Now that CR Press has moved to a new domain, separate from the official cyberrepublic.org domain, we recommend that you update your bookmarks to cyberrepublic.press.  Along with this re-launch, I felt it appropriate to update the community on the status of CR Press.

For those who are not aware, CR Press was asked to divide into two entities.  One, the CR News and Social Media Team, manages all official channels and information.  This team has been funded.

The second team is retaining the name “CR Press”, and it is still unfunded.  CR Press is responsible for most the content the community has become familiar with, including this website and the largest volume of content including interviews, “extra” articles such as side projects, educational pieces and walkthroughs, Supernode and voting coverage, video content, and more–about 4x more than the content released by CR News and Social Media.

We are still in the process of cleaning up the site, so if you find any wayward characters or lost images, please be patient with us as we revive the website.  At present, any work being done by CR Press is completely voluntary or is utilizing our supernode and sponsor funds.  Big shout-out to our Supernode Sponsors who are the only reason that we are still present today including: Manhattan Project/Sunny Feng Han, ELA Forest Supernode, Wild Strawberries, Elate.CH, Houston Supernode, Thai Supernode, ElaFish Supernode.

The Council is currently in possession of our CR Press Proposal, but should they decided not to fund for our numerous activities, we will have to reduce our content production significantly and rely on donations and sponsorships to fund our activities.

We are likely to seek out other means of income to sustain the website as well, such as charging parties to publish articles and reviews and interviews on our website and running fund raisers to obtain community backing.

That being said, even if we have significantly less content, we have committed ourselves to continue managing the website and contributing with whatever funding we get.

Lastly, our teams have undergone significant restructuring.  Aside from eventually splitting the membership of the teams completely in two, I myself will be stepping down as CR Press team lead, just as I’ve always planned.  As expressed in the original letter below, it was always my intent to hand over leadership, and it has come time that without funding, I can’t commit to full time voluntary work any longer; funding was simply a matter of ensuring that CR Press could continue after I stepped down.

In my place, the CR Press Core team will share leadership roles amongst the six of us–whatever that means in regards to the volume of content we can offer.

I will remain an active member of the community, and will still be part of CR Press.  I’ve yet to sell any of my ELA, and I will continue contributing in whatever capacity I can.  It was simply too much to work full time on a project I (and all the Core team) cared about but was not receiving any funding for.

If you are curious to learn more about the division between the teams, and what content and work is included in our CR Press Proposal, feel free to read this article released on Medium while our website was taken down, followed by the original “Letter to the Community.”

 

Medium Article:

CR Council has passed the CR News and Social Media Proposal. While this does not include funding for CR Press work, we are thankful for the Council’s support.

What is included with CR News and Social Media?

  • The Biweekly Updates
  • Blog maintenance Official CR statements
  • Official Social Media management

What doesn’t it include?

  • CR Press Website
  • Management
  • Design
  • Extensive SEO and Ad Campaigning
  • “Above and Beyond” coverage such as CR and Elastos Side Projects
  • Supernodes
  • Interviews & Event Coverage
  • Articles designed to attract a Wider Audience to CR
  • Social Media Representation
  • Translations that will bridge Eastern and Western CR Communities
  • Educational pieces on Elastos technology and Use-case
  • Youtube
  • Podcasting
  • And other content meant to Grow the Larger Ecosystem.

In terms of volume, about 4x more content would come from CR Press.

We are hopeful that the CR Council will see the value of the remaining work that still is needed to support the community, and we hope they will choose to fund what has already shown itself to be a major resource to the community and Elastos’ business partners.

While the website has been taken down in order to facilitate this transition, we are in the process of rebuilding the Press Website with all the content you’ve grown to love under a new domain. We want the community to know that even should we not receive funding, the website will remain available for access and we will utilize our supernode rewards to fund activities as much as we can. Though without funding we will be forced to remain far more conservative in our contributions, at the very least you can expect us to be around for a long time.

You can support us by continuing to vote for the CR Press supernode and voicing your opinion to the Council.

