A social media site focused on creators.
A social media site focused on creators.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, September 2 2019 5:00 AM UTC +00:00.
Waterfall.social is a blogging site that started as a one-man project, out of frustration with the state of other blogging sites. It quickly grew into a serious project after seeing how other sites treat artists, evolving into an (almost!) feature complete blogging site, focusing on artists. Today, almost 9 months after launch, we have just shy of 30,000 users, as well as five staff members- still just one developer, but three community mods and some additional infrastructure help keep the site running smooth, even as it grows to three-hundred times the size that was ever expected of it!
We're not fond of the idea of charging for access to a website where you're the content producer, and as such, anyone and everyone can sign up to Waterfall for free. While we are adding paid subscription plans soon, we believe the extra benefits - especially for artists - are well worth the money.
Nine months is a long time for a site to be in beta, and we think it's time to stop being conservative and move beyond that. To do this, we're rewriting the site from scratch (don't worry - everything existing will still be there) which is the perfect time to finally address the most common request we've had, and the goal of this campaign - to finally create an app!
Site & Features
Waterfall is mostly feature complete (albeit with a few tiny bugs), but with one or two things coming very soon - most likely, while the Kickstarter is still running! Here's the core points.
- Sideblogs - Completely independent from each other. Follow different people on each one, keep separate like lists, and send asks from them!
- Do Not Reblog - Don't want something shared around? Tag it as #dnr, you're sorted!
- Art Posts - A post type specifically for art, containing built in anti-theft features!
- Dashboard skins - Don't like the soothing default colour theme? Pick a different one. Got nostalgic? Hellsite Traditional has you covered. Want something lighter? Light theme. More on the way, covering every colour you could think of!
- Blocking - The blocking and blacklist system is being constantly iterated on to fix holes as they're found!
- Manual report reviews - No final action on reports is automated; if stuff is removed there's a reason for it - and that reason won't be a bot thought sand dunes were something else.
And coming in the next update...
- Commission Marketplace - A safe way for artists to find customers, communicate, and not worry about being scammed.
- Frequently Used Images - Use something a lot? Character sprites on an RP blog perhaps? No need to upload it every time, it'll be a simple click in your editor.
- Pools - Into a topic? Follow the topic rather than all the blogs posting about it!
- Polls - No need for strawpoll anymore, ask your followers directly!
- Blog Themes - In private beta already! Importing a Tumblr theme should take no more than 3 hours.
- Redesigned default theme - To make things prettier.
- Sponsors - Sponsor your favourite artists and get access to private posts!
There's also a handful of paid subscription tiers - Freshwater, Groundwater, and Springwater aimed at improving the core experience. Freshwater gives double upload sizes, Groundwater grants even higher upload sizes and the ability to view videos in the original quality, and Springwater is geared at making creator's lives easier with advanced blog and post analytics so you can figure out how well your stuff is doing.
Budget, Goals, and Cost Breakdown
There are currently two stretch goals in mind, with some kept hidden back for if the Kickstarter is wildly successful. A cost breakdown is below for the base funding and first two stretch goals. As a note: Kickstarter takes 5%, and Stripe takes a fee of 3% + 20p on each transaction. For the sake of mathematical convenience, we've combined these and rounded up to a 9% fee. For each tier, leftover money will be used to help ease the tax burden of the campaign.
Where "Maintenance + Pay" is listed, this is the portion of the tier that goes towards paying staff for time spent working on that instead of other projects.
BASE FUNDING - £2,000
This is the basic tier of funding we need to get the gear we need to develop an app for both iOS and Android. It covers getting a relatively recent iMac to make sure we don't need to buy another one for a few years, paying Apple's Developer License fees, as well as getting a few phones to test on.
STRETCH GOAL 1 - £5,000
At this funding level, we'll be able to almost immediately roll out Instant Messaging. The costs at this tier are related to building a dedicated server to handle chats, and covering staff costs for time spent working on it.
STRETCH GOAL 2 - £10,000
Themes will be rolled out as soon as practicably possible. The costs here include purchasing extra storage to store the theme codes and assets, as well as pay for staff. At this tier, we'll also create a few themes rather than just a default one and leaving you guys to it.
