The webcomics blog about webcomics

And Children Of All Ages

What I think might be the longest read that The Nib has ever put up as a single update ran today; Andrew Greenstone has gone out and done participatory-type things and then done docu-comics on them, and today he brings the story of the days-long post-apocalyptic LARP known as Wasteland Weekend. It’s a cracking good read, and that’s before I consider that I know somebody that’s fought in Thunderdome. Take 20 minutes and enjoy the crap out of it.

  • Sometimes, you gotta start ’em young in webcomics; it’s been a week or so and I have shamefully not yet congratulated Randy Milholland and his wife Stephanie¹ on the birth of their daughter. As befits a reasonably private guy (who has attracted some of the worst, most entitled, boundary-disrespecting “fans” ever), Milholland has shared some anecdotes, but no details on the lil’ replicant, so if you’re wondering about name or birth weight, too bad.

    By all accounts mom & child are doing well (indeed, she appears to be mastering skills at a terrifying rate), and I’m sure all of us wish them all the best. Some more than others — KB Spangler did a kickin’ guest strip for Daddy Randy today, whereas I’m just saying nice things about him².

  • One of my favorite stories of recent vintage has been Ursula Ver … I mean, T Kingfisher’s Summer In Orcus (okay, okay, they’re the same person, and the TK name normally means a more adult bent to the stories than UV, which are decidedly kid-friendlier; I don’t see a whole lot of age range difference between, say, Orcus and Vernon’s Digger). It hit all the notes I want in a fairy tale (unsurprising, as Vernon/Kingfisher’s prose typically dig their way into my brain and wrap around the primitive structures, resulting in pure emotion³), and I’ve been recommending it to everybody ever since.

    The Kickstarter campaign to print what had been an online-only serial went up in July; the accompanying illustrations Lauren Henderson were gathered, the books (in both hardcover and soft) designed and printed, and fulfillment is happening now. I got my books (hardcover for me, soft for whichever niece or nephew I deem needs it most in the next round of birthdays) today, and I can’t say enough good about them.

    With those who Kickstarted getting their stuff in the mail, look for publisher Sofawolf to add them to their store in the near future. Okay, sure, it’s been available in e-book form for ages now, but you know what? Some books just demand to be held, pages flipped, corners bent, etc. Don’t sit on this one; it’s some of the best work of one of our best wordbenders.


Spam of the day:

Give The Gift Of Music! Rich, Room Filling Sound

I have a friend, an audiophile of note, who have more invested in his pre-amps than my wife and I do in both our cars combined. His speakers have a pricetag that resembles the student loans you take out to go to a top-tier med school. And you know what? In a blind test, I bet they sound better than these rich, room filling sound triangle speakers, but not hundred of thousands of dollars better.

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¹ She and Randy haven’t been public about her surname online, so I won’t be using it here.

² For now; within webcomics circles, my new baby gifts are well-regarded. Speaking of which, Randy, I need your new address.

³ Normally joy, but sometimes rage, despair, and murderlust; whatever the story calls for at the time, really

Huh, I Already Used An Evening Of Uplifting Frolic And Cavortment Like Ten And A Half Years Ago

It’s been a long time coming but the Cartoon Art Museum is back, baby. Oh, sure, they’ve been open in their new home on San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf since October, but big institutions like this haven’t really made a change until they have a party. Gala grand opening celebration time, y’all:

Cartoon Art Museum
Grand Opening Celebration
Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hellboy Tribute Signing: 6pm to 7pm
Reception: 7pm to 9pm

Tickets: $10 – $100, free admission for CAM members

Join the Cartoon Art Museum as we celebrate our new location at 781 Beach Street, near Ghirardelli Square, Aquatic Park and the Cable Car Terminus. After a two-year hiatus, the museum is thrilled to be open to the public again with our first round of exhibitions.

This party also serves as the closing reception for our Tribute to Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, which concludes Monday, January 29th. Several artists featured in the Hellboy tribute will be on hand to sign the Cartoon Art Museum’s limited exhibition catalogs. Special guests include Gary Amaro, Mark Badger, Lee Ballard, Nick Dragotta, Steve Purcell, Ben Seto, and Jon Way$hak.

