Friday, August 19, 2011

and so to lead by example, I had to get out before I was trampled

There's now a TARDIS corset in the world. Make your own jokes.

And what do you get when you cross a fetish convention with superhero costumes? A whole lot of bodypaint. And bodies painted. (Pictures likely NSFW.)

More from the Escapist!

(I don't know if I'll get bored eventually. At this writing there are 94 pages in the thread, and I'm on page 22.

(...Yeah.)

B_Diddy_M: Most people seem to be missing that The Escapist was supposed to pay Extra Credits to do the show. The Escapist wanted them to take money from the donations to fund the show- which is something The Escapist is supposed pay for. Sure, The Escapist community donated the money but we didn't do it for The Escapist; We did it for EC. The Escapist was going to use charity money that was over the limit to stall having to pay for the show since they are strapped for cash.

I know a lot of the people who donated were donating solely for the Surgery. They gave money to make sure it happened- after that, no one thought 'Hey! I want the money you didn't use on the surgery back' because that is not how DONATING to a charity works.

OT: I find it odd that the Escapist asked for 9.5k for the shirts and such when they still needed to pay Extra Credits nearly 20k for the episodes. I also find it odd that, according to Extra Credits, they asked for 75% of the donations. By what the escapist said they asked for, it is much less than 75% but is that really all they asked for? BOTH sides can't be right here unless there was some huge miscommunication.


pyrosaw: I am awestruck. Truly awestruck. I mean I know this site needs to make profit, but jeez. I mean, I am majorly disappointed. I thought you were better than this. I truly did.

Frozengale: It sounds like to me that The Escapist needs to do a bit of downsizing. Trim the fat, get rid of the features that are the least popular. I mean seriously we still have Jim even though more then half the site doesn't like him.... but we aren't paying Extra Credits when almost EVERYONE likes them?

Choppaduel: So that means the overhead on t-shirts is about 75% of $98,628 (at time of checking) thats how much the rockethub thing is worth. Which is ridiculous. Ur telling me that the escapist invested at least ~74K in the rocket hub thing? BULLSHIT. All that money was raised for Allison's arm; any extra doesn't simply belong to the Escapist. Its charity money and any left over MUST go to another charity.

Erana: I don't know anyone who makes Extra Credits.
But I have gotten a chance to get acquainted with some of the Escapist staff.
They work hard, and money is really damn tight.
Knowing that at least some of the staff aren't money-snatching bureaucratic goblins, the Escapist's perspective honestly sounds more believable to me.

Its no secret that the Escapist has had to tighten the belt to a painful degree; Extra Credits wasn't the only people that they've been had slack with payments for.

The thing is, at this point, this is the only way the Escapist has been able to operate because of finances. Yes, its sad to see the Escapist in this state, but these slow payments are at least followed up by excellent publicity for the authors.

Themis Group isn't getting any richer, and its not like they throw money around willy-nilly, so its either this sticky financial situation, or no Escapist whatsoever.

Take your pick.


And okay, fine, inserting a comment from me for this one--yeah, I don't want to see the Escapist fold either, but seriously, the alternative is all their artists work for free, OR there's no Escapist? Those are your two choices?

You should probably go into rehab for that slight drug addiction problem, Erana, because you are hiiiiigh.

Mr Thin: I can't see anywhere in The Escapist's response that they considered the extra money earned through the donations as payment of their debt. They don't explicitly deny it, either, but it seems like an absurd thing to assume. If this turns out to be the case, however, The Escapist is just plain wrong in that regard. They owe what they owe, regardless of how much money the RocketHub donations pulled in.

SpaceGhost2K, some hours later: The Escapist made a mis-step with the Yahtzee PAX Party thing, and offered an explanation that involved a shortage of funds..
The Escapist made a mis-step with the Extra Credits situation, which started with the single issue of not paying them, and which blew up into a disagreement over who had the rights to the fundraising money.
Numerous contributors to the site defended Extra Credits against the allegations made by The Escapist, vouching for the fact that they, too, have not been paid in a timely manner for their content (if they've been paid at all.)

I think that all sides have said enough to come to a conclusion, and I think that anyone who is unable to choose sides with this much information should not get in front of me at a drive-thru. Especially not Starbucks.


