Forum:Starting a Patreon for the wikis

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Forums: Yew Grove > Starting a Patreon for the wikis

Hi friends!

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen the proposal to run ads on the wiki so we can fund the technical staff full-time. The overall reaction has been way more positive than I was expecting, which is awesome because TBH I'd been extremely worried about us making that post for over a year.

One thing I was surprised by was the number of people on Reddit that suggested they were willing to donate to the wiki, either unconditionally, or (for some people) if it meant they wouldn't see any ads. The frequency of that response, plus more research about some comparable crowdfunded projects, have made me reconsider how much we might hope to raise if we started a Patreon account (or similar).

I want to be clear that even if we got extremely strong buy-in from the community, crowdfunding still seems very unlikely to raise enough for us to not need any ads at all. We'd presumably not show ads for anyone who donates, but I don't think we should try to frame this as a drive to hit a specific donation target that would avoid ads altogether. If that somehow magically happens, that would be really cool...but it's at the far edge of believability, and we really don't want to give off the vibe of "we are going to do this bad thing unless you give us enough money". So let's try to set reasonable expectations.

That said, if we're a bit lucky, Patreon might be enough to significantly reduce the prominence of ads on pages (for example, Patreon might be the difference between the ad being above-the-fold vs. below-the-fold).

Proposal[edit source]

This proposal isn't set in stone, but these are some of the things I've been thinking about. It's influenced a lot by the UESP Patreon page.

  • Set up a Patreon account for the wikis
  • Come up with a very small number of tiers - here are some ideas for benefits, but I'm interested in further suggestions:
    • No ads (in practice you might get this for just logging in at all, but I think it's something we can guarantee for any Patreon supporters)
    • Some sort of Discord perk/channel, maybe a name color. Maybe we just expand the existing wiki-pals and #wiki-lounge and call it a day
    • (Early?) access to a mini newsletter about what the wiki's been working on
    • Get listed on some page somewhere saying you contributed
    • At a certain tier, any time we do a merch (t-shirt, scarf, whatever) run for the editors, we'll send it to you too
    • Mostly trying to avoid physical rewards (since I think they aren't as strong a motivator for most people). But really interested in additional suggestions. Overall the vibe I'm going for with rewards is not so much brand-new gated things for donators, but do we take the little incentives we already have for editors, and extend some of them to the people who are invested in other ways?
  • When they sign up, give them a little optional free-form space to give suggestions on what they want us to work on. This is basically like the previous "wiki surveys" we've done (where a lot of the comments have been genuinely useful, and we wish we had more), but if it's presented in this context, it probably feels like a perk rather than them doing us a favor (although obviously we're not obligating ourselves to do what they ask).
  • Replace the "Chat on Discord" button with a "Donate" button. I am willing to compromise on this if people feel strongly, but the feeling I've gotten from a lot of editors the last few years is that they feel the Discord button has actually been a net negative
    • Don't ever use banners or sitenotice for this

That's the basic proposal. I think the positives here are fairly clear (additional feel-good revenue source that might let us cut down on ads, people will continually ask for it until we do it, I think it genuinely makes people like the wiki MORE if they feel invested in its success, etc). So let's talk about the possible downsides:

  • There is a risk that some people will be upset that we are "double dipping" and both asking for donations and running ads. To be fair I really did not see this sentiment on Reddit (and talking to the UESP guys, they said it didn't come up at all when they launched Patreon), but it is a risk worth watching out for
  • There's a risk that if the donations go very well (but not quite well enough to completely eliminate ads) that there will be part of the userbase pushing us to either make budget cuts, or push the donations harder, so that the gap covered by ads goes down to zero. Working on a really tight margin like that (where it's borderline plausible, but quite painful, to run without ads) would put us in a tough position, especially if the donations later went down (or unavoidable expenses went up)