The opening exhibitions (which went live on 28 October, CAM’s relaunch date) are A Tribute to Mike Mignola’s Hellboy (through 29 January), Smile! The Comics of Raina Telgemeier (through 19 March), and Emerging Artist Showcase: Nidhi Chanani’s Pashmina (through 12 February). Ticket available at Guestlist.

Hey, you know who would definitely attend the CAM Grand Opening Celebration if he were on the correct continent? David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc). Alas, as far as I am from CAM being on the wrong side of North America, Morgan-Mar is not only on the wrong continent, not only in the wrong hemisphere twice, he’s not even in the correct season.

But he’s got other things to keep busy with; in this case, he’s trying to drive contributions to the collaborative webcomic Lightning Made Of Owls (which last updated … hmmm, 27 October 2017, the day before CAM reopened, which I find to be suspiciously coincidental), and he’s offering cold hard cash. Key points:

In 2018, we’re running a comic contest. With prizes! Prizes are for the best comics published in 2018, as determined by our readers:

First prize: AU$500
Second prize: AU$200
Third prize: AU$100¹

Send us your comic! Follow all the rules below under “How to Contribute”. Pay particular attention to the Characters and Copyright sections.

  • You may enter multiple times. If you submit multiple comics in a very short time, we reserve the right to space them out (e.g. one per month) so other submitters get a chance.
  • At the end of 2018, a nomination and voting system of contributors and readers will be used to determine the winning comics. (Details to be determined.)
  • If practical, we will seek to collect the 2018 contest comics into a printed book collection, funded by Kickstarter, with all profits donated to The Jane Goodall Institute (an internationally registered charity).

You can send your your comic, chosen author name, and a text transcript to Morgan-Mar, also known as dmm, who may be found at a site dedicated to the memory of semibeloved cartoon character dangermouse, dot net. And presuming the planet continues to spin on its axis, Morgan-Mar indicates that the same will happen in 2019. Get crackin’.


Spam of the day:

Canvas Prints – Limited Time Offer, Up to 81% off!

You seem to have mistaken me for somebody that wishes to have art on his walls that isn’t on animation celluloid or Bristol paper. Good day, sir!

I said, Good day!

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¹ For those curious, the prizes are approximately US$392, 157, and 78 respectively (at current exchange rates). Canadian dollar amounts are 492, 197, and 98; Euros are 328, 131, and 66; pounds sterling are 290, 116, and 58; you can figure out any other units on your own.

TCAF News And What To Do If You Didn’t Get In

  • The TCAF application jury has ruled, and creators are being notified that they’ll be spending 12-13 May in Toronto; the exhibitor page hasn’t updated yet¹, so I went trawling on the sosh meeds for people saying they were accepted. Caveat: I’m not including waitlisted creators, I obviously didn’t get everybody, and naturally, there will be changes between now and blessèd springtime. But for now, expect to see some (if not all) of (in the order that I found them in my search):

    Rosemary Vallero-O’Connell, Sharean Morishita, Myisha Haynes, Mildred Louis, Taneka Stotts, Sophie Pass-Lang, Tony Breed, Chan Chau, Zainab Akhtar, Awuradwoa Afful?, Irene Koh, Dylan Edwards, Tess Reid, Shannon Wright, Meg Brennan, Jackie Reynolds, Angelica Maria, Allie Kleber, Christopher Sebela, Hope Nicholson, Anoosha Syed, Shing Yin Khor, Jayd Aït-Kaci, Kori Michele Handwerker, Melanie Gillman, Christian Ward, Megan Byrd, Becca Tobin, Sarah Horrocks, and Angel Cruz.

    (A quick perusal of those links reveals the changing face of comics, but maybe it’s a sampling/self-selection error; it may just be that women and POCs are better at saying look at me, I did a thing than white dudes and … yeah, no. Just made myself laugh out loud. It’s going to be a far less male, less white set of exhibitors than you’d find in nearly any comics show. Hats off to the showrunners for looking to the future rather than the past.)

    In addition to the individuals listed above, publishers including Fine OK Press, Retrofit Comics, and the Ladies Night Anthology will be present, and I imagine we’ll also see such TCAF stalwarts as TopatoCo, Koyama Press, D&Q, and :01 Books, all of whom will bring their own creative conspirators.

