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Tumblr's Tumble: Furs emigrate as rogue algorithm takes toll on artists

Edited as of Fri 7 Dec 2018 - 07:50
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Tumblr has said that all adult, NSFW work will need to be off the site by December 17th, 2018. Any post that is deemed to be adult content will be switched automatically to private mode and not viewable by the public according to an article by the Verge.

As the website is using an algorithm based solution on determining which content is to be cleaned up, the decision has not only impacted those who post adult works, but also clean artists as well. It has been comedically noted that even Garfield pictures are not safe from the computer’s judgement. Reports from several furs that do no sexual content on the platform have indicated their own works being content flagged, leaving some to suspect that the tag of furry is seen as unclean by default.

With this uncertainty, a mass emigration is underway for artists who used the platform as their mainstay. Many furry sites have been trying to lure in new content creators looking for a new home. Inkbunny, for instance, did a full on parody of the Tumblr announcement. Furry Network asks in light of the situation how they can best serve those affected. Weasyl also chimed in, but also with the reminder that they’re trying for more than just the furry market. At this time, SoFurry and FurAffinity have not commented on the situation. Furry sites are not alone wishing to get on this action, with the most strangest instance being PornHub reaching out to inform those leaving Tumblr that their site takes adult art as well.

Emigration Assistance

For those Tumblr artists who have yet to emigrate their data, a tweet from Xydexx goes over a process that users can use to backup their data from the site in order to give them a new home.

PSA: For those who are concerned about Tumblr, you can export your data:

* Click on Account >> Edit Appearance
* Scroll down to the bottom and select Export
* [Time passes.]
* Once it's done archiving, select "download backup"

It will be a massive ZIP file. Use 7zip to unzip.

Other useful information to use during this transition can be found in my article of switching art sites from 2013 and also utilizing a multi-site uploading tool such as Postybirb.



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Related stupiditivity: Pinterest no longer allows saves from FurAffinity of any kind, regardless of nature, with a blanket "Pinterest does not allow nudity" message.

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Flayrah's own Tumblr account should stick around for those who use it (shout-out to InkDrgn, RealSorien and FurryThoughts).

Inkbunny saw a bump of about 1,500 daily users, reaching 27,000 before falling back - there's been a bunch of journals from people settling in or refreshing their accounts. Weasyl saw a similar effect, although there such traffic represented a ~40% rise.

The whole thing seems kind of ridiculous – but then the writing was on the wall the moment Verizon bought out Yahoo. Allegedly this plan was cooking for six months; Apple's move either forced their hand early or was seen as a suitable pretext.

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I don't know what's more sad, Weasyl still clinging to its pretensions as "totally not really a furry site", or acting like it still has a dog in this race. That said, I guess it maybe might could lead to some kind of changes? Honestly, if I had the time, money and know-how, I wouldn't be writing this. I'd be busting my ass trying to create the furry equivalent of Tumblr. Think about it. FA only became as big as it did because it was in the right place at the right time, by which I mean it was created specifically as a reaction to the policies of the site which it all but carbon-copied. Tumblr was one of the big platforms furries migrated to when they became dissatisfied with FA and its competitors, although Twitter was the other big one. Maybe they'll all go there?

Whatever the case, I really hope this shakeup turns out to have a silver lining because I've been writing and drawing again and would love to have a really good platform to host my stuff on. But it seems like there's too many now and uploading everything to everywhere starts to feel like a full-time job.

That blows when you're not even that interested in making a buck and just want to share your work with as many people as possible for its own sake.

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There are furry gallery management apps on offer - I started writing one myself back in the day; it's not trivial, but it can be done. I've noticed a few snowed-under artists use PostyBirb; we found out when it had a bug and stopped triggering notifications. There's a risk of password exposure, though, if the site itself doesn't support application access (the posting tool has to store your passwords in a reversible form), so you should use different randomized strings for logging in if using such an app.

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Yeah, I'll definitely have to check that out. I guess I can creep back into FA and SoFurry in the meantime just writing to get a feel for the whole thing again. Everyone seems to wish there were a bit more good original fic yet hardly anyone seems to be able to get past the unique anxiety that comes with expressing yourself through writing as opposed to just drawing (or maybe that's just me).

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I'm mostly amazed that people were using a site with a user interface as crappy as Tumblr for showcasing their art. Seriously, there are sites made for that with workable searches (not even including FA in this).

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Most of those new sites (e621 included) are also really terrible for viewers. With Inkbunny, SoFurry and FurAffinity, when you save images it always includes the artist name and, usually, a meaningful title for the art. On Tumblr, Twitter and other sites, the filename is just a random string of characters. That sucks for being able to search your own collection and for artist exposure when furs share artwork among each other. For example, sharing art was how I found Ookami Kemono's work. That wouldn't be as easy if the file was just a random alphanumeric string.

Of course what Inkbunny, SoFurry and the like should really do is integrate all the tags, artist info etc into the file metadata.

"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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On some of these sites it is a sense of user laziness as well. A Twitter user could put their art in "Moments" and ever create different moments for different styles of art. But it would require some forethought.

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One slight issue: tags are dynamic, but files are typically static - we don't want to generate, save and re-cache a new version of the file each time the keywords are changed. It's expensive enough updating the count of files with the keywords in question. Of course, a tool like IB Downloader could make it happen, since it has to save the file anyway.

On the other hand, are you sure you want to download it? Local storage is so passée in 2018. You're in the cloud, now!

