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Ffffound is shutting down (ffffound.com)
198 points by nikolasavic on April 26, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 91 comments

My only exposure to Ffffound was when I met someone at a party in Silicon Valley about ten years ago who was working on a clone of Ffffound ("but different"). I'd never heard of Ffffound, and he kept saying it with all of the "f"s sounded out like he was stuttering. It was hilarious on a couple of counts. For one, he was working on a clone of something that was so small at the time that I'd never heard of it, and I was living in the valley and kinda staying on top of startup news; something with no known business model, no big investment, etc. no evidence that it would go anywhere. And, for the other, it just sounded silly to sound out the name every time he said it.

I looked up the site, probably the next day, and couldn't really figure out what it was for, so never visited again. I'm obviously not the target market, but that's one of the funnier memories I have of Silicon Valley and its culture.

Also, I'm a little surprised it's lasted this long. I didn't expect it to, given my impression of it at the time. Good for them.

The "better" version is (and has been for quite a while) Designspiration[0]. A ffffound account, for a while, was just a dick-measuring unit for designers around 2010 +/- a few years. I found through some Google-fu type means a prolific inviter via Reddit and got an account for like $35, but it turned out hardly be worth it.

0. http://designspiration.net/

Aside from community, is there a functional difference between designspiration and pinterest?

Not much. I've personally found Pinterest to be a little more geared toward crafts, recipes, and home decor -- but I know a lot of designers use it for inspiration and mood boarding. Designspiration is more narrow in terms of content, and not as deep in terms of interaction and community.

Thanks for writing this up, even your description had me laughing.

The (often baseless) optimism and confidence of people in the valley is a source of both exasperation and hope, for me. I, too, find it mostly hilarious.

So much so that HBO's Silicon Valley is only barely satire.

Weird, this was a site that I used to hit pretty regularly, and then it seems that one day I just forgot it existed? And so now linking to it I remember having gone to it, but I don't remember what it is.

Hah, after skimming a page or two (love the vim-inspired navigation keys, btw) I remembered why I stopped going: tons of random nudity. Nothing like browsing design inspiration at work and having NSFW content show up.

Wow, you weren't kidding, lol. It's not even subtle or artsy. I guess even the coolest designers can't resist clicking a random image of boobs.

I don't remember there being that much nudity when I used it, but the first image I clicked on right now instantly showed me "related" images where at least 4 or 5 were nude women, and not exactly the artistic expression type, more like straight up porn.

I had a game, where I would click some abstract art on FFFFOUND and see how many clicks it would take me to get to NSFW content through recommendations.

"Oh, look, a 3D-esque triangle! 4 clicks to boobs, 7 clicks to gratuitous pron"

the vim nav is such a plus... I started doing it on ffffound by accident

I do, it turned from being a niche for creatives into a porn site. I was following some people in an attempt to curate the content but knew I was only a click away from some NSFW imagery from whatever recommendation algo was implemented, so it stopped being a destination. Then Tumblr came along where there was more control and a better quality community so I made that my inspiration feed instead.

Right? I had the same feeling when I saw this post. It's been almost ten years since I frequented FFFFOUND, but it's still weird to see it go. This site seriously opened me up to some genius art when I was in the most "creative" phase of my life; so much respect and thanks to the operators. RIP.

+1! I made daily visits and haven't thought about it for years now. I wonder how many other sites like this I've forgotten about.

Simliar, used to be part of my daily browsing habits but at some point it suddenly stopped and I haven't really thought about it in at least 4-5 years until today.

Was a good source of inspiration, sad to see it go nonetheless.

Any alternatives? This is the first time I heard of it (that I remember?) and I now kinda want a site like that in my life.

https://www.are.na is kinda like this in a wierd, niche tool for internet/image archiving. You either love the interface or don't get it, but a potential replacement nonetheless.

I showed my friend are.na (after deciding I liked the concept) and they called it "a masculine-branded pintrest clone". I had trouble disagreeing, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

I especially love the shots of seemingly boring city architecture like this: http://ffffound.com/image/913174394559f0f170e9af85417302ce83...

