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Author Topic: Don't be a free user?  (Read 7001 times)
mouser
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« on: December 14, 2011, 11:38:11 PM »

This thought provoking essay addresses some important concepts that may be of interest to DonationCoder readers.

I think the key message here is sustainability -- charting a path that is sustainable.  And that's something we have always been very big on here.  We try to avoid embarking on projects that we can't sustain, and don't bite off more than we can chew.

Quote
These projects are all very different, but the dynamic is the same. Someone builds a cool, free product, it gets popular, and that popularity attracts a buyer. The new owner shuts the product down and the founders issue a glowing press release about how excited they are about synergies going forward. They are never heard from again.

Whether or not this is done in good faith, in practice this kind of 'exit event' is a pump-and-dump scheme. The very popularity that attracts a buyer also makes the project financially unsustainable. The owners cash out, the acquirer gets some good engineers, and the users get screwed.

To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money! You might call this the anti-free-software movement.

If every additional user is putting money in the developers' pockets, then you're less likely to see the site disappear overnight. If every new user is costing the developers money, and the site is really taking off, then get ready to read about those synergies.

To illustrate, I have prepared this handy chart:

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nosh
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2011, 11:55:38 PM »

Quote
To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money! You might call this the anti-free-software movement.

I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn't the 1st of April.
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Ehtyar
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 12:11:26 AM »

Quote
To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money!
Or get your sh!t out of the "cloud", and stick to Free Software that you contribute to.

Ehtyar.
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 12:46:30 AM »

Agreed. I hate clouds ... or the cloud, or rain too for that matter.

(This post was longer...and I suspect a bit too honest ... Yes, I've been drinking. smiley)
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Renegade
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 02:05:11 AM »

+1 for that blog post.

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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 02:56:17 AM »

How times have changed!

If the users get Thingamajig Suite for free up to version 4.12 and then they don't get 4.13 (or 5), they are "screwed"? Even though 4.12 is perfectly usable and useful (in spite of little quirks and bugs)?

It is interesting to note how the focus has shifted from the product itself to the development (or support, if you may) of the product. Back in the old days (ekhm, ekhm) you got the floppies and that was it - that was the final product of the developers' minds. To get any improvement you had to wait three years for the next version, if any... Nowadays, if you find a perfect freeware gem and you see it has not been updated in nine months, you don't bother to download it...

It is good that now people know the difference between initial cost and TCO, but let's find some balance here... There are projects which require intensive maintenance and there are those which do not. Naturally, if I move all my contacts and photos and blog intensely on the new social networking site and it suddenly disappears from the face of the Earth, I have every reason to be irritated - here my time investment was so high that the fact the the initial cost was insubstantial (i.e. zero) is not that important any more. On the other hand, if I get this little puzzle game, I can play it all night long and more, even though the authors have long moved to more lucrative ventures...

Edit: I've just read through the blog entry to the end and it is clear the author is putting free webservices in opposition to free software. In that case, disregard the above.
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TaoPhoenix
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 03:43:17 AM »

Sorry, I'll still disagree with the post.

I think the elephant in the room is tied up here with Intellectual Property games. If the products and services are Open Sourced then when an initial developer gets bored, someone else can jump in.

Of course the "cloud" is the new hotness, but the brisk downside of the "cloud" is exactly these end of life situations. When there's a "product"/software involved, apparently they call them "solutions" now. But if that piece is open sourced, then someone can carry the torch.

What the rise of free services has done is to make Paid ones have to work harder to justify money. To use a newspaper model, "stories" consisting of 250 word reprinted AP releases don't cut it anymore.

(Hoping I don't botch this next part) most of the apps here don't target the "$19.95 Shareware" target. That's why "uncreative" shareware sellers exuded sleaziness, because it was like the vitamin game of selling per mineral, for all of the 40 you need. The stuff here ("most of it") is rightfully measured in pennies or a couple of dollars. The value perception is the same. They're cutely useful, like a yummy ballgame hotdog. So try them all, then the one that hits your sweet spot is the one that inspires you to make your donation.

