FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Or, at least, likely anticipated questions.
(LAQ of Lepers, by Lack of Lepers)
Are you a real company?
Yes. Our LLC is based in Alabama. Our Alabama Identify Number is 946-270. This is public record and can be verified by anyone.
What kind of hoops were jumped through to make this business?
The usual, standardized, and legal ones. We used Incfile's Premium package and recommend it highly to anyone who wants to start an LLC, especially if they've never done it before.
Why make Confic Magazine into a company?
(1) I’ve always wanted to start a business. Even if it goes nowhere. It has up to this point already been a very challenging, enlightening, and rewarding task. I don’t mind if it fails publicly. I understand that most businesses fail and that the odds are stacked against it. I don’t mind.
(2) I already do this for fun and for free, I’ve been doing it for fun and for free, and I like doing it for fun and for free. Over time, others have offered to help cover material in the space, because honestly, it’s too much for one person to do. But they have lives. They aren’t as available as I am and they have more competing interests. So we have a surplus of subject matter with a high demand and short supply for help. If I can find a way to enrich this group of people in the process, I will.
(3) This town deserves a better class of journalism, and we’re gonna give it to ‘em.
Why an LLC?
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is absolutely necessary for this idea. The purpose of an LLC is to make a separate legal entity from the owners themselves. This means a more honest handling of funds, as well as a shield for the founders’ personal lives from any legal battles. In other words, if someone sues me for something I write or for publishing what someone else writes in Confic Magazine, my home, car, belongings, etc won’t be at risk of being seized as a result. With an LLC, any lawsuit can only extend as far as the LLC’s own assets (which at the time of writing are zero!).
We are probably the most vocal and critical group of SCP and its members particularly. There’s a non-zero possibility of legal push back regarding coverage and information we publish. It at least has to be considered and prepared for. If SCP or any one person starts a legal battle with us, a donation page will be created specifically for that purpose and announced.
Additionally, Confic Magazine is intended to be for-profit. The success of the project should see individuals rewarded at the level of their long-term commitment and sustained effort. It is recommended via common business acumen to at some point of profit transition from an LLC into something like an S Corp, but we will cross that bridge if we ever come to it; a big if.
Is it ethically questionable to make a business out of containment fiction?
That’s a personal question with a subjective answer. Hundreds of people have already made businesses out of containment fiction, and usually its those who aren’t contributing to the actual site. Merch producers, YouTube channels, even individual authors by now; these are all businesses based on containment fiction.
So, whether you think it is unethical or not, this LLC really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking.
If it is ethically questionable, Confic Magazine, in my opinion at least, is less so than other examples, because it doesn’t take other people’s confic material, repeat it near-verbatim, and extract money off authors’ backs in the process. Instead of taking advantage of the fact that most confic articles are essentially held hostage by an accidental CC license with no powers to the authors for distribution rights, we platform original material that authors can call their own intellectual property, and exert some control and monetary claim over.
Also; if you do think this is unethical, it might surprise you to learn that the SCP Wiki has always been interested in making money, and would be a business by now if it could be.
Back in the day when the Staff of the SCP Wiki didn’t understand the CC license they had incidentally chosen for themselves, they tried to make an LLC, a non-profit organization, a Site Store, and they attempted incorporation (Inc) numerous times. Even Dr. Gears advocated for it. In fact, when it seemed as though they would be moving to their own site via Project Foundation, Staff drafted new rules and terms of service where all SCP articles would be the Wiki’s exclusive intellectual property. In these terms, individual authors weren’t allowed to make any money. (Sources: 1, 2)
But attempting to turn the thoroughly-CC project into a business was like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. The stark reality of that CC license, a lack of good organization and planning, prohibitive up-front costs, and liability concerns soon made the prospect of turning the SCP Wiki into a corporation a very gloomy one. They tried to change their CC license several times because they didn’t like it. When Staff finally understood what their CC license meant, they gave up. Incorporation was abandoned as being too much effort for not enough gain. It’s safe to say that if it weren’t for the limitations of the CC license that captured too much site material by the time the Staff understood it, they would have made a full-fledged company out of SCP a long, long time ago. The only reason The SCP Foundation LLC or SCP Foundation Inc don’t exist right now is because of the zero-day CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Talk about some fridge horror.
