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Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_biz2010-04-06 12:51 am

Dreamwidth Points Launch FAQ

I mentioned back in the 23 March [site community profile] dw_news (item 4) that, with our new payment processor, we were taking the opportunity to implement the gift certificate/credit system that we've been meaning to do for a while. Many people had questions! At the time, several of the details were still fuzzy, and some of the ideas we described there turned out to be too confusing in practice. So, we changed some of the details, and we wanted to make sure you understand how the points system works and what benefits it will give you.

First off, let me say that the process of buying paid time for your account won't fundamentally change! You'll still be able to do everything you could do before; you just can do more now. (Or, rather, you will be able to as soon as we do a code push with the new payment system, which will be as soon as we clear up one last detail with our merchant provider.)

Our end goal is to have a lot of flexibility in how you choose to spend, save, and send your points, so everyone can work out something that works best for their own use of the site.

We'll start with the official FAQs:

What are Dreamwidth Points?
How do I buy paid time for my account?
What are paid accounts? (has the cost of shop items, in points)

Then, some Q&A:

Can I buy points just to have on hand?

Yes, you can. There'll be a link in the shop to buy points. You can buy any amount over 30 points at any time. (Remember, one Dreamwidth Point is the equivalent of $.10 USD, so that's $3 USD.) Until you use the points, they will stay in your account. You'll use the points by creating an order for a specific item in the shop and applying your points to that order.

What can points be used for?

All purchases from the DW Shop will be paid for in points. Even if you don't have any points on hand and are paying for the entire cost of your shop item at the time of checkout, what you're really doing is buying points first and then the system will automatically convert your points to your desired item. See the examples in the next section if this doesn't make sense yet!

Can I still buy, for instance, a year of paid services at a time?

Yes, you can. It's just done slightly differently. When you load the shop, you'll still see the available items (1 month, 2 months, 6 months, and 12 months of paid time; 6 months and 12 months of premium-paid time), along with their points cost. You'll pick the one you want (in this case, 12 months of paid time). The cost is 350 points, and, assuming you have 0 points in your account, you will need to buy all 350 points. By putting the 12 months of paid time in your cart, the system creates an order for a bundle of 350 points (to cover the cost of that specific item). When you check out your order, the system will charge you $35.00 USD for those 350 points, which are associated with the order of the specific item you wanted (the 12 months of paid time). You check out, you pay us, and the points are delivered to your account and automatically converted to the specific item they were for (the paid time). You won't have to do anything differently than you do right now: the system handles everything for you.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Mark did a great job of making it really clear, with the help of our project leaders over the past few days.

So if the system handles everything, why not keep charging directly for paid time and save the points for 'gift certificates'?

Doing it this way, where everything is points-based, vastly simplifies the code and the calculations. Since we were determined to do something other than gift certificates where you have a GC that can only be used all at once on the same order, we would have had to do some gnarly (and confusing) pro-rating work to combine things, and people would have been left with balances hanging around anyway. Doing it this way means we can let people store and use their points whenever they want, and let them pay for an item in the shop with either existing points or by making a payment right there and then, all with the same programming.

Do points ever expire?

No. Once you've paid for points, they hang out until you use them.

If I buy, like, 1000 points ($100 USD) on one order, do I have to use them all at once?

Nope. You could use them one or two at a time. (If we had items that cost $.10 or $.20 in points, that is -- and in the future, we might: how awesome would it be to be able to buy icons one slot at a time until you had enough, knowing that you could add on more at any time?) Or, when we add v-gifts, we'll use points for those as well, so you can "top off the points tank" when you have some spare cash and then send vgifts when you think of them. That kind of thing.

Can I transfer points to a friend?

Not yet. In the near future, you will be able to. There'll be no minimum on the number of points you can transfer out of your account (as long as you have the points to cover them), so if you want to 'tip' a friend or a community 1 point ($.10 USD), you will be able to.

Why is there a minimum point order?

With anything lower than $3 charges, the fees get silly. 30 points (for $3) is the smallest amount we can charge at a time without the fees getting too painful.

Does this mean I can 'pre-pay' my paid account without penalty?

Absolutely. Just like with the old system, where buying more paid time added on to your expiration date, under this system, anytime you have a spare $3 lying around, you can turn it into another 30 points to put in your account and have handy. That way, when your expiration rolls around you'll have the points on hand.

At what point in the checkout process are my points considered 'used'?

Not until you actually check out a cart that contains an item you're using those points for. Just putting the item into the cart doesn't use the points.

