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Author Topic: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.  (Read 9901 times)

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Offline Rob

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I originally posted this on Webcomics.com. I didn't really expect them to respond and they didn't. But I thought, since I'm starting up an alternative to thier site here... a free alternative... you should know how I feel about the whole thing. I posted several times but after thinking about it I wrapped up my thoughts with this massive postzilla. It fully encompasses my opinion about thier actions and why I won't be joining.

As I've said in prior posts I don't begrudge Brad the money and I know that all the guys are pros who have insightful and useful info to offer.

A few things; and I think what I'm about to say comes back to a lot of the fears and anger being expressed here.

Obviously some sort of warning would have been preferably. Whatever the damage, whatever the cost I think it would have shown some faith in the community to give some warning and a deadline... assuming you had to go this way but I'll get to that in a second. No warning says that for whatever reason you don't trust us and you are trying to lock the doors before something bad happens. It's all psychological baby.

A pay for subscription, from the Godfathers of the free model is scary. A whole lot of us put our faith in you. When folks who don't understand what we're trying to do snicker at us and say "look at that fool working his butt off to give away his work for free" we point at you guys and others like you and say "they made it work and they told me how to do it. If I work hard I can be like them." When critics sneer at the free model or call us T-Shirt salesmen we quote you and your book. And then we laugh at them for disillusioning and disenfranchising potential customers by demanding subscription fees or charging for content we would give away.

By doing this, no matter how you couch it (and say what you want about this stuff being information and not entertainment but I would counter that while what is coming may be strictly informational and what had come before was informative, the best you could say about the site content before the pay wall was erected was that it was infotainment... the podcasts especially, for me were certainly more entertaining than informative) you shake our faith in the business mantra that you espoused and that we bought into. Regardless of how this works out in the endgame that is scary. It does beg the question, are we giving it away for free when we could be charging? All this time while we felt so right and disregarded our critics; were we in fact the fools?

Additionally, at least when it comes to this site you all have a history of unreliability. The forums, a place I felt a great deal of fondness for have disappeared and reappeared and so on. The information you have given us about what to expect from the site in the past has often not come to fruition. So when you start talking about how all this great new content is coming down the pike; can you really blame us for being a bit skeptical?

Lastly, if all of this was about the time Brad was investing in keeping the site running versus the money he was pulling out of it there is perhaps an option somewhere in between "close the doors" and "charge a fee" that was perhaps overlooked... and perhaps discounted for whatever reason.

When content waned on the site; when Dave, Kris and then even Scott became too busy or disinterested to contribute to the site you turned to us; the community for articles; to drive content and to spur discourse. When it became obvious that the site was too much for Brad alone, why didn't you do that again?

Why didn't you ask us for help? We would have given it to you. Some of us would have donated money for bandwidth, ads would probably help a little. We would have written more articles for sure. Some of us with programming skill would have undoubtedly contributed to the sites upkeep and improvement. We would have moderated the forums the way you would want them moderated. I think a lot of us would have been thrilled; honored to be working with you.

Scott and Brad, you have reached a level of success where your time is worth money. As you said Scott, "your time doesn't scale."

Mine does. As an out of work immigration paralegal who hasn't even managed to get someone to interview him for over a year, time it seems, is often all that I have. And I'm sure I'm not alone. And when we got busy others would have taken our places.

And even if it's just a hobby this is serious business to all of us I'm sure. I'm confident there are few among us who don't dream of the kind of success and adulation that you guys recieve from your fans.

By discounting this option, you have entered a vote of no confidence in us. You have said that although you are willing to teach us you do not consider us equals nor will you ever (the idea that Brad would give Dave a subscription for free is telling as I am sure that there are other, more succesful folks in the community who may recieve just that as thier involvement helps legitimize this endeaver). And I think a lot of us are probably a bit bothered by all the subtext.

I have a hard time believing that if Brad were having trouble making money from his comic that he would, rather than redoubling his efforts to make money from his art and storytelling, consider running an instructional website with a subscription fee to supplement his income. I can't imagine him subscribing to to the idea that those who can't do, teach.

And if that is the case then I believe my emo comments above, apply.

And I'm not ascribing any malevolence here. Just indifference. We aren't just your readers, or subscibers. We are also your followers and in many cases your customers. Scott I hung out with you and bought one of your books at NYCC. Brad I had you draw a sketch in my copy of HTMW when I bought it from you at NYCC. Kris I bought a Jinxlet from you for my neice (she loves it) at Connecticon.

This just feels wrong. And I think a lot of the anger and frustration you guys are hearing from us is because we feel a bit betrayed.