Judgement101: Yeah the 75% thing seems a little.....odd. I'm hoping there was a typo somewhere and it was supposed ot be 7.5% but thats probably wishful thinking.

Avatar Roku: I can totally sympathize if the Escapist was having a hard time. However, if they were behind on payments for so many people, why the hell would they take on more shows? That's what really bothers me here. They should have been downsizing, trimming the fat so to speak, so they could maintain quality on the popular shows (ZP, Moviebob, EC, etc) and give what contributors they had the money they deserved. Taking on more shows, then proceeding to not pay anyone doesn't help anybody, least of all them.

Samurai Goomba, some hours later: Let's see...

-Threats of lawsuit
-Admitting they were eight months late in paying their debts like it's a positive thing
-Manipulative legalese wording
-Creative interpretation of what "saving extra credits" means (i.e. they interpret it as "make EC do more free work for us because fans donated money.")
-Claiming that they deserve CHARITY money donated by fans for EC, NOT the escapist
-Claims that grossly misrepresent EC's indie label setup (many here seem confused and don't realize James informed the public about his intentions almost immediately)
-Stating that charity money should take the place of a paycheck (probably not in that response, but they apparently did say it)

I read it before you posted it. It doesn't excuse their behavior.

Also yes, I believe some of those statements made by Alex may be either worded in a creative way or just plain false. The "apology" letter written about Seattle or Bust convinced me not to trust these sorts of letters from The Escapist. It was very misleading and manipulative in the extreme. I have no reason to expect better in this situation.


SpaceGhost2K again: If they paid EC for four shows, that's one month. That means they paid for the first month of shows, and nothing for ELEVEN MONTHS worth of shows since then.

When I hear "DON'T PAY ME YET", I think a few weeks, a couple of months - even six months. We're talking about a full YEAR of not paying ANYTHING and James coming up with the funds out-of-pocket to pay Allison, because this is her day job. At what point do you think it's inappropriate for James to say, that's enough, we need payment now?

Apparently, you think that's never, which is also apparently what The Escapist thought.


Ikyak1986: Well, I think it's quite clear what happened:

Escapist was using contracts, loopholes, legalese, and hazy wording to try and make a money-grab because their only source of revenue is from annoying ads that make the site take longer to load.

I don't really care how escapist tries to defend itself. The escapist doesn't make the content, and the way I *got* here was from watching Dan Floyd's "Hi, my name is *this*, and I'm talking about *these*". I came here for the Extra Credits show, and now that it's no longer here, I have no reason to stick around.

Rather than come to a reasonable, rational, sensible agreement, Escapist busted out lawyers and made a grab for the money donated for Allison's surgery!

You can't go lower than that.


Jumplion, some hours later: The Escapist has quite consistently picked up, then canceled several shows. On a reddit thread, the creator of Unforgotten Realms says that s/he never got payed by the Escapist and had to fight for the paycheck, of which s/he still hasn't gotten all of it. Lisa Foiles was dropped, Creature Caster Masters, ProGamer Gauntlet, some other random shows, picked up them dropped relatively quickly. Hell, didn't they just open a campaign to hire more news reporters? If they can barely pay their video contributors, why are they hiring more staff?

Ads are a big thing for the Escapist. There was a slight controversy with some Gaikai ads that literally took up half the screen, and apparently the Escapist were at the mercy of the ad agencies. Now, I don't really know how ad management works, but isn't it supposed to be that The Escapist has the ad space that the agencies so desperately want? Shouldn't they be at the mercy of the 'scapist? top that off with ads in the goddamn captchas, and the financial situation of the Escapist looks very bleak.


Kadashi on crack: Well, considering Extra Credits and Moviebob are the only reasons I even come here still, and the fact that no official in the Escapist team has made any kind of article about this...

*sigh* Escapist, I've seriously lost faith in you. I'll see how this goes, but don't expect pageviews from me.... Switching out my home page for a new one, and jeez... I hear this right as I'm thinking of purchasing a membership...


Akalabeth: At what point is James going to act like a professional and ask for the money he's due instead of working for free?

Saying I'm going to work for free is not professional.
Publicly broadcasting a private business disagreement to the entire world is most definitely not professional.


