Spread the Word | Create Account | My Account  
digsby

Keeping Digsby Free and Ad-Free

It has been an amazing eight months since we first released Digsby into public beta testing.  We have now released 41 builds and Digsby keeps getting better.  We’ve gotten great feedback from our users and incredible reviews everywhere from LifeHacker to the Wall Street Journal.

We spend a lot of time talking about the product on this blog and almost no time talking about the company.  So, here is a little info about us.  We are a startup.  We are a team of RIT graduates based in Rochester, NY.  We hated the inefficiency of managing multiple IM, email, and social network accounts…. so we created Digsby!

People often ask us how we plan to make money since Digsby is free.  Since our public beta launch, we have focused completely on fixing bugs, adding features, and improving performance.  However, at the end of the day we do need to keep the lights on so we can keep making Digsby even better!  With that in mind, we’d like to share two revenue models that we are currently testing.  We are posting this info so everyone understands how each one works, how it affects (or doesn’t affect) you, and how you can opt-out of anything you don’t want to participate in.

Installer

We’re currently testing a new installer that shows you offers during the installation process for other products such as the Yahoo Toolbar and a desktop weather application.  The reason we are testing this revenue model is because we believe it is better to show you ads once during the installation process than to plaster banner ads all over the product like other IM clients have done (ie: AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ).  We want to do our best to keep Digsby free and ad-free and this is one way we are able to do so.

This is different from our previous installer so it’s important to clarify exactly how this works.  All the offers shown to you during installation are 100% optional.  You don’t have to install any of the products advertised in the installer and none of them will be downloaded or installed to your computer if you choose not to install them.

This is not a unique revenue model and many other products do this including Java, DivX, CCleaner, Trillian, etc.  All the mainstream IM clients also offer the option to install their toolbar just like we offer the Yahoo Toolbar.

We’ve tried to make the offers as clear as possible to make sure people don’t accidentally install something they don’t want.  You are clearly given an “Accept” and a “Decline” button.  It is not a “Next” button with an obscure pre-selected checkbox somewhere on the screen.  The installer also has a list on the left-hand side of all the products you have chosen to install and clearly shows what is being installed at the end of the process.

The installer we are using, InstallIQ, is TRUSTe certified and in order for them to maintain that certification all offers are virus scanned before they are added to the list of products being advertised.  There is also a link to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of each product being offered along with clear instructions on how to uninstall it later.

Research Module

There are numerous research projects that require a massive amount of computing power to complete.  One option is to run these on a supercomputer but there are very few of these in the world and renting time on them is very expensive.  Another option is to break the problem up into many little pieces so each of the little pieces can run in parallel on thousands or even hundreds of thousands of regular computers.  This is called Grid Computing.

A few examples of popular grid computing projects are: Help Conquer Cancer, Discovering Dengue Drugs, FightAIDS@Home, and The Clean Energy Project.  Besides these non-profit projects, there are many commercial applications for grid computing such as pharmaceutical drug discovery, economic forecasting, and seismic analysis.

Now that you have an understanding of grid computing, let’s go over how this fits into Digsby.  We are testing a revenue model that conducts research similar to the projects mentioned above while your computer is idle.  Unlike the installer revenue model above, which is commonly seen in many products, this is much more unique so we’d like to clarify what it does and how it works.

The module turns on after your computer has been completely idle for 5 minutes (no mouse or keyboard movement).  It then turns off the instant you move your mouse or the press a key on the keyboard.  We did this so it would have absolutely no effect on your computer’s performance and only uses processing power while your computer is not being used.  It also runs as a “low priority” process so if any application on your computer asks for CPU power it will always get it before the research module gets it.  On laptops, it will use a much smaller portion of your CPUs overall processing power than it will on desktops.  It will also never turn on if your laptop is running on battery power.

So what exactly does it do?  It downloads a very small chunk of data and runs it through a mathematical algorithm to get an end result.  It then reports the result back and gets another chunk of data.  The process repeats on thousands of computers until the computation problem is solved.  The data it gets is kept in RAM while it is being processed so the module does not access your hard drive at any point.  It does not store any data on your computer and it does not access anything at all that identifies you personally.