Does buying some books and stuff from you entitle us to a never ending stream of free information? No. Do you have the right to close shop and ask for subscription fees? Sure, it's your website. Are you required to show us deference in the way you go about running the site? No but better communicationwith us; the users would be nice. Are most of us your equals? No but it would have been nice to at least feel like we were colleagues.

Ball all this up and you have the going on 200 comment mess before you. I really like you guys so I hope you recover from this and make the site work. I'd even be inclined to join if down the road I hear good things from others like me. But I'm not a lemming and I'll only follow you off so many cliffs before the falls leave me trepeditious. I don't think it's fair to blame any of us for that.

Offline Rob

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2010, 11:15:21 PM »
Well that's a bit caustic. But I'm with you in spirit.


FIGHT THA POWA! >:(

And yes. I love comics. I never miss an episode of PvP.

mwytrykus

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2010, 12:18:55 AM »
It's not meant to be caustic. I'm just being honest.


For thirty dollars a year I get the chance of being told what to do by a bunch of liars! Oh boy! Sign me up!

Now don't be that guy. Not so soon after this place gets going.

Offline Rob

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2010, 12:24:53 AM »
Yeah like I said that's a little further down the road than I'm willing to go.

I still admire what they have created so I will continue to show them respect. To err is human and all that right?

mwytrykus

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2010, 01:39:19 AM »
Ah. The Grimstone Manor guy. I'm familiar with you.

Fine, I'l drop it. But only because you guys seem fairly congenial.

Oh, but Mike? Don't ever tell me how to act again.  :)

You seem to have me at a disadvantage, sir. I am unfamiliar with you.

And merely a suggestion. Just trying to keep things civil around here.

Offline Matt

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2010, 03:28:50 AM »
My Own Final Word on the Webcomics.com 'Mess'... and why I will be joining. Later.

For me, it's all about weighing up whether what Brad, Scott and Khoo have to say, is worth $30 a year. Right now, as an unpublished cartoonist, it is not. I don't need to know the best strategies for T-shirt printing, book printing, con-going, etcetera etcetera, because I have a few years before I get there. But when I do get there, Brad, Scott and especially Khoo... well, I'd be a fool not to listen to them. So in my mind, the small fee of $30 is well worth not messing up a con appearance, or a book run.

Sure, I also feel a little uneasy about how it was went about. I didn't like firing up my morning blogs and finding one of my favourites suddenly behind a pay-wall, that was a small shock. I am of the position that if Brad had given a polite little heads-up, then the risk of offending people would of decreased.

alansaurus: Please, I don't think we want that attitude here. The kind of 'them and us' that goes down on most forums on the web. I imagine that this forum was set up as an alternative to webcomics.com, but that doesn't mean that we all have to sow anti-halfpixel badges onto our foreheads and spend our time here shouting about how 'money grabbing' and 'uncaring' My Guigar and his friends are.

Just a friendly comment so this place doesn't end up as a bucket full of hate.  :)

Offline Rob

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2010, 03:53:39 AM »
I really like Brad. I've met him twice and I spent a good deal of time chatting with Scott the two times I've met him. I have met Kris as well. They are all wonderfully charming and professional guys.

The wealth of knowledge in thier book is amazing.

After you read the book, most of what you can learn, you can learn by networking with other webcomic creators. I don't think that what they are offering behind that paywall will ever be as a valuable as the things I learned from them when I met with them and talked to them. Or the things I learned from Ryan Sohmer or Jeph Jacques in my long talks and e-mails with them.

I could be wrong. But I doubt it.

That said, I never miss thier comics. My friend Ed Ryzowski colors Brad Guiger's Evil, Inc. and I was paying him for coloring commissions back when he was still doing his own comic "Geek Tragedy." I never miss a PvP. I think Scott is hilarious.

I just sincerely think that if they were so strained they should have asked community members to help run the site. We would have helped and would have been glad to be a part of it.

If this is really about simply making money off what was a wonderful place of coming together and learning through sharing within the community than I'm offended and I don't think it was because they are just too nice of guys for that in my opinion.

And I wouldn't worry too much about Alan guys. He's obviously just very upset about the Webcomics.com thing and has forgotten his manners a little bit. We can forgive him because it's bothered all of us to some degree. I'm sure he'll calm down.

Offline Pete

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2010, 10:00:09 AM »
I've posted my thoughts on the situation in various corners of the intertubes, so I won't echo too much of it here.  Bottom line is that the switchover was handled poorly, there was (and still is) no apology for it, and I don't believe in the service that they are proposing is worth $30.  That last thought might change later down the road, but from what I've seen posted this past week, it's the same old same old (Brad is even still doing the Friday archive dig; that might have been fine when the site was free, but for $30 a year I'm getting reposted information on Fridays?  I don't think so.).

