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Author Topic: Is DonationCoder too exposed of a brand?  (Read 4062 times)
Paul Keith
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« on: February 24, 2011, 10:23:08 AM »

Lately there's been talks of upgrading DC's homepage design and DC's app-nag designs but I think something that is equally as fatal if not more so is that: DonationCoder is a DIFFERENT name than DonationWare!

It's like Ubuntu to Linux except DonationCoder's brand is split in half.

If I'm making up fake statistics based on my estimation:

40% of users are here to use the software
25% of the users come here to get their suggested softwares, programmed
30% of the users come here for the forum and the community

Certain percent of these are probably donating one way or another if they have the cash

BUT!

Here's the clincher:

Probably only 5% represent donationware on their sleeves

I'm not talking about people who give donations but people who feel strongly about the concept of donationware in the same vein some open source users understand and spread the philosophy of FOSS.

This is an important distinction because DonationCoder is not just any Donationware site. It is the ALPHA site of Donationware.

Where others merely turn their software into donationware, DC is supposed to champion the why, the audience, the developers into donationware. Instead what is DC's brand?

(Emphasis on brand, not category, not posts, not philosophy)

DC's brand is NANY. DC's brand is software developed thanks to developers who took their time to build it for someone. Other times, DC's brand is about having a polite tech forum and a repository of some really good free software that happens to be donationware.

...but DC's brand is not exuding donationware beyond that.

How can I say this?

I haven't been checking up on Netvibes so today when I say that they have a new "Dashboard It" feature, I thought...hmm...hey often times I use the search term "hentai" just to verify if a search engine is legit or not because there's literally a day and night instant difference between a spam site and a legit site and you don't have to be a porn addict to know which are the middle of the line top quality websites that aren't famous.

...and I did it to the search entry and it looks legit enough at crawling data. Like any search engine results, it's going to be filled with lots of inaccuracies but it was able to hit some really good marks here and there. (Note that Netvibes is just piggybacking on things like Google's search results in it's widget and not really using an algorithmn)

...and so I said, ok, just out of curiosity...what other rare search terms that can be used to test the value of this feature. Something that I might legitimately treat as a saved search and I wrote in "donationware".

WOW!!!

There's not only no mention of donationcoder, there's almost no mention of the philosophy of promoting donationware.

Here you have one of the biggest sources and repository of donationware and yet donationcoder is donationcoder. Donationware is donationware.

I even tested this with an alternative dashboard service in YourVersion.com and it's the same result except donationware has more entries.

Worse, donationware is treated as something that is merely ASKING for donations and nothing else. Not license key implementations, not support implementations, not NANYs.

I mean look at these:

Quote
I don’t think I’ll do this, but it’s an interesting idea: the software remains free, but each download costs $1. Just $1.

I think it’s safe to say that most people could afford to pay $1 to download one of my apps/hacks/etc. You download it, can’t get it to work, don’t like it, etc.? Too bad, you’re out $1, no big loss. You already downloaded this version once but lost the zip file? Too bad, you’re out another $1. It’s only $1, no big thing – right?

It’s such a simple idea – even if it cut my downloads by 2/3, I’d have upwards of $10,000 so far instead of the nearly $500 I’ve gotten in donations (stats are updated on the Donation Page). I’d (of course) set it up so people who have already donated are exempt for the download charge.

The only real problem I see is that the barrier to entry then becomes PayPal, and it seems lots of people don’t like PayPal. Ah well, it’s an interesting idea – who knows I might try it down the road.

$1 is no longer part of donationware? Then DC's license key probably isn't either!!!

source

Quote
Theory of Community Destruction

This is a theory. Something rather remarkable happened when I switched to Donationware, which is that the overall quality of feedback visibily declined. While there will always be a certain segment of the userbase that you simply cannot please, what can be quite surprising is to see the champions of your application begin to fade away over time. When an application has a fee for a full version it serves to gate the horde out. When anyone can and does gain access, it becomes a commons and only a certain percentage of users try to keep the place kept up--in a manner very similar to a public or shared space. My theory is this. Donationware is a negative pressure on a community that seeds the destruction of the application licensed under this model.

