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What happened to Elfwood? - Elfwood
What happened to Elfwood?
I joined elfwood a looooong time ago, within the first year or two that it was created (I'm in gallery 100). Back then it was literally the only site of it's kind. Remember back when all the dot coms were blooming? Ah memories, well Elfwood was right up there blooming with the best of them. What happened?

Just look at this journal, I remember when there used to be a new post every day on this journal. There were so many posts that the creation of sub journals was necessary. Now look at this place, lucky to see a new journal every few months. People have given up on this place, moved on.

Thomas had this amazing thing in his hands, he was holding the biggest and brightest online art site in existence! And then he let it all turn to dust. Imagine creating yahoo back in the day, Elfwood was just like that, it had the potential to be the premiere web site of it's kind. And now, well it's just depressing to think about.

It seems like elfwood wants to change, I see ads now, and some of the new features and functions that made DA popular (although I don't like that your bio is no longer displayed next to your art on your main page). But it seems the old growing pains still hold true. The mod system is still flawed, the rules are way too subjective, and the users are still unhappy. And without the users you have no site.

For awhile there when people were near riotous, I thought maybe this is a good thing, maybe elfwood needs to burn to the ground to be reborn new and grand again. But visiting these forums and the site again today, that doesn't seem to be the case. It's a huge dissapointment.

Many people would love to see Elfwood revive itself. But so long as the old issues that made people leave in droves years ago, remain in place, I see no chance of that happening.

The solution is so simple it's heartbreaking, it's just like the american auto industry who, while gas was 3+ dollars per gallon and consumers were begging for alternative fuel and fuel efficient vehicals, continued to build gas guzzling SUVs. Listen to your users! You are nothing without them.

Current Mood: disappointed disappointed

29 comments ~ Leave a comment
hellebore From: hellebore Date: February 5th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC) (Link)

I think it boils down to convenience.

I think DA has a bigger base because it includes all types of work, and not just fantasy/sci-fi/whatever it is now that Elfwood accepts. Honestly I'd rather post my work to a place where it's not going to sit through a que and where I can upload an artistic photo of a ball right next to my drawing of a fairy.
I agree much with the subjective rules point you made, too.
darksavvy From: darksavvy Date: February 5th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I think it boils down to convenience.

Well back during the glory days you could upload "some" non fantasy work actually, just so long as it wasn't the bulk of your gallery. Not very many people remember these days because it was way back when the site was only a couple years old. I miss that policy. It made sense.

Elfwood is a site for fantasy artists, well guess what? fantasy artists don't always do "classic" fantasy. They blur the lines and sometimes they even do the occasional traditonal piece, that doesn't however, make them any less fantasy artists. Art is creative and expansive, and I think elfwood needs to be more accomidating (as it once was) in this area.

I think there are a lot of ways the queue system could've been fixed, and there were many good suggestions in this area, it's just none of them were implemented.
copperstitches From: copperstitches Date: February 5th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)

From a writer's perspective

From what I gathered on other people's pages is that the writing side of Elfwood has been in decline in near over two years (maybe more but I haven't been keeping a serious eye on the news), people seem dissatisfied with the changes that Thomas and co have done, the biggest flaw is that the comment system seems to have been nerfed up so badly that it's difficult to leave in-depth comments which is what a fair amount of writers really did thrive on inbetween 2004-2006.

But yeah the rules and issues with the ticket waiting time have always been a problem even when I first joined the woods, back in the day.
It was a good ride while it lasted.
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: February 5th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. This. *sighs* I miss it, too.
kadaria From: kadaria Date: February 5th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)
When I was in high school and just starting college I did a ton of fantasy and sci-fi based artwork. During college, I took a photography class and fell in love with the art form (and I happen to be pretty damn good if I may say so). More of my art began to center around what I could do with my camera and less of it was fantasy related. Even going through my current sketch book, the things that are fantasy related are either WoW fan art or too sketchy to be considered a finished piece and I have no plans to finish them.
As for writing, while a lot of what I am doing is fantasy based and I did plan to post to Wyvern's, the death of its LJ community has sent me looking for alternatives.

That's why I stopped posting to my gallery. I will admit that the long ques did get on my nerves, especially when I was number 1000 and whatever. However I still made an effort to post because I liked the site and I liked to community.

