Mod Author Donation System
Posted 18 December 2017 - 05:39 PM
The new functionality I want to talk about today is something I've wanted to do for a long time. Indeed, I initially pitched this idea in the mod author forums back in August to gauge user response and receive feedback from the users who would benefit from the system. Once you initially read what it is, you'll likely realise it's a contentious issue. Please ensure you read all the way to the end before you leave a comment, as it will answer a lot of questions!
To cut a long story short…
We are working on a Donation Points system on Nexus Mods that mod authors will be able to accumulate, through unique file page downloads, that can then be redeemed for rewards through a storefront style system.
Let me cut to the chase and clarify right now that this system definitely isn't going to let any mod author quit their day job. However, it should fulfill that original wish many mod authors have expressed for years now of wanting at least a little something tangible back from their modding hobby, even if it's just some recognition and a couple of free coffees/beers each month to keep them topped up while they're working on their mods.
On a personal level, I've been wanting to find a way to personally donate to mod authors past the occasional donation I throw out to mod authors whose mods I use, from Nexus Mods to you, for a long time now, and this seems like the best way of going about doing that in as fair a way as possible.
At the end of the day, this is going to be a way for Nexus Mods, and the users of Nexus Mods, to donate to and thank all the mod authors on Nexus Mods collectively.
How will this system work?
As a gift, every month we at Nexus Mods will donate a variable amount (expected to be between $5,000 - $10,000 at our discretion) into a central donation pool. This is the base level of contribution, the minimum total pool amount each month from which the Donation Points will be calculated.
When paid modding was first announced for Steam Workshop, lots of users bemoaned the fact that they'd like to see a stronger donation system put in place for mod authors. To that end, we are also working on enabling users of Nexus Mods to contribute into this monthly pool, so that any and all users of Nexus Mods can choose to donate into the total pool for that month if they so wish. Essentially, crowd-funded mod author donations. We'll provide a page on the site where you can see how high the donation pool is for that month, split between what we at Nexus Mods have put in, and what the entire community has put in and we'll probably gamify this a little and let users who donate opt-in to a leaderboard style system that lists how much they've donated and so on.
Donation Points (DP) will have a monetary value attached to them which, at time of writing works out at 1,000 DP being worth $1 USD. This will remain a constant and will not fluctuate or change.
At the end of the month, the total donation money pool will be converted into its DP equivalent. For example, a total donation money pool of $10,000 is the equivalent of 10,000,000 DP. A script will then sum up the total unique downloads that each file page has received in that month, from mod authors who have opted into this scheme, and divide the total available DP amount by the total unique download amount for that month. For example, if the total donation money pool is $10,000 (which is 10,000,000 DP) and the total unique download count is 5,000,000 then that means each unique download would be worth 2 DP. Ergo, a mod author who receives 25,000 unique downloads that month will receive 50,000 DP, which is the equivalent of $50 to redeem in our redemption storefront.
This system is completely opt-in and as such, it's impossible for us to currently calculate how many DP you'll receive per unique download. We can calculate the bare minimum based on a theoretical situation in which every single mod author on the site has opted in all their files, but that would not be a fair approximation. The number will fluctuate from month to month based on the available donation pool as well as what files have been opted into the system.
The metric we are using is the unique download count for a user's mod pages as a whole. Note that this is different from the unique download counts for the individual files you can download from a mod page. For example, if you have 14 files available to download on a single mod page and a user downloads each of those files, your unique download counter is increased by 1, and not 14. I understand this is going to be contentious for some people, especially in regards to big mods that already have a multitude of unique downloads within the community, but unfortunately there are restrictions with our stat tracking that will not enable us to, for example, count all downloads from the start of this scheme as having been reset and "unique" from that point on.
The redemption store - not just about cash
Users can redeem their Donation Points via a section of the site that will act like a storefront. While we will offer options to redeem DP for Pay Pal donations, Amazon gift vouchers and the like, it's also my hope we will offer items and options directly related to the hobby that brought us all here in the first place -- modding! The plan is to offer popular games from storefronts like Steam, Humble Bundle or GOG, subscriptions and software licenses for popular software that modders use for their modding or would like to use but can't afford and even PC hardware, for example, video cards, motherboards, memory and so on and so forth. I know some mod authors are running very old or budget systems. If we could help them improve their systems it could provide tangible benefits to the community as a whole.
Looking into the future, there's also the potential for the redemption store to be sponsored from month to month. For example, we might invite big names in the industry to donate some items to our storefront like Corsair donating some PC peripherals or Nvidia providing us with some video cards, which we'd likely discount in the redemption store for the mod authors.
