Company blog: a note on payments

When it comes to payments, some of you have experienced some turbulence, and today we wanted to share with you what’s been happening and why. This blog was also emailed out to creators.

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I think I speak for many creators in saying, great, BUT WHY WASN’T THIS PUBLISHED LAST MONTH before the *#$%-storm hit?!?

All we’re asking is to be kept in the loop, instead of being notified AFTER everything has already blown up in our faces.

Here, I’ll write it for you: “Dear creators, this coming month, we’ll be making some changes to our payment processor to better support you. While we hope everything will go smoothly, there’s always the chance that there will be some wrinkles in the road. Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to fix up any issues that arise. We’re with you on this, and remember, it’s all with the goal of lower fees to your patrons.”

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Deleting my own post.

Just to note, no one’s NSFW pages “disappeared without warning”, they were breaking the rules which is why they got temporarily suspended.

It’d be like saying “my friend that was breaking the law repeatedly got arrested without warning” :stuck_out_tongue:

As far as warning us in advance, sure, that’d be good, but did you catch this part of the blog?

“Out of respect for our partners and our agreements with them, there are details that we contractually cannot disclose, even today, which makes it challenging to discuss specifics.”

Having worked in companies like this before, it’s highly likely that any sort of press release they make has to run through multiple companies, multiple people at each company, and be checked off by even yet more people before being posted.

Under normal circumstances, most of the time Patreon has been keeping us up to date. However, I would have to assume that the reason they were unable to tell us about this in advance, was this part of the blog combined with what I just wrote;

“We quickly added new payment partners so that we could continue processing payments for as many Patreon creators as possible… this change helped us save thousands of creators’ incomes…”

This highly suggests that something internally with one of these payment providers/companies (or more) or some laws or other factors that Patreon is doing business with hit them with new rule changes or regulations that they had to adhere to, ASAP, or they weren’t going to be allowed to process transactions from NSFW people at all for that month.

And if you’re wondering why they don’t just come out and say this (if that is the case), then remember the section at the start about having to keep this stuff under NDA.

Lots of the businesses I worked with in the past had these problems and legal/contractual things that ate up a lot of time, and many of those companies weren’t even half as transparent or keeping up to date on notifying us as Patreon has been.

It sucks that they didn’t get to tell us in advance, sure, but I hope my general guess up above + the knowledge that similar situations happen all the time in businesses like this can give people a different perspective on what likely prevented them from getting us this news far in advance.

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OK, they were breaking the rules but couldn’t they have let people know they were suddenly going to enforce a rule they didn’t seem to care about beforehand? I don’t remember, was there ever a hint that they were going to become much more strict with these things?

Having re-read the blog post I can see where your interpretations of what was said comes from and it saddens me that I can agree with a lot of what you said. It worries me how often NSFW pages are causing issues and stuff. I appreciate Patreon for supporting them but I wonder how long that will last if there continues to be problems.

Do the police let you know that you’re breaking the law and give you a chance to not break the law?

If the payment providers or anyone else were saying “hey, we need your site cleaned up by this weekend or else we pull support”, they’re not going to give leeway to people who’ve been intentionally skirting or breaking the rules for this whole time when they could easily find out in the ToS that they shouldn’t be doing this.

There wasn’t a hint that they were going to enforce it more, but given that NSFW is literally only existing on Patreon right now in terms of month to month support, with every other website having far, far more regulations, far far higher fees, and far far less of a userbase and less payment options, I think if you’re making a NSFW game or art or anything else it should be your duty to abide by the rules as much as possible to make Patreon’s job easier so that we can all continue to have NSFW content on the site, rather than push the rules and possibly ruin it for everyone if too many cases pop up.

I understand it sucks to have your site suspended, but (I would hope) they had seen the ToS and knew what the rules were on the site, so it was their choice to risk that.

100% this. A lack of forward communication remains my #1 concern with Patreon. My business is linked directly to the decisions that Patreon makes. By being out of the loop I am putting myself at risk by not being able to communicate to my community.

This risk has been proven at least 3 times this year with decisions that Patreon made with no forward communications. That caused some of my Patrons to drop off whereas had I been able to warn them I firmly believe some of that damage may have been preventable.

