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Voting begins as 2013 Ursa Major Awards ballot released

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Ursa Major Awards banner by EosFoxx Here is the final ballot for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards. The voting is among the five titles in each category getting the most nominations. In several categories, there are six finalists because of ties for fifth place. In the Best Short Fiction category, only four finalists are listed because of too many ties for fifth place.

Voting is now open. Due to a technical issue, nominators will need to acquire a new key. The deadline is April 30.

As is not unusual, there were so many nominations for the fourth, fifth, and sixth place nominees in most categories that one more nomination could have made the difference between a title’s getting on the final ballot or not. Please nominate next year.

The 2013 Ursa Major Awards will be announced and presented at a ceremony at the CaliFur X convention, May 30-June 1, 2014, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, 18000 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92612.

2013 Ursa Major Awards nominations about to close

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Ursa Major Awards Nominations for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic movies, novels, comic strips, games, etc., will close on February 28. Voting for the winner will begin on March 15th and will close on April 30. The awards will be presented at CaliFur X on May 30 to June 1, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, Irvine, California.

If you have not nominated yet, you have only a few more days to do so. All titles first published or released during the 2013 calendar year are eligible. The awards are given in eleven categories: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game. The final ballot includes the top five titles nominated in each category.

To nominate (by February 28), and to vote (March 15–April 30), go to ursamajorawards.org. The 2014 Recommended Anthropomorphics List will be posted after March 1.

SoFurry releases new IM platform amid site overhauls

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Project Nexus

SoFurry recently took a further step towards its goal of creating a complete furry community with the release of its own instant messaging service. The announcement was originally made on Twitter but then followed up on the main site itself with further details. Codenamed Project Nexus, the messaging system is using the Jabber/XMPP protocol allowing users to communicate with users on other servers, including Google Talk.

For your consideration: Flayrah's top stories in 2013

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'Candigato Morris', by J Carlos V Padilla So how did Flayrah do compared to 2012? At first glance, activity fell, with 536 stories from 33 contributors. But the year's 914 Newsbytes replaced many short stories, especially after auto-posting to Twitter and Facebook began.

High ratings accrued to a profile of horse-worshipping Turkmenistan, news of the proposed feline mayor of Xalapa, survey results suggesting that furries 'think differently', a review of Blue Sky's Epic, surrogate monkey mothers, and Mike Rugnetta's comments on fan communities.

News of the death of Lemonade Coyote attracted almost 10,000 unique visitors, while an exposé of FurFling and FurryMate remains active, with over 1000 views this past month. Many also followed the search for a missing fur.

Michigan furs roam social networks after Midwest Furries closes its doors

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Midwest Furries logo Michigan furs have lost a central online community with the closure of the Midwest Furries forum (previously known as Michigan Furs).

Webmaster Gir Tygrin decided to close the forum after evaluating competition from more general social websites and consulting with members. A server failure halving site capacity triggered the decision:

Thanks to a failure of the server's motherboard I've determined it to be a total loss. At the current time (thanks to having to buy a new car in October) I cannot afford to replace the system. […] In the past I would have fought tooth and nail to keep the site going but with the prevalence of other websites that support the furry community I feel that this forum may be getting to the end if it's usefulness anyway. […] I'm frankly stunned that the servers lasted this long. We've been running the same hardware since the Forum's 2nd year. When I bought them I invested just over $3,000 on the hardware. I'd say it was a pretty good return. […] Based on the feedback that I've received so far it seems like people are pretty content to use Facebook, FA, and other resources.

Activity has coalesced around Michigan Furs, Michigan Furries, Michican Fur meets and Furry Michigan on Facebook, and West Michigan, Lansing and Yoopers groups on Fur Affinity.

2013 Ursa Major Awards nominations open

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Ursa Major Awards Nominations for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards are now open. The awards, voted upon in 2014, celebrate the best anthropomorphic literature and art first published during the previous calendar year.

The awards are selected by a two-stage process of nominating and voting. Members of the public send in up to five nominations in each of the eleven categories. The top five nominees in each category (more in case of a tie) are then presented on a final ballot for a public vote.

The eleven categories are: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game.

Many nominations are likely to come from the 2013 Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List, which has been built up through prior recommendations. However, inclusion on the List is not necessary for nomination if a work is otherwise eligible.

Contribution guidelines to ease Flayrah's editing bottleneck

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Stories go through several editing steps before publication on Flayrah. Image thumbnailing, layout, copyediting, linking, fact-checking, tagging – these take over half an hour for all but the most trivial stories, and that's assuming no substantive editing is required.

Flayrah's editors have limited time, and few are both qualified and willing to become one. Stories have often languished in the queue because we don't want to risk work which may not yet meet our standards. But not publishing work in a timely fashion is a problem, too.

As such, we're releasing contribution guidelines for Flayrah, in an attempt to decrease the work required by editors prior to publication.

Fans fret as Fur Affinity nears fifth day of read-only mode

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Nearly five days have passed since Fur Affinity entered read-only mode, and despite ongoing staff efforts, the interruption has led many users to mull alternatives.

The unheralded change, initiated in an attempt to resolve slowdowns during peak hours, caused consternation among artists, many of whom rely on the site for their income:

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.

