Weasyl

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Weasyl
Weasyl-home-04-26-2020-505px.jpg
Weasyl's home page
Author(s) Owner: Ikani
Website
Status Active
Genre Social art community
Rating(s)
Censor PG button.png
Censor NC17 button.png

Weasyl is a social art gallery website that serves both the furry fandom and the broader online artistic community; it is "designed for artists, writers, musicians, and more to share their work with other artists and fans."[1] Its primary features are media submissions, character profiles, and journal entries. Since its launch in September 2012, Weasyl has added a commission marketplace,[2] redesigned its thumbnail system to support larger images,[3] and released its source code as open-source software.[4]

As of May 2014, with some 69,000 registered users, Weasyl hosted over 600,000 submissions, 36,000 characters, and 51,000 journals.[5] By June 2015, the site had grown to over 1,000,000 submissions.[6]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

Development on what would later become Weasyl began in 2011 as an educational hobby project. On September 7, Kihari began posting submissions to Fur Affinity describing Fergal, his "ha-ha-only-serious project to design a functional artsite", including screenshots of its user interface.[7] Within days of the first submission, Taw contacted Kihari to offer his assistance as a graphic designer; together they built a second prototype website,[8] discarding the first attempt in order to change programming languages and database software.

On October 28, Fergal was made available as a demo to users who were interested in bug testing and suggesting new features.[9] This version of the site was hosted in its entirety on an Acer Aspire One netbook. Users had to be preapproved in order to register; by the end of the year, 16 such accounts had been created, including those belonging to Ben and Fay V, who also volunteered to join the project as staff members.

The rest of the original staff joined on during the early weeks of 2012; by mid-February, Aden, Fiz, Judicant, Juste, Kaycee, Pencil Lion, Prawst, PunkJax, RabidRaccoon, Stereo, and Takun had come forward to help shape and promote the new website while it was being developed.

Rebranding as Weasyl[edit]

During a discussion on January 10 regarding the project's name, Ben proposed rebranding it as Weasyl, a deliberately misspelled reference to the art- and animal-related words easel and weasel. The site's domain name was registered the same day.

Fay V designed Wesley, the project's mascot. Most of the official artwork featuring Wesley that was used for site promotion and news posts was drawn by Fay V, Fiz, and Stereo.

PunkJax designed Weasyl's logo, which features a red beret containing the letter W in white font, usually followed by the rest of the name.

Weasyl LLC was formed in March 2012,[10] becoming the website's operating organization. At the time of its founding, Ben and Kihari each held 50% ownership interest in the company.

Fundraiser and promotion[edit]

Illustration by Stereo, used to convey that the site was still a work in progress.

On June 1, the staff launched a two-month-long donation drive on Indiegogo to cover the project's startup costs, with a target goal of $5,000. Donations of $5 or more promised the donor an invitation to the site's closed beta release, which would allow the donor to create an account on the site and invite others to do so as well.[11] The fundraiser came to a close on August 1, with over 200 donors contributing a total of $6,015.[12] Proceeds from the donation drive were used, among other expenses, to pay for hosting on Amazon Web Services' cloud computing platform.

Aden, Ben, and Fay V presented a panel at Anthrocon on June 15 during which they discussed the project's goals and unveiled the new user interface that Aden, the team's front-end developer, had designed and created for the site.[13] The panelists also answered questions from attendees and viewers of the panel's live video stream.

Weasyl Forums opened on July 26[14][15] and served as an official source for project announcements, as well as a means for staff and future users to interact with one another. Although the site had originally been scheduled to open to the public during the summer of 2012, the launch was delayed as development continued though the summer and into autumn; the forums, in the meantime, became the central hub of Weasyl's community. On September 16, the staff announced that the site would launch on the last day of that month.[16]

Launch[edit]

On September 29, a landscaping crew severed the telephone line that provided Internet access to Kihari's home; because the problem could not be fixed until the following week, he would have to travel elsewhere to orchestrate Weasyl's launch. Despite the setback, the staff decided that they could still proceed with opening the site.

While final preparations were being made, members of Vivisector's IRC channel revealed that they had been able to access the website's private keys[17] and an internal email account password due to a server misconfiguration that exposed portions of the source code. The problem was corrected and the compromised secrets were changed without further incident.

