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Last post Author Topic: Change to Official License Key Policy  (Read 17347 times)

mouser

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Change to Official License Key Policy
« on: December 11, 2005, 11:07:04 PM »
Following a discussion on alt.comp.freeware (see this thread http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=1756.0), we have decided to make a change to the License Key policy at DonationCoder.com.

Our old policy was that users who do not donate can download freeware license keys that eliminate all reminders for 6 months.  After 6 months the program would stop working until they come back to the key download page here and grab another 6-month freeware license key for the next 6 months, and this process could be repeated indefinitely.

Our new policy for non-donator freeware licenses is as follows:
  • programs will no longer stop working after the license period.  They will only show startup reminder nags when a freeware license "expires."
  • non-donators can generate a 6-month license key twice.  After that period (1 year), they can visit the page and generate permanent non-expiring license keys that will never require them to generate another key or see another nage.

In summary, we are making it easier for people who cannot or do not wish to donate to use our programs freely without worry.  There is now no risk of programs stopping working after some period, and no one has to resign themselves to visiting our site every 6 months indefinitely if they've already made clear they are not going to donate.

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2005, 11:21:28 PM »
Note: we are open to further suggestions, and as we have made clear in the past our intention is not to punish those who can't donate, but mainly to encourage people who are willing to donate to actually follow through, and to give us a chance to make our case to people who normally might not pay attention.

An interesting issue is whether we should really require people to come back to the site twice before giving them the permanent non-expiring license.  It may be that this is overkill, and we should simply require an initial 6-month freeware license key, followed by giving them the permanent non-expiring license key on their next visit. We are open to making this change in the future.

Arguing for it is the idea that if they are still using it 6-months later but still don't want to make a donation, then they probably are not going to be effected by making them wait another 6 months.

Arguing against it is the idea that after 6 months they might be exactly ready to donate having realized they like the program, but that having a single click to get a non-expiring license may be just too easy to push and be done with (as opposed to going through the steps of donating), and so having to renew once may be just the motivation needed to differentiate the reluctantly lazy from the committed non-donator :)

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2005, 11:42:15 PM »
One more thing: I've said this before but I'll repeat it here again for those who are concerned about such possibilities.  This site is not going anywhere, but if people are afraid that somehow the site will dissapear one day, I'll state the following openly: should the site ever close up shop and/or stop  giving out license keys, then all members with full license keys are hereby granted permission to share these keys legally with the public for anyone to use.  This should allay any fears that somehow something will happen in that year long period that would make it impossible for people to get their permanent non-expiring key.

rjbull

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2005, 03:57:36 AM »
Minor point you haven't made yet - anyone who is a committed user of one of your programs would probably want to come back at six-monthly intervals anyway, in case there's an updated version?

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2005, 04:01:41 AM »
very good point -
there are very few programs on our site that take a license key that don't get updated more frequently that once every 6 months.  plus there are new programs, etc.  so very good point.

brotherS

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2005, 08:41:38 AM »
Minor point you haven't made yet - anyone who is a committed user of one of your programs would probably want to come back at six-monthly intervals anyway, in case there's an updated version?
Well, the popular apps are listed on http://fileforum.betanews.com/ etc., so that wouldn't necessarily "bring 'em back home".

mrainey

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2005, 10:29:37 AM »
Just read this at http://www.portablef...ws.php?date=20051212


12 Dec 2005: I have been informed by Chris that DonationCoder apps are nagware. After 180 days, the nags will start to appear and you need to get a license key via donation to turn them off. As such, I have removed their apps from the database: FindRun Robot, DragDrop Robot and System Path Commander.

Software For Metalworking
http://closetolerancesoftware.com

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2005, 11:13:06 AM »
that's really sad - maybe the new policy will convince them to change that.

i do *not* think donationcoder.com apps qualify as nagware.  my understanding in general of nagware is that the program puts up a nag message on a regular basis (ie on every use) until you buy it.  that's not how donationcoder.com apps work.

you are only nagged to download a freeware key which last for 6 months, then you are told to get another after 6 months, then you are told once again at the 1 year period to go download a full non-expiring non-nagging license.  3 nags over period of 1 year and then never again doesn't seem to be too much of a burden i should hope.

mrainey

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2005, 11:53:28 AM »
Three in a year, then no more, ever?  Man, that's five minutes of my VALUABLE time!  Your dozens (hundreds?) of hours of programming time don't mean squat to me, I want it NOW and I want it FREE!  And what's more, I want THAT and THAT added to the next version, or I'll have to use THIS instead of your crap!


Software For Metalworking
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mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2005, 12:00:44 PM »
btw. speaking for myself and my programs listed on this site, we are talking about several thousands of hours of programming time by me over several years.

vegas

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2005, 12:26:00 PM »
Oh well, ya can't please everybody and some are alot harder to please than others ;) Moving on with development.....

