Originally Web posted Monday, 13 June 2022.
Content last modified Monday, 13 June 2022 .

An open message to DeviantArt regarding their WWW browser support (June 2022)

Giving Thanks

Thank You, everyone involved with DeviantArt, for making and maintaining your platform where we artists (general definition) can share our creations with the world. You’ve (apparently) been putting great effort into systems and mechanisms which help artists protect their works—wonderful!, and likely to help keep DeviantArt a preferred artists’ space, especially if DA leads other sites with this.

It may seem strange to start out what assuredly is going to be a rant about DeviantArt (DA) and its policies with this note of gratitude, but so often we forget: There Is No Entitlement. No one owes us such a system or platform. People worked hard (i’m guessing) to make it happen, and continue working hard to keep it operable, (reasonably) secure, and viable. This creative/content creator as well as consumer publicly acknowledges that a platform like DA is important and worthwhile.

Having written that, it is important to note that in no way does nor should DA have a monopoly on this sort of creative outlet platform, and things can and should be much better than they are. This is likely the first of a series of critiques of DA as it exists at the time of critique writing.

DA Arrogance and Discrimination, vol. who’s counting that high?: DA’s Browser War

Those of you who slavishly keep your WWW browser software updated may never have experienced the “joy” of being greeted by this banner, in DA bilious attention-grabbing green (approximately #2AD495):

“We don’t support your current browser version. Please upgrade your browser, it includes important security updates.”

This, starting around February 2022, was DA’s shot across my bow that they would no longer deign to accept bug reports from me. Never mind that mere weeks earlier, the site worked perfectly. There’s some stuff to unpack here.

Disingenuous Deflection Damages DA Credibility

Dear DeviantArt peeps: i am fully qualified to determine my own security needs. Stop being patronizing about this—especially because you’re deflecting, and in a sense lying. You don’t truly care about me and my security; you front end web team cares about using the latest whizzy CSS etc. features, which can’t be done as easily with people like me sticking with older browser software. Truth Matters. Be Honest.

If this is really about security, please explain to me why two completely unrelated banks plus one of the biggest credit card companies in the world if not the very biggest are totally fine with not only my current and newest i can run Safari 12 but my prior standard Safari 11. Somehow these three unrelated financial institutions are all good with me using either of these Safari versions to manage my (meager) life savings and credit, but DA won’t allow me to leave public regular text comments on other artists’ works with either of these versions for security reasons?! Puuullleeeese!

“So just run a newer Safari. What’s the problem?”

Oh, if it were that easy.

Safari versions are locked to the OS (i’m using a Macintosh: a full computer). A newer Safari version would require a newer macOS, which brings a plethora of its own issues:

Before i go long on that last item, here’s a point that will bear repeating throughout this missive: Every moment and dollar i spend dealing with software and/or hardware upgrades and/or any other tech disruptions to keep DA happy is that much less time and money i’m able to direct to DeviantArt. Is that really what you want, DA? Me spending less time leaving favorable, encouraging, constructive comments for other artists and posting my own work, maybe someday even thinking about paying you for Core (but let’s not get carried away), and instead spending far less time on DA and certainly sending you no money, with much of it going to Apple?! (as if they don’t have enough).

Stuck on Sierra? Whatever for?

My brother lives in Eastern Europe, under an ever-more-dictatorial/authoritarian nation’s government. My secure means of communication with him is encrypted S/MIME email messages in Apple Mail 10.3, which like Safari and most other Apple bundled software is locked to the OS version. Apple broke its own built-in S/MIME functionality in Mail 11 for macOS 10.13 High Sierra and never fixed it (through the end of the OS 10 series, which is as new as my hardware can go). How do i know this for sure? I researched and wrote a definitive WWW article about it.

In terms of life priorities, remaining in communication with my brother when things could get real ugly real fast and he may need to exfiltrate data to the U.S. for his/his family’s own well being rather supersedes being able to fully use DeviantArt. And, it bears repeating, nearly every other site on the 2022 Internet including those three wholly independent financial institutions are great with my older Safari versions and the rest of my older, stable macOS and Macintosh setup. But DA can’t handle it… or won’t handle it, even though DA worked perfectly on these same older browsers as recently as January 2022.

“Soooo, uh, use a different WWW browser like Firefox or Chrome or Opera or whatever. What’s the problem?”