I ended up at dA mostly because my friends talked me into it. I'm not fully happy with the community and the amount of fan art kills me at times but it's ok I guess.
darksavvy From: darksavvy Date: February 5th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel you. I was really reluctant to move to DA as well. I remember when DA first came out and a lot of elfwoodians moved to it but I didn't. I didn't like the community as much, it seemed too much about bling (favorites, flashy icons, etc) and not enough about giving and recieving helpful CC.

But a couple years later I felt obligated to join the bandwagon to DA. Elfwood was dead, the community of people I so enjoyed vanished to new pastures. Without them, I saw no reason to stick around. The people here at Elfwood were always what made elfwood what it was more than anything else. When they left, I left.
kadaria From: kadaria Date: February 5th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
> not enough about giving and recieving helpful CC.<

Heheh yeah. I'm trying to break this habit but I've been hesitant to give CC because either the artist throws a defensive temper tantrum or their friends decided to undermine me be saying "Don't listen to her, it's a good piece!"
I personally hate that mentality at dA the most; the idea that if you photoshop colored it or you are popular it excuses you from improving. Now there are a few on there that will take crits and like them but there just seem to be so many more that are sore about it.
One thing that I did like about elfwood is that if I needed help with something or needed to be shown how I could improve there were people who could do it polity.
darksavvy From: darksavvy Date: February 6th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes this is the thing I miss the most about the old elfwood. Comments were actually helpful a lot of times, and people didn't get all pissed off when you tried to tell them how they could improve something. In fact there was sort of the standard of not writing any one word comments, people were really encouraged to give good feedback and not simple sentences.
gr33n From: gr33n Date: February 5th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I haven't posted in ages and I find that the site has sorta drifted away from me.

I do find the queues were a big issue for me, with long waits to get the images to the galleries and a lot of the submissions coming across too "samey". Maybe it's the shifting dynamic of newer artists on the site doing more traditional looking fantasy work and some of the luminaries not updating all that much anymore.

It could also be the lack of good interesting criticism from the visitors and other artists as well. Which is a shame since I got a couple of good critiques from someone anonymous which I found really good.
darksavvy From: darksavvy Date: February 6th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)
The lack of good CC started happening when all the serious artists left, I don't know of any site now that does this well though. DA seems especially bad for this.
violetice From: violetice Date: February 5th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
For me, it's simply that I don't do as much clearly fantasy/sci-fi work any more. Or the if it does fall under Elfwood's themes, it's been heavily referenced from a stock photo and would fall under Elfwood's "no copying" rule. Maybe that rule has been changed? I haven't checked the rules in ages since I haven't really had anything to upload.
paul_doyle From: paul_doyle Date: February 5th, 2009 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I know Elfwood has repeatedly shot itself in the foot many times, with certain (hopefully ex-) moderators simply making the Elfwood experience even more miserable with their uncalled-for snarkiness and seemingly whimsical judgments. There's really nothing else to add, nothing that's been said or discussed a million times on this page (or the sub-journals). Quite simply if you don't listen to your base, or at least consider their expectations and desires, the place is eventually going to become a ghost town. And even when the site is revamped and modified with the very things the people wanted in the first place, years ago, it may be too late to reel them back in. I've seen this here and also on Elftown.

And why do I mention Elftown? Originally Elftown was meant to be an Elfwood e-community, before things got muddled and it became a hangout for displaced Myspacers and cyber-whores. Elftown is currently a site that is far better than it's ever been because after several years of a "yacht club" mentality where they turned deaf ears to the artistic backbone of the community, they are finally---and very belatedly----trying to make Elftown a great place for artists and writers. Sadly, most of the real talents left Elftown long ago and have little or no desire to return. Of those who remain, there just isn't the same shared passion. So now there's a million and one contests to enter (contests that are no longer tainted or rigged, by the way!), and these are now very well advertised on the site, but the interest just isn't there. Apathy prevails. It's sad when you compare the year-to-year turnouts and submissions to various major contests (like the Elftown Christmas and Halloween contests, for example). Everything is there in place for the people who matter---but where are they? Oh, that's right. They were alienated from the site long ago, and they still see no reason to return. Silly me.

