yes we added the license key stuff in august after about 5 months, and it has resulted in a large increase in forum members - there has been a lot more discussion on the forum as well, but it's hard to know if that's a coincidence since the site has only been around for 10 months or so.
i understand 100% your reluctance to donating for fear of a scam - i have the same worries - that's part of the problem in this day and age with surviving on donations - it's just one more reason people don't donate.
one of the ways we've tried to address this is to use a range of ways people can pay. at the bottom of the donate page youll find a link that will let you donate with 4 other services, some well known shareware services and also amazon.
By the way, regarding paypal and these other services - they don't send us credit card information, so the risk of donating to us, in my view is probably much much less than of buying something from some small online store where they will actually be staring down at your credit card information. here we just recveive the payment. plus paypal will also offer you a refundable garantee for your donations if for some reason you don't believe us that we will refund any donation at any time for any reason
we are also happy to accept donations in the form of mailed cash, gold, diamonds, paintings, cookies, chocolate, rare gemstones, etc.
let me just add another explanation for why we try to encourage people to sign up at the forum here and make a donation:
my own personal experience and the experience of almost every other donationware project i know about has been that people just do not donate. i've said this before, but if you simply put up a button saying "donate if you want", no one will.
the theory of this site was that the reason people don't donate is NOT that they aren't willing to contribute some money for a project they like, but just that they were not motivated to go through the effort. so our approach has been to try to equalize the work effort in making a donation or not making a donation, such that this becomes a non issue.
some people feel great about the site and are so thrilled with it that they donate $60 minutes after they land on the site. other people are much less taken by the site and make a donation of 10 cents (all which goes to paypal by the way). one real goal of this site is that after a couple of months, that $60 donator looks back and says wow i really helped a site that is just getting better and better, in part to my donation supporting it, and that the 10 cent donator looks back and says, wow that site really surprised me - i may have been a bit irritated at first having to donate, but now i get it, maybe i'll donate a few more bucks since the site is continuing to be useful to me.
so again, to those 0.001% of you who already donate to support donationware coders and don't need these "inconveniences" to motivate you, we apologize - and we hope you at least understand what we are trying to do and why.