The idea is to make this both a revenue model and a feature!  Some of the research Digsby conducts may be for non-profit projects like the ones mentioned above and some may be for paid projects, which will help us keep Digsby completely free.  So, using this module keeps Digsby free and contributes to research projects that will make the world a better place.

Lastly, we have made this module 100% optional.  You can disable it in the main menu by going to “Help > Support Digsby” and disabling the “Help Digsby Conduct Research” option.  We linked to this blog post in the FAQ section of our website and we’ll be adding more info explaining this feature into Digsby itself, as well as, more extensive options like the ability to set how much of your CPU to use.

Conclusion

In starting to test these two revenue models we made one major mistake.  This blog post should have gone up two weeks ago when we first started testing them instead of right now.  We have been a user-focused company from the day we launched Digsby.  We pride ourselves with the level of customer support we offer and our development process is guided almost entirely by the feedback and suggestions we get from our users.  We want to do our best keep this reputation as we keep pushing harder than ever to make Digsby an even better product.  Not announcing this before we started testing it created the misconception that we were trying to hide something when in reality we just didn’t want to make a big announcement like this blog post until we decided to make these things a permanent part of Digsby.  It was a PR mistake and we learned our lesson.  As a young startup we have many more lessons to learn and we will keep doing our best to provide you with a useful communication tool.

  • Andrew

    Adware... hrmm. I understand the need for money. Just give us the option of a user pay or user adware model. Then I will be happy. The optional user pay model made justin frankel very rich (winamp)Id software, and many other shareware authors. Im sure it could do the same for you.

    Minimal nag like winzip or something like that.

    Much less subterfuge. something like ... pay no adware, dont pay we serve you ads.

    Simple. Tie the payment to the digsby account. easy ... no messy authentication etc.

  • John

    Instead of choosing one or 2 payingmodels why not make the user choose which one fits him? - So that users who prefer to pay for the software can do that, and users who like the research option can use that: Making everyone happy!? (o;

    Another question is: Whenever your product potentially will make the other add financed services, that Digsby communicates with, loose money. If it does, you might have to face a hostile environment - where all the services that Digsby can integrate tries to fight you!

  • JCF

    WTF!

    I just tried your software, and it froze up my entire computer while installing. I couldnt even click anything in the explorer. It took over everything while installing and when it first ran to create my digsby account. I couldnt even click on a task in the task manager to kill your software.

    The only way to get Vista64 to come back to life was to force a log off which inturrupted your processes enough to kill them and then i could use my computer again.

    This is unacceptable. Put all of the spyware you want in the software. I wont be using it anyways.

  • JCF

    I just learned of Digsby when looking for something better than Pigdin (Although i just wish everyone ran gtalk in this world)

    Anyways... this news is rather sad. My cousin goes to RIT. Its a good school full of smart folks, and being as such... I find this typical attempt at maximizing profit thoughtless. There has to be other ways than imposing cpus around the world to do your trojan bidding.

    Bundling adware is as lame as it gets and you know it. Hell it doesnt even work anymore. When given the option, those who arent in a hurry, always avoid it. So you're banking on someone will be in a hurry and accept all of the garbage your bundling during the install. Thats evil.

    I'm sorry.

    You set out to do what when you made digsby? make money or provide a nice IM client?

    Did you find that you couldnt find work in other fields and then tried to turn this into profit?

    Was your plan to rope people in with a free version until it was good enough to slip in spyware?

    Just what was your plan for Digsby?

    It is somewhat noble to try and keep it free, but you cant tell me that you didnt know how people would react to bundled adware/spyware.

    YOU KNOW... such software does not care about the end users system, and the condition that it is in. You know they have a history in abusing end users computers, and you're doing the very same thing.

    Not a wise move.

  • Mercellus

    I would rather just pay for Digsby instead of having to run through the ad-supported installer or have the program use my CPU cycles when it doesn't need to be.

  • Spork

    I prefer the grid-computing model as it would benefit both digsby and some form of scientific research.

    I am not a fan of the install ads in any way shape or form as they can be somewhat confusing.

    Oh and please put up a store asap. I'm dying to purchase a plush digsby.

  • The research module really should be disclosed prominently within the installer. Also, there's no explanation here for some of the other buttons in the Support Digsby dialog, like Google-Powered Digsby Search, which sounds like a privacy nightmare without further explanation.