So, I rate the initial post a C.
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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2011, 12:02:07 PM »

Once again some valid points used to arrive at questionable and overly broad conclusions. And like many bloggers, he makes assertions which he seems to equate with establishing proofs. Oh well...

Hmm... On re-reading the blog post a third time, I couldn't help but notice this at the bottom:

Quote
Like a service? Make them charge you or show you ads. If they won't do it, clone them and do it yourself. Soon you'll be the only game in town!

DISCLAIMER: I run a paid bookmarking site. Every morning I wake up and dive into my vault of golden coins.

—maciej on December 06, 2011

Not exactly someone who is speaking without an underlying agenda. undecided

Quote
To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money!
Or get your sh!t out of the "cloud", and stick to Free Software that you contribute to.

Ehtyar.

+1! Yes indeedy-dee! Thmbsup

I think one thing that blogger either missed (or doesn't get) is that not everybody who does "free software" needs to make a living off of it. There are even some who don't want to make a living off it. Like many musicians, writers, performers, and artists - for some software developers, it's purely a matter of art, personal esthetics, having some fun, and the desire to create something.

Most of these people make it a point to secure their living expenses elsewhere or by other means in order to be completely free in their creative endeavors.

There's nothing to say you must always try to integrate your avocation with your vocation. Most times it's a futile exercise trying to do so.

One of the finest acoustic guitar makers I ever met approaches it that way. He's a very successful gent working in a field totally unrelated to music. But when it comes to guitars, his sole goal is to create the finest instruments ever built - and to get them into the hands of the finest players he can. He's created and sold commissioned instruments for some of the most respected names imaginable. And he's also given some away to will-be greats.

He tries to break even on his expenses - or possibly make a little money with the instruments he sells. But all monies earned go right back into his research and craft. He said that if he tried to make a living off it, he would never be able to do what he does. But since he's free of any financial inducement, he can follow his own weird when it comes to design, craftsmanship, and the projects he'll take on. As he said: I'm in my early 60s. I want as much of what time I've got left to be used doing something I consider important.

He's an unbelievably happy guy. Doing something he wants to do in a way that makes a difference for something he cares deeply about. I admire him.

I've run into software developers and many computer geeks who feel much like he does. And who follow his strategy of detaching the process of earning income from their 'real' life.

I should know. I'm one of them. Grin



« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 12:44:43 PM by 40hz » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 12:29:36 PM »

+1 for that blog post.
Agreed.


Quote
To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money!
Or get your sh!t out of the "cloud", and stick to Free Software that you contribute to.

+1! Yes indeedy-dee! Thmbsup

But then... it really isn't free... yes, it says free, but contributions are what keep it sustainable.  Whether its time or money or some other intangible or tangible, its still goods for something.  TANSTAAFL.  But some people think there is, and that's a drain.  Maybe not unsustainable in the long run if it doesn't overwhelm those that do contribute, but still...
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40hz
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 12:52:16 PM »

But then... it really isn't free... yes, it says free, but contributions are what keep it sustainable.

I think the point I was trying to make was I objected to what I see as his argument that unless you're driven by monetary concerns from the get-go, you project is destined to failure.

As I said in my above post, that's only a showstopper for somebody who needs to make a living off of the thing they're doing.

And while it's true that most free software isn't truly 'free' in the absolute sense, in practice it often is. Most FOSS projects go on for years and numerous revisions with little or no financial contributions - despite the fact they're often asked for.

Many people have no idea just how powerful a force volunteerism is. But most of them never volunteer for anything anyway. So it doesn't really matter if they can't see it.

Life - and creative endeavors and development - goes on.  Grin



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zridling
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« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2011, 12:52:50 PM »

...since he's free of any financial inducement, he can follow his own weird when it comes to design, craftsmanship, and the projects he'll take on.

Sounds a lot like Gene Roddenberry's future.  Kiss
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40hz
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« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2011, 01:05:18 PM »

...since he's free of any financial inducement, he can follow his own weird when it comes to design, craftsmanship, and the projects he'll take on.

Sounds a lot like Gene Roddenberry's future.  Kiss

Yup. and 99% of it is simply and honestly deciding what it is you really want to do - and then figuring out a way to do it.

