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Author Topic: Question to Everyone: Setting aside the technical meaning, does Donationware...  (Read 3930 times)
Paul Keith
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« on: September 25, 2011, 12:57:06 AM »

...differ from Pay What You Want?

Just wondering if there's a psychological effect one word has over another or whether it's just me.

I personally feel that pay what you want is stronger because it's in my head more that it's free but at the same time, I feel like donationware makes me want to pay attention more to the actual merit of the software - almost as if micro-skimming it for something innovative in order to find a reason within me to donate.

I don't have enough money to throw around though to really test whether these emotions fall the same way once I actually have to view the billing form.
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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2011, 01:15:29 AM »

Good question. My initial thoughts are that "Pay What You Want" are more likely to motivate me to cough up.
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2011, 04:09:39 AM »

The starting point for answering this question is that there is no standardized definition of these terms, so any answer to your question is going to be just one person's opinion.

I think if one wanted to come up with a useful distinction from the terms, "pay what you want" implies that you MUST pay something.  Whereas donationware seems to entertain the possibility that users may choose to donate nothing.
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worstje
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2011, 04:47:37 AM »

I think there is a difference.

Donationware: This program is free, but hey, if you feel like donating, that's great!
Pay what you want: This program costs money, but we'll let you decide how much.

My feeling for the terms is that the latter states in no uncertain terms that the maker is committed and depends on money to fund supporting and extending this application. Donationware has less incentive and promise to it: oh, hey, if I have spare money then sure, I'll give some. So in other words, one attaches money to a product. The other attaches money to a good feeling.

People like products more than they do feelings. Sad truth. mad
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app103
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2011, 04:51:58 AM »

If Pay what you want includes the option to pay nothing, it's no different than most people's definition of donationware.
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2011, 08:15:42 AM »

I think, "Pay what you want" implies a kind of business relationship. Once someone pays, they become a customer and they expect to be treated like that. Customers have rights, expectations, needs...

"Donationware" feels more like, well, a charity collecting donations. The donors contribute, because they believe in the cause.
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2011, 08:36:08 AM »

To me, "pay what you want" carries no stronger impact that "donationware".  I see "pay what you want" and think, Hmm, I think I want to pay nothing...

I think you either outright charge for your software, or accept that donations are going to be few and far between.
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2011, 09:00:23 AM »

To me, "pay what you want" carries no stronger impact that "donationware".  I see "pay what you want" and think, Hmm, I think I want to pay nothing...

I think you either outright charge for your software, or accept that donations are going to be few and far between.

Yep. No amount of effort is going to make "pay what you like" or "donationware" into the magical incantations that's still being strived for.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2011, 09:10:15 AM by nudone » Logged
wraith808
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2011, 09:07:31 AM »

I think it depends on the implementation.  Much "Donationware" is just download it, use it, and if in the future you want to pay, give what you want.  Some "Pay What You Want" software involves the act of going through a payment, even if its zero, in order to get full functionality, or non-time limited functionality.  It's like "Shareware", but the registration just gives you the option of what to pay.  The lack of a common set of definitions for the terms makes defining what fits in what categories pretty difficult.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2011, 03:41:24 PM »

The starting point for answering this question is that there is no standardized definition of these terms, so any answer to your question is going to be just one person's opinion.

I think if one wanted to come up with a useful distinction from the terms, "pay what you want" implies that you MUST pay something.  Whereas donationware seems to entertain the possibility that users may choose to donate nothing.

Yep. This thread is exactly to get opinions. I don't see what's wrong with this considering the power of words.

Example: wraith808, just hinted that it may not be the words at all but the registration. The opinion could then become a usability test (for those who can pull that thing of) in the future

Yep. No amount of effort is going to make "pay what you like" or "donationware" into the magical incantations that's still being strived for.

I think that depends on magical. People want to consider Apple magical for example and yet there were many magical concepts like Yahoo and MySpace that were toppled down by the magical Google and Facebook. There just hasn't been as magical of a white magic as Apple and of course it wasn't until Grand Mage Steve Jobs got fired that the magic seemed to be starting to lose it's luster until his return and eventual retirement.

I think magic happens when people tests words, usability, concepts and dig further into where that magic is coming from. Not just through answers but execution. The sage Orwell once warned that the dark arts called propaganda would be wielding the magic called "Politics in the English Language" and every so often whether it's a personal or major disaster, we see a burst of magical phenomena where people donate and then like a rare natural phenomenon they go back to their extraordinary lives.