I’m sure I won’t agree with every decision made, and that’s ok. At least I will see it coming and take appropriate action.

Hey! thanks for all the thoughts and feedback around the blog — I shared it here in the hope that we can discuss it together so I’m really pleased to hear your reactions.

I’ve had a chance to sit down and talk with Tyler, the VP of Operations who wrote the blog, to ensure he heard the points raised here, especially the proactive comms part about sharing this news before the issue, as other creators have raised that as well.

This is completely fair feedback and an understandable reaction to have. I think I would have the same view if I were in your shoes! However in this case, with these very specific changes that needed to happen, things progressed in such a way that didn’t allow for proactive comms. I wish I could share more details on that but I hope you can understand that this situation was different, and that the blog helped clear up some of the confusion.

Please know that myself and the Patreon team hears you on communicating with creators early. This is the right thing to do and what I personally will always fight for – for the creators. Hopefully you’ve seen a bit of that in here with the pricing survey and workshops but I believe we can always get better at that and I’ll continue to push for that in the future.

Ben, did you read my post?

Mindy basically confirms what I was writing, that while Patreon usually does have forward communication (many, many, many times over more than any other business I’ve worked with in nearly 20 years), they literally could not communicate forward because of external influences forcing their hand in this situation (and likely in the other cases you’re talking about too).

Imagine you have to make a dinner date with someone, but in making that date, 100+ people have to sign off on the date in multiple states and possibly countries. It takes you weeks to setup the date, and finally, the date’s setup.

However though, on the night of your date, you get told that your car’s been stolen (something out of your hands) and thus you can’t make it to the date.

You’d call up your date, but unfortunately, remember, everything needs to go through those 100+ people, so you’re not allowed to call up your date and let them know that your car’s been stolen until those 100+ people have signed off on it.

That’s basically the scenario Patreon is likely facing as well as most other businesses of this type that have to deal with multiple payment processors in very delicate deals to keep everyone happy so that we can even continue to use Patreon in the way that we’re using it and with such low fees and accessibility/variety of payment providers.

I’m confused. Couldn’t Patreon have published the same blog on the same date after the same negotiations and signoffs, and just not actually thrown the switch on the new payment stuff until the day after? As a bonus, that would have given them the chance to see how well it worked (or didn’t) on all the new pay-up-front patrons mid-month before the massive wave of 1st-of-the-month charges hit.

Ammulder, I covered that in my post why that likely wouldn’t be possible.

Tl;dr version;

  • It normally likely takes days or weeks or possibly even months for anything to be checked off by everyone involved with Patreon before they can publish a blog post about changes or features
  • Something urgent forced their hand to make a change that they likely did not see coming or expect in any way, shape or form (the UK banking change) with such importance that they had to act THEN, instead of later
  • The penalty for not doing so would possibly be (as heavily implied by previous posts and Mindy) that no one gets their money for that month and no pledges get registered, or potentially worse (entire portions of creators kicked off the site, suspended, who knows what else), aka something very severe
  • This urgent situation was highly likely forced on them BY the people whom they have to do their checks and balances with, which is why it was able to be done immediately
  • Thus, they had to make the change THEN, but did not get to make a blog post until NOW, in both cases, due to the pressure and influence and control of these external parties

This is all again conjecture and assumptions by me, not something that Patreon has ever stated as fact, but I’m going off of corporate experience from having been in multiple levels of positions of companies like this one before and having known people in said companies as well who went through nearly identical situations.

I do understand and appreciate this. To be fair to Patreon, communications is super hard. Too much and it becomes noise. Too little and things like this can blow up. In my opinion it is also extremely important to get it right, especially with a Patreon -> Creator -> Supporter relationship.

Ignoring this specific example, I think Patreon is still on the ‘too little communication’ side of the coin. Had there been a great roadmap, abundant communication and then a one-off issue like this, it would be a lot easier to absorb.

I’m hopeful that in the future we will hear a lot more from Patreon in regards to roadmap, plans, pros and cons. At a quick glance it appears as though thee is some effort in that regard and appreciate that work.