PDA

View Full Version : Weasyl Escrow Service



ultimate burrito
11-04-2012, 11:44 PM
Hi,

This is one of the things I wanted to write to Benchilla about while this was still up as a kickstarter, but I guess I'll bring it up in public here.

I don't really have any huge reason to switch to Weasyl from any of the other art archives because I feel like it has more or less the same features. One thing I would really like, aside from an ad-service with a back-end control panel and demographic targeting, is an escrow service for commissions. This is beneficial as a whole to Weasyl financially if 0.5-1.0% transaction fees are charged for commissions.

Escrow service could be implemented ideally as PayPal and Bitcoin, with Weasyl staff serving to moderate disputes. As someone who's been in the furry fandom for 15 years and has been ripped off numerous times by spotty artists, I would gladly pay a 0.5-1.0% fee to ensure that I was getting what I paid for. I would expect a heatware-style rating/comment system to also be implemented. This is more or less what that other artists/commission website (can't remember the name, it's not widely used) does, but to have it integrated into the archive itself would be ideal.

If you guys are implementing this already and are pretty confident that you're going to make money on this website art archive venture, e-mail me and we can talk low-medium interest loans. Someone with a decent credit score will have to sign for it, though.

Marzipan
11-05-2012, 01:11 AM
Sounds like a lot of work for a site that's just started up and running... really it seems like a whole different project in and of itself. And would put a lot of work in the staff's corner for not a lot of money back. I mean, if we're honest about how much commissions usually run in the furry community - let's be generous and do an average of $25 - one percent of that is twenty five cents. Twenty five cents going to multiple staff members that have to take time to mediate transactions and somehow have the authority to make someone refund a customer, or else - they ban them from the site? What would stop them from going to FA/etc where they don't have that much authority over business transactions? And still not refund the customer? I have no idea if Weasyl would ever get enough authority to do the refunding themselves via PayPal and Bitcoin, and seeing how much they're getting from each transaction (i.e. less than a dollar), I don't see the incentive to reimbursing people themselves for someone else's failures to keep a contract.

I dunno, this site is way too young to really be getting much skimming off other people's commission work anyway... that site that opened recently that does this exact thing, acts as a middle-man for transactions for artists from FA/DA/etc... can't remember the name of it either. Blah. Anyway that might be a better bet for artists and commissioners that want something like that, I think. I dunno it just seems like a complicated project that I'd be wary of using. That's just my two cents though.

Fay V
11-05-2012, 02:42 AM
Well the staff is aware of the idea, thanks for the input.

I can't speak for the others at all, so please take this as just my opinion, but the concept seems larger than Weasyl at the moment. First, we're not really a money processor, we wouldn't have a way to get the money refunded for the user outside having the user file a paypal claim (as far as I understand it anyway). At most we have the authority to ban someone from the site for scamming others, which we may do without this service. But it seems the point of such a service is to protect buyers from shady sellers, which seems like it would be a lot of work that is beyond the current scope of the staff.

Perhaps in the future when we are larger, have a more hardy staff, and are more stable something like this can be considered, but right now it seems like a lot of work being the middleman for little benefit.

RadioCatastrophe
11-05-2012, 04:30 AM
This idea sounds similar to this site that I recently started using here: https://artistsnclients.com/ (seems to be offline atm)
But you pay through them and the commissioner has to mark the commission job as "Completed" as well as give a satisfactory rating. Then the artist can contact the site admins/staff and receive their payment for the commission job and not any sooner.

Though I see this being an issue with "Emergency" commissions (legit ones like vet or medical bills) so I'm sure people would complain about this or go elsewhere when they come across having to deal with situations like this.

dr3w
11-05-2012, 06:32 PM
This idea sounds similar to this site that I recently started using here: https://artistsnclients.com/ (seems to be offline atm)
But you pay through them and the commissioner has to mark the commission job as "Completed" as well as give a satisfactory rating. Then the artist can contact the site admins/staff and receive their payment for the commission job and not any sooner.