For my own bias though, I think magical education is more important than magical discovery. If people can be convinced that there's a Law of Attraction, I'd like to find out if we can find a way to convince people of a Law of Smart and Strategic Donations that actually matter.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2011, 04:34:17 PM »

As others, I can only offer my opinion. I'm glad you asked the question actually because my answers were a bit of a surprise - or at least not already known - to me.

What I realized is that, for me, "donate" gives me the psychological impression of a "weaker" and somehow less appealing offer (vs. "pay what you want"), regardless of the product in question. This is what I think is going on in my head.

Donating to me is associated with non-profits and, less commonly but as a greater extreme, the street performer or anyone else looking for a "hand out". If DC were a registered non-profit with tax decuctable status maybe my feelings would shift but since it's not, it *feels* like any other commercial enterprise asking for donations, i.e. not as "justified" as non-profits. Now I don't see mouser and donationware authors in general as actually looking for a "hand out", they produce real work in exchange, yet somehow the impression is not so different when the word "donation" is used. It has somehow a slightly negative, almost "pathetic", connotation. Let me be clear, I do not like that feeling on my part, I express it solely because it is true and it is interesting and hopefully it helps inform those who are seeking to find equitabl, non-traditional compensation models for their work.

On the other side, "pay what you want" has a rather impishly enjoyable, flippant quality to it, a casualness that perhaps obscures the true underlying similarity in the request ("support me"). Perhaps I should say more about it, but I think that captures my *impression* fairly accurately. Essentially, that there is a "heavyness" to "donation" and a "lightness" to "pay what you want". One is guilt, the other is freedom.

What I can't say for sure is which actually motivates me to donate more. Is it more compelling to feel guilty about not donating, or to feel like it's truly my choice and I am free either way? Honestly I lean toward the latter intellectually, but practically I have no actual evidence to base such a conclusion on.

Interesting topic, good question.

- Oshyan
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« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2011, 10:27:29 PM »

http://www.paywhatyouwantcoder.com, p'raps?   tongue  Doesn't roll off the tongue quite like DonationCoder.com, eh?   cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2011, 10:40:24 PM »

Very interesting points by Oshyan.

I can't help but feel that both terms turn people off..
I wonder if there is something better.
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wraith808
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2011, 09:32:10 AM »

I think anything to do with money or time is going to turn some people off.  That's just the way of the world, unfortunately.  Time and money represent the measurable things in our lives, and most people are very conscious of both.
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2011, 09:58:59 AM »

Very interesting points by Oshyan.

I can't help but feel that both terms turn people off..
I wonder if there is something better.

What about "...pay what you can?"  To me it doesn't sound as much like "here it is... pay what you want... don't really care."

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40hz
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« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2011, 10:07:04 AM »

The big problem with these models isn't so much an issue of definitions as psychology.

PayWhatYouWant and Donation(fill in the blank) are basically trying to create a relationship between the developer and the customer.

Despite many people saying they want a "more personal relationship" when making a transaction, what most are really looking for is a Master/Servant arrangement. In short, they want the supplier to know about all their little whims and fancies. With the implied understanding the developer will use this information to anticipate their future needs and develop new products accordingly.

They are seldom interested in getting to know the developer if it brings any additional obligations (i.e. patience, understanding, forgiveness, saying thank you, paying a bill promptly, etc.) with it.

So relationships are double-edged affairs.

To be fair, many businesses and organizations know and exploit this. You're less likely to complain about the incompetent server you got in a restaurant if she first introduced herself by name. ("Hi! We're so glad you could join us this evening. I'm Jennifer and I'll be your server this evening!) because it's one thing to complain to the manager about a server. But quite another to complain about Jennifer totally screwing up your entire order. Or even tip her less than you normally would a far better server. Because youve been introduced so it's not like you don't know her.

After being burned on several faux relationships when conducting a transaction, many people have become reluctant to enter into them. Especially if they're spending money.

I'm sort of like that. I'll actively enter into a relationship with someone if the product or service is such that I'll be partnering with the supplier. But that implies a complex product where there'll be back and forth and ongoing involvement. For off-the-shelf stuff I don't see the necessity. I just want to pay the man what he asks and be on my way. What I do not want is to go into business with the guy by helping him decide what he should be charging. If he has no idea what his work is worth how can I possibly know?

One other problem comes when you ask somebody to: "give me a number." Most anybody who has negotiated anything soon learns that the person who first names his/her price is immediately put at a disadvantage. So most people have a reluctance to be the first to name a price. That's why:

"We suggest $10 as a reasonable price for what you'll be getting - but feel free to pay whatever you think is appropriate. We accept payments in any amount."

will likely get a better response than;

 "Pay whatever you like!"

