why are you moving away? what about the donation site?

i initially shared the reasoning as to why we were moving away in april 2021, when i first launched mimu.bot/donate. this page will go in-depth with the reasoning, and our plans going forward ~

What's happening to the donation site?

Whilst the donation site was good, it was built upon PayPal Checkout - which had its limitations in terms of development tools; and was built on web, meaning that it was always going to be an additional platform for developers to worry about. Above all, our users had expressed that the site was sometimes unreliable and that PayPal was not an option for them in their country.

As a result, we're moving to Stripe: whilst it takes slightly more fees, it handles majority of our checkout issues, provides us with in-built support for Apple Pay, Google Pay, and potentially other payment providers as they expand in the future. The development experience is also drastically simpler, making it way easier for me as a developer to provide a cleaner checkout experience within Discord.

Some may know that Discord actually recently launched App Monetization and it's in an early beta (ish) stage. However, it's been over a year since they launched server monetization and that doesn't support Canada yet, so I'm unoptimistic that it'll ever be supported. In addition, the fee that Google Play and App Store takes for mobile payments is 30%, meaning that I'll have to suffer from a lot of additional fees.

There's nothing stopping me from integrating some of them in the future with the Discord in-app monetization as well, so if they ever do support Canada, I can reconsider it. But I didn't wanna pause development on this as Discord was unable to provide additional context on support for Canada.

Ok, so will the donation site still be around?

For now, our tentative plan is to keep the donation site as a backup option. The one thing that the donation site supports is one-time payments for PayPal balance - PayPal accounts that only have balance without a credit card attached. That's something that Stripe unfortunately doesn't support. So our plan is to keep it.

The Manage page will also stay for those who want a full overview of their keys. We're currently unsure if we'll update or maintain it - please stay tuned.

So...why did you move away from Patreon?

I explained this a little in April 2021 when I first worked on the Donation Site, but I wanted to rearticulate my thoughts since it's been almost 3 years.

To be honest, there are quite a few reasons, which I'll elaborate again below.

An abandoned API :(

Starting with the less obvious: whilst Patreon has been a wonderful startup platform at the beginning, allowing me to quickly setup and gain monetary support to pay for the evergrowing fees in Mimu since over a year ago, it is simply not made for you to sell features, services, or products on.

Patreon is designed for, lets say, a content creator from YouTube to quickly gather support and is a really nice platform for those creators to communicate with their users. It's also a great place for one to quickly set up simple tiers and show behind the scenes footage. However, it falls flat when it comes to any form of integration.

Whilst yes - in its core - Premium or other perks and features are still a donation, Patreon just doesn't provide sufficiently maintained tools for me to easily automate the process of rewarding you. As the number of supporters increased from one to hundreds, the automation I had put together felt more and more like a cardboard box that was drenched, and I was trying to use tape to stick it back together every time something went wrong.

The reason is because Patreon has stopped working on these integrations since late 2019, and completely stopped all support for it in 2020. As they release more features, their API has become more and more unstable, and I'm not even able to use those features as I'm scared my poorly put-together integration would cause issues. In attempt to make this developer experience a less painful one, I even put together a small package allowing others to build upon it.

This caused a lot of issues: keys are never instantly generated, taking anywhere from 10 minutes to even a week at some times. The API documentation is mixed between the two versions they use, and fetching a singular patron's information is near-to impossible without fetching ALL patrons' information; even figuring out someone just paid or not is incredibly challenging. And understandably so - to be honest - Patreon is trying to attract content creators, and not services, and have proved that as they increase their time working on a myriad of other stuff instead of their API.

30-40% in Fees

On top of that, the payment model of Patreon is incredibly expensive for what it provided. Patreon is known to stack fees heavily already, but for small transactions, it suffers even more. To give you some more insight of how much it actually costs, the USD$1 Pet Caretaker tier ends up being around USD$0.50 by the time it arrives to me. This includes the payment provider fee (2.9% + $0.30), the Patreon fee (8%), and then also the payout fee (around 4.9% since I'm not in the US).

If you're paying in another currency, Patreon takes even more: one of my donators from europe paid €29.40 for the USD$25 my own mimu tier. That's literally over USD$30. However, I only receive around USD$22 even though the user paid USD$32.

Accounts and Integration with Discord

Another problem with Patreon is that their integration for roles are problematic, and doesn't innately require accounts to be associated with a Discord account. As someone who is selling a service/product on Discord, it's vital for all users who are paying to be associated with a Discord account. However, 9 times of 10 we have many patrons not getting their roles and perks properly as a result of the Patreon bot being broken, or just not knowing how to connect their account. Getting your rewards shouldn't feel like quantum mathematics: it should be smooth and fast.

Limited payment methods and Subscriptions

Finally, due to the subscription model of this platform, Patreon has huge restrictions. Consider this: whilst Patreon does, on paper, support PayPal and credit cards; but PayPal support is actually non-inclusive because in order to pay for a subscription on PayPal, you have to have a credit or debit card linked to it. This means you can't pay a 1-time payment with existing PayPal balance without a credit / debit card linked for a mimu key. With the new system, we can not only support Card (credit and debit): we're also immediately supporting Apple Pay, Link, and Google Pay - and we'll support more in the future. Those who want to pay with PayPal balance (that have no credit/debit card associated) can still do so in the Donate page.

There's also the nature of a subscription that doesn't sit that well with me as a human being; whilst I do appreciate the amount of people willing to subscribe to Mimu and continually pay, in essence, a lot of subscriptions including Patreon has a nature of the user forgetting that they subscribed / forgetting to cancel their subscription. I want to be able to give the option of both either a one time payment, or an autorenewing subscription, should you decide that it's better for you.

Do you think Patreon is bad then?

With all that said, I still hold the view that Patreon serves as an incredibly potent platform... for its intended audience. It provides you with a suite of tools and integrations and robust support for specifically content creators or otherwise, and it has brought significant positive shifts since its launch over a decade ago towards the content creation industry. Its low effort onboarding was why I joined in the first place and I'm grateful for everything it brought me these past few years as long as I have, and I realize that Mimu's growth to the extent it has would have been unattainable without this platform allowing me to accept your generous contributions.

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