In defense of e621

Preface

Besides the cute and well-designed mascots, e621 is a staple of the furry community in that it operates as the universal catalog for all furry artwork and unlike the way FurAffinity works, it actually allows you to find what you’re looking for. Unlike FurAffinity, which is effectively a furry form of DeviantArt that is held together with duct tape and wishful thinking, e621 is a pure imageboard. Unlike imageboards like 4chan and the furry spinoffs like ychan, fchan, pawsru and the like, e621 uses the “booru” variant of boards spawned from Danbooru. The difference? While 4chan and derivatives came from 2chan, a board based on discussion, they primarily focused on “discussion, with images”, whereas boorus operate as “images, with discussion”. It’s a subtle difference, but the fact is that with e621, images come first and foremost.

That may seem quite obvious, but take into account that it avoids or mitigates the following things that FurAffinity and other boards are plagued by:

  • Derailment of threads, making it impossible to focus on image posts
  • Censorship of comments by the post author.
  • Environment of fans around posts made by a given author, resulting in a yes-men approach in the comments.
  • Search being inconsistent or non-existent, making finding things a matter of luck.
  • The intentions of the author being equal to or more important than an image.
  • Popularity and reception of pieces being tied to the amount of followers of the poster, rather than the quality.

In effect, e621 is likely to be the only way a furry art host could hope for a neutral, hard to derail and non-toxic environment. Here’s some examples that may make you think about why this is:

  • Kaylier, an artist on FluffArea, makes a politically motivated post. In the comments, those agreeing are allowed to rage, threaten and blast those that disagree, while people that disagree are blocked and mocked in the comments section
    • When Kaylier’s art appears on e621, some commenters follow from her page, and leave toxic political remarks on the page. The comments are downvoted by the e621 community, and eventually a moderator comes in and cleans up the most disruptive comments, while the unpleasant ones remain hidden.
  • Zausage, a furry user on the knotchan image board starts a thread on canine characters, but it is derailed within a matter of minutes when it is swarmed by anonymous people arguing over the midterm elections.
    • On e621 the images have already been uploaded, and there are thousands of images to access, and additional uploads are welcomed, without any chance of derailment happening.
  • N 0 1 D, a furry fan, notices a nazi fur piece that looks like it’s traced, and the style looks awfully like another artist, Malvie. He tries to check their gallery on FA for the picture, but as it is exceptionally long it’s extremely difficult.
  • Ghoul, an artist, uploads a new image to FluffArea. It goes largely unnoticed and while he put a lot of effort in, FluffArea actually works via networking and follower farming, not quality in terms of features for images.
    • On e621, the uploaded image receives similar exposure to everything else. Images are on equal footing to get onto the popular submissions section for that day and keep climbing, allowing even unknown artists to make a hit.

e621 Take-downs

However, despite this e621 has been repeatedly put into a negative light as of late, and it comes as a result of multiple people hitting the site with take-downs. Typically, these take-downs are for trivial reasons that e621 as a site can do nothing about. The people issuing these take-downs will then go on to slag off the site and try to persuade other people to take artwork down off of the site. If e621 ceased to be the best catalog for furry images, FurAffinity would suddenly become the next step down, meaning no equal platform for reception from creators and no functional search system for images. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that people give towards pulling away their artwork from the site:

1. Art theft

Usage of images without permission is a problem all over the furry fandom, and frankly e621 is not to blame for this. It’s more of an attitude problem that isn’t likely to be solved by simply removing images from e621 altogether. Taking down art pieces from e621 reduces their exposure to everyone, so while it may hide the image away from art thieves looking on the site for their next avatar, it also prevents people who aren’t at fault from seeing your works. In the extreme case that includes Strype, where the lack of posting the images on FurAffinity instead has now made it impossible to find his new images.

And while we’re at it, e621 can be used to find the character owner and artist of pictures that are being misused. In this case it gradually becomes easier to steal the artwork of people who aren’t recognized on e621 without being detected.

2. Comments

You’re allowed to comment without having to worry about whether the author of the piece likes your comment or not on e621. So long as you follow the general e621 rules you’re more than welcome to criticize, make jokes and say things about the negative parts of an image that you simply would either never or almost never see on a website like FurAffinity. However, this has the potential to make some creators absolutely, unreasonably mad. Like Jiggy McJigglebones and his waifu. I honestly don’t know what to say to people like this, other than point out they have thin skin and should get out more.

3. Gender… issues?

I’m going to try my best to take this one seriously, because I honestly struggled a great deal to wrap my head around it when I first saw it. At some point several artists started taking down their pieces from e621 because the characters in the pictures were being tagged with the wrong gender. Right, except for the fact that e621 is an image search engine and needs accurate tags based on what you can see in the image only. This is the famous rule that’s called tag what you see. It’s not always implemented perfectly, for instance I still think the ruling on the Reggie animations doesn’t have a lot of backing behind it, but without the rule it would become quickly impossible to search for images correctly.

If you want to see just how bad it gets if people create their own tags, try searching for anything on FurAffinity.

So why does this matter so much? Well, some of the characters were apparently trans, although in the images they were drawn as not fully transitioned, and typically with no scars or otherwise to indicate surgery. This conflicts with the idea that people typically make intersex characters for fun all the time. Visually, without extra hints in the image it is impossible to distinguish an intersex character from a transgender character. So you can’t just tag these images as transgender, so they are tagged with tags to refer to the intersex features, and this is where people started getting really angry about it.

What terms does e621 use to define the genders in this case? Well, it uses male, female, herm, dickgirl, cuntboy. People typically get into a huff about the last two items, although they’re porn terms and simply used because they concisely describe present sexual features. The argument is that these terms are slurs, although they’re predominantly used online to refer to intersex characters in the furry fandom, or among hentai fans to refer to “futanaris”. The issue is context, and the context is that e621 is using the words to assist search only, and not as slurs to insult trans people, and besides, most of the characters they’re being applied to aren’t even claimed to be trans.

If this is you, seriously consider taking your hate out on something that’s actually trying to offend you, and not a tagging system that powers the most powerful furry search engine in existence. Jesus.

4. e621 doesn’t deserve my traffic!

You’re not fooling anyone, Jiggles.

Misdirected anger

I almost feel like these reasons that people have been using for take-downs are ultimately stemmed from them being mad at some other issue, then coming over and taking it out on e621.

You’re mad about anti-trans shit? Why don’t you stand up to people who are actually being shitty to you instead of taking it out on a search engine.

Comments bother you? Then you need to work on that, and realize that muting people is the wrong way of going about it.

Art Theft? It’s inevitable, if you’re famous on e621 someone is just going to report them anyway, and the furry community is not putting up with thieves either.

Do you realize what would happen if e621 actually stopped being used? If you decide you’re going to start pulling take-downs on boorus I would like to see your reaction to a successor to e621 put on a Russian no-DMCA host that just posts everything. Because it would make a fuckton of money from advertising, and no amount of take-downs would be able to harm something like that. So do us all a favor and appreciate the fact that we have a furry image board that respects legal artist requests and has helped carry many artists up to the top already.

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