Harder than it sounds. Especially since very few people seem to know what they truly care about or want to do.

Then there's that sad group who eventually discover they never really did care about anything - or want do something. Got a retired guy in my neighborhood who is constantly saying things like "The Golden Years? Hah! What a joke."

Never met anybody that a retirement pension was more wasted on than this guy. He took whatever life threw his way, did what ever came to hand, and generally coasted along to the point of where he now has zero interest in anything or anybody. This is an already dead man waiting to die. Like a capital prisoner, he's merely waiting for the date of execution to be set.

Sad. Sad

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wraith808
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2011, 02:01:26 PM »

And while it's true that most free software isn't truly 'free' in the absolute sense, in practice it often is. Most FOSS projects go on for years and numerous revisions with little or no financial contributions - despite the fact they're often asked for.

But, though that's not money, it *is* a contribution in a very real sense.  The only thing more valuable than money is time that can be utilized towards the end.  For while money is generic and replaceable (i.e. money from person a and person b are interchangeable), time isn't.  And people just don't recognize how much in the way to of time is given to these 'free' projects.

As I said, and have always found to be true, TANSTAAFL*.  It's just that sometimes, someone else pays for your lunch.


*Heinlein over Roddenberry any day of the week.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2011, 04:50:32 PM »

Just to throw a curveball, I think the mice besides the elephant is not only the question of whether someone can carry the torch but whether open source can synch itself with the necessity of the volunteers.

Sustainability is good IF it attracts enough buzz which in turn attracts enough supporters but I think long term, we are more apt to see people strive to learn and aim to support something they perceive as necessity rather than sustainable.

And the one good thing about consumerism is that it tricks the mind into making non-necessary concepts into emotional necessities. That's why one is more likely to spot and acquire emulators for old games and consoles than they are to acquire old ports of old non-gaming programs. We could even extend it to mods and add-ons. Barring browsers, most (even those with plugin supported programs) lose to the buzz and sweet taste of a new user interface program where as games can last for longer generations with the existence of mods. Of course at the same time, videogames lose far more hype and short term usage to things such as sequels and copycat games.

On the issue of money, I think it's more important to insert fiat currency when comparing it with time in this context. That is to say, instead of asking whether there is free lunch, it's better to ask it from the perspective of how your lunch is paid because as both fiat currency and time can attest, both values shift depending on timing, corruption creating distrust, update model, etc.

This in turn makes it necessary for a developer to gather enough support to create an "identity" (a circle of loyal pseudo-guaranteed contributors) before people lose interest or before potential contributors perceive it as old or a flawed model. What this means is that the author is partly correct. By focusing on monetary concerns, you increase the chance of viewing it like a business in which there's a higher potential of loss, disillusion, etc. from setting that path than self-fulfillment unless one develops manic obsession for their products.

At the same time, it's not really money or making a living that drives people to create something. It's really a mix of many things from ego, to compulsion, to art, to curiosity, to capability, to ease, to desire for improvement, to keys to learning, etc. Many partially born out to be made rather than sustainable. Even more becoming popular because of a perceived pseudo-necessity that flutter out. (Digital to-do lists for example where people search for them but few are really in search for them which causes old to-do list services to never make people switch to newer to-do list services unless a new criteria like the surge in Androids and Iphones enter the equation and even then, it's not always a switch to a superior service.)

...but the above IMO is unhelpful. I'm only throwing a pebble to what I perceive as thoughts that maybe the speakers are not considering though I don't consider myself more informed or smarter than they are.

Instead my own opinion of the matter (and I apologize if I switch to a vanity voice wherein I come off talking to myself) is that dumb users shouldn't be free users.

(I'm trying to snip some of the things I've written in my draft for my blog on productivity and I apologize if the below overlaps with that subject)

The worst regression however is the lack of defense against the glorification of tools.

While more talented people can afford being trapped in these elements of aesthetics that may hamper them from getting “it” but could potentially boost their productivity by making them slightly more motivated, untalented people while receiving the same benefits are also exposed to the more harmful rays of mindset morphing. One that creates a deadly unproductivity filter on top of every productivity system they have.