 

Original Letter:

To the community at large,

I would like to bring awareness to the events that have led to the news.cyberrepublic.org website releasing a statement about the lack of funding that may lead to its closure.  This is my perspective, and not necessarily reflective of the rest of the team or the Council’s perspective.

The weekly updates began in late 2018 because KP believed that CR needed regular status updates. After he wrote the first update, I offered to step in and help him because I am a professional author with a wide background in many areas; I could do a better job than most.

I made it very clear that I would need a team, however, and I would eventually phase out as lead as I’m incredibly busy. KP was excited about the idea.

We were funded 150 USD/week based on 1st negotiation by KP to the Council.

With 2-4 contributors at the beginning, and only 150 USD/week, most everyone worked out of the desire to contribute rather than because of pay.  As I took on more and more, I realized that if I really planned on handing over the lead, someday, it would be impossible to get any single individual to replace my several skill sets and contribution hours with the current funding.

So I focused on getting volunteers and the most passionate Elastos fans because everyone has a cap of how much free time they will offer. How much free time are you willing to offer, yourself? 1 hour? 10 hours? 30 hours a week? The solution to ask for more helpers, each offering a small amount of low-pay or free work, was the only way to function.

We grew into a hard-working, talented and passionate machine, and my vision grew as individuals took on more tasks.

For anything to be sustainable, it has to provide a livable wage, but we were far from that.

I was in a challenging place, but my new mission was to create this sustainable model for the news team by showing value with my own time, first, and then asking the Council to fund us.

So, by the end of 2018-early 2019, I was working almost full time…and it made no sense.  I started to pay for help out of pocket, bringing on people to disperse the responsibility so that I wasn’t working so many hours to just “save money”.  I could make the team’s entire week’s worth of pay in less than 1 hour of work at my usual job, after all. I just did not want to abandon the team and CR News before it had a chance to become something.

The team expanded, and the council tripled the funding so that we had 400 USD/week of funding.

It still wasn’t enough, but it allowed me to fill some gaps. We were writing the articles, but few people were reading them. The CR blog was a mess, and we were told that to get more funding, even if we were receiving less than minimum wage from the beginning, I had to prove value to the CR Council again, first.

There was a lack of any social media across Elastos and CR. It had been months without any post on most channels. I found out why.

The person who’d run social media in the past had been promised pay, and somehow he was never given the pay he was promised. Because of this, he lost faith and he abandoned managing social media.

I asked him to join the team.  We didn’t have much, but he would get whatever we agreed on. I would personally make sure of that, and I already regularly published payroll to the team so that he could see a track record of expenses.

We took on social media, and in doing so, we managed to get another funding increase to what it is now: 969 USD/week.

I continued to push for higher and higher quality, and we were getting noticed. People started volunteering to join our team, to contribute; I had to tell all of them we couldn’t pay them. A few continued to offer, knowing they wouldn’t get paid, and I allowed them to join our team channels though most–without financial incentive–never contributed.

The few that did contribute regularly without more than token pay became the CR News and Social Media Core team. We were 5.

These were individuals that, ultimately, wanted to work full time for CR.  These were the people that saw my vision on what we could become—a massive gateway to CR and a major power in the new internet. I cared about the team and I found myself working even harder because I wanted them to be able to live their dreams.

We were still getting around 5 USD/hr.

We asked for more funding in March of 2019, but we were denied. They said that we had to prove our worth and our abilities, first. We could ask again in 3 months, at the beginning of the next quarter.

I thought we already had proven our worth, but if they didn’t think we’d done enough—I understood and would do better.

What was 3 more months?

CR would fully launch in August, and even if things didn’t work out with the Interim Council, we could go to the community for proper funding at that time instead. Any individual could see that our entire team’s budget was about the annual wage of a single manager at McDonald’s.

I decided to go all out. The world had to see our value and our contribution. With the funding we had, I told the Secretariat that we would demonstrate what we were capable of because…the pattern had been clear. If I had to show the work before getting the funding, that meant increasing the workload, and then we would never escape the cycle of 1/3rd minimum wage.