At this point I seriously started skimming, because there was an upsurge in just catty, bitchy posts with no real reason other than to stir mistrust on both sides--but I paused at this:

gmacarthur81: You all speak as though the donation period is over... THERE ARE STILL 19 DAYS LEFT.

The Rockethub donation page is still up.


Which...is true. They're still raising money. But now the money is in contention, and now I'm wondering if this entire situation is headed for the courts.

Istanbul: I was all set to take this with a grain of salt.

Then I read further on Twitter.

PEOPLE ARE COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK to say "Yeah, Escapist owes us money too". And the way they're doing it seems less like a feeding frenzy and more like people finally standing up and making their situations public.

If it was just Extra Credits, I could see this maybe being a big miscommunication...but with half a dozen other creators of content all giving the same story? Something's rotten in Denmark.

C'mon, Escapist. I'd grown to respect you. You still have the opportunity to make this right. Issue a public apology, rebuild the bridge if it isn't wholly burnt, and pay the people to whom you owe money. I know you can do this.


Bruden, in response to some of the insults and mud-slinging: Think of it this way, Never, Anywhere, EVER, was it stated as "Save Extra Creditz" until the letter from Alex. Prior to Alex's comment the drive was always "Save Allison's Arm" which is significantly easier to interpret.

And yes, people DID appreciate what he was doing with the extra money, because as early as 25k mark James was talking about what to do with the excess eventually settling on a not for profit indie games fund with the support of fans.

James was a bit sensationalist in his posts, but that comes from having a tiny twitter blurb to post in instead of a blog. Hard to explain things properly in 140 characters or less.


SpaceGhost2K again: How did James steal the money? James didn't keep any of the money from the fund raiser. Part went to Allison's arm. The rest will go toward the indie fund charity.

The only money James got out of the deal was the eleven months of back pay owed to him by TE, which he'd already spent out of pocket paying Allison's wages for the past year. HE got HIS money. That's all.

I will repeat this from earlier: James stated that the expected cost of the surgery was $15K to $20K.

Why did people continue to contribute the additional $80K to $85K above that, KNOWING it WASN'T going to go toward the surgery? Can those people REALLY make a case that the money is being misused if it didn't go to the surgery? the surgery is over, and people are STILL contributing.

I submit that it's because people believe EC will put it to good use. The definition of "good use" should NOT be "for continuing the production of the show." The Escapist is supposed to do that. That's their CONTRACTUAL responsibility. Just because a bunch of money is left over, unspent, doesn't give them the rights to decide it should go to pay THEIR bill.

It MIGHT have been their right, had they been current on their payments, their CONTRACTUAL responsibilities, but they weren't. The Escapist didn't fulfill their part of the contract (the payment part) but Extra Credits DID fulfill their part of a one-year contract, by providing one year of content. 48/52nds of that with no idea of if or when they might ever get paid.


rankfx: I have worked as head of accounts payable for years at my place of work and you never "don't pay people." It's one thing to let it slip behind for a couple of weeks if they're ok with it, but 7-8 months is a serious issue. Normally people are threatening legal action in half that time.

Why would Escapist think that such a long time without pay is ok? Why do they think that James would have a sense of humour about such a debt?

It's a shame, every single week it seems Extra Credits was the most popular content on the website and now it's gone. It's such a popular show with such a strong following, I can't imagine they'll be without a home for long. I like the free entertainment on Escapist and am grateful for it, but I don't think I'm the only one who will be following EC wherever they go.


Judgement101: The publisher club decreasing money isn't the issue. The issue is people using adblocker. In order to save 15 seconds they make the escapist lose money.

Interesting perspective. And a valid point.

Ipsen, some hours later: Sound input. And I do agree that a separate fund raiser for the indie publishing/donation organization would have been a more legit path.

But the question kind of remains; what was the Escapist doing beyond giving their permission for EC starting the fundraiser? I can understand EC needing permission for a fundraiser, but the incentive the fans had for donation were quite different than the 'free' t-shirts and pubclubsubs that were offered. Hell, I didn't consult the manual for fundraiser etiquette, but I think when you REALLY feel the need to donate, additional 'goodies' as bait are forgettable at best, and degrade the honesty of the fundraiser right after that.


And I pretty much agree with him. And that wraps up part XIII, I think.

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