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Patreon Backpedal

By Shamus
on Sunday Dec 17, 2017
Filed under:
Notices

 
 

I did not expect this. Last week I said that Patreon was rolling out a horrible and nonsensical fee system. After a few days went by with no response I said:

Lucky for all of us, I was wrong. They’re not just delaying the rollout or adjusting the policies, they’re scrapping the entire concept.

Their apology isn’t long, so I’m going to reprint the entire thing in full:

Creators and Patrons,

We've heard you loud and clear. We're not going to rollout the changes to our payments system that we announced last week. 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.

I've spent hours and hours on the phone with creators, and so has the Patreon team. Your feedback has been crystal clear:

The new payments system disproportionately impacted $1 – $2 patrons. We have to build a better system for them.
Aggregation is highly-valued, and we underestimated that.

Fundamentally, creators should own the business decisions with their fans, not Patreon. We overstepped our bounds and injected ourselves into that relationship, against our core belief as a business.

We recognize that we need to be better at involving you more deeply and earlier in these kinds of decisions and product changes. Additionally, we need to give you a more flexible product and platform to allow you to own the way you run your memberships.

I know it will take a long time for us to earn back your trust. But we are utterly devoted to your success and to getting you sustainable, reliable income for being a creator. We will work harder than ever to build you tools, functionality, and income, and our team won't rest until Patreon is making that happen.

If you haven't sent us a note yet, or if you don't see your concerns listed above, please leave us your feedback here.

Thanks for continuing to create. We are nothing without you, and we know that.

Jack

That’s about as comprehensive an apology as you can hope for.

  1. Say sorry.
  2. Acknowledge that creators have lost income due to this change. (Well, not lost it yet. But as far as I can tell everyone lost supporters and that damage would be felt on Jan 1st.)
  3. Acknowledge that they shouldn’t have tried to roll out sweeping changes without getting feedback, and promise not to do that in the future.
  4. Recognize that aggregating pledges (having 10 different $1 donations happen in a single transaction to avoid fees) is a crucial feature of the platform.
  5. Show concern for the $1 and $2 pledges, so creators understand the platform isn’t looking to shed small donations in favor of large ones, or small creators in favor of superstars.

There’s still the question of how the company managed to make such a profound mistake. It seemed obvious to a lot of us, and yet nowhere in the company did anyone think, “Should we maybe ask before doing this?” Or if someone did think that, they didn’t feel comfortable saying it out loud. Something went wrong with the decision-making apparatus inside of Patreon. This isn’t like the problem with New Coke where the idea seemed reasonable on paper but turned out to be a disaster due to factors the leadership had overlooked. This idea was bad on the surface, for multiple reasons.

Having said that, I’m not too pessimistic about the future. Patreon is still a very small company, and small companies can change and adapt quickly. It’s not like EA where you’ve got a half-dozen layers of management bureaucracy filled with people who were hired, trained, promoted, and rewarded according to the Bad Old Ways and fixing the system will require a protracted fight against an entrenched culture. In a little company you can get everyone moving in a new direction without needing to fire half of them and wrestle the other half into submission. The most important step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one, and Patreon just did that as thoroughly as any company I’ve ever seen. It’s entirely possible they can take this lesson to heart and from now on “get feedback before making changes” can be part of their standard policy.

As always, I run this site for a living. I don’t run ads and I don’t do paid sponsorships. If you’d like to support what I do then Patreon is the way to go. Thanks so much to all the former supporters who came back when the policy changed.

Sorry for talking about money two weeks in a row. I know if you’re not a supporter this whole thing is probably boring. Next week I’ll try to find something fresh, interesting, and exciting to complain about.


 
 
Comments (73)

  1. Michael Parmenter says:

    I just noted this :
    “Acknowledge that they should have tried to roll out sweeping changes without getting feedback, and promise not to do that in the future.”

    Should add a “Not” in there,

  2. Zaxares says:

    Well. I certainly wasn’t expecting this. It’s nice to see a corporation (even a little one) acknowledge its mistakes and try to do their best by their customers instead of just doubling down on their direction and refusing to admit that they’d been wrong.

  3. I’m still in the pessimistic camp unfortunately. Like Chris alluded to in his tweets on the issue, the sheer recklessness and obviousness of how damaging these changes would be still leads me to believe that this was motivated by some form of necessity. I’m convinced the sole reason they pulled back at all is that they underestimated the domino effect of having so many $1 and $2 patrons leaving in this mass exodus would have before they even pulled the thing out, which would only snow ball once implemented and wallets were affected.

