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Last post Author Topic: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys  (Read 31661 times)

mouser

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Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« on: April 10, 2005, 05:06:39 PM »
i've been thinking about some ideas to encourage people to make donations to the site if they are mainly here for the software.
i know this is a sensitive issue but i wanted to bounce some ideas off you guys and see what you think.

the first basic requirement is that the software should always remain free to use. and the second is that members should not be inconvenienced.

one thing i've been trying with process tamer is to make the newest beta release available to members only.
there is something unsatisfying about this, because it means people cant try/use the latest beta unless they are members, and they must either wait for it to come out of beta or else donate (or email me in which case i give out the link).

maybe i should just not worry about this issue at all.. but i was thinking about some other ideas.

here is one idea i had:
use a very simple efficient license keyfile, which would operate like this:
if you a member of the site, you will be able to create a keyfile (as many as you want really), that will go in the directory of the program (in process tamer directory for example), or in some other directory.  this key file will tell the program that it will never expire, and would let you customize the about box and maybe titlebar caption for the program.  so members should experience not the slightest inconvenience other than downloading (only once) a keyfile to put into the program directory.

if you are NOT a member of the site, and just download the program,
it will install and run fine without a license keyfile, but in 30 days you will have to come back to the site to get a new freeware license keyfile.
so a freeware license keyfile will last for 30 days before it needs you to come back and get another one.
but there will be no limit to the time you can get new freeware keyfiles, and there will be no limits to the freeware version.
the only point is to make freeware users come back occasionally to the site where we can ask them to consider donating.

to me this captures the spirit of making the software free and not limited in features, or posessing nags when using the program, while still adding a bit of inconvenience and encouragement to register.

it also means i can make the latest versions normal downloads for everyone, without doing a members only download section.

after some thought about this approach i'm really starting to like it, but i want to hear your opinions.

as always, people who contact me and cannot afford to make a donation would be given member keyfiles.

opinions?
please keep in mind that in an ideal world none of this would be necesary, and i've spend most of my life not worrying about such things, but if I'm to continue spending so much time on this site, I have to figure out some way to encourage people to donate.

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2005, 05:43:31 PM »
clarification:

i think the main issue that i need to figure out is whether such a thing would upset people who download the software and make them say that this was not real freeware/donationware.

dom424

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2005, 09:28:21 PM »
The 64 dollar question is how to do that.  Seems like everybody wants everything for free.  Real world that doesn't work to good for the the guy who is giving the product or whatever it may be away for free.  If the software works well for them some kind of donation ( appreciation) would be in order.   

tenseiken

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2005, 02:44:19 AM »
It sounds like that could work.  If the only inconvenience will be having to come back to the site to get another key, I really don't think anyone would have a right to complain.  That's a lot more than most programmers offer.  However, I'm not sure if the idea of giving a member key to someone who can't pay is a good one.  At the very least, you shouldn't point out publically that you do that.

Another possibility is that you could make your work open source.  I personally wouldn't be much help, but you might be able to get others to help you correct bugs and add features to your programs.  That should decrease the amount of time you spend working on them.  And, obviously, these two wouldn't work well together.
-John

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2005, 02:48:58 AM »
i have some open source projects, though only one is currently listed at donationcoder.com (mircryption); i will bring the others here too, and i may open source some of my other projects as well.

my approach about this stuff has always been that i want my software to be available to everyone - i'm just trying to encourage those who can donate to donate, and especially encourage people to push past that inertia we all have to not be bothered to take the time to donate if we don't have to; so in this spirit, my attitude has always been that if someone takes the time to contact me and say "i can't donate for this reason" that's good enough for me.  i'm really just trying to reach those people who can donate but can't be bothered to do so unless you motivate them somehow.

Ozzy1

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2005, 05:32:39 AM »
It would scare some people off.