Donationware a feedback destroyer? OMG no wonder DC is a wasteland of ghosts. Nobody wants to talk and participate in donationware!!!

Source

...however the rest of the article is awesome. I didn't do a check if it was linked here before but it's worth reading the entire article for anyone interested in Donationware.

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housetier
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2011, 04:14:39 PM »

So from the first paragraph I understand you mean the following:

1. There has been talk about changing the layout of the frontpage.
2. This change is bad.
3. donationcoder is different - this is as bad as change.

Did I understand correctly?
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2011, 04:45:33 PM »

???

Except for the first part, wrong on all counts. (especially considering I was part of that talk and even shared a mock-up on that thread)
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timns
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2011, 05:41:49 PM »

That is a very interesting read indeed. Unfortunately I have to agree with a lot of it, even though I don't want to  Sad
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2011, 08:50:04 PM »

30% of the users come here for the forum and the community

Are you kidding me? I'd say probably only 50-60 users are here for the community. I see lots of lots people who used to frequent this forum simply disappeared. As you said, it's a ghost town and some people here just don't realize this fact.
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2011, 09:57:49 PM »

I find it really hard to compose replies to these posts that pack in 10 different conflicting barely-related ideas..

Paul please take this as constructive criticism -- you find some great stuff and have some cool ideas but it can be so hard to digest this stuff and respond intelligently when it feels like i'm reading a murder mystery with these posts sometimes.. with 10 different ideas, a mystery title, and 5 different links.  And it makes it that much more likely that any discussion to follow is going to go off in 10 directions at once (or else just cause people to give up trying to form a coherent response).  I'd give anything to have you refine these posts a bit and just really try to make one point at clearly as possible in each topic..

I say this to you as someone who suffers myself from sometimes feeling a need to write EVERYTHING i think about a topic all at once, whether it's in an email or whatever -- and I can tell you it is RARELY a good idea -- you just overwhelm and saturate everyone's ability to absorb what you are trying to say and it gets lost.



So I'll try just try to productively respond to one aspect of your post that resonated a bit with me, since i find myself increasingly thinking about ways in which DC can be confusing for people not familiar with the site.  One of the things it seemed like you were suggesting is that perhaps we should be more in the vangard about actually advocating for the concept of donationware and championing that cause more clearly in everything we do.
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zridling
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2011, 10:56:33 PM »

Paul, do me a favor and summarize your original post. Like housetier, I'm having trouble understanding what point you're trying to make. Here's what I take from it.

1. Donationcoder.com is vaguely branded and amorphous.
2. Why are people here at DC -- the forum? (me), the donationware? the contests? Choose one?
3. Donationware is an unprofitable and unsustainable model. Instead, let's charge $1/download, standardized by mobile apps.
4. Devs get little or poor feedback from donationware. Better to charge a set fee and this will change.
__________________________
2 cents:
1. Donationcoder.com is vaguely branded and amorphous.
Yes, this is recognized. Creating a front page in a paper.li (http://paper.li/) style (http://paper.li/MichaelWuensch/android) might help rein in the boards, but it would have to be automated created/updated and linked to forum posts. Not aware that any forum has ever done this.

2. Why are people here at DC -- the forum? (me), the donationware? the contests? Choose one?
All of the above. A better question might be: What brings them back to DC?

3. Donationware is an unprofitable and unsustainable model. Instead, let's charge $1/download, standardized by mobile apps.
No trial? If I try six apps and keep none, I'm out the money. Okay, still not that much. How about first time as trial, all subsequent downloads and upgrades cost $1?

4. Devs get little or poor feedback from donationware. Better to charge a set fee and this will change.
This is interesting if true. If I'm buying it, I might expect more. If I'm donating, I should be happy with what I got. Is that the thinking? (I don't know. This is primarily a Windows shop, so I can't use the software here.)
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lotusrootstarch
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2011, 01:05:58 AM »

Since the last fundraiser 2 years ago, there:

1. Has not been any major changes/additions to the functionality of the site

2. Has not been any major changes/additions to the looks of the site

3. Has not seen any noticeable additions to the number of active members of the site

4. Is no addition of any major software application

5. Is a few event hosted here which earned virtually no public attention (this year's NANY, in particular, which is by now literally forgotten
)


Now if you look at the fundraiser before the last, which was 4 years ago:

All these bullet points that I said above stilled applied if they were posted at that time!!