We have SCP’s lead & example to thank and learn from here at Confic Magazine, and have an established, educated vision for ourselves from the outset.
Doesn’t money, as Dr. Gears said, make everything “sticky”?
Absolutely. But people deserve to get paid for good work. Works of art deserve payment. Confic is well past this point in its literary maturity and has earned the distinction of being a compensation-worthy hobby. The best authors aren’t just hobbyists, they are artists; legitimate writers with legitimate intellectual property, and having the option to be legitimately paid.
Also, one of the goals of the magazine is to help turn the demographic of containment fiction genre away from primarily 15–19 year olds who are mainly interested in YouTube rehashes of common-denominator & pedestrian site material. If we expect containment fiction to ever be something more than just a hobby for teenage consumption, money will be a crucial and healthy component of its arrival into that maturity.
But doesn’t money ruin the innocence of the project? Weren’t people helping with this magazine because they just wanted to? Haven’t you ruined that by offering money to people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested?
Would you deny a poet money for their work because you think they should be writing only as a hobby? Does a poet who gets paid for their works make them less of a poet? Then why would you have any other expectations for containment fiction and its authors? Do you think a piece of containment fiction is less art than, say, a haiku? I believe confic is as legitimate of a medium of writing fiction as any other; both works and journalistic coverage of the space deserve to earn the writers a living from it, if they want, and if they can make it happen.
I hope no innocence has been lost, and I don’t think it has. All contributors so far have been offered payment; it has been an option for themselves or for others. Authors are able to deny the payment if they want, and they can write purely out of a desire to help if they feel more comfortable with that.
Part of this is that I don’t expect anyone to match my enthusiasm and production for free. It’s reasonable for others to only be interested or productive with the monetary incentive. There is a lot of talent out there that I am looking to attract.
Didn’t Confic Magazine just post an article about how enterprise has been steadily encroaching on the SCP Wiki and that is a bad thing? How is this not hypocritical?
Yes. But this isn’t the SCP Wiki.
Opinions on Confic Magazine aren’t necessarily mine. The point isn’t to be a mouthpiece for my personal beliefs, it’s meant to be a compilation of well-thought-out ideas and perspectives; a diversity of them. Mandating uniform philosophical and/or political opinions is a sure way to destroy any vibrancy in a project.
More importantly, the point of that particular article isn’t that making money is evil; money is distilled time and energy. It’s sticky, but not inherently evil. The message of the article was that there is an all-too-common type of person and greed that will transform an initial vision — and almost anything — for the sake of more money. I don’t think anyone doubts that I have very strong stances on maintaining a vision and resisting the more degenerate distractions that can destroy the soul and spirit of an effort. This is why we will refuse to make money from ads, won’t have paywalls, and won’t dangle incentives to Patreon donors.
Confic Magazine will aim to be like that really great hole-in-the-wall eatery you know that, despite being very good at what it does, doesn’t let any success go to its head, and doesn’t change with time.
That article mentioned will help keep us honest over time. I was excited to have it posted for that reason.
Why didn’t you just make a business out of yourself, your own brand?
Because this is not supposed to be about me; it’s supposed to be bigger than me. I’d rather have a team with more strengths on board. The separation of Confic Magazine from any individual (for example, “Lack of Lepers”) offers a nice, decentralized yet singular counterbalance to something like the brand SCP Wiki has developed and cultivated for itself, and more versatility than a one-person project. The Lack of Lepers blog will still be its own, parallel thing; it is currently in the process of transferring to a new and less fragile home. I’ll just go back to only doing that blog if this fails.
Why is Confic Magazine “Brought to you by the Society for Containment Fiction”? Is SCF a larger, parent company or something?