    I still feel the regulatory angle is the most likely explanation motivating this decision. If so that’s really really disheartening, because it all but guarantees that this kind of business model isn’t sustainable without severe legislative reform that is…I’ll just say it’s unlikely to occur.

    • Echo Tango says:

      If they’re being regulated, they still have the option of just following the regulations. It’d have been a lot less of a fiasco if they’d instead come out with news like, “Hi, Patreon users! We need to raise our cut of donations from 5% to 10%. Since we qualify as a financial institution that needs to follow regulations XYZ, we’ve needed to hire more staff, and get a finance lawyer on retainer. The price hike is to pay for the extra work that needs to be done, to show our due dilligence.”

      • I’m not sure you understand the issue if your solution is simply increasing the percentage of the cut. Ignoring that, it’s already been explained in the comment section of the previous post how publicly admitting complicity in violating federal regulations would be a disastrous move on Patreon’s part, but let’s go ahead and assume that they could and did. It’s still shifting the burden, just on the creators rather than the patrons. This could potentially and more than likely would be even more damaging. Any creator unable or unwilling to carry the burden put upon them would instantly mean the loss of the entirety of the revenue they created from ALL of their patrons, not just the ones donating $1 or $5.

        • Viktor says:

          The relevant regulations likely mean Patreon either needs better records(which means more staff, which means more money), to process payments in a more complex way(which means more servers, which means money), or they need to hold a certain % of money in their accounts(which means money). If Patreon is trying to bring themselves back into compliance, it'll take cash, and I wouldn't be surprised if they are concerned about profitability when doing that. If being in compliance wasn't going to take money, Patreon would just do it and save themselves the headache.

          And most creators I saw during this debacle were fine with fees, what they didn't want was to see their patrons charged more. Every creator has seen someone cancel a $1 pledge on the basis of “my financial situation changed”. If people are already giving all they can, Patreon adding on a 40% fee to them for no good reason is a jerk move and costs business. For creators, that's money coming in, and fees on the business owner are the cost of doing business. Creators would have been a lot happier with a flat increase to Patreon's cut than they were with a massive regressive increase to Visa's cut at the expense of the doners.

        • Echo Tango says:

          publicly admitting complicity in violating federal regulations would be a disastrous move on Patreon's part

          So, are you assuming that 1. Patreon is actually breaking the law. 2. They haven’t already consulted with their lawyers and the feds. 3. The feds don’t know about what Patreon is up to. 4. They’re changing policy in the hopes that the feds don’t catch on to what they’re doing? This sounds like bad decisions every step of the way, on top of the assumption that the feds are incompetent or ignorant of Patreon’s business. If Patreon was in fact breaking some law, trying to avoid being caught is also breaking the law. The correct thing to do, assuming the government hasn’t already investigated their business and told them what to do, is to contact the appropriate goverment body (with/through their lawyers), and figure out some way to ensure they’re compliant with the law, so that they can continue to operate as a business.

          I myself was going under the assumption that the government had already investigated their business, and told them that they need to change how they operate. Hence the rapid and poorly thought-out policy change, which hurts their customers (creators and donators).

          As far as “understanding” this issue, and the price changes being insufficient, I believe Viktor already covered that for me – complying with regulations takes money to do.

          • Again, you don’t seem to understand the issue. Regulations are not interchangeable with laws. They function differently and are enforced differently. Likewise, Patreon being in compliance with regulations is not just a matter of having enough money. As was already elaborated in the relevant comments in the previous post, it would require a fundamental restructuring of the way they conduct and monetize their business.

          • Syal says:

            The feds (i.e. the regulatory agencies) and the courts are separate entities. Admitting guilt means the court sides with the feds if the feds take it there. If you don’t admit guilt, especially if you’re in a grey area, you can argue the feds are overstepping their authority, and sometimes that possibility is enough to make the feds not push the issue because they don’t want an official court ruling on where their authority ends.

  4. kunedog says:

    Aggregation is highly-valued, and we underestimated that.

    If you’d asked me a year ago to pin down two core purposes of Patreon, it would be these:

    1. Aggregation of payments, both those from patrons and those to creators.

    2. Resistance of censorship via financial pressure. The creator has a revenue stream independent of the platform on which they publish, Youtube’s adpocalypse being the obvious example where this paid off.

