Hi there, the author speaking. I found this thread through my web server logs, and I love to discuss about fairware, can I jump in?
I'd like to address some points which, I humbly think, are misunderstandings.1. Nag screen & internet connection
When you contribute any amount (minimum 5$ though), you receive a registration key allowing you to remove the nag and the internet check even if not all hours have been compensated for the project. The thought behind this is: you did your part, no need to nag you anymore.
The internet connection isn't required to use fairware programs for non-contributors (and of course, for contributors too). If you're not connected, the program assumes 0 hours and thus doesn't show a nag.
Of course, a smartass can simply disable his internet connection before launching a fairware app and never be nagged, but I figure that if you're gonna give yourself the trouble to do that, you're never gonna contribute anyway, so go ahead 2. Users won't contribute unless they're forced to
I used to think so and I even explain why in an article introducing a previous pseudo-open-source effort two years ago (fairware is one year old). The article is at http://www.hardcoded...oing_open_source.htm
However, I revisited the argument in the fairware introductory article from last year ( http://www.hardcoded...fair-as-in-trade.htm
) and I made the hypothesis that rather than being greedy, the user is rather lazy. By making the "do I contribute?" decision easy to take, I think fairware makes the fair user (there's nothing to do about unfair users, so we might as well let them be and ignore them) more likely to contribute. I also think that there's enough fair users out there to fund a development effort.
The nag screen is annoying and is a good incentive to contribute (Isn't it what Winzip, despite being closed source, used back in its glory days?). Of course, since it's open source, someone can always maintain a nagless fork out of spite, but such thing requires efforts, so I think such an possibility is unlikely.3. Not gonna work
The thing is that fairware has been running for a year and it kinda works ( http://www.hardcoded...e-it-kinda-works.htm
). The problem is that I can't unequivocally show it because only one of my 3 apps, dupeGuru, really works, contribution-wise.
moneyGuru never worked, even when it was closed source, so the problem isn't the fairware model. In fact, the money I received monthly for it when it was closed source was close to what I get now, in "fairware mode", that is a mere 200$.
My 3rd app, PdfMasher, is spanking new and not known yet, so the contributions don't compensate my development investment yet, but I think it might. Current users find it really cool. Monthly contributions are low, but the progression is encouraging.
dupeGuru, however, is a success. It was already a success when it was closed source, and it stayed that way as fairware. The only problem is that I don't pour enough hours in it, so it's really rare that there's hours to compensate, which means that the nag screen never shows up for anyone.
But when I pour hours in, the money comes in quite fast. For example, I uploaded a backlog of about 10 hours (350$ worth) 36 hours ago, and it's all paid now. Even for closed source, 350$ in 36 hours for a single developer app ain't bad. Over the past year, dupeGuru only got 12,000$ of contributions, which isn't so great (but, I think, better than most donation-based open source projects), but that's because I didn't work on it much. I'm confident that if I invested more hours in it, they'd be paid.
What's even cooler is that dupeGuru is much more popular since it's open source because it's mentioned it tons of blogs, which wasn't the case before. That must make my closed source competitors sad Conclusion
I think I addressed all criticisms from the messages that have been posted yet, I hope I didn't miss any. That being said, I don't claim that fairware is without flaws, so if you want to continue the discussion, I'd be glad to do so as well.