Altairation: Episode I

Altairation: Episode I

Update: This recap has been updated with the changes made to where consent to viewing pronouns can be made. Please see the Onboarding section for more details.


If you were able to join us live or you're here to catch the VOD, thank you. This last year and a half could not have happened without your support and belief in us. We are eternally grateful for your time and patience.

While captions were not available during the livestream our VOD will be captioned for those that need and want them. However, we want to also do a recap for you all because we understand that your time is valuable and you may not have the ability to sit down to watch (or rewatch) the Altairation. If you'd like to watch the VOD (with subtitles), it's available below:

As always, feel free to scroll down to the bottom the article if you'd like the TLDR.

Release Timing

We are a committing to Season 1 beginning by the end of Q1 of 2022 (or March 31st). Season 0, or what we've referred to as our "Visionary beta" will begin as soon as we start welcoming our Visionaries into the service.

Future Altairations

To set expectations we'll be airing two more Altairations before then with tentative dates of early February and March. Altairations II and III will focus on more specific parts of the product as those pieces get finalized, developed, and tested.
Subtitled VODs, as well as summaries of each Altairation, will be posted on our blog shortly after they air in a similar manner to this recap.

Policy vs Procedure

Altair policies are created not only for the protection of users but for the platform as we deal with third parties to provide these services to you all. For example our policy vs procedure scenario for payouts. Here is a snippet of that policy:

“For each Pay Period, a minimum of $100 must accrue to Creator's account before Altair Interactive will remit payment to Creator. Altair Interactive will have no obligation to pay Creator unless and until the balance of Creator's account with Altair Interactive exceeds $100."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? However, while the policy is in place for Altair's protection from payment processors our procedure is still the eventuality plan we outlined previously. Users will receive payouts once they reach $100 or have carried a balance for 3 months.  

This type of scenario will be applicable in other areas of Altair. We plan to, and in more places than just our policy documents, outline what our procedures are to the best of our ability. Any changes to our procedures will be communicated with you with the same importance and urgency as a legal policy change.

Consent is a key pillar of Altair's foundation. Most of the features on Altair will be opt-in from both the provider and the consumer's end. For example, metrics are opt-in, which is one of the pieces we harp about the most. But seeing those metrics are also opt-in. If someone choses to share their metrics, such as their follower number or how many users were watching them, and you (as the consumer) didn't want to see any metrics on the service whatsoever, you could do that.

So every permission is more challenging to implement because we have to derive what dictates "consent" from this.

Chat

Chat is currently unavailable because we're building our own platform in-house. Originally we looked to Matrix for our chat system but after difficulties for not only ourselves but our Visionary developers we decided to move to building it ourselves.

By creating chat in-house, we can leverage the existing technology stack that Revsys, some old friends of Bryan, has been helping us build, and we're able to make it uniquely Altair. For one, it's going to be modern and well-documented. That’s a given. Oh! And we've already begun discussions with our developer Visionaries about what they'd like to see out of a bespoke chat system.

Moderation and Safety

We can't talk about chat without talking about chat and platform safety, and that's what we're excited to share about this change in direction. This has allowed us to more confidently plan and prioritize features we had originally intended for later seasons to instead be launch-ready in the spring. With the opportunities we've had to talk to numerous marginalized creators about their experiences over the last year.

When it comes to moderation, we'll have everything you expect for managing a chat environment: modification of banned terms, the ability to ban and unban users, timeouts and message purging. Speaking of banhammers, if you combine that with the ability to toggle your channel to only be viewed by other authenticated users (another example of consent as we talked about earlier), it could help lock out a banned user from accessing your channel. Creators will also be able to import and export ban lists, as another example, which will allow communities to share a common safety framework. From a platform level, one feature we're building is a global word deny list against well-known slurs.

We will also be implementing an automated chat protection system. Now, like most systems created to prevent bad actors—anti-cheat software, for example—we won't divulge exactly how it works to hamper bad actors from circumventing it. The system is designed to mitigate coordinated attacks like hate raids. Even though our barriers to entry are higher than most other social media services, we're not taking any chances on the safety of our user base.

