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Messages - hsoft [ switch to compact view ]

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In this gray area, both bundling and fairware have some common black and white pattern in that instead of veering towards the kind hearted gifts that are donations, both models seek to nag the user due to a make shift desire to increase the profits of what morally should be an option and purely an option on the user side.

I strongly disagree with your use of the words "profit" and "morally" there. Profit is what you get when revenues exceed expenses. Since what fairware tries to do is to break even with invested development hours, I don't think we can say that it's trying to increase profits. Increase revenues, yes. Increase profits, no.

As for morally, so you're suggesting that anything short of pure freeware is morally wrong? Shareware and all, morally wrong? That's quite a strong word to use. If we take your reasoning further, an artist asking for anything else than voluntary contributions for his concerts would also be morally wrong.

If you want to sell your software, just call it Shareware. One of my pieces of software *never* expires has almost every function fully functional indefinitely. However, since it isn't 100% freeware, I must label is Shareware - else be crucified. Can I now call it 'Fairware?' (with a few tweaks?). I guess I could.. does that get me 'extra credit' or any extra purchasers? I doubt it.

The big difference between Shareware and Fairware is that Fairware is open source. Do you see many shareware apps being open source out there? I think that the novelty of the concept justifies a new name.

That being said, as I mentioned at the end of this thread, I recently gone back to a more shareware-like presentation of the software, even though the app is fairware. To Joe Sixpack, the app behaves like your typical shareware, but if he's curious, he can learn about fairware and enable the "fairware mode". I think that's a pretty good compromise.

hsoft, to be fair to superboy's point, if you have this:
The initial popup simply mentions fairware, but otherwise is a standard shareware "you can try it for free, but until you buy it, there are limitations"

then we may be back on the shareware turf where we have people paying because they have to in order to use the software.

so i'm not sure it's fair to say that this is evidence that people pay even if they they don't feel like they need to.

The "double license" thing is less than 3 days old. The 2000$ threshold had been reached in september before that new system came along. The problem I was trying to solve with this new dual system is not so much one of income, but one of incomprehension and frustration (but a side effect of it is increased income).

But yes, you're right, it's not quite "pay whatever/whenever you want" anymore, but given what we've said before about "care vs don't care", I think that this system reaches a fair balance.

EDIT: (now that I look at the numbers more closely, the threshold wasn't quite reached, but it would have been, even without the dual thing)

Superboyac, I don't know why you persist in saying that it can't work in front of monetary evidence that it does. In september, only with the "plain fairware" system (but with hours to compensate most of the time, so that's why the revenue is higher than other months), there was over 2000$ of income. I'm not a big spender, so this is more than enough for me.

Sales in the last two days (since the introduction of that "dual-license" thingy) seems to indicate that revenue will continue to rise. So again, why persist in saying that it can't work? Wouldn't you take a job that gives you 2000$ to work a few hours a week from home?

I've released the "dual-licensed" dupeGuru yesterday evening and I think the end results is rather interesting. The initial popup simply mentions fairware, but otherwise is a standard shareware "you can try it for free, but until you buy it, there are limitations". There's a "Fairware?" button for the curious. I even created a specific purchase webpage which, unlike the fairware contribution page, doesn't mention anything about fairware (the goal is to not confuse the user who doesn't want to be confused). The fairware "about" page now mentions that to unlock the fairware mode, all you have to do is to type "fairware" in the registration key dialog. When you do that, dupeGuru behaves as it did before.

Out of 12 contributions since the release, 2 were of "purchase" type. These stats are skewed because only one of the 3 editions has been made "dual-license" yet, and not everyone updated to that latest version. But simply the fact that these 2 "purchases" were made is indication enough, I think, that there is a group of people who just want to know about how much it costs.

Another interesting fact is that both these purchases were from non-english countries, so maybe that their english is simply not good enough to understand the page describing fairware?

I found really weird the combination of Open Source, nagscreen and unlock key

I suppose may work better for donation, but the risk of forks IS very high...

It is low in the particular case of the sw discussed here but in case of something more fancy, let say a app to play music & convert Flac & alike to mp3, or to create texture for to 3D models, or more simply to customize Windoze looks...then the risk of fork will become much higher

I disagree. Forking itself is relatively easy, but maintaining a fork is a lot of work, so you have to have a good reason to do it. What would be your reason for forking an "app to play music & convert Flac & alike to mp3" if it was a mix of Open Source, nagscreen and unlock key? simply to get it for free? Then it's easier to just look at the code, check how to generate a key, and then just unlock the thing. Seriously, when you contemplate maintaining a fork, you're talking about many hours of work, bandwidth, letting people know that it exists, all that stuff.

I'm also glad to see 40hz brought up the "most people don't care" point and that this prompted mouser's previously mentioned idea of a fixed price up-front with a "show me other ways to pay for this" option. I had forgotten about this idea but I remain very curious about it and I'd really like to see someone try it on an already successful app (so we have a basis for comparison).

The thread got sidetracked a bit, but I wanted to let you guys know that I want to try mouser's proposal and implement a "dual-mode" for my software. After my upcoming dupeGuru release (in a few days, normally), we'll have a better idea of how well it works.

