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Exploring the Fandom Through Data

  • Exploring the fandom through data
  • Introduce



Furry is interesting

  • Furry is interesting
  • Growing fast
  • Hard to estimate growth but there are some ways - responses vs convention attendance
  • No membership requirements
  • Spans boundaries

There's a lot to explore

  • there's a lot to explore
  • Understanding individual aspects
  • Understanding change over time
  • Making sense of the fandom as a whole

So what is exploring?

So what is exploring

  • Collection
  • First we need to collect information
  • Two main resources
  • Objective data: surveys and spelunking for outside data
  • Subjective: introspection and talking/writing
  • Look for stories
  • Understanding
  • Looking through data
  • Verifying against other sources
  • Deciding on interesting points
  • Find a story
  • Giving back
  • Data presentation, visualization, description, and accessibility
  • Tell the stories we learned
  • Dialog
  • Sharing, social currency
  • Commenting
  • Differing opinions
  • What's missing? What other stories need telling?
  • Exploration is really a cycle
  • Collect data, piece it together into a story, pull it into a presentable format, start a dialog, learn what/where/how to collect next time

For example...

  • Here's an example of a story told through data
  • James wanted to explore the creativity within the southeast asian furry culture
  • Do they approach creativity differently from other respondents?
  • Pulled the data into a visualization
  • SE asian furries more likely to create art more frequently, but put less of a premium on visual art
  • Started a dialog with awareness week
  • Learn where to go next

What do we have to work with?

  • What do we have to work with
  • IARP/Nuka/Gerbasi
  • Furry survey
  • [a][s]
  • Scraped data
  • introspection, but we'll get into that later
  • It's hardly big data
  • But it can still be representative

What have we learned so far?

  • what have we learned so far?
  • Quite a bit really
  • Diverse fandom in some ways, but not others
  • Growing fast
  • Problems with our own definition
  • But that's okay, leads to looser membership "requirements"

Before I continue...

  • Before i continue, want everyone to pay attention to something
  • Going to talk about the following:
    • Age
    • Race
    • Gender
    • Relationships and orientaiton
    • Political views
    • Importance of sex
  • Pay attention to your own reaction
  • Look around and see how this compares to what you observe
  • What is surprising and new?
  • What did you already expect was the case?
  • Will explain why this is important after

Furry status

  • first of all, who are we talking about?
  • 2016 survey
  • Primarily self-identified furries

Age distribution

  • Age distribution
  • Furry is young
  • Still a long tail~
  • Does this imply that there's a dropout age, or just that furry attracts primarily younger people?

Racial distribution

  • Racial distribution
  • Far and away white
  • Fairly stable over time, may be diversifying
  • What sort of story could lead to this data? (affluence?)


Several tidbits

Have several things related to gender

Gender identity

  • Pretty wide gap there
  • Note that when options were diversified, things became a bit more balanced

Gender identity

  • Gender identity: scatter
  • To explain, we offered a continuum of masculine to feminine, strongly identify to not identify at all for people to be more specific
  • Can still see a strong cluster over towards strongly male

Gender identity

  • Gender identity: heat
  • Can see this much better with a heat map

Gender expression

  • Gender expression: scatter
  • Similarly, asked about how gender was expressed to others
  • Similar results, but perhaps not as strongly male

Gender expression

  • Gender expression: heat
  • Can see the heatmap diversifying

Gender in furry

  • Gender in furry: scatter
  • Here we asked about how one expresses one's gender within furry
  • Again, more diverse than identity next

Gender in furry

  • Gender in furry: heat
  • But perhaps less so than the previous expression heatmap

Gender alignment

  • Gender alignment
  • Gender alignment - whether one feels one's gender is aligned with their body - is sort of how these things play out


Also have some interesting things related to relationships


  • Kind of heartening in its diversity
  • Anecdote about 10%
  • More even spread along the kinsey scale
  • Why?
  • Also, tie in with previous slides: large number of same-sex relationships due to skewed gender numbers (i.e: many who identify as bi wind up in same-sex relationships)

Relationship status

  • Relationship status
  • Perhaps more single than expected

Relationship status open/closed - Romantic

  • next two slides about polyamory and open/closed relationships
  • This one about romantic polyamory

Relationship status open/closed - Sexual

  • this one about sexual openness
  • More closed than romantic

Relationship status partner is furry

  • Partner is furry five year mean
  • Maybe surprising how many respondents have nonfurry partners

Political views

Political views


  • Fairly socially liberal
  • less so over time, but those left of center still made up >70%


Much more moderate/centrist economically, favoring some restrictions rather than laissez-faire

The importance of sex

Lets talk (in a very abstract way) about how we view sex within the fandom

The importance of sex - Personal

  • Importance of sex within furry to oneself
  • Perhaps a little surprising, not terribly important to us as individuals

The importance of sex - Others

  • Perceived importance of sex within furry to others
  • More important than to oneself

The importance of sex - From the public's perspective

  • Perceived importance of sex within furry to the public
  • Big difference
  • What does this say? Are we crazy sexual, or just defensive about sexuality

Doxa and introspection

  • Asked you to pay attention to your reactions
  • What is doxa? What we accept as truth without needing proof, common belief and judgement
  • What is the doxa within the fandom?
  • Look at the data: what is intuitive and what is surprising?

Letting go of doxa

  • sometimes it's necessary to let go of an idea
  • Can be difficult, but necessary
  • For example, wanted to explore average charity donation per con attendee
  • Expected donation/attendee to increase as attendance increased due to social aspect of giving

Reality is more complicateD

  • total donations have increased, but donations aren't just from attendees
  • Have to let go of a concept in order to get down to the truth of things

Where do we go from here?

  • Where do we go from here
  • this was part of our dialog

There is a lot of data

Needs to be sorted, stories need to be found

  • What do we need to collect?
  • Where can studies be improved?
  • Where can we gain more information?
  • Open for questions
  • Have lots of data to look at if you want - furry surveys, e621, sofurry

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