    In the past year both these purposes have been unaccountably, uh, “underestimated,” so I do wonder what Patreon’s shot-callers thought was its core purpose.

    • Sartharina says:

      Actually I think it’s obvious what their idea for what the core service is: a broad, central easy-to-use site that allows all sorts of content creators to be paid directy by content appreciators through a subscription model. It also provides a central platform for creators and fans to communicate with each otter.

      The proposed changes would have made payments more transparent to donors and more stable for creators.

      • Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Wait… how would the changes have made it more transparent to donors? In fact, it would be the opposite as I guarantee people would have found it MYSTIFYING how a $1 donation cost them a $1.38. Most would have guessed… taxes or something?

        And “more stable” is sort of ignoring the real world behavior of the users, who decided in some large percentage to just stop being a patron, rather than deal with it.

        • Sartharina says:

          Half the population doesn’t seem aware of how increasing costs discourages spending. “Taxes or something” is a clear concept everyone should be familiar with, but too many governments mandate companies hide how much they’re being robbed. Here, the “tax” is applied by the banks and credit cards.

          Under what would have been the new system, if you want to give a creator a dollar, you give that creator a dollar. You just have to also pay to ensure the creator gets that actual dollar instead of merely a fraction of it.

          • Taellosse says:

            Governments (or 3rd party servicers like credit card companies) seldom “mandate companies hide how much [customers are] being robbed.” There’s no law requiring that a retailer add sales tax at the register but not include it in the sticker price – that’s a choice the retailer makes, designed to manipulate potential customers into thinking of things as costing less than they really do, and therefore lowering the barrier to purchase. European retailers tend to make the opposite choice by and large, and incorporate VAT into their listed prices, on the theory that being honest about real costs is seen as less predatory.

            Deciding how to handle external fees like this is going to look deceptive to somebody, depending on which way you look at it, but the reality is that whether they’re literal taxes or fees incurred by some kind of billing service, they’re part of the cost of doing business – it’s not robbery.

  5. Galad says:

    That still leaves in the air the question of “why did they feel the need to introduce such a profound change in the first place”. I liked the possible explanation that they need to be re-categorized within the law, so they needed to the change, AND they needed to be somewhat vague about it, but now that they have backpedaled this can no longer be the case. So it’s probably a profoundly misguided attempt at making themselves a more attractive platform to creators.

    • Tizzy says:

      To me, the move still has the feel of Patreon responding to some kind of external pressure, because otherwise they would be insanely incompetent for violating the “if it ain’t broke” rule. It’s also the only reasonable way to explain the secrecy and embarrassment around it, and trying to make it fly below the radar with the whole timing.

      My first thought was that the pressure came from the credit card companies themselves, which would stand to benefit. Though it’s not 100% clear how they would choose to exert their leverage, I’m sure they can apply pressure to Patreon.

      But I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Patreon’s move was motivated by considerations of financial regulations. [Reasons… Too long] Patreon is a small company (I couldn’t find specific numbers, but it really can’t be that big). This means a greater reluctance to deal with regulators (compliance requires to hire a lot). Also, it’s unlikely to be part of the core skill set at the company, so it raises the likelihood that Patreon’s decision-making was sub-optimal. Also, they can roll back the changes because presumably their back isn’t against the wall yet.

      In summary: I can imagine a situation where Patreon acts rashly for fear of a regulatory compliance issue that wasn’t yet raised, and might never have been. It is not a very satisfying scenario, but it sounds better than an alternative where Patreon squanders goodwill because they stop caring about creators and patrons and merely find small donations inconvenient. (I know there was a pro-creator argument about stabilizing their revenue in the change, but I never quite bought it.) I’m not saying that the second is impossible, just that, if it’s true, then Patreon is not done causing trouble.

      • SKD says:

        I doubt the issue was of the regulatory compliance variety. In fact I would be willing to bet that the true origin lies with the banks and credit card companies since they are the ones who would benefit most from the change. They wouldn’t be the first company to take bad advice from their bank’s financial officers. The advice received from banks is generally “cut costs (fewer personnel, lower quality material) and raise prices”, with little to no regard for how following the advice would actually affect the company. It is one of the reasons any company that grows beyond a certain size should have their own experts (lawyers, accountants, etc.) either on staff or retainer in order to ensure that the advice they receive is in the best interest of the company rather than the financial institutions they do business with.