    And if you didn’t get in this year, remember that even the most well-known creators are basically on an every-other-year basis, and will remain so unless TCAF can find a venue that is 1) central; 2) free; 3) possessing about twice the floor space of the Toronto Reference Library and surrounding venues. So, basically, forever. Congratulations to everybody that will be heading to TCAF, and enjoy the crap out of the weekend.

  • Even if you didn’t get into TCAF, there are things you’ll be able to enjoy in mid-May. For one, Shaenon Garrity is now running down horror movies, making an appropriate recommendation for every day of 2018.

    And assuming whatever movies for 12-13 May aren’t enough to distract you, you’ll be able to tell yourself It’s only four and a half months until Amulet volume 8. Kazu Kibuishi announced cover, title (Supernova), and sale date (25 September) yesterday in a talk with Heidi Mac. But there’s no better teaser than from series colorist Jason Caffoe:

    When I first started working full-time on Amulet I asked Kazu about the trajectory for the series and he said “at some point there will be giant robots in space.”
    I 100% thought he was joking.
    He was not. [emphasis mine for giant robots in space]

    Form an orderly queue, and try not to get trampled by kids who will be in a frothy state of excitement for the release.


Spam of the day:

Wait!… We have a Free Sample of Sams Club for you!

You have a little chunk of Sam’s Club on a toothpick for me to enjoy while shopping?

_______________
¹ Nor would I expect it to, less than a day after notifications went out; some people are going to have to decline, the waitlist is going to shuffle … give it a week or so, it’ll be a definitive list.

Almost The Last Day Of Work This Year, And I Am Swamped

Sorry for being late. Let’s just drop one thing in and call it a day.

Lucy Bellwood — comics artist, tall-ship sailor, and human enthusiasm engine — has been keeping an eye on the devastating fires in southern California, not least because she grew up in Ojai (which has been devastated) and her family still lives there. At least, their house escaped the first approach of the fires, but they’ve been forced away while the hazards persist.

Thus, today’s announcement:

Today I’m releasing three new card designs to benefit #ThomasFire victims in my hometown. Read more here: lucybellwood.com/post/168755814 …

Drilling down:

Here’s the first of three postcards I designed for a Thomas Fire relief effort fundraiser I’m co-organizing at Bart’s Books of Ojai this Saturday. Ojai is famous for its Pink Moment, a symphony of light and landscape that paints the Topa Topa mountain range in gorgeous colors every day at sunset.

We’ll have blank postcards with this design and several others for people to color, as well as readings from myself, co-organizer Sarah Mirk, and many other local creators. If you’re in the Ventura County area and want to come out on Saturday, December 23rd from 4-7pm we’d love to see you there.

If you can’t make the fundraiser, but want to contribute from afar: all colored designs are available for purchase as greeting cards in my print shop! Click here to shop. [emphasis original]

Sarah Mirk, I should note, did a heartbreaking comic at The Nib the other day (with art from Andy Warner) about what people took with them when they fled the fire. I’ve been in the position that Bellwood’s in — family in the path of disaster, not knowing for a time where they were or what was left behind — and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. If you want to pick up some rad art for a great cause, here’s your chance.


Spam of the day:

IT Degrees – Check Out Programs Today

You are … yikes, twenty-seven years late on this entirely legitimate offer.

Wherein You May Come Out Ahead With Free American Cash Money

Time to get Caught Up, just in time for whichever holiday you celebrate! Some of this is new, some of this was getting ready to be mentioned when the whole Patreon category four shitstorm blew in. In any event, I hope you enjoy.

  • Longtime reader Mark V sent along an email pointing out something I’d have missed otherwise: an interesting post by Andrew Plotkin about … well, a lot of things. Firstly, Plotkin is the programmer that helped Jason Shiga come up with an interactive version of Meanwhile¹.

    Meanwhile, in case you’re forgotten, starred the childhood version of Jimmy from Demon, and was a pick-a-path adventure so complex that it required the invention of a new computer language to keep all the branching paths straight. If you’ve never seen it, you’d have eight or ten story paths you could follow on any page, leading to a colored thumb-tab on the side of the page, leading to the next page without requiring printed instructions like GO TO PAGE 37. It was a work of art. It also lent itself to computer-based implementations like whoa.