Soo yeah, that's the basic proposal. My impression is that this would be really positively received by the external community, but some of us on the wiki are still going to be really worried the possibility, however remote, of it coming off as greedy. I think I would suggest carefully reading the Reddit threads and realizing how much people like us, want to help, and trust us to do the right thing. ʞooɔ 14:48, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Discussion[edit source]

Support ʞooɔ 14:48, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - I feel like the community has spoken regarding donations and I also agree with the proposal. Lava hawk.png BlackHawk (Talk)    15:10, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - I was surprised how many people (esp. on Reddit) wanted to directly donate to the wiki. I think it's a good idea to at least trial the idea of giving people a place to do that - if it doesn't work out we can always stop doing it. User talk:InvalidCards.png: RS3 Inventory image of User talk:InvalidCards InvalidCards Special:Contributions/InvalidCards.png: RS3 Inventory image of Special:Contributions/InvalidCards 15:11, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - Preferred way I support other projects as well. Jakesterwars (talk) 15:15, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - some comments on the benefits:

  • How is the No ads part going to be implemented for unregistered users? Would the user's IP be correlated to their Patreon account somehow?
  • For the Donate link: just place it in the first section of the sidebar. Yes, the Discord link looks out-of-place. It's evil, but a necessary evil. I would still rather users to come to Discord instead of talk pages.
  • Not mentioned but before someone brings it up: I'd oppose on-wiki benefits like user highlights/icons on user links. One could argue it gives users a feel of higher status in wiki; it also adds visual clutter to discussions/signatures and page history.
  • pls name the discord role "the other wiki pals"

Shayani (talk) 15:18, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

I suspect that removing the ads would require they be logged in - there's no other reasonable way to consistently do it if they're (say) on a phone on a cell network. Of course we are sort of intending to not show any ads for registered users *anyway*, but in this case we can make an ironclad guarantee.
I think there is a huge difference in activity between doing a Donate button in the style of the Discord button, vs just having a link in style of (say) the "About us" button. A lot of people have already argued that the Discord button is a net negative, and while I'm not going to make that argument myself (others can), looking at the analytics it doesn't really bring in that many users (let alone active ones). ʞooɔ 15:24, 23 January 2023 (UTC)
If the Discord link is to be retained, I'd rather the donation link take front and center on the sidebar, and the Discord link be moved further down into the textual area. Wouldn't hurt showcasing the Patreon a bit more than just a plain text link. User talk:InvalidCards.png: RS3 Inventory image of User talk:InvalidCards InvalidCards Special:Contributions/InvalidCards.png: RS3 Inventory image of Special:Contributions/InvalidCards 15:25, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - There is definitely appetite from the community for a means of donating to the wiki, and I think the outlined reward structure for donations is a good one. In the discord I did mention some concerns I had about people feeling like they were excluded from or kept in the dark about the direction of the wiki (and the drama that could bring), but I have been convinced that that can be mitigated against and I trust that the wiki will be able to do so. Omnes Ferant (talk) 15:42, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - I personally believe that it's never bad to have more than one source of income, and with doing both Patreon and ads, it'll be a slight bit more sustainable. Besides, if Patreon does well enough, then we can always have less ads :D! Regarding the perks, although some argument has been made in the discord, I think that there's nothing much wrong with the idea of "surveys", as the community will still be involved for most changes. AppleRank (talk) 15:54, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - Giving people who are most enthusiastic about financially assisting the wiki an avenue to do so sounds like a pretty sensible thing to do. I would like to stress (again) however that it should really be made clear to donators what they are getting with regards to their no-ads guarantee. As I understand it, the wiki currently reserves the right to alter the planned "no ads for logged in editors"-policy in case of an unexpected surge in new account creations; I'd suggest stating very explicitly that the only benefit donators are getting in this regard is being exempted from such a change if it were to happen at all. I'd really advise not to be cavalier about whether to make such clarifications, as confusion over the requirements to opt out of ads could easily arise, and dishearten those most eager to provide support. Ceterum censeo vectem discordiae esse delendam. Ostentatio (talk) 19:02, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - Assuming the Discord link is just moved elsewhere on the sidebar (can be formatted like a normal link I guess). looking at the analytics [the Discord button] doesn't really bring in that many users do we have actual numbers on this? Also, considering Kofi is objectively better, are we working with Patreon purely because of the brand recognition? I guess there's no real way too check but I'm wondering if that actually makes much of a difference. Seers headband 2 chathead.png Elessar2 (talk) 20:15, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - If only to reduce the chance of a bad actor setting one up and scamming people out of their money amidst ads being implemented. It also definitely needs to be clear that any suggestions patrons make are not a guarantee that those things will be worked on, I'm a huge not fan of people paying several thousand dollars to try and force changes in a project. zTUG5mD.png Crow  21:51, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - Seems sensible enough, and the demand seems fairly clear. Micha (talk) 22:00, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Question - Elessar touched on it above, but: is there any specific benefit or added value that Patreon brings in return for their fees? There are other crowdfunding/fundraising platforms as well, but the fact that this is primarily focused on a website (as opposed to e.g. content creators that may not have their own freestanding websites at all) raises the question of whether it would be much harder to simply have a custom page that’s hosted/served simply as part of the wiki, just linking out to or even embedding a payment provider (such as Stripe - meaning, something that just handles the payments rather than being a whole fundraising management platform). Micha (talk) 22:00, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