The point cannot be more evident, come on!! This is a stagnant site, no growth no innovation!
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JavaJones
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2011, 01:08:44 AM »

And one wonders why you are still here given those inescapable facts.  cheesy

- Oshyan
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lotusrootstarch
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2011, 01:11:29 AM »

I'm a supporter (although it may not appear as such), but not a yes-saying fanboy.

Fanboys don't drive things forward.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2011, 01:19:19 AM »

That's cool. I'm just not sure what exactly it is that you're supporting. What does DonationCoder "mean" to you? What do you value about it? Are they the same thing(s) others value?

- Oshyan
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lotusrootstarch
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« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2011, 04:37:10 AM »

That's cool. I'm just not sure what exactly it is that you're supporting. What does DonationCoder "mean" to you? What do you value about it? Are they the same thing(s) others value?

- Oshyan

Easy. I point out deficiencies that long deserve to be rectified. Isn't it a better, more tangible form of support than whatever you try to defend?
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40hz
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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2011, 05:26:35 AM »

@JavaJones - PDFTT smiley
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nudone
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« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2011, 05:55:42 AM »

I think lotusrootstarch may be on to something; regarding the forum. I'd never thought about it before but it does seem to be that we are all now long time members with only a few new members each year - seems like less than half-a-dozen new members a year (I've no facts to support this claim, it's just what it feels like).

Is this natural forum behaviour; just a few recruits a year? If so, then everything is "normal". If not, then it looks like DC has become a bit of a private members club. (Although, seeing the number of non registered members lurking about at any one time, it seems clear there are plenty of people that find the forum useful.)
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2011, 06:40:00 AM »

It may be my imagination but as someone who took part in the forums here from near the beginning I have been unable to be as involved over the last couple of years because of work. When I do visit now (still probably briefly every day even when I don't post anything) I see names I don't really recognise appearing. It may be anecdotal but I get the feeling that there is a core of us long time member but there is a growth in new members (albeit much slower than the early days) and a passing group of transient members who either only drop in from time to time or drift away.

None of this comes as a surprise to me as it is what happens in 'real' life as well as in the 'virtual' world.

Having been around for a long time I am still unclear whether the site is actually being marketed as a profit making business or whether donations are mainly designed to cover the costs of the site and allow some funding to be distributed to small donationware developers via the donation credits system.

Only Mouser can really answer my question about profitability - but I'd guess he isn't getting rich from running this site (esp. considering the amount of time and effort he puts in).

Personally I don't subscribe to the view that change is good for its own sake. Donationcoder as an idea seems to work to me and actually I appreciate the fact that it is in some ways ill-defined and open to anyone who wants to take part.

Since the last fundraiser 2 years ago, there:

1. Has not been any major changes/additions to the functionality of the site
2. Has not been any major changes/additions to the looks of the site
3. Has not seen any noticeable additions to the number of active members of the site
4. Is no addition of any major software application
5. Is a few event hosted here which earned virtually no public attention

This is a stagnant site, no growth no innovation

lotusrootstarch makes some interesting points but the questions I address back in response are:

1) What additional functionality do you want to see and why
2) Do the looks of the site have to change - if so in what way and why? Cosmetic changes for the sake of making the site 'look' as thoigh something is going on seem a bit pointless to me. The heart of the site is this forum for most people - what changes would make any practical difference to the way it works?
3) How can we attract more regular members? I'd say it is mostly by word of mouth but that requires current regular members to continue to spread the word or link to the site from their own websites.
4) What other software would you like to see added? There are plenty of ways of asking for people to develop software on the this website and an amazing number of people who spend lots of time and effort coding from snacks to full blown applications which are made available for free or for donations. You are correct that the core apps from Mouser haven't seen lots of new apps appearing but I am not sure it was his intention to be responsible for all software development related to the site - it is supposed to be a community here and that requires contributions from its members.
5) Any ideas for future events and how to market them better?