    However, I, too, would just pay for Digsby to avoid these extras. How about just having Free and Paid versions? You could limit the Free version by allowing only 1-2 email, social networking, and instant messaging services.

  • 3 suggestions -

    1. put up a donate button in your 'about' section of the app, and put one up on your website. You'll be surprised how many people would want to pay you to keep the project going.

    2. Please make the research bit 'off' by default. You can run a accept/decline screen during install as well.

    3. To sweeten the pie and to incentivise the 'on' for research, split the computing into 50% cancer research, and 50% for your commercial research. Help the digsby project and help cure cancer - what could be better than that? I know you guys are going to do some non-profit work with that - but by having a constant consistent platform for this - it reinforces the message.

  • Ryan

    I'm confused about the installer; is it only during initial install, or are we going to have to go through something similar when we get major updates?

    In either case, I'd definitely prefer a pay-for-use program; I'm actually surprised that there isn't a pay-for-use that rivals the functionality of Digsby. Either a yearly subscription or a lifetime one, I'd be in for one.

    -Ryan

  • Paul

    I'd like to add to the conversation here... the research module being enabled by default, is absolutely unacceptable. Not only is it enabled by default but it's buried so far in the menus that nobody would ever find it unless you were explicitly checking every menu item in the application.

    Why isn't the option in the preferences? Are we hiding something? You can't make it ok by just explaining it either. Excuse my being lazy here (because I didn't check myself), but is this module discussed in the EULA when you install the app? If not, this qualifies as being a virus. Not giving the user an option, or disclosing changes you're about to make to the machine is completely unacceptable and inappropriate.

    I think we can all agree that it's not a bad idea to want to generate some revenue, but the installer is absolutely hideous (and obviously subversive as people have pointed out). It's a huge turn off that in my opinion really sends the wrong message and sets the wrong tone, for a great app.

    Sad, because this is the same "feeling" I had when Cerlulean started pushing Astra to the detriment of the existing version of Trillian. Again, people have to eat, and I totally respect that, but you don't rob Peter to pay Paul.

  • Now you have translated version of this post :) http://habrahabr.ru/blogs/star...

  • KHobbits

    I've just gone to install digsby on a new laptop and was appalled by the setup, so came here expecting to see a buyout notice. I never even expected the Boinc client.
    I can understand the idea of trying to making a lite-installer and I wouldn't really want the client to come bundled with all the rubbish the setup advertised, but I would expect it to come bundled with the actual application.

  • TechieSooner

    I love Digsby. I'd probably just pay a fee, but I know much of the appeal to other users is the price is right!

    That said: installer at the beginning is fine and dandy. No issues there as far as I am concerned.
    Two things to consider:
    1) Don't have it get in the way of updates (if I told it no, I don't want to have it go through the installer again at each update).
    2) Default the option to no.

    Secondly, the research option should ALWAYS be disabled by default. You might want to do like other products do, "Do you want to participate in the improvement program" and just have a link back to a blog post explaining it or something.

  • JeremyB

    Just adding my two cents: I don't mind donating CPU cycles to help with research and keep Digsby free, but I too would like to know what they're being used for and keep the option to enable/disable them in a more prominent place.

  • Nathan

    I love the research idea. As a few people have stated, it would be nice to see what the projects are and in the future, the stats for bandwidth etc. But i see it as a revolutionary new income method for revolutionary software.

    Thanks for the explanation and i for one will be leaving it on.

  • tahleki

    I agree with those who do not like the deception of automatically using our computers without our knowledge. I don't like the idea of anyone using my computer other than myself and authorized users. I don't know who is accessing my computer with your background processing and what they are really doing. I really like Digsby - I converted from Pidgin, but I'm extremely uncomfortable with your new business models, and will be uninstalling the product if a less intrusive (offline) installer is not offered. I like "free" but not at the cost of invasion of privacy and using my computer without my knowledge.

