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Furry, not an obscure little fandom any more

Edited by GreenReaper as of Fri 8 Apr 2011 - 01:58
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Furries have long thought of our fandom as a little niche thing, the fandom that only a tiny number of people are into. The weird fandom, the one that gets picked on and sidelined. We're small, weak, and need to hide…

Well, I've got news for you. We're not. We're amongst the biggest fandoms in the world.

Furry conventions 1989-2008
Furry convention attendance has risen exponentially for two decades. The average charitable donation is ~US$5/person. (Source: WikiFur)

Worldcon, the World Science Fiction convention, considered the focus point of science fiction conventions peaked at 8,365 attendees in 1984. But it started off as a convention that only attracted people in the hundreds. It wasn't till its 34th con in 1976 that it passed 4000 attendees. Currently attendance is between 4000 and 6000, depending on location and the state of the economy.

Anthrocon passed 4000 attendees last year, its 14th convention. A growth rate almost twice that of Worldcon! With Further Confusion and Midwest FurFest following that growth, constantly increasing their membership despite a slow economy.

With these kinds of numbers come huge incentives for their host cities to support the conventions. Even if each one of the 1000 attendees at one of the fandom's 'smaller' cons were to put only $50 into the local economy, that's an economic boost of $50,000. And the reality is that people spend a lot more than $50 over a convention weekend, and the bulk of it isn't spent in the con's dealers' den. Every taxi ride, pizza delivery and hotel room boosts the local economy. So if you wonder why the local businesses love your favourite furry con as much as you do, that's why.

But one thing that could hurt us is continuing to act like we're this weak tiny fandom that can be knocked over by a gust of wind; from the news media, from internet trolls, or from disapproving parent teacher associations. There isn't a chance in hell now that the Anthrocon is going to be shuttered because of some press hack putting out a made-up sex story; no one wants to see the yearly $6 million estimated economic benefit to Pittsburgh disappear. We can, and should, start shrugging off those stories and let the reality of Furry fandom speak for it's self.

Furry is Big Business, but it also needs to be a Responsible Business. We should act a little more responsibly about certain things. Family Friendly cons are great, badge checks for areas and panels on adult material are here to stay. But we shouldn't shun things like Safe Sex promotion. There's very compelling reasons to bring in the people who give out free condoms and leaflets to large fandom conventions. Those compelling reasons are why other big fandom conventions do it as well. No one will bat an eyelid if a convention that also has an adult section of it's art show, has a table given over to a safe sex promotion charity in it's dealers' den. If you can have a writers panel about erotica, which isn't a big issue since Worldcon has had them too, then you can have one on safe sex.

The fandom can also do with a wider range of conventions. Your convention doesn't have to cater to the entire spectrum of Furry Fandom. Furry could do with a few "Relax-a-Cons" focused more on allowing writers, artists and other professionals in the fandom networking time rather than lots of events. Let's grow the number of 'seed corn cons' that are the meets, bowling and camping events. Or even focus on specific speciality conventions within Furry Fandom. There's probably enough space for a Furry Fandom convention focused on webcomic artists. Or one for Furry game designers.

And perhaps it's time for the Fandom to consider creating it's own World Furry Fandom Convention. Make each continent's fandom less distant from each other by inviting existing and new conventions around the world to bid to be the next year's host…

Chart provided by Flayrah.

So let's stop thinking we're small, and let's think big!


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"With these kinds of numbers come huge incentives for their host cities to support the conventions."

I remember when Pittsburg denied the G20 Summit because of it's conflict with Anthrocon. I think it was a good decision, because while we think people may hate the furry, they hate the politicians more and probably would have had to clean up all the anti- New World Order riots.

But also in this essence, if being who we are now is what is making us successful why do we need to change it? If it's not broke, why would you want to fix it? I don't think we are small, so I don't think we need a massive change in direction to keep things from falling apart, we just need to keep doing as we have. Being aware of what people are saying, good and bad, and understanding how to handle it. Most that don't handle it correctly are usually those who are not front and center in the fandom.

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Ask any small company that's started to turn into a big company. Growth can be painful, and it's quite possible for growth to cause problems of it's own that can't be addressed be just continuing on as you are.

