History of Yerf

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The following covers the history of the art archive Yerf.



Yerf was founded in 1996 by Rat as the Squeeky Clean Furry Archive, and hosted on his site, Rat.org. At that time it was little more than an FTP server, although it developed later.

At one point, a large proportion of the art uploaded to the SCFA was strongly influenced by Sonic the Hedgehog. Eventually, people got sick of so much derivative artwork[citation needed], and Sonic-based material was banned, to the complaints of some of those who had been uploading it.

By 1998, Rat wanted the site to have its own domain (previously it was at rat.org/yerf). Rat chose Yerf because, being a generic term, the name could stay the same no matter what direction the site took. At that time it was generally accepted to mean "a noise foxes made", and yerf.com was not taken, so Rat registered it.



The name change to Yerf and the re-branding occurred in 1998. When Rat moved to California, he was no longer able to keep his server up, and so it moved to Tugrik's purrsia.com server in late September 1998.

On 10 July 1998, Rat handed over front end administration of the site[1] to Scotty Arsenault - it had previously been run in part by Jedd Marten. In late 2001 Scotty handed administration and the server over to Dingo.

Over time, the quality standards got stricter, and artists who were previously members were grandfathered in, which became a regular cause of complaint for those who either felt that artwork by the grandfathered artists was inadequate, or (more often) people who had been rejected who looked to this art as an excuse to complain about double standards. Another complaint was the speed of application processing, due in part to the time required to review and the limited pool of reviewers.

Server problems[edit]

The crash[edit]

On 27 December 2004, Yerf's hard disk signaled a failure.[2] Initial hopes for a quick fix were soon dashed[3], and eventually it became clear that all of the data had been lost,[4] although over $2500 was raised in donations for data recovery. Worse, the hard disk contained the only copy of the Yerf archive software.

The restoration[edit]

On August 2005, Yerf was in the process of being rebuilt around a new core, the Squeeky Clean Art Archive. Members were allowed to post images on the community LiveJournal instead. The forums were also re-opened. The intention was to re-post the artwork once the core was back up, as some users had saved copies of the site before the crash.

On 11 November 2005, most of the art from the original archive was reposted in a "read only" database, displaying first artist names, then thumbnail pages in each artist's directory of the art arranged chronologically, and then finally the image. Final page layouts and structure were to be determined while work continued on the new gallery software. A wiki page coordinating the process of restoring the few artists, images, and descriptions which were lost in the crash was put online at the same time.

On 24 November 2005 (American Thanksgiving) the new gallery software's code-base was placed online on a development resource site, and coders of all stripes were sought for further development. Design goals for the new site software were to preserve the clean page layouts and simple navigation of the original layout, avoiding the design excesses of other larger archive sites. One focus of interest was the creation of a strong, speedy peer review system to address previous criticisms of Yerf as being slow to respond to requests for new users.

On 20 January 2006, the site was declared officially open, if not complete. Old artists gained access to the site over the following week.

The second crash[edit]

In July 2006, Yerf went down again, came back up the same month, then back down again. No known hardware issues exist, with software suspected of being the culprit. People continued to wait in hope of even seeing Yerf up again, but the foundation that made Yerf so great in the past had started to crack, with several artists also demanding[5] that their accounts and galleries be taken down[6], even if Yerf comes back up.

On October 16, 2006, Yerf became operational once again. On March 2, 2007, it went down, with a statement from Dingo that it might be 'the end'.[7]

Archival project[edit]

On August 4, 2007, Seurat of ArtSpots announced the Yerf Historical Archive; a project intended to create a browsable archive of Yerf (from 1996 to 2004) for posterity.[8] Yerf artists were invited to contact the ArtSpots administration, as the Archive only features artists who give permission for their art to be included.[9] When ArtSpots closed at the start of 2012, the archive was passed to GreenReaper, who expanded it to all previous users who had not expressed a preference; previously featured users were instead featured on the front page.[10][11] Several months later, the front page was changed to feature work from all users. Starting in 2011 or 2012, yerf.artspots.com started redirecting to the Yerf Historical Archive new home yerf.metafur.org.

Domain name[edit]

In or around July 2008, Yerf founder Rat repossessed the art archive last known domain name, yerf.com, originally registered under his name.[12] He had retired from administration of the site ten years previously, stating that he would "as an advisor with technical things, but as far as all the decisions on who gets on, what gets deleted, and the general direction the site goes, that's all up to [ Scotty Arsenault ].[13]In his announcement, Rat stated he would "still retain DNS on the name yerf.com, so I could always pull the plug if I think they're taking it in bad direction".

In a post on a temporary forum, Rat explained that "I've had enough of watching my creation dragged through the mud like this, he took everyone's donations before, and the server still never came online. I can never tell people I started yerf.com since it has such a bad name now. [...] Yerf is mine, he only succeeded at ruining it when I let him run it, so I'm taking it back."[14]

Rat had actually hijacked the domain from Dingo, and eventually returned it to Dingo after threat of legal action.

The domain name was ultimately returned to Dingo, but was set to redirect to the Yerf Historical Archive in 2009.[15] However, as of September 2011, it no longer redirects there.


  1. big changes coming to yerf.com. July 10, 1998 post by Rat to alt.lifestyle.furry.
  2. Failed Hard Drive. December 27, 2004 post by Dingofox to Yerf LiveJournal community.
  3. Whuh-oh!. January 4, 2005 post by Dingofox to Yerf LiveJournal community.
  4. From Bad To Worse. January 25, 2005 post by Dingofox to Yerf LiveJournal community.
  5. Calling it quits. October 8, 2006 post by Tiina Purin to Yerf LiveJournal community.
  6. Quitting Yerf. October 8, 2006 post by Thornwolf to her LiveJournal
  7. Yerf goes offline; may be 'the end' - WikiFur News (March 3, 2007)
  8. Yerf Historical Archive project. August 4, 2007 post by Seurat to Yerf LiveJournal community.
  9. Yerf Historical Archive (old site)
  10. ArtSpots to close January 2; Yerf archive preserved - GreenReaper, Flayrah (17 December 2011)
  11. About - Yerf Historical Archive
  12. Yerf.com - Rat (17 July 2008)
  13. big changes coming to yerf.com. July 10, 2008 post by Rat to alt.fan.furry and alt.lifestyle.furry.
  14. yerf.com. July 17, 2008 post by Rat.
  15. so dudes - Dingo,   yerf (12 January 2009)