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IMVU buys Fur Affinity; furry fans respond

Edited as of Wed 6 Dec 2017 - 23:43
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3D chat service IMVU has bought furry art community Fur Affinity for an undisclosed sum. According to the announcement, "FA will continue to operate independently", and former owner Dragoneer says he remains "in charge of the site, direction and improvements".

IMVU, which bills itself as "the world's largest 3D Chat and Dress-Up community", has marketed its service to furry fans since at least 2006. The company proposes to monetize their January 2015 purchase through "added advertising" presented via "an improved experience", rather than "taking FA content, redistributing it, reposting it, using it in-game".

IMVU Seeking synergy

IMVU is a venture-funded company which makes its money selling virtual goods and user eyeballs (which until recently included encouraging desktop users to install 'Search Protection' software). They had a table at Further Confusion 2015, even posting a promo video [Patch Packrat]. In an announcement on IMVU's forums, IMVU staffer Varsha explains the rationale for the purchase of Fur Affinity, which she presents as "a community centered around sketching and animations":

This started with IMVU advertising its services to the FA community, which led to further discussions about the obvious overlap among our members. Both IMVU and FA community members love to socialize and connect anonymously with people from around the world with diverse backgrounds. Both communities express their artistic and creative skills in a variety of ways - via their anthromorphic and furry art, photographs, outfits, and scenes and more. So our partnership was the natural and reasonable conclusion to bring these similar and often already connected communities together officially.

[…] the only input we have in FA is ensuring the site administrator has appropriate resources to make improvements to the site that he has been wanting to make. We are not implementing any subscription services for FA or generally making any changes to the way that community operates. As to what we gain is what we included in our announcement - bringing together communities that share common interests and advertising on the FA site.

Update (21 March): The advertising that we are talking about is not ads for the IMVU service on FA site. We will be monetizing the FA site traffic by selling ad space to third parties - ads will be unobtrusive and targeted to the community interests.

Dragoneer (who is now listed as 'Community Lead' at IMVU on LinkedIn) gave his own perspective in a personal journal:

I've always wanted to be able to work on FA full time, improve the site, and really invest into the community. Towards the end of last year, my free time plummeted drastically. I worked for Amazon AWS, keeping the cloud fluffy and sites like Netflix and Reddit happy with all the kibbles and bits they could offer. I was also working upwards of 80 hours a week, denied vacation, denied days off, even threatened by management over wanting to take a day off for Thanksgiving.

Things got bad.

Through December, I received many offers to sell FA. Some wanted the site just to turn it into a store front, but in doing so wanted to dismantle the site. Others wanted to buy it LITERALLY just to shut it down. I didn't want any of that. Money was good, and some really high figures were thrown out, but I legitimately care about the community. I haven't done this for 10 years out of my own time and energy just to see someone come in and rip it apart.

IMVU offered to help the site with funding and support the site as is. They're the only group who didn't want to tear it down, but help build it up. That group: IMVU. They wanted to help fund the site and support it in order to help grow their large furry community base. That was it. Their goal was solely to grow the community. They get more users, we get more users. Everything works out.

IMVU has been hands-off on the site, and have been doing nothing but supporting us and helping us make the improvements we need.

IMVU is to pay for future "coding and technical support". FA is also getting "a new app server with 16-cores, full SSD and a storage server with 48TB of space"; it's unclear if this was bought by IMVU. When the October donation drive was raised, Dragoneer said "The donation drive money went into purchasing new gear for the site, investing in DDOS protection, procuring goods and was used for the site." [editor's links]

One example of the other offers mentioned by Dragoneer was provided by Trapa, who proposed to value Fur Affinity at $50,000 and find investors to buy 54% of it, distributed six ways, with voting rights to be held by a board of directors including Chase and Dragoneer.

Furries respond

While IMVU's target audience clearly includes furry fandom, their coining of the hashtag #furrific and claims to have a furry community led to derision, and promotion of Luskwood by Second Life (which was in turn called hypocritical by a Luskwood founder).

IMVU user and furry creator Akena notes that "the Furry Community has all but fizzled out here these days compared to even a few years ago", while LilbButterX3 warns that "IMVU is a money hungry program who tries to squeeze every penny out of there users if they can. […] ALWAYS spamming peoples inbox's with daily promotions to buy credits for their site every day and there is no way to turn this off."