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It's true. Growth is not always something to be sought out. For a convention, it is especially painful: You have to train more staff. You have to manage greater sums of money. You have to move every few years.

Of course, past performance does not guarantee future results. If these trends continue, everyone on the planet will be furry by 2168. Somehow I don't quite see that happening.

If there's one issue that will limit furry conventions, it's management. Almost anyone can hold a furmeet, but furs capable of running a four-day, 5000-person event are in short supply. Approaches that work for a group of 15 staff may not work for 50, or 150.

Fortunately the formation of smaller cons provides an ever-increasing pool of talent. Still, you can't just assign ten people who run 500-person events and expect it to work. Worse, as years turn into decades, experienced staff may start to lose interest (or burn out).

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The idea of promoting more 'seed corn' cons was indeed prompted by a Con runner's suggestion of needing them both to foster local fandoms, but also to get people interested in running events so we don't run out of vital con-staff volunteers. They, and SMOF 'relax-a-cons' keep the con-runner network of volunteers refreshed and networks them with each other.

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Regarding the latter, you've heard about the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable, right? (We had an article a while back - apparently it's still going; might even be later this month.)

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Yes, FCLR will be happening again at the end of April in the Chicago area. As with last year, invitations were sent to all furry conventions in the US and Canada with attendances greater than 100 people. At this time I don't know exactly which conventions are sending representatives, though.

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And to more directly reply to the topic at hand: There hasn't been much consideration given to welcoming those wanting to start conventions to FCLR, mainly because we haven't really heard much outcry for such. I will certainly mention that when plans for next year's organizers and location of FCLR come up for discussion, though.

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"If these trends continue, everyone on the planet will be furry by 2168."

According to 2, we could do it this year!

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While that may be true on an individual front, for example a website or a convention itself, as they grow they'll need to change some heuristics. A fandom as a whole will grow only if a person feels being part of the culture has more positive afflictions then negative. There are alot of good people in this fandom, and I think that whether our cons grew further or not that we will continue to attract people.

Now whether our infrastructure will be able to support those coming in or not is another question. Anthrocon sold out hotels rather quick this year and I don't see it going down any time soon. But as far as personality goes, I don't think we have to change who we are in order to attract more, because it is who we are that has attracted more.

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I suspect there is an individual limit to the attendance of a fandom convention. (As opposed to a Trade convention such as E3, or as ComicCon has turned into) And that it's probably the varying amount between 4500-6000 that WorldCon moves between. This is why we do need to change to allow for lateral growth of smaller and specialist events, and promoting the international links and growth of the fandom. Or perhaps one day AnthroCon will become a ComicCon style super-large trade convention...

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I remember when Pittsburg denied the G20 Summit because of it's conflict with Anthrocon.

Whoah. Wait. That's awesome. Links plz, kthx bye.

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Well this is awesome, apparently, two years is enough for me to confuse all my stories up and think of satire as actual news... fuck. Ignore the idiot who made that statement, for it is only true in the funny pages.

Or maybe I overlooked the word satire two years ago? That could also be possible, but it still makes me palm my face.

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I thought you were just joking based on that. Apparently not!

I have to think that we were in many ways better for the city than the G-20. Less stressful, for sure.

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Unfortunately that attendance list most likely doesn't take into account those who attend multiple conventions a year...

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As labelled, it's the sum of all attendances; however, attendance at the largest conventions is also rising.

People may well attend more conventions as they get closer (whether 0 -> 1 or 2 -> 4), but it's not the only factor.

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I'm not overly concerned about growth of the fandom; I'm concerned about growth of the product.

What I'm saying is that Star Trek fans were able to make a canceled show a cultural touchstone. More broadly, science fiction fans, comic book fans, and anime fans have each gotten their product out to people outside of the fandom; meanwhile in the approximately 30 years furry fandom has been around, and anthropomorphic animals are still "kid's stuff," while the overall amount of content produced commercially has stayed roughly the same, or even decreased.

That's what I'm concerned with. I'm not in the fandom for the other fans. I'm in it because I want to see high quality anthropomorphic animal content. And the fandom does provide this need; there are a lot of talented people out there, but that talent is going only inwards. Nothing is escaping; we may be growing, but we are not affecting the world outside the fandom in a way that creates more content.