(Note: the first offer will also net you exactly $10 - no more, no less - almost every time someone takes you up on it.)

And For those developers who like to look at pricing as a game - or try to make it into one - may I make a humble suggestion?

Never play games with pricing.

The old-time huckster trick of naming an outrageous starting figure: "Price is $500, but pay as much, or as little, as you want - we accept all offers. Even if it's only one dollar." does nothing but damage your credibility. Even if the opening price is not completely outrageous (say something like $50 for a nice utility app) there are many who will walk away because they can't afford it and are either (a) embarrassed about it - or (b) feel guilty offering less than what you're asking. Either way, you've lost a customer. And you'll often end up looking like a jerk in the process.

Ok.  Now let me qualify what I've been saying just a bit.

I'm an American. Born and raised in an old-style New England "work ethic" family - with all that implies. And I'm not alone despite repeated attempts to discover a cure.  Wink

My upbringing and cultural conditioning has taught me that negotiating prices beyond a brief (and largely token) back and forth is undignified. And haggling is downright distasteful. Not because negotiating is beneath me. But out of respect for the seller and myself.

The seller is presumed to be competent and honest (why talk to him otherwise?) who is asking a fair price for what he is offering. I, for my part, am a gentleman who willingly pays fair price for value received. And if I can't afford (or am unwilling to see as fair) the asking price - I do without. Doing with less (or without) is a old New England tradition anyway.

The only reason I bring this up is because I think it's important to look at the cultural ramifications when coming up with licensing and price models. There's a tendency among those of us in the tech world to view humanity (or at least the part of it that uses computers) as a monoculture. It's not. And any licensing or pricing model is going to have to be aware of that if it hopes to be successful.

 smiley


« Last Edit: September 28, 2011, 01:14:36 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Paul Keith
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« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2011, 05:54:10 AM »

That's true but I think the idea has to be narrower. The problem or rather attempt of answering the question comes not just from the intent of psychology but the psychology of systems as well as the psychology of words.

The problem with psychology alone is that you have to head towards more of a design perspective. That's problematic as the idea about monoculture does not only bring forth the problem of how cultures interpret such models but how the cultures really are.

Example, in some cultures, a color means something else. The psychology has to tackle this but this is more the task of your user interface/packaging/campaign designer.

A psychology of systems on the other hand breeds forth ideas closer to conceptual frameworks and I think that's the heart of narrowing it into a much simpler question. To expand upon our perceptions of how to better the framework within each of our opinions especially in light of new views by other people.

It would be better if only I knew the official terms to describe the value of asking such a question beyond it's role as a question.

...how could I put it, umm...the question isn't basically about a relationship between the developer and the customer.

It doesn't mean that the issue doesn't exist but umm... if someone was engineering a software model, they wouldn't deal with the part about designing for the relationship between the developer and the customer at all and would instead deal with the relationship of organizing the concepts in such a manner that the new concept that comes away from it would deliver an entirely new product/mindset to the programmer/designer/seller in such a way that they can be more direct about the product to the customer rather than trying to continually rebuild relationships with them. (I'm not a software engineer so I'm being very careful with throwing this out but I couldn't avoid bringing this up what with the direction of the topic)

Some clear examples of this from a hardware perspectives are:

-Steve Jobs unveiling a thintop out of an envelope. You can make that sound better but the system behind the concept has already done most of your work

-Ipads + App Store: Many can decry how it's such a poor idea and how flawed tablets are but the combination has not only created a new platform (thanks to the new non-Apple users who demand rather than ask for the supply to be demanded) but the App Store has brought forth demand for an entirely different subset of portable games even thouigh it's not a true portable games platform nor is it a true laptop especially when games leads to other more powerful yet simple cloud based appware.

-For software, when mouser released a micro-credit forum hybrid, it shook the foundations of who are the ones that can be considered most contributing to the forum. The concept of micro-credit/micro-payments therefore did more to forward the demand/psychology of donationware than any relationship a customer has with donationware nor any programmer's desire to not only do donationware but offer it up here on this specific forum. Yet this doesn't mean it killed relationships nor made DC a monopoly for where you place your donationware. It simply meant that it changed the landscape due to the simple change in perception thanks to a modified framework leading to a modified manner of executing a concept which in turn modified the other parts in the clog of what eventually becomes the product that the customer has to have a relationship with, along with attempts to connect this relationship to the developers.
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