SoFurry is a furry website "based on Yiffstar, but expanding to non-adult content and with emphasis on user communities." The project is led by Toumal, and absorbed the existing Yiffstar database over Christmas 2009.
The project was announced on 11 March 2009 with talk of community-based features and personalized subdomains. The site gained 100.000 new users over the course of 18 months, and relaunched itself as SoFurry 2.0 in January 2012.
In addition to stories, artwork, music and journals, SoFurry has a number of distinct additional features.
The site features a complete user community system which is used as a kind of collaborative filter. Users are encouraged to found or join "groups" that cover particular subject matters. These groups can have fully integrated forums and even web chatrooms. Users can still use established features like personal watchlists to find new content, but they can also build a collaborative set of favorites within groups, thus allowing people who join groups to instantly be able to browse a human-maintained gallery of content specifically matching the group's topic. Groups are user-created and user-moderated.
In addition to the forums and chats within groups, the site also features global forums and chatrooms that are maintained by the site moderators. Site functions like the web-chat are also available via third-party applications, and several chat applications (written in Java for the desktop, one Android app, and a chat client written in Python) have been developed already. The site offers a one-time-pad authentication system for secure authentication over insecure networks as well as an API for application developers.
Another major feature is a complete commission management and purchase system, in which users and artists can manage their list of in-progress commissions, and also sell and buy commission services. SoFurry does not handle payments or retain any percentages from commissions, the system is free to use for anyone.
Users can personalize their galleries with their own site banners, which are shown whenever someone views or browses their submissions.
Submissions can be personally grouped into sub-gallery folders to which other users can subscribe for updates of newer submissions. Stories can be downloaded in .epub format, and folders containing stories can be downloaded as chaptered ePub files.
Every user can use a free email forward in the form of email@example.com, @isscaly.com, @iswinged.com, @isfluffy.com, @isrubbery.com or @isfeathery.com; these forwards can be disabled by the user in his/her site preferences in case of spam.
Differences to Yiffstar
SoFurry uses a "post-submission review" process, like most other furry art sites. This is in contrast to the "pre-approval" process used in Yiffstar, which resulted in wait times of up to a day before submissions were approved for online viewing. Several functions like the search have been expanded to not only cover titles and authors in addition to tags, but also to honor tag hierarches so searches for "Canine" (for example) will find all canine-tags like "Dog", "Wolf", etc. It is also the first furry art and story site with its own mobile apps for Android, using a public API.
The site is hosted on a cluster of servers, running database replication and DNS loadbalancing. The servers are located in the USA and the EU. In addition, a commercial-grade CDN backs most of the actual content via several datacenters in the US, Europe and Asia.
SoFurry is almost completely funded by Toumal, with operation costs running in excess of USD 400,- per month.
Development on SoFurry 2.0 began in April 2010, with the goal of revamping the design, navigation and code based on user feedback. The new site is powered by a rewritten backend based on the Yii Framework, and features a streamlined and minimalistic user interface. Additional features include a new photo section, multiple characters per account, friends system, private submission sharing, customizable UI, one-step upload process and other enhancements. New features are added regularly, with upcoming items including a story collaboration system and a "friend activity feed" similar to the "Blotter" in Steam. Beginning December 1, 2011, SoFurry 2.0 users can subscribe to folders for folder-exclusive updates (i.e., series, comics), as an additional alternative to watching users' galleries.
The private beta for SF 2.0 started in March 2011. A public beta period was held from July to January 2011, running alongside the current site. During this time all stories, images, user accounts, comments etc. (except for notifications and commission offers) were shared between the two sites.
SoFurry 2.0 went live on 2012 January 23rd. SoFurry 1.0 is scheduled to be phased out during Q1 2012, after the SoFurry 2.0 Chat and additional site themes become available.
Reviews and criticism
The user interface was met with mixed reviews. Many users praised details like the single-page uploader, while others complained about incompatibilities, questionable design decisions and the perceived complexity of the site navigation. The move to a fixed-width page layout was also the target of complaints. Another major issue were numerous bugs present at launch, a fact acknowledged by the staff who spent over a year fixing the various issues and deploying improvements. Despite the criticism, the site gained more users in the twelve months of operation than its predecessor Yiffstar did over the course of 7 years. Ultimately it was decided to rewrite the site from scratch however.
SoFurry user Chipotle, in his November 13, 2011 Flayrah review of various heavily-trafficked furry story archives, noted a marked improvement of the user experience in comparison to SoFurry 1.0 while criticizing some aspects of the new authorship tools and the limitation of content search to "keyword matching", relating the latter directly to the website's adult-oriented heritage.
The new site is still in the early days after launch, but already many artists and writers who left or stopped posting on SoFurry during the days of Version 1.0 are returning. Most users expressed positive opinions about the improved performance, while some complained about the bright color scheme. Additional themes and color options have been promised for the coming months.
Third party applications
Several applications have been written for SoFurry, among them an SoFurry App for Android, a Live Wallpaper for Android, as well as Artsync, a gallery synchronization application that allows artists to synchronize their Fur Affinity gallery with SoFurry automatically.
- ↑ SoFurry.com: the next generation - Osfer, FurRag forums (17 March 2009)
- ↑ Launch Procedures Initiated - Toumal, Journal (25 November 2009)
- ↑ sofurry.com - Our New Home - Toumal, Yiffstar forums (11 March 2009)
- ↑ Chipotle (Watts Martin) Sun 13 Nov 2011. A survey of furry story sites. Flayrah.
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