Subscription payments

Speculation, discoveries, complaints, accusations, praise, and all other Erfworld discussion.

Subscription payments

Postby Bloodroot » Thu May 07, 2009 6:11 pm

I like Erfworld a lot. Previously, I've never asked the question I am about to, because as the rabid bone-gnawing folks on the other forum would point out, the comic was free. No book to buy, no support program to subscribe to. I buy a lot of webcomic books and subscribe to a few support programs. It's really nice to have the books to loan to friends to get them interested. For example, I preordered the big Schlock Mercenary boxed set partly to support the author and partly so my girlfriend can flip through until she finds the place she stopped reading. Then she can catch up and I can once more discuss the new comic with her. Everyone wins!

Now, however, it seems appropriate to ask: if we sign up for a regularly scheduled payment to the comic, will the comic itself have regularly scheduled updates? I realize not everyone is Howard Taylor or Phil Foglio. Heck, almost nobody is! Most people, myself included, miss due dates for things sometimes. But the prevailing attitude here has traditionally been "No schedule! Don't even ask! Rar!".

Which is a fine and accepted artist sort of behavior. But I am a little wary of committing to a regular payment for an irregular return. I'm sure people will point out that $3 a month is minimal. They are right. But taking on any payment obligation like this deserves a little thought, at least for me. YMMV.
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby doran » Thu May 07, 2009 7:29 pm

Rob or Jamie will probably post a reply, but my view is that the real value for money in the subscription is the store credit since that will ensure you get something concrete in the future (the book, merchandise and so on) which doesn't depend on updates,
or people expecting regular ones. Plus, of course, I'm supporting a webcomic I like!

The stuff in the toolbox is a nice bonus.
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Xanthir » Thu May 07, 2009 11:44 pm

Basically it's a no-lose situation, because you're just pre-paying for merch, as doran said, plus the occasional perk in the toolbox. (And let me assure you, the high-res strips we already have are *awesome*. You notice a *ton* of little details that were easily overlooked or just plain invisible in the normal-size strips. I've put something together that lets me view them all on one page in a single unbroken stream, and it's simply wonderful.*)

However, jamie said that the biggest limiter in their update speed is him producing scripts, and having to work a dayjob slows that down quite a bit. With enough Tools they can stop having to do that. ^_^

* No, I can't share. While I personally find copyright immoral, Rob/Jamie made it quite clear that the high-res images *are* fully copyrighted and not shared under a freeer license, and I'll respect that. Plus, it doesn't even work out of the box - you have to do some spoofing on your client.
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Bloodroot » Fri May 08, 2009 4:00 am

These are all very good points, thank you.

I'm certainly in favor of anything that might allow the nice folks behind this comic to devote more time to it. If that's the plan, I will probably go for it.
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby raphfrk » Fri May 08, 2009 6:13 am

I guess there are 2 extremes of potential donors.

Some people will donate purely to support the comic and others would donate to increase update speed.

If only 'blind'/unconditional donations are supported, then people closer to the 2nd extreme are less likely to donate.

Ofc, if enough people donate, then there is a sudden "state-change" and the creators can cut back on their 'real' jobs. However, that is a pretty weak link to the update speed.

There was a suggestion in the suggestion forum relating to this.

The basic idea would be that rather than agreeing to pay $3 a month, there would be an option that allows you give a tip/bonus for each comic update.

The guy suggested $3 + $1*(number of comics in the month). Presumably, the subscriber would get to pick the base rate and the donation per comic.

This increases the money (though a donor might decide to go with $0 + $1 per comic) and also means that the subscriber would feel like they are providing an incentive for an increased comic update rate. Thus, it would mean that the 2nd group of people would be more likely to participate.

Ofc, that requires a recurring payment that is variable each month. I am not sure how easy it is to set something like that up with Paypal and if it is, is it worth the effort. In principle, the number of comics produced per month could be determined by the site itself, or it might be easier just to type a number into a form somewhere.
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Morthe » Fri May 08, 2009 8:41 pm

It would be nice to know how many Tools they need to quit their dayjob. I guess there must be a lot so that fluctuations won't mess up the budget. Also with this current economy do you really think about quiting a job you got?
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Frogpop » Fri May 08, 2009 11:38 pm

I was thinking the same thing a couple days ago. Really it depends on where they live and how they are accustomed to living!

$3 a month = $36 per year per tool. So 2000 full-time tools would give them each salaries of $36,000, assuming a 50/50 split. 4000 tools would be $72,000. 6000 is $108,000. ..but that's a LOT of tools!

