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Charting Our Future Together: Civitai’s Path to Sustainable Community Growth

Charting Our Future Together: Civitai’s Path to Sustainable Community Growth

Last week after releasing Clubs, a feature to allow creators to run exclusive membership programs like Patreon, the community was quick to let us know their concerns, the next day we made an open invitation for feedback on how we could make this community sustainable both for us and the creators that make the content we love moving forward in the right way. Our call for feedback received over 400 comments from the community and also sparked discussions on Reddit, YouTube, and various Discord communities. We’re grateful for all of the thoughtful ideas and input that was provided and I was thrilled to see that people care about this problem.

In the article we proposed 5 ideas, and shortly after publishing the article we featured another that had come up several times within the community. After personally reading through the comments and responding to many of them, I put together several ideas and discussed them with the entire Civitai team yesterday for several hours. Now, it’s time to get your feedback!


Yeah… There is a lot in this article… so check this out and then jump to any section you want to learn more about.

  • Ads + Pay for Ad-free: we’d limit it to a few places and make sure they were non-intrusive. We'd also give people the ability to pay to put their own content in ad spots.

  • Creators Program: we’d pay creators in the program $1 for ⚡1,000. They’d earn Buzz for ad views on their content, for generations using their resources, and unique downloads while a resource is in early access (only available to Civitai members for up to 14 days).

  • Hives: Free to join topic specific communities (think sub-reddits).

  • Donations: we’d introduce Donation Goals that could be setup by members of the Creators Program and added to their profile page or Hives that want to feature their goals. Donations could be taken in Dollars or Buzz.

  • Nexus Mods Style Speed Limits?: I’m not sold on this one, but it was mentioned a lot by the community. This would see us adding download speed limits to people that don’t have a membership (be sure to check the details on this one).

  • Paid Generation: The generator needs to be charged up with Buzz to use it. Buzz cost of a generation varies based on the complexity of the request. The generator is charged up to 200 Buzz each day for free, and memberships grant additional charge up the generator with extra Buzz each month. (Hopefully that makes sense…)

  • Civitai Link V2: a new app you can install to manage your models, loras, etc. Sync models to your machine with the click of a button, set disk space limits and it’ll cycle out things you aren’t using into cloud storage. Need more space? 1TB storage add-ons for $25/mo.

  • Membership Tiers: we’d add three new membership tiers that remove ads, grant higher limits for the generator and downloading (if we do that), Buzz, and a unique Badge each month (animated if you get the top tier).

  • New Cosmetics: we’d add 4 new cosmetics, including 2 that require a membership to equip.

  • Custom Creator Cosmetics: we’d add the ability for creators to make custom badges that they could then give to donors.

Once you’ve had a chance to check out the topics you're interested in, please consider completing our survey about these options and be sure to share your thoughts below. Topics we’d like to hear from you about are outlined in each section and also covered in the survey.

Watch out special Office Hours sessions where we talked directly with the community about this topic. Available on YouTube.

Ads + Pay for Ad-free

The most voted option in our poll with a narrow lead was “Ads + Pay for Ad-free”. I’m an adblock man myself, but do occasionally turn it off when it’s a site that I support and if their ads are conservative and non-invasive. We’ve dug into this option some and it sounds like we could work with the team that helped with ads on Flickr and Imgur, both services that I’d say are pretty good about keeping ads conservative and working efficiently in a feed based system.

Ads would only be displayed in areas that don’t include NSFW content (similar to how Reddit handles their ads). I’d like to avoid ever having to run “hot AI singles in your area” ads, and hope that some of the next ideas can help us avoid that.

I imagine we would test putting ads in some of the following locations:

  • Every few rows of feeds as a single card

  • In the image details sidebar under the comments

  • As a separator between the comments and gallery on model pages

  • As a separator between the article and the comments on article pages

  • On a new “Downloading now” modal that we’d introduce (more on that below)

  • When waiting for images to generate on the queue area of the generator

  • On a page were you can browse ads to earn Buzz (not sure if this is really an option 🤣)

“Downloading now” modal
This would be a new in site modal (similar to the report modal) that would appear when you press the download button on a resource. To make it easy to resume viewing images and details about the resource you’re downloading after your download starts, there would be a prominent close button and the ability to either press the ESC key or simply click outside the modal to resume browsing. This modal would also serve as a place to feature Donation Goals (more on this later) from creators and Civitai.