Though “brought to you by the Society for Containment Fiction”, Confic Magazine is its own and separate thing. There are spaces in the SCF Discord that are specific to it. SCF is just a loose social group. This is so SCF doesn’t get pulled into all the business aspects of an LLC and so that people who don’t want to be affiliated with it in the community won’t necessarily be. Still, the magazine is a team effort and the SCF is the central, organizing body of that team. This is a thankful recognition of that.
Are only SCF Discord members allowed to submit articles?
No. This is open to anyone, not just members of the Society for Containment Fiction.
Alternative opinions someone might think we’d balk at might, in fact, be welcome given that they are well-argued and well-written. For example, we would platform an SCP member’s counter argument or response to an article that is antagonistic or critical to SCP. Hell, I’d publish a satire of myself, if someone did it well enough. We will not discriminate on belief, position, individual traits, individual history, or community involvement/affiliation. This will be what inclusion looks like. This is going to be solely about quality of content; the way it should be.
Why do you pay authors that much? Are the articles really worth that? Or are you just that desperate?
Like I said, there is more work than one person can do, and I want to pay people if it will either (a) get them to help, or (b) reward them for already helping. I also want to pay more than the minimum because I expect very good products, and the pay is a contract expressing that. The pay is an indication of my seriousness in doing this at a high level. You can call it desperate, but whether it is me who is or the space itself in its need for such a thing, that would be the better question.
Authors are the lifeblood of this and any writing project; that should never be forgotten or taken for granted. They come first. A writing project that can’t prioritize its authors has lost its way. So, the payment is a genuine thanks that I feel fits the job and appreciation I have for people joining our team and contributing.
In addition, I want to incentivize others who might not otherwise care or want to contribute; we aren’t popular people in the confic space, after all. I think this is the sweet spot where the pay isn’t too much so as to attract the absolutely wrong type of person — someone who is only interested in writing so that they can get money — but the payment is also not low enough to make the effort not worth it to people who might like to write, but who are on the fence about it.
How will the LLC make any profit if initially so much goes to the contributors?
It might not.
This phase-like roll-out is designed to reward each member of the team who invests their time and energy in the upstart by strengthening it with content in its most formative phase. Authors are guaranteed instant profit.
Do founding members get dibs on articles per month? Do they get paid? If so, do they get paid more than the authors? What money goes to the founders?
A founder can claim one monthly slot for an article, these have to be up to par; a bad founder submission won’t be chosen over a better non-founder submission just because it’s a founder. They can’t submit more than one per month if there are other competent submissions. Besides, we’d rather other people contribute.
If a founder writes an article, which might be out of necessity if no others contribute, they can choose to either get paid or not, like any other author. The pay is the same.
There is a lot of fiscal priority and responsibility before an LLC co-founder will make any money without writing an article, so that is way down the line, if it happens at all. It is in this way that the leaders of the LLC will “eat last”, and not be gouging or exploiting those who are responsible for the magazine’s content and success. The authors come first, and will see profit immediately.
Having said that, given that there is no ceiling to revenue (theoretically), the founders could potentially make the most profit from the LLC as salary, given enough time and success.
Who are the founding members?
pixelatedHarmony and Lack of Lepers.
I don’t trust either of you two, and certainly not together; so much so, that I am hesitant or unwilling to donate anything to the magazine fund. I think this is a scam.
There are easier ways to scam people than going through the significant effort and cost of starting an LLC.
Furthermore, this LLC is centered around a mostly-disliked magazine that is censored from being mentioned on the SCP Wiki. and the surrounding spaces. (Just the other week, we were banned from the new SCP Twitter group for sharing DrPierson's "Canon in Confic" article.). The magazine is all about an obscure subgenre of fiction that the main demographic of either doesn’t care about or regards as the work of villains. We aren’t mincing words to gain political points here; something that typically comes with swindling people.
If this is a scam, then we are doing it completely wrong. We are starting this company well in the negatives.
How do I know my money will go to the right place and be used for the stated things? How do I know you or Harmony won’t just rug-pull any donations and use them for your personal gain? I REALLY don’t trust you or Harmony. Is there any transparency & accountability here?