Long-time IMVU user FuaFua told a similar story:

Imvu does not care about their customers. They don't even care about their content creators - the very people who, without them, imvu would be absolutely nothing. They never listen to what their users ask for - or if they do, they add the requested feature under the vip package which is a monthly paid subscription. Not to mention that they love to take previously available features that you could have forever and tack it into the vip subscription to make it monthly too.

A lack of integration may be for the best, as according to Fur Affinity user XSlowLotusx, furries are not well-liked on IMVU, and their "furkinis" are seen by some as an excuse for nudity in general-rated areas. [IMVU does not permit depiction of sex; nudity requires a paid access pass.]

Several compared the purchase to Yahoo's acquisition of Tumblr, saying it resulted in the closure of pornograpic blogs. More positively, Nimbus Wolf suggested that IMVU's development team (engineering blog) "might actually be able to fix the site", though one IMVU user had doubts. Others expressed fears that FA-hosted artwork would be adapted by IMVU for in-game or promotional use, leading to official posts on the topic.

On a lighter note, furry artist SOLIDASP gave their impression of FA's mascot Fender would look like in IMVU, while fantasy adult toy maker Bad Dragon announced their intent to create a furry community site - tying in with the first comments to FA's posts on the topic.

"Fur friendly" art site Weasyl experienced a traffic spike on the night of the announcement, while Inkbunny saw ~15% more users than normal; responses similar to those seen in past instances of 'drama' or downtime involving Fur Affinity.

A new trend?

Changes in furry site ownership are common, as personal interests and priorities change; Fur Affinity itself was bought by Dragoneer from Alkora in 2007 (though Arcturus just claimed that he owns "50%" of Fur Affinity [tip: Higgs Raccoon], apparently based on being an early host); Inkbunny, Flayrah and the Yerf archive were transferred to GreenReaper in recent years; and Weasyl moved from Kihari to Inaki last November. However, these have all been fan-to-fan transfers; like furry conventions, furry communities tend not to be run for the owners' personal profit.

There have been instances of corporate sponsorship at conventions (e.g. Monster Energy drinks and Furry Weekend Atlanta), and Second Life and LiveJournal have recognized the impact of furries in the past, but external investments and acquisitions of furry businesses are uncommon. Whether this one will pay off for IMVU and its investors remains to be seen, but the result is likely to be noted by similar companies.

Full text of official announcement

We are proud to announce Fur Affinity has joined the IMVU family. Fur Affinity (formerly a part of Ferrox Art LLC) was acquired by IMVU earlier this year in January 2015. We are looking forward to the partnership allowing both FA and IMVU to grow and foster the furry community and to celebrate its unique talents, creativity and self-expression.

As you know, IMVU has previously advertised their services to our community, which led to further discussions about the obvious overlap among our members. Both IMVU and FA community members love to socialize and connect anonymously with people from around the world with diverse backgrounds, talents, and creative histories. They both express their artistic and creative skills in a variety of ways - via artwork, storytelling, fursuiting, crafts and more! Our partnership was the natural and reasonable conclusion to bring these similar and often already connected communities together officially.

Going forward, FA will continue to operate independently but with IMVU’s support and resources to upgrade our services. We can now work on improving our infrastructure, adding more storage, making performance improvements and improved coding support to reach our full potential. As a community member, the only difference you will notice is a better, smoother experience and increased functionality of the site as time goes on.

FA started with a dream and a roll of duct tape, but grew and thrived thanks to the support of our community. We became one of the top 5,000 sites globally, 1,500 sites within the United States. The future remains bright, and together we can aim to reach even higher.

We look forward to having you continue to participate in our community, be creative, be proud, and, above all else, have fun. You are unlikely to notice any changes apart from an improved experience on the site and some added advertising.


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Whether you support the sell out or not. Objectively, this is looking like the End of Days for FA. The popular choice for the exodus relocation appears to be Weasyl.
I doubt IMVU are going to get their money's worth from the purchase.

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"People are encouraged to think for themselves and be critical of the decisions others are making."

Well, you're going to feel right at home with FurAffinity then! Being critical of the decisions other make is like the furry mantra.

