because he thought this tool would help him see less of it on the site. Instead it sent a false signal to be misinterpreted for the whole world. Kind of scary when you think of how much we rely on the people using our electronic services to act with trust that we won't be punished for doing what we felt the computer wanted us to do. I'm looking at you Equifax, and what appears to be intentional gulf of evaluation manipulation to try and get out of lawsuits!

In this day and age, a man losing their job isn't even the worst of it; similar gulf of evaluation failures could in the future lead to literal wars if a user does something to unintentionally set off more than just resignation alarm bells.

So please kids, study computer science and graphic design hard. Our livelihood and world are at stake.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (8 votes)

Dear NY Post,

The above is how actual journalism is done. All in 8 hours on a Saturday, for $0.

Get Gud, or get out of the business you hacks.

Sincerely, Sonious

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

Note since there has been some confusion in private, the NY Post is not the NewsTimes I referenced in the original article. The NewsTimes is a local press for Connecticut; while the NY Post is a news organization group of slackers in monkey suits located in New York city.

Your rating: None

Are you really commenting on your own article to pat yourself on the back?

Pathetic xD

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Well if you click the NY Post article and gave it a read, you'd see it was more to belittle them then to pat myself on the back.

Turn on your AdBlocker though please.

Your rating: None

Here, I'll pat you on the back.

NY Post, you suck and Sonious did better.

Your rating: None

My sister had several issues of the NY Post sent to her several years ago by a friend because of some series of articles; I forget what. While she had them, I read the complete issues. I was shocked to see that, in reporting how Hawaii became a U.S. possession in the 1890s, it said that President William McKinley was a Democrat (he was a Republican), and that Hawaii went directly from an independent kingdom to a U.S. territory (it was an independent republic from 1893 to 1898). That's worse than bad reporting of something current; it's misreporting history that's easily looked up.

Fred Patten

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I'll pat you on the back too, I love pats. I give them & receive them for free.

*pats pats*

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Those are pretty valid criticisms though I do find it strange he wouldn't know it's public since they can be seen on every profile page. It is a terrible misunderstanding but one that should not happen. Regardless of how you think people should react when they disagree with others, this also illustrates one of the major problems with discourse today. Outrage builds rapidly at a perceived offence with little to no opportunity for a person to defend themselves or explain what happened.

Then two side notes. I think, from what I remember in previous discussions, that the likes/dislikes list was originally supposed to act the way that Gray Muzzle expected. I recall discussion threads about each user having a customised home page which would show them submissions that they were likely to enjoy. That never got implemented though. And regarding site design, SoFurry is currently being redesigned for SoFurry Next, the third version of the site. There are just some screenshots and stuff available now but it sounds like that should be available for beta testing relatively soon.

"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~

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It's not on the main profile page, you have to click on the "Like/Dislike" button the left of the profile page to even know it exists. Many who grew up in a web 1.0 environment such as Scott may not realize all these fancy tab things even exist on a page. Therefore it could have gone undetected by the user.

It was mentioned in the article, but probably not clearly enough.

For those looking for a more deep understanding of how GUI design that causes errors can have an impact on our political discourse, look no further than the evolution of trust: http://ncase.me/trust/

Errors can occur because of poor GUI design, and the more poorly designed the GUI the more mistakes get made. The more mistakes get made the less we trust one another, and then only those that can thrive in a confusing messy environment will gain anything.

In addition, we need to use the errors made to learn and grow and become better. Discuss these things openly and candidly. We can't fall into the trap of seeing everything in the lenses of the talking points of the day, because then we fail to see lessons not related to those talking points at all.

Full disclosure, Lamar had a post about this the day it happened putting their argument of this issue on the Speech lens, in counter to your comment. I will be messaging them about this article and asking if they would still like to put their opinion piece up or if they would like to use it as a response to your comment you made about the issue and speech.

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Initially we had just a list of blocked tags. Then we had just the loves/likes/tolerates/hates list and everything in the "hates" list was also blocked. We changed that and moved the tag filter out into its own category after getting user feedback that this was confusing and that one should be able to block tags separately from their personal/RP preference list.

