patreon update: yes, it's still using the porn site model of e-commerce

Post I wrote four years ago:

Left commentator David Sirota is launching a new webcast ("Podcast" is an Apple-centric term that people still use, long after "pods" became "phones" -- appcast, maybe? no, please).
Unfortunately he's using Patreon to pay for it. That's a new-ish e-commerce platform that several indie content providers, such as James Howard Kunstler and Radio War Nerd, have embraced.
The Patreon model isn't based on subscription -- they call it "fundraising." That is, fundraising in perpetuity.
You can't make a one-time payment for x months of listening, in the manner of say, a magazine subscription. You "pledge" one of several tiers of support and Patreon bleeds this chosen increment out of your credit card or Paypal account each month. You don't have a credit card? Someone call law enforcement.
This puts the onus on you to cancel. If you die or become disabled the charges accrue to infinity. Also you can't buy single webcasts.
Would love to "support" certain authors but not if they're going to use Patreon's "shady porn website" model of commerce (repackaged as a "hip startup" model of commerce). It's rent-seeking, it's Silicon Valley, it's bad.

Naked Capitalism today republished a good essay on the media's callous under-reporting of deaths in Yemen, from the Radio War Nerd newsletter. I used to like reading The Nerd, until he jumped on the Patreon bandwagon. I checked Patreon again today to see if they had adopted a less sleazy way of billing "patrons," but no. They have the same smarmy FAQ entry below:

Can I make a one-time payment?
[Avatar] Marie

While one-time payments are a great feature idea [actually it's how magazine subscriptions worked for years and years -- you made a one-time payment and got x number of issues --tm], it's important we stay true to what Patreon is all about: Building a membership platform for creators. [that is, bleeding subscribers' credit cards]

At the moment [that is, for the last four years], Patreon only offer [sic] recurring memberships, and one time donations are not available. All patreon memberships are currently on recurring monthly, or annual (if your creator has this available) billing cadence. [ooh, cadence] You can learn more about how creators can bill their patrons, here. [link removed]

For now [meaning, forever, or until Patreon goes belly-up], the best way for a patron to subscribe to a creator with a one-time payment is to become a patron then simply cancel their membership after they have been successfully billed. [how convenient!] You'll know when you have been billed because you'll receive an email confirmation stating your payment has successfully processed.

Additionally, you can check your billing history to see when you were billed and if it has successfully processed.

ceo in the middle


We've made fun in the past of Cloudflare's useless man-in-the-middle pages.
The website "CloudFlare Watch" AKA Crimeflare sees something more sinister in Cloudflare's activities, such as protecting people from denial-of-service attacks by offering its services to shady actors who launch denial-of-service attacks. Crimeflare notes that Cloudflare's attorney-turned-CEO got his start in the "honeypot" business, which should make anyone's Spider sense tingle, post-Snowden.
At best, Cloudflare seems like one of those Silicon Valley bandwagons people jump on. In recent years Mozilla Firefox and Dreamhost both partnered with it (Firefox actually opts you into some dubious Cloudflare DNS-checker service, at least on Windows, which you have to go into settings to opt out of).

The graphic above is from the Crimeflare site -- someone sure doesn't like our brave new world of barely-examined major platforms.

Update: It's not just Crimeflare: the "controversy" section of Cloudflare's Wikipeedia, or rather, Wikipedia page is, let's just say, unusually long. Cloudflare's CEO supports freedom of speech, he says, but defines that elastically depending on who is screaming the loudest for a takedown.

(hat tip JR)

diversity cartoons

Lately we've noticed a decline in the number of those poorly-drawn, schmaltzy "diversity" cartoons on the search page of Eric Schmidt's company, the ones showing an endless parade of cultural others inventing nuclear fusion and breaking world sports records. The problem wasn't the others but the hypocrisy or redwashing since the company is a surveillance Satan dominated by white (and Asian) males. Possibly even the redwashing has grown untenable, with NBC reporting that the company is scaling back its diversity and inclusion efforts. In any case, good riddance to those drawings (if they have in fact gone away).