Shirts, Logos, Domains, Referrals... and what's been hiding in the minutiae, until now

All,

Today is a pretty big day for us - for James (@Aibohphobia), John (@confusis) and I, for SFF Network and SFF Forum... This moment has been one that I personally have been looking forward to for a good while. So let's get to it.

1. You asked, and we delivered... SFF Forum swag is now available for a limited time! It's been requested before, it's been suggested in our last request for comment, and it's now live: we've just launched a two-week campaign on Teespring where anyone and everyone can purchase stickers, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and hoodies. We've gone with reasonable, no-nonsense pricing for all of the items, and we've used Teespring in order to provide the most reasonable international shipping rates that we can find. There's been a lot of thought expended on our part in order to provide the sorts of items and price points that will be of interest and financial access for everyone, and if we haven't completely nailed that balance, I think we've come pretty close.



To be completely transparent: although swag sales generally aren't terribly strong revenue-drivers, we do generate some income from the sale of each item, and these proceeds will go towards our operational costs, our constant forum enhancements, and - perhaps most notably - to our reporting for SFF Network, which we hope to bring directly to Computex this year. Mostly, though, we just wanted some cool swag - and to provide the same to all of you!

2. We have a refreshed logo for SFF Network and SFF Forum. You may have noticed an early incarnation of this in our last announcement post, as Drew (@3lfk1ng) wore a shirt during his reporting at CES that bore the design, but we're finally rolling it out to our respective sites.





Normally, this is the point where I would wax poetic over the change and spend three or four paragraphs explaining why it does a 36% better job of 'subliminally messaging the brand ethos to the target demographics essential to SFF Network's KPIs'... but suffice it to say that it's a refresh that we made because we just think it feels better - and maybe because it will play well with intended enhancements and design updates planned for later in the year. Maybe. We'll see...

3. We have a new TLD you can use to access SFF Network and SFF Forum. We're still waiting for a certain TLD to drop so that we can have a consistent and canonical URL scheme across all of our sites, but starting today we're happy to share that the suitably compact sff.network URL will now work for accessing the news site. Likewise, sff.network/forum will now direct you to the right place as well. Just note that this is live as of today, literally - so it may take a day or two of DNS propagation and the like for it to work properly where you're located.

4. We are introducing a new policy regarding referral links on the forum. It's been called to our attention on multiple occasions that some users have been using referral links when discussing products or services on the forum. In general, these take the form of links to online marketplaces that have an associate or referral ID appended to the URL, such that the person who is associated with that ID is compensated whenever a user purchases items though that link. Although we don't feel that there have been any brazen examples of unethical conduct as a result of the use of these referral links, we have ultimately decided that the best course of action is to ban use of these links moving forward. Simply put, this is meant to be a straightforward policy enhancement that we think is the right choice to make for the community, with respect to ensuring that financial incentives don't induce biased discourse.

We'll have a bit more to share and to discuss with respect to referral links more generally, but for now we ask that everyone recognize this new rule and refrain from posting referral links moving forward.

5. And one more thing... But first, a story.

---

As a matter of context, I want to share an anecdote about why James, John and I came together a few years ago to create SFF Forum, SFF Network, and (later on) Low Volume - which is that, while we are all indeed very interested in SFF, we are enthusiasts at our heart. Of SFF, among other things, sure - but the defining characteristic that became the impetus to build what we did was the passion and care behind our interest in SFF.

The thing is, we're hardly unique in this. Almost everyone would describe themselves as an enthusiast of some sort, if not of several things at once. Further, what we're enthusiasts for will often change over the course of our lives. Humans live to find joy and enthusiasm in the things we do - and the only real point of differentiation between us is what specifically ignites that enthusiasm to begin with, in that moment.

