FN v1.5.0 Release and Change Log

Hello, everyone!

We had a small update today for Furry Network regarding administration broadcasts. Staff may now occasionally send an update across Furry Network that can be dismissed from the home page.

Next week, we will hopefully have an update regarding navigation changes – this will both improve the current layout of the site and prepare for the upcoming commission changes.

Change Log

  • Added markdown in broadcasts/announcements
  • Added broadcast/announcement dismiss button on the notifications page
  • Updated helper text for the notifications section on the homepage to include info on FN broadcasts/announcements
  • Updated date and time formats in the tooltip for Broadcasts
  • Design polish and tweaks for announcements
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FN v1.4.0 Release and Change Log

Hello, everyone!

As we work towards commission changes, we had several smaller issues needing to be cleared up. One of the larger changes deals with announcements; site admins can now send an announcement to all users on the site. The notification can be dismissed in the “What’s New” feed. If we have any important or urgent news, we’ll send a notification through that system.

The next update is expected to make improvements to site navigation. We’ll also be laying the groundwork for some large changes with the commission system.

Change Log

  • Site status announcements can be added by admins. These announcements will appear on all users’ timelines and can be dismissed like other newsfeed items.
  • Added a flag reason of “Suspected Plagiarism.”
  • MP3s with ID3 tags can be uploaded.
  • Restricted medium options in request commission modal to the artist’s selected mediums.
  • NSFW pricesheets now display by default when viewer has mature/explicit filters set.
  • Fix to immediately crop uploaded images to the various required sizes.
  • Optimizations for loading times in Community galleries.

Commission Designs and Goals

Hello, everyone!

We’re currently working with our designer to lay out the potential final designs for the commission system on Furry Network. We have a few main goals when working on this:

  • Improve discoverability for sellers.
  • Built in page for creators to “sell” themselves.
  • Standardized information gathering when requesting a commission.
  • Flexible pricing for creators to match the changing market conditions.

We talked about independent artists and the unique value that the fandom has for them – it’s difficult to make a living as a creator, but furries have managed to keep many artists afloat. It’s amazing to see how much support the fandom gives creators despite the lack of a solid commission system.

We want to help make the dream of being an independent creator become a reality for even more furries.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at possible designs and getting feedback about what works and what doesn’t. From there, we’ll continue to hone the design to the specific needs of the fandom. There’s a good amount of work to be done, but we’re planning to keep development active until this is completed!

Thank you for all your support and excitement for the commission system.

Digby

Happy Holidays

Over this past weekend, I made the long journey from Northern Utah down to Arizona, driving through canyons of cedar trees and sagebrush. My partner pointed out the vintage road signs for motels and drive-ins lining a section of Route 66, a once-thriving roadway embedded in the country’s memory. We make this journey once or twice a year to visit his family in the Verde Valley.

Yesterday, we huddled under the miniature Christmas tree perched on a table. The presents we opened all came from the heart – books, candy games. But we watched as my partner’s mother opened the last present – a set of DVDs containing old home movies.

She sat there and stared. “What are these?” she asked at first, but the realization slowly dawned on her. She held memories – moments with family, with people who had been lost over the years. “You said you weren’t able to get them off the VHS tapes.”

“I lied,” my partner said, chuckling. He had spent the past two weeks playing through the tapes, recording every minute onto the computer. I had watched moments where my partner’s mother, 22 years younger, watched her son open small packages on a winter morning.

There wasn’t a dry eye as she hugged those videos tight.

The memories that we share do more to bring us together than anything else in the world. We hope you are able to spend the holidays creating those unforgettable memories.

Digby

How Are Commissions So Far?

Hello, everybody!

We’ve been lucky to have several users help out with testing commissions, and we’ve gotten some great feedback so far. We’ll likely get some more in the near future with our new batch of testers, but I wanted to give a quick rundown of how testing is going.

The Good

It seems like most of the core features are working well. Here’s what’s stood out:

  • Automatic Payments. Sellers are automatically paid when commissions are finished, and this system has mostly gone well. The payments go out immediately when everything is reviewed and approved by the buyer (or, if no review happens, a week after being finished by the seller). This gives sellers a reliable time frame to receive payments.
  • Smooth Process. The statuses in the commission tool are easy to follow. The biggest thing I’d want is for someone who uses the site to be able to go through the process without any struggles on their first try. We’re pretty close to that goal.
  • File Uploads. References and any other files can be uploaded to the site, and it’s been helpful to have those organized. We did have an issue where the site didn’t display the correct user who uploaded a file; that’s fixed and appears to be working correctly now.

