Shamus Young is creating Blog about videogames, programming, and videogames.
439

patrons

$1,794
per month
Like I said in the pitch video, I'm really uncomfortable asking for money from strangers. I've been making content for eight years, and I'm looking to my existing fans for support. If you've never heard of me, then I'm not asking for your money. But it would be cool if you looked at my content.

The webcomic that made me internet-famous:
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=612

My posts on programming and game development, aimed at non-technical people:
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?page_i...

Text Let's Plays: (Sort of long form review / mockery.) 
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?page_i...

Books I wrote: (Some are free.)
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?page_i...

If you're in the mood to really dig through the archives, I've got several thousand other posts on culture, programming, videogames, education, tabletop games, and other allegedly interesting stuff. You can sift through the best of it here:
http://www.shamusyoung.com

Transcript for the pitch video:

So... Patreon. When you do one of these videos you're supposed to introduce yourself and also introduce Patreon. But Patreon has been going for a while now, and I think word has gotten around. But in case you missed it: Patreon is like a recurring tipjar. You set it up to donate to a person or project every month. Whereas Kickstarter is crowd funding for one-time projects, Patreon is crowd funding for people who make content on a regular basis.

As for introducing myself? See, the thing is, if you don't already know who I am then I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of asking you for money. If you're interested, then check out my website and the webcomics and the free books. Read my posts where I explain graphics programming and game development. Watch my quasi-educational YouTube videos.

And if that's not enough content, there's always the collaborations I've done: Video Series, Webcomics, or the weekly podcast. I've been at this for eight years, so I've made a lot of content.

If some of it makes you happy and you become a fan, then maybe think about coming back here and donating to my efforts.

But if you have been following my work, then maybe you're wondering why I'm suddenly doing a Patreon. Well, it's actually because I had a fight with Google.

Let's back up eight years...

You know in movies how they sometimes have a crazy foreigner character? Someone who is visiting America from an exotic part of the world and is therefore unaccountably insane? Long Duc Dong from Sixteen Candles. Ben from Short Circuit. Peter Sellers in like half of everything he ever did. Borat from Borat and Crocodile Dundee from... you get the idea.

I've always been fascinated by this. Writers use it as an easy excuse to put a really crazy character in their movie. Why is this guy so strange? He doesn't know our foreign American ways. Why do we put up with him? Same reason. Of course, Long Duc Dong wasn't strange in a particularly Chinese way. People in Australia don't actually act like Mick Dundee. People from Russia don't actually act like Yakov Smirnoff. And I really hope you already knew that Borat is not representative of the people of Kazakhstan. The important thing to note is that it doesn't matter where they're from, only that they're not from around here. The writers aren't commenting on their culture, they're commenting on ours by contrasting us with a mad alien.

For years I wondered what this would look like from the other side.

Then about eight years ago I went through an anime phase. In the series Ai Yori Yoshi, I found the Japanese version of the crazy foreigner character. Tina Foster is an American expat living in Japan, and she's basically bonkers. She has this thing where she grabs the breasts of other girls. Now, this is not an American thing to do. I don't know if it's a Japanese thing to do, either. I've never been to Japan. The only things I know about Japan I learned from anime, which means as far as I know everyone that isn't a mech pilot is a Ninja.

But whether it's really socially acceptable to grab breasts in Japan or not, within the context of the show it's seen as a kind of prank, like giving someone a wedgie. The show even makes it clear that this is supposed to be comedy. The art shifts into this derpy style to make it clear that this isn't sexy fan-service, it's slapstick. Tina is not a lesbian and her goal is usually to get the other person to loosen up and stop taking themselves so seriously. Again, it doesn't matter if this makes cultural sense or not or if you find it funny or not. The point is that the writers wanted to have an outlandish character, so they made her a crazy foreigner. An American.

I was thrilled when I found this example, and I got to see what it was like to have my country as the home of the loony foreigner. So I wrote about it on my blog. It was just a short post talking about Tina Foster and her breast-grabbing prank. Nobody really read it, because back in 2006 the only people who read my blog were my friends, and that was only because they were afraid I'd ask them if they'd read my blog.

