ATTENTION: You are viewing a page formatted for mobile devices; to view the full web page, click HERE.

Main Area and Open Discussion > General Software Discussion

Fairware: an interesting experiment in getting paid for Open Source

<< < (5/26) > >>

40hz, many of your points are good ones, and if money was the sole or even main goal, it might be more cut and dried.

But many of us who are interested in this model have other interests and goals.

Ethics is one, as hgsoft mentioned.

But for me i think it's mainly about the kind of experience I want to have as a coder -- and the kind of experience I have always valued the most.  I get a lot of pleasure out of having a "relationship" (for lack of a better word) with the community of users that use my software.  I like the feeling of knowing that people are able to pay what they feel is right -- and I like the nature of the interactions I have with those kinds of users.  I think that's a large part of what DonationCoder is all about and why I love it here so much and why I appreciate everyone here.

That is a very different experience than one gets when selling software at a fixed price, or when one is focused on maximizing profit, and when dealing with "paying customers".-mouser (September 10, 2011, 06:46 PM)
--- End quote ---

You make an excellent point.

But there's nothing in the above that couldn't be accomplished by a business or a standard software license.

Ethics, and caring, and relationships, and treating the user of your product right is YOUR personal choice. It has little to do with the business of license model you offer it under. Ethical people treat others ethically. There is nothing about running a successful business that forces you to behave otherwise.

If you want to be ethical - be ethical. If you want a relationship with your customers - build a relationship. And if you believe in treating people right - just do it. Because there's nothing in the business model that will prevent you from doing so.

And more important, there's nothing in an alternate model that automatically guarantees you will - unless YOU make the effort and commitment first.

I'm not saying it's an all or nothing thing, I'm just saying that when you start considering a wider spectrum of goals and realize that profit is not at the top of the list, then these other approaches may start to make more sense.
--- End quote ---

For the record, pure profit is not always at the top of every businesses' list of priorities. That's a very common misunderstanding on the part of a lot of people. Many businesses (especially 'privately owned' ones) put other human and social goals ahead of profit - and/ or qualify their profit goals with a statement of how such profits will be made.

Note: There's a certain contingent (largely composed of academics) who insists that maximizing profitability (at any cost) is the only goal of a business and further argue its also a legal requirement they do so. Neither is true although it's convenient for those who say it to believe so. So it goes.

One frustration has been coming to terms with how hard it is and how much energy must be expended to find a middle ground alternative approach.  I had a naive belief that if one started out with the position that it wasn't important to make lots of money -- that just making enough to survive would be sufficient -- then life would be a lot easier.

Unfortunately it seems to me that that's not been the case.. Our world economy in general, and software economy in specific, seems to have carved out these niches for commercial products that people expect and are happy to pay for, and "free" stuff that no one is required to pay for -- and that they therefore refuse to spend money on -- and it seems very hard to try to carve out a stable niche somewhere in between where people make voluntary payments.
--- End quote ---

That's much the same frustration that the FOSS movement has dealt with for a number of years. There's still a large number of potential users that refuse to consider FOSS solutions because experience (and corporate propaganda) has taught them that anything offered free must be: (a) bug-ridden, (b) malware infested, (c) unsupported, (d) stolen or otherwise illegal, or (e) all of the above.

Unfortunately, despite all the money and concerted effort spent to educate the general public, serious misconceptions and moderate distrust of FOSS continues to be the norm.

But maybe one new approach (and individual) can succeed where the FOSS movement failed, so why not try?

One interesting thing the FOSS people noticed is how many corporations and big businesses very quickly got onboard with FOSS products (even of they weren't deploying them to the desktop level) while at the same time publicly dissing the whole notion of free software.

Who knows? Maybe they just didn't want their competitors to benefit from it the same way they were.

One of the nice things about being on this site is meeting so many people who are supportive of the attempt to find an alternative approach, and who don't make you feel like an idiot or a sell out for floundering around struggling to find new ways to do so.

--- End quote ---

Just because one disagrees with something doesn't automatically mean they think the person they're disagreeing with is an idiot. Nor that the idea being proposed is stupid.

Someone once said a complaint is a compliment in disguise.

In the context of this discussion thread, challenges and counter-arguments should be taken more as a compliment. Especially since stupid statements tend to get dismissed around here without comment. It's only when people detect something of value in what's being said that they take the time to respond - even if they disagree or question the viability of what's being proposed.

So, hopefully, the recipient of a response that isn't totally supportive of their position will understand it for what it is.

And also not take it too personally.

Because it's possible to disagree with an idea, yet not lose respect for the person who came up with it.


All fair points 40hz.  I tend to go a bit overboard when talking about large companies and corporations, in terms of the machinery for maximizing profit.  I do think that the larger the company gets, the less bearing and influence that the ethics of individuals plays a role, and the more the institution takes on a single-purpose mind of its own.

And I certainly didn't mean to imply that any small business was any less ethical than freeware developers.  And I acknowledge that many small business people are interested in more than just profit.  The point I was trying to make is simply that the priorities and core goals of serious commercial software companies are different from the goals of most freeware/open source coders, and that this explains much of the different focus of the two camps.

I always think about these things from a dynamical systems perspective, and the idea of stable states -- and the fear that what we have in the software world looks like there are only two real stable states -- one where profit maximization is king, and one where software is free and raising voluntary donations is close to impossible; where any other configurations is unstable and will get driven out of the "marketplace" by a competitor closer to one of these two stable states..  From this standpoint, I think we are all just looking to find a stable state in this world that is somewhere in between these two and hoping one exists out there somewhere..

I can't speak for others, but when I wrote of ethics, I meant the ethical issues of open source vs closed source in general. What I mean is that I think the world would be a better place if, while allowing the developers to eat, all software was open source.

By no mean I wanted to imply that a developer choosing closed source was unethical, or if he is, he's as unethical as, say, someone who buys stuff made in china (the ethics of cheap labor and all, I personally see it as de-localized slavery. Yup, stuff from china is unethical, but it's so rooted in our culture that you have to be really righteous not to do it. You can't spit in someone's face for doing it)

Steering us back in more productive direction, i'm still very interested in trying to come up with a new alternative to the kinds of things that DC (and fairware) does in terms of "nag" screens, which we both use to some degree or another.. and understanding the intricacies of why that has proven hard to get away from.  Some discussion of that is here.

Nag screens... ok, here are my experiences:
My nag screen has a button named "I do not want to help". If the user clicks it, he or she is never bothered again.
It also has a button with "I want to help" with instructions how to send a Paypal donation.
It does not work very well - tens of thousands of downloads, lot of exposure, < 20 donations.

Maybe there is something more important than nag screens: the typical user. My typical user is a kid or a teenager. They do not care about donations or they do not have the means to send them (I have lots of "I will donate when I am older" messages). I doubt this would change if I showed the users the amount I got vs. the amount of work invested.

BTW, hsoft, congrats to the LH daily download. A software must be very useful or unique, not just free to get that. :up:


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

[*] Previous page

Go to full version