Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 04, 2016, 12:26:03 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Last post Author Topic: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?  (Read 21001 times)

zridling

  • Friend of the Site
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 3,292
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« on: September 04, 2005, 01:24:18 AM »
For the developers among us, and because I'm curious.

(1) Do donations from users make you want to work on pay more attention to a program, or not?

     And the opposite is assumed:

(2) If you get few or no donations, do you discontinue the program's development, no matter how good it is?

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2005, 11:37:00 PM »
let me post my 2 cents.

--

donations often mean much more psychologically than they do financially.  they are like cookies or presents, they make you feel good.  they make you feel like your work is appreciated. most serious programmers i know really enjoy programming, and they'd do it for themselves (and often do), regardless of money or appreciation.

but don't underestimate the effect that getting positive feedback has on a coder, it really helps motivate one, especially past those difficult 5% issues, where if it was just for yourself you probably would have stopped tweaking a long time ago.

it's not just donations, it's feedback in general.  having a non-demanding and appreciative user base which is constantly injecting new ideas and giving you a pat on the back for good work does so much to make the coding more fun. i mean just look at the bug reports i get on the dc forum - there's just no way i could find all those bugs by myself, and even if i could, it would be just pure pain.

being able to interact with users and find a few who are happy to test stuff is invaluable and makes the whole development process much more fun.

the monetary donations really do help also in their own way, it's like you say, a kind of 'objective' reward that makes you think, hey someone appreciates what i'm doing.

in the last months i've frequently found myself at the end of a 15 hour run of programming or working on the site, and a bit frustrated, and hear a little 'ding' of the email program letting me know someone has made a donation, and it makes me feel like, hey this work i'm doing is noticed and appreciated, and it makes it all worth while.

--

it also has to be said that many of us find ourselves in financial situations which mandates trying to earn some money for the amount of work we put in.  i wish i didn't have to ask for monetary donation, and i never would if i didn't find myself in significant debt and needing help pay bills, and in these cases the donations are critical to being able to spend the time working on the programs, rather than just a nice motivation.

--

so my view is that donations really mean so much to me, both financially and psychologically, though if i had to choose from donations or having active users who talk with me and share their appreciation for the programs, i'd choose the latter.  to have both is a wonderful thing.

--

now a downside, to zaine's question #2.
there is a phenomena that can happen with things like donations and hit counters.  which is the author is happy until they put out a call for donations or add a hit counter to their page, and then get depressed when the results are not very good.  It can be a real shock for an author to find out that with thousands of downloads per week of a program, only one person a month actually is willing to donate.  It can be a kind of negative feedback where an author comes to feel as if his work really isn't appreciated.

one of the purposes of this site is really to address this issue where people who would without thought pay $30 for a program if it was shareware, but won't even consider donating $5 for it if they don't have to.  As users we have to think about the bigger picture.  That donation helps fund the author to do more work, and helps support work on the program.  Your donation helps you in the long run, because it means more improvements of the code, and it means showing the author that you want him/her to keep on doing what they're doing.

in a very real way, i hope this site can grow into a place where authors can have a real interaction with an active and appreciative user base, so that the users+authors can work as a team to improve the programs, and where an author can feel appreciated for their work.  donations are one way people can express support for an author.

if you are an author and considering asking for donations, i will tell you what i've learned.  when i first asked for donations for a popular freeware program i wrote many years ago, i got maybe 5 donations, all by mail (i didn't have paypal, don't think it existed yet).  those donations were extremely meaningful to me, but i soon removed the request for donations from the program because clearly for 5 donations it hardly seemed worth the effort to even ask.

the lesson i learned is that, if you decide that you need to ask for donations, then you have to reall ask - you have to make a real point of it, and swallow some of your pride about it.  if you don't, even good people will not respond.  you need to do more than simply have a "donate" button on your website if you expect to get donations, you have to really tell your users that their donations are important to you.  some people will never donate, either because they can't or won't.  but a significant portion of people are just reluctant to, and need to be given a reason and some motivation.  just remember to ask in a nice way !

