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jeaoure
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 6:57 pm    Post subject: Are "votes" the best way to finance the Improv? Reply with quote

I appreciate the fact that the MI has been free and will continue to stay free, but something about this "pay to vote on the next title used" doesn't sit well with me. Even if the MI switched to a subscription-based model, I'd feel as if I were getting some sort of value for my dollar... as it is, I can't understand what we're paying for.

Obviously, it's more of a philosophical issue than a practical issue, but this seems to go against Scott's micropayment manifesto a little. I loved The Right Number and I'd have gladly payed more than a quarter for it... but at least I could point to a given experience and say, "I bought that and enjoyed that. I could not have enjoyed that had I not payed for that." Paying for title votes (at least it's not paying for title suggestions, thankfully) doesn't sell that sort of satisfaction.

The more Scott's micropayment system is looked at as a charity, the more credibility it'll lose. Paying for votes seems to be hurting the cause more than helping it, IMO. I thought it was kind of a shitty move on DC's part 15 years ago or so when we were asked to pay for the privelege of helping to decide the fate of Jason Todd. I didn't see the value then and I can't see the value in this.

Scott, I know you're not out to screw your readers, you're just trying to keep the MI free without resorting to an annoying advertising model. I appreciate that. I just wondered what your (and others') thoughts were on the matter.

Oh, and "if you don't like it, don't vote" responses needn't bother.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 7:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Are "votes" the best way to finance the Improv Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
I just wondered what your (and others') thoughts were on the matter.


Speaking as one of the others, I sort of thought, "well, if it's only pennies per vote, why not?" As to what you get for your micropay, you get the privilege of being able to vote. Granted, in countries like the USA, where voting in governmental elections is looked upon as a right, not a privilege (whereas it maybe should be looked upon as a responsibility), this may seem a little screwy, but scottmccloud.com is not a public institution, so I think that paying for any given feature isn't too outrageous.
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jeaoure
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 11:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Are "votes" the best way to finance the Improv Reply with quote

Greg Stephens wrote:
Speaking as one of the others, I sort of thought, "well, if it's only pennies per vote, why not?" As to what you get for your micropay, you get the privilege of being able to vote. Granted, in countries like the USA, where voting in governmental elections is looked upon as a right, not a privilege (whereas it maybe should be looked upon as a responsibility), this may seem a little screwy, but scottmccloud.com is not a public institution, so I think that paying for any given feature isn't too outrageous.


No, it isn't outrageous and I do see your point, but the difference between the right to vote on who governs me and the privilege to vote on which comic strip Scott draws is vast.

I think part of the reason the whole "vote on titles" thing makes me uneasy is because, frankly, I really really want to see Scott's micropayment system succeed. I was very fired up by Reinventing Comics and I feel like he's doing something important for the industry. He's out to prove that his method can work and, damn it, I agree with him.

As I understand it, boiled down to it's base essence, Scott advocates the value of a creative product self-supporting through micropayments, lubricating the antiquated systems of distribution, publishing, editing, retail, and every other step of expensive (and creatively dilluting) beaurocracy. I want to see Scott's methods stay afloat on their own merits, without relying on cheap gimmicks that could be construed as manipulative. (I know, sounds harsh. Again, no disrespect meant. It's the purist/idealist coming out in me, I suppose.)

At the end of the day, I'd rather pay for a subscription than feel guilty about not paying for a vote. I understand the dillemma, though... I'm probably in the slim minority in this.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I don't actually view it as paying for a vote. I view it as a tip jar -- we make the donation as a way of supporting MI because we like it and think Scott deserves to be paid for it. The way Scott then thanks the people who contribute is by giving them a vote in the next morning improv.

As far as the idea of it being a "charity" degrading the idea of getting paid to do comics, I have two responses:

1: As important as micropayments stand to be to webcomics, I think it's important to keep a diverse range of revenue methods available. Micropayments is one good method, subscriptions are another, and tip jars are a third possibility, for those people who can make it work (such as Brian Clevinger, who actually manages to make his living off of a tip jar).

2: Different kinds of comics call for different approaches. The Right Number is clearly going to be one of Scotts major works. Without a doubt, he should be charging for it. MI, on the other hand, is more of a creative exercise (enjoyable though it certainly is to read) than a serious commericial or artistic endeavor (compare "Junk Bar" to "The Right Number," or even "My Obsession with Chess" -- the latter being a personal favorite). For something like that, it seems less appropriate to charge outright. Those of us who consider it worth paying for are free to do so (I've dropped my 99 pennies in the jar both times). But those who read it more as a curiosity are not obligated to donate.
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Alexander D.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woops -- got logged out. That last post was from me.
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't figured out the best way to phrase it yet, but I was hoping to present the feature as a way to donate to the site with a little fun premium thrown in -- rather than simply paying for your vote. The votes are really a bonus; a thank-you gift.

