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AnonymousAuthor says

Hello guys.

I’m author here at Envato. I’m using this anonymous account for this thread only because of privacy concerns.

In few words:

The badges which shows how much money the author have made raise privacy concerns and put some authors in personal & legal danger. Please, I beg you, make the badges public visibility optional.

Full post:

I’ve been author here for some time. In the beginning, I didn’t earn much money. After some time, I was earning more and more… And I still am. That’s a really good feeling that something finally works and I’m very happy abut it. I’m very grateful to you Envato guys for this.

But meanwhile, I started to be concerned about my privacy. The problem is that everyone can see how much money I have made.

I’m talking about the badge at profile page – the one which shows the total value of sales the author have made.

This problem creates two concerns:

  1. Privacy concerns
  2. Legal concerns

Privacy Concerns

Normally, in real world, you don’t ask your friends how much money they make. It’s something personal. Something private.

Some people are lazy, some people are much more productive and can work 15 hours/day to get what they want. This way more productive people can earn more money.

Some people are quite smart, some are more simple minded. This sometimes makes people envy each other.

Here’s a real world example: Your good friend is a firefighter and earns $1200/month. Another friend is a bus driver who makes $600/month (yup, in some countries it’s a real thing, even worse). And you have made between 250.000-1.000.000 dollars within a year – just by “sitting on your ass in comfort of your house” (most people don’t usually see how much effort it actually required). Your friends know how much money you make, they tell their friends and here you go… This many times leads to uncomfortable situations.

In some countries people envy each other a lot (actually, in some post-communistic countries it’s like a national sport). Having publicly listed how much money you have made can put you in an uncomfortable, sometimes even dangerous situation.

Legal Concerns

Legislations, and tax systems differs from one country to another.

There are countries where you pay more than 50% tax form what you earn – but you live in a nice environment, your kids get quality education, got a good medical care, retirement and so on.

There are countries where you pay more than 60% tax from what you earn – and you don’t get anything. It’s stolen by a corrupted government and/or spent on war. Your kids go to a bad school, if you need to see a doctor you have to wait 3 months… And retirement… is ridiculous.

Luckily for some, there are jurisdictions where you have very low taxes or no taxes at all and you have privacy laws which can protect you from leeches or bad people (some people call it tax heavens).

People, who have the knowledge do tax optimisation and protect their hardly earned property by incorporating in these jurisdictions.

Tax optimisation is legal and a reasonable thing to do. In some countries it’s actually a prevention from being robbed.

It also enables you to put more money back into your business and in the end of the day, you make more good than would be done with the taxes.

Privacy is a big part of it. If you are doing business under your real name, you are putting your self in danger (it depends on where you live). Having publicly listed how much money you have earned can get you into unpleasant and unnecessary trouble.

Even if you are not using your real name, there is always someone who knows what you are doing. Wether it’s your colleagues, friend or family.

Moreover, it’s really unpleasant when you can’t tell your family, friends or girlfriend what you are doing for living. And if you are successful, being secretive is even more unpleasant.

Because of reasons listed above, I have to use pseudonym as an author. That’s still all right, it’s branding. But my real name is nowhere, because I must protect myself. I’m even afraid to fill out DMCA when I see my files being pirated.

I know that at some point, I will tell someone what I’m doing. And I don’t want to be explaining my friend, sister or girlfriend “where is the pile of money I have made” or “what I’m planning to do with it” and so on… It’s my private stuff. I have a right for privacy, damn.

(BTW – I know that even if the badges were not visible – it would be still possible to look at authors portfolio, count the products sales and price – and do the math. But still, it’s a barrier and not everyone would do this. Moreover, most successfull authors have more products in their portfolio what makes this (doing the math) more difficult. And still, when someone do the math and asks you about it, it’s easier to lead the discussion your way.)

Dear Envato founders, business guys, developers, staff and everyone…

I understand that these badges are a part of Envato’s business model and you have put so much effort into it. It’s motivating to other authors and potential authors. They can see that someone was able to do a lot of money here, and more…

But look. Apple have never disclosed revenues of their app developers. Neither aescripts.com, Google Play… There is no one, except you, who does this. There are reasons for it. One of the reasons is from those I have listed above – to protect the authors.

The badges which shows how much money the author have made raise privacy concerns and put some authors in personal & legal danger. Please, I beg you, consider making the badges public visibility optional. Please.

There are additional things that can be done regarding to motivating other authors. For example an option, where I would enable my badge to be visible only for authors who have the same or higher badge as me. Others would see a different badge – maybe a question mark with something like “this author have made more money than you” or “this author have made a lot of money”. I know this is not perfect, but it’s way better than putting someone in danger. I believe that if you would give few brainstorming sessions on this topic and would involve us authors in the discussion, together we could come up with something way better that the current badge system.

But still, having an option to make the badge not visible is crucial for protecting the author.

Dear authors. I believe that some of you who are elite and power elite know what I am talking about. Please, what’s your opinion on this?

I’m very concerned about this, it’s affects my life in many ways. I would be very grateful for any response.

Thank you very much for reading this long thread. ~ Anonymous Envato author.

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doru says

hi,

If you are an author here (successful your not) please state your complains/preoccupations/request with your account.