We will also be offering the ability for mod authors to donate their DP to a few hand-picked charities. Donations will be sent to the selected charity once a nominal yet meaningful amount has been reached.
Why does it have to be another popularity contest? Why are you allocating points based on unique downloads?
As I'm sure you can understand this issue is complicated and can create the potential for a lot of drama in the community. Whatever system we come up with has to be reasonable and most of all, devoid of subjective human opinions as much as possible. That basically means that there should be no one person or group of people in charge of who receives points, whether that's me or anyone else.
Unique download counters are perhaps the most objective metric we have on this site and are a direct representation of the popularity of a file, even more so than endorsements. And most of all, unique download counters are so hard to game in the grand scheme of things that they are the safest bet when it comes to preventing fraud. You'd need to make about 20,000 new accounts, and download the same file using each of them, to make any sort of noticeable dent in the unique download counters across the site. I think that's unlikely. In contrast, if we were to use something like the endorsement system, or the file of the month system, you'd still need to make a lot of new accounts but it would be considerably less difficult to game.
While I appreciate that popularity is not a comparable metric to quality and that in an ideal world quality would be rewarded over popularity (or equally rewarded), I honestly think that this is the only way the system can remain as objective as possible. If you start proposing rewards for file of the month winners or endorsement ratios or anything of that ilk then we run into serious issues in regards to people trying to undermine these systems in order to try and gain an advantage and, in turn, more points. The unique download system cannot be undermined in the same way.
For me, and for us, this needs to be as hands-off as possible. We do not want to be micromanaging disputes between mod authors in regards to this system (e.g. "that author asked for endorsements in his description/comments/YouTube videos and therefore got lots of points when that isn't allowed! Delete their points or ban them!", and similar veins of thought). While I envision there will be some disputes between mod authors over this system, they shouldn't be based on the metric we use.
While I completely understand a system that's less about popularity would be better, no such system exists that won't simply be a huge magnet for drama, people leaving the community over petty reasons and so on and so forth.
Will it be opt-in or opt-out? Will there be restrictions on who can join the system?
This system will be opt-in. As in, if you don't want to be a part of this system you don't need to do anything and you will need to consent to joining up.
There may be stipulations about who can join up pursuant to further conversation with my solicitor about how best to legally set this up, as there may be age and location constraints (e.g. under 18's might need parental consent, and we can't donate or send items to countries that are currently under embargo from the UK/UN, silly stuff like that).
Can I accumulate Donation Points over many months? What's going to be the minimum "payout" for gift cards/Pay Pal donations?
Yes, your points won't disappear each month and will accumulate month after month until you spend them or donate them to others. The minimum donation amount is going to be $10 for Pay Pal and Amazon gift vouchers.
Can I give my points to another user on the site?
Yes, we'll implement a point transfer system for mod authors to give their points to other mod authors or users if they so wish. We'll likely make it possible for you to proactively and automatically donate the DP your files accumulate to users of your choice as well. For example, if you aren't interested in receiving any DP but you'd like to donate any DP you would have earnt to another user (like, say, your favourite mod author), you'll be able to do that.
How will you prevent fraud, or people getting points for uploading mods that aren't theirs, and so on?
Donation Points will be allocated on a NET90 system. That means you won't get your points until 3 months after that month has ended. For example, you wouldn't get your points for January until the start of May, which would be three months (90 days) after the month ended.
This is to give us (and you) a grace period so that any potential issues with a file can be found and rectified before points are allocated and used by a "malicious" author. If a file is found to be against our TOS during this time then it will be dealt with and any Nexus Points that might have been due to that "mod author" from that file will be void.
Case-in-point, imagine someone steals some assets from another mod author without permission and uploads that mod to Nexus Mods, opting in to the points system in the process. Without the NET90 system, if we (or you) don't catch this straight away it could potentially mean this mod author receives points unfairly. The NET90 system provides a buffer for us to root out files that fall foul of our system to ensure, as much as is realistically possible, that only legitimate and "Nexus Legal" files are receiving points.
Why will the contribution Nexus Mods makes to the total donation pool change from month to month?
We cannot commit to an official figure each month as our financial situation and financial needs change from month to month. We need to be flexible on what we can contribute for what, I think, are obvious reasons. However, we aim to commit between the $5,000 to $10,000 range every month.
Have you discussed this system with Bethesda? If Bethesda aren't happy with the system and ask you to remove it, will you remove it?
Bethesda have made it very clear over the years that if you force them to give you an answer on a particular issue it's much easier for them to say "no" than it is to say yes. However, if you simply get on with it and don't ask them, they don't need to say "no" or "yes" and they'll let you know if they have a very serious issue with it.
