An Unfortunate Turn of Events

Hey guys.

Today I wanted to talk about Patreon, why RandomMomentania will no longer be using Patreon to support the creation of game development tutorials, and what will be happening in the short term future.

Because this post is fairly long, here is a short break down:

  • RandomMomentania will no longer be using Patreon.
  • Patreon-only tutorials are locked and will be removed soon.
  • The change is due to Patreon having a major exploit, and my website potentially having fallen victim to this exploit.
  • Hardly anyone makes enough money on Patreon, and combined with the possibility of my hard work easily being stolen through an exploit, I needed to make a change.
  • RandomMomentania is going to change a bit in the coming days as I remove Patreon- related content.
  • I am looking into other ways of supporting RandomMomentania. This includes finding a way to provide paid tutorials while also supporting my ability to make them.

First, let’s talk about Patreon and what happened.

RandomMomentania’s experience on Patreon

Early this year I made a six part FPS tutorial series for the official Godot documentation. As I was working on the tutorial, I shared progress pictures and released the tutorial in multiple parts.

Everyone seemed to really like the tutorial, and the feedback I got was really inspiring! It was the first time I had published a tutorial of my own online, and it was really uplifting to get such a warm reception.

This got me really excited to keep making tutorials. While the FPS tutorial was great, I knew I could push myself farther and make even better tutorials. Reading people’s reactions to the FPS tutorial, and how much they said it helped them, made me realize that maybe I could make tutorials that really help those in the game development industry.

However, I soon realized I would need to find a way to fund my work.

The FPS tutorial took a couple months of work, where almost all of my spare time was consumed making this tutorial. I didn’t mind putting the time and effort into the tutorial, but I realized that if I wanted to continue to make tutorials like the FPS tutorial, I would need some way of supporting the massive amount of time and energy that goes into making tutorials.

This brought me to Patreon. I had heard of Patreon before, through the numerous YouTube channels that promote their Patreon pages at the end of their videos.

I thought to myself: “Evidently it works for them, so maybe it will work for me too” and so I did some research.

Turns out, there is not really that many Patreon creators that make written tutorials. Seeing this, I saw untapped potential, a niche that perhaps I could fill with my tutorials.

I read articles like this one from Patreon, that try and break down how much you may earn on the platform. I read this article on TheOutline stating that hardly anyone on Patreon makes above minimum wage.

I went into Patreon knowing that I would not make much, if any. I was totally willing to try and do my best to make it on Patreon, even against the overwhelmingly bad odds.

I know that hard work and dedication is what it takes to make a living, what it takes to survive on a platform like Patreon.

Side Note

I am extremely grateful to the first (and only) patron who took a chance on me and pledged some of their hard earned money to support my efforts. Thank you!

For several months, I have been working hard providing the best tutorials I can on RandomMomentania. Since I launched, I have made 37 posts/tutorials, 26 of which are Patreon-only, since August 1st.

Everything was going fine, if a little slow. Unfortunately, it looked like I was not going to make enough to pay for RandomMomentania’s server costs for the year, but I know that building a community takes time, and so I was willing to bide my time and keep doing my best to make the best tutorials I could.

Fast forward to November.

Then, I got a Patron with the name of Samuel (last named omitted to protect their privacy)

Samuel became a patron of RandomMomentania on November 7th. He pledged $8, which is the minimum amount needed to access Patreon-only tutorials on RandomMomentania.

I could tell he logged into the site using his Patreon account, because the official Patreon WordPress plugin creates a special account for anyone who logs in using their Patreon credentials.

On November 9th, Samuel canceled his pledge.

By default, Patreon charges users for their pledges on the 1st of the next month. Since Samuel pledged in November, he would be charged on the 1st of December. He canceled his pledge before December 1st passed, so Patreon will not charge him.

However, the Patreon plugin will allow patrons to view the locked content as soon as they have slotted in a pledge. This means that Samuel was able to view the Patreon-only content on the site, and since he canceled his pledge before being charged, he will not even have to pay for it.

