Fur Affinity - Users responsible for the actions of commenters
On Janurary 21st, Fur Affinity staff had removed a user's journal based upon the comments within the journal for violating Code of Conduct rule 1.6, colloquially referred to as the "call out" rule. This decision will impact users by placing the responsibility of comments on the user hosting those comments on their journal or submission pages as much as the user making the comment. The user whose journal was removed, Validuz, was told that any comments found violating such rules are subject to removal of the journal hosting the comments.
Validuz v. Animator
The controversy started when Validuz won a raffle by a popular animator in the fandom known for animating adult artwork. The prize offering was to have animated a piece of artwork of the winner's choice. Validuz chose to have a non-adult piece of artwork animated, and was under the assumption that it was within the scope of the prize offering. There was nothing in the raffle journal to indicate the limitation of clean works being disallowed. The animator told them that they would not animate it and the art to be animated had to be pornographic in nature.
Unable to come to an agreement, Validuz laid out his frustration, without naming the animator directly, in a journal. Based on context it did not take long for the community to figure out who the artist was and name his name in the comment section. The animator found out what happened and reported the journal and comments to the site staff. In the end the site staff ruled in favor of the animator and took down the entire journal.
Validuz posted a second journal about the deleted journal which was also promptly taken down. They talked with the staff about premise of what they would need to do in order to not have their journal taken down and thus came to a final agreement. It would be up to Validuz to remove any comments that dropped names or were deemed harassing in nature. Through this, he managed to keep his journal regarding this ruling up.
This story does have a happy ending for Validuz though, as another animator, Fek, took the desired piece and animated it for the raffle winner.
Criticisms on Fur Affinity’s Ruling
Some important questions come up with this new development of a content poster’s responsibility over their own comment section. If the user is responsible for policing the content of others within their domain, how long does the user have to act upon the violating comment before their content suffers the consequences? While this question has been posed to Fur Affinity’s twitter, as of the writing of this article this question has yet to be answered.
This question, however, is essential if self-policing is the expectation. How easily can a user can avoid inadvertently violating the rules now that they are at the mercy of their commenters? What happens if they post a journal and then go away for a few days and didn’t have any time to remove the comments themselves? The answers are not only important to the users looking to avoid having their content taken down, but also to the staff so they know when taking action is appropriate.
There’s also the question of: What if the user is unaware that they are expected to police their own comment sections? Especially given that no announcement on official channels or addendums to the Terms of Service or Code of Conduct have been made to make it clear to users that they are responsible to self police the comment sections of their content.
Some users may find it safer, at this point, to leave comments closed when talking about contentious topics that fall just outside the bounds, or airing personal gripes without naming names. Because at this point it would be easy enough for a motivated individual to make anonymous posts that pass over the line in order to get the content that walks the line taken down.
In the greatest of ironies, while this ruling was in favor of a user the brings many views to Fur Affinity, the idea of forcing the user to police their own comment section will leave the most work to those that receive the most comments. The most popular content creators whose content creates the most comments are going to have to read through the most to ensure that they remove any that violate any rules.
On the plus side, if the staff can get users to effectively police their own comment sections, it could, in theory, free staff up to respond to other issues. However, in practice they may find themselves more busy than ever as more comments get reported if not taken down by the journal owners.
What started as a minor debate over an artist’s obligation to those that win free raffle prizes, became something much larger in response to the action taken by staff moderators. How much this new ruling will impact the day to day of Fur Affinity users has yet to be seen. If whether there will be many more of these kind of removals in the future, or if this is a rarity, is as of right now unknown. Only time will tell, but it would be advised for the time being that users at the fandom’s most popular website to exercise caution on the comments they allow on their Fur Affinity pages.
Author's Note: The exclusion of the animator's name was an intentional act on the part of the article writer. Including their name here would distract from the original intention of the article which is to inform Fur Affinity users of the policies being enforced by Fur Affinity staff. Who the animator was is not as important as the fact of the staff's decision in this regard.