Unfortunately, as I think most tools are planning on redeeming their toolbux for store credit either for the first book or other merchandise, only a much smaller portion of the toolbux will be profit in their pockets, so Rob and Jamie probably aren't planning on making any job moves in the near future.

Now, if Rob and Jamie could get a whole lotta tools, they could conceivably make a living off of the interest derived from the unredeemed toolbux alone. They'd need somewhere in the neighborhood of 70,000 tools to make that work. :D
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Occasional Sage » Sat May 09, 2009 2:42 am

Frogpop wrote:I was thinking the same thing a couple days ago. Really it depends on where they live and how they are accustomed to living!

$3 a month = $36 per year per tool. So 2000 full-time tools would give them each salaries of $36,000, assuming a 50/50 split. 4000 tools would be $72,000. 6000 is $108,000. ..but that's a LOT of tools!

Unfortunately, as I think most tools are planning on redeeming their toolbux for store credit either for the first book or other merchandise, only a much smaller portion of the toolbux will be profit in their pockets, so Rob and Jamie probably aren't planning on making any job moves in the near future.

Now, if Rob and Jamie could get a whole lotta tools, they could conceivably make a living off of the interest derived from the unredeemed toolbux alone. They'd need somewhere in the neighborhood of 70,000 tools to make that work. :D


Um... to complicate your math there are servers to pay for, and computers to buy/maintain/upgrade, and advertising to purchase, and a bunch of other things too. Plus there's revenue from the ads on this site, and... well anyway, it's complex.
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Frogpop » Sat May 09, 2009 4:37 am

Occasional Sage wrote:Um... to complicate your math there are servers to pay for, and computers to buy/maintain/upgrade, and advertising to purchase, and a bunch of other things too. Plus there's revenue from the ads on this site, and... well anyway, it's complex.

Presumably the computers, ads, and ad revenues would all still exist with or without the tool program for as long as they kept project Erfworld up and running, so those don't directly relate to the "can they quit their day jobs because of the tool program" question. If they can pay for all that stuff based on salary X from a dayjob, then they should be able to do so with that same salary X coming from tools.

There are other elements that do though such as paypal fees, and local, state, and federal taxes, etc..

I was giving a rough guide so Morthe could have a ballpark figure. What do I look like, a Mathamancer? :D
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Occasional Sage » Sun May 10, 2009 1:33 am

Frogpop wrote:I was giving a rough guide so Morthe could have a ballpark figure. What do I look like, a Mathamancer? :D


Sure, why not?

I was just pointing out, there are complexities. We don't need to know what the factors are, that's somebody else's gig.
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Akilika » Sun May 10, 2009 1:41 am

If the creators were prepared or able to make update guarantees, they would have already; it would have only made sense. They can't. If you're interested in becoming a Tool in the hopes of a greater update schedule, I can only view this as foolhardy; one can only assume that the creators are already doing what they can.

I've seen webcomic artists make update schedule guarantees in return for donations. In general, it doesn't work; they find out that they can't keep up with the schedule, or the donation rate doesn't keep up for very long. I think it would be foolhardy to attempt this sort of thing with such a history.


So . . . I guess these are my suggestions.

1 - Reguide your thinking. Your subscription isn't actually for Erfworld comics; it's for bonus material (+merch credits +secret forum access). Make your decision whether this is worth a subscription. (In particular, the regularity of bonus features would probably play a role--I would think it wise for the creators to post Toolbox update information where non-Tools can see it, in the interest of making this information available to those considering.) Remember, you get the same comics whether or not you subscribe.

2 - Wait a bit. You'll have more data going forward to see if Erfworld updates more regularly in a post-Tool universe, and make a decision accordingly.

3 - If you'd like to support the comic without making a regular commitment, there are a lot of options available. One-time donations are possible, and there's already merchandise available. Buy Book 1 when it comes out. You'll still be supporting the comic--possibly more than the Tools are, given that they're using their Toolbox credit to buy merch and have it spread across several PayPal fees to boot--but without any regular commitment, and certainly not more than you feel like giving at any point. :)


I can understand your concerns; however, I feel it's more logical to adjust your thinking than to have the comic adjust to your expectations. You're much less likely to end up disappointed. :)



(I apologize if my tone is a bit . . . cold? I just got back from Star Trek; I think Spock is affecting my writing patterns. Always did love that guy . . .)
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Re: Subscription payments

Postby Bloodroot » Sun May 10, 2009 1:49 am

Front page news says...more reliable updates.

I'll pledge to that! Count me in.

I mean, just the transition from "Do not ask about updates!" to "It should be better going forward." is enough for me.

Subscription set, bonus donation dropped.

That's all I needed to hear.
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