New Wiki About/Intro Page Rough Draft (need feedback!)

GitLab issue: New wiki intro page (#593) · Issues · / snowdrift · GitLab

Hey all, I wrote up a rough draft for this new About Page that we talked about in a meeting a little while back. For those who weren’t there the idea is basically for this to be an introduction (perhaps this should be an ‘Intro’ or ‘Welcome’ page rather than ‘About’? Welcoming feedback there) to people who are new to Snowdrift, with a brief gist of the project plus some links to other wiki pages for further reading. Salt suggested’s home page as one potential model. I wasn’t sure what the easiest way to present a draft and get feedback/edit suggestions was, so for now I’ve just uploaded a .docx file here. If there is a better method for doing this process let me know and I’ll adjust accordingly.

snowdrift about page.docx (9.1 KB)

Here are some notes/questions I have, but I welcome any type of feedback or thoughts. Thanks!

  • This is just a rough draft, I wrote it and structured it in a way that felt logical to me, but I’m not locked into any one approach and am happy to try out any change, macro or micro.
    • Thoughts on headings?
  • The example that Salt sent me was much more stripped down than this, but I figured that I would start with something bigger and whittle down, rather than the other way around. So with that mind let me know if there is info that seems excessive, or alternately if there is something major that you feel I left out or overlooked.
  • I feel especially in need of help with the ‘How is Snowdrift different?’ section. I had a hard time being decisive about how best to synthesize a lot of that information, and I suspect that some of you who have been here much longer than I will have better intuition as to what info deserves prioritizing in this context
    • One specific issue is that, as Aaron mentioned already, it doesn’t seem like Kickstarter is the most prominent platform anymore, and a lot of the info already in the wiki is geared specifically towards their threshold system. But if I’m not mistaken GoFundMe doesn’t have that same threshold mechanism (i.e. if a project doesn’t meet it’s goal you still get whatever was donated). Since, to my eyes at least, GFM feels like the most prominent crowdfunder at the moment, do I need to address it in a more specific way here?
    • Also, I thought that the non-profit coop thing would be an important distinction to make here, but it’s a distinction that I don’t feel very equipped to make haha. If people do think that’s important to include here (it might not be), then I’ll need some help filling in the rest of that sentence. (i.e. why is it significant that Snowdrift is a non-profit coop, unlike these other major platforms)
  • Are there more wiki pages I should link to? Either links that would already fit in with what I wrote, or pages that would be nice to link to from this sort of an intro, and that I should try to find a way to write in.
5 Appreciations

Great work. As a part of a process here, both you understanding things and distilling it for people like yourself (interested and supportive but new to all of this), I can’t emphasize too much how valuable this is. I see overall quality writing and nice clear presentation. This is definitely going in the right direction!

Heh, that’s a non-free format. LibreOffice can open docx anyway, so it’s okay. But I urge you to switch from Microsoft Office or whatever you are using. LibreOffice is a robust and capable program. And the standard format you can use is .odt (Open Document Text) even though LibreOffice can save as docx. Note that MS Office and Google Docs and others can also open .odt so it’s the standard in general.

All that said, the real goal is to learn Markdown so you can write in the format that will end up being used on the wiki. But one step at a time.

These are very good, headings that inspire me to read because I get the point quickly and know what to expect out of reading the short couple paragraphs.

I do think this is important to highlight. I and others can help with the exact wording. The take-away is about trust in our motivations and values. It’s about highlighting that we set things up so we are truly aligned in our incentives and will have no reason to sell-out.

I think we could add a separate section like “why co-op?” that provides a very basic foundational understanding of the significance for those unfamiliar while specifying what sort of co-op this is for those who do know what co-ops are.

On “what is”

I think this is about right, just a couple minor considerations:

  • Having “metaphor” and “imagines” together seems to me too many layers of distance. Maybe “considers” instead of “imagines” or maybe “concept” instead of “metaphor”. Whatever avoids having both abstractions.
  • maybe change “but with each additional patron everyone’s pledge increases” to “but everyone’s pledges increase with each additional patron who joins the crowd.” (or drop from “who” on for shorter)

On the “what can I fund” section

This is quite good, close to what we need. A few comments on the details and on a framing we need to include more explicitly:

  • While your wording reads well, “non-rivalrous public goods” is technically redundant as non-rivalrous is part of the definition of public goods. Perhaps “…funding public goods. That includes anything non-rivalrous and open tp all, including art…”
  • “Most public goods would be best served if they were freely available to all” is technically incorrect because if they are not freely available, they are by definition no longer public goods. Perhaps “If any such works are not freely available to all, they are not public goods, they are called club goods — only available to the members of an exclusive club.” And one way to tie in both paywalls and ads is to emphasize that these are both ways to join the club, it can be a club of paid memberships but it could also be a club of whoever consents to viewing ads.
    • In fact, this is a key point that I’d like your help in successfully communicating. That you can pay with money or you can pay with your attention to ads, if either are required, it’s not freely available and not public goods. We need to stop saying that ad-encumbered things are free! It’s not free then! It has the cost of ads! If we can successfully communicate this foundation, we’ll have the essential framing in place.

