Posted by Takaia on 27 November 2020 02:52:27 AM (Edited by Takaia 3 years ago)
Hello Artfighters! I wrote this over the past few days with a lot of time and careful consideration because, after all this time, I think that’s what I owe you. The consequence of this is that it’s way too long, and I’m sorry about that, but if you’re concerned about donations at all, I’m hoping it will answer most of your questions.

I wanted to apologize for the huge delay in making this announcement. I know a lot of you have been asking for this for a long time, and I regret not taking more initiative to overcome the obstacles in my life, rather than allowing them to inhibit progress on this for so long. 

I know that the delay has caused a lot of feelings of frustration and mistrust, and may have given the impression that I was being intentionally non-transparent. I’ve never hidden this information on purpose, but I know my actions and lack of communication probably made it look that way. I’m truly sorry and embarrassed that it took me this long to do this.

I’m here now to attempt to make things right, as best I can. I’m going to address some common concerns regarding donations below. In the likely event that I failed to address everything today, please see the final section in this announcement to find out how to send me more related questions, concerns, and suggestions.

(Unintended) lack of transparency

The donations page was always meant to be the solution to being transparent about donations, but at some points in time it hasn’t been enough because it was too long between updates, or because some things weren’t clear enough. As contributors to the Art Fight, I know it can be frustrating to see old and confusing information. Again, it was never my intention to hide things from you, but there were times that I did so unintentionally. I’m sorry for my lack of diligence in keeping the page up to date, and for mistakes I’ve made in the clarity of information.

Carefully examining the finances to figure out exactly what our goals should be for the 2021 fight is on my to do list! I will let you guys know when I have the donations page updated with 2021 goals. You may have noticed that I’ve also reset the goal progress bar. Even though I didn’t have an announcement about it ready at the time, I didn’t want to continue leaving it stagnant. I guessed on the base amount for the goal just so we could have a moving progress bar, but this goal is very temporary and is almost certain to change. For future years, I intend to have budget estimations ready before the fight ends so as to avoid confusion with old information being displayed.

For now, I’ve edited the donations page in an attempt to improve transparency with the following:
 - added info to reflect that the provided information is old and applies to the 2020 fight
 - indicated which tier we reached for the 2020 fight
 - added a statement to let people know to expect 2021 goals when I’m able to figure those out
 - corrected a mistake in the code where the date was off in the sponsor box on the right
 - changed the “2019 - 2020” wording that the bottom of each page to say “2020 - 2021” because I hadn’t realized until now I’d forgotten to do that
 - gave numbers to the FAQ questions and updated questions 2 and 4 to be more clear on requirements for banner rewards

Where did the money go?

Given that I'm not an accountant, the numbers have admittedly always been approximations. The short answer to this question is: Taxes and PayPal fees, keeping up with all the bills for servers and other things to help keep the site up and running, and each year I pay for the official site artwork.

The exception to this is the funds that went unused from the extended period of time that I had unexpectedly developed a severe health condition (not related to the pandemic). I regret not being able to properly work on Art Fight past the symptoms, and I’m sorry for allowing that to contribute to all of this. 

During the time I was not working on Art Fight, due to my illness, I didn’t do anything with the money, besides paying Art Fight bills. It remained either in PayPal or in the Art Fight bank account, and it will be carried over for future use for expenses listed on the donations page. If anyone was worried about me taking the money and running, I promise you that never did and never will happen. I care far too deeply about you, the community, and Art Fight itself to do that, but I know that that is something that may have occurred to some of you, so hopefully this will be of some reassurance.

I’ve realized that Art Fight is becoming so big that it’s growing beyond the scope of a part-time, purely volunteer passion project. I’m absolutely still very passionate about it, but Art Fight’s growth has begun to require a lot more attention and time than a passion project meant for spare time. The wording from the donations page, “dedicated Art Fight site development” from 2019 I believe, which then changed to “x hours of paid site development”, were a couple first attempts at a response to the situation. Looking back, I think that the language I used was a mistake: I still very much have to rely on volunteers to help with the site, and there’s nowhere near enough revenue to pay them, however much I’d love to do so. The way I worded things may have falsely implied that I was paying all of the other coders, and that the amount of money received by Art Fight would be directly proportional to new (visible) features on the site that directly benefited users.

I believe the biggest contributing factors to this was that I’ve never been even close to being in charge of something this big before, as well as the fear of backlash for potentially using extra donations to allow myself to give even more of my time to Art Fight than I was previously able to. My inexperience at being stuck in the weird in-between spot of a passion project becoming something bigger, and not really knowing how to handle that, made things difficult. I recognize that I made a lot of mistakes due to this. I’m sure I’m going to make a lot more as I continue to learn and grow alongside Art Fight, but I will at least be working on getting better at owning up to such mistakes and being faster at making them right as best I can.

