Can we please do some sort of site poll about whether or not obviously abandoned projects with some form of active donation/subscription service remain open?
I say this because I just saw a thread tonight where someone was asking about Thicker Treat’s content. Nowhere in the threads title nor description nor a pinned message is there an indication that said project has clearly been abandoned. Yet the OP still contains links to Voca’s patreon which, from Feb. to today has grifted several thousand dollars from unwitting donors.
I know this site hemmed and hawed about “it’s too difficult” to determine if a project is abandoned…which is fair for free projects. But if a project is paid, it’s not unreasonable to require the user to at least post 1 message here and/or at their patreon/whatever money making service they use 1 time per month. It literally takes 2 minutes if that.
It shouldn’t fall upon random users (as it did me…despite A MOD POSTING A REPLY) to let someone know that Voca has completely abandoned his project while still attempting to make money off of it.
Edit: It’s not even like this is a rampant issue. Outside of Voca and Bobo I’m struggling to think of a project with an active donation/paid service that hasn’t at least provided a semi-update every couple of months
I would strongly argue against such a policy of locking threads on project status grounds. There is always room for discussion beyond, “when is the next build ready” which is already discouraged here. People are new to the site and want to find games even if they are years old or abandoned and may have questions or spur new discussion. As far as being frustrated with crowd funding and patreon, it is up to every individual to be mindful of their own purchases and is not up to a forum to police how people spend their money. As far as a patreon creator having to managing their own communication threads here, I think this is a non-starter. It takes a lot of effort to communicate these sorts of things and its not even a fact that they control the threads opened about their own games.
I understand the frustrations, but I think the energy is just being misplaced here. At most, it might be valuable to add an abandoned tag to these threads, but that’s a lot of work from our own mod team to manage.
I would point you to my response on a similar question here:
The tldr; we are planning on making some adjustments to our rules around projects that ask for money with the release of the main site, and I am actively working on adding features to the main site that will make it easier for us to know what projects are asking for donations/money and make it easier for users to see if they are being actively worked on.
Unfortunately, for right now its very buyer beware. If you see any projects you believe are actual scams I do encourage you to flag them and we will review them asap.
If you feel the project has just been abandoned or updates are to slow/sparse its ok to say so on the thread, you just need to be careful about how you say it. If you voice your concern along the lines of something like this: The games last update was about 6 months ago and I dont think they update frequently enough to warrant giving them money atm so I would be careful about joining their patreon that would be ok 9 times out of 10.
The two main keys to keep in mind when making a reply like that is:
Dont state that the project has been abandoned. I see quite a few users make some good points but then declare the project as abandoned or dead which then makes their response against our rules. Its ok to complain about infrequent or long updates, but you need to keep any direct statements about the dev abandoning the game out of it unless it has been directly stated by the dev that are dropping the project (which in that case link the source if you can to make it easier on us to verify).
Be respectful and civil. When money is involved people can get understandably heated, but I have seen that torpedo some replies with good points in them just because the user let their emotions get the better of them. Try to be as respectful and even tempered as possible, and avoid attacking the dev (like calling them a scammer. If you think they are one just report them directly to us) and you should be fine.
I know it’s “very buyer beware” and that’s why I posted this comment lol. It’s unacceptable that it’s this way.
As far as your link to your comment in July goes…yeah…I know you said that. Nothing has been done since and that’s why I literally made this thread.
As for the rules, I agree on being respectful and civil. Yes, I did find it outrageous that a mod responded to a long dead project that asks for money AND didn’t warn the person the project wasn’t being updated, but I didn’t attack them.
But the 1st point…c’mon now. I think it’s safe to say that we can consider Thicker Treat to be abandoned right? Voca doesn’t post here anymore nor does he to his patreon…and apparently some user even tracked him down elsewhere and asked him what was up…but he just blocked them at that site. And Bobo is MIA as well.
Why is it so hard for you mods to close a thread and put a headline message stating “This project has seen no updates for X amount of time and has made no communications in the same amount of time”? If the creator eventually comes back, they can simply make a new thread.