Unaware of this, I contacted Patreon support to figure out what I can do. The Patreon support person was very nice, but basically told me that the only solution is to make my Patreon page where patrons are charged as soon as they pledge and at the beginning of each month.

Now, this seems great and you may be wondering why I didn’t have this enabled to begin with. There are two reasons:

The first reason is that the feature to charge patrons upfront was in beta when I made my Patreon page, and only select creators on Patreon had access to it, meaning I couldn’t enable it at the time when I created my page.

The second reason is because I thought patrons would be charged for their initial pledge, regardless of whether they canceled or not. After all, if they were not charged for the first initial pledge, what was to stop them from getting the rewards at the tier they pledged at and then canceling the pledge?

Apparently, the answer to that is nothing. Patreon has nothing setup to prevent that behavior beyond charging patrons upfront. Their official WordPress plugin has no protection against this, and because I use the official plugin for RandomMomentania, my site was easy to take rewards from without paying.

Also, for those who do not know, Patreon’s default payment method is to charge at the beginning of the next month. This means that by default, Patreon accounts are vulnerable to this behavior.

How do I know that Samuel was probably trying to access my tutorials for free? After all, maybe he just canceled his pledge.

These things happen after all, and so after talking to Patreon support I just decided to do better in the future.

But then I saw this on Google yesterday when I searched “RandomMomentania”:

Wait, does that say “How to unlock Patreon posts for free”?

It appears that someone has posted a guide on how to access paid Patreon posts for free, totally stealing the content of the creators working hard to try and support their work on Patreon.

Now, to be fair, I do not know for certain that Samuel is responsible for this post, nor do I know what is actually on these sites (they redirect to other sites, which may have a virus), but the fact that RandomMomentania even comes up is alarming.

If you look carefully at the text, you’ll even find they have copied the text that used to show when you viewed a Patreon-only post here on RandomMomentania:

And this is not just one site. Yesterday around 11:30 AM eastern time, it was just the one site. Then yesterday after lunch, around 12:30 PM eastern time, another site link to the same site popped up in the search results:

And again, yesterday after 3 PM eastern time, two more sites were sharing how to unlock Patreon posts for free with RandomMomentania as a keyword (feel free to click the image to get a better look):

Even today, November 14th, you can still find a one of these results, on the second page of Google results and right under my GitHub account:

(In case anyone is wondering, I did visit the page to see what is exactly on these websites. My browser was redirected almost immediately to a website that failed to load, but according to Google is potentially a exploit redirect URL. Please do not visit these sites, as it is likely they contain viruses)

Evidently this is a problem. Seeing this, I realized I would have to do something, and so after thinking about it, I decided to close my Patreon creator page.

What Does This Mean?

What happened to me is not great, by any means, but that is not the only reason I made this post.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to make this post is to warn others about this situation.

I do not think I am alone in believing and hoping to make it on Patreon. Patreon spends a lot of time and money advertising their platform as being supportive of creators, and honestly, their advertising is pretty effective. Combine that with touting the small percentage of creators on Patreon that actually make above minimum wage, and you have yourself a recipe for pulling in new and hopeful creators.

I assumed that Patreon would be setup in such a way as to protect both the creator on Patreon from having their work stolen and the patrons on Patreon from having the material they have paid for from being stolen.

Unfortunately, it appears this is not the case. Granted, some of what happened to me is entirely my fault, and I am totally willing to own my part in it.

I get that I could have changed a setting and things would have maybe played out differently, or that I could have done more research ahead of time and maybe this would not have happened to begin with.

However, the fact that Patreon does not charge users for their initial pledge, does not have safe guards in their official plugins to help prevent this, and by default gives all Patreon pages a payment method that they know has an obvious exploit, should make people question Patreon.

