Don't know what I'm talking about? Here are the details in wreckling's journal: wreckling.deviantart.com/journ…
Right, have you read all that then?
This is currently available as a widget only to Beta testers, but by the looks of what it says in the journal, other members can still request commissions from Beta testers.
Why is this widget a problem?
Look closer: Artists can track their Commission transactions and generate real profit through My Earnings, garnering 80% royalty on each transaction.
80% royalty. 80% royalty
This means that deviantART will be taking 20% of whatever you earn using this widget. This is a massive transaction fee - think about Etsy, a service which only charges 3.5% of each transaction, and also offers many more features, including a better marketing platform.
However, this isn't my only or main gripe with the widget. My main gripe is that there is also a cap on how much you can earn from a single transaction on this site (I believe that according to other users who have looked into it, you also can't have different amounts for different commissions either, so forget it if you do a few different types of art and charge differently for each one).
The cap on what you can earn per transaction is 4000 points, which can be withdrawn as £31.05 (that's $50.06). Don't forget that you only get 80% of that! That's £24.84, or $40.05.
This widget is promoting the idea that a piece of artwork can be worth no more than this set amount. If you're trying to earn a basic living from doing commissions, don't use this widget, especially if you plan on spending more than a couple of hours on a piece of commissioned artwork: you'll be earning a lot less than minimum wage, and that is the price level that this widget is promoting to young artists. Personally, I don't think I've ever sold a piece of artwork for less than $100 and I know that deviantART is already rife with people who undersell themselves and each other. This breeds among buyers the opinion that they can get professional quality work for unprofessional prices. It exacerbates the problem that many people in the job offers forum already expect to be able to get full scale pieces of artwork for the price of a few beers.
Let's go back to the 20% 'transaction fee'. Money-handling companies do charge transaction fees generally. Paypal charges a small fee (it's something like 1.4% to 3.4% depending). Oh, and don't forget, if you want to withdraw money from this deviantART commissions widget via Paypal... you'll be paying Paypal fees on top of the 20% cut, apparently. Doesn't seem worth it, does it? Anyway, yes - money-handling companies do charge a small fee. I've already mentioned Etsy and its transaction fee of 3.5%. This, to me, does not sound the same as 20%, and Etsy, especially tailored for selling, offers you a lot more features for your money.
It could be argued that deviantART is a selling platform on which to advertise, but in my opinion, if dA want to charge a transaction fee for commissions (especially a huge one) they want to be guaranteeing that artists will have buyers crawling out of the woodwork all over the place to commission them for art. Advertising on deviantART is extremely difficult (oh, and you can advertise on the site in the form of the banner ads - BUT THAT ALREADY COSTS MONEY) because there is such a large user base and most of them are SELLERS, not buyers. Sure, deviantART offers you a gallery, and more refined features are available in which to display your work and attract people (well... if they even stumble across your gallery in the first place) via Premium Membership - but guess what, Premium Membership costs money too!
My advice to you: if you want to do commissions, please learn to write your own contracts, think about minimum wage for the hours you put into your work, and manage your own fee collecting: you'll thank yourself later.
Some people have put forward the worry that deviantART is going to ban people from doing commissions unless it's through this widget. This is a bit of a strawman argument. However, if it does happen... well...