I can give my personal thoughts on why I decided to suggest Patreon rather than some alternative (or our own homespun solution).
We are looking for something that natively supports recurring payments, since if we want any sort of consistency, we need to be looking for subscriptions rather than one-off payments. The main alternative to Patreon in this space is Ko-fi, which TBH equals or surpasses Patreon in most of the relevant features (specifically, it allows you to make pledges without needing an account, and allows for one-off payments without needing to cancel).
So why are we suggesting Patreon rather than Ko-fi? It basically comes down to brand recognition, and the concern that fewer people would contribute to it. If we say "donate to the wiki's Patreon!", everyone knows what that means. But Ko-fi is not nearly as well-known and we're worried that will scare people off from donating. The concern over that, IMO, outweighs the 8% cut from Patreon. It sucks but I'm not sure we can take that risk.
I am maybe interested in A/B testing Patreon vs. Ko-fi on the sidebar, but that might be more trouble than it's worth. ʞooɔ 22:17, 23 January 2023 (UTC)
Maybe I'm missing something but it sucks but I'm not sure we can take that risk what's the actual risk? Less donations? Also might that not be balanced out by people who aren't willing to donate monthly but are willing to make one time donations? Seers headband 2 chathead.png Elessar2 (talk) 09:45, 24 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - 'Scapers are proud of their wiki. Some players without the time to contribute by editing may still like to help out in other ways. If players are asking to support financially, let's give them the opportunity. If it doesn't go well, we can always discontinue it. As the above comment, I would also second looking into which platform (patreon, etc) is best. Eliuaustin (talk) 22:04, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Suppport - While I think the terms of donating should be made very explicit, whatever they may or may not be, the amount of support on reddit for the concept was surprising, so let's try it. Fjaratalk 22:09, 23 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - Community feedback leads me to believe that there would be sufficient people who donate regularly. I am hesitant on physical rewards due to the financial cost to procure/ship the merchandise may take a significant chunk of the money generated that could be better used. This could be re-evaluated down the line once some data can be established. Shoyrukon (talk) 00:54, 24 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - I always love reading those early access technical newsletter other sites have, so would love that to be a perk, but then again, I also know the pain of writing a nicely worded documentation that is almost necessary for public presentation.... so..... :D. I would shy away from physical rewards. If the wiki is constrained on cash, I'd rather those money be kept as a rain day budget, and it would feel weird that if you were patreon this particular time frame you get it, but otherwise you don't, unless merch becomes a regular occurrence, in which case the first point still stands. Dragon longsword.png Cire04 TalkAttack.png 02:40, 24 January 2023 (UTC)

