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The Inception BWWWAAAAAMMMMM Wishes It Sounded Like This

Horace Greenstein courtesy of the dark, blasted recesses of Jon Rosenberg's mind.

A number of things happened Thursday, but I felt like Friday belonged to Joey. I don’t imagine a slight delay in discussion has changed any of these things too much.

  • If you aren’t familiar with Horace Greenstein, Scary Owl Lawyer, you damn well should be. Now available in scarier, sound-and-vision form courtesy of Nothing But Flowers.
  • New A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible!
  • It’s been ten years since the first Child’s Play was announced¹, and in that time its focus has been singular: make life a little easier for sick kids (and their families) via a network of affiliated (now world-wide) hospitals. Announced late last week is the first expansion of the Child’s Play mission, extending the same promise of relief to kids outside of the hospital environment, but in no less miserable straits:

    With the holiday season upon us, we wanted to share some exciting news from Child’s Play. Due to the incredible amount of support from gamers around the world, we’ve been working on a new initiative to benefit children and their families in domestic violence facilities.

    Unlike the network of hospitals we serve, domestic violence shelters operate on a much smaller scale and can have specific needs and challenges: Anonymous locations, apartment-style housing, multilingual families, and more.

    Within our pilot program, we have domestic violence facilities that provide emergency housing, long term housing, counseling, legal advocacy, and a variety of youth and family care programs, but there was one unifying factor to each and every one: They’re in need of ways to support, entertain, distract and interact with traumatised youth.

    I’m proud to announce we have selected ten facilities to participate in the pilot program for our domestic violence assistance initiative. Over the past year, we’ve been working to build a custom designed game kiosk, complete with console, TV, and appropriate games.

    As we get feedback and fine-tune the manufacturing and distribution process, we will expand the network to include facilities nationwide.

    PA co-creator Mike Krahulik isn’t the most popular guy in some communities these days; if you can separate the creator from the creation, there’s some good work being done here by a lot of people (not the least Child’s Play coordinator Jamie Dillion) and the good that can be produced here is tangible and much-needed. Just sayin’.

  • I’ve been thinking about the Kickstarter scam-backer incident since it broke last week, and while I’m gratified that things came to a quick resolution (tl;dr: Kickstarter revoked the account of the scammer in question), I’ve been wondering what kind of protections could be baked into the Kickstarter ecosystem to discourage such scam attempts in the future. I’m not sure that anything foolproof could be devised² without impairing the the utility of the site, given that disputes of this nature are between a customer (in this case, a scammer), a credit card company, and a merchant (which Kickstarter is not; Kickstarter is a permanent marketplace with a floating roster of merchants).

    Amazon’s not very involved either, given that it’s little more than a credit processing service rather than a merchant. The bank issuing the card is obligated to investigate on behalf of the allegedly aggrieved party³, but it doesn’t want to be stuck with a deadbeat customer and is somewhat incentivized to find in favor of their cardmember because that makes it Somebody Else’s Problem. The Somebody in that SEP is the merchant, who get hit with a chargeback.

    So what to do? For starters, I don’t know what Kickstarter may be planning to deter scammers in the future — although I am confident that they are planning, since this particular cat it out of the bag, and dong nothing means having to spend the time and effort to react to them one at a time — but if I were over there I’d consider at least some of the following:

    • At a campaigner organizer’s request (or maybe automatically), make chargeback investigators aware of past disputes against other campaigns
    • Allow campaigns to approve backers above some threshold dollar value
    • Require backers above some threshold dollar value to provide some amount of their pledge in escrow/bond

    Those last two might work to deter the next guy that’s determined to steal top-value backer rewards; the hassle of dealing with credit card complaints (and the risk of triggering fraud alerts at the credit card companies) might not be worth it if you could “only” steal, say, US$100 worth of stuff as opposed to US$1000. Much to think about, and much to keep an eye on in future.

  • Speaking of Kickstarter, and not on the topic of scams — one of the most delightfully thoughtful (or thoughtfully delightful) webcomics is finally getting a proper print collection, and they’re fundraising as we speak. Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell creators Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan would like very much for you to join their eponymous hero on the karmic rollercoaster ride that is his life, and to enjoy the paper-based versions of the laugh-chuckles which can be yours for as little as US$30 (it was US$25, but the early birds beat you to the savings).

    DCIGTH is terrific, funny, heartfelt stuff, and you should get in on this while the getting’s good. Oh, and collectors of comics art: please note that originals from the DCIGTH run are included in reward packages starting at the US$60 level, which is criminally cheap. Also, handmade plushies of Skittles the Manticore, hooray!

¹ Perhaps appropriately, it started in reaction to what the PA guys perceived as persecuting, dickish behavior on the part of another. You may argue if you wish about the presence or absence of irony in that state of affairs, but it is inarguable that Child’s Play has done a great deal of good for sick kids and their families in the decade since.

² cf: the prevalence of scammers on eBay, who always find exploits within policies that are meant for honest participants. But, like they say, locks are for honest people.

³ Remind me to tell you sometime about the dark days before card swipers and how customers could get screwed by stolen credit cards for weeks until the numbers got into the hands of merchants.

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