  • Cybertimber2008

    @Michael the problem with $5 or 10 or any amount ONCE... is that in the long run, the user will have well earned their value on the product. I can't draw the graph here but say there are 1000 testers right now... thats 5,000 dollars. That's a good chunk of money! But, each user has only given 5 for their use. Over a year, thats 5, over two, 2.50... three 1.66... the cost of developing and maintaining the product won't follow that trend. Either you keep earning a certain amount from each user over their usage period, or you offer a yearly subscription model.
    I'll make a graph if you want... linked somehow.

  • the research thing is very good, and very noble as well.... i mean, seriously, our silly little computers actually get some real computing to do, and for a purpose... i totally back it, and find it rather weird why people here against it....

  • I absolutely LOVE the grid computing income model. Keeping the product free and contributing to worthwhile causes to boot, what a bonus. Congrats on a really brilliant model, I hope it works out for you :)
    I agree though with previous commentors that this should either be disabled by default or the user should be notified up front that it is enabled. I would also like the option to choose which projects my compute cycles contribute to, and in most other gc clients.

  • The installation of inane "toolbars" (Yahoo being one of the most offensive) is a troublesome nuisance.

    The grid computing idea is fresh and interesting but also too intrusive, no matter how you spin it.

    Since Digsby is not a tool that requires social momentum and a critical mass of user population to be useful to its users - why not go, as suggested, with a pay as you go model? I bet you'd make far more money at $5 a head.

    Once you take good software that effectively accomplishes a single mission and begin to divert what it actually does in other directions for the sake of revenue, all will be lost. The product will entropy into failure.

  • Joe

    I recently came across Digsby and started using it yesterday. I have been using Pidgin but I like your product better. You mentioned that while installing Digsby, "It is not a “Next” button with an obscure pre-selected checkbox somewhere on the screen". I just downloaded it yesterday and there is in fact a pre-selected checkbox. I did as many people do and just clicked next but really did not know what all I agreed to download.

    After only one day of using your IM client I would also pay to use a ad-free version as others have mentioned. This would generate some revenue for your company and keep me from going bonkers from all the ads.

  • @All: Thank you for the feedback and comments about making the feature more transparent and adding preferences so users can customize how it works.

    @Rich: It does not use 100% of your CPU - it is currently set to use 10% for the beta test and when we increase that it will never approach anywhere close to 100%. As for laptops, it never turns on when your laptop is running on battery power. It only turns on when the laptop is plugged in and turns off the instant you unplug it. It will also run at a lower setting for laptops by default.

  • Marcus

    Just to echo the comments of others I quite like the research route - it's a novel idea. I was pretty surprised and slightly annoyed though when I went into Help -> Support Digsby and found that it was already enabled. This should only be enabled if the user specifically allows it.

    I also harbour concerns about exactly what sort of research will be carried out. This needs to be clear. People won't want to contribute to research for companies they don't like or consider unethical for some reason.

  • It would be good then to have some statistics for users: how many times the research module was running, how much data it processed and so on. With proper presentation this could even give users the feeling they are the important part of something grandiose.

  • Ar-Feiniel

    Please add my vote to the list of users who wants a full "offline" installer too.

  • Also, distributed computing should be a option in the installer or off by default. I was surprised to find out it even existed when I was reading the forum today. It seems like a good way to earn money that i wouldn't mind participating in, but not telling me it is on up front is not acceptable

  • The new installer is a real turnoff to using digsby. For my personal use it is something I can deal with, but recommending digsby to other people is now harder (because who wants to recommend a program that a user could accidentally install a bunch of crap I try to get them not to install in the first place)

  • Spotpuff

    Sucks that the research distributed computing thing was turned on by default :T I never saw an announcement about it.

  • lealwai

    I don't understand the problem with either method. Personally, I'm fine with either way, and actually very excited that the devs have chosen this route, even though a pay service would have been perfectly viable as well.

    As for CPU spinning to 100% for the grid computing. Have any of you guys actually been BOTHERED by it? Cuz i sure as hell havent noticed my cpu going out of control. (maybe cuz it turns off as soon as i start looking, but i guess that's part of the beauty)

    btw @rich
    grid computing is CPU , not gpu. it technically should not increase the heat on ur gpu at all.

  • GoodThings2Life

    PPS-- Add my vote to the list of users who still want a full "offline" installer.