This article seems to be patting the fandom on the back for merely existing; I'll give the fandom props when it starts doing.

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Pretty much this. And if we can move beyond porn and webcomics, that would be neat as well :B

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Your comments ring true on so many levels, especially your first major paragraph.

When it comes to anthropomorphic media, people commonly associate that kind of media with kids entertainment. We have movies like Rio, Rango, Alpha & Omega, Hop (etc.) that are all marketed for general audiences and kids. When it comes to science fiction, comic books, and Anime, all that media comes in a variety of forms for a variety of audiences. And yes, we produce that variety, but that's for our personal, hedonistic pleasure. We don't collectively market ourselves to the rest of the world -- and I believe that once we do that, the fandom will have so much more to offer.

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We're trying. There are panels on getting published, and the 'business' side of art and writing. And this would be helped by having 'relax-a-cons' for writers and artists and games designers and so on, so they can network and focus on production and publishing.

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Star Trek was an actual show and something that could be made a cultural item that everyone knew. Furry is not the same sort of thing as Star Trek because furry is more a genre. Furry is like science fiction or horror and actually even less than those because the only thing that links different parts of furry is the inclusion of anthropomorphic characters. A furry horror movie and a furry comedy won't necessarily have the same fans the same way as horror or comedy with humans aren't liked by everyone.

The problem with the spread of furry content is that it's not what everyone necessarily wants. If they watch a furry movie or whatever they don't watch it because it is furry while we collect furry artwork because it is furry. Star Trek fans didn't export content outside the fandom either, they only popularised what was already there. If furs make and sell good artwork then people might buy it but they will buy it because it is good not because it is furry.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Actually, wouldn't Star Trek being just a TV show and furry being an entire genre make it easier for furry to gain mass market penetration?

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Actually, furry has had mass market penetration. See The Lion King and Sonic the Hedgehog for the biggest examples. Most furries start off as fans of specific shows, just as Star Trek garners its fans, and they later become fans of anthropomorphic animals in general.

That's also why furry is such a diverse/fractured fandom. It's a bunch of littler fandoms under one name, nothing unifying them except animal people.

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Yeah, great examples.

A kids' movie nearly two decades old and a video game series about as old that is most known nowadays for being terrible.

I'm sorry if that came out overly cynical, but I'm sick and tired of being told "there's lots of mainstream furry stuff" then being given examples nearly as old as I am that influenced the fandom, but weren't influenced by the fandom.

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I'm starting to think there are two overlapping, but subtly different senses of furry/anthropomorphic works: furry as a genre, and furry as a medium. The latter is a case of someone using animals because it fits with a given story stylistically. But in principle you could strip it out, much in the same way many cartoons could be made into live-action versions, although often with a lot of effort and awkwardness. I think a lot of common favorites of the fandom fit into this category. As opposed to the genre, where the presence of intelligent animals are more integral to the story and less about being a part of the setting or style.

I guess the distinction is kind of subtle (may not even be the most appropriate words to name each), and might have more to do with the intentions of the creator than the outcome. While media and styling having fans too, I don't see that as much as a factor in a decision to go that way (although kids vs. adults might still be a big factor for cartoons and stuff with animals). In that sense, a lot of such movies wouldn't be directly influenced by furries, regardless of how large the fandom gets. If anything, such works are probably more influenced by some concept of universal appeal than appeal to a specific group.

I might be a parallel to how some divisions people see in science fiction works. There are works where futurist technology and culture is only used as a setting on an otherwise universal story, and then there are works directly involve the impact of some aspect of the future on the human condition, etc.

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I think it gets too chaotic to make subtle distinctions between furry as a genre and furry as a medium. I think it's best to think of the fandom by what influenced the fandom, and what's influenced by the fandom (see crossaffliction's post).

