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