Oh and we also had recommendations based on this as well, but this turned out to be not scalable for the amount of users we had, plus we noticed that people didn't really use that feature, so we replaced it with content suggestions based on submission tags that are calculated on the fly.

Your rating: None Average: 4.1 (7 votes)

There's a full subject here being ignored, which is, how US society still, in this day and age, clings to the idea that personal sexual preferences are subject to public discourse.

It does not matter whether this man likes or dislikes rape in fictional settings. It should not make a difference to his political actions if 'rape' was in the Love section instead of the Tolerate, or Hate, section. No one is going to upload real rape to SoFurry. He obviously isn't a rape apologist, or a rapist. No one would seriously judge him if he 'loved' or 'tolerated' punching people in the face, in Streets of Rage 2 for the Sega Genesis. No one should seriously judge a politician for whatever personal sexual or hobby preference they have in their private life. It doesn't affect public life.

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This topic is sort of covered more in the video I recorded about this on Saturday. There was already a lot of ground to cover on this subject, so I will link that here:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ubs03PIWG4o

But also it should be noted to furries that "Pseudo-Rape/NC" is a tag as well, and if the tags are about personal preferences and not tags you're filtering on about stories it's the tag you should be using I would hope.

You're acting as if sex scandals in politics is only an American issue, it happens in other countries as well. Italian PM had one if I recall.

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"It does not matter whether this man likes or dislikes rape in fictional settings"

It shouldn't but sadly that is not how the real world works. Rape is a very serious thing, some think it's worse than murder. Many people have a hard time understanding that it is possible to have fantasies and not act on them IE:video games.

I do think in this circumstance this was a misunderstanding of what he meant by tolerates, that he doesn't care for such art but accepts its existence. But even if his intent was fully understood I don't think it would have mattered. For him to not be vehemently opposed to the concept would have set off plenty of pearl clutching prudes who couldn't wrap their heads around the concept of a sexual fantasy.

In their eyes it would have been him accepting a perversion that should be snuffed in the name of all that is good and pure.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

And yet many of them would watch the Game of Thrones that sometimes has rape scenes in it and by that they are "Tolerating" rape in the same way the Gray Muzzle did.

I could understand saying to a filter, "I can handle it if there happens to be a rape scene in this fiction" vs "I tolerate rape in real life"

In the end there is no way to get the vast crowd of people that have seen this story and have made their minds up.

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Keep in mind that it's likely not immediately obvious to people who see these "preferences" that it refers to what one cares to see in a fictional setting image--clearly the purpose and function of the preferences aren't even obvious to the userbase, if this situation is any example. The biggest furry-related news story in mainstream media lately involves furry sex parties--not furry erotic roleplay or furry porn--that involved the repeated rape of a child. If that's what's in the mind of the public when they think of "furry" and "rape" in the same situation, well, to me it's not at all unreasonable to be disgusted that an elected official in the lawmaking process would attend such a party and tolerate a rape should it occur.

Even if the people originally taken aback about this were explained and accepted the miscommunication, sex scandals in politics are basically Pandora's box.

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The irony of this whole tying the personal preferences of our online fursona with the real world seems to also bring with it the acknowledgement that our fursonas are an extension of ourselves that people will tie back directly to us.

Well at least now they acknowledge that, we are now our fursonas!

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Agreed. I've added a note to that effect on the likes/dislikes page, stating that these may well be related to literary subject matters and not personal preferences. Of course the horses have already bolted, but at least if someone sees the page now he/she gets to see that note.

Your rating: None Average: 4.9 (7 votes)

First of all: I acknowledge that this could look confusing at first glance. We're going to change that ASAP.
That said, it should be pretty obvious that when you look at someone else's profile, you see those bits and pieces. Regardless, this is going to be changed ASAP, both for the current site as well as the new design and layout that's coming up. I've also never had anyone contact me regarding this before.