But if the software is good and usefull enough more people would Donate.
Just look at me, when i found out that the programs was really worth something, I came runnign with a little money...  :)

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2005, 04:30:32 AM »
this is my main concern -
you people who are kind enough to donate to support this project are the most important people -
and i don't want to do anything that would make things annoying for you guys or discourage people like you.
thats why i'm already not feeling good about making the latest betas available to members only, seems like i'm just making it harder for you guys to download the latest releases, etc.  i have to find a less annoying solution.

Ozzy1

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2005, 03:52:15 AM »
How about ONE page with just beta's on it?
And don't thread it, just have the latest betas there?

Then send us an email with a message "updated: CarrolThingy."

The hardest thing about this page is to find the thread where the news are...

But thats just me I guess  :-[

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2005, 03:55:21 AM »
the current method, where users have to go to members only section and find the thread to download just sucks.

i am going to soon find a better way that is more convenient for members.

a single page which is automatically accessible to members that lists all the most recent versions along with download link to each seems like it might probably be the best solution.  i think i can do this without much of a problem.

ill try to do it today or tomorrow.

newyorksong

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2005, 12:45:38 PM »
Yo Mouser;
        Ya I think you have to a trial and restrict type thing... to get people to join and donate. It seems people just will not do anything altruistic (or even fair in this case) unless they are gently nudged into it! I mean look how long it took the idiots to figure out George was screwing us all!
       So maybe ya can give em a 30 day trial and then it cuts out. Your being WAYyyyy to nice about it. But since you do have good product they will become members if they're groomed properly. So welcome them here and give them a freeware product but after a month they have to give SOME modest donation at least!  They other fruit cakes are just gonna rip you off till the end of time anyway.
     Fair should be fair.   Check out the link I gave you at andrewgumbel.com
The single members page is a good solution.   You most important asset is going to be this core group of supporters anyway.
                                                                                             Later gators Rog
« Last Edit: November 14, 2005, 12:49:57 PM by newyorksong »

m_s

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2005, 02:15:06 PM »
Just one concern: I think many people would eventually buckle and give a donation - so you'd get 5 bucks from 'em - but then they would disappear, except occassionally maybe they would drop by and get an update.  I wonder if there isn't a way to get people to participate more in the life of the site?

f0dder

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2005, 02:29:49 PM »
This could be an interesting idea... instead of locking them out of the application, though, what about just starting to show nag screens on startup after the 30 days?

Basically, if run without a valid keyfile (which includes expired keyfiles), show a nagscreen on program startup. I don't like the idea of locking people out / removing features for apps that are free/donationware, but showing a not-too-intrusive nag screen (ie, don't let it last 10sec before timeout :)) isn't too bad.

I can help with a pretty decent & flexible keyfile scheme btw.
- carpe noctem

kfitting

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2005, 03:06:46 PM »
Yeah, locking people out of software entirely after a certain period is not freeware.  It's shareware.

Kevin

Carol Haynes

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2005, 03:11:10 PM »
How about some apps that are only available for download to members. Not the current ones, but perhaps as new ones come online they could be restricted (but heavily advertised) for a period of time.

Everyone can still get them for free if they can't afford it (just email Mouser and ask) but they are freely available to honorary and charter members ??

dajo

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2005, 07:51:30 PM »
Trillian has a free version and a paid version.  One of the reasons I opted for the paid version was to get access to the plugins and skins.

Maybe this could be a way to offer a free program but require payment to access extra goodies.

rjbull

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2005, 04:01:30 AM »
I wonder if there isn't a way to get people to participate more in the life of the site?

Sure you want that?  It's already getting so big and busy I can't keep up.

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2005, 04:53:19 AM »
the moment we have a nag that cannot be removed until you dontate, or limit features, then the program ceases to be freeware.

already some people would argue that requiring people to renew their freeware license key every 6 months is pushing the definition of freeware.  i don't want to go further than we've already gone.  and i think offering a pro version is not something we want to get into - one of the nice things about our site is that all of our software is available for free to people who cannot afford to donate.

i don't think there is anything wrong with new software releases being made available earlier to members before they become public freeware, but that's a different matter.


Carol Haynes

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2005, 05:34:33 AM »
the moment we have a nag that cannot be removed until you dontate, or limit features, then the program ceases to be freeware.

