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

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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

Finding Commissions – Social Media

Hello, everyone!

We’re currently working with our development team on timelines for future updates. At this point, we’re hoping to have the rest of the major site features in place by the end of the year. This will include a revamped commission page, a review system, commission search functions, a WYSIWYG text editor across the site, an announcement category, increased visibility for promoted submissions, increased visibility for users open for commissions, additional moderation tools, and a wealth of bug fixes.

Understandably, this is a lot, and we want to make sure things work right before launching them. We’ll have regular updates about the release schedule as time goes on, and if we have any delays, we will let you know.

This week, we discussed the issue of finding commissions with users on social media. Surprise – the most common way for them to shop is through social media.

Social Media is Crucial to Sellers

Simply put, almost all furries use some sort of social media. We’re a fandom that’s largely based on the internet, and we use these tools to communicate with our friends. The easiest way for sellers to find a buyer is going to where the people are.

Twitter, Tumblr, and Telegram groups are some of the most common, though Discord groups are currently on the rise. The great thing about these tools is that they can create sub-communities for individual sellers – if you have followers who love your work, they’re likely to jump at the chance for a commission.

We’re currently looking at ways to take advantage of these already existing communities. When a seller opens for commissions in the future, for example, they may have an option to make a post on Twitter or Tumblr announcing commissions. This would make spreading the news easier for sellers, and posting on social media would help target likely buyers. Having a specific combination of words or a hashtag may even make it easier for users to search.

We’ll discuss some of the other common strategies of looking through sellers’ galleries or – as it sometimes happens – just getting lucky. We’ll also talk about ways FN may be able to help with those strategies. Thank you again for all your support!

Digby

Buyers Ghosting

Happy October, everyone!

While I didn’t plan on having a spooky theme for our first post this month, I wanted to talk about an issue that has popped up with commissions – ghosting. Basically, ghosting is when someone requests a commission then disappears without sending payment or indicating that they are cancelling. In essence, they vanish without a trace.

We’ve had some mixed opinions from furries on social media about this issue. Some sellers have said that getting requests for commissions then neverghosting takes up a good amount of time:

Understandably, many content creators want to give business to people who love their creations. Someone who requests a commission then ghosts can take up those precious slots.

However, some creators view this as part of business:

Someone asking for more information on commissions can be seen as a future business prospect; a buyer ghosting a creator may eventually return and purchase something.

With either view, though, ghosting can still create problems if not taken into consideration. Creators have a few strategies that can help, and we at Furry Network are taking some ideas into consideration for future development.

Strategies for Creators

If you do find that you’re spending a large portion of your time dealing with ghosting customers, there are a few things you can do that will make things easier for you.

Create a schedule for buyers. This can either be made public or private, but consider making a schedule for when you’ll open for commissions, how often you’ll send reminders to buyers, and when you’ll drop an unresponsive buyer. Having a standard schedule will make it easier to decide when to end the commission process with someone ghosting.

Have some backup buyers. In some cases, you may receive more requests than planned slots. Because of that, you may consider informing some that requests have been filled but, in case one of the buyers disappears, you may let them have that slot. This isn’t always practical, but giving a slot to someone who initially didn’t get one will often make them happy.

Possible Strategies for FN

At the moment, we’re still discussing whether or not we should step in to help avoid or resolve ghosting – this is generally a personal issue, and sellers may have different ways they combat this themselves. Here are a few things we are considering:

Limit the number of open commissions for new buyers. Most new users will purchase a commission or two at a time; someone signing up and sending out multiple requests may end up ghosting several of those. Limiting the number of commissions until the buyer is established on the site may help avoid that issue.

Track buyer history with reviews. We will be implementing a review system where both buyers and sellers can leave reviews for each other. As a part of that, we may include the ratio of purchased commissions to the number of requests sent. This way, the seller can quickly see if this user has a history of disappearing after requesting a commission.

Include a custom message for requests. Right now, when a person clicks the button to request a commission, they are shown a generic box to include information. We may allow sellers to include custom text for buyers, especially for critical information for those specific commissions. Having that information in front of the buyer would likely lead to more serious customers.

Thank you to everyone who discussed some of these problems on social media; we hope the upcoming commission features will help resolve some of the common problems currently seen in commissions.

Digby

Commission Troubles – Being Seen

Hello, everyone!

One of the struggles that people have starting as a new seller is being seen. Even if others love your work, it can be a struggle to land a commission.

We are currently planning to open public commission testing either late December or early January. As we move in that direction, we wanted to talk about some of the problems we’ve seen with commission visibility and how we plan to tackle those.

Current Difficulties

One large problem with opening for commissions in the fandom is that there isn’t one specific way to let others know. Some change profile bios to say they’re open; others create journals; some post frequently on social media about openings. While it’s good for sellers to shape advertising strategies based on what works for them, it can be difficult for new buyers to know if a seller is open.

Another issue is that most sites in the fandom focus on either galleries or commissions, not both. Because of that, it’s rare that users browsing galleries know that someone is open for commissions unless they specifically look for that information. This can unfortunately leave upcoming creators in the soup.

Plans to Improve Visibility

Commission badges. One of the best ways for users to find someone selling commissions is to browse through submissions – if I see something I like, I may wish to purchase a commission. Having a badge on a thumbnail or next to users’ names will make it much easier for potential buyers to find sellers; just by looking at a submission, they’ll know if a user is open.

Commission_button

Art by Nomax; badge design not final

Another benefit, of course, is that these badges will appear in the favorites list – all I’d have to do is look at my favorites, find a commissions badge, and BAM, I’d know where to get some custom art that I’d love.

Announcements. Getting the message out to your followers that you’re opening for commissions is important – many already love your content and are much likelier to purchase commissions.