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Abso-fragging-lutely I want to download it. "Local storage" means it can't suddenly disappear on me if someone decides to take their gallery down because they've decided to quit the fandom (for the third time this year), or because they don't like their "old" art style anymore, or they break up with their boy/girlfriend and decide to delete anything featuring their ex's fursona, or they've had a crisis of conscience over their NSFW fetish works, et cetera, et cetera. (Or, for that matter, because it's the gallery of an artist who is now deceased, and therefore won't be able to move their gallery somewhere else when the site their art was hosted on decides to fold up its tent or kick out artists and art it doesn't like.)

Same reason why I still buy music on CDs, movies on DVD/Blu-Ray, and physical books. Physical possession of a copy under my control means it can't be "disappeared" or suddenly become unavailable due to another party's actions.

Screw "the cloud." :-P

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I remember when one of my tech classes got into a huge debate over local vs. cloud storage.

Of course this was back before it was well known as 'cloud' in like 2005 or so.

Both have their uses. Cloud is useful for rough drafts and things so you can access it anywhere from any device. For finished products having a more physical copy can be useful and can be quite cool.

Like if Flayrah discussed with article writers the possibility of printing out the year's news in a book format for each year and selling it, profits going to maintain this site or something.

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Well, do you have to do that? SoFurry has the download file link which is different to the image that is usually displayed. At least it seems kinda different to me; for one thing it's a different address for the download link and the file is named differently to the image link on a normal submission. I think DeviantArt does something similar. So what if you had a dedicated download button and only refreshed the downloadable version of the file each time time that someone needed to download it?

>Normal web use = same file as original upload, never changed unless the submission changes
>Download file
>>Checks if tags and were updated since last download version generated
>>If no, file is downloaded from cache
>>If yes, new downloadable file is generated, cached and sent to the browser.

You can minimise the number of times there is a need to update or cache files. You can even do that to the main image I suppose. I imagine after a certain period of time very few changes are made to files.

"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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We don't have to, no. We could update the copy on the main server and point the download link to

The main issue is we'd have to do the work to insert keywords into the files, ideally for all formats that we support. Right now we only strip metadata, to reduce the file size (ICC profiles can be crazy big) and decrease the chance of it displaying incorrectly - although if people used it to indicate that a JPG should be rotated for display, rather than actually rotating the image data, all bets are off.

I also foresee some lesser issues such as "the file hash changed, so MD5 search partially breaks" (used by e621 to find uploads and fill in their metadata), increased write traffic/potential fragmentation when they're changed, and what URL(s) to expose in the API (for archiving tools the download URI is probably better).

To be frank, I don't see it happening anytime soon, but I'll file a note about it in our development database.

I again suggest that this is more within the remit of an archiving tool itself, since from a conceptual perspective Inkbunny provides the submission, including metadata, as a cohesive object (either presented on one page via HTML or the API). The fact that one part of this is an image file is an implementation detail; and if a program is transforming this locally, then it's its responsibility to preserve the metadata (including keywords, description, artist name, etc) - whether it be within a new image file, or its own standalone database.

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That's an interesting comment coming from you, since you frequent those sites.
They are not by and large "terrible" as you put it. They are just terrible for the likes of you who looks for illegal content

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"Terrible" might be over-stating it; but it's fair to say that they're not designed for browsing art in a structured manner in the same way that art gallery sites are (or photo galleries, e.g. Flickr). You can group images within a post; and it's possible to create galleries on Facebook – but they aren't a first-class feature and I haven't seen many using them.

All non-furry-specific sites mentioned are designed around feeds, which is great for transient material, but relatively poor for finding stuff later, unless you manually added tags and can construct a suitable search. They're also not intended as an archive for precise reproduction of detailed art, but to deliver lossy photos fast, with limited bandwidth.

I'm not sure where "illegal" comes from. To my knowledge, Twitter allows for the superset of almost anything allowed on the listed furry sites, as long as the account is marked for sensitive content. Tumblr used to, too, but now I'm not sure what it practically allows (or how much it matters now that Verizon has swung its axe). Of course you have the UK where content involving characters depicted as realistic humans can be declared "extreme pornography"; or others, where anything seen as encouraging homosexuality is illegal.

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A couple of my Komos & Goldie pages were initially flagged, but after a day or two the orange notification signs vanished. Will our heroes survive unscathed, I wonder?

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Update: I'm pleased to report that 'Komos & Goldie weathered the Great Tumblr Purge! A few pages were flagged (mostly colour illustrations, not the actual black-and-white comic), but I successfully appealed them.

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Screw them!

We will build our own tumblr! With hookers and blackjack!

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Twitter has already won as the replacement site of choice. FurryNetwork and Weasyl aren't even on the radar: most artists who used Tumblr as their primary site did so because they no longer want to be confined to a furry-only site if they can avoid it. For the same reason they wouldn't care about a new furry-only Tumblr clone. A general social network just grants much more exposure and allows more varied interaction.

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Somewhere in the cold internet a lone weasel mascot cries to the universe:

"We're not a furry only site, damn it!!!!" ;.;

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minor update: checked that @realwokieleaks tweet about PornHub and "This account has been suspended. Learn more about why Twitter suspends accounts, ..."

direct link to PornHub courting people being forced to leave Tumblr

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Why all the rage and stress? Seriously, do you folks take your porn this seriously?

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Survey says 'yes'. This isn't surprising: fandom sites are popular in part as they feature content which can't be obtained elsewhere. This often turns out to be erotic or outright pornographic, as such content is hard for reputable businesses to sell.

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Now there's literally no reason to visit Tumblr lol.

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