In response to the site being stangnat the question I address to you (And actually to every member including myself) is "What are you prepared to contribute to make the website a more effective and 'happening' place to be?"

As in all things it is really easy to be negative but it requires everyone to make positive effort to be effective.

Personally I don't think the website is stangant - it is probably more 'stable' than it used to be but is stability a bad thing in itself?
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40hz
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« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2011, 07:08:09 AM »

Is this natural forum behaviour

From my experience on 'big' forums, what usually seems to happen is that something like 80-90% of the visitors remain permanent anonymous lurkers. Maybe 10% come out in the open and actually register. But most of those continue to pretty much remain in lurking mode.

Of the registrants, there's usually less than a hundred or so who are 'active' on a fairly regular basis. Out of that group you usually find a cadre of about 20-25 'regulars' who discovered a community they liked to engage with on a very frequent basis.

But getting a 'bigger' groupsize does not seem to automatically get you a larger number of registrants either. From my own non-scientific observations, most people who register seem to do so very early on. Usually within their first few visits. If they don't sign up then, they hardly ever do so later.

You see something similar when people choose to be friends. They either hit it off fairly quickly and bond, or they remain acquaintances. Very few friendships gradually develop over an extended time period. There seems to be a window when someone is open to 'friending' or becoming a member. (When somebody "Pops the Question" as the saying goes.) If you miss that window of opportunity, all's not lost. But the likelihood of it happening diminishes.

regarding size:

There's been some studies done on group size, and it seems that humans prefer to keep conversations restricted to a group of eight or less. If the group gets bigger than that, it often spontaneously subdivides into smaller groups to continue the conversation. When a thread splits gradually into two different discussions (or has several people go "off topic") it's usually a good indication too many voices have joined in on the conversation.

Forums take care of part of that by having multiple discussions running at the same time. Which makes sense. If 1,000 people were trying to actively participate in a discussion at the same time, nobody could ever hope to be heard. F2F organizations handle it by referring things to a committee when some issue threatens to bog the entire meeting down.

So again, number of people doesn't seem to be beneficial in and of itself.

Just my tuppence. smiley
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 09:06:21 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2011, 09:05:43 AM »

I think lotusrootstarch may be on to something; regarding the forum. I'd never thought about it before but it does seem to be that we are all now long time members with only a few new members each year - seems like less than half-a-dozen new members a year (I've no facts to support this claim, it's just what it feels like).

Is this natural forum behaviour; just a few recruits a year? If so, then everything is "normal". If not, then it looks like DC has become a bit of a private members club. (Although, seeing the number of non registered members lurking about at any one time, it seems clear there are plenty of people that find the forum useful.)

It seems to be from my experience.  It's a forum that supports developers, not a brand in terms of a product, IMO.  Mouser works on features for the forum as needed, but what do you need other than that?  What features are missing to make this a good forum?
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« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2011, 09:25:38 AM »

This is one of these occasional threads that i find so hard to comment on, not because there isn't some interesting thing being talked about but because the original post has little or nothing to do with what we're talking about -- and in this case it's worse since the original post is so confusing.. it just feels like making the situation worse to try to have a substantial discussion on a thread that at least looks like its about something else.

I guess this is my plea -- let's try to start new threads with clear purpose and focus when we have something that we want to have a useful discussion about.  It makes it more easy to locate and focus these discussions.

Otherwise the nonsequiturs in a thread like this are mind-killers.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 09:27:25 AM by mouser » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2011, 09:32:00 AM »

Otherwise the nonsequiturs in a thread like this are mind-killers.
So true.

And 40hz post above!  Loving it!  I feel like 40hz needs a special section for just the wisdom articles.  That's two great posts in two days!
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« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2011, 09:42:18 AM »

It may be my imagination but as someone who took part in the forums here from near the beginning I have been unable to be as involved over the last couple of years because of work. When I do visit now (still probably briefly every day even when I don't post anything) I see names I don't really recognise appearing. It may be anecdotal but I get the feeling that there is a core of us long time member but there is a growth in new members (albeit much slower than the early days) and a passing group of transient members who either only drop in from time to time or drift away.