Here's how I see it:

The fandom was inspired by media that focused on a story that's told, in part, by anthropomorphic characters (e.g. Animal Farm, Watership Down, and Disney's Robin Hood). In turn, the fandom takes that inspiration and produces media that wraps around the characters because they're anthropomorphic, and that's the primary focus -- but that kind of media is not "mainstream" because it's marketed to a limited, adult demographic. How often to you see a company like Rabbit Valley Comics featured at Barnes & Noble store or on You don't, especially with comics that have descriptions like, "This comic has it all, including lots of gay sex!"

As a co-admin of a web site that formerly placed a strong emphasis on stories, I have seen plenty of material that appeals to general audiences, but sadly, the "mainstream"-worthy material is often buried in adult content that deters those outside the fandom from searching for that "mainstream" work. Essentially, it boils down to marketing and how much marketing can be done without undermining our "adult" audience at the same time.

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Well the other problem is furry is so vague. It's big so there is plenty of stuff that can be considered furry but like I said people don't go for it because it is about animal characters. If you want better examples of perhaps mainstream furry content you could go for something like Brian Jacques' Redwall series or Crash Bandicoot (a lot of platform games have anthros I think). They can be extremely popular but that leads to an interest in the game or book or whatever itself, not in the concept of anthropomorphic characters.

I'm just not sure how you can market something like furry in a way where the furryness is the actual feature that attracts people.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Unless its to furries of course, but I can see your point. If Mickey Mouse wasn't a mouse and the content was the same would it be the same in fame?

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I'm just not sure how you can market something like furry in a way where the furryness is the actual feature that attracts people.

Well, this is where you have to get clever.

See, this is where the fandom's idea of what "normals" want (to use a distasteful word there isn't really an alternative for and for which I profusely apologize). They want what they haven't seen before (or at least what they think they haven't seen). Presenting furry as "fun for the entire family" (whatever that means) is the wrong way to go; after all, we've seen family friendly cartoon animals. This has been the primary popular paradigm in which cartoon animals have worked for most of the back half of the 20th century. Presenting furry as "beyond the pale" (whatever that means) will attract "normals" who are attracted to it because it is furry, i.e. a new experience.

In this way, any "negative" commentary on the fandom becomes a positive; we want people talking, period. What they are saying doesn't necessarily matter, as long as they are talking. Of course, this is where the needs of the fandom and the needs of the genre part company; negative talk can hurt individuals, but not the product. There has been a lot of negative press about furry fans; there has been some bad press about content; but not even the most ardent anti-furry troll has spent a lot of time attacking the basic premise of the furry genre.

Of course, after the first "event" (which could take the form of a movie, television show or perhaps even something different, like a hit producing furry "virtual" band), things would get complicated. Now, selling a movie as an event actually takes away the necessity that the movie be "good," at least on opening weekend; it would be more important for a TV show or other long-lasting "event." That being said, a quality "event" definitely helps if we want a "sequel" (which can be literal or metaphorical), which we darn well want. Of course, after the first event, quality becomes tantamount; the first "success" opens the door for the genre, then comes the proving it was worth making a fuss over in the first place.

This is why I'm working on my own project; a furry slasher screenplay. I think this has some merit in that horror is a remarkably profitable genre that thrives on "events" that haven't been "seen before." I'm still looking for feedback from basically anybody.

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The thing is though without fans who are inspired by the content there is no talent pool to generate content from, think of them as the minerals in a starcraft game. Without people interested in the subject matter there is no development in the subject matter. Sure there is plenty of garbage content, but without ability to create garbage the ability to create gold would be non existent.

The reason some art is more highly esteemed then others is because not everyone can develop highly esteemed art, and the line between the crap and the good stuff is in fact an artist who is crap but tries their damnedest to improve. Hopefully there will be enough of those individuals in the fandom, but without any growth at all in the fandom, the odds of these personalities being in the fandom also decreases.

Yes, a majority of the people in the fandom will be those as myself, simply those who consume content more then create and of those that is created would not be of high polish, but without the majority, there is no reason for the minority to strive above them.

And think of this, if one day our cons generate even more millions of dollars and people note that adults are the ones are attending, I don't think studios are going to turn a blind eye to that growing market unless they were indeed insane. So while "more fans" doesn't really give you what you want directly, they will in turn shine light to those that can give you what you want so that they will give you what you want.