I will give an example. That last sentence from the FA announcement just kind of doesn't sit right in the brain: "You are unlikely to notice any changes apart from an improved experience on the site and some added advertising."

"You'll notice an improvement in your health and hemorrhaging."
"You'll notice an improvement in your car's performance and window cracking."
"You'll notice an improved relationship with your significant other and unreturned phone calls."

IMVU is going to have to be really careful on the ads they put on FA. If their tweet with the word "Furrific" is any indication they have a lot of research ahead of them. If they're going to try and sell them things, if it's not things they are interested in they're going to change that little green thumbs up icon on their browser to a red "Talk to the Hand".

As more users do this and IMVU notices not all that much ad revenue coming in because tech-savvy furs know how to block ads, more so than on other site's users, they're going to start putting pressure on Dragoneer to convince to convince the users to provide them a simple request or earth and water.

And the userbase will refuse.

"This is madness!" Dragoneer will decree, probably feel in a desperate position where he may feel that if he can't convince them of this then IMVU will pull the plug.

But the userbase already knows they'd rather they pull a plug than to subject themselves to relentless unwanted ads. Wheather it that plug is Dragoneer's plug, or FurAffinity's, it will not matter, furry will live on.

"This is Fandom!"

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IMVU tried to add some 'targeted' advertising to site with adult content. All I can say is this.

But to be more useful I also go into why IMVU even attempted this action here .

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Commodore: "What's this Amiga thing we bought do?"
IDT: "What's this GEnie thing we bought do?"
HP: "What's this Palm and WebOS stuff we bought do?"

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There could be one positive that comes out of this. Previous criticism of FA sometimes got the response, "It's Dragoneer's personal site. He's doing everyone a favour by letting them use it. He doesn't have to do anything to fix it." Now all of that is blown away. FA is now owned by a company and Dragoneer is employed specifically to fix things and improve the 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~

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I agree. Either FA will become better, or it will become the pay-per-view shithole people seem to be afraid of, but at least this should be the end of the statu quo :)

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One fun detail I didn't notice before - Jon Watte, IMVU's Vice President of Technology, has a furry avatar. A fox on the inside?

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While a few staff members may be furries, I doubt the majority of them are. This is what makes this event stand out for me: It's very rare for a corporate entity outside of the fandom to invest in the fandom itself, in a targeted manner. I'm scratching my head trying to find another example, and the closest I can come up with is Ben Dunn's Antarctic Press, back in the early 1990s? And I'm not even sure if that would count.

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I'm willing to hypothesis that if a company has a technology department, there is always at least one furry in it.

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Dronon: I did an article about corporate targeting at furries that got a hell of a lot of traffic. And it wasn't even all that deeply researched, just "a bunch of stuff I remembered."

Mainstream advertising: “More and more, Furries are being hinted at in marketing media!”

Greenreaper's own posts about notices going back to 2006 or earlier added a lot more to this. I just tacked them on the end with an edit.

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Ah yes, I saw that post of yours, but I guess I my wording wasn't clear enough. Your post is about targeting. Mine was about investment - directed, targeted - but most of all, investment. I'll just quote back to you what Greenreaper said that you've since added to your article: "There have been instances of corporate sponsorship at conventions ... but external investments and acquisitions of furry businesses are uncommon."

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Many of IMVU's engineers came from There, a one-time competitor to Second Life (tldr: better technology, worse business decisions), and around 2003 at least five furries were working there. Er, There. And, of course, as you've noted before, IMVU was advertising to furries eight years ago.

IMVU's "pushiness" of selling things to their users comes, I suspect, from the simple fact that getting you to buy stuff from them is the only way they make money. I understand that it's annoying, but it's apparently a profitable one. I honestly don't think they expect FA to substantially boost their revenue stream, but FA As It Exists Now is from all appearances a giant pit into which money is thrown and then set on fire, and that's going to have to stop. IMVU is also presumably not going to be running any donation drives.

My suspicion is that the cost of banner ads on FA is going to go up substantially, and/or FA banners will be integrated with IMVU's ad platform. And, of course, the interesting questions are about the long term -- two years from now.

Incidentally, it's not correct to say that Yahoo buying Tumblr closed pornographic blogs. Tumblr's current page on adult content explicitly (ahem) says, "We have no problem with that kind of stuff. Go nuts. Show nuts. Whatever." The change was that Tumblr requires you to have an account and be logged in for adult blogs to show up in their own site-wide search results.

