Dirus

Before You Post That NSFW Content

The topic of the IRC channel I call home contains “mostly worksafe general chat” right in the text, along with a link to the channel’s website. On our website, a Code of Conduct page elaborates:

We are a PG-13, generally SFW channel. Chat should be appropriate for all audiences.

Some users were still confused, so the following was added later:

Be considerate of others and use good judgement when posting links. Some adult/mature content is acceptable when marked as NSFW, but excessive posting of such material is not permitted. Hard-core, grotesque, and NSFL (Not Safe For Life) should not be linked (this includes questionable age, forced, gore, and zoo). Because there are no hard rules or limits at this time, please defer to ops concerning what content is permissible.

And finally, because it was still unclear to a select, special few:

We understand the concept of “NSFW” is somewhat subjective. We use it here in the literal sense with typical conservative and professional work environments in mind. This includes partial and full nudity, sexually suggestive or explicit artwork, etc. If you don’t want your boss, parent, religious leader, or child seeing it, please mark it NSFW.

To be fair, I don’t expect most users to visit the site or read the Code of Conduct there. It mostly serves as a place to point people when they mistakenly post something inappropriate. What continues to surprise me is what some people consider worksafe, and how some users will argue their image is safe for work just because it doesn’t show penetration, genitalia, etc. This to me is a sign of a bigger issue: Furry for many is highly sexualized and many furries have become desensitized to sexual content. Add the fact some in our fandom have difficulties with boundaries and restraint, this issue tends to crop up fairly often.

I am not against porn and I am not a prude, but there is a time and place for it. We do our fandom a great disservice when we plaster porn and adult content all over the Internet and then complain when we get bad press accusing us of being fetishists and degenerates. Let’s just be mindful and considerate when posting questionable material, and make sure that material is appropriate and welcome for the environment you are in.

Dirus

On Being a Good IRC Guest

There are times when IRC server operators, channel owners, and channel moderators must do the dirty work of enforcing policy. Too often, doing so results in complaints of freedom of speech violation, oppression, or just plain old abuse of power. Below is how I like to explain how IRC actually works and hopefully it will help IRC users be good and respectful guests.

Networks and Servers 

Popular and publicly accessible IRC networks (e.g., Furnet) are made up of one or more privately owned servers, each supported and run by volunteers. In addition to donating their time, these volunteers foot the bill for bandwidth and equipment, and in doing so get to determine the rules and regulations for their network. Their only obligation is to follow local laws and the terms of service of their Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Think of each IRC server in a network as a building that is part of an apartment complex, each with its own landlord (server operator). This association of landlords work as a team to decide on and enforce the overall rules.

Channels

Each network has multiple channels, analogous to apartments. Each apartment is occupied by tenants, or channel owners and their selected staff of channel moderators. These tenants must follow the rules of their landlord, and may set their own additional rules as well. They can also arbitrarily determine what is acceptable behavior as well as who may stay and who will go.

Conclusion: Where Users Fit In

So server admins are landlords who own the buildings, or servers. These buildings are comprised of apartments, or channels. Channel owners and moderators are the tenants. So where does that leave users?

Users are guests to the apartment complex and to any inhabited apartments. They can get their own apartment if they desire just by joining an empty and unclaimed channel, and they can run that channel how they see fit as long as they follow the overall rules of the network.

When visiting existing channels, users must follow any additional channel rules set by the channel owner and his or her staff of moderators. And if you are ever unsure of the rules, read the server’s Message Of The Day (MOTD) or ask those folks with with the funny ~, &, and @ symbols next to their names.

Dirus

Gender and the Online Furry Community

I’ve been asked a lot of interesting questions from newcomers to the online furry community, particularly in the relatively large non-RP (Role-Playing) IRC channel that I call home. Most recently, I was asked why there are so many males presenting themselves as females, and what to think and do about it. Obviously, this works both ways, and there are plenty of females presenting as males, and my opinions below apply to them as well.

The following are five common situations in which people represent themselves as having a different gender than their biological sex. Some people may fall into more than one category.

Transgender

In comparison to the general population, the furry fandom appears to have a higher percentage of LGBT members. This may be largely due to the generally accepting nature of the fandom, and the fact that most members create personas (or “fursonas,” or characters) based on attributes they desire and/or admire. Simply put, being a furry makes it easier to present yourself as you feel and wish to be.

I truly respect those struggling with gender issues, and especially those who have overcome their struggles by becoming and accepting the person they wish to be. Newcomers should be accepting and tolerant, and they should respect the gender choices of these individuals.

In my opinion, part of that respect is not spreading rumors, taunting or teasing, or sharing personal information in public forums about a person’s biological sex.

Some in the community may disagree with this last opinion, but I do feel that a transgender person has a moral obligation to be truthful on this matter when becoming romantically involved. This is only fair and can prevent a lot of heartache and drama on both sides.

Role-Player (Story/Fiction)

While some see furry as a way to virtually become and explore the form (and gender) they wish they had in real life, others see their characters from the outside, as writers creating realtime and interactive stories. Like method actors, many of these carry aspects of their characters into non-RP chat rooms and forums, for fun and out of habit.

In role-playing/collaborative writing channels, these furries will sometimes indicate when they are speaking out of character (marking lines as OOC). At the very least, others shouldn’t make any assumptions of true sex or gender in these situations. In non-RP chat rooms, however, this can often be confusing and misleading.

I personally am not comfortable with someone acting as a completely fictional character in a non-RP chat room. To make a comparison to fursuiters, I see non-RP channels as somewhat of a “headless lounge,” where we check the backstories of our characters at the door and engage in real conversation.

Role-Player (Sex/Kink)

Similar to the above, some create a character outside of how they see themselves, but this time for the purpose of engaging in sexually explicit chat. The motives may be innocent, such as exploring different aspects of sexuality and being sexually creative, to sleazy, such as a male unable to find a suitable female partner and who then creates and plays a female character to attract males.

Yes, those looking for sex online should not assume the gender of the person they are getting on (or off) with. It becomes a problem when people seek more than a casual sexual encounter and lead a prospective partner on with no intent of sharing their true gender.

In my opinion this last situation is unacceptable, and perpetrators deserve to be outed for their behavior, at the very least to stop others from being duped. 

Attention Seeker

In a fandom that has a relatively high male to female ratio, one of the best ways to get attention (not necessarily sexual/romantic attention) is to be a female. Many times, attention seekers will have many characters, including males, females, and anything in between, of many species and combinations of species, and often with very unique attributes (we call them sparkle dogs).

In this case, playing different genders is a means of getting attention and popularity. While I don’t have much respect for these motives, they do not pose a problem as long as people are truthful in real and meaningful relationships, including online relationships. Otherwise, these people tend to get hurt easily when the truth comes out in an uncomfortable way.

Troll

Finally, the worst sort. While we’ve talked about people changing genders to be themselves, be a character, or even be popular, this last sort does it strictly out of malice. Some trolls will take on another gender specifically to lure victims, or to choose a more effective form to intimidate, coerce, or attack their target(s). An example might be a male posing as a female to infiltrate or more effectively attack a channel focused on lesbian issues.

This last dangerous, sociopathic behavior is not tolerated in any group I am in, and such individuals deserve to be banned on sight.

Conclusion

Whatever your sex or gender, be tolerant, be considerate, be aware, and be yourself. The furry community should be a fun and safe place for all, and it’s the responsibility of all of us to make it so.