I didn't know I want this site until now, I suppose this kind of stuff is on artsy Tumblr blogs but I don't know where to find those.

I don't know about "seemingly boring", that's a pretty famous building in Shinjuku.


It's in the post-war Metabolist style. If you want more of that stuff specifically, go where architecture students hang out. Ideally IRL...

There's also (again, specific to that style) a good recent book of interviews on Metabolism by Rem Koolhaas et al.

If you want brutalist architecture, @brutgroup on IG is pretty good: https://www.instagram.com/brutgroup/

Thank you for the link - exactly what I was searching !

Very nice, thanks.

Pintrest comes to mind as the most well-known Ffffound copycat, but the interface isn't as clean and they gate their site.

I was a user of the service since 2007, and it is really a shame, although since some years ago the site looked abandoned.

I really liked it for several reasons

- it was one of the few web 2.0 services wave still alive (around 10 years)

- during this time it's been always useful, without any redesign nor relaunch (10 years with the same product!!)

- super simple design

- organic growth, it didn't have any pretension to grow. In fact it was very limited

- it was created by the japanese studio Tha.jp, you could feel japanese design in every detail

- although it's true that there was a lot of NSFW content (specially lately) it was a really serendipitous experience for design inspiration. It was so random that it had nothing to do with trends, that for example you can easily spot in other design inspiration sites such as Pinterest or dribbble

- there were no comments, just likes (much before Fb or IG)

- the recommendation algorithm it was very weird, no actual visual similarity, no the typical more liked pictures or anything easy to find pattern in it(my guess is that it was not very well coded ;) but at the same time it was perfect in terms of discovering new stuff, so it worked in that sense.

Well,as I said, it will be missed. Long live ffffound!

BTW: some years ago, predicting the service was about to close (because of inactivity and server issues) I wrote a small script to backup the account. I leave it here just in case is helpful for anyone.


Mentioned this as a reply, but perhaps worth posting again: check out https://are.na if you are one of the folks yearning for a similar thing (that isn't pinterest). Arena is certainly a tool for a certain niche, but it has a great API (some people have used it as a CMS using the API) and you can create "channels" of content (images, text, URLs) that can be nested/associated within other "channels".

Seconding this. Arena is a great tool with a really interesting community.

Man, talk about the ephemeral internet: One of my first projects[1] in Haskell was a small tool to go through my Google Reader favorites and download posts I tagged on ffffound.

[1] https://github.com/yan/hhhhoard

This is why i went with tinytinyrss when reader shut down. since i can host it myself theres little danger of it happening again

What an abrupt end. And their robots.txt[1] never allowed the Internet Archive to crawl them, so nothing will be archived.

[1]: http://ffffound.com/robots.txt

I have a backup utility rolling at http://ddddownload.club . It's not perfect, but I'm afraid I don't have a lot of time left for troubleshooting.

Found http://lookwork.com/ through links on your site. It looks similar to ffffound at a glance, but I'd never heard of either before now.

Would you recommend it?

Lookwork is a very different beast… it is an RSS reader without the pictures. It does, like FFFFOUND, have image bookmarking functions, although at some point down the line we'd like to move that to Pinterest or maybe just Dropbox. But regardless, I personally think it is fantastic for discovery, please give it a try.

As someone new to ffffound, I don't already have an account with favorites. Are there any complete backups of the images somewhere?

Sweet, thanks for making this!

ArchiveTeam, however, is not as scrupulous :)

Almost done. robots.txt is so pedestrian.

Wiki page doesn't contain much info. http://www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Ffffound%21

I'm flying solo. Wish I could say I get tired of these site closures, but its sort of fun archiving them up.

I'm in ur content, savin some culture.

I also set up a tool to export your Ffffound account to http://www.wookmark.com . Note that a paid account ($20/year) is required, so I can keep the lights on. If you want to do this, create a Wookmark account and message me the usernames from both sites. While I'm writing this, my import scripts are working through a Ffffound account with 6000 images. It's a fairly straightforward process. Happy Thursday.