— Chipotle

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Wow watts, thanks for some local/inside poop.

I was actually asking for some on BAF because i have a list of pretty detailed questions pending answer from IMVU and Dragoneer by tuesday or so.

While engaging like that, I have avoided posting opinion on purpose, leaving it to others. Now I'm wondering about a "top _ most WTF artist galleries now owned by IMVU" blog post. Bad idea or funny idea? Would it burn a bridge or no big deal because they do own it?

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Easy way to find some stuff:

Go to Enter WTF as your search tag. Browse. Check left panel for image source. Take note of FA artists.

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Alas, no longer: Jon joined Roblox in August 2017. (The presence of a Roblox profile has historically been a surefire way to identify kids sneaking onto Inkbunny, though I guess that'll change someday.)

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Now THIS is a true controversy! I guess I went overboard with WORDS when describing my minor submission.

Well, I'll be...

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In the news business, the universe's timing does sometimes suck. I'm sure if you ones who worked in the paper news business you'd find plenty of stories of "I think this story will be a big one in the next print, maybe front page". Then the president gets shot.

Looks like it's page 3 for you.

But in the end at least you're having a better day than the president.

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Okay. Overcame The Laziness and read the entire post (which was fairly short). Furrific? The most grandpa talk I heard since that christian rap video.

Well, I'll be...

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I'm curious if this will lead to further investment from sources external to the furry fandom. I feel uneasy about the acquisition but either FA will evolve or tank like an "out-of-touch dad." With that said, what will the furry fandom look like five years from now if FA manages to evolve? Are we going to see something like what happened with MLP: A massive franchising and normalization of the fandom? Am I gonna have to buy more trading cards?

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The smartest move for IMVU would probably be to fire current FA staff and start over.

Dragoneer admits that he is far too busy with his current job to provide any improvements to FA. He doesn't have the time for the job. Why does IMVU think adding their resources will help, if the person they left in charge has no time to do anything with it?

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He has plenty of time for it now, because he left his job at Amazon and got himself the 'Community Lead' job at IMVU as part of the deal.

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[comment removed on request]

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I believe the Linkedin title change dates to January. And now I feel bad for putting personal details out. But anyways... a long wait is not anything unusual I don't think. They have to prep before announcing because organization takes a hell of a lot of effort.

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There's a FAQ up now and the delay is addressed in the comments:

If I said "FA's been sold, can't give details just yet" it would have created far, far more questions.

We had aimed to have the UI beta test open when we made the announcement to go "Hey, look, progress! And progress is brought to you by..." but unfortunately, we hit some unexpected delays with that.

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So now I guess he can say "The lack of progress has been brought to you by..."

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Skippy, F/A received ten grand in donations from users after January, before March. Why, I do believe THAT is a FANTASTIC reason to wait so long to announce ... that will buy a LOT of Cheetos and beer for Fender and Dragoneer. xD

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This is just too hilarious not to share.

"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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There's the obligatory Downfall adaption, too.

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IMVU staffer Varsha has clarified that:

The advertising that we are talking about is not ads for the IMVU service on FA site. We will be monetizing the FA site traffic by selling ad space to third parties - ads will be unobtrusive and targeted to the community interests.

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As targeted as the word "Furific".

For there sake's, and for Dragoneer's, they best not fail in that endeavor. It's no easy task as even I'm hard pressed to think of third parties that are providing products targeting furries.

Though to make it easier on them here is a list of things they should look to advertise:
*Disney movies
*Video Games
*Fabric Stores
*Arts and Craft Supplies
*Electronics, (Computers/Cameras in particular)
*Books (But only if they are of particular fandom interest)

That to me would be what I would focus on. As before stated if they fail in this endeavor, Dragoneer may find himself in quite a mess.

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Okay, I'm going to push back a bit on your hate on the word "furrific," not because it isn't a stupid word but because it is pretty much in line with stupid words that furries make up for themselves all the time. The probability that "furrific" has been used by furries already is, I suspect, pretty close to 1.

