March 2007 Archives
Point: If they want to earn a living, well they should earn it, why would they beg? Why this decent disguise?
Now online begging is become a habit and dangerously close to being an attitude... unfortunately of most computer nerds and small time geeks. What the heck, even wikipedia.org did it once and couldn't give up the habit later...wikipedia still begs.
Donations / Fund-raising:
Donations, Fund-raiser, Buy me from my wish-list, are just a few forms of diplomatic begging online. Take 10 websites which offer free code, free software, free information, etc., you will on an average land up with 9.5 of them asking for money for running the website or free service they are doing.
Most free service online seems to be going free only with the idea of either making it big on donations itself which is a stupid model, leave alone calling it a revenue model... or they try to make their service or product become popular by offering it free until they make enough donations to start a company and become paid service/software.
PHP Designer, an example:
A good example of the this 'collect donations and become a commercial software' model, is a product 'phpdesigner'. PHPDesigner is a programming environment for PHP programming.
PHPDesigner's 2005, 2006 versions.. were free development environments built on mostly open-source software modules. and the software was hugely popular in filling a gap where there are no development environments for php. Many people donated money to michael pham who creates or runs the website offering it.
The community probably donated money thinking future versions of the software will also be free and most often paid money equivalent to what such software commercially costs. Michael Pham thought otherwise, and when he released the 2007 version, he made it commercial software.
The problem here was, he didn't communicate his view on the donations page or donations messages what he is going to use the donations for, and what happens when he doesn't have enough money to even continue have the older versions free.
Wikipedia and their future:
Well, if you are not aware, they say, even wikipedia.org can go commercial or totally shutdown if donations don't keep coming in. Its little exxagerrated here and in almost all blogs which talk about wikipedia finances, but you have your rights to have your perception yourself from what Jimmy Wales, the founder of wikipedia.org has to say about this issue, and other stuff.
The bottomline of what Jimbo(as he is refered to in geek circles) has to say, was a slight relief. Yes, he says wikipedia is looking at all those numerous options of raising money, still avoiding advertizing on the site.. but no mention of whether the plug will be pulled off on the Donations page(they call it Fund-raiser.. anyways).
I respect Jimbo and wikipedia as an organization for two things.
One, For still strongly holding to their decision not making AD revenue from wikipedia.org, which definitely makes it feel that they mean what they say. I hope they keep the decision in the interest of the community as long as they can, but doing everything possible to support having wikipedia.org existing and free for centuries to come.
Two, For the well researched concept and highly featured wiki or mediawiki environments.. that they are eventually giving for free. This has triggered changes in the way people saw content on the web, and more natural, honest, information and facts are coming in. If you havent seen this power of content on the web after wiki came in, then you should ask google who would have seen the jump in revenue through their adsense from blogs and wikis that are rich in content.
I have a question for Jimbo..
you say you are thinking about the big poor world outside who dont even have access to computers, and you feel happy about wikipedia's freedom of content, its no-ADs policy, and all that... then,
why don't you do the same thing that most experienced people in the industry are doing with respect to creating funds for keeping a good work good, like commercializing your products (not wikipedia.org) wikimedia, wikiversity, etc., and still having a charity pricing or student pricing as options other than commercial pricing.
Isn't it the better way to do it, rather than put a open page for begging, and allowing everyone to think you are asking them money no matter whether they are just browsing wikimedia, or downloading a wiki itself.
Online begging - a brief History
Not so importantly an historical thing to investigate, it was probably somebody or some company which did open-source software, then made links on their website asking for voluntary donations from their users, to support their expenses of being a free product or service.
Unfortunately, everyone caught up, as reasonable as it may be, because it gives the advantage of attracting large audience and making things popular, when you are giving your hard-worked product or service for free.
Today the attitude has changed, and more people are asking for donations to their software rather than standing by their so-called passion of doing free software and giving to users.
This is slow poison to open-source software in the sense people backing such software are already prioritizing their work towards addressing issues of donors first than addressing issues of any free user, let alone the idea of still continuing free updates and upgrades to their software.
The Geeky future
Also, people who are not involved in programming or put it easy, non-geeks, see geeks as a different kind of people who make easy money with donations, sitting in air conditioned rooms, and doing nothing but staring at a computer.
Why are geeks isolating themself from the normal world, by trying to put a easy donation link on their webpage and make it look like they are asking money so easy. Rather than that, geeks could hold some camps like barcamps, or meet points and ask a particular set of people for money eye-to-eye.
Going this way, probably there will be a new species of humans in a thousand years, which will not communicate with anyone but use technology for everything right from talking about what they do, to travelling geek class in airplanes with isolated all-ways wired chambers.
Its already a bad geek world on the internet.. most sites have fund raising, either in the form of donations, or those multiple Google adsense banners in every page.
To understand the serious effect this is making... imagine a scenario like below.
In a street, all houses, offices, shops, and every person living or working there, are having a Donate badge, or sticky note, or board asking for contributions..how would you feel walking the street ??
They could ask contributions for those little many things you use of them, like the pavement in front of their place (they keep it clean), the lights in their place (it helps light up the area collectively), and the people itself in general contribute to the reputation of the street like 'rich people live here', 'this is a neat street', 'nobody throws garbage out', etc., and many other things.
Imagine walking the 'geek street'..