When SCP was attempting and failing to incorporate itself as a business for the 100th time, numerous astute concerns were raised by smart people who were ahead of their time:
“The reason that previous attempts to take in donations failed spectacularly wasn’t because people are innately against the idea of the site taking in money, it’s because the administration at the time botched the whole “accountability” part of handling money spectacularly. I can dig up the thread if you want, but a lot of people — myself and Clef included — raised a lot of important points about not knowing what the money was going to be used for or how we planned on keeping everything honest, and we were met with only, “relax, trust us, we’ll handle it” as a dismissive hand-wave.
"That’s not only hilariously incompetent, that’s also immensely insulting to the people who were raising the points, and led directly to the entire thing collapsing in on itself… the biggest reason why is because there was no accountability and no plan for the use of that money. For all we knew, it was going straight into the admins’ pockets and no one would know the wiser. I think that a significant number of those individuals could be persuaded if we actually had a plan for where that money was going.
"Secondly, you must explain where the money will be kept, and who will have access to it at any time: “Community funds will be kept in a PayPal Business Account owned by [primary steward] with additional access and control by [secondary admin], [secondary admin], and [secondary admin].” None of this information was provided in the last drive either; only through digging in chat was it made clear that the funds would be going to Mann’s personal PayPal account.
“… I still do not know to this day how much money was raised in the last donation drive, nor how much of it was spent, where it was spent, or how much is left.”
This is a concern we intend to address head-on. We offer multiple ways to donate, each meant to meet donors at their level of comfort or discomfort. The more transparent methods require more technical know-how. The least transparent methods are user-friendly, the status quo, and frictionless. There is a middle option that mixes the two. This one requires the most explanation.
Those methods in order of transparency/technicality are:
1) Direct Bitcoin to Bitcoin transfer
3) Direct Paypal or Buy Me A Coffee
Our first answer before getting into the details is that we will publish our monthly business ledger, personal data of payees and founders redacted of course. These will be posted to the Monthly Ledgers page. Receipts & reports will be reports from PayPal and our business bank account, so we do not have the ability to cook these books.
But that isn’t enough; there needs to be a way for anyone to independently verify that the numbers are correct, and that we haven’t fudged them whenever they want, not just when we post the ledger in a given month.
So, our final destination for all methods of donations is a digital wallet that is publicly viewable and auditable.
Can you explain that in more detail?
There is a public, traceable pathway set up from all donations to the public wallet. For example, the monthly donations from the SubscribeStar account are visible publicly. We may also create fundraising events for specific, major projects, upstarts, or large events such as ConFicCon. The total amount of donation for these are public too.
Unless donating straight Bitcoin, the donations minus the fees from the donations platforms will be funneled through a traditional banking business account (necessary to separate the LLC from the individual LLC members, and necessary to get to the next steps), and will arrive at the public digital wallet after. Only one co-founder has access to the bank account, me, so that if anything goes wrong at that step, everyone knows who was dishonest. (Me and Harmony can’t play dumb with anyone, e.g. blaming the other if something goes wrong.) It is a single point of failure and weakness in the attempted transparency and lack of trust here, but it at least removes the ambiguity of who did what wrong.
As an aside, this step in the process is not necessary, if someone is knowledgeable and capable of sending Bitcoin. We’d prefer this; if someone donates Bitcoin directly to our public digital wallet, then it bypasses this step of potential corruption.
Despite that weakness, seeing the correct amount of funds in the wallet still ensures no funny business. In the case of SubscribeStar, this should match those monthly donations minus platform fees. In the case of PayPal/BuyMeACoffee, these receipts will be published publicly. An observer will be able to match the input with the output in all cases.
Think of it like SCP-914: funds go in, and donations into the wallet come out, but the setting is only 1:1, and if anything comes out the other end significantly off, it’s proof that someone did something dishonest.