        • Viktor says:

          Now THAT makes a lot of sense. Patreon is a tech company, and modern tech companies keep staff as small as possible for increased profits. I could easily see a bank officer telling them this was the best option for solving problems and Jack Conte listening, especially if their financial staff is small and underqualified for their positions.

        • Cubic says:

          But Patreon isn’t four guys living on ramen. It has gobs of experienced investors and has raised more than $70 million already. They and their board wouldn’t get pushed around to change their business model based on what some random banking contact says.

          The regulation idea made sense, but now it’s a head scratcher again.

    • Sartharina says:

      They were likely trying to increase transparency and stability for Creators, without thinking of what the increased cost would do to the spending habits of the Patrons.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There's still the question of how the company managed to make such a profound mistake.

    Easy.What they see and what you see are different.To you its obvious.To me its obvious.But get a group of people who arent creators benefiting from patrons,who have enough money to lump more than $10 for every single person they want to support on patreon,and ask them if changing the rules in this fashion would make a major impact,and youll get a radically different response.

    Its really not that hard to miss someone elses perspective when all the people you work with share your views.What is important is that once you realize that others see things differently,you consider it and adjust,which patreon did.

    • Tizzy says:

      Except: It’s not just subjective, there are also objective realities at play here, and Patreon has all the data pertinent to it. It shouldn’t be hard for Patreon to realize that even big earners rely on a lot of small donations. Surely, they did not roll out this announcement before doing some sort of impact assessment, right?

    • Shamus says:

      Sure, that would be the normal assumption. Except, Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon, also runs a Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/pomplamoose

      His Patreon is even more dependent on small donations than mine. I’m making about $1,800 from 430 people, for an average donation of $4. He’s making $3,300 from 1,200 people, for an average donation of $2.60.

      If anyone should understand the importance of small pledges, it’s him.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Thats assuming that he thought that those people are also paying other people as well.Or that for those people one dollar is more important than to him.Or that his number of false patrons isnt much higher than for everyone else.Or that the overall number of false patrons isnt very high.Or a plethora of other things,most of which I didnt even think of.

        The only actual mistake they made was not consulting their users before deciding to implement the change.But everyone is allowed one mistake,and if they dont repeat it its all good.

      • bubba0077 says:

        Huh, I didn’t realize Pomplamoose are the ones who co-founded Patreon.

        • Lanthanide says:

          Wow, neither.

        • Joe Informatico says:

          Conte wanted a reliable way for their fans to support Pomplamoose’s work. That became Patreon.

        • EwgB says:

          Yeah, and if I’m not mistaken, Jack Conte isn’t even making money from Patreon outside his own Patreon page. At least from his own words he doesn’t get wages from Patreon.

          • Matt Downie says:

            That’s sometimes code for, “I make all my money from owning shares in the company.”

          • Taellosse says:

            I am prepared to believe that Patreon as a company does not pay him a salary. He definitely owns some large fraction of the company itself, possibly a majority, depending what kind of agreement he had with his co-founder, and how savvy they were in negotiating their various investor contracts. Whether that translates into income for him depends on things we can’t see in a private company – what the terms are for the investment contracts he made with the people and companies that provided startup funds, and what Patreon does with any surplus after paying their costs (servers, office space, utilities, staff salaries, etc.). Presumably some large fraction – possibly all of it at present – is re-invested into the company to grow it in various ways, but it may or may not spend all of it.

            The reality is that even if he isn’t making any money from running Patreon at the moment, that only remains true until either the company becomes independently profitable or they sell to another, larger company – then his ownership interest in the company becomes HUGELY profitable no matter what his technical salary.

  7. Anitogame says:

    You’re more positive than me, Shamus. Frankly, the fact they’re a small company still is what I believe caused the about face. They couldn’t actually afford to swallow such a huge chunk of lost revenue from all the cancelled pledges. Otherwise they’d have just ploughed ahead like EA or others would, consequences be damned.

    Once that trust is broken, it’s VERY hard to get it back, and I’ll be keeping a REAL close eye on Patreon going forward. I already have an account at MakerSupport, and will be opening one at Hatreon as well once they’re back up after their current upgrades. Never a good idea to have all eggs in one basket, and something like this just hammers that home even further.