Allowing the community to buy ad slots

In the discussion, a few community members expressed an interest in being able to pay for impressions in a ad slot in a specific place on the site. For example, the first ad spot in the model feed. I think it could be cool to allow members of the community to pay Buzz for a number of impressions. The end result would be a place were you could feature your latest model, article, etc to millions of people already active and engaged in the community. If we went this route, ads would need to be reviewed before they were live. Different ad spaces would carry different Buzz per Impression prices.

Since these are made by members of the community and hosted by us, these wouldn’t be block by ad block. We’d always include a call out that the spot is a “Paid” or “Sponsored” spot, to avoid confusion.

These slots would be available in the same locations as mentioned above.

My thoughts

This seems like a pretty good option. Big social platforms thrive on ads. However, with so many people using ad block on desktop which makes up 75% of our traffic, maybe there won’t be enough impressions to have this cover much of our costs. Additionally, as part of the Creators Program, which I’ll cover next, we plan to pay creators for the impressions ads on their content receive, but since people can visit a model page once, download a model, and then never visit the creators page again, I’m not sure that this will be a great monetization option for resource creators.

To Discuss

  • What ad locations would be horrible? What ad locations should we consider instead?

  • If someone has ad block on, what should we display in the placeholders we have for ads?

  • Would you be interested in being able to buy ad space? What would you put in there? How much Buzz would you pay to have a space at the top of the model or image feed for a day?

Creators Program

Since around this time last year, our goal has been to find a way to help creators earn the money they need to thrive. We’re always happy to hear about creators earning money and we’re excited to finally be able to be a part of that with the unofficial introduction of our Creators Program.

Earning Money as a Creator

  • We pay $1 for ⚡1,000 with a 30% Platform Fee. You give us ⚡1,000 we give you $0.70.

  • We pay ⚡10 for every 1,000 ad impressions on your content.

  • We pay ⚡10 for each unique user that downloads your early access resources. This would use the early access system that already exists and be limited to 14 days.

  • We pay ⚡10 for every 100 images generated with your resource.

  • We’re adding the ability to tip or donate directly in Dollars rather than just Buzz. If a Dollar Tip is sent we only charge the fees necessary to cover our payment processing.

These values could change. For example, once we actually see how much ad impressions are worth for example, we might increase or decrease the amount of Buzz that we give for 1,000 impressions.

The Platform Fee

While some of this would go to cover payment processing, the majority of it would actual go toward offsetting the cost of the Buzz that we give as part of our rewards program. That’s the Buzz that we give out for reacting to content, making your first post each day, as well as for receiving reactions and more. We see the rewards program as an important way to recognize and give value to people that are helping make Civitai be a great place to be.

Since introducing the Buzz reward for reacting to content each day, we saw a 60% jump in the number of people that react to content each day. I don’t know about you, but getting reactions on my images certainly makes me feel good about posting, so it’s awesome to see more people reacting now.

Program Requirements

  • You have a Civitai Membership

  • You reside in a supported country

  • You have Stripe account. We work with Stripe for payouts.

  • Applications are prioritized by the following engagement metrics:

    • Followers

    • Unique downloads

    • Unique generations

    • Unique reactions

We’re still a small team and having gotten any automation in place for this yet, so it will probably take us a while to review applications. We’ll do our best to make it clear where you sit in the queue. Perhaps by showing you your position in the queue and goal metrics to move ahead in the queue.

To Discuss

  • Rather than open applications where you might be stuck waiting for a long time, does it make more sense to have fixed requirements that limit the applicants so that we can process them more quickly?

  • Should we offer a platform fee reduction based on creator engagement milestones like 1k, 5k, 10k followers and similar with downloads and generations?

  • Should we consider removing or reducing the Buzz rewards program so that the platform fee can be lower?

Goodbye Clubs. Hello Hives!

Several people mentioned that they were initially excited about Clubs because they thought they were a way for groups to swarm around areas of interest such as a video game series, areas of AI development, or even a fandom of a well-known AI creator. So, after killing Clubs, it only seemed right to introduce something that did that, thus Hives were born.