As a side-note, Internet Archive is starting to ignore robots.txt rules for this exact reason : https://blog.archive.org/2017/04/17/robots-txt-meant-for-sea...

I'll be using HTTrack a day or 2 before to get the whole lot.

10 years, and I could never get an invite. RIP.

Haha. Same pinch.

I tried couple of times, then gave up. Some 3-4 years ago was the last time I explored getting an invite, it was around the same time I kind of quit this hobby of being a shutterbug. Of course the two arent't related. I figured I haven't got what it takes. Besides I just hated spending time on taking photos and I would often forget to take photos of good views, scenes, or moments and by the time I would ready the camera it would be too late. No regrets though. Also, I suffered from "what DSLR is best at price X" condition for a long time.

But still every time I land on a Flickr page (esp. after it was Yahoo'ed) I can't help thinking whether there is any Flickr replacement that is not bloated and then only name comes to my mind was of Ffffound (I always used to get the F count wrong).

here is the google trends graph https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=FFFFOUND wonder what happened in july 2013?

the decline in 2015 might be the push by google for mobile friendly sites.

Possibly coincidental, but July 1, 2013 was the date Google Reader was discontinued.

You could also ask what happend in Nov 2011 that stopped the exponential increase

That was the month they got rid of sharing and encouraged Reader users to share through Google+. It also inspired this tweet, which I remember fondly.


    Looking like @newsblur is the @pinboard of Google's deliciousing of Reader.
    1 Nov 2011, @jkottke

Pinterest probably killed it.

Unsplash.com seems to be gaining some momentum in comparison since Jan 2016 https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=FFFFOUND...

Well that was vague. I can't help but wonder why. Is it because they have exclusively worked with The Deck for advertising, or did they just get bored? Surely they could find some similarly minimal way to advertise in place of The Deck.

The Deck is (or: was) pretty unique in the space - high-quality sites and much higher rates of pay than any of the competitors that tried to follow suit. Getting similar rates with even much larger and lower-quality ads would be hard.

Well, I've never heard of this site before, but so long and thanks for all the fish, I guess. Looks like I missed a pretty nice website.

This was a giant mood board for designers, with built-in exclusivity. You could see what others had liked and posted, but invitations were mysterious and scarce – they were seen as a badge of honor among top designers of the mid-2000s.

Funny how memory can be so unreliable – wikipedia says the site was started in 2007, yet in my mind it's been around a lot longer than that. That places it only one year before Obama ran for president – which feels like yesterday, but is also nearly a decade ago.

The whole exclusivity element of the design industry (fashion, interactive, graphic...) has always been a source of contention with me. On the one hand, I like working as a designer on projects as I enjoy the challenges and the output. And I've had the honor of working with some exceptional development teams in producing things that people use on a day to day basis.

But the justifications for gating sites like this one or Dribbble has left me with an incredible distaste for the industry because it's fairly prevalent. I recall being in class and having the elite designers scoff from their towers over the lesser skilled individuals, as if somehow there's no way anyone else could attain the skill necessary to improve their own ability. Even my ex-Creative Director who studied under some ridiculously strong designers (e.g. Paul Rand) had that mindset where you either had it or you didn't.

In contrast, when I'm learning things like deep learning or math, you have incredibly smart people who put out tons of free information or books, who actively help others on forums/Quora/SO on their quest to become better. And most importantly, believe in the individual to become a better person.

I feel that they have to protect their reputation as a lot of their talent can be emulated and their fame is tied to their accomplishments. The first person who started using hashtags goes by 'inventor of hashtags'.

Applied fields have a much higher barrier to entry in my experience as a designer with a background in the applied sciences. In contrast, anyone can emulate their favorite designer and 'fake it till they make it'.

> The first person who started using hashtags goes by 'inventor of hashtags'.

I mean, is that untrue?