    • Shamus says:

      This is a good point. I’m actually waiting to see how all these competing platforms shake out. We have Drip, MakerSupport, and a few others I can’t remember now. I don’t want to maintain a half dozen accounts, but I think running two would be reasonable and give my potential supporters some choice.

      • Agammamon says:

        oooh, business opportunity.

        A Patreon Patreon.

        A meta-CMS system to manage backers on multiple platforms.

      • Philadelphus says:

        As a current Patreon supporter, I’m kinda keeping my nose to the wind to see how things shake out. I’d prefer not to have a dozen different payment accounts out there, but if there emerges a sort of comparable-to-Patreon service out there that people flock to I’m keeping the option of moving over in mind. Since (as a patron) Patreon hasn’t actually materially affected me (yet) I’m willing to give them another chance, but I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for potential competitors to see which way the wind blows.

      • bubba0077 says:

        PodPledge is another

      • Fade2Gray says:

        Prior to this debacle I hadn’t even heard of Drip. Now I’m keenly paying attention to how it’s public roll out goes. If enough of my creators open up shop over there, I’ll probably be taking my money to Drip. I think, even with the reversal, Patreon is going to be paying the price for this whole episode for a while.

        • Echo Tango says:

          Now it seems like the donators (and creators) need to manage (or choose between) several money-donation platforms. Should they use Patreon? Drip? Donate (ir)regularly with ordinary PayPal? PodPledge? Do the donators use several of them at once, when the creators aren’t all on the same platforms? Do the creators use several, since donators won’t all be on the same platform? The proliferation of donation-handling platforms seems to be adding to the complexity they were originally meant to solve…

    • Lanthanide says:

      “Otherwise they'd have just ploughed ahead like EA or others would, consequences be damned.”

      Eh, I doubt it.

      Pissing off the majority of your userbase is a bad move for any company. Some companies are rather more tone-deaf toward this than others, but Shamus’ stance that Patreon was unlikely to backpedal away from their plan one iota was very strange to me. My default position for this sort of thing is that the company will do *something*.

      In this case Patreon has scrapped their ill-planned move completely, which is what I expected. The apology was a little more thorough than I expected.

      The main reason for why I thought Patreon would drop the scheme entirely, rather than just tweak it, was the very short time-frame to implementation, and the apparent total lack of feedback they sought before making the announcement. Completely dropping the scheme is the only thing they could do with the time they had available, that wouldn’t result in yet more negative headlines.

      If they’d had a 3-4 month run-up, then I’d probably have expected a tweak to the scheme rather than them dropping it. But it’s also the fact that they had such a short notice period, that patrons dropped their support en-masse, which got the community so riled up in the first place.

      In other words drastic changes with short time period = certain backdown. But the same drastic changes with a longer time period may both not have engendered such a backlash, or required that the scheme be dropped outright.

      • Anitogame says:

        “Pissing off the majority of your userbase is a bad move for any company. ”

        … and yet they do it anyway. Regularly and often.

        • Lanthanide says:

          Define ‘they’.

          • Nope says:

            It’s easier to generalise broadly and apply the same motives to everyone than apply nuance.

            The ur-example on this site would be EA, but even EA backed down on the BF2 scenario (albeit, seemingly temporarily), in the face of massive public backlash effecting projected sales, costing them millions in stock price, the inevitable backlash that gets from their shareholders etc. Even if whoever “they” are, are trying to screw you over, they’re trying to do it to make more money, and if that’s not happening, they hurt themselves, and the jobs of the people who made the call go on the line.

            In patreon’s case, a poorly thought out change caused a large portion of their userbase to complain, revolt, and the content creators who made the site attractive began telling people to use old-school donating workarounds instead, and masses of low-value donators, the people who make the site worthwhile, thanks to the unique business model, cancelled. I don’t know what evil “They” are being spoken about but “they” would have to be a special kind of stupid to stick to their guns on this, for the sake of hurting… themselves?

            Your explanation was very succinct and made points that I was quite disappointed a lot of people missed in the original backlash.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              the jobs of the people who made the call go on the line.

              Yes,thats how it should be.But if you look at the track record of ea,youll see that every time the company blundered,the only ones who got hurt were the developers they bought and ground to dust.The ceos of ea,whoever was in that position during a massive backlash,got bonuses,pretty hefty severance packages at the end of their contracts,and my guess is a good reference as well,seeing how after ea they all* get cushy jobs somewhere else afterwards.