On the “different” section

Good first attempt, but this section needs more reworking to accurate get at the various points. Thankfully, we put the concepts together already, we just need to summarize it better for this simple overview. Notes follow:

That impression doesn’t fit the context here. GFM is barely a competitor. It’s huge, but it’s almost always used for personal fundraising. Like someone paying their expenses for needs, like charity for individuals. Medical bills, schooling, legal filings for justice etc. In other words, GFM is not associated with funding creative work and products.

In the space of the type of things we’re looking at, Kickstarter remains prominent, and the other platform most familiar to people will be Patreon.

Anyway, we made a draft of a page of comparisons that really should get finished and published ASAP, perhaps just on the wiki is good enough. The details are pretty settled: Implement /compare page comparing to other platforms (#181) · Issues · / snowdrift · GitLab and that is the overview basics, it links to this full thing: Snowdrift Wiki - Other Crowdfunding / Fundraising Services

So, this wiki About page you are writing needs the “how different” to be essentially a short paragraph designed to highlight those two other pages. Incidentally, our research on the market is probably the most popular thing we’ve made in terms of the link shared often by people out on the internet. The full research page itself could use an editorial overhaul.

2 Appreciations

This looks great, I’m low on brainwidth for a full close-edit pass and Aaron caught a number of the items that popped up immediately. Looking forward to seeing this progress!!!

Sorry this took a little longer to get up than I anticipated. Here is a second draft with previous suggestions implemented.
snowdrift about page 2nd draft.odt (22.0 KB)

Of course any and all feedback is welcome, and here are some specific thoughts and questions from me:

  • “What is…” and “What can I fund…” sections should be pretty close to their final form in my estimation, but of course let me know if you disagree, and definitely chime in with any micro-level commentary (i.e. stylistic details, sentence clarity, word choice etc)
  • The “How…Different…” section is the one that needed the most editing from the rough draft and consequently is now the one I’m looking for the most feedback on:
    • I spent some time trying out other structural ideas but ended up retaining the basic form of my original paragraph (i.e. 1st highlight some other platforms, then introduce snowdrift as contrast) while adjusting some of the content within that structure, especially as far as how Snowdrift is presented. My first impulse was to use the platforms a reader would be most aware of already as the anchor point and build out from there, HOWEVER I am completely open to readjusting the format itself as well (for example I could reverse it and lead with “Snowdrift offers all of these things” and then lay out how other platforms don’t) if others feel something else would work better
      • Aaron’s primary suggestion was to use this section to briefly summarize/introduce the crowdfunding market research wiki page, which I attempted to do, though I ran into a bit of a wall trying to determine which of the many platforms out there should I specifically highlight here. Or should I just stick to broader generalizations? Again I elected to more or less retain my original approach, just highlighting the ones that I perceive as major (Kickstarter and Patreon –– though I could also see an argument to include a sentence mentioning one of the more FLO-oriented platforms as well, say “There are options like X that better align with our values, but they still don’t offer the benefits of our crowdmatching mechanism etcetc”)
      • IF the format is fine, how does the actual analysis of Patreon/Kickstarter read? I sort of suspect there may be some redundancies or misplaced emphases on my part, so do let me know if so. I also wouldn’t mind cutting down this section somewhat, so I’d appreciate pointing out information that might be extraneous
      • Also, I’m not sure if others would rather keep this page image-free for whatever reason, but it seems like it would be extremely useful to include one of the graphics from here. I think those are very efficient ways to communicate a lot of what this section is getting at, and it could go a long ways towards easily addressing some of the questions I posed above
    • “Plus our platform is FLO itself.” This reads a bit clunkily to me, as again my nascence w/r/t the FLO world has me a little out of the know as far as how a sentence like this might usually be formatted. Is there an easier way to communicate this sentiment? (i.e. that not only does Snowdrift support FLO works but that it is, itself, a FLO work? Or is that redundant? Or am I misunderstanding something along the way?)
    • We had talked about potentially including a separate section on Snowdrift as a non-profit co-op, and while I do agree that it’s an important detail to include, it seemed to make the most sense to me to include it without going way into detail (especially as the precise nature of Snowdrift’s cooperative governance is, at the moment, in a state of flux), and instead just hyperlink to the wiki page

If everyone in the neighborhood worked together, they could clear the road in no time, but how do you know that once you start shoveling, others will pitch in to help?