So I never knew about ffffound, but looking at it and considering that it is crowd-sourced content made me baffled since it's actually... good. When you go to reddit/imgur and such, you inevitablly get the same dump of tacky, half-funny bullshit.

I guess the exclusivity is really helping. Popularity rankings alone can't solve minimum quality barriers. I just wished I had found it earlier, now it's shutting down.

Most forums decline in quality over time as new ppl join. It's why many ppl here lament the HN of several years ago. I think that was the reason for keeping it invite only.

Sorry those designers were dicks to you, we're not all like that.

> It's why many ppl here lament the HN of several years ago

I guess you can say that about any community which allows new people, and you can even keep saying it every year. I used to be (and I guess still am?) a member of a Turkish web site called "Ekşi Sözlük"[1], which used to (and maybe still does) mark your account with a generation flag which anyone could see. I remember discussions about Xth generation people being so not receptive of the community values and such... Just as in real life which happens with the birth years.

I guess this behavior has a name but I don't know what to search for.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ek%C5%9Fi_S%C3%B6zl%C3%BCk

> I guess this behavior has a name but I don't know what to search for.

Eternal September?

Calling it that is accepting that newcomers are indeed negatively affecting the community.

I was thinking more about the hostility towards the new.

One's a subjective skill, the other, objective

Great design is much less subjective than people think. A good creative director will be able to look at a portfolio and recognize quality, much like a tech lead can look at someone's code and see if it's good.

Yep. A lot of the cultural luxuries programmers enjoy stem from the fact that there's a binary arbitrator of "correctness". Code will either output something that contains the required data, or it won't.

Within programming, there is plenty of room for taste and finesse and snobbery at higher levels of abstraction, but the field is naturally gated for us by a hard meritocratic absolute. In most fields, it's not that way at all.

It's because artists/designers etc. want to believe they are special and nobody can do what they do. It dcomes from a deep seated insecurity probably

If they are shutting down, why not make (and share) an archive of the whole site, to preserve the works that's been done? Sharing through bittorrent is free and decentralized. They already host the images, and I get the feeling that sites in this niche are already in some gray-copyright area..

Sad. I remember, at least initially, Google Gears having a tough time trying to parse blog content linked from Ffffound. I'd download all my Reader content for plane rides only to have missing images. Brings back memories of a better time; before Yahoo killed Delicious and Flickr.

FFFFOUND really is one of the last true "brutalist websites"[0]. Today's "minimalistic" websites have lots of whitespace and probably good typography, but also hundreds of KB of JavaScript and fucking progress bars. They are incredibly slow. FFFFOUND is incredibly fast with a design which they didn't need to change in 10 years. Because it works.


[0]: http://brutalistwebsites.com/

Maybe the archive team can help ? http://www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

This is Colossal [0] is a good alternative.

Text heavy.


Not really.

Main thing about ffffound I liked was that using h/j/k/l to skim through the site actually worked.

I always had a really big problem with the site: so little attribution (proper or otherwise) of images.

Image not FFFFOUND

They really missed an opportunity for a headline:


Before 20 seconds ago, I did not know this was a thing.

Blocked on my work's network? Whats on here?

It is a place of found artwork and other neat design things from around the web. As a result there is some nudity.

For example page 2 has everything from a topless woman on a window sill to an old black and white photo of someone bowling. Etc.

Years ago I did development in a small design shop as a student and all of the designers had FFFound up at least once a day if not more.


"FFFFOUND! is a web service that not only allows the users to post and share their favorite images found on the web, but also dynamically recommends each user's tastes and interests for an inspirational image-bookmarking experience!!"

It's an invite only image bookmarking site.

Ello.co stealing their metaphorical lunch

sad, that's one of my brothers (who is a designer) favorite sites

jjjjound.com the OG design inspiration site is still up.

I've been visiting this weekly for 10 years.

It's easy to take for granted now, but ffffound was before tumblr and really before Facebook was a household name. It predates the current use of the word meme.

It's very much a bastion of the 2000's internet. In terms of long-term personal internet use ffffound for me is only second to boingboing (which I feel is nearing an end as well).


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