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Dear Dalton Caldwell,

I agree with much of what you say in the App.net [https://join.app.net/] pitch. I already pay for Pinboard.in, Evernote, Dropbox, Instapaper etc. and am willing to pay for good online platforms. But I won't be supporting your project and I thought you deserved to hear why.

To cut a long story short, $50 a year is too much. Sure, for an American or European with a steady job it isn't too much, but I live and work in Taiwan and large portion of my Facebook friends are in Asia. Some of them are poor Aborigines from the mountains of Taiwan (I teach at a college for Taiwanese Aborigines [http://kerim.oxus.net/]). Others are from India's Denotified and Nomadic Tribes (DNTs) (I made a documentary film [http://dontbeatmesir.com] about a DNT community and many of our film's subjects are now on FB). These friends would be blocked from using such a service by the fact that they simply couldn't afford it. 

I have absolutely no interest in being part of such an exclusive club no matter how much I agree that social networks shouldn't be ad supported. Have you read about "homophily" in social networks? Please do: http://goo.gl/pqWD

I worry about being on a network full of white male geeks who like open APIs, and you should worry about creating one. Perhaps there are some other funding options that would be more open to those who are unable to pay? Suppose each paying member could invite 100 non-paying members? I'm happy to pay, but not if everyone else is going to have to pay as well.

Cheers,

Kerim

[I use my G+ account to write about technology. This post is public, but most of my posts go to a closed circle. If you would like to be included, please let me know in the comments.]
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13 comments
 
我自己也沒有完全說服自己支持這個項目,但是對項目的目標,我是認同的
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What of Diaspora? Federated, open, and free. No ads. If only it would get off the ground.
 
Well, that's the issue. I don't know the numbers, but it is my impression that many of the successful open source software projects benefited from significant corporate funding. I think for something to be successful it needs a successful business model - and as someone who hosts their own software on a shared webserver, I certainly don't relish the idea of having to update my own Diaspora install every time a security patch is released. So I just don't see Diaspora ever really getting off the ground, though I hope I'm wrong.
 
"Each paying member could invite 100 non-paying members." That's a great idea.
 
This is the official reply I got from app.net - not very encouraging: "no one will need to pay in order to see and read what members post" ... sigh.



Golden
AUG 08, 2012  |  11:27AM PDT
Hello Kerim,

Thank you for both your interest and your candor. We absolutely understand your position on this, and can sympathize with your concerns. However, there are a few factors which leave us currently unable to accomodate your needs. First, I'd ask you to consider that we are still in the initial phase of building support and making sure there is sufficient interest and motivation in the online community for a subscription-based to be a viable business. Of course, we also need to charge enough per-user that we can br profitable without relying on other sources of revenue (i.e. ads).

That said, nothing is off the table once we have begun to get established and have gotten a firmer handle on how the financial aspect of this model comes together. I doubt we will ever be able to support a fully-functional free account, but we will always be open to exploring new subscription structures. Also, no one will need to pay in order to see and read what members post on our service, only to be able to post themselves.

So while you don't plan to sign up right now, I hope that you'll continue to follow our progress if/when we reach our subscription goal. Perhaps a little ways down the road we can discuss new arrangements that will be more inclusive. Regardless, thanks for reaching out to us and providing us with your feedback.

Sincerely,

Golden and the App.net Team
 
So you can pay to not have ads. Maybe all your friends are rich and can pay too. But then the problem is that you are building a world where you are only going to interact with other people like yourself. You may be content with that - but it scares me.

Note too that I don't disagree that such services are worth paying for - I even said I'd be willing to pay for others to use the service if the social network took into account the fact that not everyone can afford $50 a year. Currently app.net does not, nor do I think they ever will.
 
Here's another idea I had about funding: "Since this service seems to primarily attract developers - suppose they charged for the API but left it up to individual developers to choose how to pay for it - including having advertising if they wanted. Different business models could compete off of the same back-end."
 
Thanks for the heads up - till not sure how I feel about Branch...
 
Me neither. Which is why I’m trying it out. Who knows, it could become interesting.
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