What.CD is facing serious financial challenges. This site is entirely funded by voluntary user donations, all of which are used to pay What.CD's costs. At the end of this announcement, we'll go over the current donation methods available to all users of the site. If you're interested in learning how you can help out, skip to the "How to Donate" section of this announcement or visit our Donate Page right away.
We cannot support direct PayPal donations at this time, but you can use PayPal or most major credit cards to purchase The What.CD Online Store products. Downloadable Products like the new Bonespin Wallpaper Pack have no shipping costs, and allow you to set your own price. Please read the Store Donor Points Guide to learn how to find and use your What.CD User ID Number to receive credit when shopping at the store.
If you have the resources, please consider supporting What.CD. Your assistance keeps us alive. Thank you.
We apologize for the delay. Certain portions of this update took longer to finalize than anticipated, and other ambitious pieces have been pushed back to a later date. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.
The donations we've received since the last update have kept us out of the red until now, and we're very thankful for the community's support. That said, the site's funds have begun to dwindle once more. Your help is still needed, so consider this update a call to action. It's also a herald of change.
As mentioned in our recent updates and associated discussion threads, What.CD's perpetual need for regular donations isn't an easily satisfied demand. Since the loss of PayPal as a convenient source of direct donations, we've struggled to find reliable methods of keeping the site afloat. The introduction of The What.CD Online Store has proven valuable, but due to international shipping costs, the number of parties involved in bringing a given design idea from inception to completion, and the fact that not everyone is interested in What.CD gear, there's only so much that can be expected from it. It's an essential component of our financial support system, but it cannot meet the site's needs alone.
This financial need has continued to grow over time. The first reason for this growth is obvious: bills. As our population and traffic increase, so do our monthly costs. The second reason for this growth is intermittent and less obvious: hardware. Because we own our servers, we must contend with server upgrades and replacements, all of which can prove very expensive. A number of server components currently require upgrades.
The problem must be solved in stages, and we must approach the answer creatively. Our ultimate goal is to establish a reliable, multifaceted system by which users can donate conveniently and easily using their preferred methods. If we reach this ideal, fundraiser updates like the one you're reading now should become things of the past. In this future we can not only sustain the site through reliable funding, but also grow our infrastructure by purchasing the necessary hardware upgrades we've been delaying.
To solve the problem, we've been listening to the comments and suggestions you've offered. Many of you have asked us to entertain the idea of allowing the purchase of upload credit directly or in the form of FL tokens. This is an idea we won't consider. In practical terms, implementing this proposal would invite unwanted legal pressure. More philosophically, implementing this change would contradict the spirit of our project. If you'd like to purchase upload, we strongly encourage you to spend your money filling Requests instead. Filling requests helps fellow users directly, helps the site grow, and helps you with your ratio.
Other suggestions have proven more viable and less antithetical to our cause. There are some we're still considering and thus won't mention here, but implementations of others are being enacted today. We've combined some of your suggestions with the results of a number of internal brainstorming sessions, and we hope that you appreciate the results which follow.
The cornerstone of this update is a new, flexible donation system. Understanding the system in full will require some reading, so please visit the Donor Rank System FAQ Document for detailed answers to questions you might have.
The spirit motivating this change was our desire to offer more concrete perks for site donors (like invites or additional personal collages), while also offering a host of interesting cosmetic benefits (like additional profile info boxes or custom donor icons). Most importantly, we've introduced a systematized framework for introducing additional donor perks we approve in the future. This flexibility will help us develop the system over time, ideally making donating a more engaging, rewarding, and enjoyable experience. Along with this, the new system allows us to give more recognition to our top donors.
• Donor Ranks: The system is structured around Donor Ranks. At this time there are five Donor Ranks, with no plans to add more. Each Donor Rank offers certain perks, and we may add additional perks in the future. Every user who had Donor Status prior to this update will begin at Donor Rank #1. Donor Rank #1 is permanent. Donor Ranks #2 to #5 are temporary, each lasting a month unless you make additional donations to jump to a higher rank, or maintain the maximum rank. If you allow your rank to decay, you drop to the previous rank. Whenever you change a rank (up or down) or receive another Donor Point, the month-long timer resets.
• Donor Perks: Some of these benefits are one-time perks (like additional invites), and others are bestowed only when you maintain the appropriate rank (like access to a special Donor Forum).
• Donor Points: Ranks are unlocked through the acquisition of Donor Points. A Donor Point represents €5, which is the amount we previously required before handing out the red heart. You can acquire Donor Points donating via Flattr, donating Bitcoins, purchasing store items, or through any donation method we might introduce in the future.
• Leaderboard: We're introducing a Donor Leaderboard for tracking top contributors to the site. You can opt-out of this (and other Donor-specific display options) in your Paranoia Settings.
• Special Ranks: Special Ranks are permanent rewards which are unlocked when a user reaches a certain Donor Point total. As with Donor Perks, we add more of these over time. As an example of a Special Rank, a user who accumulates 10 Donor Points will unlock the privilege of creating a User Pick that will be featured on the front page.