Fast forward eight years. I made a webcomic, started a show, became a videogame journalist, got some sort of nominal internet-fame, left my day job, wrote a couple of books, and jumped into this internet personality racket. The pay sucks but the hours are awesome and the work is basically play. I have nothing to complain about.

Nothing, until Google AdSense sent me an ominous message telling me that my website was in violation of their terms of service. I had content that didn't adhere to proper standards and I needed to fix it in three days or have all ads on my site blocked. The message didn't say what I'd done wrong or what was objectionable, but they did offer a link to my eight-year-old post about Tina Foster as an example of what I'd done wrong.

Now, I don't make my entire living running ads on my site or anything, but they do bring in a couple hundred dollars a month and they do represent a non-trivial portion of my income. So I was pretty worried about losing this. Looking at the Tina Foster post, I figured maybe someone had a problem with the images? They were small and the whole point of them was to show how non-sexual the breast-grabbing was, but maybe showing a cartoon hand over a clothed cartoon breast was breaking the spirit of the law if not the letter. Maybe Google had begun outsourcing their content monitoring to Amish people who weren't used to seeing this kind of thing? It seemed pretty obnoxious to me, but I pulled the images and got over it.

Three days later Google emailed me again to let me know that because I still had objectionable content on my site, I had been removed from the service. Then I realized that I wasn't dealing with a person. Someone hadn't looked at my site and found a problem with it. The google robot probably saw the words "breast" and "lesbian" and decided the post was adult content based solely on the presence of keywords.

There's no way to communicate with Google to let them know their system is broken, and their entire AdSense interface seems to be engineered to limit communication. The post is read by robots, flagged as inappropriate by robots, then I'm given a warning by robots and ultimately banned by robots. You can't actually communicate with a human until after you reach the appeal stage, and even then you're only given a little Twitter-sized box to make your case. And it's clear they don't want to hear it. The Twitter box isn't even for arguing with them. It's where you're supposed to explain what policy changes you've implemented to make sure this sort of offense never happens again. If you use that limited space to tell them their robot is broken you risk having the appeal rejected and having your site banned forever.

To a certain extent, I can grudgingly accept this. Yes, it's outrageous that they treat the words "breast" and "lesbian" like they're profane. I have no idea how you'd write about gay marriage or breast cancer, for example. But whatever. I understand Google is selling ad space on websites that are out of their control and I accept that advertisers are really skittish about where their ads appear. I'm sure Dove Soap wouldn't want their ads appearing on some sleazeball site dedicated to celebrity wardrobe malfunctions and Walt Disney wouldn't want their stuff appearing on a blog dedicated to Harry Potter / Wizards of Waverly Place slash fiction. They're paying the money, and I don't object to them erring on the side of caution. But the problem is actually worse than just having a broken, over-sensitive censor bot with no human oversight.

My problem is that the system is incredibly hypocritical. In the past I've had to deal with these crass, obnoxious ads from sketchy pay-to-win web games like Evony, Civony, and Call of Roma. These ads appear on my site even though I specifically said that I don't want adult oriented ads. And technically the product being sold is a completely non-sexual strategy game. But the ads themselves are incredibly suggestive and provocative. I mean, how can my using the words "breast" and "lesbian" in a non-sexual way be out of line, but "HAVE A ROMAN ORGY" over a picture of a half-naked woman be ok? And it's not like this was just a one-time deal. I've banned these guys again and again. They change their URL and suddenly I've got ads for Roman Orgies on my site again. The ads are using the exact same image from the same company, and Google doesn't seem to notice. Google literally banned me from their AdSense service for posting content LESS offensive than stuff THEY put on my site. Repeatedly.

