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Thoughts on Nagware? Should we allow it?

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John T. Haller
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Thoughts on Nagware? Should we allow it?

We've recently run into the question of whether we should allow nagware here at PortableApps.com. Nagware are apps that are free but will nag you about registering or purchasing the full version at every launch. We're not talking about a single entry in a menu with a link to the professional version, but a nag that you have to dismiss over and over.

Specifically, we're talking about Screenshot Captor, which will show you a registration nag screen on every launch and then a second nag screen popup as the app launches every time. Your choices to get rid of these are (1) to register for free on the site with your email and get a 6 months temporary key (after which you can come back and get a 2nd 6 month temporary key, and then after a year come back again to get a permanent one); (2) to register for free on the site anonymously and get a 60 day temporary key (renewable every 60 days, never permanent); or (3) make a donation and get a lifetime permanent key.

We don't currently have any nagware apps in our directory, so what say you all on the possibility of including them? Options could include (1) listing them with a small note on their app pages, (2) listing them with a specific tag so users can exclude them from their platform app directories, (2a) the same but hidden by default, (3) not permitting nagware.

Gord Caswell
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Don't like nagware

Personally, I don't like nagware, and won't ever use anything that is, including this app.

My vote, therefore, would be for option 3.

[Aside:] It seems kind of odd for the dev of the app in question to say that, but that's because I portablized the app by request of a user, rather than picking the app myself.

John T. Haller
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Author

Perhaps we could get the author to weigh in with his thoughts? Maybe he would be willing to put together a special build for PortableApps.com without nagging but with an additional donation request within the app itself as well as us promoting the donation button on its page here as well as the soon-to-debut app donation menu option within the platform. As a last resort, if he's worried about cannibalizing his regular users from using the regular portable version and having to register, we could make it a platform exclusive (only for PortableApps.com Platform users).

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Simeon
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Yes/No

I think asking the author is a good thing to try. I personally dont like nagware, but I have used it as a last resort if nothing else worked. Call that a maybe or option 2a.

I am totally against platform only apps!
Portable apps should be usable without the portableapps.com platform. The difference in convenience today is significant so I think most people use it with the platform, but making it a requirement isnt good imho.

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

John T. Haller
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Platform Only

We will likely have some platform-only apps in the near future. For something like this, there's no issue as ScreenCaptor has a portable version that non-Platform users are free to use (just with added registration, only a zip, etc). A couple freeware publishers may be only willing to let us do a packaged version of their app so that platform users can use it, but non-platform users have to go to their website for each new release of the non-PAF portable version (and see ads and a donation request). Additionally, we may be able to give some things away as bonuses for platform users that will be paid apps for non-platform users. Basically, they all have options that are available for non-Platform users, but Platform users may get a more convenient/less expensive version.

In all those cases, it would be clear that it was platform-only, and we'd be introducing a slightly different file extension for it to set it apart (instead of just .PAF.EXE).

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Simeon
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OK

Thinking about it today, making people use our platform by some sort of exclusivity wont be such a bad thing after all.

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

Gord Caswell
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done

I just made a request for the author to weigh in. We'll see what he says.

scriptdaemon
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Simple.

No.

Pyromaniac
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I

agree.

Ed_P
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Allow it.

So long as it's not a required download or a pain to portablized the app let the PortableApp user decide if he/she wants it or not. It's a free app.

A warning on the app's page should be sufficient.

BTW I've always been a supporter of the shareware marketing concept.

Ed

Ken Herbert
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I'm generally not a fan of

I'm generally not a fan of nagware, but there are some users who either don't care about the nag messages or who are or will become registered users if the app is quality.

I'd be inclined to think 2/2a, but as much as we can provide our opinions it is your call John. The way I see it nagware is essentially a subset of trialware (that instead of limiting functionality, just annoys you into registering), so it is largely a matter of whether your business plan involves trialware or not.

the developer formerly known as winterblood

John T. Haller
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Freemium

Currently, we do allow freemium apps (freeware apps that don't have some of the functionality of the paid version of the same app) that don't nag or have a trial period. We don't currently allow trialware. Nagware is a subset of freemium apps we don't currently allow either.

We will be adding commercial software in exchange for a small percentage of sales of the PA.c Format version to help us stay self-sufficient. Commercial software will be clearly marked as such and end users can choose whether or not they want it in the app store (no one will be accidentally downloading a commercial app).

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J Neutron
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How does this fit in?