Wholeheartedly Support I don't think Patreon or other similar services will entirely eliminate adverts; however, if donations can reduce the number of adverts, whether intrusive or not, I am in full support. The less adverts, the better. As long as Weird Gloop is transparent with their finances and stays in regular communication with the Wiki community regarding it, any claim on double-dipping can be quashed. I don't even think double-dipping can be a valid claim anyway. The only way for this to be double-dipping would be if the number of adverts did not reduce with the alternative method (Patreon/crowd-funding). So long as adverts are reduced in relation to the Patreon source, then it would simply be a redirection (for lack of a better word). Not to mention, there will inevitably be some people who are willing to assist in its funding and, at the end of the day, it would be optional anyway. Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)  Choose OptionTalk to Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Follow Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Report Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Contributions Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Walk hereExamine Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Cancel 15:55, 24 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - Even if the donations aren't enough to keeps ads entirely off the site, the possibility of this keeping them away from the tops of pages is a huge potential boon. -Towelcat (talk) 18:13, 24 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - I was initially sceptical but I think its at least worth trialling given the feedback from Reddit that people would like a donate option. I think this can be framed in such a way that it doesn't feel like we're trying to be greedy here and put across that this is just an optional thing which might make it possible for us to have less intrusive ad options. I think it would be best to have an unobtrusive sidebar link at most (nothing like what Wikipedia do where donating is heavily pushed in a way which is similar to ads anyway). I think the proposed benefits for donors are at a good level; I wouldn't want us to offer anything exclusively to donors, as that feels like we're getting away from RS:AEAE and valuing people more when they pay us, but this gives a bundle of stuff that is otherwise only obtainable to editors to people who are interested in supporting the wiki but don't edit for whatever reason. Who knows, maybe that will encourage them to be a bit more involved in things. Magic logs detail.pngIsobelTalk page 19:30, 24 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - My goodness, I just learned a lot about this Wiki from the last two hours of reading around this issue. I agree with many who came before in suspecting that there's so much goodwill in the community that donations could really be viable, and I see absolutely no conflict between requesting donations and running ads. I'd totally support via Patreon, or whatever platform is ultimately decided, and then I'd happily log in to avoid the ads after doing so. :) Dreamweaver (talk) 02:14, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - I'd most likely donate even without any incentives. ―UNDEFINED Top-quality milk.png 04:16, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Comment - I feel very uneasy about allowing donations in general. I think it is amazing that people want to support the wiki financially, but it feels wrong to me to accept money from people who I don't believe should be shouldering this cost in the first place, especially when it's unclear if donations will have any actual change in ad layout or amount. I don't think I buy the idea that we will be able to change the ad layout too much as a result of donations yet. We have previously talked about not wanting ad layout to change too much after some time, ideally we find a steady state so that users can get used to them and not be annoyed by moving content/elems. Unless the donations are consistent, it seems like changing the layout based on donations goes against that idea, since if donations decrease later we need to add ads back/revert the layout changes. That said, we can't really test consistency without testing donations, and testing early is better here since we will be messing with the ad layout then anyway. Personally, if it becomes clear that there's no tangible change to the layout I think the donation option should be scrapped. - Andmcadams (talk) 05:26, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Support - If nothing else we might as well give it a trial run to see how it fares. What do we have to lose? Pikaandpi (talk) 05:52, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Notice - We have tentatively launched a Patreon. We are going to gather some data for a day or few, then we plan to be more vocal about this; for now we just have the donate button in the left sidebar (replacing the discord button). Quest.png Gaz Lloyd 7:^]Events!99s 12:07, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Comment - Aaaaaaaaaand pledged. Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)  Choose OptionTalk to Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Follow Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Report Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Contributions Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Walk hereExamine Swyllikx of Guthix (level: 138)Cancel 12:39, 26 January 2023 (UTC)