Elfwood looks a lot better than it did before, and now of course there's a lot more things to do on Elfwood than ever before. EW respects your copyright far better than DeviantArt ever could, so that SHOULD be motivation enough for people to submit their art there. I certainly want to update my EW pages despite all of the inherent Elfwood bullshit lingering on from the past, because after all the past is behind us. I thought this way ever before I got this automated message:

A friendly reminder from Elfwood.comTuesday, February 3, 2009 4:05 AM
From: "nobody@elfwood.com" <nobody@elfwood.com>Add sender to Contacts To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Hi Paul,
We haven't seen you around at Elfwood for a while...
Elfwood is expanding and new exciting SciFi and fantasy art and stories are added every day. Welcome back to http://www.elfwood.com/

Your login and user name at Elfwood is 'pjdoyle'. In case you've forgotten your password, you can retrieve it at http://www.elfwood.com/members/lostpass.html
If you need any help, go to http://www.elfwood.com/contact/contact.html

Welcome back!

Best regards,
Thomas, Elfwood Founder.

PS, you -cannot- reply to this email, which was sent from Elfwood management to 'xxxxxxxxxxxx ', a registred Elfwood.com user account. To Leave Elfwood, login and visit: http://www.elfwood.com/members/leave.html

Well . . . I really need to update my Elfwood pages. But----nah. Why bother? I'll update the DeviantArt page first, because even though dA is run by a corporation and has a questionable TOS, there's isn't a fraction the headaches. There's enough real-life headaches in my life as it is, so why add avoidable Internet headaches, especially considering some of the crap I had to contend with on Elfwood in the past?

I will eventually get around to updating the EW page, no doubt about it, but something tells me I'm by no means the only person who has these mixed feelings. To love EW is also to hate it to some degree, and because of that the updates get shelved to a later date, once again.

peura From: peura Date: February 5th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Paul, you can't seriously mean that contests is supposed to be the best way to get artists to join Elftown? I myself lost interest when suddenly contests seemed to be the main focus of ET. ET is supposed to be a relaxed community where you can talk about anything, not just art and writing. Or has it been too long since you read the "what is Elftown" page?

ET has had its problems and still has, but the lack of contests wasn't one of them. I'm sorry your favourite Elftowners aren't around anymore, but maybe they just didn't have enough friends there to feel the urge to hang around that particular virtual playground all day. Or maybe they just got a life. As I wrote in my comment about Elfwood below, people may outgrow a community just as much as the community may outgrow them.
akeyla From: akeyla Date: February 5th, 2009 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree so much

When I left elfwood almost 3 years ago I too said that I prefered Deviantart more, which at that moment was true, as it is now. But I would have prefered Elfwood over Devi if it was the old woods.
There are rules and there will always be rules for submission, it is something that made elfwood nice and clean too. But that does not work if you feel treated unfair and if confronted their arguments are ridiculous. So I left. I even left with the sentence "I'm not staying on this sinking ship if these are the conditions. but thanks anyway". I watched how many other artist left for similar reasons and like you, hoped, HOPED they'd realize it. Instead it just seemed as if they were happy to have their playground back. I did visit elfwood here and there, noticed the new adds and odds, but most of all I noticed the silence around elfwood. And thats not just saying that artists moved from elfwood to deviantart, its also the feeling that there seemed no more activ, alive maintenance going on.

Eventually finding an elfwood link while browsing has become a rarity, and I dont know what they'd have to do, in my opinion its already to late.

If they do bring back the old woods, yes, I will go back and I'll even stand there and help pull elfwood out of the swamp.
Hope dies last after all
peura From: peura Date: February 5th, 2009 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I would like to hear what people who joined less than a year ago think about Elfwood. Almost as long as I've been a member I've seen "veterans" complain that things used to be better, but when I was new I liked EW and couldn't see the problems that the veterans were talking about.

For myself, I think that I've changed more than Elfwood has. I rarely draw anymore, and my writing isn't suitable for EW even though it is fantasy. I didn't make many contacts on EW, and the few I made have stoped updating their galleries. Elfwood was great for me when I was a beginner, but I've outgrown it, or perhaps grown in a different direction. I wonder if that isn't what happens to a lot of people. When the EW crew doesn't build features to support that sort of development but instead changes other features so that the familiar features suddenly are unfamiliar, we feel left out.
twyleth_teg From: twyleth_teg Date: February 5th, 2009 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)
EW is cute but nowadays thats about all it is.

