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No Resource Pre-Orders or Crowdfunding

Discussion in 'Resource and Add-on Discussions' started by XenForo, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. XenForo

    XenForo Company Info Staff Member

    Due to a number of cases of non-delivery of pre-ordered or crowdfunded resources, effectively immediately, resource pre-orders or crowdfunds may not be organized or promoted on XenForo.com. For resource authors, you can consider this rule as "no product, no payment".

    Similarly, people looking for something to be developed may not publicly solicit or ask for people to "chip in" as this is effectively a crowdfund in all but name. However, if others have expressed interest or offered to contribute, you may continue discussions privately. Provided it's a small number of people and all organization/solicitation happens privately, we would consider "sponsored development" to be acceptable.

    For clarification:
    • This applies to any pre-order or crowdfund organized from today onwards.
    • This does not apply to custom development or services. When asking a service provider to create something for your needs or provide a customized service, you should expect to pay at least a portion up front.
    [Edit April 5: we have clarified the "sponsored development" position to make it clearer that publicly asking people to chip in is not allowed.]
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2016
    Nelson T., Mythotical, Kim and 38 others like this.
  2. The Sandman

    The Sandman Well-Known Member

    An unfortunate but ultimately necessary step to keep crowdfunding and/or "pre-ordered" resources between developers and investors/purchasers and separate from XenForo (both the site and the company).

    For further clarity, how is "sponsored development" to be differentiated from pre-order/crowdfunding? I understand "no product, not payment", but I'm not quite sure about "paying for the development rather than the developer".
    ozzy47 likes this.
  3. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Crowdfunds and pre-orders are initiated by the resource author/developer.

    Custom development (even as a group) is initiated by the person(s) paying.
    Alfa1 likes this.
  4. The Sandman

    The Sandman Well-Known Member

    This one is a bit trickier - I understand what you're saying, but if a forum member starts a thread asking for development of a certain add-on, and then other members post that they'd be interested as well, and so a developer steps up and posts that they will develop the add-on if paid a certain amount of money in advance - to me that's still a crowdfund.

    If the person making the initial request for the add-on had a particular developer in mind at the outset, they most likely would have already contacted him/her directly. Then, if the project turned out to be too large for a single investor/purchaser they might ask for additional people to fund the project. But again, at this point it already seems just like a crowdfund.
    ozzy47 likes this.
  5. Rambro

    Rambro Well-Known Member

    Good move, guys.
  6. SneakyDave

    SneakyDave Well-Known Member

    What will happen with any current "crowdfunding" type of requests that have started here on XenForo.com? Are they grandfathered in, or what kinds of discussions about them will be allowed?
    RobParker likes this.
  7. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Existing ones are unaffected.

    We will however step in and take action if needed (as evidenced by the recent posts which have been made), although naturally any action we can take is limited in scope.
  8. The Sandman

    The Sandman Well-Known Member

    As I see it, the issue lies in whether the arrangement is between two people or more than two people.

    When one member hooks up with a developer on XenForo.com, the forum is acting principally as a point of initial contact and most if not all of the discussions between the two should be conducted privately. It's a private transaction.

    When a group of members hook up with a developer on XenForo.com, two things are different - first, many of the discussions between them end up in the forums - it's no longer a private transaction. Second, the larger sums of money involved and the greater number of personalities involved amplify the potential for problems, which are too often discussed publically as well.
  9. Mike Creuzer

    Mike Creuzer Well-Known Member

    Im fine with this personally. People are always coming to me in a bad way due to developers who have left their products, took their money, etc. and its bad for the community. Though it does ruin it for those who have common decency and do what they say they will. I think this will help simplify services here at XenForo, and help protect the user.
    Enguerran A and n00bsaibot like this.
  10. Bionic Rooster

    Bionic Rooster Well-Known Member

    Simple and straight forward.
    SneakyDave and Alfa1 like this.
  11. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    That is not what distinguishes a crowdfund or pre-sale from custom development.

    If a bunch of people want to club together to get enough funds to have an add-on custom developed with scheduled partial payments, then that is still custom development, not crowdfunding initiated by a developer who is getting a bunch of people to pay them up front for a product which doesn't exist.
    SneakyDave, Alfa1 and Liam W like this.
  12. The Sandman

    The Sandman Well-Known Member

    To some extent it's a matter of semantics. To me, it doesn't matter what you call it, it's how it works out logistically. YMMV.

    But going a bit further, where is there a mechanism in place for scheduled partial payments? Crowdfunding sites don't provide for them. Someone impartial (not the developer nor any of the funding members) would need to be responsible for collecting the funds and holding them in escrow until the agreed upon times or milestones were met. I certainly think this would be a good thing... if it existed.
  13. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    There isn't.

    We don't get involved with transactions between third parties, we never have.

    Any agreements are arranged entirely between the concerned parties.

    We're trying to strike a balance.

    We don't want to stop custom development requests as that benefits no-one and penalises many people.

    What we do want to stop is people losing money due to failed crowdfunding projects initiated by developers who then don't deliver.

    Clearly there is some crossover between crowdfunding and groups of people clubbing together to fund development but ultimately we have only seen problems with the former and not the latter.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
    Steff likes this.
  14. Mike

    Mike XenForo Developer Staff Member

    We're not going to be able to define every case here. If we did attempt to very specifically define a line, we would have people attempting to inch up to that line without crossing it. It should be very evident the issues that we're trying to prevent with this rule. We get dragged into these issues that seem to have a net drain on the community (and us). We're simply trying to prevent these issues before they happen. We've been forced to step in specifically because of several failures (or almost failures).

    Regular crowdfunding effectively gives those providing the money no power. The developer gets the money and then needs to make the product, but they have no (monetary) incentive until they go from 0% to 100% completion. With custom development, the normal approach would be to provide payments with different milestones as defined in a contract (and with some up front). Done well, this should ensure monetary incentives for a developer (in such a way that keeps the lights on) while simultaneously reducing risk to whoever has sponsored it.

    That said, I think we would take a dim view of "crowdfunding by proxy". If you contact a developer who estimates $5000, I don't think it's reasonable for you to start soliciting for 100 people to give $50. You are effectively running the crowdfund yourself in this case (and paying a contractor to do the work). Conversely, we aren't trying to prevent a few people from banding together to get something that meets their mutual needs developed. (This sort of thing would normally be organized behind closed doors. This is unlikely to happen if you're soliciting a huge number of people. That would certainly be one point of distinction.)

    I don't know where the line is specifically, but the spirit of what we're trying to do should be clear. I appreciate trying to nail down specifics, but that's nigh impossible in a hypothetical case. If you think you have a situation which may fall foul of what we're doing, there's a simple solution: ask us and we'll try to work something out.
    Steff, Robust, Lawrence and 5 others like this.
  15. The Sandman

    The Sandman Well-Known Member

    Lawrence likes this.
  16. The Sandman

    The Sandman Well-Known Member

    Thanks Mike. Of course there's not a definitive answer for all possible situations but his does further clarify things.
  17. The Forum Heroes

    The Forum Heroes Well-Known Member

    What about ones currently in progress that were allowed to be posted here. What happens with them if something isn't produced in a timely manner?
  18. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    The Forum Heroes likes this.
  19. The Forum Heroes

    The Forum Heroes Well-Known Member

    I was meaning more towards Robbo, who "took the money and ran".
  20. Daniel Hood

    Daniel Hood Well-Known Member

    I haven't seen his be considered in progress in quite a while, interesting.

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