Star Seeker (jurann) wrote,
Star Seeker

Letter Draft

The Future (or not) Of FurBuy

FurBuy is at a turning point. It's standing precariously on the edge of a cliff where either a bridge will be built, or the whole thing will go over the cliff into the drink below. Let me lay it all out for you:

FurBuy Plans

Having a roadmap is fantastic, and we've got one for FurBuy. It would be a mountain of work for our current staff to undertake and pretty much consume the majority of our free time for the next 5-6 months. That means no time spent with loved ones, little to no gaming, not much in the way of vacation - and all this while working full-time jobs too.

What's the roadmap entail, in a nutshell? You may or may not have seen our new Beta sites for Classifieds and Forums - they're not 100% complete yet but they are functional right now. They show a new look and feel for a planned future FurBuy that has many more features and new functionality. Aside from completing those new features, we've been planning to completely rewrite the Auction system in a new framework (more of a port, not a true rewrite, but it may as well be a rewrite for most intents and purposes aside from time). We're also planning to add Stores to FurBuy later in 2013, at least in Beta format, with a potential release in early 2014. These are HUGE undertakings, in part because with the auction overhaul we're planning to add many new bells and whistles as we go.

The Cusp

Looking forward at that mountain of work (not to mention money and stress), one might step back a bit and assess the return on investment of it all. And this is where things get tricky and a little gut-wrenching. More and more lately, furries are just buying, selling, trading and auctioning things directly on FurAffinity. While this is great for FA and for fans of FA and those whose sole existence lies on FA, it's a problem for us because we're not FA and we're not "on FA" - we are apart from FA due to egos and failure to cooperate and deliver on promises (not going to get into that here). We cannot compete with FA for the sales space. And yet, FA is not a sales site nor do they have ANY support for sales (nor are most sales on FA even legal honestly, there are laws and regulations and FA is basically just looking the other way hoping nobody is noticing).

We have been watching our numbers and sales slip from FurBuy to FA for a little over a year now, and every week or two we lose another major historical supporter of FurBuy to the ranks of artists or crafters who are now "just auctioning on FA" instead. We've been carefully tracking FA auctions and sales for the last year and some now, and every time we add a new one to the list our hearts sink a little more. It feels like a kick in the shins for all of our hard work to bring people a fast, safe, efficient place to do business. And it makes us pause at length as to whether or not we should invest the time and effort and money into this huge undertaking to refresh and add new features to FurBuy.

What is FurBuy?

One thing we've never really stopped and thought about or put to people concisely is what FurBuy is all about. What is the over-arching purpose, what are the goals, what are our VALUES. Well, we've been an auction site for many, many years now but we've never been terribly clear on what else we should be and what should be our primary or core values. What we'd like to become is the one-stop furry shop for everyone's needs when it comes to finding something to buy, sell, trade or order. Stores, Auctions, Classifieds, maybe even growing into payment processing or a print shop - the options are out there.

Ultimately, FurBuy was started to meet a need for the furry fandom as a community. There wasn't an auction site for furries when we began working on FurBuy. The question now is: does the furry community still need an auction site? Or a unified stores site? Or a classifieds site? And if so, what should the core values of such a service be? We built FurBuy for you guys, the furries out there, and so you should be involved in helping direct us, telling us what's important to you. We want to hear from you, we want you involved, so please don't hesitate to just step up and talk to us - we're here for furries, to serve furries, and give you guys what you really need in a sales site.

Where YOU Come In

We want to be a part of the community. We want to work with other furry sites and groups to integrate what we do best with what they do best. We don't want to compete, we want to synergize, and elevate the entire furry community. What we need to do that is YOU, though. YOU are the furry community and you have the power to help facilitate change and values and direction. Work with us, talk to us, work with other furry sites and groups and talk with them. Help us build bridges to work together and build a better fandom all-around. YOUR voice counts and has power - we are just individuals like all of you who are trying to make a difference and provide world-class service to make the community a better place.

The future of FurBuy wholly depends on the community - you can choose to work with us or decide that the idea of FurBuy has no place in the community. If nothing happens, the latter would have to be assumed. So please, this isn't about money (it's never been about money) it's about community; if your furry community has a need and a want for FurBuy in the future, act now. Help work with the community to bring in words of encouragement, people's interest, the collaboration of the various sites/groups. We will do everything in our power to do our part of things but we can't do it alone. We need your encouragement (or discouragement) and your willingness to voice your desires for a better furry community - these things will help us decide the future of FurBuy.

Thank you for reading through all this, and we welcome discussion and involvement. Feel free to comment here or there or anywhere and just spread awareness about this. I've been serving the furry community for over 12 years, and I'd love to continue, but we need your support and the support of the community.

~ Jurann, FurBuy Founder and Lead Programmer
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