FurAffinity's Ad Troubles by Tantroo

FurAffinity recently pushed out an advertisement update policy. And many are asking "Why?".

Here is a quote from the update post:

"We've enabled mature third party ads on submissions which contain adult content. These ads will also show up on any page where adult content is visible (such as in a thumbnail). The system was recently updated to detect whether a page has general-rated content or contains adult material, and displays ads accordingly."

Now, obviously this did not work as intended as it was showing up when SFW was turned on. However their sentence above passively explains why they wanted to attempt this in the first place.

I didn't get it either, until I thought back to a tweet I made on the first of this month:

It's hilarious seeing plain-vanilla ads on FA. "This picture of a hypnotized canine in a crap filled diaper brought to you by Geico."

— Tantroo_McNally (@Tantroo_McNally) June 1, 2015

Apparently I was not the only one to see that there would be a conundrum with trying to allow 'serious business' to advertise on pages where the artistic work is very risque. So in order to try and mitigate the damage FA tried to act preemptively (assuming some advertisers didn't already request their ads be removed from the site). What they decided to do was create an algorithm that could detect if there was any iota of porn on the web page, and if so put up adult ads instead of the general ones.

It may have been an okay plan if two things were considered:

1) If the algortihm were tested so that it actually worked- My guess is that the "SFW" algorithm, along with other code that pieces together a page, takes items and searches for "Is this adult?" "Yes" "Is Safe Mode on?" "Yes" "Then remove the item". The ad algorithm probably also searches for adult items in the same manner. It may take place before the "Safe Mode" check is performed though. So basically any main page will be treated as if it contains adult work, regardless of the Safe Mode status.

That's just a theory though. Regardless of the reasoning, it's clear that the new ad scheme was not thoroughly tested to make sure that adult ads displayed on adult pages, and general ads displayed on general pages.

2) If the adult advertisers were more targeted/Professional - Yes, furries like porn. But, no, that doesn't mean they don't have standards. Furries are well aware of how the dangerous lures of sin are used to infest computers with dangerous software. They have a discerning eye for ads that are 'traps'.

So if they do want to impliment adult advertisment, after handling problem 1 of course, they need to give us some good quality businesses. Don't give us places that just want to lure you with sex to infest your browser. Give us legitimate businesses, intra- and extra-fandom which sell adult items, or hook up sites, or whatever. Give us the Real McCoy, not phony baloney.

Speculation on FA's Future based on events up to this point

Fur Affinity has back pedaled on the adult ads for now. Basically making any page that FA sees as adult (which are a vast majority of its pages, considering it over-detects) display no advertisements. Ironically, in trying to find a way to defend its revenue from puritan advertisers, its current revenue took a good deal of damage.

This is the second time an ad implementation back fired to the point of withdrawal. I'm sure at this time IMVU is having some remorse on the incompetence of the FA team in creating and securing them a stream of revenue. Though, it also makes me wonder if Dragoneer pushed for this or if IMVU did.

I don't think Dragoneer is ignorant enough to know that furries would welcome the adult ads that were so un-targeted with open arms. To be so obtuse on how furries would react on this it would require not knowing the audience that furry is, or desperation to the point of not thinking clearly.

Either the clock is ticking for Dragoneer and so he blundered, or the clock has already struck the hour and Fender is now the property of IMVU staff. They'll just keep the purple dragon around for sake of appearances. But that's just speculation at this point. Time will tell how accurate this assessment is. On thing is certain though, if the attempts to garner ad dollars keeps backfiring like this, someone is going to get the boot, the question is weather it will be just Dragoneer or the entire website.

Until then I'll try to update my more personal opinion journals here. I will be continue to post to FA, but just my Monthly update journals, which will link to off-site works. If things do continue this way, it's my duty to expose others to other places where they can find me. Because when it is too late, it'll be too late.

