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Fairware: an interesting experiment in getting paid for Open Source

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I'm afraid I've always been one of those wishy washy people who sees the world in shades of gray.  My father used to say "all things in moderation", and I guess that has stuck with me..

I often admire those with the conviction to fight for a pure vision of how something should be, without compromise.  And there are certainly times when it's needed, no doubt about that.  But for many issues i think they are mostly solved with a few general principles: Don't be greedy; do unto others as you would have them do unto you; try to be a good person and help others while you are helping yourself, etc.  Nothing special that we haven't heard before.

[as an aside, and not to get us off track, but the bundling stuff just doesn't seem to bother me much, as long as it's transparent to user and  not trying to trick the user into installing something that they don't want, doesn't do anything harmful to the user, and is controlled by and benefiting the author who is choosing to put it in.  It's not something i have any interest in using, but i don't see it as inherently evil. the cnet stuff violated some of those conditions which is why it threw me into a rage.  however, the one thing about both bundling and advertising that greatly concerns me (and maybe more so with advertising) is the shift we are seeing in our culture to expecting everything to be free to users and paid for by marketers who want to manipulate the users.. but that's something we've been discussing on other threads and should continue there so this thread can focus on fairware related discussion..]


It's not something i have any interest in using, but i don't see it as inherently evil.
-mouser (October 13, 2011, 04:36 AM)
--- End quote ---

If it is NOT inherently deceitful, then why is that checkbox to install the bundled software not UNCHECKED by default? By not unchecking it by default, the intent is to 'get' those users who 'miss' it during their rapid click through the install dialogs.

Further, you don't see it as inherently evil for the reasons described here:  ??????

Let me post so ppl don't have to jump:

1. Inherently deceitful. They rely on hoping the user doesn't notice and untick the bundled option during the install process. If they really wanted to be honest about it, they would make it unchecked by default.. simple as that.
2. Unwanted. If a user ever wanted the bundled software, they'd go get it.
3. Violate user intent. If a user goes to download program X, they intended to get program X, not program X and Y.
4. Can cause system troubles. With so many bundles of different types, even if every one was bug free, the combination of them may have catastrophic or problematic effects.
5. Give rise to the 'fake' download site plague. These sites do nothing but wrap legit software downloads in with their own bundles, then pump out ads.

post-edit note, added why it seems obvious to me that all bundling is evil, unless the checkbox is OFF by default .. but even then, I'm going to say it is only borderline. That is MY PERSONAL OPINION, to which I hope I am entitled.

If it is NOT inherently deceitful, then why is that checkbox to install the bundled software not UNCHECKED by default? By not unchecking it by default, the intent is to 'get' those users who 'miss' it during their rapid click through the install dialogs.
--- End quote ---

Well I agree with you 100% there.

Having a bundled application checked by default is wrong and harmful; users do not expect to be getting such offers, and distracted or unsophisticated users will think they are installing a necessary component of the software.  that is not nice.  It should be a very clear big message saying that this is an optional piece of software and not be checked by default.

But I would argue that that's not an inherent problem with bundling. With a clear message explaining that the additional product is an optional thing not related to functioning of the main program, having a checkbox that isn't checked by default, and a link for the user to click to learn more, i don't think i have a problem with it -- in that form it just seems like another kind of advertising to me.

[note: we should remember for posterity that what cnet was/is doing is worse than this by far -- because they were/are bundling things against the author's will; at least if an author bundles another tool with their installer in an evil way, they are going to pay the price for that eventually in terms of their reputation; cnet was/is trying to profit off of bundling things against the author's will at the same time as harming the author's reputation].

Back to fairware stuff and dual licensing.. Dual licensing has always fascinated me and i hope we can talk more about it.

The term "dual licensing" is somewhat undetermined and doesn't tell you too much though does it -- because we are really talking about a very wide range of possibilities where software is provided under different costs/terms to different people.

It does seem to offer a philosophical approach to my own gut-level feeling about the ethics of software and other digital content -- namely that people who can't afford it should have access to it, while those that use it for business purposes to make money should be willing to pay to fund it, and that those who benefit from it should contribute to its development to an extent of their choosing.

While it seems like an excellent legal solution, the one thing that dual licensing is silent on is the cultural resistance to donating when you don't have to -- and in fact I have argued that the open source movement has done harm by advancing the notion that software is either commercial fixed price, or 1000% free and should never be paid for.

And I can see in myself the tendency to view software offered as dual-license as in the category of things that i don't think about donating for -- because just like when i see ads on a site -- my gut reaction is to say "oh they are making their money from other sources -- they don't need me".

I've talked at length about why i think this indirect relationship (where the money comes from adverts not from users) leaves much to be desired.  A similar problem and distortion occurs if all the funding money is coming from commercial licensees and none from normal home users.  I think one thing people (including myself) have been so slow to recognize is the richer experience one can have as an author when you are being directly funded and interactings with the individuals who use your software.

So i'm particularly interested in exploring ways to do a kind of dual licensing where this idea of direct individual home user donations is not lost..


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