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2005, 12:31:53 PM »
had another idea of another change that might satisfy some people and keep in spirit of the site.

some people object to having to sign up at the forum (though i know if they looked around the forum they'd see it was a good idea), but anyway you can see why people might not like to have to sign up just to get a license key.

we could let people download like freeware renewable licenses without having to sign up at the forum (maybe only would last 1-4 months instead of 6?);  they just have to know that the 1 year permanent license only kicks in after a year from when they signed up at the forum (that's how it keeps track of when it's been a year); so that not signing up means never getting to that point.  just another idea worth thinking about.


Carol Haynes

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2005, 05:49:14 PM »
that's really sad - maybe the new policy will convince them to change that.

i do *not* think donationcoder.com apps qualify as nagware.  my understanding in general of nagware is that the program puts up a nag message on a regular basis (ie on every use) until you buy it.  that's not how donationcoder.com apps work.

you are only nagged to download a freeware key which last for 6 months, then you are told to get another after 6 months, then you are told once again at the 1 year period to go download a full non-expiring non-nagging license.  3 nags over period of 1 year and then never again doesn't seem to be too much of a burden i should hope.

I agree absolutely - maybe they have misinterpreted what is on offer. To me nag-ware means nagging you to buy something. I have tried a few apps before from one website (I won't mention names) that has free versions to download in the hope that you will think 'this is good maybe it is worth upgrading'. After using the 'free' software for more than 30 days it always asks on startup do you want to buy the full product. That is nag-ware. There is no way the DC software can be considered nag-ware.

Mouser why don't you contact them and point them at this thread ?

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2005, 05:55:39 PM »
i have emailed andrew a letter explaining the software and pointing them to this thread as well; i will report back any reply i get

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2005, 02:26:42 AM »
a new optional page has been added to the license key generation section; for those people who are dead set against signing up at the forum for whatever reason, they can now generate shorter lasting (you have to return to the page to make new key every 30 days) anonymous license keys.  At least this is a viable option for people who aren't sure yet they want to sign up or are having trouble signing up, etc.

See it in action here -> http://www.donationc...om/Keys/nosignup.php

Rover

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2005, 11:42:06 PM »
Three in a year, then no more, ever?  Man, that's five minutes of my VALUABLE time!  Your dozens (hundreds?) of hours of programming time don't mean squat to me, I want it NOW and I want it FREE!  And what's more, I want THAT and THAT added to the next version, or I'll have to use THIS instead of your crap!

Man, did that hurt to get your tongue that far into your cheek?   :Thmbsup:

Insert Brilliant Sig line here

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2005, 05:06:40 AM »
just an update from portablefreeware.com which was mentioned earlier in the thread.
i've spoken to the admin of the site.  he was very nice but decided that in his opinion the software here does not meet their definition of freeware and is instead nagware, even with the new more liberal license key policy.  not a big deal, just giving you an update.  he also suggested that we try to clarify the fact that people will need to download a license key and he might be right about that, so it's something to look into.

another idea that i thought of is, we could make it so that every program stops all nags and any need for a license key at all after 1 year of it's release date.  in other words, all releases over a year old become pure old fashioned no-key-required freeware.

Personally it's hard to understand why people wouldnt want to go through the super minimal effort of generating a freeware license key from our site, BUT, this would also satisfy any worries people might have about finding themselves one day without a useable program if they can't download a key for some reason.

some shareware programs give out older versions of their soft as freeware, this would be like that, except all versions are free, and this would be autamatic process whereby all releases cease needing license keys after 1 year.

the downsides would be:
1) need to keep around older releases for people to download
2) added complexity of explaining yet another option

Carol Haynes

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2005, 05:43:42 AM »
Quote
the downsides would be:
1) need to keep around older releases for people to download

Why? If all nags expire after a year then people using a release over a year old won't see nags. Don't really see why you need to keep ancient downloads available. If you feel the need then the simple answer is not to bother with licenses at all.

Is there any evidence that requiring licenses actually makes any difference to fund raising or participation? It is sobering to see how many people sign up to the site (presumably to get a license key) but then don't want to participate.

How about simpler licensing system - all programs require registration with a valid email address. A user would start the program and it asks you to register (or install a previous registration file if none is found) with an explanation of what the site is about and privacy etc. On registration they receive website user details and a link to the website to collect their global software key (so only need to register one program to register them all). Once a universal key is installed on the system (either in a standard play like C:\Windows, C:WinNT or as a registry key or in a user specified location) all other programs would instantly register themselves on the users system with no internet interaction. The registration system could also supply a link to a webpage to complete the registration if the user doesn't have internet access on that machine then it isn't a problem.

Then direct all help and support requests via the website in the Help Menu. This would have the added advantage of a central documentation location.

I realise you may not want to change things at this point, but this system would have the merit that all users have to register with the site to use the program (not exactly an onerous request) and this is a one off quick step.

