It was one of those strange coincidences that makes one think that, if there were a god, he must have a strange sense of humour. Salman Rushdie, who was the target of a 1989 fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini that called for his death due to his novel The Satanic Verses and who lost sight in one of his eyes after being stabbed on stage in the US last year, warned that never in his lifetime had freedom of expression been under such a threat in the West. Less than a week later, Fur Affinity announced a new rule banning adult artwork of characters with childlike proportions, later calling out specific pokémon and digimon. I have already written about the importance of free speech for the furry fandom, so here I would like to discuss how increasing authoritarianism is restricting free expression and a simple way to help safeguard it.
As the world still deals with the Coronavirus pandemic, political turmoil, and the uncertainty of the future, we did come into the year knowing that a major change was coming to the fandom, which has since been overshadowed by these other events. Flash is going the way of the dodo, due to Adobe dropping support for their Flash Player plugin and browsers withdrawing support in turn; and with it a substantial piece of furry history will no longer function in most browsers as of 2021.
Luckily, some of the most famous, or infamous, pieces of Flash history are preserved as videos. Remember Foxy Fluffs are Everything? Someone did “port” it to YouTube (adult language/situations warning in case you haven’t seen it). But despite the animation being saved in video format, foxy fluffs being motion tweens may not amount for much in a post-Flash world.
Time is running out for those animations that are only playable with Flash on their original sites. They can however be downloaded as an SWF file to run on software that supports them. On SoFurry, Flash files already download directly as a file instead of playing in the browser itself. Soon enough it will probably be the only way to enjoy many classic pieces of furry animation from the earlier days of the fandom in their original format – if you can find a working player.
The winners and runners-up (in descending preference) are…
Online furry communities are reeling after a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks now entering their second day, which not only knocked out Fur Affinity, but have impacted a variety of less-well-visited art and chat sites.
The problem is, this was unplanned downtime. […] If it was planned […] people would have had time to get things together. Such as commissioners, contests, bids, etc. and where to get in contact or if the bids/auctions are postponed while the site is down.
[…] at first I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make any money for christmas, but now I'm starting to worry that FA will be down so long that I won't be able to make enough for rent. […] it's so very disheartening when it was supposed to be a nice holiday season...
Operations team lead yak began an attempt to clear backlogged database transactions on Monday afternoon "as fast as the RAID10 array of 15k drives allow". A day later, FA status forum poster Raptros reported that the database would be transferred to a different server.
Update (15 Dec): An announcement posted on Sunday morning:
The last of the data is importing, and we'll be standing by to finish the upgrades. ETA should be tonight.
[The current method of notification handling] is not scalable and quickly becomes unsustainable for sites with 10^5 and 10^6 users.
Staff have rewritten queries, tweaked database settings, and intend to prune notifications older than 90 days soon after the site returns.
Update 3 (17 Dec): Fur Affinity came online for a few minutes before stalling and returning to read-only mode, "unable to handle a flood of users while rebuilding the RAID arrays". The site returned eight hours later, with mass notification clearing options disabled.
Users flooded social networks to complain about the disruption and compare alternate sites; primarily Inkbunny, SoFurry and Weasyl. On FA's forums, a 20-page thread was locked after discussion degenerated; it was soon replaced, while fans clamoured for software upgrades.
As someone who has been in a community of artists, I hear a common conundrum arise:
I really want to leave this art site, but it’s too popular and leaving would mean losing out on a valuable resource to gain/keep customers.
This article presents ways you can use your control over your own works to influence your customers to view them where you wish them to, while also maintaining a presence so that others may find you.
This is written as a neutral piece and the methods can be used on any free art posting site. To that end, we'll call the site you wish to vacate “BadVibeArt”, and the place you want to go “NewBeginningDoodles”. Both are general-use sites for stories and art alike, comparable to sites such as deviantART, Fur Affinity, Inkbunny, SoFurry or Weasyl.
Inkbunny is celebrating three years online by announcing a major redevelopment project – and a T-shirt contest.
We want to move to an open source model to get the community involved in extending the capabilities of the site, and so that anyone can easily create their own art/social site.
To do this we are creating the new site engine from the ground up. It will have all the features that people like from Inkbunny v1.0, but will use an established web framework, will have a new and improved interface and will launch with a bunch of new features we've always wanted to see added to the site.
The site, which saw its 300,000th submission this week, was launched in June 2010 after three months of closed testing. Since then, Inkbunny has added various features, including user-suggested keywords, but development has come in bursts due to time constraints.
A new ten-minute survey has been released, aimed at furry fans 18 and older.
The survey, which contains "items on personality, personal life, and basic demographics", was created to support research at University College Cork in Ireland, and is intended to "gather data on the kinds of people that make up the furry community":
The use of the internet to support a shared interest and activity is very interesting to me, and I also am curious about the more sexual side to the fandom.
My study will attempt to determine two things - 1) Who are the furries? (assessed by simple demographics) and 2) What is the place of the Furry fandom in the context of the existing literature on internet behaviours?
It was initially distributed on Inkbunny, where a researcher has been answering questions.
Furry art community Inkbunny has deployed a means for users to suggest and approve keywords. The long-anticipated feature was rolled out after several days of testing, leading to the addition of keyword history.
The feature had been requested by users wishing to improve the site experience for others, as keywords are used heavily by Inkbunny's search and blocking features:
While Inkbunny remains one of the most comprehensively tagged/keyworded archives among all the furry art sites, we believe this new feature will make immense improvements both to finding submissions by keywords you want to see, and blocking submissions with keywords you want to avoid.
Furry art community Inkbunny has announced several upgrades, including increased max. submission size (30Mb; 6000x6000), greater control over notices, improved keyword suggestion, and the ability to search by content rating, time range or user.
The update is the first since September 2011 – though some changes had been made earlier, but not announced.
User feedback has been generally positive so far, although the new "suggested submissions" feature (which highlights work favourited by watched users) received a mixed response.
Way back in May 2006, I wrote a little piece called “The State of the Furry Zine.”
This is a somewhat informal update to that survey.
No matter what kind of work you create, thought needs to go into where you’ll publish it. Writers have more to consider; each site handles text differently. Print publications still carry a different weight for writing, as do e-books; there’s a quantifiable difference between having your story read as a Fur Affinity post versus on a Kindle. But has the web won?
Fur Affinity recently announced a restructuring and increase in staffing. On the main site, staff acknowledged "administrator inaction, bias, and a lack of accountability" but assured users that they "truly want to fix the issues, and [are] working toward a better Fur Affinity."
To see whether this change is going to be enough to improve Fur Affinity, I want to compare the administration structures of the three main furry art sites – Fur Affinity (FA), SoFurry (SF) and Inkbunny (IB) – plus a few details from commercial alternative deviantART (DA).