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.
About the authorSonious (Tantroo McNally) — read stories — contact (login required)
a project coordinator and Kangaroo from CheektRoowaga, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, writing and finance
How much longer do you think IMVU will keep Dragoneer around? First he doesn't tell them that the forum has upped and left, taking the database with it. Then he doesn't tell them about a new hire or even pay that hire. He's got to be looking like a major liability right about now.
"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~
four years later...and we're still asking this question.
Something tells me that Dragooneer will be shown the door very, very soon.
He's causing IMVU's new project to fail and have bad publicity. In the corporate world, that's simply not good.
Meanwhile there are new sites popping up all the time. Weasyl is out of beta and while i personally don't like the public tagging it and Furry Network are looking much better than FA every day.
So many people complained about "selling out" to IMVU. The site has stayed largely the same (for the worse) and it takes this to get people to finally wonder how do you pay people for real. Jeez.
Personally there are a few things that stick out about this. Silver Eagle, despite causing issues and being a thorn in the side of the Fur Affinity staff has interestingly not been banned from the site. Which can either mean one or two things, Fur Affinity staff is really trying to change their way on being vengeful against defectors, or IMVU asked them to not take any action against Silver Eagle to not fan any flames.
I'm not sure what it is. But I can say it is odd that Dragoneer has been mostly silent about the whole ordeal, more than he usually is in a situation like this. And that seems to be the actions of someone who has resigned control, or has been forced to give some of it up and is distracting himself with other things to keep their mind off of it.
I would not be surprised that, at the very least, IMVU has probably told Dragoneer that any new hires need to go through their HR department directly. So slowly, if surely may be seeing himself losing control of his website.
It's hard to see how a ban would be justified, unless pointing out detrimental truths on other sites counts as "being disrespectful to site staff" (COC 1.5). And I don't think it does. I mean, you still have an account on FA, as do I.
I was banned from Fender's journals, though, not long after a series of comments suggesting that staff regulated to the extent of an employee may be owed minimum wage and tax contributions, especially since FA was a for-profit engaged in interstate commerce. Even more so now, since IMVU is presumably a covered organization.
I'm glad the guy got paid, but this reiterates a rule that I've had for a VERY long time.
DO NOT DO WORK FOR FREE FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
Don't. Don't do it. It's never worth it. If your time and expertise is important, you will be compensated for it.
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