I needed a significant raise in funding, and I needed zero doubts that we deserved it.

These last 3 months was my “last-ditch” effort to prove our worth.

We would build an amazing website. We would start on-location reporting. We would work with Analytics, SEO, Financial advisors, get sponsors, get a supernode, get design help. We would create youtube content, we would get translators, we would chase down interviews and follow side projects. We would penetrate the Chinese community and we would make sure the entire ecosystem knew of our contributions.

To do so, I skipped pay or reduced my own pay, or paid out of pocket. Several team members regularly offered to skip pay as well. Most all our core members ended up working near full time.

We did all the above, and more, without funding. The core team put in thousands of hours, and we’ve put out 198 articles (approximately 4-8 Novel lengths of content) in 6 months. We had 400-800 reads on our articles per day, with more unique visitors than Elastos and Cyber Republic official websites. All social media grew significantly, as did community sentiment.

I took comfort in knowing that even if CR Council didn’t see our worth, the community would. In August, I could always propose the community to give my team a fair wage, and then I could retire happily knowing that I created something great for CR and that it would continue after me.

Then we learned that CR launch would be delayed.

It was to be dropped in an Elastos weekly update as a single sentence without explanation. I scrambled as news often drops first before even we, the CR Press team, find out; I was afraid I was too late. The community leaders of CR were also horrified, and I drafted up a Proposal to the Council that we run an elections cycle instead of simply delaying CR in August. If the community was expecting the 16M token unlock to be in August, and it was announced that there was an indefinite delay, without explanation, the FUD would be massive and damaging yet again to Elastos’ trust—an issue that has repeated itself time and time again.

Around 12 community leaders signed the letter I wrote, and I sent it to the Council as the solution I offered was to let CR Press handle the public relations and elections.

We were given a short response from one of the Council Members:

“Your ideas will only cause community disputes without any benefit. It’s better to think about how to promote technology and communities when you have time to do these things.”

One of the Council Members had told me, the CR Press Team lead, this.  “…when you have time to do these things” was particularly infuriating.

I was shocked to my core by how insulting and rude this was. One week later, someone sent me a screenshot of that same Council member asking, “Who runs the CR News?”

Had they even read a single article we put out?  Had they even seen our work?

The rage I felt was moved into more productivity. I improved the systems, and I personally hired more help because as often as people say we should get more marketing, advisors, etc, you can’t if you have no budget. So I wrote up contracts, I did design, I got financials in order, and I worked to improve clarity and public information.

I wanted the Council to see us. And they did. They began to tell us that they appreciated our work. I started to hope.  Thankfully, concerning the CR delay, they announced it with more explanation and clarity after taking some time to prepare materials.

I drafted a new Proposal at the beginning of June. I was told to revise it for more information.

So I drafted a new Proposal, with more details.  

They asked me for yet another version, but said we should split the team in two because then we could have an official CR voice, and the CR Press’ community voice could be open and without restriction.

I redesigned the Proposal and created two Proposals with the intent to divide the teams and their members and budgets completely.  I assumed they’d understand that we were simply dividing the team to help them comply with possible legal conflicts.

Thus, it was difficult to explain to the Council how the responsibilities would be divided, and yet how we also needed more funding.  One team meant for stability needed additional funding for minimum wage, and the other team needed more funding for the extra roles we’d voluntarily taken on.

Though I said it time and time again that we were asking for payment for the DEMO of the work we’ve already done, there was confusion of what was new with the Proposal and why were we asking for more funding?

The Council had recently passed a new Proposal that required certain formatting with certain information. I hadn’t noticed this because, as we’ve seen, Proposals frequently get passed without announcement. So they wanted a new draft for each of the two Proposals, and large chunks had to be removed from each Proposal. We’d sent them Trello documents to show exactly what we were doing each week. We sent them financials so that they could track our progress. They said those were unnecessary.

At this point, it’d been a month of back and forth, and I’d contributed a ridiculous amount of time to this—so I simply complied with their requests and resubmitted. We were in our second week of July, and still no funding.