As for third parties targeting furries, I suspect you shouldn't be excluding all the people who are advertising with FA banners currently. They're third parties targeting furries, right? While I expect IMVU will try to find new people willing to throw money at furries, I don't think they're going to stop taking money from people already doing that. The bigger (short term) question is what the new ad rates will be -- FA's current rate of $25/mo for small boxes and $100/mo for large banners is really low for a site with its level of traffic.

— Chipotle

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I guess it's mostly on the idea on what third party means in this context. When a furry thinks of "third party" they think of extra-fandom advertising. However, the words being said by IMVU, "third party" could indeed mean intra-fandom advertising.

Where it gets a bit fuzzy is that most of FA ads lead to FA. So now since IMVU owns FA, if a person is advertising their stuff for FA, it's not exactly third party but at the same time is.

I'm sure there may be business terms when it comes to this and I'm sure such practices may have had their foundations set since the dawning of the first Sears Catalog. However, one has to wrap their mind around a system where people buy ads to point to 3rd party content hosted on the 1st party site. So the advertisement would actually be "interparty". The ad gets viewership to the third-party while directing to the site of the first part and thus giving both a benefit.

Seeings as the fandom is more likely to use a central hub and not go to far outside the bounds of the areas they feel comfortable with there is certainly money to be made on the system. But as you said, the costs are probably going to go up.

Another, more unorthodox way, to garner money is to provide services/apps to the individuals who do business on FA. Tools to help with record keeping and such. Of course, with the past security issues that may be a bit too risky on the end user's part in FA. I think that's the direction the bad dragon team may be looking to go. Evolving our current personal, yet pron to fraud, business models into more official, real world, and trustworthy model where customers are held accountable for not paying what they owe, and artists are held accountable if they don't provide the product they promised to deliver.

I do appreciate the pushback on my eye rolling on the furry neologism. The thing is furry neologisms can elicit groans when done intra-fandom. As you said, the probability a furry coined "Furrific" is close to 1. But that being said, if it was coined, then why was it not adapted to the overall lexicon? Why do you not hear that word more often?

Probably because the conversation went like this:

"That's furrific!"
"Ugh... that word was awful, never use it again."
"Haha! Sorry, yeah it was pretty bad."

And then it died.

So to those that find them groan worthy when a fellow furry uses them, it can be really grating when an outsider uses them. Especially when they only reason they used them was to try to make furries comfortable that they "really understand".

But then if they "really understood" would they not know that furry neologisms are very particular, and indeed very personal things which really vary with tastes?

In the end though, at least they're trying to integrate. So I will give them that.

I do hope, in the end, IMVU is really going to get better at furry interaction. They have adopted the most used social network of the furry fandom! This is the first time in the fandom's history that the very future of one of their major social hubs is in the hands of an extra-fandom entity. It's an exciting, and very nerve racking prospect. It all falls on IMVU's ability to instill trust in the fandom, a fandom which is very untrusting of outsiders. And to make matters worse, we were introduced by a person within the fandom where the trust for their decisions is very low to begin with.

But miracles can happen. And for FA's sake it has to happen.

If not, well, the other three social sites better be emotionally and financially prepared for all the refugees they're going to have to be taking in.

And for the love of Frith, learn from FA's mistake. Create a business model that actually works, and try to avoid making it more than 50% donation based.

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I think the "furrific" thing is like one of my least favorite parts of media articles on furry; it's the excruciating furry puns, partially because they are excruciating in their own right, partially because I've already heard them.

We did come up with the word "fursona", so we really don't have room to talk.

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I would argue though that "fursona" actually ingrains a new concept and has actual utility. Which is why it has stuck around.

The alternative would be to use "furry persona". Which if current language require too many syllables to describe a particular common needed idea, it will always be shorthand, furry language or not.

Imagine a furry having to write an article about fursonas without using the word fursona. How many more words would be necessary to keep saying "Furry persona".

I'm not a language traditionalist fiend who will scoff at all furry neologisms. I just believe they should serve a real purpose to the overall language conveyance. In my opinion, those that have the most use do not. "Furtastic" does not do anything Fantastic does not, heck "Turbotastic" has more utility to me because then I at least remember an good movie from it.

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It's still embarrassing to say out loud.

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I've been to a few furry conventions, when you hear some of the other things they say out loud, "Fursona" is the least of one's problem.