And maybe I could tolerate this. Okay, it sucks, but I'm a software engineer and I understand that your technology doesn't always work the way you want it to. If this was just a case of Google needing to work the bugs out of their system, I wouldn't be so mad. But it's pretty clear that Google doesn't care if the system works or not. The system is broken and unfair and there's no way to fix it or even let them know it's not working. Their system can flag any content at any time, and you're forced to remove it or be banned. They won't tell you what you did wrong, but you'd better not do it again or you'll be banned. They won't tell you how their system appraises content, but you'd better not offend it or you'll be banned. It's a system where you can be wrongfully accused and your only recourse is to admit guilt, accept punishment, and THEN make an appeal and hope there's a human being on the other side who will listen. That's not just a buggy system. That's grotesque.

I don't want to spend my time haggling with the censor bot or worrying about pissing it off. I don't want to worry about discussing Batwoman and be afraid to use the word lesbian. I don't want to comment on Ms. Marvel's costume and be afraid to use the word "breasts". Those are not salacious topics and I shouldn't have to categorize my website content as adults only for talking about them. I don't want to worry that the Google Smut police will have a problem with one of the other four thousand posts I've written over the last eight years and oblige me to kill more of my content to appease it.

It's not worth the worry and the hassle. So I'm getting rid of it. I'm doing a Patreon.

I know last year Penny Arcade did a Kickstarter to get rid of the ads on their site. A lot of people didn't like this, and so I'm trying to avoid making similar mistakes for fear of upsetting or offending people. For the record, I'm getting rid of the ads no matter what. They're gone now, and I'll take whatever the Patreon gives instead. I don't want you to feel like I'm holding the site hostage for money or trying to charge for content. The ads are gone, and I plan to keep producing content like I always have.

I don't have any stretch goals. I already spend a majority of my creative time making content, so I can't promise to make more. I don't have any backers-only content planned, although if I have anything to say about the campaign I might post it in the backers-only section of Patreon. I don't know. I'm making this up as I go along.

Anyway. That's the plan. Whether you decide to chip in or not, thanks for listening and thanks for reading.
Goals
$1,794 of $1,800 per month
ACTUAL minimum wage, once I render unto Caesar. (Pay taxes.) 
4 of 5
Like I said in the pitch video, I'm really uncomfortable asking for money from strangers. I've been making content for eight years, and I'm looking to my existing fans for support. If you've never heard of me, then I'm not asking for your money. But it would be cool if you looked at my content.

The webcomic that made me internet-famous:
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=612

My posts on programming and game development, aimed at non-technical people:
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?page_i...

Text Let's Plays: (Sort of long form review / mockery.) 
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?page_i...

Books I wrote: (Some are free.)
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?page_i...

If you're in the mood to really dig through the archives, I've got several thousand other posts on culture, programming, videogames, education, tabletop games, and other allegedly interesting stuff. You can sift through the best of it here:
http://www.shamusyoung.com

Transcript for the pitch video:

So... Patreon. When you do one of these videos you're supposed to introduce yourself and also introduce Patreon. But Patreon has been going for a while now, and I think word has gotten around. But in case you missed it: Patreon is like a recurring tipjar. You set it up to donate to a person or project every month. Whereas Kickstarter is crowd funding for one-time projects, Patreon is crowd funding for people who make content on a regular basis.

As for introducing myself? See, the thing is, if you don't already know who I am then I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of asking you for money. If you're interested, then check out my website and the webcomics and the free books. Read my posts where I explain graphics programming and game development. Watch my quasi-educational YouTube videos.

And if that's not enough content, there's always the collaborations I've done: Video Series, Webcomics, or the weekly podcast. I've been at this for eight years, so I've made a lot of content.

If some of it makes you happy and you become a fan, then maybe think about coming back here and donating to my efforts.

But if you have been following my work, then maybe you're wondering why I'm suddenly doing a Patreon. Well, it's actually because I had a fight with Google.

Let's back up eight years...