Then our Proposal was denied.

The reasons:

  1. “I really appreciate CR team’s work during past months. I am pretty surprised that the budget increased sharply and not reasonable to me. I would like to see team works for CR not focus on reward but for faith.  I did not see clear goals and necessities.”
  2. “CR members receive a lot of high-quality and useful information from the CR news team. We are grateful to the CR News team for their long-term high-quality work. As the workload increases, the budget should be respected. However, the budgetary cost required for this Proposal has increased significantly compared to the previous one, but we may not see the specific increase in logic and budgetary arrangements. I would like to focus on the actual workload in the past and the current increase in workload, and The specific arrangements after the increase in workload.”
  3. “The Proposal is too rough. I can’t see clearly measurable goals and detail implementation plans, so I can’t measure the rationality of the budget.”

My responses:

  1. This shows an incredible amount of ignorance.  We have demonstrated exactly that for 6 months.  Also, apparently we aren’t necessary.
  2. This again shows that they think that what we’ve done has already been paid for.  This shows a lack of understanding that our extra work was voluntary.
  3. We are not asking for the implementation of new work, but pay for what we already are doing.  A simple examination of our website is the full implementation. Why would you ask for an implementation plan of something already implemented?

I learned through screenshots of Councilmen comments things like, “The Chinese way is to do first, and ask for rewards later.”  “The CR Press team is not recognized.” “I cannot convince other two members that the Chinese team deserves a lower pay.” (By the way, we’ve found evidence that our work was being republished by Chinese teams under their own names…without credit to us). 

This means that the current Council, even though it’s been stated again and again, doesn’t realize the work we’ve done that is above and beyond. They think our work to be the same as other teams.  They didn’t realize we’ve been showing a demo of our work for 3 months, and that it wasn’t funded. We “did first” for months, and they once again, hardly knew of our existence.

As a matter of perspective, one team member calculated that other Proposals already approved pays 10x our pay to translate our original articles versus writing said article.

It wasn’t the rejection of the proposal; it was the clear lack of understanding from all three of the Council Members.

I decided to announce the denial of funding of the news.cyberrepublic.org website.  This was not “retaliation”, but clarity. Our greatest contributing asset was the work we put into the website, so if they thought they’d paid for things that we contributed ourselves, then they needed to know the difference between their funding and our voluntary work. Even though we’ve done much more, this was the only way I could think of to make it explicit that we have done so much, and the website was a 3-month trial of doing first (like the Chinese).

I do want the CR Press website to continue to grow.  We are working on another Proposal. We appreciate our sponsors, but until then we MUST decrease our workload. We are reducing our work to exactly what was funded, and the website is simply a move to clarify any confusion and remove any doubt about what was funded and what was not.

As for me, I am going to retire from the team lead position. I will help the team complete the transition to a decentralized team leadership, just as we’ve always planned.  4/6 of Core members said they would leave if I left–equally frustrated by the lack of awareness by the Council–but I’ve convinced them to stay on and continue. It was always the goal for them to take on the leadership, and for me to simply set up a system that allows CR Press to continue in a sustainable way.  

I’ve contributed around 1040 hours to CR Press at a wage that is 36x less than my normal job’s wage. I would appreciate that accusations that I’m doing this for greed be completely shut down by this fact, and anyone who thinks they are willing to contribute as much as I have, for the same rate (assuming the same professional skill sets), is welcome to do so.

Ultimately, it’s become incredibly clear that the Council does not recognize us, so the voice must be louder. We still want to work for the betterment of CR, and this I hope will lead to more discussion and improved processes.

The website was my call. The discussions and the public eye was my call. If this leads to a lasting change, then I will be proud of this call. I know it invites judgement from community and distrust from the Council, but I still believe the decision to be the necessary one.

I appreciate the support the community has shown us, and we hope that the next Proposal will be approved so that the team can continue to promote Elastos and Cyber Republic without worrying about how to pay for the food on their plates or needing to find new jobs, instead.  Ultimately, fear not, we are part of the CR community and we will remain so.

Kenneth K. 

 

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