Kind of like it's less embarrassing to pick ones nose if you're standing next to someone who is scratching their butt-crack and sniffing it.

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Well, arguably the alternative to "fursona" would just be to say "persona," and to have the furry be understood from context. It's the same with most such words; a "fursuit" is what most people would call a "costume," and early furrydom got by for years calling them exactly that. You didn't need to say "furry costume," because if the costume was an anthropomorphic tiger, you kinda figured it out without the adjective. (I'm pretty sure they were still calling them "costumes" through most of ConFurence's run.)

"Fursona" and "fursuit" and using "paw" as a verb and our incessant love of puns on the word fur in general are largely tribal signifiers. I've seen others give IMVU the hairy eyeball for using "furrific," but my suspicion is that the reaction doesn't stem from a judgement about its language utility compared with other furry fanspeak. It comes from a but you're not one of us reaction.

— Chipotle

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For me, it was the faux corporate enthusiasm in combination with the non-ironic use of a really bad pun - non-ironic not in the sense that they meant it, but that they seemed to think that it would engender a shared sense of identity with FA's new corporate overlords.

Instead, it just came off as an insult to our collective intelligence. No, they're not one of us, and trying to fake it just makes that obvious. Some were charitable and thought they simply misunderstood the community they were talking to; but even if their demographic is full of kids, the furry Twittersphere is not - and it's still condescending, however you slice it.

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I guess it's kind of the real world equivalent of a Yankee politician going to the South and talking with a southern drawl.

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Hmm, their demographic appears to be largely non-white. Furries happen to be overwhelmingly white. There not one way in which these sites are compatible.

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I think the "DMCA or it isn't stolen" approach versus FurAffinity's more hands-on "friend of artist" ideals are the things that are causing more rivets during this "merging of communities".

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This just in, IMVU has copies of Blotch's work on sale in their catalog!


Shit just got real.

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Okay, the IMVU catalog seems to be user generated/defined by third parties (such as Youtube has uploads by users). The real predator here is a person called Samukun.

If anything that person's going to have a bad day when thousands of furries start flagging his stolen items.

You should not have to be a member to flag crap through, that's something that annoys me.

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Not particularly surprising. Both IMVU and Second Life have an art piracy problem. It's not feasible for marketplace owners to judge a priori whether the seller has the necessary rights for their work, so they wait for complaints instead.

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True, and I don't think many would expect them too. However, IMVU's policy is basically "Get to the point where you're threatening legal action and only then will we take action."

I mean, it's like saying. "Sorry officer, I'll only put my hands up if you threaten to arrest me first."

It certainly clashes with the personable approach the furry sites tend to take when dealing with claims of copyright. And it certainly clashes with the foundation the FA has built itself on. It's certainly something other furry websites can take full political advantage of.

It is the only true difference in FA and IMVU's cultures that threatens the transplant being rejected by the immune response.

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Has fury finally made the mainstream when and outside business buy into furry site. It is like if Wizards World bought Anthrocon. I wonder IMVU is making the biggest culture conflict mistakes since the Time Warner AOL merger. First how IMVU will fare when the sensational monger media does a NSFW search and report how "IMVU buys into furry fetish porn". Will IMVU clamp down on adult material? Second is I get the impressions furries have a rage against machine anti-corporate anti consumerism bent and will turn away at the hint of commercialism. This makes advertizing to furries difficult.
I believe IMVU advertized to furries in the past and have a furry section . Still I hope this works out FA can use some professionalism and perhaps IMVU can pull it off and clean up FA seedy reputation but Keeping Dragoneer is a mistake .

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Here's a question. Let's say IMVU does start changing the policy of what they can do with submissions on FA. Perhaps they say by continuing to use the site, IMVU is allowed to sell submissions for profit without needing the artist's consent. Whoever is using the site gets to make their own decision about whether to keep using it but what about people who joined before those rules but are now no longer active? Or people who have died? Or people who posted submissions but were later banned? (With FA, that's a long list.) In those cases the people posted to the site under a different set of rules but no longer are able to remove submissions in response to future changes in the site direction. How will that be dealt with? Will those submissions be marked as exceptions to the current rules? Will FA make every effort to contact those affected or those that could represent their estate? Or will FA just delete all art from inactive members?