    Now that we know who, let’s talk about the what; Plotkin talks about starting a new job, about his many creative projects, and about all the insanely cool things he has/is/will be/wants to resume worked/working on. He’s exactly who we want to be out there, making neat stuff. And he spends a good deal of the post talking about the tax bill coming up for a vote in the Senate tonight, and how it pretty much guarantees there will be no more independent creatives like him in the new tax regime.

    If you love comics, love games, love art, do remember this (those of you in the US) and make it just one more reason that you make sure you register to vote and then fucking vote out the vultures that admit they’re only in power to benefit their donors.

  • But because we, as a species, retain the ability to look past imminent doom towards a somewhat distant future and make plans, please know that MoCCA Fest 2018 applications are now up over at the Society of Illustrators site. The deadline is 31 December, so a little less than two weeks. MoCCA Fest will take place 7 & 8 April, returning to the Metropolitan West events space, hard by the USS Intrepid on the west side of Mahnattan.

    It’s a bit off the beaten track, but there’s good food and snacks at Met West, it’s only $5 per day to get in, and the panel venue remains the swanky Ink 48 hotel around the corner. I’ve been to every MoCCA Fest that there’s been, and I’ve covered every one for the years Fleen has been in existence, so I’ll be sure to see you there.

  • Another Kickstarter fulfilled — this time, Anatomy Of Animals by Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett — another chance for those of you that didn’t get in on the campaign to get caught up. And unusually for a Kickstarter that’s just finishing up shipping, AOA is already in Kellett’s store, and may I point out for less than I paid for it during the crowdfunding campaign?

    Yup, it appears that I have subsidized latecomers, as it cost me US$30 + S/H for my copy, and LArDK is now selling them for US$29.99. A sucker is me, right? Well, okay, I did get a spiffy stretch goal in the form of a Gandalf Airlines fridge magnet, so I guess I’ll let Kellett off the hook this time. But there’s something I want you to do for me:

    LArDK included a flyer in the box, with a coupon code for the Drive book on one side² and an advert for the Sheldon Store on the other side; you can see it in the photo up top. But what’s that? Computer, zoom and enhance!

    Announcing now: show me proof that you tried to order Crisco, lettuce, or a 40-lb tub of Ovaltine from Kellett’s store, and I will give you a dollar; on the Crisco, that’s a 21 cent profit, my friend.


Spam of the day:

I saw you tweeting about reading and I thought I’d check out your website. I really like it. Looks like Gary has come a long way!

Everything is, in fact, coming up Gary.

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¹ Launching on Steam in a month’s time.

² Not sharing that code; it’s not up to me to give y’all a 30% discount.

Baking Today

Great, now I’ve got Fluffmodeus stuck in my head, and how the crap has it been nearly eleven years since that little bastard joined the cast at Something Positive? Speaking of which, Tuesday will mark sixteen years of horrible people growing and becoming … well, not necessarily less horrible, but more complete people.

And today marks (near enough anyways) twelve years of semi-abusive opinion-mongering on my part at this here page on the internets. Oh, I know the first dated post is from 5 December and today is the 15th; when Fleen launched, it had several posts in the archive and it was actually around the 14th that things went live. Heck if I can remember the actual day, but for some time now I’ve thought of it as the 15th.

So, thanks. I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of the very best people in the world thanks to this hobby — people that are going to legitimately be remembered a hundred years from now for their contributions to the culture, people that won’t make the same mark on history, but who will have my love and admiration for the sort of people they are, people that are just a godsdamned blast to hang around with.

I won’t pretend that I’m capable of throwing out a list of names off the top of my head¹; I read somewhere that the average person personally knows (or has known) 1200 or so people by first name by the time they reach my age, which is why it gets easier to find overlapping circles of friends-of-friends as you get older. At this point, I figure I’ve met at least 1000 quality people because of [web]comics and maybe three clunkers, which is one hell of a success ratio.

Monday will (in my head, at least) mark the beginning of Year Thirteen of blogging, and posting number 3231 (assuming nothing weird happens between now and then); my best guess is that represents somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million words, many of them in an order that makes sense. My typing’s a bit slower and more error-prone at speed than when I started, but I figure I’m good for at least another half-mil. Come on back, we’ll start that next step of the journey together.


No spam today. Today is ours.