--

I've gotten emails from people donating who tell me when they see a cool open source or freeware project, they sometimes make a small donation of a couple dollars, even if they don't use the program.  I do this sometimes too if i see a program that isn't quite at the level of its commercial counterpart but is making progress to it.  I think of it as helping support future work.  I urge you all to consider your donations as a way of encouraging good behavior and showing solidarity with those who want to keep software available to everyone.  It can mean so much to the moral of a developer, and let's them know that you appreciate their choice to keep their software free.

also, do not underestimate how nice it is as an author to get an email saying how someone liked your program.  as our countries become more and more dominated by giant corporations we have come to think of businesses as faceless humanless operations whose only purpose is profit for the shareholders.  but a freeware author is a real person who takes the time to make his/her software available to the world because they like the idea of helping others.  as an author, getting a note of thanks from a user is such a nice thing, a validation of the substantial work involved in making your software available.  especially when you consider that most of the email they get is probably technical support requests.  a pure thank you email can make an author's day, believe me :)
« Last Edit: September 04, 2005, 11:44:08 PM by mouser »

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2005, 11:38:29 PM »
ps.  SourceForge provides great free web space for open source authors and a nice mechanism for them to accept donations.
if you know of a freeware author who does not wish to go open source yet, but who needs free web space, etc. just have them contact me.

zridling

  • Friend of the Site
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 3,292
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2005, 12:12:34 AM »
That is as elegant a statement as I've ever read. I did not know those things, but some of the things you mention, mouser, make me think of more questions. I've got a feeling other developers will hear of DonationCoder.com and I hope they find this thread and post their own response.

There's lots of things to chew on in mouser's thoughts, but this one stuck out: "...this issue where people who would without thought pay $30 for a program if it was shareware, but won't even consider donating $5 for it if they don't have to."

Like most people, I don't always have any extra money, but if I'm using a freeware/OS app, I will often send an email thanking them and telling them how I'm using the program. I would think Open Source apps get even fewer responses or donations than freeware does, but I wouldn't know. I have a story of my own that would surprise a lot of people, and embarrass thousands if not tens of thousands of users.  :o

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2005, 12:17:51 AM »
you have an embarassing story? let's hear it :)

your comment about open source also reminded me of something.

there are a lot of things in this world, like open source and asking for donations, that as an author you really have to be prepared to put in some serious work before they actually will take flight.

you very frequently see some very programs that go open source and no one joins the development, leaving the author confused, frustrated, and depressed. same thing with asking for donations.

as an author you have to be prepared to put in a *lot* of work to make your software accessible, documented, easy to use, stable, etc.  it's simply not enough to make it open source.  that's only part of the job.  with freeware, don't expect that just because it's free people are going to put up with bugs and stuff.  using a buggy program can cost users more in pain and lost productivity than paying for a program.

AbteriX

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,115
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2005, 02:46:56 AM »
I would like to donate, too.
But since i read the contract of PayPal i should confirm
(if something going wrong
and there is no explanation why
i could be responsible for 600 € "blanket" )
i break up the registration.

I think bank transfer cost much more extra money ?   I will ask them.

Is there a secure, cheaper way to donate?
Bank transfer would be the easiest way.

I think also on a note in an envelop, with extra carton for security.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2005, 03:02:45 AM »
people contribute and help the site in different ways.
you've contributed a lot to the site already stefan, no need to donate :)

ps.
there is a mailing address on the Contacts page (http://www.donationc...m/About/contact.html)
if people prefer they can send cash, beer, postcards, paintings, candy, etc. :)
« Last Edit: September 05, 2005, 03:05:59 AM by mouser »

Veign

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • Veign - Where design meets development
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2005, 12:25:11 PM »
(1) Do donations from users make you want to work on pay more attention to a program, or not?

I started writing all my application as freeware applications.  As time went on I realized I was putting in way too much time on my applications and not enough time on the consulting business.  I needed something to justify the time I was putting in to developing these free applications. 

I started by converting a couple of the applications to Shareware and one application to Donationware.  The money brought in by these applications nowhere justifies the time I spend on them so I fall back to the real reason I created them - the love of creating applications that people enjoy using.

What drives me now is emails saying how much they like my applications, a postcard here and there, an occasional donation / reg fee.  Most of all its the thank you emails.

(2) If you get few or no donations, do you discontinue the program's development, no matter how good it is?

Never.  This is the problem I am running into now with some under performing shareware applications.  Like my Seeker application which I feel is a good solid application that is not making it as a shareware application - now do I go back into development and add all the ideas I have for the next release..

My mind is saying if people aren't going to pay the shareware costs I may as well give it out for free (or donation with no reg key required) and get some glory from it.  This is where I am now, considering changing the shareware applications back to freeware / donationware..

I wish there was a way to get good applications to people that can't afford the costs while still making something for the developers to help defray the costs of development.

« Last Edit: September 05, 2005, 04:05:35 PM by Veign »

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2005, 01:47:40 PM »
Quote
I wish there was a way to get good applications to people that can't afford the costs while still making something for the developers to help defray the costs of development

yeah this is something i've struggled with as well.  maybe we need a poverty-verification service - user sends in proof to citibank to show they are not rich and they get a certificate.  after that all software is free ;)

Veign

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • Veign - Where design meets development
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2005, 02:08:09 PM »
The problem I have is that I can justify my time late at night to do development on my applications but that will only take things so far. 

