In all fairness...

Often times, we are presented with questions or suggestions about how KeyKollectiv should run their sales. Personally, we welcome all input or criticism so long as it’s constructive. If you hate something we make, tell us it sucks. But also, tell us why it sucks. It is our firm belief that criticism is a catalyst for positive change. Those who reject input from others are the people who cease to improve. After all, ego is just armor for the insecure.

For those who have closely followed our progress on Reddit or GeekHack, the philosophy behind how we approach our sales may already be familiar. As we wrap up our sixth sale, we felt that it would be in the best interest of our supporters to explain our standpoint.

In the world of artisan keycaps, there will always be people who miss out. This is inevitability of a model where demand exceeds supply. At some point, the artisan must shift perspective from “how do we make everyone happy?” to “how do we minimize the amount of upset people?”

Limiting factors

A common sentiment among our supporters is to limit the amount of keycaps someone can purchase. This is a fair argument and I can certainly agree with the logic behind it. I’ve heard the argument that some people will likely not use all the artisans they purchase. This is also a valid point. The mech community is diverse. For some, having one daily driver is sufficient while others keep a plethora of keyboards/keysets.

Like many niche communities, there is a fair amount of avid collectors. I personally own 14 Topre keyboards. Do I need them? No. But they all serve a different function and each of them mean something to me. From my experience, I’ve met many community members who own more keysets than keyboards.

I, like many others, have a completionist approach to my hobbies. It’s not enough for me to own just a 55g Realforce. I also want to have a 45g uniform or variable weight in my possession. Likewise, this mentality can, very well, carry over to artisan keycaps. Furthermore, it isn’t uncommon for someone to buy artisans for friends/family/significant others in an attempt to share their hobbies and passion.

We understand that it may be frustrating to know someone has bought a set of keycaps while others receive none. Our goal is to strike a balance between both perspectives by imposing limits that don’t impede on both ends of the spectrum. From our experiences, the line between fair and excessive is a tenuous one. One which we are constantly working to refine. We recognize that our system isn’t perfect. Rest assured that we will always do our best to consider all options.

A major concern regarding limiting quantities is the ever-present influence of the after-market. Market speculators and resellers are a downside to most enthusiast community — mechanical keyboards is no exception. The fear is that, without limits, “scalpers” can easily buy up the allotted keycap limit and flip it afterwards. In an ideal world, the people who buy KeyKollectiv caps are people who actually want to keep or share them. The thought of someone making a profit off of our work leaves something to be desired. Unfortunately, we simply cannot regulate the aftermarket without imposing sweeping policies that will end up hurting everyone. Rest assured that KeyKollectiv does try to watch the aftermarket for any potential scalpers and actively keeps a list for “personal” records.

Distribution

Determining who gets into the sale is another conundrum we are faced with for each sale. In the past, we’ve done free-for-all flash sales, first-come-first-serve and raffle. As KeyKollectiv gained in popularity, we had to come to terms that the first-come-first-serve model was largely inefficient. SnacKeys Series 1 sold out within 7 seconds for the first round. The influx of orders was simply too much for the formlimiter script we included in the order form. The backlash was overwhelming. Accusations of people running scripts and aftermarket profiteering flooded the threads. We did our best to fulfill all the orders we could. In the end, even the 300+ SnacKeys we produced was not enough to put a dent on the sheer amount of demand.

There was a lesson to be learned from all of this. We adopted the raffle system into the Furt Beta sale. With only 25 Furts produced and over 300 entries, many of our most dedicated supporters were left with a bad taste in their mouths. In the end, we resolved to come up with a more efficient distribution system going into our next sale.

Koala-T and I weighed out the pros and cons of our previous sales. The first-come-first-serve system we utilized previously simply did not accommodate the demand anymore. We liked the randomness of the raffle system but wanted international fans and late-comers to have a chance to participate as well. What we came up with was a “staggered raffle system”. The sale would be divided by multiple phases. Each phases allowed new people to enter themselves into the raffle. This system also had the added benefit of giving us time to fulfill orders in a timely manner. Participants would be able to select which keycaps they wanted to buy and would be invoiced for what we had available.

KeyKollectiv greatly appreciates our fans. There are numerous supporters who have been with us since the day that a relative unknown by the name of kudos_and_godspeeddecided to post pictures of his humble first attempts at resin casting. We recognized that our fan-base has expanded considerably since MeowCaps V1. We’ve made so many friends along the way and are grateful for the warm welcome the community has showered upon us since the beginning. It’s for this reason that selecting random people for our sales is so difficult. It pains us to pass up on our dedicated fans who have been with us for so long. But we remind ourselves that fairness and integrity must be maintained. For all we know, that unknown may one day be a huge contributor to the community. He may have a wife or kid that would be elated to receive a KeyKollectiv cap. We may, very well, be their introduction into the artisan world. Their experience with us may help them forge new friendships and bonds with others within the community. After all, we were all an unknown at one point.

-Kudos