You could of course argue that the software on this sit is not freeware - it is donationware. I doubt there are very few people who are actually unable to donate 50 cents and you have made it clear that people who can't can have a free perpetual license if they email you. On that basis I see nothing wrong with an occasional nag screen at start up (say a couple of times a month). How about makiing a nag screen that is 'community related'? The site uses a cookie to maintain logged in status, how about lookng at the cookie to see the time of last visit and only make a popup if someone hasn't popped in to say hello in the last couple of weeks?

As a personal comment: I think the problem with donationware is knowing how much to give. If I give a couple of dallars I feel rather stingy, but if I start giving $15-20 I start thinking 'do I really need this program?' and as a newcomer to the site I also wondered 'is there a cheap commercial version' or a 'free' version with no expectation of a donation? Don't misunderstand I think donationwar is a great idea but it takes some adjustment in the mindset.

The other issue of course is that there is a lot of free software on the internet, and increasingly authors are beginning to ask for donations to cover their costs. Quite a few of these programs have been mentioned on this site, and I am sure a lot of us use them. However, it is difficult to give a donation to everybody as it all starts to mount up.

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2005, 06:16:28 AM »
we've had a running discussion of the definitions of freeware vs. donationware on this site.

i have argued that a more rational distinction between terms would be to call software "donationware" if it REQUIRES a donation to be able to use the full features without nagging.

but i admit that that definition is not common.  most people use the term "donationware" to mean a free program where the author asks users to donate if they want to.  to me this seems a little strange, since it means you can turn freeware into donationware by mentioning to your friend on the bus that it would be nice if someone oneday made a donation to you :)

by most common understanding, the software on this site is donationware because we make such a strong appeal for donations, and because we make you go through some extra steps if you do not donate.  these extra steps could be seen as controversial to some because we do make you sign up at our forum and then redownload a license key every 6 months.  im not sure we will continue to do this since it doesn't seem to have led to a noticable increase in donations (though it has led to an increase in forum signups).

right now, i have no trouble calling the software on this site also freeware, because it has no limits or nags, and can be used forever as full versions, without user having to donate anything.  but the moment a nag was added that was shown to non donators, to me that would make the program cease to be able to be called freeware.  then it becomes something like nagware, which i view as a big shift and one i would like to avoid.  i love the freeware community and i think it would be a terrible shame to leave that community.

We're still experimenting with the best ways to encourage donations while keeping the software free, and I think this is right.  Sometimes it can really get you down how hard it is to get people to donate who would otherwise buy a program.. This is our challenge - finding a way to convince those who can and do buy lesser software for more money, to make a donation, while still keeping the software free for those not in a position to make a purchase.

As long as the freeware community is willing to put up with us asking freeware users to make the extra steps of signing up for a freeware license key, then i'm willing to keep our software free and full versioned without requiring a donation.

carol has a great point:
Quote
As a personal comment: I think the problem with donationware is knowing how much to give. If I give a couple of dallars I feel rather stingy, but if I start giving $15-20 I start thinking 'do I really need this program?' and as a newcomer to the site I also wondered 'is there a cheap commercial version' or a 'free' version with no expectation of a donation? Don't misunderstand I think donationwar is a great idea but it takes some adjustment in the mindset.

this is indeed part of the challenge, changing our mindsets and becoming good citizens. it's hard to know how to advise how much to donate.  I took a try at a kind of joke chart here: http://www.donationc...te/HowMuchChart.html

one of the nice things about donationware is that you can always donate again later.  and remember you aren't just donating for what is already available, you are donating to help the author continue work.  a donation to a site like ours or to a donationware author is a way of helping us/them continue to work on such software. 