There are some advanced components that I had wanted to purchase for future releases that were not available as freeware or the freeware versions were not stable enough.  This is where I have a hard time justifying the cost. 

Some users just don't understand the massive amount of time to create a solid application.  A small donation of $.50 per user would make a huge difference.

Wanna hear what almost made me give up: 
I created a pretty solid, well put together font manager called Cfont Pro.  The early versions of the application was freeware but I thought this release was good enough to go shareware.  I released the application as shareware and started getting good feedback, some listings on graphic design websites, and good downloads from shareware websites.  Now the application had been out maybe 3 days max and I noticed the traffic on the site getting up around 5 gig of bandwidth  per day and increasing.  I looked at the URL's and noticed the application had been cracked and the warez sites picked it up and was hammering my website. 

I created a blacklist script in ASP that looked where the person was coming from and re-directed to an Anti-piracy webpage.  This slowed things down but it still was costing me money in bandwidth.  Later what I did is put the primary download from Download.com and other sites that host the file.  This has helped tremendously.

Every version that comes out gets cracked fast.  I try and stay ahead by doing some things that makes the crack un-usable so most users would not get a working copy from the cracks / key gens.

This is what almost made me throw in the towel and not create applications anymore for the public.

(FYI: I just changed Seeker to a Donationware application and any size donation gets you a registration key)
« Last Edit: September 05, 2005, 04:07:06 PM by Veign »

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2005, 02:36:39 PM »
my general impression is that pirated software doesn't effect sales significantly.  it could eat up bandwidth but that just means its spreading the word about your program.  like they say in acting, no publicity is bad publicity.  there was a post recently talking about a microsoft guy was admiting that some level of piracy is good for business.  did you notice sales go down when this happen? or was it just bandwidth.

i've toyed with the idea of making a donation mandatory, but not specifying any threshold amount.  even though its not the accepted definition of donationware, that definition of donationware seems to me much more logical (ie when it is mandatory to make a donation, but the amount is unspecified).  i'd be curious to hear how it goes.

ps. veign your url links are little broken.

Veign

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • Veign - Where design meets development
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2005, 04:10:57 PM »
my general impression is that pirated software doesn't effect sales significantly.  it could eat up bandwidth but that just means its spreading the word about your program.  like they say in acting, no publicity is bad publicity.  there was a post recently talking about a microsoft guy was admiting that some level of piracy is good for business.  did you notice sales go down when this happen? or was it just bandwidth.

Sales was steady but the bandwidth costs killed me.  5Gig / day was way more than I could afford per month.  It became not worth it..

I totally agree that warez sites help get the word out about software but in my case the downloads from warez sites far exceeded the downloads of honest users.

i've toyed with the idea of making a donation mandatory, but not specifying any threshold amount.  even though its not the accepted definition of donationware, that definition of donationware seems to me much more logical (ie when it is mandatory to make a donation, but the amount is unspecified).  i'd be curious to hear how it goes.

This is something I am going to try with one of my shareware applications and a new version of a freeware application I have.  See if users will accept this and understand that ANY donation gets them a registration code.

ps. veign your url links are little broken.

Fixed the links - was adding them the same way as another forum type and this forum works slightly different.

zridling

  • Friend of the Site
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 3,292
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2005, 04:46:14 PM »
Maybe you two are onto something. That is, redefining the boundary between freeware and shareware, conflating the two as donationware. Let's say I go to www.veign.com and download a program, say Note-It, and it times out after 10-15 days unless I donate some or any amount.

This discussion demonstrates in real ways how piracy hurts the small developer and in turn, suffocates good software from reaching the market. In the end, users lose. I don't consider it piracy if I download your program and don't use it. Who would? But even if it's freeware (to me), if you use it and do not attempt to pay it forward in some way, be it feedback, a thank you, a monetary donation, registration, or whatever, then you're pirating it.

PS: Really sorry to hear that about Cfont Pro. It's one of the few high-end font management apps around, period.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2005, 09:38:16 PM »
the only problem with the mandatory donation thing is that a large group of users are simply not in a position to make a donation.  it's not so much that they couldn't spare a dollar, but that they don't have a credit card or an easy way to make a donation.  so if you are philosophically inclined to make your software free, this represents a problem.

Veign

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • Veign - Where design meets development
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2005, 10:13:57 PM »
Maybe the definition of donation needs to be redefined. 

