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Author Topic: "Donationware 2.0" or something like that - opinions wanted  (Read 10083 times)
mouser
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« on: July 27, 2006, 01:48:35 PM »

The confusion surrounding the concept of donationware and freeware has come up a few times before, and it got me wondering if it might be nice to discuss the idea of formulating a new term with a more precise definition.

Im not wedded to the name, but maybe "Donationware 2.0" is a good working title until we find something better.

So here is what i was thinking by way of a definition, but please do jump in and modify.  I'm basically starting off with the things we do here, but that doesn't mean they are the right way, i'm just trying to start us off on the path of coming up with something reasonable.


Donationware 2.0:
  • Software or media that puts a strong emphasis on asking the user to make a donation to support the author, while still remaining free of charge should the user choose not to donate (or cannot donate).
  • Such software may require a minimum amount of effort on the users part to encourage donating, but this work should not be "prohibitive or overly annoying".

In an attempt to be more specific about this term, the following activities would be considered overly annoying and prohibitive:
1) showing a nag which is removed only on donating.
2) requiring a donation to unlock certain features.
3) showing ads inside the software which are removed only on donating.

However, such software may reasonably do the following:
1) Require the person to sign up to receive the full version, or a license key or download (no email collected may be used for spamming purposes!)
2) Require the person to declare that they have considered donating and decided not to.
3) Require the person to return to download a new version or license key occasionally (no more frequently than once every 6 months)

Summarizing: The software model puts an emphasis on requiring the user to actually consider the act of donating, and perform some action to avoid donating (though not monetary, and not anything that would take more than a few minutes per year).  Read my article (http://www.donationcoder....m/Articles/One/index.html) for longer discussion about the motivation and philosophy behind these decisions.


Other issues worth considering:

Should donationware2.0 specify that an author should make all of their software available as a bundle when a user donates?
Should it say that the author can charge for commercial/non-personal/home use? (i would favor this i think)
Should it be able to say that a donation is mandatory, but user can choose the amount, or else indicate that they cannot donate for some real reason?


 feedback

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Josh
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2006, 02:12:49 PM »

In an attempt to be more specific about this term, the following activities would be considered overly annoying and prohibitive:
1) showing a nag which is removed only on donating.
2) requiring a donation to unlock certain features.
3) showing ads inside the software which are removed only on donating.

With the three things listed here, I agree completely, those are NO-NO's in the donationware industry.

Quote from: mouser
However, such software may reasonably do the following:
1) Require the person to sign up to receive the full version, or a license key or download (no email collected may be used for spamming purposes!)
2) Require the person to declare that they have considered donating and decided not to.
3) Require the person to return to download a new version or license key occasionally (no more frequently than once every 6 months)

Option 1 is fine, as long as you dont get into the point of nagging like "Are you sure you dont wish to donate", etc.

Option 2, I dont like this idea. Requiring a user state "I do not want to donate" is like forcing them to say "I am too cheap to donate". While this may not be the case in all instances, alot of users never have any intent on donating and requiring them to post to this effect can alienate them because they might not want to post and appear "cheap". Like I said, this isnt always the case, but you do get your users who never have an intent on donating.

Option 3, I believe that once a license is obtained it should be permanent. Requiring the user to acquire a new license, in my opinion, is like using a nag screen "Since you didnt donate, come here and get another license key". Granted, you may only do it once, it can still be considered a nag.

Quote from: mouser
Other issues worth considering:

Should donationware2.0 specify that an author should make all of their software available as a bundle when a user donates?
Should it say that the author can charge for commercial/non-personal/home use? (i would favor this i think)
Should it be able to say that a donation is mandatory, but user can choose the amount, or else indicate that they cannot donate for some real reason?

If the software is all offered through one site or portal, then yes, one license key should be used for all products on that site. Otherwise, it gets tedious and can detract from the user deciding to obtain further keys. On note 2, the author should have every right to charge for a more "Feature filled" or a commercial version of the application. Home use/personal use should remain free after all, isnt this the point of donationware? to be free for personal use yet ask for a small donation if you like the work? Donations should NOT be mandatory, that is still requiring the user to pay for the software. Yes, the user can choose the amount, but if its required, some users will likely go elsewhere to find the software they need.