I agree about your care/don't care classification and I like this idea a lot, mouser. The devil's in the details, as always, but I think it's an idea worth thinking about more seriously.

I haven't seen any site where a micro-donation form was linked to the changelogs where people can pay for features they want or hope that their money could sway a developer to tweak a feature they hate and the responsiveness of the developer be displayed in a Klout like display to increase the developer's credibility.

Coincidentally, fairware is quite close to that. All contributions are linked to a timelog describing the work that has been done and, if applicable, a link to the ticket number in the bug tracker.

However, the user can't choose where the money is assigned because there's a backlog of work that is already done to pay. If users could choose, they'd all (well, those that bother :) ) chose the "sexy" work, but sometimes, the work that has to be done is simply "support", or "code cleanup", or "fix the broken build system" or some other type of work with a boring description.

One thing that fairware doesn't do is to allow, as you mentioned, to "bid" for future work. I personally doubt that it can work, at least in a fairware setting. If there's a backlog of hours to pay, I don't want users to bid for future work, I want them to pay my backlog. If there's no hours to pay, it means that the project is already successful and that I'm open to invest some more work already, so I don't need the bidding incentive. If past contributors simply indicate which features they'd want to see, without having to bid, that would be enough for me to make a decision as to what to do next.

I can't speak for others, but when I wrote of ethics, I meant the ethical issues of open source vs closed source in general. What I mean is that I think the world would be a better place if, while allowing the developers to eat, all software was open source.

By no mean I wanted to imply that a developer choosing closed source was unethical, or if he is, he's as unethical as, say, someone who buys stuff made in china (the ethics of cheap labor and all, I personally see it as de-localized slavery. Yup, stuff from china is unethical, but it's so rooted in our culture that you have to be really righteous not to do it. You can't spit in someone's face for doing it)

hsoft, you said, the dupeGuru was a successful product before you switched to the fairware approach. I think this is a very rare thing, usually people switch from free/donationware to commercial if they feel like the second alternative would be to quit or fade away.

When you were switching to fairware model, you were in this unique position and you knew there were many people ready to pay for dupeGuru. You already had a proven and established product that paid for itself and all you needed from the donors was paying for the additional work. When someone starts a new freeware project, the situation is very different. Almost no one knows about the software, it does almost nothing and they have no money for marketing. Many people also implicitly consider freeware inferior when there is a paid alternative. To summarize, you had the right community of people when you started, because you built the core of it while your product was commercial.

True, when the project was closed source, I ran some adwords ads and this helped my exposure, but the thing is that, as I wrote before, I never had as much exposure as when I turned fairware. Just two weeks ago, dupeGuru was on LifeHacker's download of the day. That was so much exposure that my bandwidth limit exploded (before I found out it was LH, I thought I was being DDOSed or something). That would never have happened before.

That being said, you might be onto something. Since dupeGuru started its fairware adventure as a successful project, there's no fairware nag most of the time, so I think many people think it's simply freeware. You see it in the way people describe it, like "check out this great free app!". It irks me a bit, but well... But the fact of the matter is, when hours needs to be paid, users pay.

Maybe that a better nagging approach would be to wait a bit before nagging, but I'm hesitant to do that. I prefer to be upfront about the app being fairware.

Oh, thinking of exposure, PdfMasher is my first app which is "100% fairware" because it started out as fairware. Well, it got some pretty good exposure too :) (yes, another Lifehacker download of the day, among others). The contribution level is not great yet, and maybe it never will because I suspect that not that many people need to do what PdfMasher does. But still, my point is: the problem is not a lack of exposure-due-to-not-being-closed-source problem. When people refer to PdfMasher, they also say "check out this great free app!" most of the time, even though the nag in PdfMasher is always there.

So rather than go through the hassles of coming up with yet another alternate development model (since we have freeware, shareware, adware, open, and commercial models already) why not try going with a standard "closed commercial' license approach and see where it leads?  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Hardcoded Software has been a closed source business for nearly 10 years before trying the fairware thing. It was successful and in 2004, I was able to leave my day job for it.

My concerns -- the reason for trying fairware -- are more of ethical nature than of monetary nature. But of course, you can't eat ethics, so that's why money's gotta come in at some point :)

The problem is that you see the whole thing as an alternate business model. Of course the closed source model is more profitable at the individual level. The business model of Goldman Sachs is also highly profitable, but they're crooks and liars. But the question is: which model makes the world a better place?

Exciting times! After having read your one-year-of-donationware article, it seems like we agree completely on the underlying issues of software development, ethics and money. The only difference seems to be in the approach, and although I place more importance in the source being open than you apparently do, I like the donationware approach too. I wish I had known about this site sooner.

I, too, am unsure of whether the fairware approach scales. I wish other developers participated in the projects I started so I could know whether it scales, but they don't. Why? I'm not sure. There's the language, Python, which is not as widely known as C#/Java/etc., but I'm not sure it's the reason. I wish I knew. Now all I can do is speculate.