We’ll be adding an announcement category that will allow you to reach your followers with quick messages. In order to keep announcements relevant, these will have an expiration time with 48 hours being the max.

Improved promotions. It’s still difficult to see promoted images on FN – they appear on the Activity History feed, but that’s about it. We’ll be adding a promoted gallery that can show up on users’ profiles. In addition, the commission badge will show up for any submissions by users open for commissions.

Off-Site advertising. We’re still working out the exact details for this, but we’re planning to include an option to advertise for free on sites outside of FN; upload a banner, and anyone viewing your art on those sites will see that you are open for commissions. This would be an optional feature, of course, but the more chances you have to be seen by potential buyers, the better.

Have any other grand ideas for improving visibility for sellers? Hit us up on Twitter! We’d love to hear them.

As always, thank you for all your support. We hope we can help continue making the commission process smoother for both buyers and sellers alike.

Digby

Users’ Nightmare Commissions

Hello, everyone!

One of the reasons we’ve been focusing a large amount of work on the commission systems is because of the problems that have happened between buyers and sellers – while most commissions go well, there’s always the chance that things can fall apart. A few users sent stories to us about their nightmare commissions.

From Buyers

One submitter discussed what happened when they tried to buy a present for a friend:

This was many many years ago. I wanted to get something smallish and in budget for someone special’s upcoming birthday because I was full of commissions that needed to be finished in time at the moment. Well, the artist’s side turned into excuses after excuses while they were still creating other art. Although I waited patiently without much pestering despite the deadline being missed by a year, they still decided to dump the ultimate disappointment: instead of just refunding the artist finished the commission using ms paint, a mouse and ittybitty resolution, their sloppiest of skills too to complete the disaster. Ofc the person receiving the gift took it as an insult, the character barely looked alike.

The rough part of this is that the buyer tried to be as patient as possible; however, even with this being a time-sensitive commission, the seller was not bound by any ultimate deadline. In addition, little could be done about the low quality of the final product – after that much time, many furries might become exhausted from the process and decide to just let it go.

On Furry Network, the policies that we have in place will protect the buyer. All commissions are required to be finished within six months, and sellers are encouraged to establish an earlier deadline. In addition, buyers will have the opportunity to have staff review any commissions that are lower in quality. Simply put, you’ll never pay $50 for a surprise MSPaint drawing.

We had another buyer who purchased a plush:

Commissioned an artist in Australia for a big orca plush. Sent around $800. After 6 months, no progress. Artist said they were low on funds and couldn’t afford the materials. Paid another $400. Another 6 months went by, still nothing. Asked the artist how we get it done, and they promised me if I gave them one more lot of $400, they’d do it. Pinged them on an off every couple months for 2 more years then gave up. That was more than 10 years ago.

Hindsight here is definitely 20/20. I generally don’t recommend sending additional funds unless there’s a change in the scope of work – if you want more detail or characters, for example, increasing the price is acceptable. What likely happened here, though, is that the artist tried to prey on buyers who would sympathize with them.

To avoid these scam-like situations, Furry Network holds onto funds that are paid upfront by the buyer; these are only sent to the seller once the commission is finalized and approved by the buyer.

We’re considering allowing certain verified sellers to receive part of the commission funds at the beginning of the commission – this way, sellers who have historically done a great job can receive payments sooner. However, buyers would still be able to receive reimbursements from Furry Network if a situation similar to the one above happened; the seller would also lose verified status and potentially lose access to selling commissions at all.

From Sellers

Of course, sellers sometimes face nightmare commissions of their own:

The horror commissioner, I should’ve sensed something wrong when they first approached me saying: “This previous artist failed to capture this image and gave up midway so I’d like you to do this commission instead”. The half finished image looked exactly like they were already looking for but I thought maybe they just didn’t dig the very toony style. So I gave it a try. The process went alright, I showed multiple wips and they just nodded shortly everytime. I made sure to say “if something needs changing just say so”, but apparently things were ok. The bad stuff came after: They posted the image to their own gallery modified, they had changed colours with bad photoshop skills and painted over the expression, then said in the comments “the artist didn’t edit it to be perfect so I had to”, despite me having offered to do so. Also accompanied by a journal ranting about how good artists are always stuck up and don’t listen to their commissioners. My ToS states that art must not be modified and copyrights stay mine, but the commissioner had also slapped their own giant watermark on top, claiming everything as their property. Taking a closer look on their gallery revealed hundreds of other victims alike. They already had me blocked too, before I could say a word, so I guess all they wanted was to cause drama – drama apparently worth lots of money. But I simply blacklisted them and moved on.

The end result is probably the best way the seller could resolve this – starting a public squabble could end poorly, and responding could have fueled the buyer’s fire. However, it’s likely future sellers would not know this buyer’s history, and it would be possible to get drawn into the same trap.

Furries purchasing commissions on Furry Network are bound by the site’s guidelines, and this type of behavior could restrict or prevent that user from purchasing additional commissions in the future.

For less serious situations, though, we want a track record to exist for buyers; when we implement the review system, sellers will also be able to leave reviews of the buyers, warning future sellers of any nightmare situation they’ve faced. Sellers could always take that commission, but they would at least know if there were problems in the past.

We’re currently able to expand our commission testing system to additional users. If you are interested, feel free to send us a PM on Twitter, and we’ll have a quick chat with you. Thank you again for all your excitement!

Digby

Commission Horror Stories

Hello, everyone!

We know that many buyers and sellers alike have had horror stories when working with commissions. Do you have a story? We’d love to hear it! We’re especially interested in how this became a nightmare commission and how it was resolved, if it was.

Follow this link to submit your story. You may submit it with your details or remain anonymous. Any stories may be examined in a future blog post.

Thank you!

Digby