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Well, I see some positive changes happening in the film critic camp...
Fantastic Mr Fox- 93%
How to Train Your Dragon- 98% (True, the dragons didn't TALK... but...)
Rango- 89%
Kung Fu Panda- 88%
Ice Age- 77%
Rio- 72%

Also, check out the fandom for My Little Pony-Friendship Is Magic. Not only a new subset of the fandom, but an analog to the rise of Furry fandom, only faster. (well, it IS the Age of the Internet)

American Pine Marten

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I wouldn't call fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic a subset of furry fandom. To be sure, there is some overlap, but for the most part, MLP:FIM fandom seems to have developed on its own, independent of furry fandom.

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That's the thing: furries USED to go beyond their own fandom. Then that all seems to have abated considerably.

Look at the alumni of Rowrbrazzle: Chris Sanders (who went on to create Lilo and Stitch), Stan Sakai (who is still drawing Usagi Yojimbo to this day); Paul Kidd (who designed/published the first fandom-furry computer game when the games company he worked for optioned Usagi Yojimbo); Mike Kazaleh, Marc Schirmeister, Jimmy Chin and many other people who went into animation...

These days if i want quality mature (as opposed to kid-oriented) anthro stories which aren't porn, i'm not really expecting great things from furry fandom. Artists in furry fandom are coming through with the odd gem like "Cheap Thrills" (well worth looking up if you don't know it) and the art for "Nordgard" looks superb, but those are an exception rather than a rule.

Not that i'm pining for the old days, mind you...

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But also in this essence, if being who we are now is what is making us successful why do we need to change it?

What are we right now?

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What are we right now?

A gathering of artists, animators, writers, costumers, puppeteers, and everyday fans who enjoy cartoon animals.
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The only thing that bothers me about that definition is it's about anthropomorphic animals, not just cartoon animals. I've been a huge fan of anthropomorphic animals since I was young, but while I've enjoyed some cartoons, I wouldn't describe myself as a cartoon fan, generally speaking.

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I stand corrected. (It is about anthropomorphic animals, but as I mentioned elsewhere, most people don't know what the word means much less how to spell it.) We're not limited to cartoon animals, but that's probably the closest frame of reference Joe Bag-O-Donuts has to what we're about. -:)

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"Fantasy Animals" might be more easily understood.

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Speaking from experience, "fantasy animals" is easily misunderstood, and not in a good way.

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What isn't?

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Inspiring stuff. Too bad every furry convention was canceled three days ago :P

Seriously, though, great article, Lamar.

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You have to be really careful extrapolating from convention sizes, especially if comparing to other genres, to get an idea of how large the fandom is.

There actually seems to be a lot of writing around trying to understand what is happening to Worldcon's attendance, and if it should try to grow to compete more with (or even be compared with) multigenre cons like DragonCon or ComicCon. Commercially run conventions do seem to be able to grow quite a bit more. Also, it seems the attendance of Worldcon has been described as highly dependant on people within a day's driving distance, and less on people flying or travelling cross-country.

Anecdotally at least, I think this sounds about right and contrasts how furries deal with conventions. A lot of the furs I know will travel quite far to go to furry conventions, and go to multiple conventions (so there is a lot of overlap in attendances between cons). Even more would go if they had the money and time to do so. On the other hand, very few of the science fiction fans I know (even really hard-core ones) have much interest in a sci-fi con, and the ones that do go only go to rather local ones instead of travelling far. And I don't think I know of any that go to multiple sci-fi cons in the same year, or really even expressed the interest to do so if they had the money. Probably the large number of such conventions has helped decentralize interests, such that fans neither need nor want to go to more distant cons, and those that do travel end up more likely going to the giant multi-genre cons instead.

Even the speed of growth thing is hard to compare, especially across different time periods. I've heard of first time conventions for topics like steampunk or Twilight getting 3000-4000 right away. The nature of fandom growth across the board may have fundamentally changed with the internet.

I am not trying to say anything here is necessarily wrong. This is just more of a warning about using convention sizes to estimate fandom sizes and growth. Although convention sizes might be one of the better, more concrete numbers, and better than nothing.

