By the Comradery Development Team
Welcome to the Comradery Alpha! This project is where you have the option of supporting us during development so we have more time to dedicate to building the project. Check out the video above for a walkthrough of some of the features, and below are full development reports of our progress.
Any donation made here will be billed monthly and will continue through alpha, beta and beyond until you decide to unsubscribe on the Manage Subscriptions menu. Payments are secured through Stripe and none of your financial information is stored on our servers.
As you explore the site, please keep an eye out for any bugs, inconsistent features, strange wording, or incorrect alerts and click the Report Issue button to submit a bug report. Every bug report helps us build and polish features during alpha to make Comradery a better platform - owned and democratically controlled by creators.
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.
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.
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
What do you think about the new email design? It's not completely done, but is cleaner and works on more devices.
We’re in August now, and I have some new development updates to share. I’m going to talk a little bit about the creator backend along with some other fixes and updates that are going live. A lot of the changes aren’t ones you will see yourself for a few more weeks, but they are very important as we approach our Alpha milestone.
Finally, a deadline for Alpha!
We’ve set our tech deadline for Alpha for August 14th, where we will pivot to setting up the first wave of creators to launch in alpha in the days following that. Alpha will start with few features, and then have features added (such as tiers, locked posts, better emails, and more) enabled in the following weeks with testing from some early adopter Creators. We’ll be sharing on twitter and on our Creator Email List when we announce the first Creators who are launching on the site, so keep an eye out!
Attack of the bots
A botnet got us in their sights recently and bypassed some anti-spam measures. When thinking about fixing this problem, avoiding using Captchas is a high priority if at all possible, because none of the mainstream captcha systems that are available function correctly with screen readers or other accessibility aids. After 4000 bots registered accounts in one day, we were able to set up a honeypot in the signup forum that has prevented any more signups from completing successfully that were not made by humans.
Part of the essential experience of sites like Patreon is that posts can be centered around a specific type of media as a ‘hero asset’ instead of just blog posts. The blog posting feature is good to go, you saw it in the last update, this time around we’re completing the different kinds of post types. You will be able to make a text post, upload an image, post a YouTube video (we will automatically pull the thumbnail and insert it into emails), link to an audio file on a platform like SoundCloud, or link to a podcast player from your chosen podcast host, and you can upload your own album art for placement in emails and on the site.
You’ll need a place to choose what media type to post, and so we’ve started working on a project dashboard for each of your Projects. For now, this is a place to see basic information and create new posts, save drafts, and publish drafts, but in the future it will be the hub of settings, posts, tiers and more for your project administration.
More accessibility fixes
Numerous menus were not “tabbable” and couldn’t be read in the correct order by screen readers, this has been fixed. We still need to complete a full accessibility audit and fix areas that are missing ARIA tags, and other important accessibility features.
That's all for this post, we're going to be working hard on the remaining deliverables for alpha, so keep an eye on our Twitter and Email List for some exciting announcements soon
Hey there Comradery supporters -
A new update is live! I'm publishing this first devlog to kick off some new communication features that we just made live on Comradery. If you're receiving this in your email inbox, that's one of the new features! Project supporters now get post announcements and newsletters directly to their email. I am going to structure development logs with a brief description at the top with some bullet points for major feature releases, then in the next section I'll share some things we're working on for upcoming updates.
New In This Update
What We're Working On
Once again, thanks for your support! The development team has passed $200 in monthly donations to give us more hours every week to work on Comradery. Our next goal is $500 per month. Please consider pitching in a monthly donation to help us get future updates out the door faster (Link here: https://comradery.co/development ). These development logs are always available to everyone, but supporters who donate will get them in their email inbox as soon as they are posted.
Thanks again for everyone's excellent bug reports and feedback! If you encounter problems or want to let us know about a problem, please use the blue "Report an Issue" button found everywhere on the website. If you want to chat about anything else, drop us a line at [email protected]
I'll report back with the next update soon,