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DeviantArt In 2024 Sure Sounds Like A Shithole

Like many websites, it used to be a good one

Through covering concept art and cosplay for years over on The Old Site, I'm probably as familiar as any outsider as to how DeviantArt--once a thriving platform for artists--has changed over the years. I had no idea, though, that in the last twelve months or so things had got this bad.

Slate today published an excellent report by Nitish Pahwa called "The Tragic Downfall of the Internet’s Art Gallery". "Once a vibrant platform for artists", it opens with, "DeviantArt is now buckling under the weight of bots and greed—and spurning the creative community that made it great."

The story points out how over the last couple of years, the site has become infested with bots, scams and machine-generated imagery, while people's artwork has been scraped and scraped again by predatory machine learning platforms. Worse still, the site's management has been promoting some of this shadiness. When users have pointed this out, have had their comments hidden or removed on social media.

It's a tale becoming increasingly common across the internet, as site owners--increasingly desperate for what's left of the diminishing ad market and infested with Silicon Valley brainworms and an impossible strive for constant growth--continue to make every place we used to visit and enjoy measurably worse.

But there's something about DeviantArt's downward spiral in particular that feels so much more heartbreaking. This used to be a place people could post furry art and anime ships in peace! It was a portfolio and gallery site, sure, but also a bonafide community, a social media platform before that term even existed.

DeviantArt is now faced with not just an exodus of long-term and high-profile users, but is also part of a lawsuit brought by a number of artists against companies alleged to have engaged in mass copyright infringement by stealing users’ artwork to train machine learning platforms.

All bad shit! If your heart can take it, please read Pahwa's full piece over on Slate.

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