The harder we can make it for a person with mal-intent to get in, the better. If they do get in and start crapping in the proverbial sandbox, a support request will be created for that user, and our support team will attempt to remediate the situation. If remediation doesn't work, that user will lose their ability to use our platform. Note that this isn't designed to replace support, but it intends to significantly augment our smaller support team.

Our ability to grow our support team and other departments, in general, is directly tied to our growth as a business. Therefore, as Altair grows and improves, so will this system.

Registration and 2FA

Registration will start with choosing how you want to log into your Altair account. You can create an Altair account and log in with those credentials, but you can also use a Discord or a Google account as well if you’d like.

Next, you’ll choose your Altair username. If you used a third-party service to authenticate your Altair account, like Discord or Google, we don’t assume that you want your Altair username to be the same as what you use on that service, so no need to worry.  

Also, just a heads up to all our Visionaries who have already reserved your usernames, this workflow will be slightly different. Rest assured that you don’t need to race to reserve your usernames - we have you covered.

Next, it’s time to enroll in two-factor authentication. Currently, Altair requires you to use a True One Time Password, or TOTP, supported authentication tool to provide a second factor in addition to your password. We’re also working on adding additional factor options that are more accessibility friendly, but those aren’t quite ready to show yet.

In order to enroll, you’ll need to use a TOTP app. You might already have one of these. If you use apps like Google Authenticator, Authy, or 1Password, then you’re already set. If not, you’ll want to get one. In following best security practices for using two-factor authentication, we do recommend you use a separate device from your computer to serve as your second factor. This could be a smartphone or a tablet. If you don’t happen to have one of those, you can also use desktop apps provided by Google Authenticator or Authy, they work just the same as their smartphone app counterparts.

We will provide a QR code you can use on a smartphone or tablet to enroll your device  However, if you’re using a desktop application for your TOTP factor, or if reading the QR code doesn’t work, you can also type in the provided manual code. Once you’ve added Altair to your TOTP app, we confirm that the system works by entering the code that your TOTP app provides into the page. That’s all there is to it.

In case you lose your second factor, we also generate backup codes. These should ideally only be used in an emergency, as each of these backup codes is one-time use only. We highly recommend that you save these somewhere safe. If you don’t have these and lose access to your second factor, it will make account recovery pretty difficult.

Once you’ve completed your 2FA enrollment, we’ll verify your email address. Once you get an email from us, use the link within that email to complete verification.

Onboarding

Once you've completed your account registration we start the process of allowing you to tell us, and others, about yourself. As a user on Altair, Identity is one of our core tenets, so in Onboarding you, the first thing we ask you for is your pronouns. We have quite a few options here, but we also know that some folks have hybrid pronouns that aren’t completely covered by these options. Hybrid pronouns are coming soon though, so please look forward to it in a future update.

Consent being another of our core tenets, we also ask you for your consent as to who can see your pronouns, as well as whether you’d prefer to see others pronouns on Altair in chat.

Update: we originally said in the Altairation users would be able to choose to not see someone's pronouns in chat or on their profile. The decision to not see someone's pronoun in chat was made because it would be persistently available on user profile cards which we have not shown yet. However, allowing folks to choose to not see pronouns on someone's profile has been removed.

Next, if you’d like, you can choose a flag to represent your identity if you want. Currently, our flag choices are for folks within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, but we have more in the works. We are also currently working on solutions for users that align with multiple identity options.

Alright, once we’ve done that, now’s the time to choose Personas. On Altair, we recognize that not everyone on the platform is here to create content, so we don’t assume that out the gate. This allows us to provide you with a more Mindful experience from the beginning of your time with us, another of our Tenets.
Personas are not a single choice - you can choose to have one, many, or all personas on your account. Right now, we only have support for the Streamer persona, but we want to add Personas for Artists, Musicians, and more in the coming seasons.

Some of our personas, including streamer, require additional onboarding that will happen after this general user onboarding. This is to allow us to collect the information required to facilitate payments. We’re looking forward to showing you how that works in a future Altairation.

Lastly, you’ve got some profile information to fill out here. This is information that you’re comfortable sharing with everyone on Altair. This includes a profile photo, a small bio, or biography about yourself, and if you’re enrolling with the streamer persona, we’ll also ask about what kind of content you expect to stream. You can change this at any time after enrollment so you don’t have to decide right away, or worry about changing it if your community shifts in a different direction.