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2005, 06:23:11 AM »
and also remember that donating money is not the only way to help -
spreading the word about a freeware/donationware program or site is a huge help.  the more people find out about sites like ours, the more that people who can afford to donate will.  sometimes this can be a more significant contribution than a monetary donation.

the same goes for the people who here who take time to report bugs, help others on the forum, post about new software, send in addons for our programs, etc.  there are lots of ways to help a site like ours and other freeware/donationware site, and they are all important.

rjbull

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2005, 04:08:03 AM »
the moment we have a nag that cannot be removed until you dontate, or limit features, then the program ceases to be freeware.
As a personal comment: I think the problem with donationware is knowing how much to give. If I give a couple of dallars I feel rather stingy, but if I start giving $15-20 I start thinking 'do I really need this program?' and as a newcomer to the site I also wondered 'is there a cheap commercial version' or a 'free' version with no expectation of a donation? Don't misunderstand I think donationwar is a great idea but it takes some adjustment in the mindset.

A big difference here is that a single donation of any amount covers not just one, but several programs, AND from time to time gets you discounts on shareware.  If any of the software included is even modestly appealing, $20 or even more starts to look like a good deal.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2005, 04:54:56 AM »
Quote
A big difference here is that a single donation of any amount covers not just one, but several programs, AND from time to time gets you discounts on shareware.  If any of the software included is even modestly appealing, $20 or even more starts to look like a good deal.

I agree absolutely - but I was thinking back to the first time I visited the site (based on Fred Langa recommending Fin&Run).

The trouble with the internet is that you become suspicious of practically every site you visit - and most people's motivation.

Glad to say DC is a site the restores a bit of faith in the www 'community' - and individual motivations.

superboyac

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2006, 01:52:10 PM »
Well, either way works as far as I'm concerned.  Chonging the timeframe from 6 months to 30 days would help a little, but I'd be surprised if it made that much difference (but I'm just assuming).  How does the donation aspect work anyway?  What if someone donates 5 cents?  Does he get a universal key after that?  If that's true, you'll find a bunch of people just donating a penny or a nickel.  You can't do anything about that, these people will always be around, and it's kind of in a ll of us...it's human nature.

However you want to do it is fine.  I just don't see one method of freeware/donationware making much difference over another method because the bottom remains that it's still free.  I think there is great motivation as it is because you offer shareware programs as prizes and stuff to members and the discounts.  That's more motivation than changing the license key method.

brotherS

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2006, 02:07:05 PM »
I just don't see one method of freeware/donationware making much difference over another method because the bottom remains that it's still free.  I think there is great motivation as it is because you offer shareware programs as prizes and stuff to members and the discounts.  That's more motivation than changing the license key method.
Donationware seems to promote a better coder <-> user relation. Hadn't Screenshot Captor (the first DC program I used) been donationware I probably would have posted a few bug reports or would have mailed them to mouser, but I'm not 100% sure DC would have had the same impact on me as it did have - and vice versa.
:)

mouser

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Re: Ideas i want to bounce off you guys
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2006, 02:08:58 PM »
Quote
How does the donation aspect work anyway?  What if someone donates 5 cents?  Does he get a universal key after that?

yep.  in fact the way it works is that the minimum you can donate via paypal is 25 cents.
of which paypal takes as its percentage.... wait for it.... that's right, 25 cents.

so users can actually donate 0 and get a full lifetime charter membership if that is what they are determined to do.

Quote
If that's true, you'll find a bunch of people just donating a penny or a nickel.


i have written a lot on this forum about the philosophy and theory that this site was started with - it was my belief that the chief obstacle to people donating was not that they weren't willing to make a financial contribution, but rather that they just didn't follow through with an initial impulse to donate because it was too much effort.  and that if you could convince them to go through the steps of donating, most would donate more than the minimum.

that was a theory 9 months ago.  i don't know if there have been published studies of this issue in the past, but after 9 months i can tell you that the question has been clearly answered: almost no one donates the minimum.  probably less than 1% of donators have donated $1 or less.  quite a few donate $5, and quite a few donate more than $25.  some have donated very generously.

it is a testament to people's good will that they have been willing to donate more than the minimum they had to, and this is an extremely significant result - it suggests that as donating becomes easier and more secure, it becomes a more and more viable approach to ethically funding projects.