We couldn't be prouder of what our work in the SFF space has become, and we're tremendously excited to see where all of that goes. But we don't just want to succeed in the enthusiast SFF space. We want to succeed in the enthusiast space, period. We want to make possible the awesome content and community we have, in all areas of life. We want to rise above the vitriol that plagues places like Reddit, the corruption that takes down places like Gawker, and the difficulty of building a sustainable website that brings places like SFFReview to decay and death.

We want to make a new world, a new constellation of enthusiast publications and communities, possible. To bring the unexpected success we've had here, and make it systematically accessible to a growing list of enthusiasts and communities.



This is why I couldn't be more excited to reveal Minutiae's final form, for the first time. But rather than repeat myself, I'll just quote the mission statement we have on our website for Minutiae to explain what this is all about:
We're not a nameless enterprise or a conglomerate. We're a collection of enthusiasts, utilizing our skill and enthusiasm to support the communities and crafts we care about most. In the overwhelming noise of the information age, we aim to be the bastion of insight and beauty that is hidden in the minutiae.

We created Minutiae because we know that everyone has a passion, and because we believe that those passions are a part of what make us human. We'll let the big guys shovel the generic junk — coated with a thick veneer of tasteless advertising — that a majority of participants in their consumer satisfaction surveys find passable. In the meantime, we'll be focused on the things that people care about; the content that stays on people's minds, inspires, and excites; the sort of stuff that teaches us as much about ourselves as it does the amazing worlds and industries around us.

We don't want our sites to be the ones you skim, we want them to be the ones you dive into. We don't want to 'innovate' by improving our click-through rate another 7%, we want to innovate by making whole new categories of websites and communities possible. And we don't want to churn out dumb-downed content to make you feel smart, we want to show you how much there really is out there, ready to learn and discover, if you know where to find it.

Maybe we're crazy to want this. But we think everyone else is crazy not to.

So what does this mean?
  • SFF Network, SFF Forum, SFF Wiki, and Low Volume will move forward the same as before. We love all of these projects and won't invest an ounce less effort into any of them. If anything, we're hoping to do even more, since we're aiming to increase revenues such that we can fund the sorts of enhancements and content that have been out of reach for us up to this point.
  • Minutiae will begin to add to its portfolio of curated publications and communities starting in 2017. Some of these will be bespoke projects created within Minutiae from the start, and some will be existing properties that will be brought into the Minutiae fold. Some will be related to SFF and technology, and some will not.
  • Minutiae - and thus SFF Network, SFF Forum and Low Volume by proxy - will begin working with sponsors directly in order to provide a user-positive, ethical, and productive means of helping to finance operations and content. As the anointed chief of revenue, I will be the sole individual responsible for conducting this work.
  • As a consequence of this, I will no longer be responsible for editorial content on SFF Network. I have a few items in the pipeline that will be published, but once those are complete I will let our kickass team take over, and focus wholly on working with sponsors and doing everything I can to execute on our stated mission. This will ensure that our content and revenue functions are completely separate - a crucial consideration in order for us to be able to maintain our editorial and ethical integrity.
  • Finally, speaking of ethical integrity - all sites within Minutiae will be held to a universal standard of conduct, effective immediately, which you can read here. This is a living document, and will likely be updated over time, but all current and new sites within the Minutiae portfolio will be expected to comply with these obligations without exception.
Whew... that's a lot to unpack! We'll obviously have more to come in this area moving forward, but for now that captures the gist of what we have going on, and what we're looking forward to.

---

As always, we're appreciative of any and all thoughts and feedback! We've got a lot in flight presently, and even more in the pipeline, but we'd love to engage in a commensurate amount of discussion with the community about it.

Best,

-Joshua
 

LocoMoto

DEVOURER OF BAKED POTATOES
Jul 19, 2015
287
334
Seems like an exciting future for all of us here, both the big guys and us minions! :D
Proud of y'all and the effort you put in!

