SoFurry loses custom chat after coder copyright claim
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.
Relations between DigitalMan and other staff were previously tense, and disputes flared up last month during an argument about exposing user customization options. DigitalMan also runs the New Anthro Empire, a site featuring chat- and forum-based roleplaying.
Under U.S. law, joint authors who intended to create a single work can exercise rights independently of one another, lacking a specific contract. However, the contributions are in dispute; some staff say it was a team effort, while DigitalMan claims to have written certain features himself:
So, what functionality did I add on my own? Well, for one, the chat sidebar. Yes, the whole sidebar.
Speaking of input fields, whispers. [...] And along with whispers, we needed ignores. Also not there, in any way, shape, or form.
We are designers and engineers. We have better taste and vision than 99.9% of the SoFurry userbase, so anything that an average user can put together in terms of customizing the user interface is guaranteed to be uglier than anything we can give them. The users will have no concept of color theory, visual weight, the dynamics of type — but they’ll feel what’s sub-standard, and they’ll have no real way to fix the hideousness they put together.
I feel quite strongly that giving users excessive customization options is something we should be very careful about. It’s an easy way out for us, giving users the choice is a convenient way to avoid taking responsibility ourselves. I suggest we keep in mind customization in developing 2.0, but think hard whether or not we reveal it to the user: choice is what we give the user only when we don’t have the ability to give them excellence.
As for allowing users to manipulate the navigation structure, I’m actually very strongly against that. It smacks of Microsoft Office 98, the notion that the user can make things better than a team of dedicated, trained designers and engineers. I really want to make a strong case for this: it’s our job to make the navigation and interface look and work brilliantly. Users don’t know what they want, and if we permit them to make choices that will make them unhappy they’ll feel as if SoFurry is crap despite the fact that they made it crap for themselves.