Anyways, thats my thoughts.
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nudone
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2006, 02:13:40 PM »

i go for a donating is mandatory - it's in the title after all - but there is no limit to how small (or large) a donation can be. it is the act of donating that is important, even if it's as low as 1 cent/pence/yourcurrencyhere.

anyone unwilling to make the gesture of donating a completely insignificant amount as 1 cent doesn't really deserve anything in return.

if someone really cannot make a donation they can show their appreciation by composing an email stating why they can't - this would take longer than making an actual donation and would require a greater involvement from the person making the request so that seems like a fair trade off to me.

making the donation mandatory (or a mandatory opt out email) gets the person beyond that first step, beyond their inertia to interact and accept their is someone to thank for the software they are obtaining/using. once that hurdle is overcome i believe most donations would be of a 'fair' monetary amount.

let the software (or whatever it is) be obtainable for free, but only for a limited time period. let the software prompt them towards the end of the 'free' period that they will be required to make a donation within a few days/weeks for the software to continue working and then no one can complain about being conned.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 02:15:47 PM by nudone » Logged
Josh
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2006, 02:24:35 PM »

i go for a donating is mandatory - it's in the title after all - but there is no limit to how small (or large) a donation can be. it is the act of donating that is important, even if it's as low as 1 cent/pence/yourcurrencyhere.

Making donations MANDATORY sorta defeats the purpose doesnt it? I mean, why not just make it shareware where the user pays what they feel? Donations have always been, and should be, a voluntary thing, in my opinion.

Quote
if someone really cannot make a donation they can show their appreciation by composing an email stating why they can't - this would take longer than making an actual donation and would require a greater involvement from the person making the request so that seems like a fair trade off to me.

Why should anyone have to explain why? I mean, forcing users to tell why they can't donate is requiring them to get into their personal lives. What if someone really is poor, I dont think that forcing them to say "I am poor" is a good thing to do.

Quote
let the software (or whatever it is) be obtainable for free, but only for a limited time period. let the software prompt them towards the end of the 'free' period that they will be required to make a donation within a few days/weeks for the software to continue working and then no one can complain about being conned.

Again, this makes it sound like shareware. Shareware is only available for a certain amount of time, after which you have to pay. Even if the user decides the amount, I think this defeats the purpose of Donating.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 02:27:24 PM »

I think that to define a broader concept, there's an error in your definition.
While it does make much sense to specify what not to do (nag screens, way too much work to get the key, etc.), it shouldn't specify what the software may do.
I say this because there's no perfect solution, and while the system on DC looks pretty good, there might be a better soution. So, it should be left to the creator's imagination what to do to encourage the user to donate. (i'm saying this because if it's a good concept, other software creators might adopt it, but if they find a better solution than DC has, it won't be donationware 2.0.)

I'm also for the donation OR e-mail method. There has to be a bigger conscience of the user when downloading software.
That behaviour of downloading software and simply not worrying about who did it or how they did it is incompatible with donationware 2.0.
Making it be too easy (like, "drop me a few lines in the box below and you'll get your key") would make it be just like freeware.

I'm also thinking... How about a survey? When the person comes to get the second key, the percon could be obligated to fill a few questions like "what do you think about the sofware?" or "what made you get the second key", something like that. It might make people think twice about how great the software is, and that possibly the author would deserve a donation from them cheesy
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 02:28:12 PM »

i think nudone captured the spirit of what i meant by mandatory donation or an "opt-out", and in relation to josh's point:
Quote
"Option 2, I dont like this idea. Requiring a user state "I do not want to donate" is like forcing them to say "I am too cheap to donate". While this may not be the case in all instances, alot of users never have any intent on donating and requiring them to post to this effect can alienate them because they might not want to post and appear "cheap".

i would be against making anyone post publicly that they wouldn't donate.

but the consistent idea is: you want to ask the user to do some affirmitive action, whether donating or stating that they can't/won't donate, to overcome the motivational issue i discussed in the article.

so i kind of tend towards nudone's summary:

users must either:
1) make a donation (of any amount)
2) submit some email or private form saying why they can't or won't, as an exception to this rule.

the idea is simple:
keep the software free for those who can't donate or refuse to donate, but try to make it as easy to donate as to not donate, and let them choose the amount if they choose to donate.


as for making the person come back to get another license - i'm leaning towards eliminating that from our site.. it may be pushing the envelope of being annoying, in addition to being confusing.  the only real benefit it has is in getting people to visit the site at least once more after 6 months of using the program in hopes they will decide to donate, and in serving as a small incentive to donate to avoid this.
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mouser
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 02:30:53 PM »

jgpaiva's idea of a survey might be reasonable..
if you choose not to donate then we ask you to complete a small survey instead, which would ask why they chose not to donate, what might make them choose to donate, and ask them if they would consider donating in the future.  it might be a reasonable way to "connect" with those who choose not to donate and have a minute to "talk to them"
it's kind of a neat idea.
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Josh
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2006, 02:34:15 PM »

users must either:
1) make a donation (of any amount)
2) submit some email or private form saying why they can't or won't, as an exception to this rule.