Please also note that regardless of the likes/dislikes, there's also lots of stories with tags that might be considered objectionable, or used in a campaign against him.

I'm really heartbroken that these events happened. At the same time, please consider what you put on your profile or upload as a story or image. I personally don't think that blaming this on the likes/dislikes page is really telling the whole story here. Don't put up your occupation or other personal information on your profile.

And if there's any question on your mind, please poke one of our staff, or even myself. We'll be happy to answer any question, and also take suggestions for improvements, at any time.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

For those of us with jobs in computers who are familiar with the latest styles and such we take for granted how individuals who are older, in different occupations, or both, would view an interface. Noted we are volunteers mostly who do this as a hobby, so going into this kind of detail about ease of use is not something we delve too much into.

In fact, ease of use complaints have been a common complaint of Furry Network from at least my glances at this.

Personally we all take responsibility for these things. We should probably better communicate if something doesn't feel right in an interface in a better manner. Sometimes we learn a system's quirks and do things like that.

What may also help is having a Youtube video of a page and explain its features and how to use them, a link to that would be put at the bottom of the page. What the page does, what its intent is, etc.

It may take some effort and I don't know the logistics of running a furry site and don't know how much time or opportunity cost something like that would. I'm always the kind of person that believes that when bad things happen, we use it as a lesson on how to prevent similar things in the future. Because then at least the loses are worth while. If a loss occurs and nothing is learned, then it is a loss in vain.

Thanks for your due diligence.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

FYI, we have changed the UI and separate the two sections on SoFurry 2.0. We've also added an explanatory text to the likes/dislikes page and made it clear what it is meant for and where that information can be seen.

We've already had internal talks about how we can improve this in SFX (the upcoming major site upgrade) and it will work pretty much the same there.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Thanks for working on this, look forward to the update.

I do encourage users that are confused by things to use NORMAL channels when dealing with confusion on dealing with a site. The only reason I posted this here is because it had impact in the real world and was tied with an issue being discussed in the fandom.

Any site can have users fall prey to interface such as FurAffinity, Weasyl, Inkbunny, and Furry Network.

In my job, I'm kind of more a user advocate than anything. I think there is evidence that software development companies even outside of the fandom can leave people behind, which I think can lead to distrust in technology. And given that technology's role is ever expanding, it is important for use with more knowledge to help those with less have a better experience with it. Those in the tech industry do tend to have a heavy weight of "blame the user" attitudes, which can make things toxic.

Given that the job Grey was removed from is one where you need to read forms carefully and make sure you're not falling for any legal or financial traps by swindlers looking for a quick buck, one could argue that his missing the text at the top of the screen on the original page was concerning in that regard. However, if it happened to Grey it could happen to another who isn't a politician who should "know better".

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Thanks for understanding. However I do have to say the article title is a bit... sensational. Because when it comes down to it, even if there had been no confusion, I don't think anyone could argue that the stories written and uploaded by him would NOT have been used against him in exactly the same way.

So... "How site design flaws are to blame"? I contest that headline. Unless "Watersports" and "Incest" have become politically accepted recently.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The user did not know the items he put in the screen were being displayed publicly. He did not know the like/dislike page existed on his profile. He thought the information he put on the page was PRIVATE not PUBLIC. Now why the user, in this case, didn't notice that he was still seeing stories on things he tagged as "Hates" and didn't question that they were still showing up is another curiousity if that's what he assumed it did.

In essence, my hope is, that if site users or even Grey himself reads over the comment sections that he would observe things such as the above and question it before bad things happened due to a misconstruing public.

It could also be argued that maybe the "rape" under "tolerates" is much to do about nothing and that he would have been ousted regardless for a piece of furry content he wrote. I'm sure his adversary would have found SOMETHING on him regardless if he accidentally put out tags like this or not. Knowing politics that is very possible, but is speculation. The fact that the focus was on the tags on his ouster and not that "he's a furry" is a bit of a relief to me, oddly.