Weasyl launched into closed beta on the afternoon of September 30,[18] and began sending invitation emails to fundraiser donors that same evening. As users began registering accounts and submitting content, many problems with the site became apparent; some users noted that web pages were responding very slowly,[19][20] while others experienced software bugs, unintuitive behavior, and error messages, as dozens of threads in the support section of Weasyl Forums documented. Although the speed issues were assuaged by increasing the server's compute resources,[21] the staff determined that the site was not acceptable in its current state, and the following day it was taken offline so that the problems could be addressed.[22][23]

One user claimed to have discovered a security vulnerability[24] in the site's password reset system and discussed the matter privately with Weasyl staff; however, it was concluded that the user had misunderstood how the system worked, and that the suspected vulnerability did not actually exist.

Public access to the site was restored on the evening of October 7 after a number of issues had been fixed.[25] Several members of AnthroChat's #hackerfurs IRC channel assisted with changes to the code and server configuration that greatly improved the speed and stability of the site. Over the weekend of October 13, the site was once again taken offline in order to migrate from AWS to a server hosted by AYK Solutions;[26] additional bugfixes were also made during the downtime.[27]

Open beta[edit]

By mid-November, some 5,000 users had created accounts on Weasyl, and as the community continued to grow, the need for additional technical staff became clear. Ikani joined the project around this time, serving as its system administrator. Several more volunteers came forward over the following weeks, including Catalepsy, Kauko, Struguri, Weykent, and Zygen. The new technical staff were able to take over the responsibility of coding and maintaining the site, and development on Weasyl continued at a steady pace.

On Valentine's Day, February 14, 2013, the site transitioned to open beta, enabling any user to create an account without an invitation.[28] Weasyl remained in open beta until January 29, 2016, when the staff removed the beta designation from the site's header logo,[29] suggesting that the site was sufficiently usable and stable by that time.

Ownership changes[edit]

On March 1, 2013, Ben announced that he would be stepping away from his role at Weasyl LLC[30] amid accusations that he had sockpuppeted on Fur Affinity's donation drive journal, suggesting that users should donate to charitable organizations instead.[31] In a blog post on June 6, Ben stated that the accusation was "just a rumour" and suggested that without "actual physical evidence of a claim like that, don't believe everything you read."[32] Ben officially submitted his resignation on December 27 and relinquished his ownership interest in Weasyl LLC shortly thereafter.

In a staff-only forum post on November 16, 2014, Kihari announced his "retirement as the manager of Weasyl LLC" and stated that he would be transferring control of the company to Ikani; the transfer of ownership interest was completed on November 22. Kihari remained on staff as a moderator and email support agent until his resignation on April 12, 2016.

Special features[edit]

Weasyl users can upload reference sheets of their original characters and fursonas by using character submissions; these are distinct from other submission types in that they specifically index biographical information and a physical description of the character.

Submissions can optionally be organized into user-defined folders; a special root folder is the default location.

If a user wishes to display artwork created by another person on their own profile page, a feature known as collections allows the user to post a link to the original submission in their own gallery. The purpose of this feature is to reduce duplicate submissions and give due credit to the artist, while still providing a means for other users (for example, those whose characters are depicted in the artwork) to direct their own followers to view the work.[33]

Artists who broadcast themselves composing artwork using a live video feed can send streaming notifications to their Weasyl followers, including a content description and link to the stream page; these notifications can be set to expire automatically after a specified amount of time. The user's streaming status is also visible on their profile page.

Users can designate one another as friends, a relationship distinct from followers that allows them to share friends-only submissions with their chosen acquaintances.

Mascot[edit]

Weasyl's mascot is Wesley, an ermine dressed in a beret and vest. His tail is sometimes depicted as being tipped in wet paint, as if he had used it as a paintbrush. Wesley's markings change with the seasons; during the summer his fur consists of brown and tan colors, whereas during the winter it is white. Fay V designed the mascot with input from the rest of Weasyl's staff, and also created the original drawing of him.[34] Since the character's inception, fan art of Wesley has been drawn by many different artists.

Server configuration[edit]

Weasyl is partitioned into several units, most of which seem to be virtual machines using VMware ESXi[35], providing what appear to be the following services:

Hostname Services Comments
bach Development / configuration testing Single-core CPU; configured with 1GB, then 2GB, then 8GB, then 1GB RAM in 2014
chopin PostgreSQL database Quad-core CPU; about 8GB RAM; about 160GB HDD
db2 Secondary / failover database Quad-core CPU; about 8GB RAM; entered service May 2014
edge1 / 2 Routing external connections, Nginx, Tor Single-core CPU; 1GB RAM; entered service May 2014
eisler Backups, bug-tracking, test site, pastebin, miscellaneous projects Upgraded single- to dual-core CPU, 1GB to 4GB RAM in February 2014
fuchs Munin status monitoring, former Apache server Octa-core CPU; 1GB RAM
gluster1 / 2 GlusterFS network-attached storage Single-core CPU; 2GB RAM; entered service May 2014
graphite Graphite status monitoring Single-core CPU; 1GB RAM; entered service May 2014
mcd1 / 2 Memcached cache Single-core CPU; entered service January or May 2014
web1 / 2 / 3 Web application servers Upgraded 1GB to 2GB RAM in October 2014; entered service May 2014; web3 appears held in reserve