Like it or not, by keeping Bobo and Voca’s threads open, this site has essentially helped them grift several thousand dollars out of people. That’s wrong and needs to stop.
TL;DR: I know you and the rest of the mods and admins have been discussing this for since at least July. I feel that it’s been a complete failure and instead of what you few think, the users on the site should drive the policy since there’s been complete inaction on one.
What actual “discussion” has been made regarding Voca and Bobo’s projects since they’d stopped posting? It takes a lot of effort to communicate these sorts of things
No, it really doesn’t. It takes 30 seconds to log into patreon and type out “hey guys, projects not dead!” I’m not saying devs need to give a detailed roadmap and lengthy patch-notes. All I’m saying is that devs who charge money for content at least make 1 monthly post about said project. If that’s too much for them…then they don’t deserve money.
Seriously as someone who doesn’t bilk ignorant people out of thousands of dollars per month like Voca did for "baby’s first RenPy game* it’s seriously infuriating to see you make excuses for someone who literally told people “Hey I can’t take money anymore. The project is stopped as of January and so are your patreon accounts”…and since then has made several thousand dollars on said patreon.
So first off, I want to put a stop to the narrative that anyone needed to step in to stop another person from signing up to a presumably defunct patreon as if there was no information within the thread that the dev has not been around or had any contact. Or that anyone who visits the patreon site can’t see the dev has not posted anything on it for a year. The comments in the thread from February until a couple of posts above the person in question I replied to mention that the dev has not been around and not posted anywhere even one suggesting to not support the dev.
I’m all for bringing attention to an issue and informing someone as to let them make their own choice. But acting like there hasn’t been talk about what’s gone on within the two threads you mention is simply not true. That is often one of the more heavily talked about topics within the thread.
It’s also public information that you can look up patreons sign ups and statistics the dev in question has not been gaining supporters the way you keep suggesting. It would be naive to say that no one has supported the dev this year of course they have. But there has been a steady decline until current date from the supporters the dev used to have and has long since been very low numbers. In cases with actual defunct patreons, as you can search from any creators there are always accounts that are left on autopay. People that are still signed up are likely mostly the accounts that are still autopaying for something they don’t realize they are (and any number of extreme variables that leave people to leave autopay services still going.) This doesn’t stop a dev from getting money they already have and will continue to keep getting due to this.
Closing a thread does not stop people from being able to interact with the patreon and sign up. You can still view content you just can’t make new posts. This not only doesn’t stop people from being able to access the patreon as you want but makes it so no interaction with the game can happen anymore. Which there is still a free version of.
These are in no way stated as a defense, excuse, or to dismiss your posts but I want to clear somethings up including potentially misleading claims. No one has ever stated nothing is planned to be done or needs to be done about situations like this. But taking choice and agency away from the users on the site as well as losing any access to discussion and the game itself is not the right call. I’m all for protecting and preserving the user experience and letting people make their own informed decisions. However, closing threads is not the way to due that.
I was referring to managing communications here at weightgaming.com. A developer has all the responsibility to communicate with their users at their place of choosing, but shouldn’t be be forced to maintain multiple simultaneous premises.
When a developer refuses that responsibility at the base level, it comes to the active participants to respond in kind and drop their funding. I have sympathy for those under active deception, but I don’t think it is a forum’s responsibility to remove individual agency and enforce protections against situations that are not always clear. If someone chooses to continue paying month after month, they at the very least, can afford it. Otherwise they could make a charge-back which crowd funding is rife with to honest developer’s grief.
I am not trying to put you down, as I feel there’s merit to what this discussion is, and like Krodmandoon has reiterated similar points to mine. What I think is valuable is the position this forum has towards supporting the growth of games for the benefit of us all. There is much to be said about how best to do this and protect others, but I think a policy of openness and ease of access is the best for the current stage of our community, rather than trying to focus on curation and walled gardens.