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¹ One name, though: Jon Rosenberg is responsible for me being here. Send the appropriate congratulations and/or threats to him.

BOY Am I Glad I Checked Twitter Before Writing Today

I was going to point out all the Welp, still nothing from Patreon messages in the sosh-meeds, and then the word broke — Patreon, against all expectation, announced that they aren’t shifting the payment methods next week after all:

We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we’re going to fix them in a different way, and we’re going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I’m sorry. It is our core belief that you should own the relationships with your fans. These are your businesses, and they are your fans. [emphasis original]

Thoughts in no particular order:

  • Man, that last sentence says volumes, doesn’t it? It really looks like Patreon fundamentally misunderstood its own platform/business/service/relationship with its users.
  • Along with a lot of supporters. Here’s hoping that creators can win them back.
  • This: I’m relieved Patreon won’t go through with that devastating change but still PISSED at how much damage was done to the livelihoods of so many artists. I am in crunch at work today so I can’t say more rn, will need to address this later.

    Also this: Now that @Patreon has rolled back the new billing policy, I will maintain all my pledges. My offer to help creators move and/or set up secondary streams of income still stands.

    Taken together, watch for creators to continue their exploration of other funding channels. Patreon’s no longer the only game in town.

  • The Washington Post wrote about the whole brouhaha, and interviewed Jeph Jacques. He got the phrase extremely boned into a fancy exemplar of serious journalism.
  • While the changes were absolutely necessary to Patreon’s nearterm viability, I’m not sure that this fixes the problem. In EMS, we talk about dealing with immediate life threats in the field, so we can deliver a still-alive patient to definitive care at the Emergency Department; there are no promises they ever make it out of the trauma bay or leave the hospital.

    Right now, Patreon is getting wheeled in and the team is ready to start working; they’ve made it to the hospital, but longterm survival is still up in the air. A lot of trust has been lost.

    But, as Miracle Max told us, there’s a big difference between dead and mostly dead. In the last couple of hours, Patreon’s managed to drag itself back to the better of those two conditions.

  • If all this is good news for you, please consider reinstating pledges that you may have canceled for creators whose work you love. They’re the ones in even more immediate peril than the Big P.

Unrelated, but it’s specific to today: love you, Ro.


Spam of the day:

Bingo! Your FREE Sample of Starbucks is ready to be claimed!

I don’t drink coffee.

Nope, Not Gonna Be Four

So if you want to know what the eff is going on with Patreon, we’re all waiting to Jack Conte to make an announcement that will somehow clarify everything¹; in the meantime, please enjoy the report of one Mr Jephry Jacques from his talk with Mr Conte.

I would be remiss not to note an intriguing theory posited since I spoke to you last, as well as a killer observation from Jenn Manley Lee the indicates that Patreon may have screwed the pooch in the legal dimension as well.

Dammit, that’s practically Day Four. Let’s get on to other things.

  • I coulda sworn that I’d discussed Plume, a western-themed webcomic of considerable vintage, by K Lynn Smith, before. It appears not, except for a mention of participation in the Kickstarter Gold event; that’s on me — it’s a good read and I should have mentioned it previously. Seventeen chapters and nearly 500 pages over six years wrapped up in November, which means it’s time for the omnibus print edition, Kickstarting now-ish. It’s still Day One of the campaign and Plume is sitting at 50% funded, so I suspect this one will succeed.
  • Know who’s awesome? Sophie Goldstein, that’s who. Seeing the great need still present in Puerto Rico — literally months after being hit by two monster hurricanes — Goldstein has thrown a holiday sale on print copies of Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell. As noted previously, DCIGTH is a great story, and now each copy (going for US$25.00) will result in all profits (Goldstein tells us that’s US$21.39) going to feed the hungry in PR via World Central Kitchen.

    I find the fact that Goldstein is giving up 85.6% of the price of each book to be only slightly more impressive that the fact that she made a book that’s worth every penny of the purchase price that has an 85.6% profit margin. That’s some good businessin’ there. Sale runs until 24 December, so get to clicking.

Okay, that’s it for today. Let’s see if the Patreon situation gets any less convoluted in the coming days.


Spam of the day:

Enjoy your retirement once again and let AAG help you with a Reverse Mortgage loan

AAG helped blow up the economy in 2008 so why the crap would I trust them? And why the crap-squared do you think I’m retired?