  • red

    just a small quote:
    "Some of the research Digsby conducts MAY BE for non-profit projects like the ones mentioned above and some MAY BE for paid projects, which will help us keep Digsby completely free." - Digsby's guys wants to sell our idle CPU time for somebody who wants to buy, so i think this "choose a project"-thing is not possible. and its absolutely OK! i dont want to see a two times bigger buddy list because of a banner!!!

    IF this grid computing option is really cut off just a small piece of my CPU time AND my bandwidth can i turn on permanenty? i mean when Digsby is on the tray and i havent got message traffic of course. i never ever see my screensaver because if i dont use something i'd like to turn off (THIS is the real powersaving! ;-))

  • Rich

    Random personal experience: my primary machine is a Dell M1330. If anyone owns this product, or anything with a 8600M GS, they'll know that due to a huge design mistake by nVidia, the GPU is highly susceptible to total failure due to heat related issues. Given the proximity of the GPU to, well, pretty much everything, minimizing heat is something that all M1330 have to do.

    Not too long ago, I noticed that my CPU and GPU temperatures were both consistently 15-20C hotter than what had been normal before, under similar usage. The back vents were actually hot enough to cause burns if touched for more than a few seconds, and the GPU was beginning to show signs of failure (random artifacting, spontaneous reboots, total screen corruption). I ended up having the motherboard, and the attached GPU, replaced just yesterday.

    The new motherboard seemed to have the same problems with extreme heat. I was literally about to submit another work order to Dell to replace the fans, heatsinks, and heatpipes, when I read this piece of news on the Digsby blog. After some digging around the forums, I've disabled the research background task, and my CPU and GPU temps are the way they were before. 15-20C cooler.

    In *my* case, Digsby directly contributed to the failure of my laptop. To clarify, Digsby IS NOT responsible for the shoddy manufacturing techniques employed by nVidia, but as an informed consumer, I knew of ways to work around their problem. One of those ways was to avoid cycle-donation programs than run 24/7, such as F@H that I have running on my other computers. Digsby's questionable technique here has cost me personally, in a very material way.

    Again, Digsby is not responsible for the manufacturing flaw, but a bit of transparency would have gone a long way.

  • Andrew

    @ James
    I don't think they will lose many people at all....give Digsby some credit, they are learning as they grow and continually advance their features way beyond other chat clients. The developers are being innovative, unique, and open in the ways they want to make money. People shouldn't be freaking so much about power usage....it's set at very low priority! Well done Digsby, keep on going.

  • GoodThings2Life

    PS--- I'm more likely to donate or pay for it if it means getting a genuinely ad-free experience.

  • GoodThings2Life

    I love Digsby as an application and communication tool. I can live with the optional installers as they are in the current installer-- that is, clearly identified and not preselected.

    However, I will discontinue use of Digsby if the research module is not disabled by default. As others have stated, it is NOT acceptable under ANY circumstance to enable background activity without explicit user acknowledgment.

  • Rich

    @John S.

    I agree entirely. The distributed computing component should certainly not be turned on by default for one huge reason: power consumption.

    Power consumption is one of those hidden costs that a lot of users don't realize. A CPU spinning at 100% usage will use an appreciable amount more power than one that is on, but otherwise idle. Check out the numerous discussions on other idle-cycle donation projects (SETI, F@H, etc) to a discussion of the actual, material costs of something like this. If you are like me and leave Digsby running all the time, this will add up to a non-trivial "monthly fee" that, goes straight to your utility companies. Distributed across all of my computers at various locations, that this could really add up. If you want to donate your cycles, that's fine, but you have to leave it as a choice to the user.

    More significantly, idle cycle projects absolutely destroy the battery life for notebook computers. A typical end user that doesn't delve into the config options of programs such as Digsby would get absolutely crushed by a program that, by default, saturates all of your processing power. Again, either leave the default as "off," or provide an explanation detailing what the grid computing component entails to the end user.

  • James

    I know what I will never be installing again, will be uninstalling, and will be recommending everyone I know that uses it uninstalls. I'm absolutely sure you're going to lose a huge chunk of your user base because of this.

  • Bradleycorn

    Oh and I forgot ...

    5.) Please please please add group chat soon!!!!

  • Bradleycorn

    A couple of items:

    1.) Kudo's for keeping people informed about the business side of things, even if it is a little late.