Honestly, I have a good amount of respect for Brad and Scott (it's been diminished by this debacle, but it's still there), but there a handful of other creators who have made a living with their webcomics, so to act like the authorities on the subject - whether they mean to or not - is a bit arrogant.  Still, they are reaching out to help people, and that should be admired.

I'm just not ready to pay $30 for it.

Offline Matt

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2010, 10:08:48 AM »
Pete, there would be a problem with Scott, Brad and Khoo acting like authorities, but only if they weren't. In my view, all three are authorities on webcomics.

So it all comes down to whether you think that the content is worth 30 dollars. If it is, then sign up, and if it's not, don't. I might be all alone when I say that I think that it is worth the rather small sum, but that is choice each creator has to weigh up for themselves.

Offline Pete

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2010, 10:41:38 AM »
Ah, I meant to say "...so to act like the ONLY authorities..."  When I'm tired my fingers type faster than my brain can form thoughts, so I tend to skip over words, which is why I previewed that post twice before posting it (and even then I still missed something).  I agree, they ARE authorities, and successful ones, but sometimes - and especially with this particular situation - they do act like they are the only game in town worth listening to, and I can't stand that.

The $30 is a small sum, I agree.  It's $2.50 a month.  That's doable, even on a modest budget.  But they have to prove to me that the pay content will be something more than the content that was free, and the only way I'll know that is by waiting and watching, not by blindly jumping into it just because it's Brad and Scott (and even Khoo).

Offline ScottBieser

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2010, 02:07:56 PM »
Put me in the "yeah, I'll pay to subscribe to Webcomics.com but not right now." For me, really, it's a cash-flow issue. Just last month I blew all my short-term savings (and a fair bit of credit-card) buying Christmas gifts for my kids. I can't spare $30 bucks just now. Maybe in a few months.

I do think that site will be worth the cost of admission, though. Face it -- these guys not only have more than 40 years' combined experience in this business, they are very well-networked, and Khoo has a great deal of business savvy you generally won't get chatting up other webcartoonists.

The suddenness, as I see it, is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation. With no warning, you shock and offend people. With a warning, it is obvious that SOMEONE, and it only takes one, would have downloaded the entire archives and made them available elsewhere. If it were me, I might have split the baby and left the archives up through 2009 free and only charged for new content going forward. But I don't really know how technically feasible that would be.

Ah well, let's see how this forum develops.
-- Scott Bieser
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Offline Pete

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2010, 02:29:41 PM »
The suddenness, as I see it, is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation. With no warning, you shock and offend people. With a warning, it is obvious that SOMEONE, and it only takes one, would have downloaded the entire archives and made them available elsewhere.
So what's to stop someone from paying the $30, downloading the entire archives, and making it available elsewhere?  The $30?  You could make that back by asking for donations for the trouble you went through.

I'm not condoning these actions, by the way, just illustrating a point.

Offline ran

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2010, 04:34:35 PM »
So what's to stop someone from paying the $30, downloading the entire archives, and making it available elsewhere?  The $30?  You could make that back by asking for donations for the trouble you went through.

I'm not condoning these actions, by the way, just illustrating a point.

I would imagine that a cease and desist letter might. Regardless of how much people think the information is worth, they still have the rights to dictate where their IP is posted, same as you all do.

I've already paid my $30, and I absolutely feel as though the information is worth it. Hell, even access to the archives is worth it. That doesn't mean I don't see where you're coming from, and it doesn't mean I'll be burning any bridges.


Offline Pete

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 01:59:38 PM »
I would imagine that a cease and desist letter might. Regardless of how much people think the information is worth, they still have the rights to dictate where their IP is posted, same as you all do.
That wasn't the point I was trying to make.  Go back and reread the discussion and you'll see what I was trying get across.

Offline Rob

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Re: My Final Word On The Webcomics.com Mess... and why I won't be joining.
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2010, 02:56:13 PM »
Scott Kurtz has already threatened me with a "Go Ahead, Reprint our articles and see what happens" Tweet on Twitter (mostly because DJ Coffman keeps trying to get me to do something unethical LOL).

No one is going to be stealing any articles and posting them here.

There is value in what the Half Pixel guys have to teach. That's why I bought thier book. And I have nothing but respect for thier accomplishments as entertainers. But my biggest issue is that in the past they have been comepletely unreliable in maintaining thier forums and delivering content.

And I feel that if Brad was just getting overwhelmed with maintaining the site and adding content; no I know the community would have stepped up.

So I'll take my $30 and use it to advertise this site here. A site I know won't be going anywhere. A site where everybody can join (I even invited Scott ;D) for free. And the community can step up and help me. They already are.  ;)