And those rays involve being led to rely on your productivity system – even when said systems are based around more bland objects like ordinary notebooks.

There’s really no one way to detect this decay but even talented productivity system users get a whiff of this layer from time to time.

At the most obvious and often mentioned level, you will often read about people preferring paper to software because they couldn’t bring the software to work or people who couldn’t afford shelling out cash for filing cabinets opting to use slimmer alternatives.

What is rarely mentioned are the deeper, more subtle, more long term versions of this event.

Just as so called “mystical” martial arts gain wide spread hype only to fall back into obscurity once they’ve been debunked as flawed or fake, the best short term successful concepts of productivity systems are often shared and known by almost everybody who pretty much skim productivity blogs on a regular basis – however the consequences from flawed productivity systems and the victims who fail to make those productivity systems work are rarely mentioned in detail ever again.

The warning systems are simply rarely discussed outside of the occasional experiment on how positive words actually make things worse for negative people or how stating your goals out loud to acquaintances severely reduces the chance of you accomplishing them.

For this particular topic, the warning systems are worse for cloud services because often times even if you can view the number of members without knowledge of any web analytics, you never know when you are truly early or truly late to a service.

You are also never protected from being there just at the right time as pinboard attests to with popular services. What the writer omits is that pinboard is an exception not a rule. Pinboard's circumstances makes paying a feature. An additional backup security feature to be precise. The thing with these kind of circumstance is that it needs "existence".

Existence being members who understand what they are paying for. Services with a reputation. Concepts that over time because of the decay of other concepts gives value to the price that a certain service is offering. Basically it's like any concept in the real world. New product that you can't associate with? Consumer doubt. New product that you can and who has a more stable brand? Consumer purchase.

The problem here is that even stable services change and stagnate. Once they stagnate, the only real question is whether the service is in the pendulum swinging towards users leaving your site or users staying with your site. It is somewhat worse with desktop. Users staying with desktop tools rarely talk about them after a certain point. This cuts off newbie internet users. Cloud services on the other hand create this mystique. This "exclusive" club. That makes pinboard's situation extra-special.

This wouldn’t be horrible if it wasn’t for the fact that untalented people are basically being trained to ease their learned helplessness by replacing it via relying on methods that if they fail, would just leave another layer of learned helplessness on top of a set of additional crippling situations.

For productivity, I was trying to phrase app's situation in a more general manner.

For desktop tools and cloud services though, it applies more towards how you deal with which service you are shelling out cash to.

Basically it's stupid to teach people to demand a free service to become paid for so that it guarantees that the service will stay. It's a con strategy. The users don't actually gain any literacy to which service will last which service will not. Even the article pretty much admits you have to possess insight into the business model mindset of the maker.

This doesn't mean the author has malicious intentions but they're writing from the hindsight that certain cherry picked competitors failed and they're omitting to provide the detail for why they...managed to use your money correctly.

I sort of labelled this process as "crippled thought process" as can be seen in my copy paste below but it expands towards productivity so just skip it if you don't like reading:

Quote
What is even worse (besides the fact that productivity experimenters are rarely handed a way to reverse their mindset in case of failure) is the fact that helplessness isn’t even the worst case effect.

Rather crippled thought process is. I don’t mean to make this sound so horrible but put yourself in a situation where…you start to have an idea (maybe something you should do) and suddenly a wall covers that idea. Not a mental block but a thought habit that tells you that you should write this down.

The habit itself is good but what if by repeatedly going through that habit, you can’t filter out what your brain wants to keep? (including expanding on that thought before writing things down.)

It’s not a set in stone mindset but it can almost feel that way for an untalented person because they are not only juggling with which notebook to write things down but if the system is a flawed method: it’s not a simple case of shrugging off the idea, regaining your self-esteem by achieving something and then moving on.