    2.) More kudo's for admitting a mistake (the delay in notification about the grid computing "feature"), and learning from it.

    3.) No problem here with offers in the installer. I do have a suggestion though as to how you could keep the offers there, but try to appease the new and/or paranoid users who might not like the offers.

    That is, in the installer, put up a step in the "wizard" that says something along the lines of "Would you like to see offers for some other products not related to Digsby that you might like" (of course, with better marketing-speak than that). If the user selects "yes", then go through the offers as usual with Acceppt/Decline buttons. If the user selects "no", then skip the offers all together, and just get on with the installation.

    4.) While I don't have a problem with the grid computing "feature", I do agree with others on several points. For me, it is going to be off all the time unless I know what it's being used for (i.e. I'm not OK with my computer being used for something like say, embryonic stem cell research, or helping ACORN generate fake names so they can commit voter fraud). So if I don't know what it's being used for, I'm going to assume it's bad, and shut it off.

    THE OPT-OUT FOR THE GRID COMPUTING REALLY NEEDS TO BE MOVED TO A MORE APPROPRIATE PLACE. Like another user said, you have to admit that putting it under "Help>Support Digsby" is very much "hiding" the fact that it can be turned off. I don't know of a single person who installs a piece of software and then says, "I better go to the help menu to see if there is some weird setting there that I want to enable/disable". No. Users install software, and then go the the Options/preferences to set all of the settings. You don't put the options for Privacy there. This shouldn't be there either. The grid computing option should be in the Preferences with all of the other program settings, since that's what it is. It might also be a good idea to include it as an option in the installer. Again, putting it under "help>support digsby" is shady. When a user stumbles upon that, their first thought is, "Wow, why did they hide this here? They really must not have wanted me to know this option was here. I wonder if there are other things they don't want me to know about".

  • @Josh backups was just one example. The energy cost mentioned is another.

  • @Josh The Digsby guys are free to do whatever they want to make money, as long as it's up front. I don't feel entitled to free software. I do feel entitled to not being misled. Anything outside of the core functionality of the program needs to be opt-in. It should not be on by default, unannounced and hidden outside of the main settings.

  • MasterEvilAce

    Digsby is one application I would have no problem paying for. Any major problems that I have with it are seemingly fixed by the time I start to make a post on the forums about it. I have a problem paying for software that isn't up to standards, and isn't "cared" about. That's why I moved to Digsby. It's cleaner, supports more of what I want as standard, and it's faster.

    The Digsby team seems like a bunch of good guys. I would not mind paying a one-time fee for Digsby. Something like $15. I might consider a yearly fee if the Digsby team continues with the way it has been.

    Regardless, I would hope that the Digsby team would set up donations for those willing to give, regardless of alternate money-making "schemes"... I don't mind ads during the installer, as long as they can be declined. I don't like ads anywhere within the application itself (I might make an exception to short, non-obtrusive text ads).

    I'm not sure how the Research Module is programmed in. If it's disabled and takes up no additional RAM or CPU time, then that's excellent. Perhaps if plugin support is added, it can be added as a plugin. Small features over time lead to bloat and start to drag an application down. Keep it simple!

  • Dylan

    The research function should not be on by default. That is something that people should explicitly agree to or deny.

  • @Mike: We wanted to focus on making the beta product as stable as possible before dedicating time to adding features. We have added features over time such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Video Chat, Spell Check, etc. All of these were not part of our initial launch. We have two more bug-oriented releases coming up and then we're going to dedicate some time to adding the most features. (and then mac/linux releases)

  • Mike

    Maybe I`m not a user of Digsby because it doesn`t support protocols which I use (irc,gg,skype). However, I`ve subscribed to be up-to-date with your releases hoping that some day I`ll read about new features.

    I know that for "real" Digsby users news about performance improvements or bug fixes are important and that`s fine but for user like me it`s getting tired. I get info about new built and check www and nothing and... almost 41 times it`s looked like this.

    For me it`s like neverending story. There`ve always been bugs and performance bottlenecks. Now I see that new features aren`t as important as I would like them to be (if they are even seriously considered). I guess this piece of software isn`t for me and I`m totally fine with this. Noone ever create anything for anybody, it`s obvious.