It's important to note that no traditional perks have been removed from the donation process, but many have been added. If you were a credited donor prior to this update, you'll begin at Donor Rank #1, which is the only permanent Donor Rank. Your red heart is still there, and new donors will receive the benefits you did. Users who made store purchases linked to their What.CD User Identification Number on or after May 20th, 2013 may receive the full benefits of the new system in the next few days, but we're not making any promises. All new purchases (and donations) from this point forward will be credited in the new system, however.
We reserve the right to modify the list of Donor Perks at any time. To facilitate conversation about future perks, we're establishing the Donor Perk Suggestions thread. Please follow the directions in the first post before making a suggestion.
Also be aware that the amount of code required to produce this system is quite lengthy. You may notice bugs in the implementation, especially in the early days following this announcement. Please help the Development Team out by creating threads in the Bugs Forum as is necessary.
To help you understand the various perks for each Donor Rank, you can look at the FAQ linked above, or check out the infographic linked below. Please note that the perks granted by Special Ranks are not listed in the following infographic. For more information on Special Rank perks, view the Special Ranks section of the FAQ document.
We're also making some significant changes to The What.CD Online Store. All changes described in this announcement can be read about in fuller detail in The What.CD Online Store FAQ Document.
First, we're introducing an on-site Store Gallery which presents important information about all TWOS products. Donor Point values for each item are included among this information. These values are also reflected on each product page within the official store site. Clicking the images in the on-site gallery will redirect you to the appropriate product pages. You can take a look at the new gallery by clicking the image below, or clicking the "Store" link in the site navigation menu.
Key changes have been made to the store's functionality. One of these changes addresses a longstanding problem with applying donor benefits, so please read the following carefully:
• We've abolished specific "donor items": Specific "donor items" have been phased out. Now, every item in The What.CD Online Store has a Donor Point value associated with it. This means that any normal purchase in the store can increase your Donor Point total on What.CD. The only exception to this rule are "add-on" discount stickers. Remember: To receive credit for your purchase, you must enter your What.CD User ID Number in the profile of your TWOS account. This number can be found at the end of your profile page URL on What.CD. For information on how to find and use your User ID Number when making purchases on our official store, view the Store Donor Points Guide.
• Donor benefits are now applied automatically: Traditionally, we've been given lists of User IDs by Port Merchandise. We received these lists intermittently, meaning that some users would have their donor benefits applied quickly after their purchase, whereas other users would have to wait a month or more. We've resolved this by devising a system which allows us to collect non-personally identifying sales information routinely. Under normal circumstances, you should have your Donor Points applied within three to seven days, weekends excluded. Remember: Outside of your What.CD User ID Number, no personally identifying information is sent to us.
• There is no longer a distinction between "regular stock" and "limited edition stock": We formerly made a distinction between "regular stock" and "limited edition stock". From this point forward, the majority of items introduced to the store will be limited edition items which are either printed in a fixed quantity, or printed for a limited time only. Limited edition items have proven more popular with our users, and this change simplifies how we manage the store. Some items like stickers may remain in stock for longer periods of time, but are still subject to retirement at our discretion.
• We're introducing Downloadable Products: In this update, we're offering four new items to the store, one of which represents an entirely new product category: Downloadable Products. One major issue faced by foreign customers is the prohibitive cost of shipping overseas. Furthermore, because the cost of physical items incorporates overhead costs, the donation value of a normal store product is less than that of a direct donation. With the introduction of downloadable products, almost all of the money spent on these items goes directly to What.CD.
• We're introducing Pay What You Want (PWYW) products: All Downloadable Products allow you to set your own price, thus fulfilling the promise of a "Pay What You Want" (PWYW) system. In the case of PWYW products, Donor Points must be assigned somewhat differently. To explain by way of example, let's look at the Downloadable Product being introduced today: the Bonespin Wallpaper Pack (featuring a design by the talented P1um).
As indicated above, P1um's Bonespin Wallpaper Pack will be available as a downloadable product for a price of your choosing. The product is being offered in .zip format. For every $6.50 you pay, you'll receive one (1) Donor Point (with your total rounded down to the nearest point). Remember that you can use PayPal when making purchases at TWOS! To be credited for your purchase, be sure to include your What.CD User ID Number when checking out. While we hope that you will buy the product, we recognize that some of you won't be able to. To facilitate file sharing, we're also offering a Free Bonespin Wallpaper Pack Download (hosted on GE.TT). Please use this link instead of the official store page if you plan on paying nothing, as it'll save in bandwidth costs.
In addition, we're introducing two new shirts. The Death In Victory shirt is designed by our very own irredentia, and the Ishihara Citrus shirt is designed by HalfInEarnest, a strong contestant in our first TWOS Design Contest. Both shirts are printed on American Apparel Unisex Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-Shirts. Each shirt is worth two (2) Donor Points.
Lastly, we're introducing a third sticker pack, this time featuring P1um's design: the Bonespin Sticker Pack. The five-pack is worth one (1) Donor Point, and the ten-pack is worth two (2) Donor Points.
Because we're introducing Downloadable Products to The What.CD Online Store, we feel that it's time for a contest specifically tailored to the category. We're very pleased to announce the very first TWOS Music Contest!
