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polkakitty

Everybody knows the fight was fixed, the poor stay poor, the rich get rich

I had high hopes for Inkbunny when it started out.  Mostly because of its technical superiority, having launched with any number of features that other sites had either left in vaporware status for years, or made an unusable mess of, but also because, more than any other website, it was very deliberately made by and for furries.  The ban on human porn, for all the knee-jerk shrieks of "fascism!" I've ever heard about it, was amazingly effective at driving away the hipster clique that dominates so much of furry websites in general, that treats furry fandom solely as an arms race to come up with the most ludicrously inflamed condemnations of the fandom and denials of oneself having ever had any involvement in it.  Hell, Inkbunny even didn't have a forum (the one thing Furry Art Pile ever did that truly was superior to FA.)  I never thought it would get to be bigger than FA, nor did I consider that a desirable goal, simply from the perspective that furries are an incredibly niche subculture, there's only a very small group of weird nerds that has any legitimate interest in it, and there comes a point where, if a furry site is to grow any further, the only way that can be accomplished is by inviting in people that are either disinterested or actively hostile to the subject.  But I used to have hope that it would grow to be something that anyone in the fandom could be proud of using.  That it would put all those superior features to use in a community representative of the creativity and diversity of the entire fandom, and raise the standards for all furry sites.

But now, recent events have made it impossible to carry on arguing that Inkbunny is ever going to find a meaningful audience outside of that miniscule fraction of furs that draws cub porn.  For those that are really into that, I suppose that's fine, even if it's the single biggest example of wasted potential I've ever seen, but for someone like me, that's never really given a crap about cub porn one way or the other, I just see less and less of a point to being on it.

(And let's just get this out of the way right here: I am not interested in listening to any arguments about how only 4% of the submissions on Inkbunny are cub porn.  Not only is that argument objectively false, since it depends on the assumption that all, or even a majority of all submissions are tagged correctly, it's simply irrelevant.  When cub porn is the only thing anyone posts on Inkbunny that they don't crosspost on FA, or Tumblr, or wherever, it's the only thing that there's any reason to be on the site for, regardless of the percentage of the site that it makes up.  I mean, probably at least 10% of all submissions on any art site are recolors or memes of some kind.  That doesn't mean that there's a significant audience that's only there to look at mindless copy-and-paste dreck and nothing else.  There isn't a correlation between what makes up the biggest percentage of a site's content and what most people are there to see.)

And the worst part is, I really should have been able to predict this, given that for years, I've seen people start projects to try to replace Wikipedia, for various reasons, and I've watched them all fail miserably.  What I've found is that, if you're going to start a new wiki site, it absolutely must do one of three things to have any chance of success:

1. The site can be devoted to writing about one narrowly focused subject in as much detail as possible.

Wikipedia can't be expected to cover all the minute details of every video game and TV show ever made (except for the Simpsons, apparently.)  But there are a number of people that want to write about every minute detail of an obscure subject, and if that's all they want to write about, a site like this can actually be better to be on than Wikipedia.  Deciding "the site has everything about this one topic" allows it to be covered in much greater depth.

(You can find examples of this pretty much just by googling "[any subject] wiki", but Homestar Runner Wiki is the best example I've ever seen in terms of a truly disturbing degree of obsessiveness.  Representative quote: "He has somewhat dark blonde hair on his head and 37 black hairs across his shoulders. He wears a somewhat green wifebeater shirt, brown pants, a belt, and at least one green glove with which he holds a peeled banana. Along his body he has numerous visible stains of varying colors, including lime green, dark green, yellow, orange, and blue, as well as two sweat stains, one under his right armpit and one on the front of his torso.")

2. The site can be explicitly devoted to pushing a specific bias.

This, more than any of the other options, is a trade-off, as it ensures that nobody outside of your favorite affective death spiral will ever consider you to have the least bit of credibility, nor should they.  However, those that are already deeply invested in that particular bias will see the site as confirmation of their faith that they are always being persecuted by Wikipedia and that they are always victims in any situation, therefore they must always be right.  They'll devote inordinate amounts of time to contributing to the site, motivated by the belief that they're glorious martyrs struggling against the hated tyranny of Wikipedia, and that if they work hard enough on it, everyone will finally see the light of THE TRUUUUUUTH (tm).  You may never be able to win over most people as users, but you will always be guaranteed a small but disturbingly devoted audience.

(Examples: Conservapedia, Encyclopedia Dramatica)

3. The site can disregard the idea of being an encyclopedia, and instead just use the wiki format for some odd sort of collaborative writing project.

Not everyone wants to write about "encyclopedic" stuff all the time.  The wiki format allows a lot of room for weird, experimental projects to spin off in various directions.

