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.
[…] enough motivation collected to bring VCL back to stability, and perhaps some level of functionality to keep it a useful and enjoyable place to play around with. Certainly not to it's former "splendour", but that's not the goal.
Signaling a slow crawl back to stability, if not relevance :) More information to follow soon.
Furry art community Fur Affinity has announced restrictions on the use of automated watching scripts, which they termed "watchbots".
While staff had been "addressing botters on a one-on-one basis for several weeks", to the tune of "roughly two dozen" accounts, they faced a growing number of users who were unaware of their position. Some also became concerned upon being watched by "TheNSA".
The trend appears to have been started by Mishka Burr, who claims to have watched over 160,000 users using a script on a Raspberry Pi. Several other accounts running a published watch script inspired by Mishka's work had over 40,000 on their watchlists prior to clearing.
It's a hard life for search engines, and sites like Flayrah with varying page layout don't help. But thanks to a few hours with Google's data highlighter, it'll be easier for one of them to identify who wrote what, what a story is about, and how well it was received.
What does this mean? Well, more comprehensive search results, hopefully – but perhaps the most noticeable change will be the visibility of ratings when those results are displayed:
The rating displayed for users depends on the ratings received on their story submissions. This change will roll out incrementally as Google reindexes the site.
Also, Califur 2014 is hosting the Ursa Major Awards presentation next Saturday at 5PM. Flayrah's up for Best Magazine again for the stories we published in 2013 – join me there to celebrate if we win… and to commiserate if the ponies win Best Website again.
When we're young the day stands still, but as we age time begins to speed us by until it seems there is never enough. We're proud of how far the community has come in the 11 years since we opened our doors, but sadly we no longer have the time to make this the site that you deserve. We'll miss you and the fun we've had together deeply - but remember that in every ending is a new beginning. We wish you the best in all your new beginnings to come!
Here is the final ballot for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards. The voting is among the five titles in each category getting the most nominations. In several categories, there are six finalists because of ties for fifth place. In the Best Short Fiction category, only four finalists are listed because of too many ties for fifth place.
Voting is now open. Due to a technical issue, nominators will need to acquire a new key. The deadline is April 30.
As is not unusual, there were so many nominations for the fourth, fifth, and sixth place nominees in most categories that one more nomination could have made the difference between a title’s getting on the final ballot or not. Please nominate next year.
The 2013 Ursa Major Awards will be announced and presented at a ceremony at the CaliFur X convention, May 30-June 1, 2014, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, 18000 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92612.
Nominations for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic movies, novels, comic strips, games, etc., will close on February 28. Voting for the winner will begin on March 15 and will close on April 30. The awards will be presented at CaliFur X on May 30 to June 1, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, Irvine, California.
If you have not nominated yet, you have only a few more days to do so. All titles first published or released during the 2013 calendar year are eligible. The awards are given in eleven categories: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game. The final ballot includes the top five titles nominated in each category.
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.
So how did Flayrah do compared to 2012? At first glance, activity fell, with 536 stories from 33 contributors. But the year's 914 Newsbytes replaced many short stories, especially after auto-posting to Twitter and Facebook began.
High ratings accrued to a profile of horse-worshipping Turkmenistan, news of the proposed feline mayor of Xalapa, survey results suggesting that furries 'think differently', a review of Blue Sky's Epic, surrogate monkey mothers, and Mike Rugnetta's comments on fan communities.
News of the death of Lemonade Coyote attracted almost 10,000 unique visitors, while an exposé of FurFling and FurryMate remains active, with over 1000 views this past month. Many also followed the search for a missing fur.
Webmaster Gir Tygrin decided to close the forum after evaluating competition from more general social websites and consulting with members. A server failure halving site capacity triggered the decision:
Thanks to a failure of the server's motherboard I've determined it to be a total loss. At the current time (thanks to having to buy a new car in October) I cannot afford to replace the system. […] In the past I would have fought tooth and nail to keep the site going but with the prevalence of other websites that support the furry community I feel that this forum may be getting to the end if it's usefulness anyway. […] I'm frankly stunned that the servers lasted this long. We've been running the same hardware since the Forum's 2nd year. When I bought them I invested just over $3,000 on the hardware. I'd say it was a pretty good return. […] Based on the feedback that I've received so far it seems like people are pretty content to use Facebook, FA, and other resources.
The awards are selected by a two-stage process of nominating and voting. Members of the public send in up to five nominations in each of the eleven categories. The top five nominees in each category (more in case of a tie) are then presented on a final ballot for a public vote.
The eleven categories are: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game.
Many nominations are likely to come from the 2013 Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List, which has been built up through prior recommendations. However, inclusion on the List is not necessary for nomination if a work is otherwise eligible.
Stories go through several editing steps before publication on Flayrah. Image thumbnailing, layout, copyediting, linking, fact-checking, tagging – these take over half an hour for all but the most trivial stories, and that's assuming no substantive editing is required.
Flayrah's editors have limited time, and few are both qualified and willing to become one. Stories have often languished in the queue because we don't want to risk work which may not yet meet our standards. But not publishing work in a timely fashion is a problem, too.
As such, we're releasing contribution guidelines for Flayrah, in an attempt to decrease the work required by editors prior to publication.
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.
Furries are pretty creative. Where conventional companies will pay advertising companies, we find new way to promote our products and selves to others. Independent artists in the fandom have to use less conventional means of promotion. Two such staples that have become popular in the fandom over the past year are "Your Character Here" auctions and "Repost a Link" schemes. However, with their increased popularity, users began to criticize abuse of these methods and expressed annoyance at their side effects.
On November 21, after a link-reposting "giveaway" promising the winner $1,111 had saturated the site, Fur Affinity staff decided that what once started as a small advertising scheme had entered the realm of the intolerable, calling the methodology "Spam to Win". They also re-addressed an issue where artists would repost YCH auction template pictures, annoying watches and browsers alike.
In this Flayrah exclusive we will focus on the new journal rules, explain their implications to average furs and furry organizations, and how these type of prize giveaways could evolve under these new regulations and maintain a level of effectiveness.
The Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association, which administers the annual Ursa Major Awards, has updated the 2013 Anthropomorphic Reading List to include the titles recommended by furry fans through November 17. This list is often used by fans to nominate in the next year's Awards.
There are two months left to add your favorites of the year to the List. All fans are invited to recommend worthwhile anthropomorphic works in eleven categories (motion pictures, dramatic short films or broadcasts, novels, short fiction, other literary works, graphic stories, comic strips, magazines, published illustrations, websites, and games) first published during 2013, if they are not already on the list.
Send in your recommendations. Read the List to see what other fans have recommended. Have you seen all nine published illustrations, for example? What have you been missing?