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I remember years ago, someone once lamented that the fandom wasn't really growing and that the increased convention attendance just meant the same fans were going to more conventions, and the fandom couldn't possibly be growing because the fandom was a cesspit and we were doomed doomed doomed...

...but that was years before the standing-room-only "So This Is Your First Con?" panels at conventions, and one may note total convention attendance has tripled since then. I think that speaks for itself.

While there's still no definite statistics on the fandom's size, all the available data we've had the past decade has consistently pointed to a growing and thriving fandom.

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Although there is a lot of difficulty estimating the absolute fandom size from convention sizes with any certainty, I guess the above warning was more about the relative comparison between furry conventions and other fandom conventions. That pulls in even more uncertainties and variation, especially when comparing to fandom growth from different time periods, either decades in the past, or ones starting to grow a lot now a decade or two after the start of the furry fandom.

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I definitely agree that it's new people, not just increased con attendance in the fandom. I've been going to furry cons since 2003, and I've been seeing a LOT of new faces in recent years. People should also keep in mind that the fandom is likely bigger than con attendance. I've known many furries that don't attend conventions for one reason or another.

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Here's my suggestion:

Someone must write an article about at least ONE self-proclaimed "furry", who is NOT a fursuiter.

THAT will be a step forward.

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Kage? I don't think he is a suiter, I have yet to see him in a cockroach suit and he seems to be in the press light quite a bit. As far as articles go about one specific furry in the press? Don't know.

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There've been a few articles focusing on one or two non-fursuiters. We covered one just recently. Some are actually good.

I don't think Kage would be a good candidate given that criteria.

The media want to cover fursuiters because they are iconic – but to be fair, they're also a significant part of the fandom. What you want is to cover more furs, not less, because if you just get one, it's quite likely to be a fursuiter.

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Interestingly, most furries are not fursuiters. The only reason fursuiters are seen as "iconic" is because they are the ones that are the most forthcoming publicly. There's also a visualization aspect with fursuiters. It'll take some journalistic effort to cover the other side of the coin properly. I haven't seen any thorough piece on non-fursuiters yet. Still waiting.

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That, and they're designed to gain attention; think of a guy in a mascot suit at a ballgame. The suit is designed so people in the nosebleeds can see him.

You aren't supposed to walk into a room with a guy in a fursuit and not notice him.

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I totally agree with this article. This fandom is growing fast around the world, faster than what anyone thinks. From what I've seen at their cons and experienced online, the Sci-Fi and Anime fandoms completely worship what comes out of Hollywood, NYC, the UK or Tokyo. And any fan in those fandoms who tries to create something homemade that deviates even a fraction from what the author or studios created (like a furry fanfic version of Harry Potter) will usually get "dissed" by the hardcore fans for being blasphemous.

Furry is different. While we love the movies, books, TV shows and characters that Tokyo, Disney, Warner Brothers, Dreamworks, Don Bluth, Hanna-Barbera and others have created, we don't directly copy them. We use it as a inspiration and guide to create our own personal character - what we furs all know as "fursonas".

Furry is a "Do It Yourself" fandom and I think that's what makes us unique among all fandoms, instead of copying and following the trail of franchise "product" that other fandoms do. While I think thats great and the main reason why Furry is growing so fast, it also scares me for it's future.

The mainstream media (movie-TV-animation companies, book publishers) are always looking for ideas from the underground to stay fresh. And they could easily take the art our fandom is creating and use our ideas and inspiration to create their own Movies, TV shows, Books, Comics using adult "anthro" characters in mature or violent stories or situations.

And if these "products" become a huge hit, this fandom could explode in growth. Just like what happened to Sci-Fi after Star Trek or Star Wars, Anime after Pokemon, or Alternative-Punk Rock after Nirvana and Peal Jam went platinum. Big media companies took something that was considered "underground" and with heavy million dollar promotion pushed it right into the mainstream and made it "cool" to millions. I think Furry could be the next thing on the diving board.

Right now we furs better enjoy our fandom while its small(er) and still a niche because it could change drastically in a few years. The big companies could easily raid our fandom for talent and start setting up booths in dealers dens or even sponsoring cons, turning what stared out as fan-ran parties into trade shows. Then again, considering our reputation and the American stigma that anthropomorphics are "kids stuff" this may never happen.