I maxed out my EW page long ago & they never let any of my stories in- i had the elves swear too much or i didnt translate something exactly or something was wrong with the formatting -that i never could figure out. it tells me 12point NTR to me, wtf!! [and one that was up they axed because it had the words "uruk" and "Hai" in it- never ind hai is japanses for yes andUruk is a town in turkey. oh no. because they were in the same paragraph it was Tolkien Fan Fic. Buhh?]
I'll leave my shiddy old arts here on EW & put all the nice new stuff on Devart, kthnxbai.
ursulav From: ursulav Date: February 5th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, I don't think anything went terribly wrong with Elfwood--I just think it's the lifecycle of online art galleries.

They start small, everybody's excited, you can find people, they get huge, people get obnoxious, measures are put in place, it become too big, you can't find anybody, people complain about the low quality, politics get annoying, it goes down for awhile, everybody goes to a new gallery.

Happened to Elfwood, which was arguably the first big on-line gallery. (I remember back when there was no intranet! And I was in Gallery One! *shakes cane*) Happened to Epilogue. Happened to Yerf and a bunch of other smaller specialty galleries.

I don't think it's actually a sign of epic failure on the part of Thomas or anybody else, I think this is just the lifecycle of the on-line art gallery. The good news is that it seems to take longer with each incarnation, as we learn from mistakes and technology improves...it looks like DA was going that way for awhile, but it seems to have slowed its slide into political chaos. Eventually, though, it'll hit that tipping point and become obsolete, and we'll all be over at ArtChicken.com or whatever the next big gallery site will be, and that'll take even LONGER to flip over, and so on and so forth until eventually civilization collapses or we die of old age.
(Deleted comment)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe this was true for you, and I can definitely see how that could be, but back when people were up in arms about elfwood, the size of Elfwood was not a primary complaint.

I myself didn't care how large elfwood grew, I still had my circle of friends within these woods and the size of elfwood didn't change that. What *did* change (for me) was people getting fed up with the mod system, the rules suddenly becoming incomprehensible, even to the mods themselves at times, and then I believe at the height of the maelstorm we had to wait as long as a month between uploads. A week fine, a month and it became way too long for many people to wait. Slowly my circle of friends here disolved because of the above issues and well as I already said before, the people here made elfwood what it was. The addition of more people however, didn't bother me, no one forced me to go to their galleries, and if their comments got too inane or obnoxious I could always block them.

I think the fact that after so long and after so many people got angry and left many of you are still coming back to comment on this post and this LJ, speaks loudly as to how much this place really meant to people.
darksavvy From: darksavvy Date: February 6th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, forgot to log in.
kharmii From: kharmii Date: February 5th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh! I'm only here because a friend of mine showed me this link. I haven't been a member of this community for like, a year.

Certain moderators on Elfwood are like the kinds of people who drive gas guzzling vehicles, if you know what I mean. No one driving a smaller fuel efficient car has to worry about compensating for something smaller in the pants. I had to leave because I was tired of being the subject of petty grudges from people who seemed to think Mod Power put a few extra inches on the E-Dong! My gallery was 95% pure high fantasy but sometimes I'd squeak a borderline think through with a fantasy themed description. That was okay for a while but I had to quietly pack my bags and bounce after the mods stopped giving me the benefit of the doubt.

IE: I uploaded this tiger drawing three times:


The mods accused me three times of giving the tiger an erection! Holy moly! That is pretty twisted! I tried to explain that the dong appeared to be erect because it was abnormally huge but they wouldn't believe me. What the- Why the hell would I give it an erection? Read the description. Nowhere in it does it indicate that an erection would go along with the context of the drawing.

Then I came up with a light-hearted and intelligent political satire piece but realized that I'd have no chance of getting in Elfwood because 1.) It could be described as celebrity art. -and- 2.) I put the lyrics of a complete song in the description. Those rules are stupid! Who the hell cares if I have celebrities/song lyrics in my pieces? It's not like someone is going to show up to my po-dunk gallery with a team of lawyers. BTW...Here is the drawing, if anyone is curious:


Elfwood was fun in its glory days because I could cause all kinds of trouble and people would care. Now there is the sounds of crickets. Oh well, LJ is full of communities that will react with the proper righteous indignation when I pull my shenanigans.