"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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What you're essentially asking is "what happens if FurAffinity retroactively claims copyright of uploaded work by changing their terms of service," to which the answer is "no, because copyright does not work that way." If it did, then any publisher of anything in any form anywhere at any time could forcibly transfer copyright from anyone.

— Chipotle

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I suppose that's true, copyright should protect users in most cases. However there are ways around that as well. Let's say someone wanted to share their work with everyone and since FA was free to access, they used that. Now IMVU comes along and makes access to adult work only available to those that pay a subscription? Not unlikely considering they do that on their own site and FA won't make money. Now the way the site works has changed completely.

"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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While what Chipotle says is true in the physical rhelm. When it comes to pubished books, the author has to sign a contract with the publisher before their work can start, well, publishing. Most of the time the compensation is designated on this contract. Whether it be percentage or one-time payment.

That being said, in the virtual world the "Contract" is called the 'Terms of Service'. Many services will require you to read it (or at the very least claim that you read it) before you can use their service. However, on many websites they just run by the rule, "if you use our site you agree to the ToS 'contract'".

So yes, one needs to watch that ToS like a hawk for any unscrupulous changes. Though I'm sure, in this fandom, someone has already saved off the document when IMVU took over. It's not in any company's best interest to secretly change a ToS. Especially on a site that doesn't require you to click a check box to claim you read it.

In fact, if anything did go to court based on changes to the ToS, even if they make a public announcement it had changed, I would say one could argue because since each individual user is not forced to mark that they read through the document, one can claim that they never knew they had to read it for changes. I mean, so many other services require you to mark you read it when changes are made, it's almost an expectation is it not?

But as far as things are right now, FA never had the rights of resale to your work (just the rights to display it on their site). So they could not sell those rights to IMVU. It's kind of more like someone selling their collection of baseball cards than the people who printed the cards.

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Frankly I'm mostly surprised that imvu is still alive in 2015.

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Or 2016? Aside from the recent snafu regarding FA's developer and last year's account data/password hash breach, I just read that IMVU paid over US$1.1 million to settle a class action lawsuit which had been rumbling on since 2011.

As many furs know, IMVU takes a cut on the sale of visual art by third parties (including those who're less-than-honest about its origin). What hasn't been widely talked-about in furry fandom is the audio for sale in their marketplace. Apparently they got into a real mess back in 2008 by:

  1. stopping new audio samples offered for sale for being longer than 20 seconds, but
  2. keeping the old samples available for sale and previewing them at their full length, until,
  3. two and a half years later, they cut down previously "purchased" music to 20 seconds.

It didn't help that they said "you own this" when looking at purchased items. The plaintiffs claimed this affected sums of $3.3-4.5 million and 432,000-875,000 people. Now they'll get their samples back - unless they're taken down for copyright infringement (said to be one reason for the 20 second limit, though never officially admitted). There are credits on offer, but the hard cash is almost all for the lawyers.

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Half a month later it appears as if this announcement had less of an impact on the furry social site outlooks than Project Phoenix did. I'd dare say there was barely any impact at all.

The derivative of Alexa ranking over time had no major changes. All 4 sites are still slowly climbing at the same rate they were before the IMVU announcement.

This compared to the Project Phoenix announcement caused a major increase in Weasyl's climbing the ranks to bring it beyond SoFurry.

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Hmm? FA announcing project Phoenix increased Weasyl? That doesn't seem to make much sense.

Though there was this funny journal where someone sarcastically congratulated SoFurry on letting FA update their UI before them. That, of course, resulted in nearly everyone pointing out how much newer the SoFurry UI is.

"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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There was a pretty consistant climb in the charts for Weasyl after Pheonix was announced.

Other furry sites increased as well, but not at the same level. Between Janruary 2014 and mid-April 2014. Weasyl went up about 130,000 ranks and passed Inkbunny and SoFurry.

Since then Inkbunny has climbed back above Weasyl, the two going back and forth a bit. All four sites are still increasing at a steady pace. FurAffinity's lead still quite comfortable.

It seems that "exodus" is never the right word for these FA events. It's more like moving into a second home. I've yet to see the site suffer a decrease in traffic as a result in controversies, yet.

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a developer, editor and Kai Norn from London, United Kingdom, 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.