What is a Hive

  • Joining a Hive is free

  • Hives can be public or invite only (like a sub-reddit)

  • Posting in a Hive can be limited to Keepers (the people that manage a Hive), require Keeper review, or be completely open to members

  • Hive Keepers can ban misbehaving members from their Hive

  • Hives can restrict the NSFW level of content posted to the Hive

  • Hives can feature Donation Goals (outlined later)

  • Images posted to a Hive will show up in feeds and show where the Hive they were posted to so that people can find Hives they’re interested in.

  • Hives can list other Hives they recommend

Limit Posting X-Rated Content to Hives and X-Rated Models?

This was mentioned by a few people in the call for feedback, and as I discussed it with the team and other community members, there was a surprising amount of support for this idea. The primary reasons where:

  • Allows niche interests to thrive without users having to accidentally stumble upon them. For example, if Furries aren’t your jam, you won’t run into them unless you visit a Furry focused Hive.

  • Keeps more of the site safe for people not interested in X-Rated content since our AI taggers aren’t perfect.

To make it easier to find X-Rated content from Model pages that don’t allow it, if you have X-Rated content turned on, we could call out Hives that feature content using the model so that you can continue your browsing there.

To Discuss

  • Should we discourage invite only Hives? We could consider charging a Buzz fee to make an invite only Hive. Should we not support invite only Hives at all?

  • Should resources posted to a Hive be public even if the Hive is invite only?

  • What do you think about limiting X-Rated content to Hives and X-Rated models? What should happen to X-Rated content posted to areas that don’t have an X-Rating?

  • Should we offer Hive upgrades similar to Discord with Boosting? For example, we could offer a custom url for a Hive like if the Hive pays some amount of Buzz each month. What about having several tiers of Boosting like Discord?

Donation Goals

One thing that we heard over and over again was that it was not obvious that you could donate to us and that we needed to make it easier to give to us and to creators, Donation Goals aims to fix that. A Donation Goal can be created by us, a member of the Creator Program, or a Hive with a Keeper that is a member of the Creator Program.

Donation Goals Include:

  • A dollar amount goal

  • A short title with the ability to click for more details

  • An optional deadline (a fixed date like January 31st)

Donations can be made in Buzz or Dollars. If Buzz is donated, our platform fee will be applied and the Buzz will be converted to Dollars towards the goal. If the goal is to donate to a supported charity, there is no platform fee.

Creator Donation Locations

  • On the new “downloading now” modal after a user has downloaded a certain number of things from a creator with a callout for how many things they’ve downloaded.

  • Under the creator card on a model page

  • On the creator profile page

  • On the Hive sidebar

  • On the review card after someone leaves a positive review

If a creator doesn’t have a goal running, we’d display a general call to Tip the creator in these locations.

Civitai Donation Locations

  • On the new “downloading now” modal after a user has downloaded a certain number of things

  • In the nav bar when we’re nearing the end of the donation deadline and haven’t met our goal

Example Donation Goals

These are just my ideas and they might be terrible…

  • “Should Civitai add Donation Goals? Goal: $5k”

  • “Should I make 10 more characters from the request list? Show me you want it! Goal: $100”

  • “Should I train the next version of Ultima Model? Show your interest here! Goal: $20”

  • “Should I add this feature to my Automatic 1111 extension? Goal: $100”

  • A set of competing goals “Make a bunny woman character. Goal: $5” Or “Make a fox woman character. Goal: $5”

  • “Help fight Type 1 Diabetes! Goal: $10k”

To Discuss

  • What do you think of the locations for the creator donation goals?

  • What are some better examples you have in mind so that we can communicate this more effectively?

  • What do you think about including Polls in Donation Goals so that people donating can vote on what should be made?

Nexus Mods Style Download Speed Limits?

A ton of people suggested this. Nexus Mods limits the download speed of users that don’t have a membership to 3MB/s if you have ads enabled and 1.5MB/s if you have ad block on.

Here’s what the average download times would be if you were someone that used ad block:

  • SDXL Checkpoint: 1 hour (6 GB)

  • SD 1.5 Checkpoint: 20 minutes (2 GB)

  • SDXL LoRA: 3 minutes (200 MB)

  • SD 1.5 LoRA: 1 minute (100 MB)

  • Textual Inversion: 5 seconds (5 MB)

Other limits than a speed limit?