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I don't think I've seen the distinction you mention toward the beginning of your post. Both science fiction and furries have quite a few people writing fan fiction, and they seem to get the same large categories of reaction: disliked for being too derivative, disliked for being too non-canon, or potentially liked by those generally agreeable with the idea of fan fiction. Both also have quite a few people writing original works too, although with such a large collection of works falling under science fiction writing, amateur authors can be harder to see in the shadows of professional ones or canget promoted to the professional level if good enough. Whereas there are much fewer furry professional authors, so there is not appear much of a diction or divide between fan and pro (even though it is a continuum these days, in both genres, with self-publishing and the internet).

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Basically, your fears and my dreams are the same thing.

The main difference between you and me is in your advice to enjoy "fan-ran parties" while we still can; don't particularly enjoy them now.

I had a really disappointing first con, and it took me forever to figure out why. After all, I found a group of people who wanted to be my friends, no questions asked. Finally I figured it out; I didn't go to that con to make friends. I went to see new, fresh furry content, the amount of which was very, very disappointing.

That was nearly six years ago. Since then, I have not contributed at all to Lamar's stats. No desire to ever attend another.

I've never been to a trade show, but I'm willing to try one if they'll deliver the content.

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Well, unfortunately I think that even if the big wig corporations would not gurrentee a good product, I mean those recent Sonic games you mentioned weren't made by some fan boy, they were made by Sonic Team. The reason they sucked? Sonic Team stopped caring about Sonic, they wanted to do something NEW, but were forced to work on something they didn't care about.

Which means that if a fan knew how to code they'd probably make a better game, unfortunately most sonic fan games, while some designed well are very clunkyly programmed. But then again, so were the cannon games. Corporatism doesn't make a product better, just more mass produced. I'm more of a quality over quantity person.

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You know what, screw it. You want something done, gotta do it yourself.

One last favor; you see me on here until May, you call my furry butt on it.

See you guys in May; I'm off to go do something stupid.

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It really depends on the medium you are looking at whether company production will have an advantage or not. Something like a written work or still images that have both on equal footing as far as getting it actually made, and then it will come down to the merits of the ideas and the skill and passion put into the work. With animations and video games though, while the passion and good ideas are good for the big picture, there are a lot more details that amount to more grunt work to fill in. Whether it is random models or frames, it is much easier to pay someone to create assets that are needed, but are less central and slightly more about quantity than quality, i.e. more passion won't make much different to the overall work here, but the asset's absence would make a difference.

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...we don't directly copy them.

More or less, the furry fandom is derived from the works you mentioned. And yes, we really are a "do-it-yourself" fandom. That aspect is good and bad at the same time. It's good in that we, collectively, are very talented and creative with our appreciation of anthropomorphism. On the other hand, that creativity and talent often pushes the envelope, and it takes us to darker places that make us "obscure," though the fandom is obviously growing.

We're in an interesting situation. In my opinion, because the fandom has an overly adult nature, the mainstream media will not embrace what comes out of the fandom until we start focusing on appealing to general audiences. I wouldn't be too concerned, at this moment, about the "mainstream media" taking our ideas. If they start doing that, then they will also incur the negative stigma that this fandom constantly struggles to overcome. It's easier for the media to simply cover us with a fly-on-the-wall perspective than to incorporate what we do into something they can mass produce. Let's face it. We are a risky investment. Until we get mainstream appeal, the mainstream won't bother marketing our likeness for profit.

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Honestly, folks tangentially involved with the fandom who want to make mainstream stuff go into the companies that make the mainstream stuff. They're already appealing to general audiences. The fandom is solidly a hobbyist, DIY affair. That pleases many, obviously. To others, it's boring; wasted effort.

The end result of any fandom is fans, by definition. Those who have a strong desire to produce mainstream content will elevate themselves right out of the fandom by default, or never enter to begin with.

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Now if we can just off the bad furs like IK and Crusader, we'll be all set.

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I want to interject that, because of the dependence upon the Internet as a courier of fandom awareness, I am worried that there hasn't been much movement toward internationalization and localization of major furry websites (besides the WikiFur project).