As far as my solicitor and I are concerned, there really shouldn't be a legal issue here. I'd talk it through with them for sure, but if they're adamant that it has to be removed then I will remove it for any Bethesda games we host as I'm sure you can appreciate getting into a legal fight over this wouldn't be prudent.
I will not remove it for any other game we support that Bethesda has no jurisdiction over.
It would obviously result in a system that benefits far fewer mod authors on the site, but I'm not going to let Bethesda dictate functionality on the site that is about more than just their games now, and has been for many years.
Will you make it possible to opt out specific files and/or distribute points amongst more than one mod author on a specific file?
Yes and yes.
I know there will be some mod authors who'll want to receive points on some files and not on others (e.g. collaboration mods). I also know there are some mod authors collaborating together who will want to be able to split the points that mod makes amongst all the mod authors involved. The uploader of the file will set the point allocation, and we'll likely code something so that all mod authors on that file are notified if that allocation changes at any time (to stop a naughty mod author changing it just before the end of the month in hopes of ripping off all the others).
Just like providing permission for your assets in general or when collaborating, you should document all your discussions in regards to Donation Point allocation so that if there are ever any squabbles and a moderator needs to get involved then you can reference your previous agreements with the person(s) you're collaborating with.
How will you combat people uploading patches for their mods as separate stand-alone file pages to garner more unique downloads?
We will be enforcing strict rules in this regard and bringing our moderation practices up to speed to combat instances where we think people are deliberately going out of their way to try and game the system at the expense of the site and user experience.
While we can plan for eventualities, we don't know what people are going to try until they actually do it. We will react accordingly.
Will other users be able to see how many Donation Points I've accumulated, for example, on my profile page?
No, the amount of Donation Points you have is completely private and only visible to you.
I don't want to use this system and I'm not comfortable with mod authors using my assets in their mods that receive points. Can I prevent this?
Yes. We'll update our own permissions system accordingly to reflect this change as well.
You don't need to be rude about it, but be very clear with any mod authors who ask for your permission, or who have asked for permission in the past, as well as in your own file permissions/credits section that you are not comfortable with anyone receiving points in any mods using your work.
If the mod author using your work tries to kick up a fuss, you can ask a moderator to intervene and set the record straight.
You have the right to stipulate how your assets are used and what benefits other mod authors can receive from that, just as the mod authors asking to use your work have the right to simply walk away and not use your work if they don't like the stipulations being placed on that usage. However, always remember to document any discussions you've had with mod authors in this regard in case of any trouble later, even if that mod author seems genuine and the nicest guy/gal in the world.
We will release this functionality in the first quarter of 2018 unless something goes drastically wrong. We tentatively hope to have something out by the end of January or the beginning of February, but we're saying the first quarter to cover ourselves a little!
Once we have released the system and a few months have passed we will have accumulated enough relevant data to then form some useful conclusions and react, if necessary, accordingly.
As always, your feedback is welcome including anything constructive you might be able to add to improve the system. Please, however, really take note of what I wrote in regards to the use of the unique download counter as the metric being used. When I brought this topic up for discussion with the mod authors in August the response was overwhelmingly positive (as far as mod author responses go!) but there were a lot of questions raised and suggestions provided about using unique downloads which ultimately fall short of the criteria I've set out for the reasons already provided.
Posted 18 December 2017 - 05:58 PM
Authors fix Beth's f***ed up games, make better mods in many cases and give pleasure to millions of people and what do they, the people give back to the authors? In many cases nothing but s***!...While most who benefit are sites like the Nexus, ( not having a go at you Nexus you give us a platform ) beth and thieves who steal our work!
It really is time for an address...Maybe this is a start!
As for those who have donate and given to me, or thanked me, or endorsed I thank you. I never did this for money, or rewards as such, but when you take so much shite from people it is nice to get something back at times!
Edited by nesbit098, 19 December 2017 - 12:16 AM.
Posted 18 December 2017 - 05:59 PM
Will mod makers be allowed to advertise this on their page alongside donations and patreon links, or will it be policed to avoid turning descriptions into advertising walls?
Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:00 PM
Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:04 PM
Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:06 PM
Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:14 PM
Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:15 PM
Edited by Dark0ne, 18 December 2017 - 06:16 PM.
Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:18 PM
In response to post #56081271.I'm not really sure there's something to advertise here for mod authors. Unless you mean advertise the link to the page where users can donate to the collective pool? In which case -- I'm not sure why you'd want to advertise that, though it would help out all your fellow mod authors as well!
"Hi guys! Download and endorse my mod, and get your friends to download too ! The more downloads the more points I get " etc.