    I`m not writing this comment to say how angry am I or dissapointed. I wish you, Disgby Team guys all the best and I hope some day I found Digsby usefull for me.

    Now I really hate these rss messages which keep me waiting :)

    Regards,
    Mike

  • Zak

    Steve, I think an API is a terrific idea. In my opinion, it's what makes Firefox so likeable, and so imagine for Digsby to get the the functionality level of a piece of software like that!

    One thing, if you're going to add something like the Research module, you should allow for some options. I know you're probably working on something already, but even something like an 'always on' option would be great. I run Digsby on my work machine and my laptop, and while I'm on one, I would be more than willing to completely deote the other machine to the research module.

    Keep up the good work!

  • I prefer a lot some ads on Digsby than the Research function, because I use Cool'n'quite and my fan is so slow so my PC makes a very little noise. With Research on it could be a great noise!

  • @Erik + Evan: That is a really good idea. We would like to be able to report how much computing power you all donated in aggregate but right now that functionality isn't there. I added it to our "new ideas" bucket.

    @Peter: The reason for the small installer is two-fold. First, we actually found that it increases the rate at which people finish the installation. I think this is why the other major IM clients do the same thing. Second, it means that the installers for the offers are not even downloaded unless you choose to install them so there is absolutely no trace of the other products in the installer besides just the ads for them.

    @Joe: We have considered open sourcing it. That would bring additional developers to the project which will help Digsby grow faster but it won't cut our existing costs. I think what we will do is create an API so developers can create plugins for Digsby.

    @John S: If your backup is running it will get CPU power before the research module gets it. We run the research module as a "Very Low Priority" process in Windows so any application asking for CPU power will get it before we ever do.

    @Jonathan: Any suggestions for making the installer more intuitive would be appreciated. Post screen shots on our forums.

    @Frank: We have considered it but have always thought that just a tiny fraction of people would donate. We will most likely open a Digsby store with shirts, hats, stickers, etc. This way you get something for the money you decide to give us.

    @Joseph: Trust me, no one wants to see the mac + linux versions launch more than we do :)

    @ExitRitual: That was a big part of the decision also. Since we do have an auto-update system, you only see the installer once.

    @Stephen: We have a pretty active discussion on our forum about other ways to generate revenue. If both of these options are not to your liking, please join in to help us come up with better ways: http://forum.digsby.com/viewto...

  • TimTom

    I don't like the research module, I don't like my computer doing something without my knowing.

    You have to give us MUCH more information: which projects are you participating in? what are they computing for? which company stands behind the project? and so on.

  • Stephen

    I'm not liking some of what has been said in the above blog post. I have found Digsby superb and highly recommend it to others. I also don't have a problem with clearly labelled offers that you do not have to take during installation. I saw some people complaining on another site and it quite annoyed me. You've gotta make some money and as long as they're clearly labelled it's more than reasonable.

    But - I HATE installers like the one you're using. When I click to download an application I want the WHOLE application that I can use when I want and backup. I'd rather have a bloated installer or an installer that had to go back to download the extra components I want rather than the current model. This is the reason Acrobat Reader is probably the only program on my PC I haven't updated in ages - I have to basically hand over to the installer and not know how long it's going to take to download and then install the update.

    Secondly, I think the grid computing thing is really not clear. I don't remember seeing anything about it in the installer and you have to admit "Support Digsby" in the "Help" menu is quite hidden. If I wasn't subscribed to this blog and discovered this was running after say a month or so, it would have probably been the deal-breaker.

  • ExitRitual

    As Nolan said, this is a very responsible approach to generating revenue, and I would be happy to have the option of either, with a preference for the installer method with clear, optional components.

    Personally, I've yet to see the new installer screen, as Digsby merely updates itself when a new build is pushed out.

    I'd hate to see Digsby go under, as it's the only IM client i really like (and recommend to my friends, co-workers & family).

    The only mild issue I've ever had is that there's no option for a single window user interface 9much like the current rounds of the Skype v4 Betas).

  • Hey, whatever you gotta do to keep it free.
    It'd be pretty cool if we got some updates on what our spare cpu cycles helped accomplish.