FurAffinity's Ad Troubles


22 June 2015 at 18:40:17 MDT

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    Well, now we are sure that furaffinity is dying for real... Good night :3

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    I am seriously laughing beyond control at this. No matter how bad FA fucks up, there's still a huge wad of idiot users who refuse to accept that they're being treated like garbage and sold for pocket change. They just cling to empty promises of 'It will get better!' and delude themselves with 'It's not bad at all! Better than SoFurry/Weasyl/Inkbunny!' Then a month later Dragoneer unleashes another shit-train and dumps it on them and here we go again.
    Furries are not known to be an intelligent demographic, and FA proves it.

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      Well that's the interesting thing about this particular incident. It is near universally panned. Obviously FA still has its staunch supporters, I knew a few of them. In this case though, those supporters have been silent. And that silence is pretty damning.

      Even the Zauchs announcement had sparked debate and had people supporting the decision. This one, has basically no supporters.

      This is why I have doubts that Dragoneer had much say in this decision. It was something that was by IMVU, probably for concerns in defending their AdSense revenue (https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/1344080?hl=en&ref_topic=1319756).

      It failed spectacularly as now at this moment any page with adult items get nothing. And guess where the majority of views come from on FA.

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        It seems like Dear Leader is just trying to see how far he can push policies before he has a full-on revolt instead of just a small exodus.

        First he banned cub art, which pissed off about half the community.

        Then he shielded criminal acts and supported an accused rapist, even promoting them to staff. That went universally badly.

        Then he refused to fix major exploits and even fired the one staffer trying to fix them.. and tried to cover up Yiffyleaks, where every journal and private message on FA was downloaded and leaked and numerous accounts compromised and banned.

        Then he gave full access and eventually announced involvement of a known hacker who has downed furry websites for no purpose than to be vindictive in the past. That.. was stupid, and the majority hated it.

        Then he sold to IMVU. This was unanimously lauded as the stupidest possible move. Oh how wrong they were.

        Then the google ads came. This was also disliked.

        Then the sidebar. This was absolutely unanimous. Of that entire thread one, ONE person supported it out of HUNDREDS of angry users!

        Then this. Just how much more will people take?
        When will furries grow a brain cell and jump ship? If passing out viruses ISN'T bad enough for them, what the fuck is!?

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          I'll be keeping track of the numbers and see if this actually impacts the FA's ranking. The Zauchs incident didn't, however it DID cause a major uptick in Weasyl's numbers (by like 100,000 ranks!)

          Seeing the backlash on this, I wonder if the rank for FA will actually start to decline at this point. It'll be a week or so before the numbers come though.

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            Keep me informed! I track these things, and others, to help advise my artist friends to make business decisions. They all want to succeed but noone can easily poll The Internets!

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              I want to know, too. I've basically jumped ship except occasionally talking to a friend in PMs that doesn't really go on weasyl or have a FB or anything.

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    i dont see why they wouldnt just have user nsfw ads for artists who only draw porn (like the hardblush ads they already had could have been stuck to mature only)

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      Honestly, in order to break in things that would have probably been the best way to handle the adult ads. That and going out of one's way to partner with others in the adult industry (toys, and misc items) for partnerships and such. Going to some unknown ad provider may be easy, but easy sometimes comes with a price.

      We'll see if they can come up with something better. If not then who knows what IMVU will do to salvage the situation. If they even can.

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    It is pretty clear that FA admins have only been reactionary. FA has been stagnant for it's entire history, only making changes when there was a loud enough outcry. Personally, I came to the conclusion that I support selling FA to IMVU. There are only two possible things that can happen: 1. Either Dragoneers new boss will light a fire under his ass and he'll start making some progress, or 2. IMVU will offend so many users that the site will be abandoned (for real this time!) This may seem callous, but what I'm noticing is that the fandom has an unhealthy co-dependency on FA (and by extension Dragoneer) that hurts the fandom as a whole. Instead of being defined by our love of furries, we are defined by our membership on one particular website (and to a further extent, how much we suck up to the administration). Instead of saying "Hi, how are you?" when we meet someone for the first time we say "What's your FA?". FA being the largest site means it is essentially your main (and sometimes only) resource to enjoy what the fandom has to offer. Basically, "Furaffinity is my life". With that in mind, a ban on furaffinity can have a bigger emotional/financial toll than one would initially think. No FA means your friends can't contact you anymore, you can't get commissions, and since your userpage can't be deleted, it is left up as an effigy for those to symbolically crucify you. Also taking into account that the admins are known for banning people for petty (and even suspicious) reasons, while relaxing the rules for the so-called "popufurs", it brings to mind the phrase "Absolute power corrupts absolutely". Being banned from FA is the closest most people can get to being banned from the fandom. Think of how much more fun things would be if our "central hub" wasn't the internet equivalent to communist North Korea.

