"Social Fixer for Facebook" is a free browser extension that improves the Facebook site by eliminating annoyances and adding lots of great enhancements and functionality. It runs in most browsers and installs in just a minute.
Why I Do Not Monetize Social Fixer or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donation
Posted on December 22, 2012 by Matt Kruse
Dear Users of Social Fixer,
Thank you for supporting this project and my work, and for your generous donations to keep it (and me) going. I want to talk for a moment about why the app is free, why I ask for donations, and how well all this is working.
It costs over $300/month to host SocialFixer.com and keep it running, and I've easily spent thousands of hours building and supporting the app – and yet I haven't really "monetized" it to mke money. So who pays the bills? You do, via donations! And it's an awesome software model!
Any company distributing software like Social Fixer would primarily be trying to figure out how to make money from it. But that shifts the focus from creating great software to being profitable and making money, often at the expense of the users and developer creativity.
"I believe that a donation-based model allows creative developers to build software that is focused on users and great functionality, while still being rewarded for their effort."
I've actually received a number of offers from companies/individuals to buy Social Fixer and/or monetize it. They tell me how I could make lots of money if I were to just attach a browser toolbar to the installer, or insert ads into Facebook, or bundle additional software along with it, or spam my users with "sponsored" links and messages. I've thought about it, but obviously declined all of these offers because:
I will not make changes to Social Fixer to increase my profit at the expense of my users.
My goal is to make the user experience better, so inserting anything that will be distracting or not enhance the experience is directly against my goal
My goal in life is not to get rich (though I wouldn't object to that!). My goal is to create cool software that users love.
So why doesn't everyone do this? Well, it's certainly not easy.
I probably put in at least 100 hours of work into this app before I ever even released it to the public.
I put in at least another 500 hours of work before I ever even asked for donations, because I wanted it to be a solid app first.
All this up-front effort came without any guarantee or even hint that I would get compensated for my time and effort. I had the belief that if I built something great, the reward might follow. It's a risk.
As I continue to develop and maintain the app, I have no guarantee that I will get compensated for my time, or even get enough to cover expenses.
And yet, it works! I have been very fortunate that I have a lot of amazing users who are willing to donate to support the work. Not because you have to, not because you are nagged to death, not because there are crippled features that you want to enable, but because you love the app and want it to continue.
"A small contribution from many users ends up making a big difference."
I think that this model is awesome for both the developer and the users. Why? Because it allows creative developers to follow their passion and create software that users love, without being part of a profit-focused company. There are countless developers out there with incredible ideas and potential, and if we reward their work with financial support, they will be motivated to create things that will amaze you. Users will get better software without all the junk that is polluting so much of what we use today. And by supporting these kind of developers, you'll be advancing the user-focused mindset of those people who work in this model.
I've been fortunate that I've built up a large user base over the three years I've been working on this. Typically, only a small fraction of users ever donate, but because of the number of users, this works out okay for me. I don't expect everyone to donate – but those who have the means to do so support those who are less fortunate and maybe don't have a few dollars to contribute. So the app stays free and clear of any monetization (ads, toolbars, offers), which works great for everyone!
I'm incredibly thankful for everyone who has contributed to the project and to me personally. Donations not only support the site and related expenses (even after Paypal fees and taxes!) but give me some extra income that compensates for all of my time spent. I'm not in any position to quit my day job (yet), but donations allow me to provide additional things for my family and to enjoy my free time a little bit more. And when I'm sitting at the computer at 1am, long after my wife and kids have gone to bed, trying to sort through a hundred posts on the support forum to figure out what issue I need to fix next, I'm motivated by the fact that generous users are supporting me and my work. I, in turn, feel compelled to help you back!
As a developer, this keeps me going. It keeps me motivated to work late, answer all the emails, and deal with all the issues involved in developing a popular software app. And as a user, I am grateful to other developers whose tools I use – I have donated to or bought a license of almost every project or person whose apps I use, sometimes more than once. I believe in rewarding people for what they do, not just as a recipient, but as a giver as well.
So, thank you. For supporting this project, my work, and this kind of software model. When enough people support good things in small ways, big things can happen. I'm honored to be part of that, and I'm excited to see what we can accomplish in 2013.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy new year, and all the best to you and your families.
-- Matt Kruse, author of Social Fixer
http://socialfixer.com/blog/2012/12/22/ ... -donation/