Totally for-what-it’s-worth, hoping to *add a perspective or 3* for those trying to understand – not debate – using & paying (or not) for software.
Guess you could say I’m an ol’ fart, using a teletype machine in my first college programming course. I’ve had money at times, yet still remember having to steal a jar of peanut butter to feed the kids when times were very hard. When I had the money I paid exorbitant amounts for hard and software, like $1100 laser printers (without toner mind you), and $700 suites from Aldus & later Macromedia. I also feel that I threw easily thousands of dollars away over the years, buying products that didn’t even begin to live up to the publisher’s claims. For a little more than a decade I’ve been disabled due to illness, hoping for at least a partial remission so I can do some sort of paying work – my best hope is with a PC as it’s doubtful I’ll ever physically be able to return to anything like my former career (this illness has taken it’s toll). Now with that out of the way as some sort of background...
It seems apt to apply the saying (paraphrased): “Give a man a fish & he’ll have a meal – Teach a man to fish and he’ll not go hungry”. I can easily identify with folks around the world who might learn to support themselves given the use of necessary software to learn with/on. They don’t contribute to anyone’s profit loss, unless they get greedy after they *learn to fish*.
I can all too readily identify with those who will not buy software before an actual, full-featured trial – I’m one of them, having been burned far too many times to think that any breach of ethics only goes one way – dishonesty is not something that only applies to users and not sellers!
And on the subject of ethics, it’s universally assumed that computer users are of questionable character to the point that nothing on a disc (or downloaded) can be returned, while shoplifting is epidemic among customers of all incomes, & the same stores who won’t accept an opened software box, issue refunds all day long for used clothes, appliances, drapery, even bottles of detergent filled with water! You can return the empty boxes from $30 worth of food for a refund, but not the complete, but open package containing $20 worth of software!
Yes there are several other rationales people use, often vigorously, but those are the behind the scene issues I think that have some sort of legitimacy, and coincidentally are the ones I’ve rarely if ever heard voiced by anyone selling software. Indeed, I think that some developers tend to beat the piracy issue to great extent by nurturing the respect of users – mpucoder comes to mind, though I could of course be very wrong, never having asked him if it is a problem. Otherwise most users in my opinion are only too happy to engage in some us vs them justification. I know coders have to eat, but other than the forums here, where are most people going to meet one? You’re just some abstract entity working all hours on caffeine and pizza.
That said – & I apologize going overlong – I have heard of software donations in some cases amounting to a tidy sum. I don’t know if that’s true or not, & so I can’t begin to hint at what steps anyone should take to make some cash. While this thread is cool to generate responses, I’d hope that if someone’s kids having a new pair of shoes depends on donations, they’d have contacted every coder out there soliciting them, finding out what works and what doesn’t.