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Thread: funds info from a concerned what.cd VIP

  1. #1
    As a VIP on what.cd, I feel it is my duty to inform the users when issues directly involving them have arisen. The following contains very few mentions of actual usernames, but I can assure you that the sources (of which there are numerous, as I have been investigating this) are all reputable and have direct connections with, have been, or currently are, staff.

    On January 17, 2011, an announcement was posted on the front page of what.cd: "An introduction to flattr", a guide to help users quickly and easily set up an account to donate to what.cd. The need for urgency was explained:

    Since August, our donations have been down for much longer than they've been up, due mainly to payment providers caving to the demands of the IFPI. As you might imagine, it's been a nervewracking time for us, and we've only been surviving by delving deeper and deeper into our savings.

    However, those savings have effectively dried up. Expecting this, we launched a new, solid payment processing system recently - flattr. Unfortunately, flattr is an unfamiliar system to most users, and it can be a bit confusing. As a result, we were not able to make our monthly donation goal in the month that we had flattr running. Thus, we have detailed how to donate via flattr [...]

    It all seemed to make sense, in a way. And even if it raised a suspicious eyebrow or two, who is to question those who run this amazing site? They've always been open and honest with the userbase as far as we can tell, and that level of trust is what makes us so willing to hand our cash over to them.

    However, it appears that something has been amiss recently. It was noticed that staff began dropping like flies--the latest count is something like eight staff members departing in the span of two weeks. No official farewells, merely quiet demotions. While there is still speculation as to what exactly is happening behind administration's closed doors, we are discovering information that would make it seem that things are not as copacetic as they appear.

    Among the numerous staff departures, some things were allegedly brought to light was regarding what.cd's funds.

    Around a year and a half ago, a new server was purchased. A moderator named Yibbles elected to pick the server up himself, then transport it wherever it needed to go for the site's use. What.cd put roughly $10,000 into the equipment, and shortly after picking the server up, Yibbles stopped appearing around the site, no longer responding for weeks to months. Presumed to be stolen, Yibbles was disabled and the money considered lost. This is not necessarily new information to many people, but it's fair to assume it's not common knowledge, either. In all fairness, it appears to have been an honest mistake, and given that the equipment has to be touched by human hands regardless, something like this is probably difficult to prevent. It is also reported that the sysops purchased iPhones with the users' donations.

    What.cd later had a moderator named TheRiddler. As many of us have often guessed about staff members, TheRiddler had a 'user' account as well, where he could keep his user activity separate from his staff activity. TheRiddler's user account was 'the_e_male'.

    Around six months ago, TheRiddler allegedly asked the sysops for a personal loan from the site's funds. Not for a couple hundred dollars, or even a thousand, but $7000. Saying he would pay it back by a certain date, they gave him the money. Around the time he offered to pay the money back, he disappeared from the site, much like Yibbles.

    According to reports, the administration told no one about this, not even the moderators. Shortly after this all occurred, What.cd's Paypal was frozen to incoming transactions (they could apparently still pay bills with the account, though). It is reported that prior to the loan to TheRiddler, those in charge of the money spoke confidently of their funds surplus to the other staff. Yet once incoming transactions were frozen, those same people began expressing fears that the site wouldn't survive another month. This contradiction was questioned by the moderators, with no answers given. TheRiddler was eventually demoted in silence, still without explanation to the staff about what had happened--the loan was being swept under the rug entirely.

    However, secrets always seem to leak at some point, and it made its way to at least a couple staff members. It is reported that among the recent staff departures from staff, an explanation was requested of TheRiddler's demotion, the loan, and another important detail: 'the_e_male', TheRiddler's user account, was still enabled. Not only 'enabled', but a VIP who was still actively using the site. The administration later half-addressed the issue to its staff, claiming that the_e_male was still enabled because they 'hoped he would pay them back eventually'. What has not been addressed is that fact that this has been hidden from everyone, nor how this will be prevented in the future.

    So, with regard to the news post, what the administration means when stating, "those savings have effectively dried up", is that they made an executive decision to give the users' honest donations to another staff member for personal use, then tried to cover up the entire incident when things went awry.

    Where does the users' money go? Well, some of it goes to the site. But about $17,000 has gone into other staff members' hands, and it sounds like the administrators have decided to keep it to themselves if they choose to put the money where they shouldn't. The userbase has a right to know where their generous donations go, and it seems more than a little deceptive for the staff to cry poor and place the blame everywhere but internally. Granted, it's their site and have the right to spend their money as they wish, but should people really continue donating to a place where money may disappear without any acknowledgment or visible steps taken toward stopping it from happening again? Having been a VIP for years now, this makes me extremely disappointed, but I feel that the userbase of What.cd has a right to know about it.