The Not-So-Good

  • Finding How to Edit Price Sheets. There’s not currently a simple place to edit these right now, and it can be frustrating to find that. We’ve been sending links to testers, but we’ll want to make that super visible with future updates.
  • Payments Occasionally Break. Occasionally, a payment doesn’t go through. This is sometimes because of issues with the user account; the sellers need to have their registered email the same as their PayPal. Luckily, we have staff ready to send out payments that were missed during the testing phase.
  • Little Seller Visibility. It can be difficult to find who is open for commissions; we have a community commissions page, but that’s about it. Sellers have generally needed to talk to their own communities for testing purposes. We’ll be doing a great amount of work to make sellers more visible, both on FN and on other sites (no spoilers).

The Future

  • Flexibility. The system is fairly straightforward – open for commissions, users request, and you decide on a price. However, auctions and YCH commissions are huge! We’re looking into what it would take to make those work.
  • Price Sheet Portfolios. Since sellers already have a good amount of work already uploaded to the site, it makes sense to allow them to create a portfolio from their existing gallery. This is a unique benefit we have for being a gallery and commission site; we have other plans to make use of the gallery, as well.
  • Searchable Advertisements. Most sellers manage to get customers by displaying their work, but the current browsing system just uses seller icons. We want to make visually intriguing spaces that will encourage potential buyers to click and browse your work.

We’re happy with how things are going so far. The end of the year is going to be a bit quieter development-wise, but once the holidays are past, we’re going to do a big push to roll out these major features. We’ll definitely want more testers as time goes on, so if you ever feel like jumping in, send us a PM on Twitter.

Thank you all for your support!

Digby

Road Map to Commission Changes

Hello, everyone!

I had the chance to sit down with our devs and talk about where we go from here for commission development – we have a functional system, but there are a few key things missing:

  • It’s hard to see who is open for commissions. Yes, you can look at a user’s page or at the community commission page, but that’s it.
  • It’s not attention grabbing. When I look at the community commission page, I don’t see any reason to pick one artist unless I know them.
  • There’s no quick information about the kinds of commissions being offered by the seller. I have to navigate to each user’s individual page to see what they have to offer. If I’m looking for a writer, this is incredibly frustrating.

During our discussion, we realized it was going to be a hefty project to complete, but this is also the most important – we want anyone to be able to be successful when selling commissions, and we want lesser-known users to be seen.

Here’s a list of the features that we’re planning on implementing in order to address those issues. We expect things to be together in January or February with possible updates in the interim.

Community Commissions Page

We’ve talked about this some before, but it’s much easier to catch a buyer’s eye visually – if someone sees something they like, they’re likely to click and check out prices. Because of this, browsing will be based around imagery instead of user icons.

Window Shopping

This is a prototype, of course, but we want users to be able to see the various commission types without navigating to the seller’s page. Price sheets will still be important, of course, but the price at the top left will help give a solid baseline for shoppers.

We have a few features rolling into this, as well:

  • Users can select a number of media types (full color, sketch, etc.) to advertise. They’ll be categories created by administration, and we will update them as requested. This will also allow users to search by that specific media type.
  • Images shown will be cropped from images in the user’s gallery. The user will choose the images to crop – we want your ad space to shine.
  • Review ratings will be available with more information when hovered over. We want to give you quick information without requiring additional clicks and loading pages.
  • Users can search based on media type, price, number of characters, and seller specialties (we’ll get to that in a bit).

Seller Lists

Simply put, sellers will need to have some additional options – we want people seeing your ad to be interested in what you’re selling:

  • We will include a list of specialties. Sellers will be able to list a number of specialties, and when a user searches for that term, the seller will appear higher on the list. If you are a fantastic paw drawer, you may use that as a specialty to get more commissions featuring what you love!
  • We’ll also have a seller blacklist – if you don’t want to create something, adding it to the blacklist will remove you from search results for that term.

Info on Users’ Commission Pages and Messages

There’s not too much information right now on users’ commission pages; there’s room for a price sheet and additional info, but since we have galleries, there’s much more that can be done.

  • Users will have portfolios for each media type they’re selling. They’ll be able to add whatever submissions they want to those portfolios; that way, potential buyers can quickly see examples.
  • Messages sent through the commission system will have fields to fill out for essential information. Users may also select images from their gallery to include as reference sheets.

Reviews

We’ve discussed this multiple times before, but we’ll be adding a review system for both buyers and sellers as well as dispute systems. We’ll have more information in the future with all the details.

Badges for Sellers

If someone sees your submission and you’re open for commissions, we want to make sure they know that. We’re planning badges on icons and next to user names to show who is open.

Commission_button

Cross Advertising for Sellers

We’ve been working with other fandom sites, and we’re planning to allow sellers to show their advertisements from FN to those sites. This would allow you to have free advertising on other sites that have your work. The advertising option could be disabled, of course, but we’d want to help make you as visible as possible. We’ll have more details as time goes on.

We also have a backlog of other changes and improvements that will be made, but we’re starting to see the final shape of the website; it’s been a long journey, but early next year, we may just be able to take that “beta” off the URL.

Thank you again for all your excitement and support!

Digby

Happy Halloween!

Hello, everyone!