Profile Information

We’ve made some pretty neat changes to how profiles will look and feel on Altair. In our previous Profile design, there wasn’t a whole lot one could do with it. Your bio and your pronouns would appear, and the header area was pretty static across all users. Now, we’ve added some options to allow you to customize your header, and make it more you.

If you’re a streamer and you’re offline, or if you’re a user that doesn’t have the streamer persona, the type of information you’ll want to showcase is different than when a streamer persona is online on their profile. We recognize that, so we made a few changes here as well.

We won’t show the player for watching live video here if you’re an offline streamer, or if you’re not a streamer. If you’d like, you can upload an image here, or even have a highlight video but you're not obligated to.

Lastly on profiles, we completed our first pass on our profile modules. These will allow you to add info or links to socials or other sites your community might be interested in, and have some pretty sweet customization options.

Wrap-up

Let's rewind a little bit as we finish this recap. One of the earliest initiatives Bryan wrote for the team was something that he dubbed "Project Crusade." For those of you unaware, as many other content creators have done over the years, he gave his community a name: the Crusaders.

So, Project Crusade was created to answer the question, "what do we need to build to move his community to Altair?" Those answers served as a guide to what Season 0 and Season 1 would need to be before launch. Given the events of the last year, the scope of that project has grown to encompass not only the features you would expect, like emotes and acceptable video quality but also the safety you and your community deserve. When it comes down to it, technology is just that, technology.

When Altair launches, all you'll need to do is change the service your streaming to in your software of choice. So while we're incredibly excited about a lot of the technological advances that lie farther down our roadmap, we're attempting to contribute to the greater good of the industry based on our tenets and principles. How fast your video travels from one computer to another, or what resolution and bitrate you can create with, doesn't matter if you neither trust nor feel safe on the platform you're using.

Our measure of success is seeing all of the communities that choose us as a part- or full-time home thrive. To see creators thrive. To move the needle on an industry that for too long hasn't prioritized the wellness of their most dedicated. We are working to make sure Altair can have a small part in that greater journey.

And that wraps it up for the first of hopefully many Altairations to come. Bryan would like to thank his team for sticking with him for the past year and a half. Also, to the Crusaders, Revsys, our Visionaries, Alex Yang, Zach Holman, and our investors on Wefunder—thank you for believing in us.

From all of us on Team Altair, have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

We'll see you in 2022.


We know we said a lot in the Altairation so here's a little recap below.

TLDR:

  • We are a committing to Season 1 beginning by the end of Q1 of 2022 (or March 31st).
  • There will be two more Altairations set during Season 0 which will focus more on features. They will also receive recaps similar to this one.
  • Policy vs Procedure situations, such as the creator payouts scenario described, will be outlined alongside the policy and be explained in various other relevant spots on the platform.
  • Consent is a core pillar of Altair's feature permissions. Examples of a feature consent scenario are creators choosing that allow their metrics be shown but users choosing to not see them or creators choosing to not allow unauthenticated users to watch their content.
  • Chat development has been shifted to being developed in-house due to the complications that we and our developer Visionaries experienced with Matrix.
  • We will have the expected moderation tools (channel level banned terms, banning/unbanning users, purging messages, and timeouts).
  • In addition to this creators can choose to prevent unauthenticated users from viewing their content.
  • Altair will have a global banned terms list against well-known slurs, and will have an automated chat protection system designed to mitigate coordinated attacks like hate raids.
  • Users can choose to log into Altair with an Altair account, or with their Discord or Gmail accoutns. 2FA is required for all accounts. Once users have authenticated their account with 2FA they can begin onboarding.
  • Onboarding allows users to choose the information they wish to share about themselves and the information they wish to see on the platform. There will be additional onboarding (which will be shown later) for users that choose a streamer persona.
  • We made some updates to profiles to allow users to customize their headers. We've also introduced profile modules (which are customizable as well).
  • When users are offline (of if they're not a streamer) the video player will be hidden. Users can choose to add an image or video highlight of themselves if they'd like.