The webcomics blog about webcomics

Just When I’m Out, Back In, Etc

I’ve been wondering why it is that I hadn’t met Matthew Inman before Memorial Day weekend at the NCS shindig, then I started wondering why I was wondering. We hadn’t crossed paths because I don’t do that many conventions these days, and he does even less; most of the people I’ve met in this deeply weird community have been via personal introductions. The Oatmeal is on my casual follow list rather than priority follow list¹. That being said, he’s exactly the guy that you want to be talking with when you’re in a room full of people you don’t know and have not so much in common with, and he’s somebody that I’m going to genuinely look forward to seeing when our paths have cause to cross.

All of which is to say, I am resolved that should I ever feel the need to be a tremendous douchebag towards Matthew Inman², I am going to remember a few things:

Not that I am likely to feel the need to treat Inman with extremely rude, explain-to-me-how-this-is-not-extortion-please behavior, as I have managed a run of 1882 consecutive days of governing myself accordingly³ and don’t see that streak ending anytime soon. Still, it looks likely that at this rate, the bears and the cancers are going to be splitting northwards of US$250,000 (US$152,000 with thirteen days to go as of this writing) so I guess we should all thank the FunnyJunk [no link because seriously, screw those guys] people for deciding that Matthew Inman gave them a sad and that escalating their hurt feelings into legal threats was a good idea.

Speaking of legal threats, The Great Todd Goldman Contretemps of Aught-Seven4 stirred up not just a lot of commentary at this page, but also a lot of communications direct to me; nothing has matched it since, but the amount of requests and enquiries I’ve gotten from the latest Kickstarter pieces are getting close. Since it looks like I’m not going to be allowed to let Kickstarter fade into the background just yet, let’s mention some of the more notable ones:

  • From commenter “Myth”, an argument that the US$10 and under tier represents “impulse buy” tendencies and attracts people who want to feel randomly good about backing things. In my experience, most people won’t kick a quarter into the tip jar of a talented busker on the street, so I’m not so sure about them donating ten bucks for random good feelings. I’ll concede the possibility, but there’s no way for either of us to assert definitively without a survey of users as to their motivations, and I have neither the data nor the time to manage that. As for the specific dollar figure cited, I’m going to fall back on a half-decade of working con booths and stand by US$20 being the quantum unit of money.
  • From commenter Mark V, a wondering as to whether low-tier backers drive participation at higher tiers by means of momentum. I was mentally thinking Hey that sounds interesting, go do that to Mr V’s suggestion to do a daily sampling of a bunch of projects and look at the cross-correlation of the time series for the different tiers (time, people, I am not made of it!), but before such a churlish suggestion could escape my lips, he produced a quick analysis of success vs backer count, incorporating my 39 projects and another 20 that failed.

    Two things to note here: I really wanted to find some “near miss” projects, ones that came just shy of succeeding, but couldn’t come up with a set that wasn’t all outliers the last time I went looking (similarity was a big part of why I set an arbitrary floor of US$10,000 for my analysis), so good work by Mark finding a set that he considered valid. Even more interesting was a datum that jumped out at him:

    Surprisingly (?), there is a clean break between the funded and unfunded projects at 100 backers. Does anyone know of any unsuccessful comics Kickstarters with more than 100 backers?

    Damn good question, Mark. Anybody know of any? And please, before somebody that’s looking at Kickstarter as a kind of magic ATM skims this bit and takes away the wrong lesson, 100 backers is not a magic guarantor of success. The dependency goes the other way — if you’ve got the kind of project that would be a success, you’ve already amassed a pool of supporters that would hit triple digits. As always, there are contrary cases.

    Thanks to Mark V for seeing an investigatory direction that I hadn’t considered, and to everybody else with specific questions — the data are there waiting for you same as for me. The more people that dig around and look for answers, the greater chance of something meaningful getting unearthed.

  • Alternately, you could wait a couple days and hear me and Richard Bliss compare notes; Howard “My Evil Twin” Tayler introduced me to Mr Bliss via email yesterday:

    Richard “The Game Whisperer” Bliss has been doing research on, and a podcast about Kickstarter since November of 2011, mostly focused on what it means in the board game space.

    So scheduling on that is getting worked out today, and I’ll let you know when you can listen. Honestly, when I stared my lines of enquiry, it was because I’m a numbers nerd and when I see patterns in them I have to dig around and see what I can find. I didn’t expect all of this interest from so many quarters. Oh, and as long as I’m on the topic of Howard Tayler, congrats on completing twelve years of updating Schlock Mercenary every damn day.

Hey, did you notice that Cameron Stewart brought back Sin Titulo? Because he did, and with no other projects competing for his time, it’s going up every day until it’s done. Read it again for the first time.

¹ Inman’s in good company there — there’s some incredibly popular and successful comics that serve their audiences well, but they aren’t for me.

² Say, bears are facing an extinction-level threat and need a few bucks.

³ Seriously, Charles Carreon, Attorney-at-Law, when somebody calls your bluff on legal threats that we all know you were never going to act on, you cut your losses and quit with making the noise.

4 If I may be indulged for a moment, it’s probably my greatest point of pride with respect to this blog that we at Fleen did not remove any of our Todd Goldman coverage when “invited” to do so. Major publishing houses did, we did not.

I think that sums up ad hominem attacks pretty well.

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