You know in movies how they sometimes have a crazy foreigner character? Someone who is visiting America from an exotic part of the world and is therefore unaccountably insane? Long Duc Dong from Sixteen Candles. Ben from Short Circuit. Peter Sellers in like half of everything he ever did. Borat from Borat and Crocodile Dundee from... you get the idea.

I've always been fascinated by this. Writers use it as an easy excuse to put a really crazy character in their movie. Why is this guy so strange? He doesn't know our foreign American ways. Why do we put up with him? Same reason. Of course, Long Duc Dong wasn't strange in a particularly Chinese way. People in Australia don't actually act like Mick Dundee. People from Russia don't actually act like Yakov Smirnoff. And I really hope you already knew that Borat is not representative of the people of Kazakhstan. The important thing to note is that it doesn't matter where they're from, only that they're not from around here. The writers aren't commenting on their culture, they're commenting on ours by contrasting us with a mad alien.

For years I wondered what this would look like from the other side.

Then about eight years ago I went through an anime phase. In the series Ai Yori Yoshi, I found the Japanese version of the crazy foreigner character. Tina Foster is an American expat living in Japan, and she's basically bonkers. She has this thing where she grabs the breasts of other girls. Now, this is not an American thing to do. I don't know if it's a Japanese thing to do, either. I've never been to Japan. The only things I know about Japan I learned from anime, which means as far as I know everyone that isn't a mech pilot is a Ninja.

But whether it's really socially acceptable to grab breasts in Japan or not, within the context of the show it's seen as a kind of prank, like giving someone a wedgie. The show even makes it clear that this is supposed to be comedy. The art shifts into this derpy style to make it clear that this isn't sexy fan-service, it's slapstick. Tina is not a lesbian and her goal is usually to get the other person to loosen up and stop taking themselves so seriously. Again, it doesn't matter if this makes cultural sense or not or if you find it funny or not. The point is that the writers wanted to have an outlandish character, so they made her a crazy foreigner. An American.

I was thrilled when I found this example, and I got to see what it was like to have my country as the home of the loony foreigner. So I wrote about it on my blog. It was just a short post talking about Tina Foster and her breast-grabbing prank. Nobody really read it, because back in 2006 the only people who read my blog were my friends, and that was only because they were afraid I'd ask them if they'd read my blog.

Fast forward eight years. I made a webcomic, started a show, became a videogame journalist, got some sort of nominal internet-fame, left my day job, wrote a couple of books, and jumped into this internet personality racket. The pay sucks but the hours are awesome and the work is basically play. I have nothing to complain about.

Nothing, until Google AdSense sent me an ominous message telling me that my website was in violation of their terms of service. I had content that didn't adhere to proper standards and I needed to fix it in three days or have all ads on my site blocked. The message didn't say what I'd done wrong or what was objectionable, but they did offer a link to my eight-year-old post about Tina Foster as an example of what I'd done wrong.

Now, I don't make my entire living running ads on my site or anything, but they do bring in a couple hundred dollars a month and they do represent a non-trivial portion of my income. So I was pretty worried about losing this. Looking at the Tina Foster post, I figured maybe someone had a problem with the images? They were small and the whole point of them was to show how non-sexual the breast-grabbing was, but maybe showing a cartoon hand over a clothed cartoon breast was breaking the spirit of the law if not the letter. Maybe Google had begun outsourcing their content monitoring to Amish people who weren't used to seeing this kind of thing? It seemed pretty obnoxious to me, but I pulled the images and got over it.

Three days later Google emailed me again to let me know that because I still had objectionable content on my site, I had been removed from the service. Then I realized that I wasn't dealing with a person. Someone hadn't looked at my site and found a problem with it. The google robot probably saw the words "breast" and "lesbian" and decided the post was adult content based solely on the presence of keywords.

There's no way to communicate with Google to let them know their system is broken, and their entire AdSense interface seems to be engineered to limit communication. The post is read by robots, flagged as inappropriate by robots, then I'm given a warning by robots and ultimately banned by robots. You can't actually communicate with a human until after you reach the appeal stage, and even then you're only given a little Twitter-sized box to make your case. And it's clear they don't want to hear it. The Twitter box isn't even for arguing with them. It's where you're supposed to explain what policy changes you've implemented to make sure this sort of offense never happens again. If you use that limited space to tell them their robot is broken you risk having the appeal rejected and having your site banned forever.