This thread and the one from the author of RealMeteoPortable happened to follow each other, and I wanted to ask about his statement:

NOTE: First time that you use it, RealMeteo run in demo mode and show only static pictures, only to check internet database connection. Then you have to sign-up on REGISTER area and get automatically unlock code (RealMeteo serial is related to USB Disk Serial Number), to enable RealMeteo, that will display real time pictures, meteo forecast, satellites, webcams and more resources related at weather.

This says that registration is required, and apparently that the portable software is locked by the registration number to a particular USB device. Is this an issue?

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

John T. Haller
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Related

It would seem to be. We're exploring commercial software that is USB device-locked. Not sure how I feel about freeware with required registration being USB device-locked. How would it work with local and cloud drive users?

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J Neutron
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Dunno

I'm not comfortable with going down this road, but that's my own viewpoint. As you said, offering a package does not require any user to download, install, register, purchase or anything else.

Their choice is their choice, as long as they are aware of the limitations of the software up front. We probably don't have a right to dictate what they do (as long as it is legal).

And I think this same kind of idea (warning about limitations) should apply to .NET, dlls, admin rights, and whatever else. That kind of info could be made available on the download page, and I think it might be a neat idea to design a separate splash screen that would default to needing a user-click to continue loading (of course configurable via GUI or ini).

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

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Local Drive users and serial number

Hi,
local drive users not is a problem... the real specification is not usb serial locked, but, running app drive serial locked.

Cloud drive not yet experimented.

Pratically when you sign-up from web page ù
http://www.realmeteo.com/public/Register.asp , you receive via email a random serial number. Only when you put serial on RealMeteo, in this moment the drive serial is read and writed on our db.
Note: this is a virtual limitation, and if you run RealMeteo from another drive (i.e. a second usb or c:\ ), it work fine, disabling the first. The serial blocks only the case of more users that want use the same serial number (i.e. clone drive). Last user block the previous.

If have specific question, do not hesitate to contact me directly by contact form of RealMeteo.com website
http://www.realmeteo.com/default.asp?tatti=1

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realmeteo
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Any news?

Nobody have tested software?
many thanks!

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realmeteo
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RealMeteo PORTABLE

Hi,
excuse me for my little English, I use Google Translate for.
Please, about RealMeteo PORTABLE, let me know if I need to consider admission to portables app finally denied, or if it is still pending.
Also let me know if I can make changes to the policy of the license to gain admission.
Many Thanks
Season's Greetings

RealMeteo Association

John T. Haller
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Other Registration Thoughts

I got out for some sun and something occurred to me on the walk... some of our existing apps DO have registration requirements, but not quite in the way we think. Skype requires registration to use. As does Pidgin/MSN/Instantbird (though not with the publisher). Some apps require registration for some functionality (sync in Google Chrome, for example).

Still, most users expect that. They don't expect to have to register a text editor or word processor to be able to use it.

Just something to think about while we're nailing this all down.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

dcmouser
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ScreenshotCaptor author reporting in

Hi guys+gals,

Someone was nice enough to invite me to this thread at the donationcoder.com forum and I appreciate the opportunity to weigh in and add my thoughts. From what I've seen of the portableapps forum you have a lot in common with our users -- a strong loyalty to freeware but also some efforts to strike a balance and also figure out a way to bring in some income.

A major struggle I have had is trying to figure out a way to keep our software really free for personal use, but encourage donations. I wrote an article about the struggles and small successes here: http://www.donationcoder.com/Articles/One/index.html

The truth is, I find "nagware" extremely annoying. As I do adware. I hate when something is constantly popping up demanding my attention. That's why Screenshot Captor and our other apps have this (some would say confusing) process where you can sign up for a free license key that will make the program not show another reminder for 6 months. To me that is far preferable to reducing functionality or nagging everytime you start the program.

When I saw the post above about Screenshot Captor showing *TWO* nag displays on every start up, I thought to myself, hold on a moment, what is that second message? I was surprised to find it in my source code, I had completely forgotten about it. I guess I added it because in portable mode the program gives up trying to police the 6 month free license. I think i'll try to remove that message, it seems like it violated the spirit of our approach.

But that still leaves us back at your original dilemma, which is whether to accept a program like Screenshot Captor which will display a "nag" message if the user does not download a free license key.

I can't really offer a suggestion about that, because only you know what is best for your users. I can only tell you that I would be very pleased if it was part of PortableApps, and I'm sure there are portable apps users who like our software and our approach. And I think we are well intentioned and trying hard to find a way to keep our software free for all while still encouraging donations.