I’ve quite made myself unpopular with some of the staff so me and other authors can be respected/treated fairly and the marketplace could be improved, I didn’t created a fake account to hide behind it.

This hiding behind a fake account is ridiculous and in any case staff will not kill you if you express your concerns.

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VF says

Not sure what the original post speaks about but I see only one downside while showing the badge:

The buyers falsely assume all the earnings are made through the item they purchased – so they think the author can easily setup a 24/7 customer support team! :P

Apart from that, I see no problem in displaying the approx earnings.

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AnonymousAuthor says

Doru,

thank you for your reply, but please, have you read what I have wrote? (I understand that the message was long, but it’s a complex topic which is not easy to explain in few words)

Some of the staff I have wrote there is under NDA. I can’t disclose that stuff under my real identity, moreover people could make assumptions.

I’m hiding because I’m afraid. And I’m afraid because of the way Envato works (displaying the revenue of authors).

Please, consider looking at it from my point of view.

It’s not you who I’m afraid of. I was writing to support and they reply after my second response.

To whom should I turn to? Support turned me down, you turned me down. You are hiding my messages if I want to ask community… I don’t know what else should I do.

Moreover, what’s wrong if I wan’t to stay anonymous? Do we have a right for free speech, or not? I didn’t write anything offensive or inappropriate. The point is the problem with authors privacy security. So let’s face it.

I’m just trying to get help for me and other authors :( Please, help…

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tommusrhodus says

I have no problem with this, the OP posed 2 points:

1. Social factors of being able to see approx. earnings.

2. Legal factors (tax etc.)

Really for both I see no issue, 2 is definitely no issue, pay your tax, do your paperwork properly, beyond that there’s no problem. For 1, well, it doesn’t matter what you do, if you earn more than your peers there will be tensions, but surely it’s up to you to properly manage this.

Either way I think the badge does much more good than bad, it’s (somewhat) a quality assurance for buyers, helps community spirit (you can be successful here) amongst other things.

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gbs says

I am not quick enough to see what you posted, but I myself think there are always both side of an issue. An earning badge can give you high reputation (sure!) and the only disadvantage I can think of, is if someone know you in real life and also know you on this market; and they know how much you have earned and started bad things that can cause you problems. Remember Flappy Bird ? Thing changed a lot when everyone knows that the author gets $50K / day via the media.

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Firsh says

Just be proud of it! Looking up Belize or Marshall Islands can also help.

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motionvids says

I understand that when your situation is dire and you feel that this topic is sensitive that you want to stay anonymous.. I see no harm in that.

First, a small tip to the OP: Try and don’t use your real name in your account when you are really that concerned about family and friends finding out how much you earn. Keep it between the legal authorities and you. Tell your family and friends you are a freelancer and create digital goods for others to use online, show some portfolio work on your own website and you can avoid Envato all along. Maybe it is too late for that, but it might work for newcomers reading this thread who are concerned about their privacy.

Yet I do think that when an individual raises a legitimate concern and feels that his or her privacy is violated in any way and in addition states that Envato support turned him/her down, the community can act as a last resort and should take it a bit more seriously.

So yes, I can imagine that people unfamiliar with Envato can think of authors as if they were “boasting” with their earnings. I can also imagine that in other cultures than Western culture(Europe, North America, Australia, etc), people might find more trouble with the transparency of earnings. I don’t know next to nothing about other cultures and how they relate to money. So no I do not necessarily share your concern but I can imagine it to be a concern when I try to empathize with other cultures, countries and situations.

So yeah.. I can see why you would want earnings badges to be optional, if it can really raise some trouble on a personal level for people.. why not? Make the badges enabled automatically and for people who have concerns they then always have the ability to turn them off.

The only thing that I find disturbing about this topic is that the badges give of the impression that we receive 100% of all earnings. Which in fact is not the case as we authors know.

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Creattive says

I understand that when your situation is dire and you feel that this topic is sensitive that you want to stay anonymous.. I see no harm in that.

First, a small tip to the OP: Try and don’t use your real name in your account when you are really that concerned about family and friends finding out how much you earn. Keep it between the legal authorities and you. Tell your family and friends you are a freelancer and create digital goods for others to use online, show some portfolio work on your own website and you can avoid Envato all along. Maybe it is too late for that, but it might work for newcomers reading this thread who are concerned about their privacy.

Yet I do think that when an individual raises a legitimate concern and feels that his or her privacy is violated in any way and in addition states that Envato support turned him/her down, the community can act as a last resort and should take it a bit more seriously.

So yes, I can imagine that people unfamiliar with Envato can think of authors as if they were “boasting” with their earnings. I can also imagine that in other cultures than Western culture(Europe, North America, Australia, etc), people might find more trouble with the transparency of earnings. I don’t know next to nothing about other cultures and how they relate to money. So no I do not necessarily share your concern but I can imagine it to be a concern when I try to empathize with other cultures, countries and situations.

So yeah.. I can see why you would want earnings badges to be optional, if it can really raise some trouble on a personal level for people.. why not? Make the badges enabled automatically and for people who have concerns they then always have the ability to turn them off.

The only thing that I find disturbing about this topic is that the badges give of the impression that we receive 100% of all earnings. Which in fact is not the case as we authors know.

totally agree, a great post

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contempoinc says

Eh, I’ve got not problem with this either.

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