    With that out of the way, I am also interested in whatever "what if" scenarios you may have been thinking of. What if FA really does die for good? What if Dragoneer raises FA to a whole new plane of existence and his stereotypical reputation of laziness and incompetence becomes lost to history? Obviously I'm more interested in the first one since it seems more likely. Based on what we know, every "exodus" usually focuses on the newest site (first it was Furocity, then Inkbunny, and how it's Weasyl), so it's likely to assume people will flock here if FA were to die (assuming Weasyl remains the "newest" site if this happens). But I'm thinking of an alternate theory; I've looked at the statistics myself, IB Weasyl and SF are virtually insignificant compared to the size of FA, what if each of these sites were to grow roughly equally? We wouldn't be packed into a clown car anymore and have some more breathing room. How do you think this would effect the culture of the fandom? If our codependency I mentioned earlier was gone, how would furries treat each other on various levels, and how would that effect us as fans and as artists?

    Finally, I'm also interested in how this will effect FA: United. It would be a real shame if the backlash from this was so harsh that attendance dropped significantly. It would most certainly be bad for the con charity, NSPCA. I don't even want to imagine the amount of guilt weighing on Dragoneers shoulders knowing that he inadvertently killed a charity.

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      Here are some possibilities I thought of that I don't believe you have considered.

      Third possibility:

      FA will get worse and continue to be the centre of the furry fandom while these other sites continue to be insignificant.

      Forth possibility:

      Due to the fragmented alternatives unlike previous times, the community that FA fostered may simply not migrate to other services in the long term and stop using FA entirely. In turn, we lose out on community

      Fifth possibility:

      The alternatives out there have such insignificant online users and accounts, that a large migration would bring them all down (I doubt Weasyl could sustain that many users in it's current form) and in turn these sites lose some of their existing community and the migrant community goes else where as well.

      Sixth possibility:

      Other sites from a FA migrant community may end up with P.R. disasters from tiny issues, ticket issues growing out of control just from the volume of users and never get better, a new slew of unreliable volunteers are brought in to deal with the volume, much like how numerous FA issues started.

      Seventh possibility:

      The sixth possibility occurs, but with the change that because the community to move on quickly away from these sites because they never settled down, tearing the community apart further.

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      I don't think it'll effect this year's FA:United. It's actually hard to understand how it'll impact the convention at all. The impact of convention attendance can rely on many factors that are not determined so simply.

      For instance being in NJ limits attendance to far east fur, where a more central area such as Pittsburgh can leach off a large area.

      I mean, Fur 'the More had more attendance in 2014 that FA:U did in the same year. FtM was in its second year, FA:U was in its 7th.

      I don't know what the spread is, but FA:U is a 'moderate' sized convention. They have yet to break 1,000 attendies.

      It'll be interesting to see what will come first. the 1,000 attendees or the end of FurAffinity. And it'll be interesting to see how it impacts the convention. It's a bit beyond me to speculate such a thing.

      Interesting there have been some positive changes to FA that have gone relatively unannounced. For instance, on "Story" entries one can now make the text larger to make it more legible. It must have been added relatively recently because it is a feature I've been grumbling about for years.

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    The ads was the last thing I was expecting but enough for me to abandon FA and come here. There's no way I could tolerate cheap, disgusting adult ads when I come for FURRIES, not humans. I was on FA since 2009.

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    Too little, too late to get back the public's trust over there now..