Having to wait an hour for a checkpoint seems like it would be really frustrating, so here are a few alternative proposals that equate to the same limits:

  • Hourly download size limit: 10GB/hr if you have ads on, 6GB/hr if you have ads off. If the thing you’re downloading exceeds the limit, the GB/hr would be pulled from the next hour and you’d still be able to download the file.

  • Hourly download amount limit: These are based on how much you could download given the Nexus Mods speed limit.

    • SDXL Checkpoints: Ads 2, No-ads 1

    • SD 1.5 Checkpoints: Ads 6, No-ads 3

    • SDXL LoRA: Ads 40, No-ads 20

    • SD 1.5 LoRA: Ads 120, No-ads 60

    • Textual Inversions: Unlimited

My Thoughts

While this could definitely encourage people to get a membership, I hate the idea of a download speed limit, but maybe that’s because I’m spoiled by fast internet download speeds and used to getting SDXL checkpoints so much faster. If you’re not someone that downloads checkpoints often, or your internet doesn’t go much faster than the speed limit, perhaps this might not bother you.

I don’t want to do this, but think this still merits discussion since it was something that was mentioned so much. Ultimately, I’d prefer to avoid any situation where someone decides to go somewhere else to get a model, as this would likely lead to people just reuploading things to other places outside the control of the creator who made the resource.

To Discuss

  • Do you think we should impose any of these download limits? If so, which do you prefer?

  • Why am I wrong about this? With so many of you pushing for this one, I feel like I must be missing something…

The second most voted option in our poll was paid generation. We added generation to the site to make experiencing the joy of mixing and matching resources something that was accessible to anyone, so ensuring we have a good amount of free generation is important to me, but having no limits isn’t really something that can make sense long term and it’s already being abused.

Once this is implemented, the generator will need to be charged up with Buzz to use it. Every day we’ll charge up your generator to 200 Buzz for free. That means you’ll be able to generate 200 images using SD 1.5 or about 75 images using SDXL each day for free. This should be enough to test out checkpoints and LoRAs before you download them, or to explore an idea on the go.

If you want to generate more than that, you can choose exactly how much Buzz you want to put into the generator from your Buzz Wallet. Also, just because you went through your free charge for the day doesn’t me you can’t keep generating for free, you can always earn several hundred more Buzz each day by engaging with the community through our rewards program. For example, you can earn 100 Buzz each day just by reacting to 25 images that you like. If you love to generate and that still doesn’t get you enough Buzz, we’re going to offer generator charge with the new membership tiers that I’ll talk about later.

We hope that by beginning to charge for generation and hopefully getting lots of interest in it that we can expand the team that supports the development of the generator and add all of the features and scripts that people love to use in Automatic1111. We’re actually already testing Comfy workflow support too!

To Discuss

  • What do you think about the concept of charging up the generator? Is it confusing? We wanted to be able to give free Buzz for image generation each day, but thought it would be weird to have Buzz that you could only use in the generator.

  • Is the daily free charge up of 200 Buzz enough?

We introduced the alpha version of Civitai Link in February of last year along with the introduction of our Supporter Tier membership. It’s an early access feature that is only available to supporters, but it makes it so that you can add and remove checkpoints, LoRAs, and textual inversions from your Automatic1111 installation with the click of a button while you browse. It’s really convenient, but since it’s built into our Automatic1111 extension, there can be a variety of issues the make it not work consistently for some people. It does this through direct communication between your browser and your machine, allowing you to maintain privacy.

To make sure that we offer something great to members that prefer to generate images locally, we’re going to rebuild Civitai Link from the ground up as a stand-alone application and give it a bunch of new awesome features:

  • Set your models folder to whatever you want so that it can be used by Comfy, Automatic1111, or Fooocus.

  • Set your desired disk space limit and when you’re going to exceed that limit by adding something we’ll automatically offload resources that you haven’t used recently to private cloud storage (50GB storage included with membership). If there are things that you always want to have available, you can pin them and we’ll keep them on your computer.

  • Browse and manage your model library on the go using a new My Library page. To maintain privacy, you can opt to only allow this through direct communication with your machine, or allow us to store the status of your library so that your machine can automatically sync the next time its online.