Fur Affinity is often cited as the largest furry community art archive on the Web, and it has significant populations of furries from Japan, Taiwan, PRC, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, much of Latin America and Europe, but it has not taken any steps toward the translation of the interface to the languages of those countries. Neither has SoFurry. Neither have other websites of this kind.

I would think that the administrators of the fandom's most populous communities would be aware of the trans-linguistic, trans-cultural, trans-national appeal of the furry subculture, and would seek to better tailor their interfaces to allow these audiences better access.

I think that internationalization and localization will be one of the primary signs of the fandom's maturity and growth to the proportions mentioned by Lamar.

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I admit that SoFurry is not on the cutting edge as far as localizing our site based on language/geography, but that doesn't mean that we are not aware of the "trans-linguistic, trans-cultural, trans-national appeal of the furry subculture." For instance, the head webmaster of SoFurry, Toumal, speaks German as his first language. Naturally, our site offers submission opportunities from those who speak German. We also have content reviewers that speak and read other languages such as Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

We are making steps toward the right direction as far as localization goes.

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Thanks for your reply. That cleared up quite a bit of my own confusion regarding SoFurry's efforts at localization.

I am further interested, however, in whether or not the site plans to allow for one to choose a default language in which the text of the interface (submissions, top menubar, settings, other default server-generated sections) can be rendered in a user's preferred language.

Not to say that the current status quo isn't a start, but I'm thinking that the above would be part of that direction that you mentioned.

Again, thanks for the reply.

/Didn't know that Toumal is German.

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I think you've made an excellent and acute observation there Raynevandunem.

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While I appreciate the difficulty with working with websites in other languages online, I feel an internationalization of the interface of some place like FurAffinity would be more of a token acknowledgement than a major impacting change. The most frequently used actions on a site like FA would involve learning a dozen or two words, or even just the position of buttons and links. The only official part I could think of with much more substantial text would be policies and announcements.

The biggest problems I've had with using websites in other languages is not figuring out the few links of the interface, but the fact that most of the user created content would be in a particular language. And I wouldn't expect that to be translated unless the particular user was motivated and knew another language. I think a far more beneficial feature would be having a service to help find content and users in specific languages.

At the least, it would seem easier to add language categories and tags to content than it is to reimplementation the interface to handle multiple languages. The latter is kind of a real pain, especially with home-grown website codes where the creators didn't think about it from the start.

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It's a worthy goal, but I don't see significant short-term benefit from internationalizing such sites. Relatively few furs lack all knowledge of English; most can learn enough to get by, or else already have sites dedicated to content in their language.

WikiFur is affected, too. Potential users can find themselves served by the English edition; most editions have fallen dormant. Only one has developed much community: the Russian edition. ??????? benefits from active leadership, a strong literary tradition, and – perhaps most importantly – users seemingly unable or unwilling to use English.

(Of course, static information can still be useful, but the founders of these editions typically spent significant time on their development, and it'd nice to have more active communities maintaining them. Perhaps some day.)

Doubtless, non-English-speaking regions will grow in future years, and it is good to be prepared, but it is hard to prioritize above other needs.

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That's the thing though, it's not something there for short-term benefit, but for the long-term.

Anyway you mention there are pressing prioritises furry sites have, which I'd like to know out of interest please. :)

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There are many easy features that help few users (friends-only work, BBCode colour tags), and harder features that benefit many users (sales and commission system, search, caching). The exact list depends on the site.

Internationalization is a harder feature which benefits relatively few users, so it languishes at the end of the wishlist.

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I agree.

The furry community is run by predominantly English sites, and I think "internationalization" should be reserved mostly for features that host active communication (i.e. chat rooms, message boards, and customer support). If you provide language support for those features, that will make non-English speakers more willing and able to participate in a community and socialize without feeling isolated.

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Furry is starting to go more mainstream. Sure, we aren't seeing much in the way of mainstream books and movies yet that aren't marketed to kids, but Goldenwolf got some of her anthro artwork on a Wal-mart T-shirt.

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That's an awesome shirt. Pity I never find anything like that.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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