Specifically, we're asking users to submit songs which will be used in the creation of the first official What.CD compilation! Note that this compilation is intended to be distinct from the longstanding, officially supported "The What CD" Vanity House series. It is our hope that this will begin a new on-site musical tradition, and we invite you to take part in the process.
This contest is being launched in the spirit of the fundraiser announcement, and as such it behooves us to emphasize that all profits earned through the sale of this album will be applied to the site's costs (aside from a small percentage paid to Port Merchandise for use of their services). All artists submitting songs should do so while fully acknowledging that proceeds earned with their submission's help will not be returned to them, but will instead contribute to What.CD's continued longevity.
Details on how to submit, the contest rules, and important legal information are included in the contest thread. The submission period will end on October 23rd, 2013.
Our Developers have been hard at work on a number of additional site updates:
1. Updated User Settings: The user settings page has been reorganized and revamped. Take a second to check it out! The changes are as follows: ◦Tooltips: The titles of most options will now trigger tooltips when you run your mouse over them. These tooltips are designed to provide pertinent information about the options in question.
◦ Tabs: Due to the growing nature of our settings list, we've implemented tabs which allow you to isolate particular areas you're interested in. We've also included an "All Settings" tab for those who prefer to have their settings listed on one page.
◦ Live Search: User settings now have live search functionality. Just begin typing the name of what you're looking for, and your choices will begin to narrow.
◦ Reorganization: We've gone through the list renaming and reorganizing options when and where applicable. The new categories are more coherent and consistent.
2. Revamped Notifications: In the "Notification Settings" section of your User Settings page, you'll notice that you now have a choice between "Traditional" and "Pop-up" notifications for certain alert types. ◦Pop-up Notifications: The introduction of an optional pop-up system introduces greater flexibility to the notification system. These pop-ups can be color-coded based on importance, and the user can dismiss these notifications with a single click.
◦ "Read Once" Notification Types: In the near future, we'll be unveiling a number of "read once" notifications. These will reside entirely in the cache, and are meant to deliver interesting but non-vital information to the user. In other words, these notifications will not be permanently saved in the database like PM or Quote Notifications. We'll be able to hook these notifications into any on-site event. For example: "User has added 500 MB of bounty to your request" or "A torrent has been added to a collage you've contributed to", and so on. Users will be able to fine-tune the notifications they receive based upon their interests. The basic functionality is in place; expect more additions soon.
3. Comment Thread Updates: We've added a number of features to the comment threads found on artist, torrent, collage, and request pages. ◦Comment Subscriptions: Users can now subscribe to comment threads. These subscriptions work similarly to forum subscriptions. Please note that the [Subscribe] link found at the top of a collage page will result in you being notified when a torrent is added to the collage, whereas the [Subscribe] link on a collage's comment page (accessible by clicking [View All Comments]) is the link you use to subscribe to that collage's comments.
◦ Comment Quote Notifications: Users with quote notifications enabled will now be notified when they're quoted within a comment threads.
◦ Comment Quote Linking: Quotes made within comment threads will now link to the appropriate post.
4. Tooltips Upgrade: Various places in Gazelle have had standard, browser default-styled tooltips for a while. These tooltips have received a visual update and added functionality via our adoption of the Tooltipster jQuery Plugin. Note that some of the newly added tooltips (notably for user settings) contain links to related articles.
How To Donate:
We'll now review the current donation and contribution methods available to all users of the site. Whether you've read this far or skipped straight to this section, thanks for considering a donation. In this time of need, anyone contributing is effectively a champion of the site. Your contributions are immensely appreciated and a great deal of information can be found on our Donation Page.
We've offered "Eternal Love" to all donors for a long while. Once upon a time, donating meant using PayPal. When that became impossible, Flattr showed up. Bitcoins entered the scene, and then The What.CD Online Store was born.
No matter the era or the method, donating has always resulted in a small heart sitting next to your name. Eternal love. Eternal love might sound a little tongue-in-cheek, but it isn't. Love fuels the effort, and someday when this site has vanished or become something else entirely, those of us who have had a direct hand in guiding this project to its unknown future will remember the community first and foremost. Consider the words we offered shortly after our fourth birthday, in 2011:
What.CD is a collective endeavor, and the quality of this endeavor is dependent upon all of us, and not any one of us. When we made our donation plea, we were admittedly hesitant to ask the community directly for help. While drafting our sitewide request, we were reminded that the primary source of our pride--and the reason we volunteer for this job--is our userbase. From the community staff down to our newest members, so many take it upon themselves to contribute to the site by offering up rare uploads, creating perfect rips, scribing thoughtful forum posts, brainstorming new projects, drafting useful reports, sustaining seeds and more. In the wake of this fundraiser, we've also seen how this community is willing to rush to What.CD's aid with great heart and ample generosity in the site's darkest hour. The best way to express our gratitude and appreciation is perhaps the simplest: thank you.
Our thanks remain. If you cannot afford to donate, you've still earned our love. Hats off for giving this site its character and purpose. With your help, the road ahead of us will stretch long and far.