Patreon walks back new fee scheme

Last week, Patreon, a platform that allows creators to get funds directly from backers in a Kickstarter-style setup, announced a new fee scheme and it was a disaster. 

Here's what they did: until this change Patreon's creators, the people you back on the platform, set the price of their reward tiers and their backers could choose what they'd pay per month. 

After the change, which was announced with little notice, the creator could still pick the prices, but the processing fees were suddenly passed on to the consumer. 

This meant if you were paying $5 per month to back 'Charged's Cake Baking Sale' before as a backer, you'd suddenly be paying $5.25. It also meant that instead of bundling payments together into one thing every month, you'd be paying at random.

This doesn't seem like a shocking change on the surface, sure, pass a few cents onto the backer and the creator gets more! But as things always go, backers were¬†pissed¬†that their price was suddenly going up and blamed the creators ‚ÄĒ triggering a mass exodus from the platform.

It's hard to assess how many people ditched the platform, but my assessment from the creators I know is that people backing were canceling en-masse. 

It appears that Patreon miscalculated how many people were making 'low value' pledges ($2 or less) and accidentally enraged everyone after spending years building the message that it's OK to support creators at any price point.

Patreon, after a lot of pushing, walked back the changes yesterday: 

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. 

Unfortunately for Patreon, it appears to have revealed its hand: creators can't trust the company not to pivot the platform in the future, and while the fees are disappearing for now, they'll be back in some form later. 

Like with any platform-type situation, building your house on top of someone else's sandcastle is going to be risky, with the potential for a change at any moment. This isn't a surprising thing, but it sucks when it happens so suddenly like this.

Patreon enabled a new generation of artists and creators, but it appears it's decided to optimize for the existing highly successful creators entirely, rather than building up new ones. 

Look, Patreon is venture-backed, so at some point, this was likely to happen... but usually you're able to give the community time to provide feedback, or double down on the change once you make it.

Weirdly enough, this change was intended as useful for Patreon creators but ended up hurting them by passing on changes to their backers without permission. Given a way to roll this out voluntarily with notice, I'm sure it would've gone differently.

I'm optimistic about the service, which does great things for the community ‚ÄĒ and very nearly built Charged on top of this, but it's a reminder to own your audience so you can move somewhere else along the way when the rules eventually change.

There's a great discussion about this over on re:Charged, jump in with your thoughts on whether or not this was a fair change, or if Patreon was right to walk it back.


Attorney General asks for delay in net neutrality vote

The FCC is scheduled to vote today (12/14) on repealing net neutrality, but the New York Attorney General wrote an urgent letter last night asking for a delay due to a "corrupt" process:

‚ÄúMillions of fake comments have corrupted the FCC public process ‚Äď including two million that stole the identities of real people, a crime under New York law‚Ä̬†

What's emerged today is that the FCC's own CTO emailed staff with concerns about the vote, which appear to have been ignored as well.

Still don't know why you should care? Read this.

As you might expect, the vote is still moving forward at full steam ahead. Some Republican lawmakers are speaking out against the vote last-minute as well, but there's a very good chance it'll pass today.

Well, what can you do in the final hours? There's some great advice here, but given the vote will happen within a few hours, not much. 

A bunch of big sites broke their front pages overnight, but tech giants that can afford to pay for fast lanes (Google, Facebook, Apple et al) are nowhere to be seen.

Barring any last minute changes, the rules are likely to pass today, but they're also likely to end up heading straight into the court.

Many argue the free market is likely to 'resolve' the issue, but given that many of the internet's actual creators are calling this the end of the internet as we know it... it's unlikely, especially considering many internet users in the US don't have free choice of ISP like we enjoy here in Europe.

If you'd like to join me, I'll be watching the internet die on the live stream here later today. Jump into the Discuss thread at 10:30AM ET / 7:30 AM PT. 


Tab Dump

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Remember the good old times when a bunch of people got attacked by poorly secured internet-connected security cameras? Me too, and now three 20-year-olds are being convicted for it.