We care about portable users and have worked hard to make sure our apps can be run portably. I would think that this might be a case where the best solution would be to make clear to folks what they are getting when they download it, and let them decide. The only thing I *do* have a strong feeling about, is that our software *not* be called "nagware"/shareware. I understand that it does show a nag until you get a free license, but I think the fact that the license really is free without any strings makes the term "nagware" inappropriate. You could call it "registerware" or "requires free registration", but I do ask that you differentiate us from pay ware.

I'm happy to answer any questions here or on the donationcoder forum; regardless of any decisions, I can tell from the discussion thus far that everyone is trying to be fair and I don't see how anyone could ask for any more than that -- I appreciate you taking the time to try to figure out the best way forward.

-jesse (mouser)

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I have yet to use a program

I have yet to use a program for any extended period of time that had nag screens. In fact I have, on numerous occasions, immediately uninstalled software that nagged me. This is especially true in cases where there are alternatives available which do not have nag screens. On the flip side, I have donated to a number of free/open source software vendors when especially pleased with their product. You can likely guess that my gut reaction to allow "nagware" or not, was a resounding no!

However after reading your article (great article btw), I can understand why you went the nag screen route. Although, I was left wondering if the benefits of increased donations as a result of the nags, outweighed the loss of donations as a result of the same.

After everything is weighed in the balance, I would say that my answer has changed; PortableApps.com should allow "nagware", "registerware" or any variation of the preceding. As long as it is clearly stated what type of software was being downloaded/installed, the end user should be given the freedom to decide for themselves. Although my personal decision would still be no.

It amazes me that on the internet you can be anything you want, and yet so many people still choose to be idiots.

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Wonderfull

Thank you for your explanations. I feel very happy to see how much good can get out when people are asked for their opinion (either users or editors).
And I think you're right, the "registerware" should be different from "nagware", or at least "payware" - so much "ware" in soft"ware" Smile - and any of them could be accepted as long as the users know what they are dealing with.
Thank you John for opening this debate.

dster
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nagware not preferred

Maybe it'd be o.k. if the nag was a one time only affair.

There's a reason it's called nag-ware.

Already raised all the kids/grandkids I want to who can never accept a single response to demands/questions etc.

mgagnonlv
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Most importantly, I want to know what I'm dealing with

I prefer no nagware, but what I find most important is to know what I'm dealing with. I also want something that doesn't trick me into doing something I don't want to do. So:
– Tell me it is nagware and tell me what kind of "nagging" I'll have to deal with. And don't give me a nagscreen that will trick me to install another application I don't want.
– Likewise, if it is shareware, don't tell me it's a "free download". Rather, tell me that I'll be able to use if for 15 days and then it won't work (or in a limited mode) until I pay $40.

P.S. Good luck & courage with Sandy.

Michel Gagnon
Montréal (Québec, Canada)

Gord Caswell
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update?

As it's been about 1 1/2 weeks since the last activity on this topic, has there been any decision made in the future of nagware/registerware as they relate to PA.c?

John T. Haller
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More Pressing

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Gord Caswell
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good point

Good point. No rush. Hopefully you, and all those around you, are able to get back to normal quickly & and without too many hardships.

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Things I don't want to see

A thing I don't want to see when I download a PortableApp app:

"Try for free!"
(http://www.realmeteo.com/public/English.asp)

because that usually means $$ to use it fully. And the $$ can be a one time fee or an annual fee. I definitely don't want to be downloading apps to "Try for free" then fighting to get them uninstalled.

"Free download" is another flag that scares me.

Ed

John T. Haller
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Clearly Marked

When we introduce trialware, it will clearly be marked as trialware. Not as "try for free" or "free download". Here, free means actually free. And you'll be able to exclude trialware from even showing up in the platform the same way you can include/exclude beta software and non-OSI software.

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Arrived late, but here I am

I don't mind a very non intrusive thing like, when you want to go to advanced settings or options and it says you need to upgrade to use that feature or it's only available to pro/paid users kind of thing. With that said by nature nagware brings, adware, malware, trojans, trackers, virii and such, with that said, this is why we have antivrus, adaware and spyboy S&D, leading to the possibility of those who are not so savvy saying things like, PA Apps have adware, malware, are infected and things of this nature, since they could possibly be notified or warned by their program, or said program might tag it, block it, quarantine it, or delete it altogether. Over and above that it feels to me like PA is or going the route of a Microsoft type of thing, maybe money or proprietary type stuff.
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