Author: Rakuen Growlithe
Fur Affinity recently announced a restructuring and increase in staffing. On the main site, staff acknowledged “administrator inaction, bias, and a lack of accountability” but assured users that they “truly want to fix the issues, and [are] working toward a better Fur Affinity.”
To see whether this change is going to be enough to improve Fur Affinity, I want to compare the administration structures of the three main furry art sites – Fur Affinity (FA), SoFurry (SF) and Inkbunny (IB) – plus a few details from commercial alternative deviantART (DA).
|Fur Affinity*||~700 000 (est.)||30 ||6 958 710||231 957 [347 935]|
|SoFurry**||167 591||27 ||974 580||36 095 [51 294]|
|InkBunny#||55 660||7§ ||227 490||32 498 [37 915]|
|deviantART##||>16 000 000||92||250 000 890||2 717 400|
$ Page views as of 17 August from statshow.com. Note: Likely to be inaccurate, but close in relative proportions. ^ Numbers in brackets exclude technical staff.
* Users as of 26 August. Staff as of 17 August. Page views for furaffinity.net and forums.furaffinity.net.
** Users as of 22 August. Page views for sofurry.com and beta.sofurry.com. Staff as of 17 August.
# Users of 22 August. Staff as of 17 August. § One IB moderator has two accounts for technical reasons.
## Users as of 17 August. Staff as of 17 August.
Staffing levels and workload
As can be seen above, although FA may have four times as many users as SF, it has just slightly more staff, with some restricted to the forums. This shows most when looking at the number of page views per month per admin. While SF and IB are in a similar range, FA admins must handle six times the number of page views as other furry site admins. To bring the work load per admin to a comparable level, FA would need 174 – though naturally the number required will vary depending on the proportion of pure browsing to posts and submissions. FA admins must continue to do more work, as the site reports growth of 11 724 new users per month, with roughly 50 new support tickets a day (Ed: IB gets around 6).
Just because FA has a higher work load per admin doesn’t mean that they are overworked. I do not know how many page views each administrator can handle, and it might be that SF and IB actually have more admins than is required. DA, for example, copes with 10 times as many views per admin as FA. DA is a commercial site, however, with full-time employees; furry sites are run by part-time volunteers.
Although FA does have a number of problems, the admitted “administrator inaction” could have a large role to play in that. I cannot say whether FA admins are working hard enough; all I can say is that compared to other furry art sites, they still have relatively few staff.
Also important to how the site is run is the structure of the administration. IB is a much smaller site than both SF and FA, with it’s staff split into administrators (2) and moderators (5). Both FA and SF have specialised staff, with the main split being administration and technical/development. FA is unique in having two site owners, although this is only after joining forces with Furocity.
FA has 30 administrative staff and SF has 19. Both sites follow the same pattern of having one or two admins in charge of various aspects and a collection of moderators for general rule-enforcing. FA has many more categories, with a head of art, stories, photography, etc. while SF and IB have a flatter administrative structure.
In addition, for FA the forum is a separate site; not all forum admins have staff privileges on the main site. SF has integrated forums, so its staff have privileges over the entire site. IB does not have any forum capabilities, just submission and journal comments.
Another split in FA is that it maintains an IRC channel (#furaffinity on irc.furnet.org) with some admins exclusive to IRC. Two IRC-exclusive admins were excluded from FA’s admin count, as IRC activity was excluded from the page views count. SF again shows an integrated site with its own chat function included as part of the site, and three admins charged to focus on the chat. As SF has all features linked, they are included as part of the main admin count; any views for the chat will also have been recorded as page views. IB does not have a chat system.
FA has a technical development team of either three or four members, with different sources giving different staff breakdowns. This is much smaller than SF’s nine-member development team, eight of whom focus exclusively on development (DA has a team of 29, plus ten ops staff).
FA’s developers all have other responsibilities in the forum and/or running FA’s convention, FA: United. This is a known area of concern, and Dragoneer specifically mentioned new “coding expertise” when announcing that members of Furocity would be joining FA staff.
This is perhaps the aspect on which FA does worst, with very few changes being made to the site, or at least made public. FA’s technical development has been consistently criticised; the new user interface is three months behind its promised release date. SF2.0 is currently in public beta, though with very active development and staff posting regular updates and dealing with problems as they are reported. IB, while neither having a specific development team nor making any major changes to their user interface, regularly reports bug fixes and feature changes.
Staff conduct and communication
FA’s new staff has already come under criticism for being put in a high-level positions, despite only just having joined FA. The entire photography and written works departments of FA are formed of new admins who haven’t been on FA for much longer than a month.
At the same time, one of FA’s admins complained that existing staff hadn’t been told a lot of the information about the new admin structure. This may represent a failure to properly communicate within FA (and with the users as well, even on important issues such as the rules) which could be responsible for many of the problems the site experiences.
Along with the new staff announcement was the announcement that “we have written a new Staff Code Of Conduct which outlines requirements that all staff must adhere to.” When people asked why the Code Of Conduct was not available, staff revealed that the ‘written’ Code Of Conduct was still in draft form. If it is released, FA will be the first furry site to have released a public Staff Code of Conduct. It remains to be seen whether this is a progressive step with FA leading the way or a forced move to try and improve the behaviour of the admins.
FA has markedly fewer admins for its level of activity than other furry sites, though that may not represent a shortage of admins. As far as the structure of the admin team goes, FA and SF are using a very similar system, with some individuals focussed on certain tasks and others to do general maintenance. However, when it comes to technical development FA lags far behind both SF and IB in it’s ability to implement changes and bug fixes, although it has promised to work on this shortcoming. The current staff structure appears sound and it would appear that the problems with the site are more to do with apathy and poor communication, both between members of staff and between the users and staff.