You’re basically trapped in a mindset where you have to consistently remind your brain that something like a to-do list doesn’t work so you should immediately drop off on making a to-do list for that idea and then reminding yourself that your list that includes such minor things as your grocery list doesn’t have the weight of your dreams behind it and that you can actually do the items underneath them. They don’t need to be further made actionable, they don’t need to have icons and symbols, they don’t need to be put in context – most importantly, they don’t need to be put on paper.

That last part is the most important because one of the more revolutionary aspects of Getting Things Done is this context of @ and even today it’s so under-mentioned that you could be forgiven to think that it’s just a similar generic “visual” symbol like all the others or even misinterpret the idea of contexts (in GTD terms) for categories (like the folders in your Windows Operating System).

In actuality, @ at least attempts to address the issue of un-sticking your mindset from the letters in your to-do list. It’s flawed in that you are not only suppose to rely even more on your to-do list but you have to bring that to-do list with you whenever you go into a certain place and review that list on that exact place so that you can be reminded best of everything you need to accomplish in that place and only in that place.

In practice, this only works so well if you can train yourself to have a to-do list for each set of location and individual. A sort of social and geographic contemplation on top of a normal date based reminder. All of course being written and reviewed within the GTD system and being recorded on a portable object be it paper or mobile.

Untalented people though need more.

Just as karate may work well in a street fight if you have reached an elite level of combat superiority versus your opponent but at the same time fail more often than not if you are just slightly inferior in skill to the elites, the methodology of going beyond mere folders and tree lists are only notable in that it can bring you closer to getting “it” rather than being tricked into the same old way of making to-do lists but with a newer set of paint behind utilizing one.

Fortunately and unfortunately for untalented people, reaching this realization isn’t enough to make for a productive system. Unfortunate because even with this insufficiency, it’s still something that can help get you closer to improving your own understanding of productivity if only it was mentioned and clarified more rather than being shoe horned into a generic symbol in front of any type of system that claims to host GTD within it. (The most common of course are to-do list software and to-do list users who just recommend adding @ in the beginning of every category.)

Why do I say it is insufficient?

First off, it assumes you can always plan ahead and make to-do lists for most areas and entities. However not all people are salesmen or territory managers that have a predefined list of people that they have to deal with.

More importantly however is that even if this were the case …the untalented individual cannot pull this off.

The untalented individual is often distracted like an unathletic karate newbie enrolled in a mcdojo. For one thing, they are not sure they are being taught correctly. However, they are also not sure they know what the correct manner of teaching is. Worse, their doubts may not be fully answered when they see more athletic students pull things through.

It takes not only a paradigm shift but near to the best training staff mixed with great personnel chemistry to turn the untalented individual into a real bonafide well aware fighter. Even then there is no guarantee that the individual would be a successful street inhabitant versus merely becoming a point fighter or a self-defender that can protect you from the average thug but would be useless in a boxer rebellion type of defense.

This is the reality for untalented people. There’s a good chance that determination will merely glue them to something that is perceived as success maybe even one of a kind – but there’s an even greater chance that despite all this they are simply setting the superior slave drivers to reaching new heights. Sort of like a more complex and accidentally formed outsourcing sum effect only with the guarantee that the untalented will never reach the same success level of the best even if they defy all odds. (Although this isn’t to mean that the untalented cannot reach the level of the elites especially those untalented who strive the hardest with the most flexible approach whom address problems in a most deliberate manner.)

Mixing Productivity Martial Arts

Therefore what a productivity system aimed at an untalented individual needs to achieve is first create the same stem of relying on their paper or software (or something else) and then destroying that link while retaining the fundamentals of that system.

Like the goal of becoming a GTD black belt in which an individual is supposed to be able to subconsciously apply GTD into everything including every context of every problematic situation, the goal for an untalented productivity system is to hold those elements but assume the wielder will do something to ruin those elements.

It could be anything from:

  • losing your todo list
  • forgetting to print out your tasks
  • being afraid to look at your list
  • over-stuffing your unfinished tasks
  • leaving all your items disorganized
  • procrastinating on your system
  • being paralyzed by all the failed tasks on your list

…all these elements though have to be united under a formal system. Otherwise, it’s simply becomes a case of one guy motivating the untalented guy but converted into a manifesto. To me, an untalented person can be inspired to become a hero, a 4 hour work week guy, a successful executor and even a guy that wakes up productive but eventually things will catch up to him and once the issues return and reality falls back on him: it’s not just back to the drawing board, it’s becoming re-trapped only in a more distracting cage.

