"Overzealous" Patrons

So this is a bit of a tricky thing that I suspect our lady creators are going to face more than our guy ones (and I admittedly hesitated to even post this because it’s so uncomfortable)…

How do you handle your overzealous patrons?

I’ve had to start laying down clear boundaries, but I worry that they’ll pull their support – and it’s not insignificant for some of them. I’ve moved all communication to Patreon, so I can choose when to interact (vs Twitter/DMs, which is alert city). This feels like an awfully fine line to straddle and I’m curious how you guys keep your audience engaged without being like… too engaged.__


It’s not tricky at all: if they’re behaving inappropriately, their money is not worth it. That either of you feels you as a person are being somehow bought is completely wrong and lays the ground for other creators to be harrassed by them.
If it’s more benign than I’m imagining, and just a bit awkward, then just ignore interactions you don’t want to respond to. My biggest patron has been a source of awkwardness for years. He’s not creepy exactly but he comments first on every single thing I post anywhere online. I only respond about 10% of the time, on my terms, and ignore him the rest, and that seems fine. But I would not hesitate to lose his patronage if he went further.


Being from England, we have a refreshingly down-to-Earth attitude to customer service and the very American mantra of “the customer is always right”, which we find somehow gives customers the feeling that they can extend the remit to “the customer can say whatever they like to you and you’ll swallow it because they gave you a dollar and now they own you forever.” I shall summarise it thusly: the last customer to be rude to me on the Steam forums was advised to take their $10 and fuck off. Whereupon I permanban them without a second thought. It’s well worth the $10.

I reckon your situation can be dealt with the same way: don’t take their money, aim the Ion Cannon Banninator at them from low orbit and hit zap the moment you start feeling uncomfortable. The fact you’ve even felt the need to talk about it here suggests that moment has already come. It actually feels better to not take the money than it does to take money in exchange for dread. I don’t wait for apologies, or ever unban anyone, or try and talk them round, or give them warnings, or a second chance. Instant, permanent ban. The internet has plenty more where they came from.

Once banned, do not engage. Never, ever engage. It never ends with happy feelings.


I would inform them of what their behaviour should be. Tell them what is acceptable and what isn’t and if things continue I would block them.

Maybe I’m hopelessly naive but they may not realise how they are coming off.

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IME people who have reached adulthood to the point of being creepy on the internet are literally beyond your powers to redeem. Don’t waste time and energy on trying to fix broken individuals - there are a million other broken individuals ready to take their place. Concentrate on the 100 million normal people who grew up well-adjusted.


I went through a bad period of being hammered by all manner of freaks and weirdos a few years back, because of a post on Boing Boing about my altered book work. It was an all-out assault on the comments sections of my sites, social media, and any method of messaging available. Also, rampant hot linking of images from my sites, to create nasty posts.

I pulled down my web sites for a few months, and walked away from the Internet. When I came back, for a while, my work was only available behind a registration wall, and all avenues of contact were closed to anyone who wasn’t known to me. Even years later, I still don’t allow DMs on Twitter or comments on YouTube. Commenting on most of my web sites is disabled. I don’t accept friend requests on FB from anyone I don’t know in real life, and reroute strangers to my art page there. I don’t post my email address anywhere.

That pretty much put an end to most of the nonsense.

I don’t interact with people who message me randomly, on any platform, unless the interaction feels safe. I report any unwanted contact that falls outside the terms of a site, and let the powers that be take care of it. I block liberally. My general attitude about interacting with people online is that the moment I feel unsafe, or disrespected, I make myself completely unavailable for any future contact.


I have a group of online friends who refer to that “take your $10 and fuck off” permaban as being sent to Siberia. Periodically, one of us will simply post “SIBERIA!” when we’re in the process of sending someone on their way.

Juvenile, but very satisfying. :slight_smile:


As a nsfw creator I do not tolerate anything that might be questionable, especially when the post is on my feed and might make other patrons uncomfortable.


Thanks for a really great topic @hackettkate!

This is something trust and safety thinks about a lot too - because there are times when it can veer into potentially bad territory and as public figures, there can be outsized expectations of what fans and patrons can demand of you.

These are great suggestions all around - look forward to everyone sharing more.


That’s my first go-to, to be honest.

“Screw it, don’t take their money” is fine, but y’all: I got bills to pay. To some degree, I do need to swallow this behavior. I’d rather gently correct & keep the income, but that also means setting appropriate boundaries for them and me.