First item is the same argument as for any other update or system change: all the time and energy in that process is subtracted from time and energy that would otherwise be directed at participating on DA, making it a more active, positive, creative place.

Second item: people have preferences. Artists often have preferred tools with which they are comfortable. I am a long-time Mac user, from back to the late 1980s and into the 1990s when being Un-Mac-like was a big deal and a major penalty. When DA pushed me and pushed me and pushed me starting in February 2022 to move on, then another arrogant site (Yelp, and don’t get me started on them) did the same, i redirected time i would have given the DA creative space and my own creativity to researching the current state of WWW browsers my system can run. It took several days, and besides Firefox (which was already my fallback, now with a scary new bu$ine$$ model that was off-putting), the only one i could stand that would satisfy DA was Vivaldi.

Spent days with this research, and about a full day getting Vivaldi set up and dialed in. And you know what? I hate using both Firefox and Vivaldi, because they’re un-Mac-like least-common-denominator cross-platform fugliness. Of the two, i have a longer history with Firefox so better tolerance, but it’s still unpleasant and foreign. Certainly i don’t like either one enough to switch full time to them, so i only use Firefox for DA (and even more rarely, Yelp, which i’ve nearly given up on), and so far Vivaldi not at all for anything.

Consider what this means, DA. Up until you laid down your arrogant law and gave me the middle finger and i could use Safari and it worked it was easy and frictionless for me to pop over to DA on the slightest whim, often at least once a day and sometimes several times a day and for long spans of time. Easy frictionless back-and-forth between DA and the rest of my rich WWW life. Now, i have to consciously think to start up Firefox and go to DA, which happens far less often. Or i start in Safari as i used to do, ignore the warning banner, and do as much as i can. As of June 2022, that’s still significantly much, which is more important for DA getting free content from me than for me getting content from other DA artists. When i hit a block, a.k.a. a bug that DA refuses to fix, Safari’s Develop menu makes it easy for me to open that same page in Firefox and do what needs doing, working around DA’s bugs.

But having to open things up in Firefox is friction. Having to use anything other than Safari at all is friction. The more friction, the less inclination i have to go to DA and do anything. DA loses.

Multiply The Number: not just me

If it was just me, it probably wouldn’t matter to DA or anyone else. But is it? Typing out this missive has been a major time sink and a lot of friction. Most people wouldn’t bother—they just leave.

I became active on DA as a content contributor and not just a content consumer as i’d been for years prior around the time DeviantArt plunged into darkness with Eclipse. How and why y’all at DA ever came up with that code name for the major redesign i still cannot fathom. Maybe it was the first one with dark mode or something—whatever. Because of the timing, i’d never known pre-Eclipse DA for submitting broad-definition art (literature in my case), so had no bias against it. In fact, i was encouraging other disaffected and questioning creators back then that it wasn’t so bad and that they should stick with it—and DA. I do remember a significant number of my favorite creators leaving DA in droves, due to Eclipse. Many never came back. They’re not going to take the time to compose messages like this, if they even still put any energy into thinking about DA at all.

Like ebay, Yahoo!, and other arrogant sites before, y’all may at the moment have a near-monopoly as a space for sharing societally-edgy (and not) creative artworks, but that edge can degrade and disappear at any time. Eclipse already did some of that. How much more arrogance do you want to exude? How many more creatives do you want to push past their limit and send away? How many will leave without telling you, like i’m trying to tell you now? Can you afford to lose that many?

I still use Safari for posting my stories, because it’s the only browser that i can run that posts formatted text into DA successfully. Firefox dumbs everything down to plain text, and DA lacks any usable uploading mechanism for finished stories other than PDF (but that’s a separate rant). The day i can no longer post Literature on DA with my Safari is the day i stop posting to DA, because i don’t have days to reformat my carefully-formatted writing just to work around DA stupidity. Expect a forthcoming full missive on DA and Literature posting.

The day will come when it’s untenable to run Safari 12 on the WWW—i know that. I’m quite sure either of my banks or my credit card company will let me know, and likely many of the hundreds of other websites i can still use with no problems whatsoever. For the rest of the world, that day’s not here yet—just on DA. The site worked perfectly in January, then y’all had some reason(s) to change things, and it didn’t. How about expending a little more time and energy figuring out what you broke and put that code back, at least as a fallback if the newer, preferred mechanism fails?

Ya broke it, DA. Fix It.

))Sonic Purity((