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haloman30

Changes to our Minecraft Store

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Hey, everyone!

 

Today, we're introducing some changes to our donation store - or more accurately, our Minecraft store. While these are mostly minor changes, they're representative of more of a shift in how we want things like disguises, ranks, etc. to be viewed - which as you'll find, is also not really much of an actual change at all.

 

What exactly do I mean by this? Well, let's dig in and find out.

 

The Donation Store

The biggest change you may or may not notice is that, in most places, the store is no longer referred to as a "donation store", and purchasing ranks is no longer referred to as "donating" - instead, it's just a store, and you're buying ranks. This is something that we're going to continue to gradually refer to the store as going forward - though after over 10 years of using the donation terminology, you're likely to catch myself or someone else slip up now and again.

 

It also turns out that this is something we've actually formally announced before - almost four years ago to be exact - and then I simply forgot. Whoops - better late than never :lmao:

 

So - why the change? What was the issue with the donation terminology? After all, I'm a big fan of avoiding needless change, and it's easy to read this as minor, needless change - and some might see this type of change as not even warranting a dedicated announcement either.

 

Inaccuracy and Dishonesty

Well, for starters, it's dishonest and inaccurate. In the earlier years of Minecraft servers, it was common for donations to be marketed - and in some cases this was even true - as being used to help fund the server. The implication that came with that is that, if there weren't enough donations, the server might not stick around.

 

Some servers even used this as a means of avoiding having to report these "donations" on their tax returns - which is of course against the law. While smaller, obscure servers that didn't get much, if anything in donations, didn't really have any reason to worry about this - for medium to large servers (or servers which brought in a more meaningful amount of revenue), this is a much bigger issue and could result in legal action (though technically, even small and obscure servers are required to report them regardless - I am not a lawyer, so don't use this as legal advice).

 

Clearly, though - that isn't the case here. Chaotic United isn't going anywhere, with or without a bunch of frequent donations. Would it be great if we could reach a point where donations could solely fund the server costs? Of course, and this is even something we hope to see happen someday - but for the time being, and likely for the foreseeable future, the server is going to stick around despite that.

 

Profit Motives

The other big part of this is that, in many cases, the "donation" terminology is something used by non-profit organizations. Here's the thing, though - effective last year, Chaotic United is, effectively, part of Elaztek Studios - a legally registered, honest-to-goodness LLC, which is most certainly a for-profit company. This doesn't have any practical effect, of course - I'm the sole owner of Elaztek, and this is something that will almost certainly never change for as long as both it and myself exist.

 

It does mean, however, is that we do need to be at least a bit more careful with this type of stuff. It's somewhat risky to use the term donation in the way that we use it - and many servers over the years specifically went the route of calling their purchases "donations" for tax purposes. Trouble is, that doesn't actually work, and isn't valid - it's revenue. And unless you do in fact operate a server as a real non-profit organization, it doesn't matter what you call it.

 

The Reality

The biggest piece of the puzzle, though, is that it just isn't representative of what these purchases actually are in the first place. For as long as I've been Owner, these "donations" aren't inherently used to contribute to server bills or server-specific improvements. I've always reserved the right, at least up until early 2020 to do what I please with "donation" money. The flipside of this coin, however, is that I'll continue to spend money out of my own pocket to keep things afloat. In essence, the same amount of dollars are going to the same places - it's just that in the case of CU, there's basically zero consideration or care as to where those specific dollars came from.

 

This did change very slightly in early 2020 - where it turned out that we had poorly communicated this fact, both to players and even some staff members - which resulted in some strong reactions from both. Comparisons were even drawn with Killerteddy1 - the previous and infamous owner of Chaotic United from 2011 to 2014 - who was known to have abused donation money. For a brief period of time, it looked as though I was doing the same exact thing - which saw both a temporary offer for a donation refund - regardless of purchase time - as well as the introduction of a new option during checkout. The option asked the user to select where they wanted their donation to be directed - either towards the server, or to whatever I deemed appropriate, with the specific example being "a pizza or whatever".

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This option was mostly ignored, with a select few opting for their donation to go directly towards the server - and technically, this is what happened. However, meaningfully, this didn't really have any tangible impact for the same reasons outlined before.

 

The costs to operate CU are not small, and have mostly only grown with time. Approximately $160 USD is spent monthly for all core service costs as of writing, not accounting for the various domain names we hold. The reality is that any purchases and donations brought in are absolutely not sufficient to cover this - which is okay. As mentioned - we've always operated on the assumption that, to properly keep things funded, we have to be able to eat those costs personally. This was a decision I made at the start - with the idea being that perhaps we could avoid an over-reliance on donation funds, which could lead to disaster if we reached a point of success, only to then have those funds dry up.

 

The Changes

So - with all of that said, what's actually changing?

 

For starters, as stated before - we'll be moving away from using the term "donation" in relation to the ranks, disguises, any any future items that are made available on the store. You might still see it here and there - but in general, we'll be avoiding using the donation-specific terminology going forward.

 

Additionally, we'll be removing the "How would you like the donation to be used?" question during checkout. It's largely been useless for a while, regardless - and going forward, we won't be making any promises or guarantees as to where the funds from various purchases are directed. They may go towards Chaotic United bills, they may go towards Elaztek Studios expenses, or they could end up being withdrawn and set aside for personal use by myself or others. If that's something you aren't cool with, I understand - however, in this case, the only guidance I can provide is simply to not purchase anything from the store. That may seem a bit harsh perhaps, but there's no real alternative. And as I've said before - in essence, at this small stage, nothing meaningfully changes as a result of this change.

 

Lastly, the primary URL for the store has been changed from https://donate.chaoticunited.net to https://store.chaoticunited.net/. The old https://donate.chaoticunited.net has been configured to redirect, and that's likely how it'll be staying.

 

Along with this, we've made some minor revisions to the Donation Terms (now referred to as Purchase Terms) - mostly in order to migrate away from the donate terminology, but also to clarify and add a couple other details as well.

 

One thing that will not be changing, however, are the rank names - while they're mostly based on the donation terminology, there's no legal issue here - and we believe it's still quite clear that you're purchasing a rank, regardless of what it might be called. Plus - these rank names date back to the old Chaotic United, as far back as 2011/2012 - so it's a bit late to change them, right?

 

 

 

So, yeah - that's pretty much it. It might seem like a pretty long-winded post for seemingly such a minor change, but we believe it's important to be transparent and open - and we can easily imagine that some folks might in fact see this as a more significant change, and as such, we don't want to just silently sweep it under the rug without being upfront about the changes, and why they're being made.

 

If you've got any concerns or questions, feel free to reach out, either here on the replies below or on our Discord server!

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