As Alexandre said, I think a diversity of approaches is important to the evolution of this new economy. Micropayments themselves have diverse applications. Being a formalist, I hope to try them all and see what happens. So far I've only tried two, but I have many others in mind.

For example, I would like to try selling a comic that was priced at the cost of its bandwidth only. Just the penny or two. Then, when it's over, on the last page, give readers the opportunity to tip what they think the whole story was actually worth to them. An experiment in the honesty of the anonymous user, as it were.

Thank you for your honest feedback guys. Please don't hesitate to tell me if anything about the Improv or any other part of the site rubs you the wrong way.

[ This post dedicated to ViaVoice. My hands are very grateful. ]
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Cyborg Caveman
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 1:59 am    Post subject: Re: Are "votes" the best way to finance the Improv Reply with quote

jeaoure wrote:
At the end of the day, I'd rather pay for a subscription than feel guilty about not paying for a vote. I understand the dillemma, though... I'm probably in the slim minority in this.


Oy! Not me. Don't get me wrong. I love MI and think it is one of the greatest things since fermented mare's milk, but I'm strapped enough for cash just trying to get my own endeavors off the ground. Free webcomics are the only kind of webcomics I can afford at the moment. When and if I can afford to tip/donate/what have you I shall. The thing for me is - - it doesn't seem like a gimmick or a bad system at all. It doesn't cost so much to vote that it seems like exploitation. It's a pittance. I'm dying to vote, I'm just literally too broke to do so.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the "buy a vote" thing is great - it is lighthearted, fun, and allows people to make themselves heard in a way that is proportional to their like for a title. In that way, it translates passion into art for (literally) pennies. And if someone can't afford it, they are not deprived of the art itself. ('cuz let's face it, Scott will make an entertaining comic no matter what the title is!) And it's a way for Scott to cover the cost of making MI without a subscription or micropay for the comic itself, which would prevent those who can't afford it from seeing the MI at all. So I say Bravo. [Even though the title I voted for didn't win!] But that's me...Reasonable opinions might vary
thanks Scott!
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wansley
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 11:14 am    Post subject: Voting titles off the island, sort of Reply with quote

I like the idea of being allowed to cast multiple votes as a means for Scott McCloud to thank us for 'tipping' him for his Morning Improv feature and it seems to be working out well so far, although it's "early days" yet.

But I think that it does get a bit, well, boring, seeing the same 10 titles for weeks when Scott is doing one of his longer pieces (which are his best Improvs, in my opinion).

So, I suggest that the top title, after a week of voting, be retained, but the other 9 discarded and 9 new ones selected. Then the votes for last week's winner will be reset back to zero (1, actuallly, I guess) and a new round of voting will occupy the next week, after which the process will be repeated.

This way we would get to see a lot more titles and there would be a "Suvivor" like quality to the voting that I think would make the microdonations process more interesting and, hopefully, encourage more of it, especially since it would eliminate the main problem we have see so far. This is that it doesn't take long for all but one or two titles to be effectively out of the running, so that people who vote for their favorite, when it isn't one of the top few, may feel that they are "wasting their votes on a third party candidate."

Now, I still don't know what happens to the losing titles: Do they get recycled or are they discarded? (I do assume that Scott is going to discard any other titles submitted by the author of a winning title, since that seems to be one of the rules.) But, if one of the goals of the voting is to help prune the backlog of thousands of titles Scott has received, then my suggesttion would do this faster.

So, does anyone else like this idea? How about you, Scott? Of course, this may be so much extra work for you that you will reject it out of hand, which will not offend me in the slightest.
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kaos_de_moria
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 11:46 am    Post subject: or you could use a death match system :-) Reply with quote

i don't know when scott writes the story for the improves and if he always knows how long it will take to finish an improve. but if you collect the ranks 2 to 4 of the normal system during multiple MIs and add some other good titles you'd get a good field of 16 titles.

now the game goes in rounds.

in every round each of the titles competes with one other title. you're allowed to split 50 cents between the titles in every round.

in the first round you have 16 titles. after a week 8 have lost against their direct competition.

now the other 8 go into the next round. same system. that way you'll have 4 title in the third round/week and finally two in the 4th and last round and week.

this way the tipping becomes more of a strategy game and you're allowed 2$ in total if you want to do so.

it's just an idea... like for the great christmas/newyear MI... or something like that. think about it.

kaos
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are fascinating suggestions. I fear they might not be practical, time-wise, but I'll keep listening just in case. You never know.