Lets say someone tells me about a bug or a feature that I had not thought about.  The value of this far exceeds the monetary value of lets say 10 users registering the product.

Maybe what needs to be done is to create a page where users register and then 'donate' in one of three ways: monetary value, bug report (something not already on a bug list), or feature / idea request.  Actually lets add a forth: review.  A review for me carries alot of weight on some of the download sites to influence a new user to download and try the application

This would allow a user, any user have the capability to register the application with little or no out-of-pocket.  The user gets the application and I, as the developer, receive something of value.

Now there is no execuse for a user to be using a pirated copy..

Thoughts?

Veign

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • Veign - Where design meets development
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2005, 10:16:13 PM »
PS: Really sorry to hear that about Cfont Pro. It's one of the few high-end font management apps around, period.

Even after all the bad with that experience I just can't let the application go.  I will be entering the development phase of v3.0 within the next couple of months and will be rethinking the shareware idea when I release it...

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2005, 12:33:16 AM »
looks great, i hope you'll keep us informed.
if only there were twice as many hours in the day.. i think one of the hardest things as a programmer is not having time to code all of the stuff you'd like to.

Veign

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • Veign - Where design meets development
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2005, 12:51:50 AM »
I am going to work on a new type of Donationware definition and try and setup a logical and easy to use registration system for Veign over the next few weeks.

Hopefully I can come up with something that makes sense and increases the user response to me on the software - either monetary, an email with a bug / feature, or a review on Download.com or FileForum.

Like you said mouser there is just not enough time in the day and so many ideas.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2005, 01:11:54 AM »
sounds nice -
like i was saying there is some real "muddlement" in the definition of donationware.

most people seem to refer to donationware any software whose author asks users to consider making a donation.

this seems to me totally useless as a definition.  it says nothing about the program at all.

to me it makes more sense to say a program is donationware if it REQUIRES a donation but the donation amount is left up to user.

if it has no restrictions at all then its freeware, regardless of whether author asks for donations or not.

i usually refer to our software here as freeware, since you do not have to donate to use it, though with our new freeware license key system that requires signing up at the forum in order to get a freeware license to remove the nag, one would be justified in calling in registerware.

like you, we are trying to find a nice way to do things here that keeps the software available to everyone, especially those who can't donate, while still encouraging those who can to contribute financially to help support the project.

please keep us updated on what you decide to do and how it goes.. i'd really like to see donation-based software play a bigger role in things - i think if people were more willing to donate for software they liked, they'd find much more quality software becoming donationware instead of shareware, which ultimately benefits the end users the most.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2005, 03:26:20 AM »
btw speaking of bandwidth overload, if veign or any other freeware/donationware author finds themselves unexpectedly running out of bandwidth for their months alotment or whatever, just drop me a line and we'd be happy to host your file until things cool down.

Veign

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • Veign - Where design meets development
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2005, 10:16:06 AM »
btw speaking of bandwidth overload, if veign or any other freeware/donationware author finds themselves unexpectedly running out of bandwidth for their months alotment or whatever, just drop me a line and we'd be happy to host your file until things cool down.

Thanx for the offer..

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2005, 06:14:54 PM »
Mouser - out of curiosty how are you hosting your site and community pages? Are you running your own server or is it being hosted externally and costing you dosh?

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2005, 08:32:11 PM »
we are paying $45 a month to powervps.com for a virtual server account.

this means our site runs on a compute rthat also hosts other people's accounts (ie not on our own computer), but it runs simulated as if it is it's own server, so we have complete control over the software that runs on it.

although thats a big chunk of the monthly donations, the support has been excellent, and PowerVps was chosen after a long search for companies with good reputations and stability, which i've found they lived up to their good reputation.  The plan provides us with ample bandwidth.  The only issue that I have is the site can occasionally be a little slow - that's the only thing that has me considering moving eventually.

bugmaster

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2005
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2005, 11:04:00 PM »

(1) Do donations from users make you want to work on pay more attention to a program, or not?

(2) If you get few or no donations, do you discontinue the program's development, no matter how good it is?

(1)
If there are several products, then donations help to determine, which of the products should be given preference - in development, updates, etc.
(2)
If you don't have a donations (1 yr and more), and also: feedback and web site traffic, you need to to conduct a special sociological study. Possibly, actually unsuccessful product idea?

Thanks,
Dmitry Baranow
ExtraLabs Software

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: For Developers: Do Donations Make a Difference?
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2005, 11:08:30 PM »
dmitry makes a great point -
donations really can influence what you work on.  if you have 10 programs, and people donate primarily to one of them, it's just human nature that you find yourself drawn to work on that one.