The untalented person has to accept that he will lose all. He also has to accept that he simply can’t adapt well to the events otherwise he would already have.

Even if the untalented individual denies this, the system at least has to factor this.

Reverse backup:  The idea that you will lose everything eventually so before you lose everything the things you need to gain most are not ones that add to your life but add to your life once it has crumbled and even after that, it should still continue to help you.

Some would argue that the above is just unnecessarily lengthening the advise of putting your eggs in more than one basket but I would argue that the advise is flawed in the same way that a person not versed in stocks could not just turn a guaranteed profit from trading and extend that to: stock traders don't necessarily save the planet so despite their competitive advantage, they're not really producing sustainability nor necessity. They're just trading sustainability within their own circles. The circle just happened to be large and Earth just happened to still hang on for dear life.

My answer however is an oxymoron. Just because dumb users shouldn't be free users doesn't mean it's not the more ignorant users who are the majority of the users of free tools but that the victims of those pain from services dropping out are often times also users who did not strive to look if their data can be backed up or has been backed up into the latest revision.

At the same time, as the last paragraph of that quote shows, I'm also yielding to the idea that it's not possible. Unless you have enough money to save a service and beat out other investors, your money has no value. If you are part of an immoral culture, they would take your money and then sell their service anyway if the price is right or the opportunity is ripe. Open source may help carry the torch but as technology improves such as cloud services, it's going to take more than the source. Sometimes you have yield the domain or the building or the staff.

In the end, this is just the structure of nature. At the price of increased survivability and pleasure compared to other species, dumb user have to pay the price for being in a constant cycle of samsara until they get burned enough and develop actions to go around this. Course I don't mean to sound pessimistic. We're living in an age where it's not your intelligence that matters but your resources. I'm sure those born from a richer country who used and lost some free services didn't all end up being alcoholics as if they've just all lost their wives to a man with a larger penis. The problem lies mostly with the contradictions in the context of the two intentions.

It is in the pinboard's writers' bias to make pinboard come off better than the competition.

On the other hand, mouser (and I assume all of us talking about it here) are in the bias of taking the article's intent literally and this being donationcoder we're all invested in software sustainability in some way and we end up making the article to be more than it is because it contains keywords that matches some of our own goals and intentions. At some point, we have to concede though that the conclusion we can gain from this article may not be as helpful or enlightening as we originally hoped.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 05:19:19 PM by Paul Keith » Logged

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mahesh2k
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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2011, 09:54:56 PM »

Quote
As I said in my above post, that's only a showstopper for somebody who needs to make a living off of the thing they're doing. And while it's true that most free software isn't truly 'free' in the absolute sense, in practice it often is. Most FOSS projects go on for years and numerous revisions with little or no financial contributions - despite the fact they're often asked for.
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My thoughts Exactly.
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mouser
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« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2011, 10:10:27 PM »

I didn't read the original article too closely -- but the lesson i take from all essays like this is all about sustainability..

As an author -- find an approach that you can sustain for the long haul, and be clear to users about your approach to sustainability.  That is, if you are only going to work on something until you get bored -- tell your users this up front.  If you are committed to long term development of your software, make sure you can do this without becoming homeless.  If you are planning on releasing a free version until you get some users and then will switch into a commercial version, tell your users.  If you haven't thought about the issues of how to sustain development of your free software, give it some thought.

And as a user -- think about the long term sustainability of the software you are using.  If the author is not asking for financial support, and/or if you aren't willing to financially support it -- ask yourself if there is a risk the software will be abandoned and you will regret your choice of software or your decision not to financially contribute to the project.