You can't, and shouldn't be expected, to be responsible for those that KNOWINGLY put that info out there getting into trouble, but we should try and ensure that it is the intent of the user to put it out there.

This article is hopefully helpful to users in making sure they pay attention to the Is and Ts of the pages they are using as well. Cause yeah, users caught in these situations do feel dumb about it.

The headline certainly isn't perfect, in my mind it is a bit on the long side as well, cutting out the last phrase could have been in the best interest but then the reader probably wouldn't have been prepared for the angle talking about GUI design.

Look on the bright side, maybe there are some people who don't know about Furries and their first exposure to this now is articles talking about your site. So you may get a bit of a bump in permanent traffic.

I think this is my first article that critiqued SoFurry in my 7 year tenure here. I wouldn't doubt if I went through my history that FurAffinity would hit over seven stories total (in fact they were in my very first story here), so good work to your staff on keeping things stable over these years and thank you for taking the time to discuss things with me here.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

It's reasonable to say "X could have led to something just as bad", but that isn't actually what happened. The public story was all about the "tolerance" of rape. What did happen is that the link text combined with the text "your tag filters are only visible to you" led to the creation of an incorrect mental model. Would knowing the information entered was public have made a difference? I'd say it's a strong possibility, given their surprise on hearing of it. So I think the title's reasonable, even if it's long (we need sub-titles).

It's great that the text was changed so quickly, and SoFurry does offer profile privacy options - although "guests can only see submissions" seems to be working as "everybody can see my profile", which is not how it is described:

…your profile mainpage, your biography, your characters, your shouts, your likes and dislikes and your favorites remain hidden if you choose to only allow registered users to have access to these internal matters.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Also possible the person digging dirt made a profile just for the purpose of getting dirt, unless you tested this by logging off and looking at the profile.

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I saved the setting in Firefox, and viewed my profile logged-out in Chrome, and everything was still there. Guessing the setting isn't being saved or compared right, or possibly just isn't implemented. Maybe caching, but if so changing the setting should flush the cache.

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Might be a caching issue since we use a lot of caching, but I can check later.

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It's like a song goes;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KOzJ7gNb7Y

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Toumal I love ya bro but

the new design and layout that's coming up

coming up when? it's been nearly 2 years since the last update posted on the site.

I mean if you don't like the site as is, and clearly as we're seeing above it's not a good design, why not do a 1.5 design? or a 2.5 or whatever this next iteration of the old Yiffstar is supposed to be.

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There was an update posted a few days ago. From what I understand there was a problem which required pretty much starting from scratch when they had been half way through previously.
https://www.sofurry.com/groups/news?id=1&newsId=1877

"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~

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No matter what design you have, it can always be improved. And why not just do a 2.5 design? Because it would still be a massive amount of work, and in vain: We were forced to switch frameworks due to the fact that the one we used will go EOL in 2018, so had we continued we would be in a very bad spot a year from now.

As Rakuen noted there's been a substantial update posted just a few days ago. The reason for the long time is both real life constraints and the fact that SF is a pretty big site with a *lot* of functionality. SFX is a complete rewrite with all the lessons we learned during YS, SF 1.x and 2.x shaping the new site.

But if you're not happy with the pace, you're welcome to join our team of contributors to help us get SFX out the door quicker. We're always looking for willing and able devs to help us out, especially now.

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I would be happy to join your team of contributors if I knew the first thing about coding. Hence, the questions. I didn't see the most recent update, just what's on the front page from 1/2016. so my apologies.

I remember YS well. i was known as RavynDeLaFae way back in those days (not that anyone remembers that name). so SoFurry has been my home since way back in 1999-00

Your rating: None Average: 5 (6 votes)

Thanks for your report on my story. Great article, and understanding what happened in some small way makes it easier to deal with.
Thanks, too to Tourmal for making important changes so quickly.
Like so many people, I only paid attention to site changes that impacted what I did, and how I used the site.

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the ability to be free

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Poor guy. Now he's gonna have to get a real job.