To a certain extent, I can grudgingly accept this. Yes, it's outrageous that they treat the words "breast" and "lesbian" like they're profane. I have no idea how you'd write about gay marriage or breast cancer, for example. But whatever. I understand Google is selling ad space on websites that are out of their control and I accept that advertisers are really skittish about where their ads appear. I'm sure Dove Soap wouldn't want their ads appearing on some sleazeball site dedicated to celebrity wardrobe malfunctions and Walt Disney wouldn't want their stuff appearing on a blog dedicated to Harry Potter / Wizards of Waverly Place slash fiction. They're paying the money, and I don't object to them erring on the side of caution. But the problem is actually worse than just having a broken, over-sensitive censor bot with no human oversight.

My problem is that the system is incredibly hypocritical. In the past I've had to deal with these crass, obnoxious ads from sketchy pay-to-win web games like Evony, Civony, and Call of Roma. These ads appear on my site even though I specifically said that I don't want adult oriented ads. And technically the product being sold is a completely non-sexual strategy game. But the ads themselves are incredibly suggestive and provocative. I mean, how can my using the words "breast" and "lesbian" in a non-sexual way be out of line, but "HAVE A ROMAN ORGY" over a picture of a half-naked woman be ok? And it's not like this was just a one-time deal. I've banned these guys again and again. They change their URL and suddenly I've got ads for Roman Orgies on my site again. The ads are using the exact same image from the same company, and Google doesn't seem to notice. Google literally banned me from their AdSense service for posting content LESS offensive than stuff THEY put on my site. Repeatedly.

And maybe I could tolerate this. Okay, it sucks, but I'm a software engineer and I understand that your technology doesn't always work the way you want it to. If this was just a case of Google needing to work the bugs out of their system, I wouldn't be so mad. But it's pretty clear that Google doesn't care if the system works or not. The system is broken and unfair and there's no way to fix it or even let them know it's not working. Their system can flag any content at any time, and you're forced to remove it or be banned. They won't tell you what you did wrong, but you'd better not do it again or you'll be banned. They won't tell you how their system appraises content, but you'd better not offend it or you'll be banned. It's a system where you can be wrongfully accused and your only recourse is to admit guilt, accept punishment, and THEN make an appeal and hope there's a human being on the other side who will listen. That's not just a buggy system. That's grotesque.

I don't want to spend my time haggling with the censor bot or worrying about pissing it off. I don't want to worry about discussing Batwoman and be afraid to use the word lesbian. I don't want to comment on Ms. Marvel's costume and be afraid to use the word "breasts". Those are not salacious topics and I shouldn't have to categorize my website content as adults only for talking about them. I don't want to worry that the Google Smut police will have a problem with one of the other four thousand posts I've written over the last eight years and oblige me to kill more of my content to appease it.

It's not worth the worry and the hassle. So I'm getting rid of it. I'm doing a Patreon.

I know last year Penny Arcade did a Kickstarter to get rid of the ads on their site. A lot of people didn't like this, and so I'm trying to avoid making similar mistakes for fear of upsetting or offending people. For the record, I'm getting rid of the ads no matter what. They're gone now, and I'll take whatever the Patreon gives instead. I don't want you to feel like I'm holding the site hostage for money or trying to charge for content. The ads are gone, and I plan to keep producing content like I always have.

I don't have any stretch goals. I already spend a majority of my creative time making content, so I can't promise to make more. I don't have any backers-only content planned, although if I have anything to say about the campaign I might post it in the backers-only section of Patreon. I don't know. I'm making this up as I go along.

Anyway. That's the plan. Whether you decide to chip in or not, thanks for listening and thanks for reading.

Recent posts by Shamus Young