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Author Topic: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..  (Read 5773 times)

mouser

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Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« on: May 25, 2005, 06:49:54 AM »
I would really appreciate some feedback on this subject.. i'm still playing with various ideas.

All of the software on this site is freeware.  And it will remain freeware.

But one of the things we currently do is make some of the very newest programs and beta editions available for download only by members.
So for example, the two newest programs, Screenshot Captor, and The Form Letter Machine, are both only currently available to download by members.  As time goes by (maybe 2-4 weeks?) these programs will leave beta and become available to download by everyone as normal freeware.

However, a serious flaw in this approach is that non-members can't try these programs to see if they like them.
And this just seems like not in keeping with dc approach.

So i'm returning to the idea of having a kind of personalized keyfile, that all members would get.  This keyfile might be placed in the system directory or in app directory.  (it would also be provided to anyone who emailed me and explained why they had decided not to make a donation).

The only real effect of this keyfile would be that it would allow beta/preview releases to run normally.  People without the keyfile would just get a message when running one of our beta/preview releases on start up saying "This is a beta/preview release.. blah blah..."

So to summarize, the idea is to keep the exact same approach we currently have, all apps are freeware, but members get special access to beta/preview releases; the only dif is that this would allow non-members to download and use the beta/preview releases, only with a startup nag.

opinions?


mouser

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i'd definitely love to hear any creative ideas that people might have, so i thought i'd lay out some general principles that we are committed to:

1) members of the site (whether members by donation or other contribution,etc), should not be inconvenienced, and their needs should be primary. anything that infringes on this is a bad idea.
2) no one should be prevented from using our software in its full form just because they cannot afford it; this is why our general policy is that if someone emails me and explains why they cannot donate they are given free membership.  (starving artists can send us paintings,etc.).

3) we are interested in being advocates for a donation-based approach - we want to figure out a way to encourage donations by people who will feel good about it after they have made a donation, and we want to be an example of a way that programmers can make a tiny bit of money off their software in a morally responsible way that fosters a good relationship between author and users.

Our general approach is based on the *theory* that people are not so much opposed to donating for software, but just that they do not view it as something worth their time and energy.  Based on this hypothesis, we are trying to find ways to get people to overcome this tendency to simply ignore requests for donations, and encourage them to take a few moments to take seriously the request and consider that their donation will actually help to improve the programs they are supporting, and directly facilitate new programs like it.

Ideas are welcome!

dtrud0h

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2005, 08:19:17 AM »
Hey Mouser,
  If I remember right,(Too Tired to go digging around right now) I think you have a couple free copies of the VM Ware still kicking around.  How about a raffle of one of those to be awarded randomly to one of the first twenty five or so people to donate over $20 or more. Maybe more people, maybe $40 I think Publicized drawings for stuff are the way to go.  Granted just a donation will entitle the donor to great discounts on other highly recommended applications, but it's hard to turn up something free and something thats a good deal together.  Also I think publicizing the current Member discounts on the home page would attract, well at least interest some of the non-donating visitors to give it some more thought.  A regular or planned raffle of a free copy of 1 or 2 of anything you end up with would probably even help persuade previous donors to give again. Anyway that's my two cents, and to set a good example for all who read this I've gone from here to the paypal link to give a little more.  This is a great site with a world-class philosophy and I for one would like to see it do well.
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tenseiken

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2005, 09:56:52 AM »
mouser: The keyfile idea could work, but wouldn't that be a considerable amount of work to implement in all of your software?  If you're not receiving enough donations, you need to make donating more appealing.  Making the reviews viewable by donaters only for a set period of time (say a day or two) might help, but my understanding is that the main draw is your software.  Maybe the keyfile thing is the only way to go.  A single nag screen is no big deal, but I'd be willing to give a few bucks to get rid of a nag screen in process tamer.

dtrud0h: A good idea, but how often can we expect a software maker to donate copies of its product to the site?  I think he needs something stable.  Advertising the available discount(s) on the front page is a good idea.
-John

mouser

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2005, 10:50:24 AM »
1) i am going to follow your advice2 and include a mention of current discounts on front page, either in side bar or in text.

2) as for adding keyfile support.. it's not that hard, i already have a modification of jibz' akey code for such things that i worked on for a bit and so it should be easy, and easier still once we get into the habit of using it.  maybe ill use it as a test on the latest 2 programs (screenshot captor and the form letter machine), and we can see how well that goes.

3) its hard for me to tell what percentage of people are coming for reviews, software, or discounts.  we might want to do a poll sometime in the future.  it would probably help to hear what areas of the site people are most interested in and which areas they would like to see more focus on.

4) raffles for software.. it's an interesting idea.. on the other hand i like the idea of using these donated copies of software to reward existing members and contributors to the site, rather than using them to get people who wouldn't otherwise donate to join.  i'm afraid that would be a little like punishing those who have been good enough to donate already...  the other thing is that restricting it to people who donated above a certain amount would mean that the people with little money who could benefit most from a free copy would be inelligible.  this is the kind of world i'm trying to escape from so i don't want to go there.

i appreciate you guys/gals putting up with all this discussion of donation stuff - it's not our intention to be talking about it all the time, we're just still trying to figure out the best consistent sensible approach and then we can stop chattering about it.  we have no intention of constantly talking about donations.

tenseiken

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2005, 06:29:02 PM »
I don't mind the discussion about the donations at all.  Matter of fact, it's nice to be included.  Makes the place feel even more like home.  That said, I think a poll is a great idea.  Not only could you use the results to determine how to proceed with donations, but you could also use them to determine what you're doing well and what needs improvement.
-John

jpfx

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2005, 06:50:28 AM »
Looking at the donation page; here are my criticisms, (constructive, I hope).

What you're getting does not stand out unless you read several paragraphs (with links). I feel a bulleted list or similar would be more effective. I wanted to know right there in the simplist terms what difference it would make.

Little mention of forum members area and the fact that you can take an active part in the who, what, when of reviewing applications. I'd consider this is an important feature.

So..

Comprehensive reviews
Amazing discounts
In-house software
Members area & a voice (at least) in future reviews

Having said all that, I was intrigued enough to go ahead so what's there is working. It might be time is all that's needed.
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mouser

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2005, 08:32:59 AM »
yes, i think you're definitely you're right about this, jpfx.
part of the reason it's so vague is because we (were/are) still honestly trying to figure out what the benefits of donating are.
but i think it's probably time we took your advice and made the benefits more clear and concise.

there are actually 2 pages that explain details of the site, the About page and the Donate page..  anyone have any views about the division of content on these pages, and the focus of each? they sort of touch on same subjects.  maybe we could leave the about page more discursive while making the donate page be short and concise about benefits.

mouser

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2005, 11:20:14 AM »
i've update the donation page as suggested; let me know what you think.

dtrud0h

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2005, 10:13:24 PM »
The page looks good  mouser, the only thing I noticed was that you didn't update the date on the bottom.  Wasn't it you that said a good revision history says alot?
 
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jpfx

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Re: Revisiting an idea to encourage donations..
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2005, 06:43:17 AM »
Succinct and to the point. I hope this is what most enquiring minds will need.
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