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¹ On a side note, I have a bridge for sale.

When Was The Last Time I Stayed On One Topic For Three Days?

[Edit to add: Be sure to read footnote #3. It’s .. yeah, not good.]

Well, it seems Patreon came out with an explanation that both makes and defies sense. It seems that to combat that problem of people signing up and getting access to restricted content, then canceling prior to their first charge at the end of the month, they’ve decided to charge everybody right away, and at monthly intervals thereafter. Let’s see if we can summarize the situation:

  • To combat what is absolutely a problem, they chose a solution that involves a maximum of fees
  • They chose to blow smoke up the asses of creators and supporters about their logic
  • There are other solutions to the the scam pledges problem (David Malki ! proposed one, within hours that seems superior to Patreon’s)
  • Nothing has changed since yesterday — creators are pissed off, supporters are dropping in droves
  • I can’t find evidence of even one user of the many that Patreon insists were consulted over the course of a year’s planning¹
  • Seriously, what the eff was up with the messaging?

Let’s just focus on the last one. Patreon set up a situation that was almost tailor-made for zero control of their message. They didn’t present anything that described the problem they were trying to fix; they didn’t lay out any of the alternatives considered; they didn’t present any reasons why they think their solution is good; they didn’t acknowledge any of the users (creators or supporters) that are telling them that the new solution is crap; they let a half-message out in the internet age, guaranteeing both that an incorrect conclusion was accepted as fact, and that there was no counter-narrative². Don’t even get me started on the terrible graph they tried to foist on us.

I think they think their judgment was good; I think they overlooked something critical. I was reading a couple days back (it’s only been a couple of days) that Patreon’s many decisions only really make sense for large-subscriber-count YouTube personalities³. That makes sense, given where Jack Conte’s band made its name.

But I don’t think they ever considered that most of their creator users aren’t large-subscriber-count YouTubers, and most of their supporter users aren’t supporting one or two favorite YouTubers. I’m told that Patreon has metrics and numbers on everything, so I’m sure they have the answers to these:

What percentage of all support pledges are at the one or two dollar level?
What percentage of all supporters include no high-dollar-value pledges?
How many creator-users are there vs supporter-users?

Because I’m willing to bet it’s at least 50% in each case, and those are the people who are bearing the brunt of the new fee regime. Even if it’s not true, they created a policy business model change that maybe benefits the small cohort of their users by explicitly screwing over the large cohort.

Patreon took the model of bundling pledges and charging once a month — one thing that made the service worthwhile for all of its supporters (but especially the low-dollar-value supporters), and arguably the core function of the business — and threw it away. I am unable to come up with an analogy of a company so thoroughly abandoning their own key feature. Maybe New Coke? A closer analogy would be Tesla announcing an over-the-air update in a week and a half that replaced the electrics in their cars with VW regulation-cheating diesels.

The logic of the decision is, if not in my opinion sound, at least defensible, but Patreon didn’t trust its users enough to defend it. The (best reading) incompetent or (worst reading) dishonest way they treated their user base is a mark that will persist. Kickstarter is smart enough to keep to their plans for Drip, maybe speed things up by 10%, but they won’t rush to open the gates to all; they know that as the invites go ever wider (and when they’re ready, invites are no longer needed), creators that don’t trust Patreon any more will be waiting to shift.Ko-Fi, Venmo, Paypal, Tippeee, Flattr, Google Wallet, and other means of cash transfer are suddenly burning up the search engines.

They can reverse their changes (and who knows, they may still listen to the very many, very rational reasons this change is terrible for nearly everybody), but that might arguably be worse than sticking it out; right now, every one of their users knows that Patreon will throw large changes down with little warning and bad rationale … if they reverse, they’ll be even more unpredictable than they are now.

In any event, the perception I see is, even from people who say Okay, I see what they were trying to do, is a variation on Wow, Patreon really thinks I’m an idiot; why am I using them? I don’t think they can regain the lost goodwill before their users scatter to the winds.


Spam of the day:

Start a gold IRA in 3 easy steps

Who is Ira, and why is he gold?

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¹ The one person who is not entirely opposed to the change? On the Patreon advisory board and holds equity in Patreon. Not a good look, Green.