Though I see this being an issue with "Emergency" commissions (legit ones like vet or medical bills) so I'm sure people would complain about this or go elsewhere when they come across having to deal with situations like this.

Yeah it works exactly as what OP suggested. It's all automated though, you don't have to talk to the staff. As soon as the job is completed, you click a button and your money is on your PayPal account in less than 12 hours. (Oh, and against client fraud, you can automatically watermark image files on upload. When the client completes the job, the watermarks are automatically removed. I quite like that)

RadioCatastrophe
11-05-2012, 07:14 PM
Yeah it works exactly as what OP suggested. It's all automated though, you don't have to talk to the staff. As soon as the job is completed, you click a button and your money is on your PayPal account in less than 12 hours. (Oh, and against client fraud, you can automatically watermark image files on upload. When the client completes the job, the watermarks are automatically removed. I quite like that)

Oh? I thought the FAQ said you had to contact staff for it, my bad C:
I also like the watermark option as well! It's quite handy and I wish the site was a bit more organized tag wise, like Weasyl's trying to be xD

dr3w
11-05-2012, 07:27 PM
Oh? I thought the FAQ said you had to contact staff for it, my bad C:
I also like the watermark option as well! It's quite handy and I wish the site was a bit more organized tag wise, like Weasyl's trying to be xD

Yeah, I noticed the artists are not always very good at tagging their stuff on there. (But it's usable, is it not? The tagging system XD)

RadioCatastrophe
11-05-2012, 08:18 PM
Would be nice if Weasyl would incorporate some of that sites features as well, such as the commission type preview if they decide to make a page/tab just for commission information on a users page.

ultimate burrito
11-05-2012, 08:50 PM
Well the staff is aware of the idea, thanks for the input.

I can't speak for the others at all, so please take this as just my opinion, but the concept seems larger than Weasyl at the moment. First, we're not really a money processor, we wouldn't have a way to get the money refunded for the user outside having the user file a paypal claim (as far as I understand it anyway). At most we have the authority to ban someone from the site for scamming others, which we may do without this service. But it seems the point of such a service is to protect buyers from shady sellers, which seems like it would be a lot of work that is beyond the current scope of the staff.

Perhaps in the future when we are larger, have a more hardy staff, and are more stable something like this can be considered, but right now it seems like a lot of work being the middleman for little benefit.

Well, the implementation would be similar to that of artistsnclients wherein you hold money deposited and it is released automatically upon whatever contract the artist/client puts forth, eg you would select from the radio button to get the commission within 2 months and that 50% of the cost would be given to the artist up front and 50% would be given by the client after they indicate to the system that the work is complete. This is 100% automated, much like paypal's payment system. The only time in which the staff here would be involved would be if one of the users opened a dispute, which is probably less than 1% of cases.

Paypal's main problem is chargebacks that could expose you to fraud risk, but it's probably pretty minor. The unfortunate thing is Paypal fees... Bitcoin is totally outside of financial regulation at the moment and the implementation would be extremely simple: just have an address generated for a deposit that goes to a wallet and then have the wallet transfer funds when needed. As an escrow with Bitcoin all transactions are irreversible and you would be in complete control of your assets, but it also brings enhanced incentives for people to hack your servers.

The average commission may be $25 which at 1% you'd get $0.25 from, but averaging the number of commissions I see per day on Furaffinity to 50, that represents $12.50 of revenue per day ($375/mo). It's not a massive revenue stream, but as the number of commissions grow it could lead to thousands of dollars of income per month as user confidence grows and you offer appropriate means to advertise people who want to obtain commissions. The base of the payment system could also be used to integrate things like printed t-shirts, magnets, and so on through a partnership with another website.