So I’m curious how other creators do that. Because “fuck it, bye” is fine, but I’m not there. :slight_smile:


A) I’m sorry that happened to you.
b) Patreon seems to blur that line, though. These aren’t just “fans”, they’re part of your community. How do we safely draw a line that by its very nature Patreon shifts? (or, we as Patreon users shift)

I’ve found it helps to make a code of conduct? When I opened my Patreon-linked Discord server, I wrote one. It helps people to know what behavior is expected and tolerated, and it makes it feel ‘fair’ when you kick or ban people.

Every time someone does something new and improper, I add to it. -_-


Yeah, we’ve all got bills to pay.

From lots of painful experience: there is generally no way to truly correct someone’s icky behavior, and not have them respond negatively, or defensively, no matter how gentle you might be. You either have to decide you’re going to accept behavior that gives you the icks, or draw the line, and know that you will potentially lose them as a patron.

Honestly, I’d rather find another way of replacing the funds than go along with unacceptable behavior. That kind of stuff inhibits my ability to think clearly when I stand at the easel, and I just don’t have time for it.

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Oh, I don’t have any time to sit around and TEACH grown ass humans how to function like normal members of society. That’s not my job.

I’m asking about tactics to control the impact more than correct anyone’s behavior. So, for example, only allowing private communication via Patreon (vs the billions of other sites) in order to give myself “Patreon hours” and set when and how often I choose to communicate with people – so I am not on call all the time. Other people in this thread advocate simply cutting someone off, also a valid tactic. Etc.

ETA: I did ask for ways to constructively correct, so NVM. I am asking for that, sorta, as a “first step” kinda thing. Sorry, a little disjointed today!

What, specifically, do you do or say?

I believe you can even set your Discord to only allow DM from those you’ve assigned permissions or allow. I’d have a pinned post in your general Discord channel with the rules for engagement. If everything is public the ones who are being inappropriate are less likely to be so, which means they are well aware of what they’re doing. You can also assign a couple of patrons who are also friends the power to kick and/or ban. Then I’d add any new rules as needed as @haikujaguar said above. This takes some of the awkwardness out of having to deal with them all yourself and allows friends you can trust the power to police.

How about Twitter? Like, I feel weird muting my Patrons… But jeez.

Thanks all for the thoughts shared so far. I hesitated to chime in because I don’t have any personal experiences to with over-engaged or inappropriate fans. But I heard some advice at a convention a while back that I thought might be helpful. They said when you have a problematic fan, first try to identify whether their behavior is hateful/pathological or simply passionate. With the former, there isn’t much strategy other than blocking and banning. With the latter category, their behavior usually isn’t born of malice or ill-intent, just a more high-strung or intense way of living.

One YouTuber gave the example of a person who cussed her out in the comments for not including a recipe in a baking video. She replied politely that the recipe was always in the video description and asked if this viewer had a suggestion for how to do it differently/better. That “hater” transformed into a superfan who has shared and supported her channel for years now. She’s simply a more passionate and abrupt personality.

Of course, you don’t have the time to train people or teach etiquette, and each case will be unique. I do agree with what @puppygames said about the power dynamics in the patron-creator relationship. Financial support never gives someone the right to be an emotional vampire. Laying down clear boundries to protect yourself (and your other patrons) will pay off in the long run.

I’m posting this here for @carla because I think it’s important feedback for Patreon itself from a Patron (AND because it makes it impossible for me to set my boundaries):

I got a LONG email from a Patron today (Carla, I messaged you - I don’t want it public) saying he would not be keeping our contact to the Patreon ecosystem because, basically, it sucks.

I do NOT want my Patrons messaging me off Patreon. It starts to border on uncomfortable and, frankly, overwhelming.

But he’s not wrong: Patreon messaging isn’t great. The search function SUCKS. And it’s part of the reason why this particular Patron feels so entitled to my “off Patreon” hours, time, and energy.


Twitter is a cesspit, and prone to terrible miscommunications at best due to the nature of the medium and limits imposed on it. I’ve never been happier since I muted about 30 words (including benign words like “men”, “women”, “LGBT”, “Brexit”, “Trump”, etc) where I’ve noticed that nothing good ever comes of any thread mentioning said words. Now my feed is full of cool things about videogames and art.

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