Also, no polo shirts! :'( :( )': It's alright though, more disappointed by how Teesprings sets out the shipping cost making cheap me scream for help imagining it all adding up sticker by sticker by sticker... but other me screaming merch, merch... MERCH! XDXDXD
 
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Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
746
655
I am not a fan of the referral policy, only because I feel like it is lost monetization.. for the site. There are several XenForo add-ons that will automatically replace normal Amazon links with referral links (and remove the links of other referrers) and it would painless and lucrative for the site to implement this as a way of funding the site. It takes no money from members. I understand you all are (overly in my opinion :V) concerned with maintaining ethical practices, but there are some easy remedies to mitigate concerns: No amazon referral links in article content, if you feel the need to go further, then all SFFN Staff should use PCPartPicker links to components. I don't think that is necessary as long as they avoid using referral links in an official capacity (nothing wrong with linking to Amazon products used in a build that they personally paid for, etc). Many of the sales Amazon gets are inspired by content on the site (at least in my case) so why not have the site benefit? Feel free to conduct a poll, but I think the vast majority of members would not mind.

I'm excited about the sponsors, though -- interesting to see who I should give my business to!
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
3,241
2,355
freilite.com
Finally, speaking of ethical integrity - all sites within Minutiae will be held to a universal standard of conduct, effective immediately, which you can read here. This is a living document, and will likely be updated over time, but all current and new sites within the Minutiae portfolio will be expected to comply with these obligations without exception.

I took the liberty of archiving the whole Minutiae page here: https://web.archive.org/web/20170212093808/https://minutiae.media/

That way, if someone accuses you of silently changing your code of ethics, you can prove them wrong. I'm really glad that you're doing this, media today needs transparency and I hope you'll just be the first of many media companies to go this way.

Minutiae will begin to add to its portfolio of curated publications and communities starting in 2017. Some of these will be bespoke projects created within Minutiae from the start, and some will be existing properties that will be brought into the Minutiae fold. Some will be related to SFF and technology, and some will not.

Oh man I'm very excited about that. Best of luck!
 
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Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Silver Supporter
Jun 12, 2015
1,866
4,431
www.nfc-systems.com
Yay! SFF SWAG! I purchased some and can't wait to wear it to shows and on my videos!

Now the new policy on referrals...

I feel this was directed at me, as when I am asked to explain what hardware I used, and where I bought it, I use referral links if applicable. I spend an enormous amount of time and money answering questions and purchasing new things to try out for customers and the SFF community alike, and I find it a little upsetting to have my integrity called into question over the $20 I have earned here over 2016.

Regardless if it was directed at me or not, I still feel the same way. Using referal links does not have anything to do with integrity. Having poor integrity means you will abuse referral links. I have NEVER nor ever will I steer users toward a product I think is bad because it is available on Amazon. Sometimes I list the product on my Youtube site AFTER I tell them I think it is bad, because users still want it for their own personal reasons (Engine 27)

Whatever you guys decide, I will be respectful of. This is your house, but my home. I appreciate your commitment to ethics, journalistic quality, good housekeeping, and your TREMENDOUS contribution of time to answering questions and contributing directly to the SFF community. But please consider addressing referal link abuse on an individual basis. I strongly (but politely) am against it.

Thank you for everything you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace
 
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PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
Original poster
SFFLAB
Chimera Industries
Moderator
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
1,049
1,960
I feel this was directed at me, as when I am asked to explain what hardware I used, and where I bought it, I use referral links if applicable. I spend an enormous amount of time and money answering questions and purchasing new things to try out for customers and the SFF community alike, and I find it a little upsetting to have my integrity called into question over the $20 I have earned here over 2016.

It wasn't targeted at anyone, to be clear - we've received multiple reports of multiple users posting referral links. Further, we haven't seen any posts that have yet crossed a boundary in our viewpoint - we're just concerned that (if left unregulated) they could, and we'd struggle to moderate in response since it is significant manual effort to inspect every link to every website and determine if an affiliate link was used that is 'inappropriate' in some way.