When thinking about software, both authors and users should plan for the long term sustainability/maintainability of the software, and favor approaches that have healthy long term sustainability.
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« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2011, 10:56:08 PM »

As an author -- find an approach that you can sustain for the long haul, and be clear to users about your approach to sustainability.  That is, if you are only going to work on something until you get bored -- tell your users this up front.  If you are committed to long term development of your software, make sure you can do this without becoming homeless.  If you are planning on releasing a free version until you get some users and then will switch into a commercial version, tell your users.  If you haven't thought about the issues of how to sustain development of your free software, give it some thought.

I think this is a big problem.

People get into the game with the best of intentions...

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRGAUogxhcg" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRGAUogxhcg</a>

They then realize only too late...

Grin

It's all too easy to become overly optimistic. It's not that people are lying or anything, but life goes on, things change, and, well, software gets abandoned.

Larger companies are guilty of this as well. How many times have we seen Google drop projects?




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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2011, 11:15:47 PM »

I think the problem with that lesson is humanity is inherently lazy/busy and payment is not always based on rationality. (I apologize if I kind of am repeating myself)

As an author, they can change from whim to whim. It's like a woman saying she's not a hooker but then offered a huge sum of money. Will they or won't they become a hooker? Transparency is not that rewarding also. If you're a small service, no one cares. If you're a popular service, then the subject is moot as leverage for donations becomes your side. Neither really teaches about sustainability.

As a user, people can't expect to be taught from a simple advise. There's also so many free services out there that it's impossible to not get hooked by the excitement of a new service. It doesn't help that neither articles nor forums often write about a long term sustainability plan that a viewer can just read and satisfy themselves with. It's also unfair to the users as they don't all know how to work software backup commands. It's like saying I should be expected to manually update my AV. Good advise but then what else do I have to manually take into consideration?

This isn't to say that the lesson you took for yourself is wrong mouser. I'm not that self-absorbed. I just think we have to think of the victims and give them something they can use. Platitudes sound good but paradigm shifts keep history from repeating itself exactly like it was in the past. That said, I don't know of any solution. Authors will do what they want. Often times it's then left to the users to deal with it. Dumb users are the ones always burned and the cycle will continue unless someone gives a helpdesk hotline for their software or create an attempt to secure your faith in their services. If this is the case though then it's back to the author and despite many authors having done this, many authors have not and many people that aren't victims don't address it as something urgent on their part. It's just vicious and unfortunate but that's life.

It's not even just limited to software. Just see every "king's plane" concept in the real world from bosses to government officials to teachers to parents. It's easy to say plan for the long term but many don't know how. Many aren't taught how. Many who know a little bit keep it to themselves or cave into the difficulty of constantly making the effort and many who don't know the right people can't develop the right habits because there's little standardized guides out there. Just look at Linux for example. People eventually stop supporting old versions and no matter how many new versions come out, you rarely see an improvement in the distribution and presentation of manuals that would help people troubleshoot anything. Instead, what you have is the software equivalent of disaster donations after a hurricane or a tsunami.

People will band together to create more active forums. People will create blogs. Competitors will create features that make data importation available. Yet you rarely see the act of redemption come from the authors themselves. Dumb users equally rarely see a lesson besides being burned. Instead whatever help they get is received from fellow burned users like them that are smarter. As a cycle, people simply build themselves up as refugees and those who don't want to be refugees are forced to be because they can't do much about it. Certain aspects like user interface familiarity are taken for granted by smart users because they can adapt to different advanced interfaces (even ones they interpret as easy to understand) and in the end nothing is really sustained. Adoption of close copies of clones in features maybe but dumb users rarely get the whole familiarity pie and with that comes zero progress except migration after migration or settlement. Luck in the end becomes a more important lesson because then some people smarten up. Some people becoming pessimistic. Some people joining groups that suddenly prosper. Some people drop out which creates additional demand from new authors to make their products more appealing. 
« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 11:21:07 PM by Paul Keith » Logged

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mahesh2k
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« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2011, 11:56:28 PM »

I like that he's transparent with his business, it's rare to see folks doing that today. Check his spreadsheet of expenses. I now see his point about being real about starting any cloud service for 'fees vs free'. Anyone planning to offer web service for free should read that blog post because it doesn't matter what customers think, Its about bills and food on table.
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« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2011, 12:13:10 AM »

That's not really that rare. Many internet marketing blogs did that. (Some internet marketing scams continue to do that) It's a linkbait and trustbait tactic. (or envybait... meh... I don't know the official term but it's basically a way to send the message to people that your service is trustworthy enough to shell out cash for)

Pinboard is rare only in that they're offering an actual service rather than a scam but the marketing tactic by itself is common especially when it comes to paid services.

