Furry counciller of New Milford, CT resigns due to SoFurry profile mishap: How site design flaws were to blame, and were fixedPosted by Sonious on Sun 10 Sep 2017 - 10:01
The fandom is alight with conversation over a recent political ouster of a councilman 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.
While power has now been restored, the interruption caused damage to the database holding data about submissions, comments and users, which must now be fixed:
SoFurry is experiencing extended downtime. We are working on data recovery after a particularly nasty set of circumstances after a brownout caused data corruption. Submission content is safe, however we have to repair the metadata db. We expect SF to be down for at least another 24 hours.
Security is necessary for one's own protection, both offline (to protect one's physical safety and possessions) and online (protecting identity, money and, as the our digital and real lives become more integrated, even physical possessions). Our own behaviours and security systems need to work together to be effective. It's no good having the latest burglar alarm, strong locks on your doors and a security gate if one leaves the door wide open. Similarly, it's great to lock the door each time one goes out - but if that door is secured solely by a latch, it won't be effective. As I've given some basic guidelines on how to stay safe online, I'm now comparing how furry sites are helping their users stay safe.
Update (Jan 28): All Weasyl servers now receive an A grade, however the server configuration is still not consistent.
Online furry communities are reeling after a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks now entering their second day, which not only knocked out Fur Affinity, but have impacted a variety of less-well-visited art and chat sites.
Due to popular demand we are betatesting a SoFurry jabber server right now! If you want to test: firstname.lastname@example.org and your SF passwrd!
— SoFurry (@sofurrynews) January 27, 2014
SoFurry recently took a further step towards its goal of creating a complete furry community with the release of its own instant messaging service. The announcement was originally made on Twitter but then followed up on the main site itself with further details. Codenamed Project Nexus, the messaging system is using the Jabber/XMPP protocol allowing users to communicate with users on other servers, including Google Talk.
The problem is, this was unplanned downtime. […] If it was planned […] people would have had time to get things together. Such as commissioners, contests, bids, etc. and where to get in contact or if the bids/auctions are postponed while the site is down.
[…] at first I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make any money for christmas, but now I'm starting to worry that FA will be down so long that I won't be able to make enough for rent. […] it's so very disheartening when it was supposed to be a nice holiday season...
Operations team lead yak began an attempt to clear backlogged database transactions on Monday afternoon "as fast as the RAID10 array of 15k drives allow". A day later, FA status forum poster Raptros reported that the database would be transferred to a different server.
Update (15 Dec): An announcement posted on Sunday morning:
The last of the data is importing, and we'll be standing by to finish the upgrades. ETA should be tonight.
[The current method of notification handling] is not scalable and quickly becomes unsustainable for sites with 10^5 and 10^6 users.
Staff have rewritten queries, tweaked database settings, and intend to prune notifications older than 90 days soon after the site returns.
Update 3 (17 Dec): Fur Affinity came online for a few minutes before stalling and returning to read-only mode, "unable to handle a flood of users while rebuilding the RAID arrays". The site returned eight hours later, with mass notification clearing options disabled.
Users flooded social networks to complain about the disruption and compare alternate sites; primarily Inkbunny, SoFurry and Weasyl. On FA's forums, a 20-page thread was locked after discussion degenerated; it was soon replaced, while fans clamoured for software upgrades.
As someone who has been in a community of artists, I hear a common conundrum arise:
I really want to leave this art site, but it’s too popular and leaving would mean losing out on a valuable resource to gain/keep customers.
This article presents ways you can use your control over your own works to influence your customers to view them where you wish them to, while also maintaining a presence so that others may find you.
This is written as a neutral piece and the methods can be used on any free art posting site. To that end, we'll call the site you wish to vacate “BadVibeArt”, and the place you want to go “NewBeginningDoodles”. Both are general-use sites for stories and art alike, comparable to sites such as deviantART, Fur Affinity, Inkbunny, SoFurry or Weasyl.
SoFurry has recently been updated to version 2.2, codenamed Firefeather. This update offers more features, redesigned pages and the return of Yiffstar-era interviews with the site's writers and artists. In addition, the site now contains a new class of user as part of attempts to improve interactivity and user experiences.
By far the most noticeable change is the redesigned home page. The original homepage had a large banner that took up a great deal of space. That has been replaced with two new tabs, one containing announcements and interviews (currently interview with both K.M. Hirosaki and Servion) and a second containing a list of upcoming events. Both can be disabled by users to keep main page focused on submissions.
When the original SoFurry launched at the end of 2009 there was a certain amount of displeasure with the new site. Despite this, the user count more than doubled, and by June 2011 SoFurry had over 150 000 users. Staff then launched the SoFurry 2.0 beta, an attempt to completely redo SoFurry, improving the code and addressing user complaints.
During the seven-month beta period, there were regular bug fixes (and a public list of upcoming features). This wasn't limited to submitted bugs; SoFurry owner Toumal also responded to criticisms about the site, for example on Chipotle's review of furry story sites. The project was not without problems, however, and the site at one point seemed to face copyright challenges concerning part of it's code, namely for the chat feature.
The team worked hard and on 23 January, after about three days of down time, SoFurry was reborn. I took the time to ask Toumal a few questions regarding its development and future.
Site leader Toumal responded with assurances that a new chat module would be provided, and made a call for donations. A temporary chat has since been implemented.
Way back in May 2006, I wrote a little piece called “The State of the Furry Zine.”
This is a somewhat informal update to that survey.
No matter what kind of work you create, thought needs to go into where you’ll publish it. Writers have more to consider; each site handles text differently. Print publications still carry a different weight for writing, as do e-books; there’s a quantifiable difference between having your story read as a Fur Affinity post versus on a Kindle. But has the web won?
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).
|SoFurry**||167?591||27 ||974?580||36?095 [51?294]|
|InkBunny#||55?660||7§ ||227?490||32?498 [37?915]|
At the end of 2009, Yiffstar was relaunched with 'completely new code' as SoFurry. Reactions were not entirely positive; the forum was horrible to use, and the main site had numerous performance and navigational issues, though speed improved over time.
In April 2010, work began on SoFurry 2.0, originally planned to release in first quarter 2011. As time passed, various previews of the new Espresso theme were released and covered by both Flayrah and FNN – the latter reporting on SoFurry's 150,000-user mark by interviewing SoFurry owner Toumal and lead designer Alex Vance.
On 8 July, Toumal announced a public beta of SoFurry 2.0, running in parallel with SoFurry 1.0 for 'some time'. The beta launched today, albeit without chat.