If option 2 is selected, I do think it should be an ANONYMOUS form where the user isnt required to submit contact info. Requiring an email is only, in my understanding, giving the author a way to respond with more reasons as to why they should donate. This could lean towards being annoying as the user might not have any intent on donating, and providing an email address for the author to reply to would constitute as an annoyance (Nag). So in essence, the form should be anonymous, and linked to a page that generates a license key so that contact info is not required.

I do agree with a survey feature thou, to get a key. As long as it doesnt REQUIRE contact info to obtain a key (allowing the author to attempt to get a donation out of the user again).
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nudone
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2006, 02:41:08 PM »

(i've just had to edit my post because of the quick replies.)

so, to me, jgpaiva's survey sounds like a good idea and also, i think Josh's anonymous message is important for the reasons he stated.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2006, 02:45:56 PM »

I'm not much for anonymousity.
I do understand the reasons josh mentioned, but this gets us in a dead end. If someone doesn't provide a contact info, it'll be a non-personal form. This means that people will just click through it and write non-sense stuff.
The only solution for this would be to make the form have to be aprooved. To have a form like that, i think it'd be better to have the e-mail system as it's much more personal, and i think rewarding for the author. Also, the person would have much more ease in stating their situation in an e-mail than in a form.
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2006, 02:47:35 PM »

Well, I would ONLY be in support of email being allowed IF, and ONLY IF, it is not used as a way to try and pressure the user into donating. A simple reply email with a license key would be the only response I would expect/want. Otherwise, I will have to stick with my original argument.
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mouser
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2006, 02:51:44 PM »

i completely understand that people might to submit anonymously.

certainly this would be strictly forbidden:
Quote
Requiring an email is only, in my understanding, giving the author a way to respond with more reasons as to why they should donate.


so i understand why someone would want to submit anonymously, for fear of getting such an email or follow up.

however, accepting anonymous submissions makes life more difficult - the license keys are tied to emails to discourage (slightly) sharing of keys, and so we would have to then do some kind of second step for that.  plus as jgp says, letting people submit anonymously would boost the rate of fake quick submissions, when what we really are asking from the user is a considered set of answers and comments as an alternative to donating.

(note one would have to consider the issue of people needing to fill out the form in non-english).

so i guess i would lean towards having them fill out a form with a real email address provided (to which the license key would then be sent), but stressing very clearly that no one is going to follow up and try to convince them to donate.
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mouser
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2006, 02:53:43 PM »

the policy would have to be very clear that whatever answers and reasons the person gives are ok, and that no one is going to try to follow up and convince them to donate, and that they are going to receive their license key regardless of the reasons they list, and that no one is going to follow up and try to convince them their reasons weren't good enough..
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Josh
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2006, 02:56:23 PM »

I would be completely supportive of that for a definition of donationware and a use to get a license key. Because, as I stated above, requiring an email address to be entered so that the user can get a reply with more pressure for them to donate or giving more reasons why, it more of a nag than it would be helpful in getting them to donate as, at a guess, a bit over 50% of users wouldnt have any intention of donating anyways.
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mouser
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2006, 03:19:42 PM »

i'm liking the survey idea more and more..

it seems to me that it would give an opportunity for us to at least engage the user in some form and get them to think about why they are not donating, as well as get some useful feedback from them to help us improve the site.

if we keep it all on one page with full info as we discussed above about how the info will and will not be used, i think it might be something the non-donating user would be willing to provide without too much annoyance.

and it seems a justifyable ethical approach doesn't it?  either donate, or be considerate enough to tell us why you aren't donating.
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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2006, 03:56:48 PM »

Still, you're slipping into nagware, even with a survey. The survey is a good idea for everyone, especially if it is short and offers at least one open-ended response. But I'd only employ surveys after major versions are released. You'll just have to filter for the expected sarcastic response of why you did not donate: "Because I don't like being told to do something."