More broadly and generically for this intro, I’d go with just saying “but too often, everyone just waits for others to do it” and leave the “will others help” angle for the separate article (which I’m currently rewriting incidentally)

Patrons donate together by all agreeing to match one another

Writing could be improved, “together” and “one another” are too redundant. Go with either one but not both.

instead of donating unilaterally

maybe omit this extra qualification? doesn’t seem needed here

Individuals are less at risk of

Maybe stronger: “Individuals don’t risk”

Further, we require our projects to abide by Free/Libre/Open (FLO) standards

Well, the argument is that anything non-FLO amounts to being a club good of sorts. FLO means the freedoms to use, study, modify, and share, and if any of those aren’t available, that means they are restricted to an exclusive club! So, we want to strongly assert that FLO is part of the definition of public goods, not an extra point. But people do need to get this explicitly since there are aspects of public-goods status when only a partial set of the freedoms are granted.

So, let’s say this very clearly. If something doesn’t provide the public with those 4 freedoms, then that isn’t a complete public good! Maybe a subsection/heading for this point, the assertion that FLO should be part of the public-goods definition…

I think mentioning specific platforms is okay.

How is different?

This heading seems strange after reading about things that are already different. Public-goods-only and crowdmatching are described earlier, and that is already distinct. So maybe the heading is more something in the direction of “Why other fundraising platforms aren’t doing all we need for public goods”?

Building on that, I think everything in this section might focus on two aspects: (A) how the vast majority of projects on other platforms are not public goods and (B) how public goods status is discouraged or public goods projects struggle to succeed at the other platforms. I think much of your draft will still fit that framing.

Unfortunately, we can’t yet at least because those mockups have dummy content. But if @mray can update the mockup to have the appropriate content, that would be fine. Alternatively, other images would be fine too. We have no anti-image perspectives, adding graphics would be great wherever we can.

On the FLO-ourselves point, there’s various options, they all seem to work, not worried about the pickiness.

yes, the co-op details are not worth worrying about for this page for now

Overall, I could take your draft and work with it to get the next level. What I think makes sense:

You incorporate some of this feedback, and then we publish a good-enough version. From there, I and others might make some tweaks, you might continue tweaking… but overall, I want to get you onboarded to a git and wiki type workflow so that we can more easily make changes bit by bit and you feel more comfortable going through other articles and improving and rewriting things.

1 Appreciation

@bnagle17 finally did a read through and definitely see this coming together!

There are at least two comments I’d like to add to Aaron’s:

  1. Images are definitely a good idea, perhaps one per paragraph. Thinking about what you’d like to see, then working with @mray, @iko, or someone else, seems reasonable.

  2. The first bit of the “what can I fund” section needs work. Many of these things aren’t necessarily eligible to become public goods (e.g., artwork can be rivalrous). Rather, things which are knowledge commons often fall into the status quo trap of becoming club goods, when they could be experienced as public goods if more folks were aware of the distinction.

I’m working on incorporating the ideas discussed at Framing idea for introducing newcomers to concept of public goods - #4 by wolftune into this intro page, and I’m struggling a bit to capture all of the details in a way that is appropriately succinct. @wolftune I know that communicating the fuzziness of the public goods is an important takeaway that you want newcomers to understand, but as I’m writing it out I feel the need to emphasize that as far as first introductions go, we will have to sacrifice some nuance for the sake of basic comprehensibility; in other words, I think my priority should be communicating a basic understanding of what “public good” means, before throwing in all of these other examples. That isn’t at all to say that breaking down those nuances and complexities aren’t worthwhile, nor is it to say that some of that discussion shouldn’t be included here, I just think that as far as this ‘Introduction’ goes, we don’t need to get that deep into it yet.

Right now my thinking is that structurally the ‘public goods’ section of the intro page will go basically like this: 1. Introduce the litmus test (with the chart) –> 2. introduce one simple example (I’m thinking maybe Wikipedia? I want something that passes pretty straightforwardly, where someone could read it and pretty much immediately be like “ok yeah that makes sense”) –> 3. introduce one more complex/fuzzy example (public radio?), and then all of the other details and nuances previously discussed, including more complex and fuzzy examples, should be included on the separate wiki page dedicated to public goods, which would be hyperlinked. I’ll have another draft published shortly but just thought I would mention that here in case others have thoughts.