Retired units include:

Hostname Services Comments
amadeus Development server Single-core CPU; 1GB RAM; served Fergal demo from 2011 to early 2012
davaux Front-end application / forums server Quad-core CPU; 3 Nginx worker processes; downgraded 16GB to 8GB RAM in December 2013; left service September or October 2014
piwik Piwik visitor analytics Single-core CPU; 1GB RAM; in service May 2014 to October 2014

The names effigy, eisler, and median are mentioned in the context of handling requests, as were carlotta (to early January 2014) and saturn (to mid-April 2014).

The site has been hosted by EGIHosting, a Hurricane Electric reseller, since mid-December 2013.[36]

In October 2014, Weasyl acquired a 32TB 12Gb/s SAS disk array with SSD cache and an additional dual 1Gb/s network card.[37][38][39] The announcement came as current submission storage reached 75% of capacity and coincided with a series of DDoS attacks on major furry art sites, resulting in a burst of Weasyl users that may have hastened the need for the upgrade.

Controversies[edit]

FenderBender[edit]

Shortly after Weasyl's launch, Dr. Dos created a software tool called FenderBender that assisted in copying one's Fur Affinity watch list to Weasyl; although not developed by Weasyl itself, the tool was promoted by the staff as a third-party project.[40] The tool's name was a reference to Fender, Fur Affinity's mascot, and also alluded to the damage caused by a minor automobile accident. In December 2013, Fur Affinity spent several days in read-only mode due to a database issue, resulting in increased traffic for other furry art sites.[41] Dragoneer, the owner of Fur Affinity at the time, rebuked Weasyl for the existence and name of the tool, accusing the staff of "trying to kick us while we're down with this insultingly named script."[42] Both Dr. Dos and Weasyl defended the software, stating that it had been released several months prior and that no offense had been intended.[43][44] Nonetheless, the project was soon renamed to SOFT, or Simple Ottermatic Follower Transfer.[45]

Staff chat log leak[edit]

On November 29, 2014, a private staff chat log concerning the moderation of a journal entry was compromised via a Weasyl moderator's account and made available to the public. The journal contained links to rape accusations and was in violation of the site's policy against callouts, but the author had refused to modify it as suggested by the staff in order to bring it in line with the rules; this provoked the discussion in question, during which a response was planned and some staff members frankly expressed their frustration over the matter.[46] By the time Weasyl staff publicly addressed the incident, they were "virtually certain" that the owner of the account through which the logs had been leaked "was acting of their own accord."[47] While the account's owner was not named, Wag had been removed from the staff page the previous week.[48][49] On December 16, Wag confirmed in a Twitter post that he had been removed as a result of the leak, but claimed that he was not responsible. He also claimed that Weasyl had found a security issue that might have allowed his account to be compromised, despite the staff's statement claiming otherwise.[50]

References[edit]