I guess what I see as the major downside to Weasyl is, at present, its poor business objectivity. Everyone knows that Preyfar/Dragoneer has been sitting on a goldmine of advertising/escrow revenue that he more or less ignores with a website that has millions of visits per month. I'd like to invest in a furry art archive that was as monetized as something like deviantart, but so far I don't think any furry website has really stepped up to the plate.

Do you guys have a design pipeline that indicates when new features will be implemented and how they would impact your revenue stream somewhere?

Marzipan
11-05-2012, 09:56 PM
The average commission may be $25 which at 1% you'd get $0.25 from, but averaging the number of commissions I see per day on Furaffinity to 50, that represents $12.50 of revenue per day ($375/mo). It's not a massive revenue stream, but as the number of commissions grow it could lead to thousands of dollars of income per month as user confidence grows and you offer appropriate means to advertise people who want to obtain commissions. The base of the payment system could also be used to integrate things like printed t-shirts, magnets, and so on through a partnership with another website.

I think that's the problem, though... Weasyl is just in Beta status, there's probably not even five commissions done through the site daily right now. I think right now the site should just focus on its main goals, which would be to be the best gallery site it can be, so it can even get the popularity that would make something like an escrow service feasible. Maybe then it can think about it, but personally I feel like it might be too much... it's another whole website in and of itself being put into the works.

Fay V
11-06-2012, 03:10 PM
The biggest problem with the plan is not every artist wants to take part in that kind of system. I understand that as a commissioner you want to be sure you'll get the commission before the money goes through, but as an artist that severely limits my legitimate payment methods.
For instance, an artist that does donation streams then has to deal with the extra work of showing each person they got something, and inevitably there is trouble.
I personally ask for half payment after the draft sketch, then full payment. I've never scammed anyone and this allows me to operate more comfortably than having my money held just in case.
Fursuit builders absolutely have to get some money upfront in order to afford supplies.

Also note, having to get staff involved for fraud, even if it is only 1% brings liability to the site and staff. You don't approach such things with "oh it'll rarely happen" but "it's going to happen, how do we deal with this". It is a heavy burden on a site not meant for that exact purpose.

The difference comes down to the kind of site that is being offered. If you have a site just for commissions like artistnclients then all the users signing up know what they are getting into. If we have an art gallery site and force this commission thing onto artists, it's not expected and not really fair.
It's not to say it's a bad idea, it's just not one that's good for weasyl in my opinion. We have other ways to make our server costs which are much more consistent and solid. Particularly as we don't have to depend on paypal or anything like that, who are notoriously finicky.

taasla
11-06-2012, 07:28 PM
I really don't like this idea.

I make enough on art that I file taxes on it, and while it would be nice to have another deduction come tax time, having yet another business expense to keep track of? No thanks. If I am looking to expand my business to other sites, I am not going to go somewhere where I pay a subscription fee AND an escrow fee (I plan on being a Premium user here for as long as my gallery is here).

Also, I work on a strict schedule. I really don't have the time to sit around and wait for clients to take ages to mark their item as "delivered", if they ever do and just don't run with their money and the art, while my car and credit card need to be paid.

It's a nice thought in theory, but I would take my business elsewhere should it be an actual thing.

RadioCatastrophe
11-06-2012, 10:05 PM
@Taasla; You should really check out ArtistsnClients, that site gives a better explanation of what the OP is going for. Like on there you have the option to add a watermark and it's always good to upload a low res example of the commission before handing over an un-watermarked hi res version.

I'm currently in a transaction on the site and it really gives me peace at mind that I can pay in advance without worrying about being scammed and knowing the money for the commission isn't spent elsewhere (I'm a shopoholic if you hadn't noticed xD) before the commission is even started or completed. But I also understand the dislike for such a system, I don't think Paypal will deduct fees for this? I'm not to sure from the artists perspective what happens on that site since I don't draw myself for commission, and the whole "escrow" thing makes me cringe a bit because IMVU implemented an escrow system where our virtual money earned from purchases linger in limbo for 7days until we can touch them.

taasla
11-06-2012, 10:32 PM
Oh, I mean using Weasyl as an example as that's what the original post stated. Weasyl takes a 1% fee for using the escrow service. Once it gets into my Paypal, I pay Paypal's fee on top of the escrow fee, and any subscriptions that I have here on Weasyl. Everything I pay in fees is kept track of and deducted come tax time as a business expense. It would, hypothetically, be another thing to keep track of.