RIP Elfwood.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 7th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Imo, the underpants just look silly anyway. Would normal animal genitals be considered porn?

kharmii From: kharmii Date: February 7th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)
You couldn't expect anything other than silly from me. They considered my drawing porn because they thought the dong was erect. It wasn't! That's just disturbing....
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am not very surprised. Apart from the fact that things were always better in the old days - that seems to be how humans see things - the web has changed.

It is now all Web2.0. You can get your own blog, you set all the layout, you write messages whenever you want, you upload pictures of anything, videos, sound, whatever. You can also connect with all sorts of other people (not just artists).

Seriously, the thought that you are allowed to upload only images, must conform to a specific genre, would have to fit your images into a fixed design, and even have to wait several days to have it nodded over by some moderator. That's simply ridiculous. Who in his right mind would join such a site when you can just hop into one of those social networks all your friends joined and do whatever you want?

I could see people conforming if it were for the sake of joining some kind of elitist community. But Elfwood is quite the opposite.

I'm still happy with it; I even uploaded a new after several years of absence. But that's probably just because I joined many years ago, liked it and got used to it. But I just can't see Elfwood competing in the hunt for new users.

(--Sven2, who has lost his login)
darksavvy From: darksavvy Date: February 6th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well Thomas certainly seems to be trying, I remember when he was staunchly against advertising, and lo, ads are on the site now. But I see what you're saying, there are so many sites out there that are inclusive rather than exclusive it's much less of a headache to just join them. What's more is elfwood is exclusive in a weird nitpicky way, not in a way that most passersby actually care about in a site.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't even think the details are very important. Whether the moderators relax the rules a little bit and accept non-fantasy, or whether they demand more quality (like Epilogue), it may shift the userbase a little bit. But ultimatively, it's just not the time for art sites any more.

Just like once there were mailing lists and the usenet, but now people mostly use web forums for that kind of communication. There used to be a time when everyone had three homepages for his family and his cat; now people have blogs instead.

That's not to say art sites couldn't become fashionable again. In fact, I hope they do :)

From: tgw_whale Date: February 10th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)

We all know what happened

We know what happened here, and I think we've discussed it many times.

An art site such as Elfwood will have a comparatively small number of quality artists, and a whole lot of us who were far short of professional. I have seen art on Elfwood that is as good as, or even better than, most of the stuff done by famous professional fantasy artists. But because Elfwood from the beginning didn't judge as to whether artworks were "good enough" for the 'Woods, it soon became overrun by poor to mediocre anime-style elves drawn by teen-agers.

Now it is the teen-aged artist wannabes that are the ones who are far more likely to post pirated art as their own. It is the possibility of being sued over pirated art that makes it necessary to have moderators check every picture. And with the great number of people posting on the site, the moderation queue became very long.

Adding to this were the ridiculous moderation rules that would disqualify at least half of the works done by professional fantasy artists. I am sure that the few top-quality artists that make the site worthwhile from an artistic point of view became frustrated with these rules. Meanwhile, the endless numbers of anime-elves all qualified, because of pointy ears. I do not claim to be a top-quality artist, but I did have a picture rejected during my Elfwood days for an obscure rule that to this day I find ridiculous.

So the top artists got frustrated and drifted away. So did the many resident "colorful characters" (this means you, Kharmi) who were the heart of boards such as this one. That is what happened to Elfwood.

Could Elfwood be revived? Probably not. There just aren't that many top-quality artists that come along, and many of those who used to post on Elfwood have moved on.

As for myself, I left Elfwood because of circumstances beyond the control of myself and certainly beyond the control of the people running Elfwood. Sites such as Elfwood will always be losing some members. But when the rules and the system are driving away your quality artists and colorful characters, an art site is doomed. Elfwood survives, or course, but the beloved Elfwood of old is gone.
stumblingrose From: stumblingrose Date: September 5th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a submission turned down because it used the word 'bullshit' once.
That was the only expletive in the whole piece, but it was turned down JUST for that.

As much as I loved Elfwood when it was new, I'm not sure it is changing enough to keep me very interested. I haven't updated my neck of the woods in around six years? Maybe more?

The site is like dealing with a prude to me, after having my submission turned down for ONE word.

It's ridiculous.
From: abdullaali1986 Date: December 13th, 2012 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
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