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As noted on the last question I had asked, what he lost wasn't a paid position (which may be one reason why he wasn't fighting too hard too keep it). It seems to be an elected volunteer position he did along side his actual business. So yeah, he lost his "job"; which wasn't really a 9-5 I don't think. He'd have to give more details on that. I've never worked on a council.

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I was an elected Town Councilman; I also served as the Chairman of the Water Pollution Control Authority, The Film Commission, and was Vice Chairman of the Town's Democratic party. None of these positions pay a cent.

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the ability to be free

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My mistake. I do apologize.

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An excellent article. As someone who works in interface design (for games), HCI and a few similar areas, I know that this is a part of the software system which can be easily overlooked, or too many assumptions made about. It's all too true that in many situations, the UI takes 50% or more of the time. Perhaps not so much in web-based development, where there are many libraries, but still a large chunk.

I have one comment, however: "The Design of Everyday Things" is by Donald A. Norman, not Donald Nolan.

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Thanks for correcting, I have updated the article.

I have a horrible time with names and committing dyslexia with them.

"Nolan" was the last name of my first computer science professor in college.

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and Rick Agee? Not so much a 'concerned grandparent' as a Business owner, Republican activist, and political opponent of the sitting Mayor

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the ability to be free

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I sometimes give people the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not surprised to hear that he is a Republican activist, considering his actions and his occupation in what appears to be agriculture.

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You wouldn't think that someone who goes by 'Goat Boy' would be so down on the fandom.

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the ability to be free

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Man, he just milks em and stores the by product for other people to vore. It's socially acceptable to eat mostly aged product from other animal's teets.

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Sir, I kind of hesitate to call myself a greymuzzle when there's clearly a much more deserving person for the title/nickname. I was two years old when the Berlin Wall fell down!

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I had just turned 6 three weeks before the wall fell.

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37 when it came down.

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Fred Patten was 49 at the time.

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20 years in the fandom, or 50+ of age.

That's how I see it, at least. 2 more years for the former for me.

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The first thought I had when I heard the summery of the story: "This sounds like a political hatchet job." My suspicion on that front only deepened as I read more.

Glad to see my suspicions are pretty much confirmed.

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True. This smells very much like someone looking for something to hang him with.

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You kinda lost me with the computer stuff but good article. I've seen this posted all over my Twitter feed.

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

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This is pretty crappy. You lost a position that you were good at, wanted to do, and were willing to do for no pay. I wish them luck finding somebody else to fill the position.

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Sooner or later something like this was going to bite you in the ass. This is the bane of all furries, you are just lucky they only found your tags and didn't look more closely that you have rape art in your gallery and underage characters doing questionable actions.

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I can go into Barnes and Noble and buy multiple books that feature rape, underaged characters having sex, and underaged characters being raped and/or performing questionable activities.

Nobody demonizes the authors or Barnes and Noble for that.

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Worse, you can go into a museum and look at classic art depicting everything from plain sex to child abuse and bestiality, but it's okay because it was drawn in the 17th century. Then again, we have the same disparity of moral standards between TV and computer games - it's ok to show fictional murder on TV, but first person shooter games are still demonized as "murder simulators" and "killing trainers".

Time will fix these things, for example germany has slowly de-censored some of the games it deemed to be "dangerous to kids".

It's important to point out the fact that just because someone writes a story that contains (for example) rape, does not automatically mean that that author also personally enjoys rape, or condones it. Similarly, someone writing a story set in WW2 germany does not automatically become a nazi. Of course things are different if the subject matter is being glorified, but you get the idea.

Then again, stating that one enjoys to hold on to a particular part of female anatomy that shares a synonym with the word "cat" appears to no longer be the political roadblock it used to be. So I don't know where "higher moral standards" apply anymore.

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They weren't in a position where it could hurt them where Mr Chamberlain was. If he thinks this is bad wait until they dig deeper and find the other stuff he has posted.

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There's no motive for them to do so, he resigned. That's all they wanted.