As Art Fight grows, I really do want to look into possibly having employees so that I can pay some of the wonderful people on staff for their hard work. I’ve learned that having employees is something that is far more complicated than I had imagined, but I do plan on looking into it. I do think, however, that we will always need to rely on the lovely moderators, as most sites do, to help out in the community and make things an enjoyable experience for users. And for now, I will also be relying on the talented volunteer coders, designer, etc. for a lot of the progress.

Making donation rewards happen more quickly

I’m really sorry for the delays when it comes to receiving donation rewards. The plan is to make donations fully automated in the future so that this won’t be a problem! We’ll be connecting the site database with PayPal transactions (or switch to a different service if PayPal decides to not play nice) as well as have a bot for discord rewards. Without the need to manually give out rewards, this should ensure that they are given out by the system promptly!

One suggestion was to allow more than one person handle donations. I agree with this completely that it would be better for user experience to do this. However, now that I am more consistently able to work on Art Fight again, I think that time would be better spent researching and implementing automated donation rewards. Automation of this process is already the end goal, and prevents putting even more work on admins when I could be working to make the system better instead.

Currently, the system allowing you to change your username without contacting a mod is almost ready to go! This will give everyone one username change chance that can be used at any time. Extra chances will be given out when you donate. For now these extras will be given manually, like the rest of the donations rewards, but this will be integrated into the automated system when that becomes ready to go.

Lack of (visible) coding progress

There has been some concern about not seeing coding progress. The answer comes in two parts, both of which are pretty boring: I fell ill for a long amount of time starting in 2019, which hindered a lot of progress during that time. The second part is that there’s a lot of work that has to be done behind the scenes. A lot of coding (and other tech stuff) has to do with version updates and optimizations for the code base and server software, among other things that you shouldn’t actually notice (if we do it right) but also unfortunately takes up coder resources. 

In order to keep you updated on the latest coding progress, we’re planning on implementing a simple on-site changelog that you can check. You may remember the site had a changelog in the past, but it was not used beyond 2016. The new on-site changelog, when implemented, will be easier to read and regularly updated by staff. When the update is mostly behind the scenes, we may be less detailed about changes, but we do intend to inform you when things are being worked on to help keep the site running.

Additional FAQ

I hope this has finally cleared some things up for you all! I’m expecting to have not remembered to include everything that you wanted to know, so I’m planning on doing a follow-up announcement with some FAQ that results from this announcement. Please fill out this form if you have feedback. I’ll be giving you all a week (until December 3rd) to ask questions. Give me a few days to compile and answer them, and then I’ll post another announcement with the answers to the most frequent (and donations-relevant) questions.

Note: this doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions after that, it just means your questions wouldn’t have a chance to appear in the follow-up announcement.

Comments (52)

ynne said:
Thank you for writing this all up! I think the changelog will help a lot (especially with invisible work getting the appreciation it deserves).
Hell yea~
As someone with a chronic condition, I can see how something with a scope as huge as artfight is draining/a challenge and I wish you luck! me and many others love this site/project and hope it continues on indefinetely !!
I'm looking forward to changing my username. I've got a new style, new presence, and I'm ready to use it.  I was considering deleting this account to use my new username, but if the system allows us to change it at least once, I'll just hold onto it and wait! Thanks for the time you're putting into this.
BTW, if you need an accountant, I know someone. Message me for details.
Sparrow said:
Fellefan art assets for achievements have yet to be made as priority goes to the next fights art assets, but you'll have them before july!
Stay healthy good luck <333
Fellefan said:
any news on achievements? 
Thank you very much for this update! I can imagine that dealing with such a huge site can be quite overwhelming but it's also important for trust to be transparent, so it's good you've written this all down.
Automatic rewards sound nice and I hope it will help to reduce a bit of the workload for your team!
And I hope that you are not doing it fully voluntary but that especially if you look into the whole employee stuff, that you also give yourself a salary (in a transparent way).
It's totally okay, don't worry! You did an amazing thing with creating Artfight and I think I can say we all here love it! Get better soon! Lots of Loveđź’•
Thank you for keeping us updated, I know a lot of us really appreciate it.
I hope you are well! If you end up having staff, I would apply in a heartbeat!
Keskeans said:
i hope you’re doing well, and recovered from your illness. thank you for running this site. don’t think that your work goes unappreciated. the amount of people using art fight is a testament to how beloved this annual event is. 
Take care  <3
This simply shows you truly do care for the community. I never really think someone running something like this would just run with money, especially if the website itself requires upkeep, and running a community this large can take a toll.
Imposter syndrome? Don't stress yourself. Transparency is important, communication is too. Don't be afraid to talk to the community if you feel insecure, feedback can always offer some insight.
ka2ki2 said:
No worries, I hope you're feeling better now. You don't have to apologize for when you were sick.
Meron said:
Take care!