Next, I'll walk you through some scenarios that will be common and the questions they'll bring up:

1. You have: 0 points. You want: 6 months paid service (175 points).

You'll go to the shop, pick the 6 months of paid service for 175 points option, and check out. The system sees you have 0 points and need 175 for what you want, so it will charge you $17.50 for the 175 points. You pay it (credit card, check, or money order). The system delivers the 175 points and automatically converts it into your 6 months of paid service that you wanted. You go upload more icons to fill all the new slots you now have.

2. You have: 50 points. You want: 12 months paid service (350 points).

You'll go to the shop, pick the 12 months of paid service for 350 points option, and check out. The system sees you have 50 points and need 350 for what you want, so you don't have enough points to cover it. Since 350-50=300, it will charge you $30.00 (remember, 1 point = $.10). You pay it (credit card, check, money order). The system delivers the 300 points you just bought, deducts the 50 points you already have, and automatically converts it into the 12 months of paid service you wanted. You go upload more icons to fill all the new slots you now have.

3. You have: 210 points. You want: 6 months paid service (175 points).

You'll go to the shop, pick the 6 months of paid service for 175 points option, and check out. The system sees you have 210 points and need 175 for what you want. Since you have enough points to cover your order, all you'll need to do is hit the "free checkout" button it gives you and, yup, it's icon uploading time.

4. You have: 170 points. You want: 6 months paid service (175 points).

You'll go to the shop, pick the 6 months of paid service for 175 points option, and check out. The system sees you have 170 points and need 175 for what you want. You need 5 more points, but 5 points (which costs $.50) is less than the 30 point minimum order. The system will charge you $3.00 for 30 points. You pay (you know the methods by now). The system delivers the points you just bought, adds them to your existing points (leaving you with 200 points), then deducts the point cost of the item you want (175 points). The system automatically converts the 175 points it deducted into the 6 months of paid service item you wanted, leaving you with 25 points to play with in the future.

5. You have: 50 points. You want: 50 points for your friend.

Right now there's no way to transfer points, although we want to add that very quickly. (This is version 1.0, so people could start paying us, and Mark will be doing another round of improvements very soon.) So, you'd go to the shop and buy 50 for $5.00 for your friend, since you can't use points to buy points. You pay your $5, and the system delivers the points you just bought directly to your friend, who can use them however they want.

6. You have: 50 points. You want: 6 months paid service (175 points) for your friend.

If you don't want to mess around with walking a friend through how to apply points like in #3, you can pick the item you want to give them directly. You can apply your existing points to this order, since you're converting points to paid services. The system uses your 50 points, then charges you $12.50 to buy 125 more points for the remaining point cost. You pay it! It then automatically applies the points to the 6 months of paid service you wanted to give directly to your friend. Your friend starts uploading icons.

7. You have: 0 points. You want: 12 months paid service (350 points), plus an extra 100 points ($10.00) to have on hand.

You'll go to the shop, pick the 12 months of paid service for 350 points option. Then, you go back to the front of the shop and choose to add another 100 points that aren't bundled with a specific paid time option. When you have those two items together in your cart, you check out. The system sees you have 0 points and need 450 for what you want (350 points for account + 100 points that you wanted to buy), so it adds up the entire total and charges you $45.00 for 450 points. Then, the system automatically applies 350 of those points to the paid services you requested, and puts the 100 remaining points in your account.

Future improvements on the points system, and by future I mean as soon as possible:

* You'll be able to transfer points, in any amount, to another account, including to communities.

* Once you've used points to activate paid time, you'll be able to convert that paid time back into points at any time. There will be some limitations to avoid gaming the system: you'll only be able to convert whole months. (For instance, if you have 11 months and 23 days left of paid services, and you want to 'cash in' back to points, you'd get 30 points times 11 months, or 330 points, and have 23 days remaining of paid time. And yes, the math doesn't work out exact, but we're not going to sweat it -- we'll always round in your favor.)

* Something else to redeem credits for other than paid services: rename tokens are coming soon!

And yes, we're also looking into the idea of applying credits for small paid feature add-ons like choose-your-own-number-of-icon-slots. We will have to be very careful with that, but we think this system eliminates many of the problems with micropayments and pro-rating that we'd identified as problems with offering those paid account add-ons. We still aren't 100% sure we can do it, from a business standpoint, but we're seriously looking at it.

I hope this helps clear up some of the questions about the points system. It will be going "live" sometime tomorrow, hopefully. Once it does, if there's anything unclear, you can either ask here or open a support request in the Account Payments department and we will be happy to answer them for you.

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