There's nothing "real" about it though. I apologize if I come off sounding antagonistic. I'm no more doing what IainB was doing in the CNET Downloader topic which is just to show and warn of obvious marketing schemes that I know of. Pinboard is not any way wrong for doing this, it's just that it shouldn't be used as a metric for "being real".
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« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2011, 12:14:33 AM »

There's nothing "real" about it though. I apologize if I come off sounding antagonistic. I'm no more doing what IainB was doing in the CNET Downloader topic which is just to show and warn of obvious marketing schemes that I know of. Pinboard is not any way wrong for doing this, it's just that it shouldn't be used as a metric for "being real".

If the statistics are truthful, then how is it not being real?  Just because others use it for marketing purposes, does that predicate that he is doing the same, rather than showing transparency?
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« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2011, 12:17:51 AM »

Well that's the thing that makes it efficient. You never know whether the statistic is true or not.

The best marketing tricks don't involve creating lies. They involve tweaking truths.

Unless you're a major entity like a government, transparency comes when a crowd of doubters asks for the information and you give it to them.

...or reverse: Let's say a flaw was found in your service that could provide a vulnerability and instead of just disclosing it later and then letting your fanbase say transparency, you go beyond what you should reveal to instigate that trust across a board of skeptics or even zero skeptics. (Basically do the opposite of marketing, risk ridicule when things go bad)

Everything else could be there for a reason. But again, I emphasize that my post shouldn't be perceived as anything but a general warning. Pinboard is a well reputed social bookmarking service if not the only well reputed social bookmarking service that is completely reputable when it comes to longevity. I have never heard/read anything bad about the service. Not even sudden feature changes or service ownership rumor like with services such as delicious or Diigo. You could even see it in the main webpage design. Nothing flashy. Just a straight direct invitation to sign up. I could be misinformed of course but as far as I know, there is no other social bookmarking service that has the same rep as pinboard when it comes to signing up with cash.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 12:26:34 AM by Paul Keith » Logged

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mahesh2k
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« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2011, 12:30:44 AM »

Quote
If the statistics are truthful, then how is it not being real?  Just because others use it for marketing purposes, does that predicate that he is doing the same, rather than showing transparency?
Exactly. You can verify his prices by checking leasewebs price plan and some other prices which he added into the table. This type of approach from startups/small business is verifiable because most of the DC'ers can scrutinize every small bit of it. In case of IM blogs and services, that niche entirely is based on scam and delusion of information sales, so there is no point of transparency there. It's gray collar business.
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« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2011, 12:58:34 AM »

The problem with verification is kind of like open source. How often do people really check the source?

Only here it's not just checking up on the sources, you have to check up on the person's total living expenses to be really sure they are not in debt. It's not like that's enough. You still have to be sure about their motivation to continue the service.

Pinboard has earned it's userbase' trust because of it's longevity that this is link is an added bonus but applied to all of startups/small business, you're still not immune to any startup suddenly selling out or hiding something in the closet. Basically, it's a trees for the forest thing. Just because the IM niche is most well known for doing this doesn't mean someone can't do this for startups. It's not like the service is aiming specifically at DC'ers either. It's a general service that happens to have a blog post linked to DC. I'm not really contending about your admiration for the action. I'm simply giving a warning that this isn't any indication of transparency or "being real" and it shouldn't be. There are more notable examples of showing startup transparency and this isn't it.
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mahesh2k
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« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2011, 10:57:24 AM »

That is true, some of the startups are in the process of abusing the free software. I have seen some shopping carts offering open source software only to premium subscribers. I do understand that open source can be paid, but using copywriting gimmicks with word free doesn't make it free. At least no like GNU's "free" but more of buy one get one free.
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