But I will check out Artists and Clients. I briefly popped in, but left because I am worried it would take too long to receive my payment from the site.

Eta: Wow, Artists&Clients takes out a whopping 10%. That's more than Paypal! Which, of course is cheaper than actual escrow services, but still. I suppose it's worth considering if it gives repeat clients peace of mind, but I would have to raise my prices accordingly. :o

RadioCatastrophe
11-06-2012, 11:00 PM
Oh wow, didn't even know they took any amount of your funds x_x;

ultimate burrito
11-07-2012, 12:51 PM
It's not to say it's a bad idea, it's just not one that's good for weasyl in my opinion. We have other ways to make our server costs which are much more consistent and solid. Particularly as we don't have to depend on paypal or anything like that, who are notoriously finicky.

Okay... what are these, if you don't mind me asking?

Fay V
11-07-2012, 07:34 PM
Okay... what are these, if you don't mind me asking?

We will be offering advertising space once everything is coded. which will help server costs slightly, but we will also have our premium subscription service. Users will have extra features for paying a subscription fee. This system was designed so the servers will always have funds and we'd never have to go into the red or get donations beyond our start up costs.

Now understandably nothing is secure when you are trying to sell to people online. we can't promise that this will work forever, but we have calculated things so it's affordable and very likely to cover costs for us.

With something like an escrow service, frankly it's too easy to bypass. a 1% fee is negligible, I haven't done the math but I doubt the amount gained through each transaction would be enough to even cover the bandwidth used by the system for the commission. There would have to be entry fees and all that to make it possible. Even without that though, why would an artist want to bother using it. There is a culture where artists can easily go elsewhere to get their commissions, where they don't have to pay fees. There isn't enough demand where we could comfortably operate the site and believe that enough users will pay in for the system to make money.

Roki
11-08-2012, 03:18 PM
I might not use a full on escrow service, but some of the features might be useful:

Commission tracking page: For whom, description, paid or not, percentage progress, and upon completion an optional link to the item. This could be a premium feature; I don't see it as something that would make or break the entire experience and would probably be willing to pay a little to use something like that just to have no more journals of "here is my queue."

Ratings: I think this had been shot down at some point but it might be useful for commissioners and artists. Can only be used if both client and artist agree a commission took place and should grade on a few factors: Time taken, quality, communication, overall service, description of what was done, and comments. This would probably need to be a default feature to really be useful. I could see it being misused ("I had all my friends grade me 10s!" sort of thing), but I think it could be handy to have available to commissioners.

dr3w
11-08-2012, 07:37 PM
@Taasla; You should really check out ArtistsnClients, that site gives a better explanation of what the OP is going for. Like on there you have the option to add a watermark and it's always good to upload a low res example of the commission before handing over an un-watermarked hi res version.

I'm currently in a transaction on the site and it really gives me peace at mind that I can pay in advance without worrying about being scammed and knowing the money for the commission isn't spent elsewhere (I'm a shopoholic if you hadn't noticed xD) before the commission is even started or completed. But I also understand the dislike for such a system, I don't think Paypal will deduct fees for this? I'm not to sure from the artists perspective what happens on that site since I don't draw myself for commission, and the whole "escrow" thing makes me cringe a bit because IMVU implemented an escrow system where our virtual money earned from purchases linger in limbo for 7days until we can touch them.

It takes < 12 hours for your money to get to your PayPal on A&C iirc. Oh and yeah there's the 10% escrow fee but it includes all PayPal fees so you don't have to worry about those additionally.