If you need more than 50GB of storage, additional blocks of 1TB can be added to your membership for $25 per month.

This is something that I and many members of the team have wanted for quite some time, but other projects have kept us too occupied. I really look forward to building this if you guys are excited about it.

To Discuss

  • Would you be interested in being able to do even faster downloads as an upgrade to Civitai Link? We’re currently testing out a new storage service that should allow download speeds of 500MB/s to 2,500MB/s anywhere in the world. That’s up to 50x faster than the peak download speeds I’ve seen with our current provider. If you have god-like 20 gigabit internet, you’d be able to download an SDXL checkpoint in 2 seconds.

  • Should we consider adding a free tier for Civitai Link? Maybe we could limit how many things they could download through Link per day and not offer the disk space management and offloading.

Membership Tiers

Something that came up quite a bit was that we should have additional membership tiers. Here’s what we have in mind.

All Memberships

  • Ad free browsing

  • Civitai Link

  • Unique Supporter Badge each month

  • Can equip special cosmetics

  • Exclusive Discord channels

  • Early access content

  • Early access to new features

Bronze: $5/month

  • ⚡5k charge-up for your generator each month

  • ⚡3k Buzz to spend around the site

Silver: $10/month

  • ⚡10k charge-up for your generator each month

  • ⚡6k Buzz to spend around the site

Gold: $25/month

  • ⚡25k charge-up for your generator each month

  • ⚡15k Buzz to spend around the site

  • Unique Animated Supporter Badge each month

If the community decided we should do the download limits, then there would be things for that as part of the membership tiers as well.

To Discuss

  • Anything else you think we could offer as part of the memberships?

  • Are the various tiers appealing enough? Which would you get? Why?

  • Should we have an even higher tier?

  • What should we name them? Bronze, Silver, and Gold feels pretty generic.

New Cosmetics

Cosmetics are fun and I enjoyed reading the various comments from community members about Badges and the desire to have more ways to customize their profile and build their Civitai collection. To allow more personalization we’d like to introduce 4 more types of cosmetics.

Profile Background

Dress up your creator profile with a unique background.

Creator Card Background

Make your creator card stand out in leaderboards, on your images, and on your model page with a unique creator card background.

Avatar Decoration

Requires Membership to Equip
Stand out even when we only show your profile picture by equipping a special decoration for your avatar.

Content Frame

Requires Membership to Equip
Want to get your content more attention in the feeds? Equip a content frame to your post, model, or article to make it stand out in the crowd.

A content frame comes with a limited number of uses. After that, you’ll need to pay Buzz for each additional use. This keeps things from getting too crazy and forces you to be more selective about what you give special flair.

To Discuss

  • Are there other cosmetics you think we should consider adding? Do you think they would be better than the ones that we suggested if we could only do 4 right now?

  • Do you think it’s fair to have certain cosmetics limited to paying members? This is similar to Discord.

  • What do you think about the limited uses of content frames? Should they be able to pay for additional uses?

Custom Creator Badges

Badges are a fun and unique collectable that give you a way to demonstrate your accolades on Civitai. We want to extend the ability for creators to make their own badges so that they can have something special to hand out to participants of special events they run or donors to their Donation Goal.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Creator reviews our Badge design guidelines and how-to create a Badge video

  2. Creator creates a custom Badge

  3. Creator submits the custom Badge for review along with the Custom Badge Fee

  4. Badge is reviewed and approved by our team

  5. Creator is given the Badge to hand out

To keep the value of Badges high and ensure they stay unique and fun to collect, we have a Custom Badge Fee. We think ⚡20k Buzz for a custom Badge that you can hand out to 100 people is a good place to start, but that may need to change later.

Creators would be able to hand them out through DMs (still coming…), via Donations to a Goal that met certain criteria, or via a unique link.

To Discuss

  • Would you want to be able to create other cosmetics? Which ones?

  • What else do you think creators could use custom cosmetics for?

  • Should we only allow a limited number of custom cosmetics to be created to try and ensure they stay special?

Wow. That was a lot! If you read all of the sections, thank you, I hope you appreciate the thought we’ve put into this and I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments and your answers in our survey.

Take The Survey Now

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