Staff then reported "waiting on two new hard drives to come in" to replace failed hardware, which they did on Friday afternoon. Advertisers were given ten extra days in compensation.

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.

Update 2 (16 Dec): Oversized notification tables were cited by FA coder net-cat as both the source of delays and a reason for the slowdowns:

[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.

Fur Affinity bans 'Spam to Win' journals, reposted promos

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Furries are pretty creative. Where conventional companies will pay advertising companies, we find new way to promote our products and selves to others. Independent artists in the fandom have to use less conventional means of promotion. Two such staples that have become popular in the fandom over the past year are "Your Character Here" auctions and "Repost a Link" schemes. However, with their increased popularity, users began to criticize abuse of these methods and expressed annoyance at their side effects.

On November 21, after a link-reposting "giveaway" promising the winner $1,111 had saturated the site, Fur Affinity staff decided that what once started as a small advertising scheme had entered the realm of the intolerable, calling the methodology "Spam to Win". They also re-addressed an issue where artists would repost YCH auction template pictures, annoying watches and browsers alike.

In this Flayrah exclusive we will focus on the new journal rules, explain their implications to average furs and furry organizations, and how these type of prize giveaways could evolve under these new regulations and maintain a level of effectiveness.

Anthropomorphics Reading List: November 17 update

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Ursa Major AwardsThe Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association, which administers the annual Ursa Major Awards, has updated the 2013 Anthropomorphic Reading List to include the titles recommended by furry fans through November 17. This list is often used by fans to nominate in the next year's Awards.

There are two months left to add your favorites of the year to the List. All fans are invited to recommend worthwhile anthropomorphic works in eleven categories (motion pictures, dramatic short films or broadcasts, novels, short fiction, other literary works, graphic stories, comic strips, magazines, published illustrations, websites, and games) first published during 2013, if they are not already on the list.

Send in your recommendations. Read the List to see what other fans have recommended. Have you seen all nine published illustrations, for example? What have you been missing?

Furry to Furry users leave trail of boards in search for home

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Furry to Furry logo Users of adult furry forum Furry to Furry have had a wild month after the site's demise, allegedly due to failure to pay hosting bills.

After moving through various forum providers (notably Proboards, who blocked one of the alternate sites' founders), a privately-hosted board has been set up under the administration of Cethlenn Miles, Tanara and Rukia Kuchiki.

A form to submit contact information remains available in the event of further outages. The domain name furrytofurry.com remains owned by the original host, Amok (Darkenwolf).

Survey: Furry fandom in digital spaces

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Ben Walker, a British undergraduate student at Keele University in Staffordshire, is conducting research on the design of online social spaces. He has created a brief survey for members of the fandom and is seeking candidates for interviews and focus groups.

[The] point of this research is to aid the design of online social spaces. If forums and community sites can be made to fit their communities better, the experience users get from them improves.

This project combines my two degree subjects, Computer Science and Geography (the human centric stuff) with the aim of utilising both to provide some tangible benefits to online communities. Being on the edge of the fandom I thought looking at Furries would be more interesting.

The project supervisor is Dr D.C McKay of the School of Physical and Geographical Science. Those interested in participating may complete the survey linked above, or email Ben.

Furry Let's Play 'Retromania' to raise funds for kids on Nov 2

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Retromania is a Let's Play series by 2 the Ranting Gryphon & DJ EAR, focusing on retro-style games. It's one of several new shows being produced for "RGStv", which is intended to be a 24/7 Internet TV station for furries.

XTRA FundCover

On November 2, Retromania will go live for a full day of gaming & comedy as part of the Extra Life worldwide fund raising event to raise money for children with terminal illnesses. Hosts are asking for a donation of $25 each (a dollar per hour of gaming) to reach their target goal of $1,000. Funds raised are to go directly to The Childrens Hospital Colorado.

The event starts at 8am and will be streamed live on RGStv until 9am the next morning. Viewers are encouraged to suggest games, spread the word, and listen in on November 2. You can watch Retromania on the RantingGryphonStudio YouTube channel.

See also: Retromania on Facebook and the RGS page on Extra Life

Flayrah from 2001 to 2012 - a statistical perspective

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Graph of Flayrah stories published by yearFlayrah has been around since 2001. It has had three editors-in-chief (Aureth, Frysco and GreenReaper) who between them have published 3529 stories from 279 unique contributors (plus another 341 anonymous contributors), including both news and opinion pieces. What follows is a statistical breakdown of Flayrah in various ways.

DailyFurBlog closes after two year run

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DailyFurBlog logoEditor Syler Husky has closed DailyFurBlog, which he used to highlight furry news and trivia. The site had been hosted on DailyFurBlog.com since April 2011, with 218 posts since July 2011.

In his concluding post, Sy said he was refocussing on his YouTube channel, Furry VideoShowdown, after DFB failed to gain traction.

We covered stories and educated many on the fandom, but sadly I can not handle the work load. I have worked with Jackson who did an amazing job, but sadly still the views still dropped and a “furry blog” did not work out. I must say this mostly stems on the process of many other furries making their own blogs elsewhere as well as DFB not hamming it up enough to attract others.

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