Regardless if it was directed at me or not, I still feel the same way. Using referal links does not have anything to do with integrity. Having poor integrity means you will abuse referral links. I have NEVER nor ever will I steer users toward a product I think is bad because it is available on Amazon. Sometimes I list the product on my Youtube site AFTER I tell them I think it is bad, because users still want it for their own personal reasons (Engine 27)

The issue with this is that it essentially has to be taken on faith. We don't have a way to reliably (let alone systematically) distinguish abuse from non-abuse. For example, if someone was hyper-active on the forum, made recommendations whenever remotely possible, and exclusively used referral links for those recommendations - would that be considered abusive? How would we know? On the one hand, they're helping many users by providing guidance and input, but on the other hand they could simply be looking for every opportunity to provide half-hearted recommendations that will generate profit. We think that the latter is a very dangerous prospect to the community, but it's challenging from our end to investigate and deduce motive. Perhaps impossible, even.

Whatever you guys decide, I will be respectful of. This is your house, but my home. I appreciate your commitment to ethics, journalistic quality, good housekeeping, and your TREMENDOUS contribution of time to answering questions and contributing directly to the SFF community. But please consider addressing referal link abuse on an individual basis. I strongly (but politely) am against it.

We're (and I am) super-appreciative of this feedback. We will have more to say, and more discussion on this topic, in the future, so please look for that and participate. We really want to get this right.
 
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Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
746
655
Yay! SFF SWAG! I purchased some and can't wait to wear it to shows and on my videos!

Now the new policy on referrals...

I feel this was directed at me, as when I am asked to explain what hardware I used, and where I bought it, I use referral links if applicable. I spend an enormous amount of time and money answering questions and purchasing new things to try out for customers and the SFF community alike, and I find it a little upsetting to have my integrity called into question over the $20 I have earned here over 2016.

Regardless if it was directed at me or not, I still feel the same way. Using referal links does not have anything to do with integrity. Having poor integrity means you will abuse referral links. I have NEVER nor ever will I steer users toward a product I think is bad because it is available on Amazon. Sometimes I list the product on my Youtube site AFTER I tell them I think it is bad, because users still want it for their own personal reasons (Engine 27)

Whatever you guys decide, I will be respectful of. This is your house, but my home. I appreciate your commitment to ethics, journalistic quality, good housekeeping, and your TREMENDOUS contribution of time to answering questions and contributing directly to the SFF community. But please consider addressing referal link abuse on an individual basis. I strongly (but politely) am against it.

Thank you for everything you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace

@Josh | NFC I think they were specifically referring to this incident https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/portable-gaming-cinema-display.392/page-2#post-31997 You are awesome, btw, and I don't think anyone questions your integrity (and if they do, they can pound sand).

Edit: Damn, sniped
 
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apresmimu

What's an ITX?
Jan 21, 2017
1
2
Congrats! I constantly visit and browse this site in my free time. It has brought me many valuable hours of information and enjoyment. I will show some love via swag order. And soon, finally, I will build my longtime-in-progress dream mini-beast portable 4K workstation (I'm a film colorist and editor by trade). The feedback here is top notch. I'm really excited and looking forward to diving into the spec and design process with everyone here who contributes. I appreciate every bit of it and wanted to give you a shout out of support. btw, First reply from a long time lurker here.
 

Curiosity

SFF>Speed
Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2016
620
668
love the new logo, and I'm super excited about the swag!
I can't wait to sit myself in a big aisle row at quakecon this year and have the "my PC is smaller than yours" part of the shirt peeking over the back of the chair :^)
and stickers! I love stickers!
 

Ankacat

Trash Compacter
Silver Supporter
Mar 11, 2016
41
107
Happy to report that the small shirt/hoodie fit a small form factor human (<5'2" / 1.58m in height) just right; the size reference chart had me worried about the potato sack effect. :thumb: