The webcomics blog about webcomics

Short Answer, No; Longer Answer, A Little

It was yesterday afternoon when C Spike Trotman — who is on top of things to the degree that I suspect she has a hidden neural jack someplace — tweeted the alarm:

…wait did patreon just ban porn

There’s a flurry of discussion, which I’ll let you examine; suffice it to say that on first read, This Seemed Bad:

Fuck, more than a few people just went from +$10k a month in steady income to NOTHING if this is true. How do you not puke yourself to death

My initial suspicion anytime something porn related gets the heave-ho is that the credit card companies and/or PayPal are at the heart of it, but the vagueness around Patreon’s move seemed disturbing. Fortunately, there are people in the community one may rely upon to explain things with insight and careful analysis, and in the intersection of webcomics and business systems, we have George.

His report was based on primary documents from Patreon and a bit of informed suspicion. This is good stuff, so I’m quoting at length:

Okay gonna talk about the changes to patreon stuff real quick since I see a lot of people losing their minds…

Let’s start with links to their community post – … and then the guidelines –

This has been the looming threat as its use as a webcam sub service started growing –

The problem doesn’t come down to prudish attitudes, it comes down to credit card processors, and they most certainly finally cracked down.

So to go back to patreon in particular – the language they use in their updated guidelines is clear by way of wink and nudge.

If you’re an artist there’s a few full nos – “glorification of sexual violence which includes bestiality, rape, and child exploitation”

If you were selling cam subs or modeling shots – you are out of luck. This is actually similar to Kickstarter’s policy. Art ok? ppl no.

So yeah, if you’re drawing smut, flag your patreon adult, keep it all patrons only, & don’t cross the few guides.

And if you cry vague… They’re more specific than kickstarter’s which just say “pornographic content” period. …

And that hasn’t stopped a whole wave of people from running anthologies, graphic novels, and other books and pins and what have you on it.

Which makes it sound much more like Patreon got rid of people who were less using the platform as a creative funding mechanism, and more for a straight payment processor to get around restrictions from the financial industry. This reading is much closer to Patreon got rid of people stretching rules to the breaking point specifically so it could keep the people well in-bounds.

But is it a danger? I asked Brad Guigar, who as we all know has been making a tidy living from the smut-friendly corners of Patreon for some time now. Here’s what he said on the record:

Patreon’s rules disallowing things like incest, rape, bestiality, and child exploitation don’t really effect [sic] me. My stuff doesn’t go into those areas. The bigger takeaway, for me, was Patreon seems to be taking great pains to accommodate folks who are creating adult content. And that’s huge.

At least, for now. Because a couple of days after I spoke to Guigar about his experiences with Patreon and the cartoon naughties (and goodness, that was just about exactly two years ago!), the world reminded us that nothing is static with respect to how much respect adult content can get in payment channels. To somewhat self-indulgently quote myself from that piece:

We think of webcomics has having evaded gatekeepers, and on a content/editorial basis, it absolutely has. But in trying to make that independent effort a proper business, one must engage in a system that is entirely one-sided. Run afoul of one person at Chase or Bank of America and you’re frozen out; they’ll never take on a major corporate creator of inferior smut (cable and dish companies make a lot of damn money off of naughty pay-per-view; so does every hotel chain other than Hilton, who are weaning themselves off the grumble flicks), but they’ll freeze out anybody that attracts enough attention from a loud enough pressure group.

… With the continued concentration of information services into the hands of fewer and fewer providers, the possibility of getting strong-armed by somebody that doesn’t like your personal aesthetic is something we’re going to have to be increasingly cognizant of. [emphasis original]

Which is why the real lesson of Patreon’s moves yesterday is not the panic we saw in some quarters, or even the modest optimism of Rohac and Guigar: it’s the recognition that Patreon’s support of adult content is 99.44% good for now, but that could change drastically at any time.

The time to start brainstorming the backup plan to Patreon is now, before the disaster strikes. Maybe it never does, in which case hooray. Maybe you draw a line in the sand that says If these ____ changes occur, that’s when I start to transition to _____. Maybe you see the writing on the wall and get in on another channel (partially or fully) well in advance. Revisit your analysis (when you file quarterly taxes is probably a good time) and don’t let external decisions make you go from income to no income without a backup plan.

Do it for the children.

Spam of the day:

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The accompanying photo appears to be somebody fondling a beef heart, which is honestly less worrying that what I figured would be involved. These sort of things usually involve horrors like shoving coffee grounds up your urethra or whatever.

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