Given that we are actually making enough money to make someone worry about a rug-pull-and-run, I would have less of an incentive to do this, because I would be continually making money per month. This goes for Harmony too. We’d rather have a reliable and ongoing source of income than a one-time robbery; if we did something dishonest, everyone would know thanks to this system of accountability, and the jig would be up. We wouldn't be able to get away with something like that thanks to the Bitcoin wallet step. No one would donate then. So the game theory here is clear; a rug-pull with a one-time payment, or a continuing salary.
Our About page has infographics of this; scroll to the section titled "Credentials & Legal", you can also check out the Tutorials page.
Why all this? It seems overly complicated.
Yes, it's expensive too. The point of all this is to minimize the need for anyone to trust anyone; a concept termed “trustlessness”. While ours isn’t a fool-proof system and 100% trustless, this set-up provides a way for anyone to independently ensure that funds are going where they are supposed to, and being used appropriately. It is not 100% trustlessness, but it is 100% accountability.
So, tl;dr is that we will use some game theory to create a system of Schelling points to incentivize honesty and create decentralized accountability, as a fail-safe against dishonesty and corruption. It costs more and is a bit to explain, but it is well worth it.
Again, visit the Tutorials and our About pages for more detail.
Where can I monitor the funds?
The Bitcoin wallet is publicly viewable. That's where all the funds end up. It can be looked at, and the details of it read through a blockchain explorer. It takes a bit of technicality to read it, but there are numerous instructional videos on YouTube, and we cover it in a video in the Tutorial tab.
Our permanent Bitcoin wallet address is:
To view it publicly including all transactions, see here.
Why do you use Bitcoin?
See above. Because we are interested in guaranteeing transparency and transactions tied to a bitcoin wallet ID are public.
Why I am big on transparency and structural assurances of fair play is also why I like bypassing the traditional banking industry as much as possible. You’ll notice that the only weak points in the transparency and accountability protocol have to do with the limited technology of traditional banking. The only technology that currently allows for and ensures the transparency and accountability we want is Bitcoin. In fact, it does so all in one stop.
How this will work exactly: you can go to the Bitcoin blockchain explorer, and type in the unique address for the public, Confic Magazine digital wallet. Because any activity in the wallet is publicly visible, anyone can see exactly how much money is put into it and going out of it. Deposits into the wallet should match the monthly donation amount, or the total amount raised in a fundraiser, or the public receipts from PayPal or BuyMeACoffee published monthly.
There are fees at each step — SubscribeStar/PayPal, of conversion of USD to Bitcoin, and fees required to transfer the Bitcoin to the wallet, and all that back again — but these are usually small percentages (that add up!), and can also be known through our monthly ledger reports and through the Bitcoin blockchain explorer (shows the exact fees), so the total deposit into the Bitcoin wallet will be auditable and verifiable as correct.
I am looking at the math and there is more in the Bitcoin wallet than there are monthly donations.
There may be more money in the wallet than the monthly contribution total from SubscribeStar because people may have donated straight Bitcoin, directly through PayPal, or Bought Us A Coffee. Also, personal funds are invested into the project monthly by founders.
But the transparency is meant to make sure there is at least as much coming in as there are monthly donations; if not, then someone has taken that money when they shouldn't have. You should at least be able to clearly see a monthly input that matches the sum of the monthly donations, minus the fees we have to pay to get them there.
Again, receipts will be available for all this, so you can see exactly how much in addition to donations has been invested, and how much of the donations are lost to fees. It's honestly depressing how much fees are taken out, but aside from donating straight Bitcoin, this is the only way to ensure transparency and accountability to our donors and public.
Why do you use SubscribeStar?
We just witnessed the woes of being involved and dependent on platforms (Miraheze and Medium) that don't take a very strong stance against censorship and free speech; these platforms and their well-intended policies can be cajoled and gamed by bad faith actors who stand to be exposed. We need to put our trust in sites that offer a anti-fragile, above-average guarantees that our funding won't be cut out from under us if someone thinks they should flag the investigative journalism we do something dishonest like "doxing".
Places like Patreon and GoFundMe unfortunately have a history of deciding who can and can't raise money, and based on deviations from their preferred political stances.
