Fur Affinity loses developer after stalls in promised compensation
On January 26th Silver Eagle, who was brought on as a web developer for Fur Affinity, released a video posting his resignation. In it he talks about his experiences as a developer there, and all the troubles it has caused him emotionally and financially. Thousands of views later the video set off a firestorm of criticism in the direction of leadership at the fandom's most popular website.
Similar controversies have been played out many times before for Fur Affinity, but let's take a look at why this one has perhaps stirred more ire than others and why it has many furs talking about the impact our most popular website has on the lives of others. To do this, we must take a look at the background of the developer who came forward.
A promising job in a desperate time
A young and hopeful Silver Eagle left the state he grew up at the age of 19 to pursue a relationship in the town of College Station, Texas. He found a job at the university as a developer there, having been self taught since he was 12. While the relationship fell through, the job proved far more stable.
After eight years of employment he was offered a better job opportunity in the city of Houston, Texas. However, Silver Eagle found he did not enjoy the city in which he lived. A year later, while attending a brony convention he was offered an opportunity to be a developer for a company in sports coverage in Austin, Texas. Being offered to have his moving expenses covered, he jumped at the opportunity.
Unfortunately, unlike his position in College Station, this one did not last. After a visit from the CEO to the tech department, it was decided he was a "bad fit" for the company. A statement that Silver Eagle heavily suspects had to do with his obesity rather than his work ethic, especially since most of his other coworkers there were physically fit.
Now he was stuck in Austin and jobless. He found himself struggling with the anxiety and depression which he was diagnosed with since 2009, and it was making it difficult to find steady work. It made him desperate enough to do something he was uncomfortable with and went to the Internet community to seek out financial help on the fundraising site, Generosity.
In dire need of a project to bring in income, he saw calls for help on Fur Affinity, themselves desperate for an adequate developer to help improve their site's functionality. As a user with the skills he felt were needed, Silver Eagle spoke with Dragoneer of the possibility of providing his services. He presented his experience in development by showing him the My Little Pony fandom site Ponyville Live! he had designed. After Dragoneer and Silver Eagle came to an agreement, work had begun. In an interview I did with him, Silver Eagle stated that all negotiations of employment were done directly with Dragoneer and no other Fur Affinity staff.
Promises lost in bureaucracy
Silver Eagle best explains what occurred after being brought on staff in the video he published on YouTube under the name "The ClusterFur: My Experience with Fur Affinity"
He had started his tenure by modifying the code of Fur Affinity's back end, but ran into difficulty as the structure of the code was showing its age. He ran into issues trying to learn more about the system from Yak, Fur Affinity's long standing developer. Silver Eagle attempted to implement some small changes into the code, including the ability to search the website by an artist's name using the search function, but these were redacted by Yak. At this point, Silver Eagle began to work on the site code from the ground up in hopes of getting the work implemented in full without the issue of the redactions caused by doing it piecemeal.
As time went on and more hours were put into development, a dire issue arose. The money Silver Eagle was agreed to be paid was not coming in. From October to December, despite working with an agreement for compensation, he received no pay. Being otherwise unemployed, working so hard for nothing was unacceptable. He inquired of Dragoneer when he would be paid. Each time he was told he need to do something in order to be paid: he needed to set up a business account, he needed to sign a formal contract (the original agreement being verbal), he needed to send them an invoice.
@Dragoneer "In the system" does not mean the same as sitting under piles of paper on your desk. You have no system. — Little Lizard (@RenTradewind) January 27, 2016
After jumping through that final hoop and having his invoice submitted on the 1st of January, he regularly inquired about payment. Every inquiry to the Fur Affinity staff was met with reassurance that the compensation was being processed. After being told this and still receiving no pay, he finally emailed IMVU directly to inquire about the status. In an email received on January 26th, Silver Eagle was informed that they had not received a copy of the contract he had signed and returned to Dragoneer.
IMVU steps in - a resolution with an uncertain future
After receiving the email from IMVU, Silver Eagle posted his video announcing his resignation. He opened up the open source code he had worked on to the public as evidence of the time put into this endeavor.
Count me among that group too, of people who have been burned.
The video was quickly picked up by the community and received the ire of many furries disgusted by the actions, or lack thereof, of Fur Affinity. Many pushed Silver Eagle to sue, an action that he quickly dismissed. IMVU, now with knowledge of the human resources disaster at their doorstep, made sure that the promised compensation was paid to the developer who had put in so many hours in.
This happened within two days of the original email that sparked the controversy. After this resolution Silver Eagle posted a follow up video.
The blunders of Fur Affinity staff had been resolved. Silver Eagle praised IMVU for their prompt and professional response. As far as Fur Affinity's future is concerned, the way IMVU had turned this around allowed Silver Eagle to hold onto hope that the company may be able to play a vital role in turning the furry site's misfortunes of stagnation around. However, now being again unemployed, he remains uncertain of his own future. Unless a new opportunity comes up, he knows he will not be able to sustain a roof over his head.
Perhaps only time, and maybe a little help from the community, will determine how the future of both play out.