I am baffled that advertising is disallowed here, but bundling is allowed.
I have huge respect for db90h, but I'm also confused about the bundling comments..
As i understand it, when you say bundling you mean when the installer for one program tries to get you to install other programs right?
We have never done that or even discussed doing that with the DonationCoder software. In fact we just finished screaming our lungs out
because of CNet trying to do that with our software.
As for advertising.. It's something we've tried on the site way back in 2006 i think.. We even had a system where donors could choose not to see ads. Eventually I decided that for the money it was bringing in ($4 a day at the time i think) that it would be nicer to put our own adverts on our pages, and that's why you see those "Cody Quote" boxes on our software pages now instead. Occasionally it's been discussed whether we should try ads again, and it's something we should probably experiment with every once in a while just to see what it feels like and how much money comes in from it. Personally I found the ads jarring and like the feel of the site without them, and hate the way the whole web is advert filled, but showing them only to non-donors is something worth trying again perhaps. I do think it might discourage donations and participation in the community though because people will say to themselves, well this is a site where they dont need my money they make their money on adverts, rather than from donations, so that has to be factored in.
I think perhaps there may be some confusion about when I/we talk about issues with regard to programmers who hang out at the site vs the more-or-less "official" software hosted on the site.
I/we have always tried to keep an open mind about the programmers who hang out here, who are a very diverse lot. There are commercial software developers and open source advocates. Some of the indie programmers here have used and discussed "bundling" of their apps, some use adverts. For the DC member website pages we provide I often encourage the coders to experiment with putting advertisements on them. Most choose not to. We try not to be dogmatic in telling other programmers what they should do, though that doesn't mean we endorse everything we discuss..
There are lots of things this site (DC) could do "better". I mean one thing the site does not do nearly as good a job of as it should is helping the other coders who hang out here to get more attention for their software. We try, but we could do a lot better. The site needs to move to a proper CMS which we've talked about at length, so that we can more easily feature other coders and help them get an audience.
Almost all of what we talk about when we talk about improving the site has to do with making it less confusing.
DC *is* working. It's a wonderful surprising exception in the software world I think. When i sometimes talk pessimistically about donationware, I'm just trying to convey to people considering it as a way of making a living, how much of an uphill difficult struggle it is to make work even in the most minimal way. Some people think that if they have a popular freeware program they can just slap a "Donate" button on their site and it will all take care of itself. It's just not realistic. But I should probably make clearer that I love the concept of donationware and don't want to or have any plans of changing that. And I should do a better job of conveying just how nice it feels to get voluntary support and encouragement from your users.
But I also understand the huge cultural alienness of it to most people, and the huge uphill struggle that an author will be up against if they choose this path and try to make a living from it, which is almost certainly unrealistic in the current culture. I'd like to see a day when donationware authors can survive on the money from their donationware software instead of it being a side hobby for someone with a "real" job. When i discuss the general concept of donationware -- and if i am searching for ways to improve the model -- it's through this lens.
This thread was about a new twist on donationware approach and I think it's always worth exploring those ideas. As for changes to DC.. For me the thing that always gnaws at the back of my mind, and that we have discussed regularly every year, is the complexity of trying to explain the stuff about the 6 month renewable license key stuff, and the way the whole thing may discourage large numbers of people. So i'm always interested in thinking about and talking about ways to improve that. The main lesson that I think i've learned over the years is that complexity kills and so i'm always interested in discussing on threads like this different ways to make donationware "work" and improve the process and simplify it. And by work i mean what i always mean when i talk about "success", which is to be fulfilling as the center of one's life, and which makes enough money so that you don't wake up in the middle of the night worrying if you will be able to pay your bills. Any discussion about ways that the donationware model can get closer to that is a good one.
Edit: A few more thoughts on the nature of DonationCoder and its goals.
I've always considered DonationCoder an experiment.. An experiment to see if the concept of donationware could work and how and why and when. The goal of DonationCoder never was and never will be to "maximize profit".. The best thing about the site is we live well within our means.. As we can afford it, our hosting has grown from a $20/month shared server account to a $400/month dedicated server with multiple virtual machines. If and when donations start to dwindle to the point where we can't afford such luxurious hosting, we can always scale down our hosting. But at the same time -- if we ever reach a day when there is enough money coming in from donations that I and a few other coders could work on DC as a "full time job" then I would pop the champagne and celebrate and do so -- but if the opposite happens and donations stop, i'll still be here coding and doing stuff in my off hours.
I think the strange and unexpected thing (at least unexpected to me when the site started) is that at this point a main goal of DonationCoder is.. to remain true to the forum community, which is the most interesting and rewarding part of the site for many of us. This is a bit of a balancing act of course, since the hardcore forum members represent a very very tiny fraction of the users of the software on the site. But i think we do a pretty good job of balancing the two. I still want us to explore and experiment with different ways to do things, while still keeping true to our ideals and the spirit of Cody -- otherwise life gets boring. And there are some things we don't do well that i think we have an obligation and incentive to improve.