              And while ea is the easiest offender to currently pinpoint in the group “they”,they arent the only one.Even if we focus just on the video games industry**,there are plenty of big publishers who face massive backlashes,yet continue profiting long after that.Ubisoft,activision and microsoft spring to mind immediately.

              *We shall see if the current guy proves me wrong,but I doubt it.
              **I could point to even better examples outside the industry,but politics and all that.

  8. Tizzy says:

    Also noteworthy in Patreon’s apology: their actions amounted to interfering with the creator-patron relationship, and that’s not cool.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    Patron is still a very small company

    Typo patrol.

  10. Agammamon says:

    There's still the question of how the company managed to make such a profound mistake.

    . . .
    Show concern for the $1 and $2 pledges,

    I don’t know how they ever got to this *at all*.

    Sure, a handful of content creators might be responsible for 50% of their revenue and 10,000 for the rest. And sure, that handful are individually more important to the platform than any one of the small-fry. But if you’ve still got a long tail of people contributing a few pennies each – that’s still potentially a hell of a lot larger amount of money at stake than you’ll ever get even in the best case scenario from catering to big fish.

    • Rack says:

      Might be a misguided belief that “If we can turn just 5% of those small donators into $10,000 plus donators we’ll be set!”

    • Sartharina says:

      I don’t think they were considering the burden on patrons at all, of any donation level, especially if Shamus’ impression of their political leanings are correct. They assumed that increasing the amount of a donation the Creator got (Now, when someone pledges $1, the creator gets $0.90 or so, when it used to be $0.6), and improving transparency would help creators. They weren’t thinking about the impact on patrons and their spending habits at all (After all – we’re trying to give them a full dollar? Don’t we want them to be able to get as much of that dollar to the creator they want to support as possible?)

  11. Kamica says:

    As someone who’s too poor to support creators, but still enjoys your content like the dirty freeloader I am (=P), I found these articles interesting =).

    • krellen says:

      Thank you for letting me support your readership.

      (This is not sarcasm.)

    • Shamus says:

      I realize you probably said this in jest, but for the record I don’t consider anyone a “freeloader”. I mean, I do this because I want people to read my stuff. I am very much operating under a “I make money so I can write” mindset, and not “I write so that I can make money”. If I was suddenly rich, I’d keep doing this. (Although I’d hire someone to take care of the site backend for me. That part of the job is super-boring.)

      So, you know… It’s all good. Share and enjoy.

      • Brendan says:

        Fun fact: “Share and Enjoy” is the company motto of the hugely successful Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints Division, which now covers the major land masses of three medium-sized planets and is the only part of the Corporation to have shown a consistent profit in recent years.

        The motto stands– or rather stood– in three mile high illuminated letters near the Complaints Department spaceport on Eadrax. Unfortunately its weight was such that shortly after it was erected, the ground beneath the letters caved in and they dropped for nearly half their length through the offices of many talented young Complaints executives– now deceased.

        The protruding upper halves of the letters now appear, in the local language, to read “Go stick your head in a pig,” and are no longer illuminated, except at times of special celebration.

  12. General Karthos says:

    I have been in a position where I could have given to this site for a while… I’ve just been too lazy to actually go on to Patreon and do so, and then this whole thing came up.

    Well, now I’m pledging.

    I’ve been an avid reader for years, and now that I finally have some money to spare, I can give some real support.

  13. Dreadjaws says:

    I already mentioned this on Twitter, but I’m glad this was an actual, proper apology and not the usual PR speech we see from companies where they try to pretend they did nothing wrong and people were just not smart enough to see it. “We’re sorry that people couldn’t understand how amazing our idea was”.

    This, I believe, is the mark of trust. These people are able to admit they made a mistake and willing to work to correct it rather than sweep the complaints under the rug and pretend they can do no wrong.

  14. Joshua says:

    Been reading since the early DMotR days, and I’ve mostly supported by buying the E-books and the video game. I guess I can get off my lazy butt and go set up a Patreon donation.

  15. Abnaxis says:

    There's still the question of how the company managed to make such a profound mistake. It seemed obvious to a lot of us, and yet nowhere in the company did anyone think, “Should we maybe ask before doing this?”

    I mean, asking as someone who has never used Patreon, what’s the difference between the new policy and the way sales tax works (in the US at least)? Everyone who has bought anything (again, in my locale) has had to deal with the fact that the actual money you pay at the register and the price on the price tag don’t match.