  2. BitTorrent   -   #2
    Skiz's Avatar (_8(I)
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    It certainly sounds disheartening, but it's also a lot of hearsay.

    On the other hand, I don't donate to trackers and never have. I'm sure the donors will want their say.
    Last edited by Skiz; 01-28-2011 at 07:37 PM.



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  3. BitTorrent   -   #3
    Quarterquack's Avatar sprclfrglstcxpldcs BT Rep: +3
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    As a member who donates and cares for the website, you should also understand that there is a solemn agreement between the donors and the staff for how the funds are used. Nobody believes that all the money truly goes into a private reserve or into direct site funding; and if someone does then they're being silly/naive.

    The second point I'd like to make is that even though, some stealing (regardless of whether you provided proof or not), it doesn't seem like the staff made any mistakes. The $7000 were definitely a mistake (if it happened) but it's nothing that the users themselves wouldn't have entrusted the staff given the circumstances. If the staffer had asked for the money publicly would he not have received it (as has happened on other websites)? Then I see no reason for why they should be held accountable for a decision that would have probably received a unanimous approval if posed to the members.

    Last, but not least, is if you actually did this out of care or compassion for something you adore, then you'd do it without the need to use FST as your rumor mill, directly on What.CD, using your account. At the very least I'd like to know that a person spreading "facts" about a site I like out of caring for my best interests, cares enough to do it personally and with the utmost form of responsibility.
    Ellipses go here.

  4. BitTorrent   -   #4
    ScottK's Avatar Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ BT Rep: +6BT Rep +6
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    the point is, speaking without proof can cause a huge drama, mostly when it come to donations.
    and if OP ever came back, bring a name or two which can verify this please.




  5. BitTorrent   -   #5
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    It's true, there I said it. Everyone spread the word, and transfer to waffles

  6. BitTorrent   -   #6
    ScottK's Avatar Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ BT Rep: +6BT Rep +6
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeCandy View Post
    It's true, there I said it. Everyone spread the word, and transfer to waffles
    1. proof
    2. proof
    3. proof




  7. BitTorrent   -   #7
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    You Want Proof You Can't Handle The Proof

  8. BitTorrent   -   #8
    elbuitre's Avatar Poster BT Rep: +1
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    Hope it's lesson learned for the administration at what.cd, I still trust them. Both seem like honest mistakes. If a person you hold in high esteem asks for a loan to patch up things in life and you are able to, I would do it. It's a shame that people that are promoted to moderators are not trust able though. For now, I'll refrain from donating (I was thinking about it).
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  9. BitTorrent   -   #9
    From what I have seen over the yrs a number of the larger sites staff (certanially higher level staff) seem to get some financial benefits from the donations, not saying all but for sure some do.
    This why I tend not to use many of the larger trackers these days I have never donationed to the trackers that are always sending promotions out 2 or 3 times a month and never will.
    Not many will in the torrent scene will ever know what is going on some trackers I have known people set a tracker up beg for funds to improve it do a mass promotion saying what they going to do then a week later tracker goes for another to appear in about a months time for the whole cycle to start again.
    Over the yrs the torrenting scene has changed to such an extent that it is now completely different animal than it was 6 yrs ago when I was fairly new to staffing on torrent sites.
    These days I much prefer to make a smaller tracker with less people on who are more friendly and certinally get enough donations to make any money out of it and most months owners staff end up chipping in to pay costs for there hobby, which is the main difference these days some sites are set up almost as a business others are set up as a hobby by a group of friends and I for one will trust the owners of ones where I know it is there hobby than one that is clearly clynical and almost business like run.

    I know there are people here been in the torrenting world far longer than I have who may disagree to an extent I am sure 99.99% of people who have been about longer will agree there have been so many changes that has lowered there moral and that they the whole ethics of torrenting as died.

    To mean torrenting means sharing, but clearly that ethic of this animal has altered far from that in some circles
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  10. BitTorrent   -   #10
    ScottK's Avatar Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ BT Rep: +6BT Rep +6
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    Quote Originally Posted by elbuitre View Post
    If a person you hold in high esteem asks for a loan to patch up things in life and you are able to, I would do it.
    using donations money? cool
    Last edited by ScottK; 01-28-2011 at 09:43 PM.




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