The Future, and Waterfall's Business Plan
Waterfall is currently undergoing an entire rewrite from scratch while the Kickstarter runs. The aim here is to fix the scalability issues in some parts of the code, as well as the last few bugs that people have reported. Once this is done, work can start on the app, however there's a few other roadblocks to consider which will be discussed in the section below. But assuming all goes well, here's what we'd like to do in future!
In the short term, we'd like to continue working with artists to develop the platform and commission marketplace to be something useful for any artist of any skill level. The integration of a Sponsors system - allowing people to set up recurring donations to artists, and allow the artists to post scheduled pieces to both backers and the public (or even never making it public at all) will launch Waterfall into being the premier platform for creators of all kinds. In addition, expanding the tiers system to bring more features to all users, paid and otherwise, is something we're committed to.
A common request for the Commission marketplace is the ability to sell physical items. A long term goal, after the app is finished, will be to arrange for manufacturing and shipping deals on prints, key-chains, and other common items. For custom one-offs, such as knitting or crochet, integrating shipping into the system will enable this to finally be a reality. Waterfall outright rejects the idea of advertisements or external investors, believing they're an outdated way of making money online, and the only way to make it otherwise would be disguising ads as user posts - something that's clearly unethical. As such, designing and expanding on the systems for creators is our top priority. Once this is completed, we intend to start looking at expanding outwards, and fully embracing creators of all kinds.
Q. Why are you asking for so much less than other alternatives did in their fundraisers?
A. In short, rather than just having an idea, we also have the talent, knowledge, and ability in-house rather than having to rely on paid external help. This is also why our development has been so rapid compared to alternatives - we don't need to wait until we have money to pay someone; we can do it ourselves.
Q. What happens if the base funding goal isn't met?
A. The apps will still happen, but will take significantly longer as we'll need to earn the money to get the equipment we need.
Q. What if a stretch goal isn't met?
A. Those will still happen, just slower - the code will be picked away at as time allows, but no time will be explicitly dedicated to them. Additionally, cash to get the technical implementations sorted will need to be earnt.
Q. If Waterfall is free, why should I fund you?
A. To support the site! While we're quite comfortable hosting as we are now, in order to expand and add more features, we need a cash injection. That's what this fundraiser is for. Additionally, you'll be getting the tier subscriptions at a slight discount compared to what will be available on the site normally, and the backer exclusive dashboard skins are a one-off - they'll never be available again!
Have a question not covered here? Join the Discord and ask!
Risks and challenges
The risks Waterfall faces are as follows.
Waterfall accepts payments and has user accounts, so security is a priority. As we outsource payment processing to Stripe, and complies with EU regulations in its payment processing. As we use Stripe, Waterfall doesn't need to store any payment information itself, and we follow best practices for storing sensitive information such as passwords. Despite this, at first opportunity following the launch of the rewrite, a member of staff will undertake OSCP training, enabling them to find and expose security vulnerabilities in the site to fix them before they become an issue.
As Waterfall doesn't rent servers, instead preferring to use wholly owned servers, costs of expanding capacity are high. This is already being mitigated in the rewrite to enable temporary cloud servers to take over some work until permanent solutions can be sought. In cases where hosting on premises is no longer sustainable, the first port of call will be seeing if we can move to a premises where it is an option. Failing that; we'll go with co-location so that we have full control over security of the servers. Reverting to cloud based servers where we risk losing control of data is considered a last resort.
With the app, there is a small chance that the software will be rejected from the App or Play Stores. In this case, we can distribute the Android build freely, but iDevice users may have more trouble using the app. This is mostly related to the possibility of NSFW content in the app. As we're opposed to instating a ban on this on Waterfall, care must be taken when designing the app to make sure that any adult users wanting to access the content explicitly opt in when on a mobile device.
For overall liability and stability, Waterfall is an operational division of The Overseer Project Ltd, and freely shares resources and talent to ensure the longevity of the site.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter