Subject: Re: Mandatory donations or build from CVS...
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 14:11:06 -0700
Fri, 12 Oct 2001 14:11:06 -0700
on Fri, Oct 12, 2001 at 09:54:00AM -0400, Keith Bostic ( wrote:

> + The difference between "free" and "free, but please give me $5" is
>   infinite.  War story: Sleepycat Software put up a "tell us what
>   you're doing" HTML page in front of our download.  We asked 3
>   questions: name, email address and "how are you using the software?"
>   You would not believe the abuse we took.  It was sufficient to make
>   us remove the page.  And all we were doing was asking questions, not
>   asking for money.

Joel Spolsky (Fog Creek Software) did a similar experiment.  At the
time, his company was requesting an email address prior accessing an
on-site demo.  That's it, just an email address.  On a hunch, they tried

Half of people going to the download page were prompted for an email
address.  Half were not.

Half of the people who were faced with the email request declined the

That is:  one, single, simple, request for data reduced the
effectiveness of the demo, a marketing tool, by 50%.  Removing this data
request increased effectiveness 100%.


I'm have to agree with Seth Gordon's comment:

    Some people who provide "content" over the Internet need to
    *seriously* get over the idea that the world owes them a living.

The FSB debate here share's much in common with the whinging of the RIAA
-- mafia front for Sony, EMI, Warner, BMG, Universal and 600 other
lables to strong-arm their customers -- which is trying to come to terms
with how a duplication-and-distribution service can continue to be
profitable in an economic environment in which that portion of the
market has been eliminated by technological advances.

Because you can engage in commercial activity doesn't mean it has to be

I continue to think that indirect, patronage, and support/services
models are most likely to remain the primary modes of free software


Karsten M. Self <>
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