(Examples: TV Tropes, SCP Foundation)

Every wiki site founded after Wikipedia that has ever had any degree of success falls into one of these three categories.  A lot of people, for various reasons, nurture fantasies about overtaking Wikipedia.  But no site can ever accomplish that, simply because Wikipedia has become synonymous with writing an encyclopedia on the internet, and if that's what you want to do, there's no way you can avoid going there.  The only way another site can keep all its users from giving up and moving to Wikipedia full-time, even as they wail and beat their breasts about the way Wikipedia is run, is to invite them to do something that clearly wouldn't be allowed on Wikipedia.  And the common thread between all three successful models is that they're all aiming at a much smaller, more specialized audience than Wikipedia has.  They're not dependent on the idea of replacing Wikipedia, or even directly competing with it.  Despite most of Inkbunny's users acting like they're on a site of type 2, what Inkbunny has ultimately become is type 1, as applied to art sites.  The admins may not have ever done anything to enforce that Inkbunny should just be "the cub site", but it was always inevitable that it would end up as such, because there's just no other possible way for an alternative to FA to be.

I still do believe, unreservedly, that Inkbunny is the best-designed art site available, and that Starling is the single best developer the fandom has ever known.  But that can't change the fact that the assumption that if you do anything to do with furry art, you have to be on FA, is already irrevocably entrenched.  There will never be such a thing as "the site that replaces FA", for the exact same reason that there will never be such a thing as "the site that replaces Wikipedia", *as opposed to* any reason to do with the actual quality of another site as compared to FA.  Quality is simply not a factor in where anyone goes, and all FA really has to do to maintain its status as the central hub of furry sites is to continue existing.  Which certainly will happen for the foreseeable future since, with the obvious exceptions of Yak and Sciggles, the people running it, as dysfunctional and as easily led by the worst scum on the internet as they are, do have a truly admirable dedication to keeping the site running, and the difference that dedication makes between someone like Dragoneer and, oh, say, Furocity's staff, really shouldn't even need to be explained.

But the realization that the quality of a site doesn't matter has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to face.  Not just because it confirms what I'd secretly feared for the last year, that Inkbunny isn't ever going to mean anything more than just "the cub site".  Not just because it means we are, in the end, stuck with all of FA's ancient bugs and design flaws until such time as the governments of the world have purged all porn of any kind from the internet.  Not even just because it first came on top of getting back from Anthrocon (you think you know post-con depression?  Try coming back to a "home" that you know, for a certain fact, is exactly 117 miles away from the nearest other furry, in a state that you've literally spent your entire adult life desperately trying to get out of.)  It's because it demonstrates that my own profession as a programmer is meaningless.  The success or failure of a website has absolutely nothing to do with the skill of the developers working on it, only arbitrary social factors that nobody can hope to have any control over.  If the social factors are with you?  You can succeed even if your sole developer spends his time telling coders with decades of experience on him that if they ever tried to write a website, they'd find that, by an amazing coincidence, everything that he thinks would "make the site a hugbox" is impossible to do, even though other sites already do it.

Now I would be content to leave it at that (I mean, I certainly don't have any illusions that anyone is still reading this,) except that lately, I've been seeing a lot of furs talking about moving to this new site called Weasyl.  Of course, in and of itself, Weasyl is insignificant for the exact same reasons I just explained.  Like any other furry site, it has no chance of ever gaining an audience except by cultivating a much more focused audience than FA, and if anything, it's aiming at a *less* focused audience, given that it's being promoted as a project that's just going to start out aiming at furries, but is really for everyone, no matter who they are.  (I'm pretty sure people outside of furry fandom would be okay with that.  I mean, it's not like we have some kind of bad reputation that would make people wary of appearing to be connected with us or anything.)  But as I've found out more about the people that are going to be running Weasyl, I've only found more and more reason to doubt that they have any capability of running a furry site in good faith.

Like, for instance, the fact that one of the site owners used to be a sysop on Encyclopedia Dramatica.  But hey, surely that doesn't mean he agrees with all of ED's positions on everything.  Really, rather than trying to dig up the past, we should judge him by the positions he's taking here and now.  Like, for instance, on his new blog right here.

Such a welcoming, supportive attitude!  But surely one asshole isn't enough to spoil an entire site.  A lot of the direction Weasyl takes is going to be up to the other people Benchilla hires as admins.

Like, say, this guy.

Yes, folks, Benchilla seriously thinks that an appropriate choice of someone to hire as an admin is a guy that openly talks to the media at furry cons and tells them that fursuiters are serial rapists and pedophiles.  So before you jump headfirst into Weasyl and get burned like so many furs did before by thinking that FAP or Y!Gallery would save them from all the idiocies of FA, it really does behoove you to do some homework on the people running it.  Especially if you've ever been reluctant to have anything to do with Inkbunny for fear of being called a pedophile =3

-- Bartolo Polkakitty

Keep the night light on inside the birdhouse in your soul.
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Added: 6 years, 1 month ago
 
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