Hopefully you’re done hanging up webs and carving pumpkins – it’s time for Halloween! As furries, we often have the chance to put on our own personas online, and this can lead to a wealth of entertainment. At the same time, we have individuals full of love behind those masks.

I recently went back to some of the social media posts I made years ago. I tend to have a more professional persona online these days, and those posts made me gasp – there I was, a young adult openly flirting with others, laughing as we all shared excitement for the next time we’d meet. It was a bit embarrassing, but as I read, I realized that online carelessness – the joy I had with others – could only be found in the creation of these characters.

In the fandom, we have constant praise for these characters, the digital masks we wear. They allow us to laugh, to love, and to live the extreme thrills of creativity.

Thank you all for your passion, and we hope Halloween continues to be a time where you embrace the joys that come through artistic expression.

Digby

Featured Review

Hello, everybody!

We’re currently working on hammering out the visual aspects of the commission page. A large focus is on artwork, but we also wanted to give space to reviews. While each seller will have space to show all reviews, we wanted to use the commission page as a sales space – buyers should want to commission you there.

windowshopping review popup

Because of this, we are planning to have a space for a featured review to popup when hovering over the overall rating on the commission page. The specific review will be chosen by the seller – that way, they have a chance to put their best paw forward and draw in new buyers.

The overall rating will still be visible; if there’s a big difference between the rating and the featured reviews, potential buyers can take a look at the full list of reviews to see if there were previously issues.

Thank you for all your excitement, and we hope we can make this a useful tool for the whole fandom!

Digby

Potential Review Difficulties

Hello, everybody!

We’ve been discussing the commission review system that we’re developing, and there are a few potential difficulties with a review system. Most of these deal with the politics of a review – simply put, giving someone a rating for their work carries weight, especially when certain benefits may be given to users who have a history of great reviews.

Here are a few of the issues that we’re focused on when developing this system.

Consistency

Reviews are often highly subjective – one person may give five stars to an average experience while another may give three stars for an excellent commission. While this can’t always be avoided, we hope to help move reviews towards a standard.

One way we may do this is by having wording appear that reflects what the user feels about that commission. The wording isn’t set in stone, but here’s what we’re throwing around:

☆☆☆☆☆ – Amazing. The user did what they could to make the commission go well.
☆☆☆☆ – Great. There may have been a few problems, but we managed to get through them.
☆☆☆ – Okay. More could have been done to make the commission process go smoothly.
☆☆ – Bad. There were quite a few problems throughout the commission process.
– Terrible. Everything went wrong.

With this scale, we’d expect for good commission experiences to be rated either four or five stars, and users granted benefits for strong great reviews would be expected to maintain an average of at least four stars. This could be changed, but we do want to reward any users doing an excellent job.

Fairness

While reviews can be a great way to help people find products they want, there’s also the potential for slander or lies to be posted. We don’t want outside rumors or drama to affect reviews, so we’ll have some guidelines to ensure this fairness while remaining factual.

Reviews must be about the commission – We have a long-standing policy about keeping outside drama off Furry Network, and this will be true with reviews on the site, as well. Reviews that focus on things outside of the commission can be flagged for review by staff.
Reviews only happen after a commission – Users won’t be able to come en masse to give positive reviews to a popular artist. We expect everyone to start with a clean slate, and reviews will only be available for those who participated in the commission process.
Rules against extortion – We discussed the issue of extortion in an older blog post, and we will have clear policies to prevent this. Because some users’ livelihood can be affected by reviews, we will ensure that reviews are not being used to get favors in return.

As a buyer or a seller, what do you worry about with a review system? What problems do you think could arise? Let us know on Twitter!

Thank you all for your enthusiasm with the upcoming additions to the commission system.

Digby

Browsing Commissions

Hello, everyone!

As we’re working on improving the commission system, a lot of our focus is on the way people will find what you’re selling. While we’re going to include search functions, we also know that the wow factor of visual arts and crafts can convert a browser into a buyer.

Window Shopping

We are working on what we’re calling a window-shopping system – basically, a list of commissions that you can scroll through and get a quick idea of a seller’s style, the media they use, and the past reviews they’ve had. We have a unique advantage as a gallery site, as well; because many sellers already upload their creations to the site, it’s quick and easy for buyers to look through their galleries.

In addition, we’re planning to create a portfolio system for the site. For each category that you use (for example, “Full Color” and “Sketch” on the image above), you will be able to create an individual portfolio containing pieces representative of that category. It will be as simple as adding a submission to a folder – just a couple clicks when uploading, and done. We’ll also plan to allow adding multiple submissions to a portfolio at the same time.

When the portfolio is created, it will automatically appear on the seller’s price sheet, similar to a folder appearing on someone’s profile page. Because it’s using the gallery interface, any mature content will only be seen by users with mature content enabled. For you creators, focus on creating – we’ll handle the rest.

Thank you all for your excitement as we continue moving forward. We hope we’re able to simplify the commission process for everyone throughout the fandom!

Digby