    Honestly, the outcry against lumping the fees on top of donations mostly just seems like it happened because the system is different than what people were used to, more than because it was in some way fundamentally misguided. I mean, it’s somewhat dumb to not collect all the payments together for better fees, but brick-and-mortar stores learned many many decades ago that the way to sell more is to show someone the lowest price on the shelf and lump all the extra taxes and fees on at checkout, right?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats not why the outcry happened.Its because instead of collecting the fee once a month for all of your donations,thus having only one transaction charge on your credit card,they decided to change it to be a fee for every donation,thus making you pay a transactions charge for every donation.

      Basically with the old system giving $1 to 10 people or $10 to one person would cost you $10,but now it would cost you $13 for the first and $10,3 for the second(plus the percentage).If they simply transfered the transaction fee from them to you,there wouldnt have been such an outcry.

    • evilmrhenry says:

      95% of the backlash was from them no longer combining payments. If they had just said “we’re charging patreons $0.35 a payment” there would have been some grumbling, but nothing on this scale. What they said instead was “we’re charging patreons $0.35 a pledge“. For someone who supports a bunch of creators at $1, that’s effectively a 40% processing fee. A sales tax of 10% is acceptable. A sales tax of 40% will get people mad.

    • Echo Tango says:

      In addition to what Daemian Lucifer and evilmrhenry said, a large part of the frustration is that in the original business model of Patreon, they aggregated the flat charges, so that small donations could actually be feasible, and Patreon was going to make that no longer possible. After-sales taxes are always (as far as I’ve seen in the USA and Canada) a percentage of the total sale. Thirty cents on a $30 donation is only a 1% cut, but the same amount on a $1 donation is a 30% cut. That’s tiny for people who can afford to make large donations, and huge for people who can only afford small amounts.

    • Abnaxis says:

      Bearing in mind that I am a United-Statesian, who doesn’t use Patreon, speaking to one or more Europeans that do use Patreon…

      Here in the states, it’s not JUST a percentage, depending on what you’re buying and how you’re paying. States like to stick flat fees and registration fees onto “regulated” purchases, like cars and houses and guns, but also smaller “vice” products like cigarettes and lottery tickets. Not only that, but if you ever want to pay for something with a debit card–i.e., a card that pulls money straight out of your bank instead of a credit card you need to pay later–or a many pre-paid gift cards, you will be paying a significant, $1-2 fee to your bank on top of paying sales taxes.

      As a result, most consumers (at least the ones I know) don’t use debit cards. Why would we?

      For all people saying that Patreon are idiots for trying to implement the changes, I say there’s a logic to it. Some of those fees the credit cards take out are EXORBITANT. I know people who absolutely won’t take AmEx in their shops, because the company will take $5 out of a “small” $10 transaction, which is more than double their margin. The difference between different card providers can be HUGE from the vendor’s perspective.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if encouraging people to swap to a payment method that DOESN’T take an extreme cut (just like nobody who pays attention in the US uses a debit card) wouldn’t potentially save MORE than aggregating payments. If I’m sitting at Patreon, looking at how much (say) AmEx takes out versus VISA, it’s not unreasonable to think making the whole system transparent to the donors would improve everyone’s experience with the system. However, there’s no way to give that sort of transparency under an aggregated system.

  16. Elorex says:

    Long time lurker, first time poster. I wanted to just let you know as a long time fan who can't quite afford to back you yet; that these articles have been far from boring. I'm sure I'm not alone in caring about how you are doing financially, we all want this site to keep going.

  17. Rane2k says:

    When I received the email from patreon with the apology, I was very happy for Shamus and the few other guys I support with patreon.

    One thing that saddens me a bit, that in this modern world, “give a man a dollar” is a very complicated process and it involves, among other things:

    – me losing more than a dollar (19% VAT to my country)
    – the man getting less than a dollar
    – giving paypal or the credit card company a few cents
    – giving some American state / county a few cents (maybe? amercian tax law is unknown to me)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      While that is the downside,the upside is that you are giving a dollar to a man living 10 000 kilometers away from you,practically instantly,and consistently.Bridging such a huge spatial gap is worth some hassle.

      • Rane2k says:

        Yes, thats very true.

        I really hope they find ways to make this work, and to keep it working.
        Crowdfunding has produced some very cool things in the last few years, and I´ m happy that I can support content creators such as Shamus and Josh as well.

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