So if I had to speculate about the "forking" issue, I'd say that the "danger" is unlikely, even at a bigger scale. I see two possibilities for forking:

1. Out of spite. For some reason, the user really dislike the nag and, out of spite, creates a fork. Well, not only does that person need to spend time building the app for all platforms, but he also has to promote his fork, which unless you spend money in advertisement, can only be done in the long term. Long term means that for every release the original developer makes, you have to merge the improvements and re-build and release. The guy (or gal) would need to have a lot of spite.

2. For profit. The license is BSD (except for PdfMasher because I integrated GPL code, so it's GPL). It's perfectly legal to create a closed source package out of it. However, unless they make significant improvements or spend a lot of money in advertising, I don't see why the users would choose this fork over the original. Moreover, I openly welcome developers and offer them to log their time so they can be paid for it. The only possibility I see is if a developer want to introduce a feature I don't want, or if I don't like the code style, or if for some reason I reject the participation. But then, the fork would have legitimate reasons to exist.

About the two suggestions: I doubt that they'd work with fairware. With this site, I have no doubt that many people make donations to the site "in general", but I think it's unlikely to happen to fairware since it's not a big community like donationcoder is.

All that being said, I'm all fired up and excited because of the many similarities between our approach and I'm pondering about possible cooperations. I've got to think about it some more...

General Software Discussion / Re: PdfMasher, fair priced Open Source
« on: September 10, 2011, 08:17 AM »
Heh, it's funny that this thread about PdfMasher shows roughly at the same time as this other one about fairware.

I'm the author. It's a fair review, thanks, but there's two things I'd like to point out.

1. The keybinding to set selected items as ignored is "i", you don't have to click the button each time. I guess that a "del" keybinding would make sense as well.

2. PdfMasher doesn't do OCR, it only deals with text information within the PDF. If your PDF is "image only" (if you can't copy/paste text in your pdf reader), PdfMasher can't process it.

Hi there, the author speaking. I found this thread through my web server logs, and I love to discuss about fairware, can I jump in?

I'd like to address some points which, I humbly think, are misunderstandings.

1. Nag screen & internet connection

When you contribute any amount (minimum 5$ though), you receive a registration key allowing you to remove the nag and the internet check even if not all hours have been compensated for the project. The thought behind this is: you did your part, no need to nag you anymore.

The internet connection isn't required to use fairware programs for non-contributors (and of course, for contributors too). If you're not connected, the program assumes 0 hours and thus doesn't show a nag.

Of course, a smartass can simply disable his internet connection before launching a fairware app and never be nagged, but I figure that if you're gonna give yourself the trouble to do that, you're never gonna contribute anyway, so go ahead :)

2. Users won't contribute unless they're forced to

I used to think so and I even explain why in an article introducing a previous pseudo-open-source effort two years ago (fairware is one year old). The article is at http://www.hardcoded...oing_open_source.htm

However, I revisited the argument in the fairware introductory article from last year ( http://www.hardcoded...fair-as-in-trade.htm ) and I made the hypothesis that rather than being greedy, the user is rather lazy. By making the "do I contribute?" decision easy to take, I think fairware makes the fair user (there's nothing to do about unfair users, so we might as well let them be and ignore them) more likely to contribute. I also think that there's enough fair users out there to fund a development effort.

The nag screen is annoying and is a good incentive to contribute (Isn't it what Winzip, despite being closed source, used back in its glory days?). Of course, since it's open source, someone can  always maintain a nagless fork out of spite, but such thing requires efforts, so I think such an possibility is unlikely.

3. Not gonna work

The thing is that fairware has been running for a year and it kinda works ( http://www.hardcoded...e-it-kinda-works.htm ). The problem is that I can't unequivocally show it because only one of my 3 apps, dupeGuru, really works, contribution-wise.

moneyGuru never worked, even when it was closed source, so the problem isn't the fairware model. In fact, the money I received monthly for it when it was closed source was close to what I get now, in "fairware mode", that is a mere 200$.

My 3rd app, PdfMasher, is spanking new and not known yet, so the contributions don't compensate my development investment yet, but I think it might. Current users find it really cool. Monthly contributions are low, but the progression is encouraging.

dupeGuru, however, is a success. It was already a success when it was closed source, and it stayed that way as fairware. The only problem is that I don't pour enough hours in it, so it's really rare that there's hours to compensate, which means that the nag screen never shows up for anyone.

But when I pour hours in, the money comes in quite fast. For example, I uploaded a backlog of about 10 hours (350$ worth) 36 hours ago, and it's all paid now. Even for closed source, 350$ in 36 hours for a single developer app ain't bad. Over the past year, dupeGuru only got 12,000$ of contributions, which isn't so great (but, I think, better than most donation-based open source projects), but that's because I didn't work on it much. I'm confident that if I invested more hours in it, they'd be paid.

What's even cooler is that dupeGuru is much more popular since it's open source because it's mentioned it tons of blogs, which wasn't the case before. That must make my closed source competitors sad :)


I think I addressed all criticisms from the messages that have been posted yet, I hope I didn't miss any. That being said, I don't claim that fairware is without flaws, so if you want to continue the discussion, I'd be glad to do so as well.

EDIT: typo

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