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To be more specific/clear: the way I see it the overall structure of my previous draft can remain essentially the same with this new litmus test idea being used to augment/bolster/refocus that “What Can I Fund?” section. Although I am curious if, given the litmus test/framing idea discussion, people think that a more robust restructuring would be in order. I.e. should I literally lead with “What is a public good”? I think that quickly hitting on the snowdrift dilemma and introducing crowdmatching still makes sense as the first items, and then moving onto a breakdown of public goods from there, but I’m certainly open to suggestions therein as well.

Your thinking seems great to me. I think longer example discussions need to be in their own space, not in the intro. I agree with your second recent post that the ordering should change. Here’s the ordering I imagine conceptually (thinking about reader’s mind, not about the written content):

  • is designed specifically for public goods
  • here’s what public goods means
  • public goods are economically different and have unique challenges
  • Hence, crowdmatching and so on
  • [some intuition pump to help make it click why crowdmatching fits the public-goods issues]

To state another way: I don’t think we want people to be scrutinizing the sensibility of crowdmatching until they have the public goods framing in their mind. We want them to get public goods at at least a rudimentary level (recognizing that the other sorts of goods are easier to fund, even if they each have their own challenges). That way, they are in that mindset, that thought process when they are imagining why crowdmatching might (or might not) work. We aren’t aiming to insist that crowdmatching is the perfect solution, we want simply that it’s clear what problem it is a proposed solution for. If people who understanding that are still skeptical, that skepticism is welcome and potentially constructive.

A goal of sorts is also to cut off the risk of anyone asking “why not accept non-public goods?”, and not only because they see that we happen to care about public goods but because they recognize that the public-goods-problem is the issue at hand and asking about non-public-goods is basically non-sequitur.

1 Appreciation

Here is my latest draft.
snowdrift about page 3rd draft.odt (22.3 KB)

Apologies that it took so long. I struggled with implementing a lot of the feedback (all of which I agree with principally) in a way that retained concision. And I’m still struggling in that regard with the first section (which is now focused on introducing public goods). @wolftune and I discussed above how best to implement the discussion in Framing idea for introducing newcomers to concept of public goods, and even the relatively stripped down outline I suggested then seems too wordy in practice. The draft I’m posting here is still pretty wordy, and I’m looking for feedback as far as where I should cut it down (if at all). My immediate leaning would be to either try to synthesize the NPR/public radio example down to an inevitably reductive, but concise, sentence or two; or perhaps I could just omit that example entirely, and replace it with a “for more complex examples click here” hyperlink.

I could probably also trim the first paragraph, but I want to avoid just dropping “non-exclusive” and “non-rivalrous” without explaining effectively what that means. Do you all think I need to include the more elaborate examples following: “Public goods are commodities or services that are non-exclusive, meaning freely available to all, and non-rivalrous, meaning they don’t diminish in supply when they’re used.”? Or is that sentence sufficient?

It’s hard because I do feel that all of the information in this section is useful, but I think as is it’s far too intimidating a block of text to greet people with, especially before we’ve even introduced crowdmatching.

As far as the other sections go I’m just looking for any general feedback, copy edits, suggestions, reactions, etc.

I haven’t made it to many co-working sessions lately, but I will aim to hang around after the meeting wednesday, and maybe also the thursday coworking if anyone wants to chat about it there.

2 Appreciations

I would define public goods right in the welcome sentence. So maybe:

Here you will find documentation for, a non-profit cooperative platform for funding public goods. That means freely-licensed works everyone can access, use, adapt, and share without limitations.

The writing is pretty good overall, but my point in the public-goods thread is describe from the get-go that “non-exclusive” refers not only to availability but also to adaptability and sharability.

I suggest we include right there the types-of-goods table higher up right away before the prose. Give people the clear image to start with and then explain it rather than the other way around.

I like a lot of the writing otherwise. I see room to edit, but I don’t want to get into the details right here. Let’s just do a formal live cowriting session where we take your excellent draft and revise it with live conversation, editing as we discuss.

One main point: let’s take the more thorough discussion of public goods (with the examples and so on) and move it to a separate article. Thus, we can keep the key points on the basic welcome article and link to the longer discussion article. The longer article can discuss further examples; we won’t feel so worried about concision when it’s a dedicated article.

I’d like to also plan out how this fits in a rewrite of the existing wiki content, updating it with our more mature perspectives. I constantly see cases where people are talking about the keys to solving almost all the big challenges these days involve coordination, public buy-in, and changes to basic political and economic power structures. And as simple as it is, crowdmatching and public-goods in general address a huge portion of these things, and we can and should express both the modest simplicity of what we’re doing but also the fundamental potential and significance of it.

Let’s see about finding even a 2-3 hour block of time we can cowork on taking this to publication and so on.

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