Maybe I’m not as familiar with how patreon works, but is there something that stops people from looking at how long its been since someone’s posted before paying? Wouldn’t the info showing a project hasn’t updated for a while be just as visible to someone looking to put money into it as it would be to the mods here? Is people signing up for patreons without looking at them first a thing that happens a lot? I think it’s a bit silly to have someone’s job here be keeping a spreadsheet or something of every link to any payment site and check them all every month instead of people just… looking at what they’re buying.
You can see posts by creators if you’re not subscribed to them. They are just locked so you can’t read the full post or access the contents but you can see if and when a person has posted. Normally there’s a bit of a preview of what the post is about as you can see the title and a sentence of the post or so.
Creators on Patreon can lock posts behind paywalls, but the date of that post is always visible to everyone. As has been said multiple times whenever this issue comes up (and I feel like a broken record here), what happens on Patreon is an issue for Patreon. Weight Gaming doesn’t handle any of these payments, nor does it officially sponsor these games, it merely hosts a link to someone’s Patreon page. If this link was on an old tweet, would it be Twitter’s responsibility to purge that link and make everyone aware?
Frankly, if people can’t do the most basic check of “huh, this page hasn’t been updated in a year” before subscribing and giving their money away, then I have no sympathy for them when they complain of being stolen from. Obviously if it’s an actual scam then report it, but someone being unwilling to scroll down for half a second to check the update history, or read the hundreds of posts on this site of people talking about the lack of updates, is entirely on their own for making that decision. Besides, it’s not like this is even a rampant issue, you’ve said yourself that you can only think of two instances of this happening.
On top of the other reasons already stated on why closing posts won’t solve anything, there’s also the issue that if a creator does come back then they’re greeted with their main thread being locked down and faced with two options: appeal to the mods to have it re-opened or create a new thread. Option 1 creates an unnecessary workload for the mods as there’d likely need to be a set of questions or proof presented to prove the creator won’t immediately go MIA again. Option 2 (assuming new rules wouldn’t prevent it) removes all of the momentum and interest that the original thread garnered, resulting in a greatly diminished interaction with the community and potentially making the creator give in entirely.
While of course it’s important to protect users where possible, mollycoddling them from every possible danger is not the way to go. Everyone’s an adult here (this is an 18+ website after all), it shouldn’t be unreasonable to expect even a mild amount of financial responsibility when donating to someone making a fetish game.
It depends, you can see when the last post was, but it may be that the patreon only serves to enter a discord only for patreons, and there is no way to know if it is active or not.
Furthermore, many people do it this way since it is more difficult for information to be leaked on Patreon piracy pages, so it is the most recommended.
The only way to suspect would be to check the number of subscribed members.
Being able to discuss abandoned projects is healthy, especially if the releases up to that point are out or there are people still accessing the material in question for whatever reason.
The problem isn’t the threads being open, it’s signposting to people when a project is active or not.
Having this flagged on threads (with a community-determined threshold for what classifies as ‘inactive’ or ‘abandoned’) would resolve the primary issue, without preventing discussion. I don’t think the ‘buyer beware’ status quo is healthy for the community, both in terms of it encouraging people to bully slower hobbyist devs and in terms of providing some assurance to financiers of games that they won’t get burned so easily.
There are many, many examples of games with fetish content that will 100% be abandoned without notice. You know this. If this is policy, it encourages devs to NEVER declare a project dead in order to keep eyes and money coming in, a perverse incentive to be a dick. We don’t want perverse incentives for being a dick, either here or off-server, when frustrated patrons decide to take their anger out on the dev elsewhere, believing that no action will be taken here to prevent ongoing harm.
The status quo encourages the community to argue amongst itself endlessly and we all know that’s not healthy.
From a development side, I can’t see how this can be implemented in a way that isn’t exploitable in some fashion without putting a truly ridiculous level of moderation-load on the maintainers of the site (to independently verify every claim of “dead game” put forward) or forcing a flat-out ban on subscription/pay-to-purchase sites (which this forum is eventually attempting to transition into, per my understanding of prior roadmaps).