None of this comes as a surprise to me as it is what happens in 'real' life as well as in the 'virtual' world.


I think what type of member somebody becomes is very dependent on first impressions and how warmly they were greeted the first time they participated. In my case, I came here looking for a piece of software I had read a recommendation for. On a lark, I took a look at the forum link (something I rarely do most places) started reading, and got intrigued. I went back a few times over the next week, became very impressed with the calibre of the discussions, took a deep breath, registered, and asked a question of my own. And I was completely blown away by the warmth and usefullness of the responses I got back. I made a contribution the same day.

Im still here 3500+ posts - and may heaven help you all. Grin

So here's a question: if the other members are what keeps us here, what is it that brings us here originally?  How do you effectively get people to take a chance and start participating? In my case, it was nothing DC directly did. Sure, looking for ProcessTamer brought me here. But I don't really know why I went over to the forum.

Maybe some less braindead members than me can recall what first made them get involved and see if there's some common thing which works that we're missing. Maybe we could enhance or work something with that?
 smiley

-///--

@mouser- I think I'm guilty of mentally confusing (or concatenating) this discussion with the other thread where we're discussing the fundraiser.  Both seem to have bearing on a larger unspoken question, but you're right. It is getting a little schizophrenic. Maybe we should reframe the original question in a new thread and shut this one down?
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« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2011, 09:51:41 AM »

I know I keep repeating this, but I think a lot of people subconsciously overlook the fact that what keeps them coming back to these forums is the design.  The "software" of this forum is possibly the most elegant, beautiful, etc. that I have ever seen.  I really feel that plays a huge role in the community here...a lot bigger than what you would expect.
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« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2011, 10:49:36 AM »

One last thing i wanted to post which touches on what Nudone said and the other critiques.

Leaving aside all qualms about the manner and framing of complaints -- I think it's soo important that we keep discussing the ways in which the site is not as good as it should be and we need to not be too over-protective and sensitive to complaints.

One sees all the time forums (and bureaucracies) which become insular and overly protective of themselves and exude a kind of bunker mentality to criticism.  We don't ever want to get that way.

And we want to make sure we always balance the needs of our CURRENT members, with the wants and desires of potential future members.  Both are important.  And we will continue to evolve to best serve both of these groups.

Let's just try hard to make the discussions constructive (and my pet peave-- let's try to have them on threads that are appropriately titled and focused!).
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« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2011, 10:59:35 AM »

Something that occurred to me last night (and apologies if this has been discussed before) is that one issue is the site's name itself.

Any of my friends who are not coders would probably never visit a site called DonationCoder simply because the name suggests that this is a place where coders who earn or expect money from donations hang out, NOT somewhere to find amazing software, reviews and how-to's.

Has DC ever considered a more 'usery' alternative name, leading to a landing page that eases them into the site?
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« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2011, 11:13:10 AM »

I think the point about the domain name being confusing is very true, and i think about it often.

It's especially confusing when you think about the fact that the forum is really a general discussion forum; and the idea of "donationcoder" doesn't really capture the idea of software reviews, etc.

I have considered the pros and cons of actually having the site divide itself into a family of related and connected sites that were more focused.  For example a general review site/forum which wasn't particularly ties to the concept of donationware or our own apps, and a site purely focused on hosting original donationware from different authors.  But the forum part troubles me -- it might be more logical organization for newcomers but i'm not sure we would enjoy it so much if our attentions were divided.

But i'm not sure a name change would help -- and it would cause some real disruption to our feelings of history.

Maybe your idea is to have an alternate additional "landing" page, which is interesting.
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« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2011, 11:21:25 AM »

Yes, I would definitely not want to say goodbye to the DC brand in any way. But multiple domain names and landings would be nice perhaps. Once someone's interest is piqued, one would hope they'd look around and discover the forums etc.

All this really leads back to the re-design conversation. And app's offer of building the software page could be a huge part of that.
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