Meanwhile, a quick correction: Title authors can be picked more than once. I don't have a rule against that. (I just felt bad when I once picked someone twice in a row early on.)

To make the process as fair as possible, I only look at the titles not authors when picking the "candidates" (about 500 titles) from which the 10 semi-finalists are selected each round.
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wansley
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 4:08 pm    Post subject: I hate when that happans! Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:
Meanwhile, a quick correction: Title authors can be picked more than once. I don't have a rule against that. (I just felt bad when I once picked someone twice in a row early on.)

To make the process as fair as possible, I only look at the titles not authors when picking the "candidates" (about 500 titles) from which the 10 semi-finalists are selected each round.


Thank you for correcting me on the "no duplicate authors" rule.

Somehow, I had the idea that you had over 3000 suggested titles, rather than 500. I don't know where I got 3000 from, I guess I just imagined it. I hate when I do that.
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, you were right the first time. We DO have over 3000 title suggestions. (3,425 so far -- some of which contain multiples)

Out of those, I've picked 546 of the better ones (so far) to be "Candidates".

And out of those "candidates" we randomly select 10 each round to get voted on.

Sorry for any confusion.
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DecafSilicon
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2003 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to squeeze some kudos to the excellent BitPass system that Scott found. I've never made an easier transaction in my life, and "The Right Number" was worth it. Looking forward to more.
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jazzsammich
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2003 3:32 am    Post subject: Re: Voting titles off the island, sort of Reply with quote

wansley wrote:
This way we would get to see a lot more titles and there would be a "Suvivor" like quality to the voting that I think would make the microdonations process more interesting and, hopefully, encourage more of it, especially since it would eliminate the main problem we have see so far. This is that it doesn't take long for all but one or two titles to be effectively out of the running, so that people who vote for their favorite, when it isn't one of the top few, may feel that they are "wasting their votes on a third party candidate."


having not yet signed up for bitpass, although i completely intend to ( ) i may be speaking to a nonexistant issue. are the votes cast in a "pick your favorite of the ten" winner-takes-all fashion, or do they get ranked in order of preference, like in the proportional representation system?

--jim
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Wikkit
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2003 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's one cent per vote, with a maximum of 99 votes. You could use them all on one, spread them around equally to just support the enterprise, or do them proportionally to your preference.
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jazzsammich
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

how about one vote giving you a chance to rank the titles...

and then have a bitpass multiplier for people who buy more than the 1-cent?

--jim
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Wikkit
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's wrong with the way it is now?
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jazzsammich
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nothing, necessarily. mostly i'm just kicking around ideas. plus i tend to be very politically active, in progressive/liberal/Green circles, where the issue of voting reform and proportional representation has been vigorously discussed. so methods of changing the current voting structure (politically speaking) and what their potential effects could be have been on my mind quite a lot lately.

something a formalist like scott can appreciate, i'm sure. ^_^

--jim

btw, did you know there's a movement in the U.S. to drop the voting age to 16? there's also a movement in germany to lower it to birth. i find the whole thing completely fascinating.
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Corax
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2003 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jazzsammich wrote:
how about one vote giving you a chance to rank the titles...

and then have a bitpass multiplier for people who buy more than the 1-cent?

--jim



That would definitely get interesting if people started to try and game the system by ranking the current leading title last just to push their favorite to the top.
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DecafSilicon
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2003 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jazzsammich wrote:
btw, did you know there's a movement in the U.S. to drop the voting age to 16? there's also a movement in germany to lower it to birth. i find the whole thing completely fascinating.


Meanwhile, there's a movement in the U.S. to raise the drinking age to 25.

At 19, I can pick the leader of the free world, but I can't get sloshed on a Saturday night.

I'm moving to Australia.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We wouldn't want you voting drunk, now, would we?
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kaos_de_moria
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 7:34 am    Post subject: experiment Reply with quote

Greg Stephens wrote:
We wouldn't want you voting drunk, now, would we?


it'd be a nice experiment to limit the right of voting to those who are not allowed to drink... like from 16 to 21 in US... *g*
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 5:52 pm    Post subject: Voluntary BitPass spending Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:
For example, I would like to try selling a comic that was priced at the cost of its bandwidth only. Just the penny or two. Then, when it's over, on the last page, give readers the opportunity to tip what they think the whole story was actually worth to them. An experiment in the honesty of the anonymous user, as it were.


Just today, I read "Delta Thrives" on e-sheep. The site allows you to read it for free, but asks for a quarter. After reading the comic, I could have just closed the window, but I hit "Back" on the browser and gave the quarter, because it was definitely worth it, IMO.

I would be interested in finding out how well this business model works; I'm guessing it would do quite well in the hands of a top quality artist.
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