Very few people on Patreon make enough to support their creations. Creators work extremely hard trying to make the best content they can, trying to funnel as much attention as they can to their Patreon pages, all to have it potentially taken away due to this exploit that they have as a default option.

A quick google search shows that this is not exclusive to RandomMomentania. There are posts, old and new, right on the top results, that show how to get around Patreon’s systems in order to access paid content on Patreon.

I get that Patreon obviously cannot stop every single exploit, but the fact that they make Patreon accounts with unsafe settings by default, and do not even mention the potential risk, is honestly sickening to me.

Patreon should be doing more to protect it’s users, both the creators and the patrons. If nothing else, Patreon should be informing users of these exploits, and explaining how to minimize them, if not outright prevent them.

How can Patreon expect those who use the site to have safeguards around problems they do not even know exist? Sharing information about these exploits will not fix them, but at least others won’t be caught by surprise and maybe if they know, they can respond in a way that protects the creator, the patrons, and the content the creator makes.

Short Term Plans

So, my work being (potentially) stolen and Patreon’s lack of informing users of default exploits has forced me into a decision.

Now knowing what I know about Patreon as a company, the exploits they allow, and the fact that very few people can reasonably fund their work on the site, I have decided to drop RandomMomentania from Patreon altogether.

RandomMomentania will no longer be using Patreon. In the coming days, I will be editing the site to remove Patreon-related content from the site.

However, this does not mean that I am going to stop making tutorials or that RandomMomentania is going away. I am going to look into other ways to provide quality tutorials, while also supporting my ability to create the tutorials.

I plan to find some other way of providing these tutorials in a way that helps me support myself and RandomMomentania, but does not require Patreon.

What that will be, and when that will happen, I don’t know. I’ll make another post here on RandomMomentania once I figure it all out.

TLDR: RandomMomentania is no longer going to use Patreon, but will instead use a different service for paid tutorials in the future.

Unfortunate Side Note

I hate to admit this, but it’s possible that Samuel has copied the material here on RandomMomentania.

He may have downloaded everything that was exclusive to patrons, copied all of the text and pictures in the tutorials, and perhaps he even plans to share them on the internet.

I was aware of this possibility as a tutorial creator. When you make anything on the internet there is always the possibility that others will steal your content. The sad truth is that there are those who will steal someone’s hard work and share it elsewhere, generally for free and/or without crediting the original creator.

I have, and do, my very best to ensure that my content does not get illegally shared. It is very important to me that those who take a risk and pledge to support RandomMomentania get exclusive access to these tutorials.

If I find that these Patreon only files have spread on the internet, I will do my very best to ensure they get taken down ASAP.

The time and effort put into those tutorials is worth something and I plan to do my very best to ensure they retain their worth. On top of that, I have a responsibility to try and protect the content that my legitimate patrons have spent money for.

Final Remarks

I know this is very sudden, and for that I apologize.

I still have big things planned, including cool tutorials, but I’ll have to do it differently in the future.

Thanks so much for reading! If you know anyone who is a Patreon creator, please share the information on this post so they are not caught unaware, like I was. No one should have their work stolen through an exploit.

2 thoughts on “An Unfortunate Turn of Events

  1. For being such an amazing teacher (Praise the Godot FPS :D), it’s a shame that this crappy thing happened to you. I hope for the best in the future.

    1. Thanks!

      While it is a shame, I think it was for the best. It gave us a chance to move RandomMomentania forward in new and exciting directions.
      We have exciting stuff planned for RandomMomentania in the future! Hopefully I’ll be able to share more news on what is planned for RandomMomentania in 2019 soon! 🙂

      Also, sorry about the delay in approving your comment! I’ve had some trouble with bots and so I made it where every comment has to be manually approved to reduce spam. For some reason WordPress didn’t send me a email notifying me, and so I totally missed it until just now. Thanks again, and my apologizes for the delay!

      (Edit: I edited your comment a bit for young audiences)

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