That's also why we use Bitcoin and BuyMeACoffee too.
Do you trust Harmony with the donations? Does Harmony trust you?
Maybe, maybe not, but the point of the system is that we don’t have to trust one another, not much at least. Again, the idea is minimizing trust.
Our Bitcoin digital wallet is a 2–2 multi-signature (“multi-sig”) wallet. A multi-sig wallet is one where multiple people have to give consent for anything to happen to any of the funds. Each person holds a private key; it’s like a safe that takes more than one key to be turned at the same time by two different people. Otherwise the funds just stay there; they’re locked.
Once the donations are in the digital wallet, I can’t move any money by myself, and Harmony can’t either. This is a step a lot of people wouldn’t take, that we’re glad to do in order to have more accountability, and checks on individual power.
Couldn’t you just not transfer the donations from the bank account to the public wallet, and instead take the money, and run?
Yeah, but only once, and with only a month's worth of donations. Again, everyone would know that the funds didn’t make it to the public wallet and that would be reason for people to not donate again. If appreciable money is coming in monthly, I have less incentive to rug-pull, because I’d rather have continuing monthly income than take a wad of cash once.
Keep in mind, the wallet will be where all accumulated revenue is and I can’t move that in whatever way I want thanks to the multisig technology. At most, I only have the option to rug-pull and run away with a month worth of donations, or a fundraiser’s revenue before it goes to the wallet. Once the funds are in the wallet, I don’t have the option to go rogue.
Can any of this be automated?
Yes. To make this more streamlined and a little more trustless, I can automate the process of transferring funds out of the banking account on its way to the wallet. This can be set up as an auto-purchase on Coinbase for Bitcoin from our business banking account, to be done monthly. So since I and everyone knows the monthly donations, say on SubscribeStar, the auto-pull of that amount can be applied to Coinbase and can be converted to Bitcoin, without me touching anything. It’ll be my responsibility to send the Bitcoin to the multi-sig wallet. If I can find a way to automate that, and anything else, I will.
Like I said, not perfect, but this is about minimizing trust, and this set-up gives anyone and everyone dibs on keeping the whole movement of funds more accountable. I hope you can see that it’s a lot more than most people are willing to do to ensure some accountability and transparency. While it may not eliminate the need for trust totally, it minimizes it hopefully enough to inspire confidence in donors who would otherwise be overcome with distrust.
Please see the "Tutorials" page for a more hand-holdy walkthrough of all that, and the "About" page for some infographics.
What about ongoing fees for maintaining the LLC?
Again, most of the monthly costs are covered by co-founder investment into the LLC, until the point of any appreciable profits. You gotta spend money to make money. Any extra money gathered through donations after author payment may be utilized for maintenance.
What happens to funds if all authors are paid, all maintenance fees are payed, and there is still some left over?
Any extra after that, it's upgrades if any are needed. If no upgrades are needed or preferred, it's a 50%-50% split between myself and Harmony as salary.
Monthly costs will be part of the ledgers.
Will decisions regarding what to spend potential funds on be the exclusive decision of the founders or will others have a say?
It depends. Tough decisions as to what is needed for the magazine and what to spend any extra funds on may be decided upon via democratic governance and vote in the SCF Discord.
Is this like the Wikis, in that my works once submitted are not my own intellectual property?
No. See below.
Are my submissions automatically copyrighted when published on Confic Magazine?
While there are nebulous legal copyright laws that guarantee ownership and copyright at the moment of writing anything down on paper or electronically, it behooves the writer to personally copyright their own works as a backup and legal fail-safe, especially in the case of online blog platforms and with collective publications like Confic Magazine. Personal copyright is fairly straightforward, easy, and affordable thanks to it being digital these days.
The payment fee received for being published in Confic Magazine should with time more than cover these protective costs. Individual copyright is recommended because being copyright protected nominally by common law and being copyright protected in court are two different things.
See the Legal and Tutorial pages for further details and discussion on intellectual property and copyright. See the Legal page for a detailed contract.
Additional questions may be sent to email@example.com