What is the threshold for marking a thread about a game dead? Can you bot up that number of accounts and mark games dead to kill competition? Can you mark games dead to grief the forums by forcing the moderators to constantly verify games as “alive”? If it’s entirely dependent upon users, can “scam devs” bot up enough alternate accounts to keep a “dead game” marked as alive? If it’s entirely dependent upon moderator action, what do you do when someone who isn’t the developer posts new threads about the “dead game” and mention the developer? You can search their name and find their Patreon even if they don’t post it themselves. Do you ban mention of it entirely? If so, how do you even warn people that it’s dead/a scam?
This seems like an absolute Pandora’s box of development issues if you don’t just go “make the mods do it manually,” and if that’s the case not only are you potentially increasing mod-load for every thread to see if it references a dead game you’re going to quickly run into questions of fair implementation of the rules in all directions. I suspect that is why it is still in discussion. This has the potential to be an extremely exploitable mechanic/rule-set if implemented, and needs to be considered so that it can be applied fairly without destroying either the purpose of the forum (for game developers in this niche to receive an audience and advice for their niche games) or the forum itself (through exploitation by bad-actors).
I think that’s the trick; rather than having it completely arbitrary, I think there’s a set of guidelines that can be used to cover games ahead of time, rather than case-by-case mob rule.
First off, if a game is free, who cares about dev inactivity? You get what you paid for (nothing). So, if there’s no itch paywall, patreon, ko-fi, etc… we can discount mods having to care about it. As long as tagging of Paid projects is consistent, here’s no need to trawl the whole site.
Next, let’s think off the most likely scenarios;
Developer loses passion for a project or otherwise does something that stalls progress, but can’t/won’t admit it to backers due to shame/greed/etc
Something happens to Dev irl that makes accessing their Patreon impossible (people do in fact die, have things stolen, get hacked etc irl)
Dev starts a patreon for a game, then pivots to making other forms of content without ever stating the game project has been dropped (nobody seems to have mentioned this despite it being the most common case in my experience)
In either case, here’s a system I think would cover these adequately;
Has dev openly communicated with backers about the project within the last 3 months; If no, flag as ‘Potentially Inactive’
Per above, but 6 months: If yes, flag as ‘Inactive’ &/or edit OP to indicate project status clearly next to links to funding platform/s
That’s just a rough and fast idea; I think there are legit reasons for making those intervals longer or otherwise modifying the concept but there’s no point of contention that can occur.
I’m not too worried about explicit attempts to manipulate a system like the above because let’s be real, most times someone tries something that dumb, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on, even if they hide behind 7 proxies.
This doesn’t really solve anything on the mod workload side, which is honestly the main problem. I imagine there’s already a lot of work (done in spare time since this site’s funding goes towards upkeep, not wages) keeping things running here, including cursory readings through posts to make sure rules are followed. What would need to be done on top of that is:
Keep a running spreadsheet of projects that have payment links (and probably new projects without them since they could get payment links in the future)
In that spreadsheet keep links to all the methods a dev might use to update their project (plenty of people use their social media or discord after all)
Check through every single one of those every three months (and pay the money to see if paywalled stuff has to do with the game to avoid your third common scenario, also if it’s a social media or discord scroll through like three months of stuff to check)
Check through all the inactive projects on the list as well in case one of them starts up again, so the list only gets bigger over time
Now would it be nice if someone else did all the work to see if a project is still active for folks? I guess so. Is it reasonable to expect that from this site? I would say no. Especially since unless you want the site to pay the money to actually get access to paywalled stuff any random person would have access to the exact same amount of information mods here would. Arguably more, since “hasn’t posted for 4 months” is better info than “potentially inactive”. Some people would say two months is inactive. Hell, some people think two weeks is inactive on this site.
I don’t think it’s worth the amount of work the mods would have to do so that people can avoid doing the bare minimum of looking at the latest post of a project before blindly throwing money at it.