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Maybe not them, but the other outraged people in his town might. Point is this is far from over. For the record if that is the worst that gets posted and comes from this then Mr Chamberlain got off easy.

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Given that many writers write under fake names for this exact reason, you don't know what position they were in.

I remember reading a story where it turned out my favorite romance writer turned out to be a former NFL linebacker.

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Right now there's a film in theaters that looks like it's making a killing at the box office, featuring an attempted incestuous rape scene and based on a book where a group of middle schoolers all have sex with the one female member of the group. Uh, I guess it's important to keep context in mind, hey?

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Having recently finished reading The 120 Days of Sodom, I can definitely agree.

"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~

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Also I always find it amusing, especially for a furry convention, but the Estrel Hotel (location of Eurofurence) has a giant bestiality sculpture in the garden. It's the scene with Leda and the swan. The whole thing is made with tubes that light up so at night there is a glowing, explicit sculpture of a swan and women doing it.

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/386656.jpg

"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~

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On the phone Gray told me about some of the small town drama going on with this. I won't post too much since it's probably pointless to drag furry watchers in to stuff that has nothing to do with them, but it would be familiar. Furry is a small town. It's sad that a guy crossing a line of privacy (going on to a closed SoFurry account) to smear someone forced the issue, and then it was about misconstruing stuff he dug up, not about how he crossed the line. At some point people are going to collectively decide that there's limits to that, and private kink type interests aren't such a big deal, either. It's beyond Gray or a small town to work out but there will be other battles and it might just be an entire generation's thing.

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Boozy Badger, who has referred to the incident in Twitter posts over the last couple of days, has now weighed in with a full blog post:
http://www.lawyersandliquor.com/2017/09/new-milford-hates-fetishes-politics-opti...

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He linked back here as well in his main article, thanks Booze!

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The Gulf of Evaluation swallows another politician, this time by the name of Ted Cruz who "liked" a porn picture on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/march4progress/status/907548727505833984

The reason this is also gulf of evaluation problem is that Twitter historically had likes be private affairs while retweets were the things that you wanted to share on your timeline. Now that likes are basically "retweets if they feel like being retweets". This has caused users used to the old system are getting quite flummoxed.

What goes around, "cums" around, as they say.

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You'll notice far fewer of Ted Cruz' peers wanting to take action against him, than Grey Muzzle's did against him.

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It does not look like twitter likes have ever been private. Just that many users don't seem to know that you can easily access them and they started injecting liked stuff into a user's timeline three years ago.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/08/18/twitter_favorites_appear_like_retweets_...

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If a good proportion of users are assuming a design does something (including myself apparently) it's picked up recently though, I only started seeing complaints about it a few months back about likes being shared on other's timelines of your followers.

Ted came out with that it was an intern that put it on there. I'm kind of shaking my head at the fact that others access another individual's account for any reason. If an account is verified as an individual, then I would think it should not be allowed for other individuals to access the account. We should be able to know and believe that every tweet that came from one guy came from that guy.

If you want interns to post things, then the organization should make a verified twitter account for the org and it should be a separate account.

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Most high-level politico's accounts are run by staff, especially their "professional" twitters.

If I ran for office I'd have an Official Twitter For Me As An Officeholder and have my PR person handle it for the most part.

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I don't care if he's a democrat. I love to see one of us in Government period! Bless him.

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Now that's what I call

identity politics!

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Nothing about being a furry is divisive. Unlike BLM or transtrenders.

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Thanks! I'll accept all the blessings I can get.

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I'd prefer this guy to antifa any day. When are the antifa furs going to lose their jobs? Now that I'd like to see.

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Yet another thing you have in common with Perri: announcing your departure but not being able to stay away for more than a few days.

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Shut up Kylo Ren. I never said I would leave the site forever, just that I was done with that thread.

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I thought you liked Kylo?

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I don't tend to like villain characters in general, so no. Except Lou Bloom and Hans Landa, they was pretty likable.

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I, for one, am very glad your back!