I think your goal is a noble one — defining what constitutes and separates donationware from everything else. The software industry needs a working definition. But in the end it must be kept simple; something that can be written in one line, such as:
          — Shareware — Software that you can try before you buy.
          — Freeware - Software on the web that is freely available (but retains a copyright).
          — Open Source - A program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge.

          — Donationware - Distributed as freeware, donationware encourages (but does not require) the user to donate in order to register and support the software.
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mouser
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2006, 03:59:32 PM »

Quote
But I'd only employ surveys after major versions are released.

i'm not sure i understand this point -

i think the idea was that a user could get a lifetime permanent license after answering a short one-page mini survey about why they are not donating.

so every user who chooses not to donate would answer that, once and only once, in order to get a permanent license.

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Josh
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« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2006, 04:00:44 PM »

Still, you're slipping into nagware, even with a survey. The survey is a good idea for everyone, especially if it is short and offers at least one open-ended response. But I'd only employ surveys after major versions are released. You'll just have to filter for the expected sarcastic response of why you did not donate: "Because I don't like being told to do something."

I think your goal is a noble one — defining what constitutes and separates donationware from everything else. The software industry needs a working definition. But in the end it must be kept simple; something that can be written in one line, such as:
          — Shareware — Software that you can try before you buy.
          — Freeware - Software on the web that is freely available (but retains a copyright).
          — Open Source - A program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge.

          — Donationware - Distributed as freeware, donationware encourages (but does not require) the user to donate in order to register and support the software.

Yes, donation's should not be forced or it loses all meaning. A forced donation is basically shareware with a new name tagged on to it. I agree with zaine on the surveys with one exception. The survey should be a ONE TIME thing to obtain a license key that does not have to be renewed. If you require the user to complete the survey after each major version, you are still getting into nagware, despite the scale that it is being used on.
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mouser
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« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2006, 04:03:21 PM »

if you asked them to fill out a survey after each major release you would get people shooting at you with sniper rifles as you walked down the street  huh
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mouser
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2006, 04:05:47 PM »

Quote
A forced donation is basically shareware with a new name tagged on to it.


i think the idea being posed here is that you require them to donate OR answer a one-time survey.

note:
as an aside, i do think that letting users choose how much to donate by itself makes this not shareware - i think as soon as you let people choose how much to donate (even if you never added a way to let them opt-out of paying), would warrant a new term.  now whether you wanted to call this donationware is a different issue.  maybe PayWhatYouWantWare.
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nudone
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« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2006, 04:41:02 PM »

seems like we are having different definitions of what 'donation' means. i've never understood the word 'donation' to mean 'don't give anything'. i've always understood it to mean 'give an unspecified amount of something'.

so, 'donationware' sounds perfect to me.

how about, 'support'ware or 'appreciate'ware or 'ethic'ware or 'imnotanungratefultightarsehereisadolloar'ware.
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mouser
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« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2006, 04:48:54 PM »

i think most people probably associate a donation as being optional, so i can see having a mandatory donation, even if you let them donate 1 cent, as being objected to.
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nudone
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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2006, 05:09:39 PM »

umm, i guess you are right. i'm trying to think of all the times i've been in the situation of being asked to 'donate'.

i think there are two distinctive situations/contexts...

1. someone offers you something that you really do not have any interest in and asks if you would like to 'donate' towards it.

2. someone offers you somethng that you are (very) interested in and asks you would you like to 'donate' towards it.

i see 'donationware' as falling into the second category. there's a trade taking place. you receive and then rightly make a donation to show your appreciation. i can't understand how anyone would want to do otherwise.
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2006, 08:43:48 PM »

So it's like going to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every week and never offering to buy beer?  cheesy

My point was, whatever the specifics of what donationware is or is not, one should be able to state its ultimate definition in a simple thought. What donationware is is still being argued among everyone (and should be).
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2006, 08:51:52 PM »

The idea of issuing keys and having those that don't donate come back in 6 months isn't a bad idea...

At that time they can make a donation, or make a different type of valuable donation of info about the program they have been using...

What do they like about it?
What do they not like about it?
What features would they like to see added in a future version?

Not all donations are of the money type, and donations of information can be valuable too. And after 6 months of use, they should be able to answer questions like that about the program they have been using.

Those answers can be used to improve the program, increasing it's worth, and in turn maybe increasing the amount of people that will donate money, or the dollar amount they are willing to donate.
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