  1. About Weasyl Retrieved March 16, 2013
  2. Site Update: Marketplace Returns! - Hendikins, Weasyl (January 15, 2017)
  3. Thumbnail Deployment - Tiger, Weasyl (July 6, 2015)
  4. Weasyl goes open source - Skylerbunny, Weasyl (May 29, 2016)
  5. "We have just recently passed 600000 submissions! (Plus 36000 characters, 51000 journals, and 69000 registered users!)" - Weasyl, Twitter (May 10, 2014)
  6. 1,000,000 Submissions / Community and Ratings Guideline Changes - Fiz, Weasyl (June 26, 2015)
  7. Fergal Project: User Page 1 - Kihari, Fur Affinity (September 7, 2011)
  8. "We also remade the first working version in Oct 2011, then got a team together near the end of the year and collaborated and rebranded it as Weasyl" - Taw, Mastodon (December 1, 2018)
  9. Fergal Project: Pre-Beta 1 Demo ONLINE - Kihari, Fur Affinity (October 28, 2011)
  10. Oh, By the Way - Ben and Kihari, Weasyl Tumblr (March 4, 2012)
  11. Profile: Upcoming art site Weasyl seeks $5000 by July 31 - GreenReaper, Flayrah (July 28, 2012)
  12. Weasyl: A Community For Artists of All Sorts - Weasyl, IndieGoGo (August 1, 2012) Archived
  13. 2012 Weasyl Anthrocon Panel - Weasyl, YouTube (June 20, 2012)
  14. "A first look at our forums, available on the 26th!" - Weasyl, Twitter (July 19, 2012)
  15. "Announcing The Opening of Our Forums!" - Weasyl, Twitter (July 26, 2012)
  16. "The Official Launch Date of Weasyl!" - Weasyl, Twitter (September 16, 2012)
  17. "[16:08:58] <_habnabit> cool i snarfed all of their private keys (API and otherwise) [16:09:50] <Conan|2> and we're off" - Vivisector Crew, Twitter (September 30, 2012)
  18. "Oh hey, Weasyl is finally here! Come check it out!" - Weasyl, Twitter (September 30, 2012)
  19. Comment to Upcoming Beta Invitations - Taasla, Weasyl Forums (September 30, 2012) Archived
  20. "The site's experiencing slowdowns due to the invites being sent out. We're currently looking into increasing our resources to fix the issue." - Weasyl, Twitter (September 30, 2012)
  21. "We're briefly taking the site offline to make changes that will resolve speed issues. Should take no more than 30 minutes." - Weasyl, Twitter (Septamber 30, 2012)
  22. "In order to deal with some of the bugs that were found, we'll be taking the site offline for a while to deal with some of them." - Weasyl, Twitter (October 1, 2012)
  23. Site Maintenance - Kihari, Weasyl Forums (October 1, 2012) Archived
  24. Weasyl goes up, then down again over "obvious issues" - GreenReaper, Flayrah (October 2, 2012)
  25. "Weasyl is Back Online! - After a week of hard work, the site is finally back online!" - Weasyl, Twitter (October 7, 2012)
  26. Weekend Downtime Reminder - Fay V, Weasyl Forums (October 12, 2012) Archived
  27. Weasyl is Back Online! - Judicant, Weasyl Forums (October 14, 2012) Archived
  28. Happy Valentine's Day from Weasyl! Open Beta Announced! - Weasyl, Twitter (February 14, 2013)
  29. We're Out of Beta, New SFW Mode, and More! - Tiger, Weasyl (January 29, 2016)
  30. Stepping Down From Weasyl - Ben, WaitWaitFixate (March 1, 2013)
  31. "Is it true what I heard about Weasyl staff catching one of the founders sockpuppeting?" - Anpumon, Twitter (March 1, 2013)
  32. "Q: is it true that you sockpuppeted on Furaffinity back in march telling people to donate to Weasyl instead of FA?" - Anonymous, WaitWaitFixate (June 6, 2013) Archived
  33. What Are Collections? Retrieved August 30, 2020
  34. Wesley design draft - Fay V, Fur Affinity (February 1, 2012)
  35. Post-Mortem on Site Outage - Term, Weasyl Forums (April 18, 2014) Archived
  36. Weasyl Server Migration - Fiz, Weasyl forums (December 17, 2013)
  37. "Shiny new server to install this weekend, 32TB Array and SSD cache. More room for all your art!" - Keet, Twitter (October 17, 2014)
  38. Site Updates / DDoS Information - Fiz, Weasyl Forums (October 21, 2014) Archived
  39. New Storage Box - Keet, Weasyl (November 2, 2014)
  40. "Don't forget the fender bender tool to make an attempt of converting your FA watchlist to Weasyl" - Dr. Dos, Twitter (December 12, 2013)
  41. Fans fret as Fur Affinity nears fifth day of read-only mode - GreenReaper, Flayrah (December 14, 2013)
  42. "Really appreciate you trying to kick us while we're down with this insultingly named script. Classy." - Dragoneer, Twitter (December 12, 2013)
  43. "I made it probably like a week after Weasyl's launch. At a time when both sites were up and running!" - Dr. Dos, Twitter (December 12, 2013)
  44. "no offense intended! it was contributed by a weasyl user, and has been around for many months now." - Weasyl, Twitter (December 12, 2013)
  45. Rename the project (again). - Weykent, GitHub (December 13, 2013)
  46. A Few Words on Our Callout Guidelines - Term, Weasyl Forums (November 30, 2014) Archived
  47. Comment to A Few Words on Our Callout Guidelines - Fay V, Weasyl Forums (November 30, 2014) Archived
  48. Comment to Leaked weasyl staff chatlog re rape allegation accusation journal - Kayla-la, Vivisector Forums (November 30, 2014)
  49. Edits to WikiFur article Weasyl - GreenReaper (October 28 to November 30, 2014)
  50. "If you use Weasyl and think the site is secure or the admins are transparent, you NEED to read this" - Wag, Twitter (December 16, 2014)

External links[edit]


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