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2005, 06:31:59 AM »
Quote
Is there any evidence that requiring licenses actually makes any difference to fund raising or participation? It is sobering to see how many people sign up to the site (presumably to get a license key) but then don't want to participate.

this is *the* question to ask.  because if the answer is that it only makes a small difference, then we should remove the license key stuff immediately.

there are clear disadvantages of using license keys, including added complexity, and some inevitable confusion and frustration from users.

so the question is, do the benefits of it offset these drawbacks.

as you say, the purpose of requiring license keys is:
  • to get people involved in the site; by signing up at the forum for a license key it means they have already taken the time to sign up at the forum, and so participation should be easier and less effort after that.
  • to get them to visit the site and look around, and unless they choose not to, to receive a newsletter every few weeks telling them whats new and hopefully keeping them informed about the site so they don't forget to visit.
  • through 1+2+ the small inconveniences of having to use non-member license keys, to motivate those who are willing to donate to actually go through with it.


the hard part is actually determining how much it is really helping these aims.

we've made clear that none of the procedures are set it stone, and i'm not wedded to using license keys at all if they are, on the whole, counter productive.

anyone have any suggestions as to how we could make such an assessment?

i can think of a few things we could try:
  • conduct a serious poll of people who have donated so far (and really try to emphasize how important it is for people to take the poll and answer truthfully), and ask these people if they think they would have donated if there was no license key thing or requirement to sign up.
  • conduct a poll of people who have posted on the forum at least once to vote in a poll about whether they think they would be participating if they hadn't had to sign up at the forum.
  • maybe we shouuld consider making a real 1 page survey (not a simple poll) that asked some other questions that would be useful to know the answers to, like feelings about donationware, how people would like to see website evolve, etc.
  • spend a couple of months releasing versions that don't use license keys of any sort, and see what changes we seen in donations, forum discussions, etc.


some options for future changes:
  • remove all license key use
  • or allow people to sign up at forum and then get full non-expiring license keys like all members do.
  • or keep things basically the way they are now

mrainey

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2005, 07:29:04 AM »
My somewhat cynical view.

I think the vast majority of computer users will pay for software only when they're forced to.  The idea of paying now in exchange for future support and updates is alien to them.

Many of them would prefer to walk three hours to get close to where they're going, rather than spend a dollar for a fifteen-minute bus ride to go right to their street.  Not very efficient, but "free".

Software For Metalworking
http://closetolerancesoftware.com

mouser

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2005, 07:35:07 AM »
the tricky part about all this is there are different kinds of people:
  • some are freeware purists - they wont download anything that has even the smallest thing that deviates from norm.  if the software was designed so that after 100 years of daily use it popped up a single message once that said "please consider a donation", and never came up again - these people would boycot the program loudly.  they'd rather use a program 1000x more inferior that causes them to spend an hour extra a day fighting with bugs in the program than use the other program.
  • others are, just as bad, payware purists - these people will not use any software that they don't have to buy, and the more expensive the better.  they would sooner pay $400 for a never-updated, zero support piece of junk than use a freeware program that has the best reputation for support and is 100x more reliable and powerful.
  • and most people are donation-phobic.  these are the people we are trying to reach.  people who are open to the idea of donating to support good software, but are reluctant and need a little convincing/motivation.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2005, 08:54:57 AM »
Personally I would favour the idea of a none expiring license just for website registration, with obvious comments about donation support needed included in the help files and the 'About' screen. On that basis it would make sense to make registration at the website mandatory to use the programs. You aren't actually asking people then to do anything other than consider contirbuting to the community here - if people don't want to they don't need to do anything more and they can opt out of newsletters if they never want to hear any more.

I do suspect, however, that if people find programs useful they will at least return for updates, so why not include an optional update notification system into the programs, then at least people who never come back to the site will have a reason.

Maybe the need for donations could be spelt out a bit more on the actual download pages ... eg. "During the last year there have been x new releases of this software and y new features (see program history for details). To continue this level of support we need some financial help in the form of donations etc.... ). Maybe this should be seen before actually hitting the download button and maybe an antileech type system should be introduced to stop direct links without going via the proper pages ??

Sorry - shooting from the hip slightly.

I do think a survey to see if licensing has actually made any difference to donating would be useful. For me it hasn't because I would donate occasionally even without licenses.

If you make surveys too long and involved people give up (at least I do). Something short and snappy is what's needed, and no more than one page - I really hate those surveys that you never know if it is going to end ...
« Last Edit: December 21, 2005, 08:57:32 AM by Carol Haynes »

nudone

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2005, 12:51:25 PM »
poll, yeah, needs to be done anyway - otherwise it's just guessing all the time.

licenses, i'd get rid of them. just so that it completely shuts up those whinging bastards that can't be bothered to spend a few minutes obtaining one. i'd rather they be silent and satisfied that they are getting 'free'ware rather than listen to any more of their complaints - maybe after a period of time they'll have a change of heart and donate. if not, then let them stay in their selfish little world - they deserve it.

people will keep making donations, surely, won't they? if they won't then i guess it's time for a rethink. i really haven't got any bright ideas other than things that don't sound like donationware.


brotherS

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2005, 02:19:06 PM »
I won't throw the existing system away just because some people don't like it. When it would be "just freeware" many, many folks would just download and install it, they won't even have a look into the forum and won't sign up to the newsletter, nor would they donate since they are not forced to think about the concept of this site.

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Re: Change to Official License Key Policy
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2005, 03:07:13 PM »
Am I the only one who thinks things were fine as they were?