² That last one should cause whoever is in charge of their communications to lose their job. Expecting creators to sell a plan about which they knew nothing to the users was maybe the most egregiously incompetent thing out of many in this fiasco.

³ I’m sorry that I didn’t note who did the analysis, or where. It was very good. But just as I’m preparing to hit Publish, I came across this and holy crap.

Patreon not only doesn’t care about low-value supporters, they don’t care about low-value creators, either. This is really, really shitty Silicon Valley sociopathy at its finest, while Patreon has presented a public face of wanting to enable all creators. Instead, they just want to enable YouTubers that inspire irrational, cultish devotion.

Key Words: Public Benefit

[Updated to add: Kevin Sonney is drawing a line in the sand for Patreon — he’ll not only walk on 31 Dec if the changes aren’t rolled back, he will use his (and I can speak to this personally) considerable tech skills to help any creators that want to move off Patreon to do so, for free. He may want to get one of those take-a-number things like at the deli counter, but expect others to replicate this offer.]

[Updated to add 2: Patreon is apparently planning to levy fees on money that’s already been through the credit-card processing charges.]

There are many things I want to do today, not the least dig into the book I just received, but Patreon has other plans.

Since yesterday’s newsbreak, the consensus has formed: this new plan (not yet in effect, but only 11 days away) is pissing off the US$1 supporters¹ (who will see an overhead of nearly 40% on their pledges), the high-value supporters, the creators (to whom the change has been pitched as a benefit), those who prize honesty and transparency, pretty much everybody.

Everybody except Kickstarter, that is. If you told me that Kickstarter had bribed somebody at Patreon to make this change so as to stir up interest in Drip, I’d almost believe you.

Crucially, the people that Patreon has promised will win out in the new regime are mad. They hate that they’re being sold on a plan that will make them a little more money (and a lot more for Patreon) at the expense of their supporters, about whom they are protective. They hate that Patreon is intruding into that relationship. They hate that Patreon is not even offering an option for the creators to eat the new fees. They hate that they’re being blown off. They’re making plans to exit rather than screw their supporters. They’re trying to figure out ways to game the system until they can find other means of income from the supporters they’re losing.

And everybody really hates the US$0.35/pledge fee, considering Patreon doesn’t charge backers per pledge, but once per total. It’s a naked cash grab. But, it appears, that was the entire point.

What’s really surprised me (apart from the ham-handedness about the entire rollout that I noted yesterday) is that I couldn’t find one person with an interest in Patreon that’s even neutral on this change. I’ve spent all my free time since last night trying to find one person — creator or backer — whose irritation went no higher than meh, whatcha gonna do? But no; literally everybody whose email address doesn’t end in @patreon.com hates everything about this change.

Which leads to a philosophical question — even if Patreon opted to abandon their plans, would anybody trust them again? To my mind, Kickstarter is smart enough to start picking off high-profile Patreon accounts in their invite-only period, giving them time to scale up without being overwhelmed.

Even more important, Kickstarter is fundamentally different from Patreon in a critical fashion: they’re a public benefit corporation; they are required by their charter to engage in a decision process that is not solely governed by how much money they can make.

Given the widespread (and, I think, correct) perception that Patreon’s changes are a cash-grab to make their investors happy (possibly in preparation for a sale), the institutional culture at Kickstarter is sure to engender a metric fuckload more trust than Patreon will ever be able to muster again.

Yesterday I said that Patreon would be much smaller in a year; I now think that was optimistic. Given their tone-deaf refusal to even acknowledge the concerns of their users, I think they’ve actually destroyed their platform. Even if they reverse, they’ll never be trusted again; those that stay will be whoever hasn’t gotten in with Drip yet, and they’ll jump ship as soon as they get their invite. I hope it was worth it, Patreon, because you’re well and truly pooched³.


Spam of the day:

How did I earn 11000 bitcoins in 55 days

Stealing electricity and causing untold ecological damage? I can’t wait for that bubble to burst.

_______________
¹ I wonder what percentage of all pledges at Patreon are at the $1 level? I’d give 50:50 odds it’s a majority.

² That’s 2.54 Imperial fuckloads.

³ And thus, we turn full circle and return to Ryan North, with whom we opened. Life’s great like that sometimes.