Sometimes, I have controversial opinions myself, and it's nice to know there's always an idiot I can dunk on for some easy five stars to get my karma back up!

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Article should be renamed to "Owner of InkBunny tells you why SoFurry is Bad."

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GreenReaper didn't write the article, though, Sonious (who to my knowledge doesn't even have an Inkbunny account) did. Glancing at the revisions tab it looks like GR only did wording changes.

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If Inkbunny interface issues led to the political ouster of a furry, dang right I'd write about it.

Though unfortunately Green Reaper would get an unfair sneak peak and be able to make updates before publication.

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This was less about how SoFurry tags work and more about Scott listing his legal full name on his DeviantArt profile which had the same username as his FA.

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It wasn't a secret that he was a furry, though; my understanding was that it was common knowledge, but one individual was able to twist the "tolerates rape" thing and the existence of his adult written works into something shocking.

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You give me too much credit. As it happens, I didn't suggest, write, interview for, or even post this article, being rather busy at the time with – as it happens – an Inkbunny server migration. Sonious had the power to publish it, and he did. I had time afterwards to enhance presentation of the existing images and perform copyediting and formatting, so I did.

There have been fifteen contributors to Flayrah's output in the last three months, not counting our motley crew of commenters. You can find them in the sidebar on the front page. I have a finger in many stories, at least from a technical side; but I try to retain each author's perspective, and in practice our interests and opinions differ much of the time.

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So a man gets fired from his job because a bunch of paranoid cave dwellers didn't like his profile on an art site on the internet. Humanity in the 21th century everyone... worse than the victorian era! I hope this man finds a job as a politician in a more civilized place, we need more furries in these positions to move the world forward.

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Well, he resigned from a political position which he did for free. Not quite the same thing, though it feels similar.
I suspect the matter would have been a distraction and maybe risked that the party in question lost the seat.

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Ah... I see. I guess that's a little different, if it was ultimately a party decision. It's never the less ridiculous that things have gotten here though.

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The mayor, his boss, asked him to resign. If your boss asks you to quit, it's being fired. You're just doing it gracefully for the sake of the public.

If he said no, he probably would have been impeached in some manner.

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Essentially, hours after this appeared on a local social media site, I got a text message from the Mayor's assistant, that he was asking me to resign all of my town positions. Technically, I didn't have to; I was elected/appointed, and could have forced them to remove me. This would have hurt the party, and prolonged what was clearly going to be a painful nasty experience, which potentially would intrude into my personal and professional life. Which they did. Now, would this have hit the national/international media had I not resigned? I don't know. I was working with a paid political consultant, and the picture he painted was pretty bleak. So, essentially damage control.
It's ironic that when I read the Mayors campaign bullet points, most were things I lead, or at least worked on.
In the end, the most damage came not from resigning, but from the magnitude of the story itself. This has really taken a toll on me mentally and physically, not to mention that pain it has brought upon friends and loved ones.

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the ability to be free

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I don't know more than what was discussed in this article, so there may be a few details I'm missing here. Anyway I agree that what happened was an abuse, and whoever partook in it should feel ashamed of themselves! You were a victim of petty village mentality, plain and simple.

It is nobody's darn business what you enjoy at a personal level: So long as you are there to support the public interest, which I see no indication to contradict, you have the right to do your job in peace. People think you needed to resign for merely having the word "rape" on an art profile (obviously in an RP context)... yet corrupt politicians who take money from dirty corporations to actively oppress people are considered legitimate! How does that work?

I would be happy if you decided to run again for a public function... if not in the same area then another place where people are actually living in the 21th century! It makes me happy to know that people from the fandom occupy a public function, which they can use to fight against pointless hate and prejudices toward not just furries but other marginalized communities; We need people like you in power precisely to battle institutionalized stupidity... if you give up then the village idiots win.

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I'll have to take that under advisement. The Deomocratic leaders hate me for being an embarrassment; the Republicans for being a Democrat.

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the ability to be free

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About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a Kangaroo from Syracroose, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, philosophy and writing