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Devlog #4 - Alpha so far

Posted by ty on Nov 10, 2021

Welcome to the Alpha!

We’ve soft launched the Comradery alpha and have been running it successfully for a couple months now. Thank you to everyone who has submitted bug reports from the small grammatical fixes to large functionality issues. We’re working through the backlog of bug reports and have addressed many with more slated for an upcoming update.

So what’s new? The big news since the last dev log is of course that real-life creators are now live with their projects. As of this writing we just passed 10, (with more than $5000 processed for creators) with many more invitations going out soon. If you haven’t yet, I really recommend you browse the Explore Projects tab and kick a few dollars in to any projects you think are interesting. Every one of these creators has deeply helped us improve Comradery and they all really deserve your support for their effort.

At launch, we were only able to go live with donations, no exclusive rewards or tiers. The reason for this is because in 2018, sales tax law changed in the United States, requiring platforms like Patreon to collect sales tax on "digital goods". We had a lot to learn about how that worked and needed to partner with an external service who could calculate if a supporter needed to pay sales tax- and to file that sales tax with every US state, not to mention VAT for Europe (most other countries do not require sales tax collection for international digital purchases).

How Sales Tax Works

We ended up going with TaxJar, and have been working through their processes to build out a system where Creators can indicate what tax category their "digital goods" fall under, and then for tax collection and remittance to be handled mostly automatically. For Creators, this means that each tier you set up will be either a Donation (tax-free, cannot provide most exclusive rewards) or taxed under a handful of relevant categories. We are still not set up to handle any physical goods. For Supporters, this means they will have a tax line item at checkout if it is relevant, but otherwise is totally seamless.

Interestingly, it is pretty easy to handle tax returns for every country outside the USA by hand. However, inside the USA every single state has its own laws with overlapping and diverging rules, rates, and highly complex paperwork down to the individual neighborhood you might live in. TaxJar is going to handle this for us, and since they were bought by Stripe will likely fold into the StripeTax system, which currently doesn't offer the features we need.

New Features

Now here's the good stuff - new features on the website. We're rolling out updates for several important pages, such as a project page view for supporters who are already supporting you having better access to posts, and for individual articles to have a better viewing experience that gives users an option to subscribe to creators.

The big one mentioned above is that creators will finally be able to offer subscription tiers to supporters, where you can lock posts behind tiers to offer the same exclusive media that can be offered on platforms like Patreon. This was always intended to be the 'minimum viable' state of Comradery and be the true differentiating factor from other awesome projects like Liberapay. It's not out yet but this system will allow us to offer creators the features that are really needed to make use Comradery the way it is intended.

The Future

Comradery will remain "In Alpha" until we have launched all the features we have planned, such as Discord and other integrations, a robust Creator dashboard, and more. Once Comradery moves into Beta it will be 'feature complete' and we will be focused on stability and robustness of the platform and the organization.

As we move through Alpha, we will be able to speed up how many creators we onboard. I really appreciate your patience if you're waiting, I promise we're doing this so we can keep everyone safe and engaged and keep everything working as we're bringing people online.

I'll be back with another post when these new features go up, talk to you then

Ty

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