  • Operator

    @ Evan: There are always people who just click on "Next"-buttons without reading what they are doing. But it's not the fault of the Digsby-guys that some people out there are too lazy to read ;). Of course, they could have make a big red "Decline" and a big green "Accept"-button in the middle of the screen, but that wouldn't look professional in my eyes.

    ===============================================

    Nevertheless, I am fine with those two models and have only one suggestion:

    Please add an option to the installer, so that I can

    a) disable the Research tool
    b) choose in which Research programs I would like to participate in

    Finally, it is really good to hear that Digsby won't be cluttered with all those ads inside the IM-window and that it will stay free.

    Now, you just need to get the Final done ;)

  • someone

    what about having the program free of registations?
    i really don't want to register to anything and start trying this program. the program can just save all of its configurations on my computer.

  • freibooter

    Mhhh, I know you have to make money and these are concerns, not complaints:

    Optional adware in the installer preys on the uninformed. I now can no longer promote Digsby to my less computer literate friends without an additional warning. And while the installer may be TRUSTe certified it does give the user the feeling: If I don't accept the Yahoo toolbar I won't get Digsby.
    Still, it's a from of generating revenue I can live with.

    The research module, while a much more fascinating stream of revenue, is sadly much worse than that. Why was it enabled by default? Why was I never informed about its inclusion Digsby itself?
    The biggest problem: it costs the user money and depending where he lives: lots of it. My PC is running almost 24/7 and my instant messenger is as well. Electricity is expensive and that's why I made sure that my desktop pc is using as little of it as possible while idle. There is a massive difference in the amount of electricity a dual- or quad-core uses when idle or when "doing research". I'd rather give this money directly to you guys ... you might want to consider a way to donate for the people that chose not to use any features to support Digsby. So we will feel less guilty about it. :-)
    And please, put more effort into informing the users bout the research module and what exactly it does.

  • Josh

    John S is probably one of those people who thinks developers owe him something by providing free software, and that low priority Digsby usage will somehow slow his backup.

    Anyway, fantastic idea - I love it! Any suggestion which doesn't require advertisements is great.

    I have no problem with it being set as default, however there should probably be a notification when you install which tells you why you are doing this and the benefits.

  • isdigsbyavailableformac.com

    Get a Mac OS X version out the door, charge a reasonable price, and you'll have my money. I know many who have been using Adium and are ready for something new. Mac users will gladly pay to keep something ad-free. So, where's the mythical *nix version?

  • TyvdAheksy

    Very glad to see a blog post about this, and once again glad that this client is so freaking good. I prefer the research since I keep my system up 24/7 365 (only down to reboot) It gets a good 12 hours to itself. If it generates income for you guys then I'm happy all the more. It's a very clean out of the way method and affects my system in practically no way while giving me a wonderful IM client and a new way to handle my emails. Thanks for the awesome work guys, keep it up.

  • As both options really are optional :-) both are acceptable for me.
    - I wouldn't use this but others might :-)
    - I'm a member of World Community Grid since 2006 and have the BOINC software installed on all my computers so I wouldn't use this option in Digsby. But for others this may be a attractive solution.
    - How about an additional menue entry to give you a little VC :-) like 5 USD or even more via Paypal?

  • Jonathan

    I'm concerned about the "Accept" and "Decline" buttons accidentally misleading a person to believing that if they decline, they don't get anything.

    I was only slightly surprised by the new installer, but quite pleased that nothing actually changed about the software, just adding those install options. I greatly appreciate you explaining your model to us. I hope it goes very well for you.

  • Nolan

    I would just like to say.

    1.) This is wonderful.
    2.) This is responsible.
    3.) You can be sure that I at the very least will continue to promote your product through word of mouth and install it on family computers (parents) that need a chat client.

    PLEASE, keep up the great work!

  • The research option must, absolutely, 100%, be disabled by default. Doing anything in the background needs approval before starting. CPU cycles have a cost and you can't possibly account for how everyone uses their computer (mine runs backups when it's idle; a task I want as little CPU interference with so they complete faster).

    I'm bothered this has been running for a few weeks without any notice. If it was brought up in the forums (I didn't check) it should have been posted immediately.

  • I'm okay with those 2 revenue models if this will indeed keep Digsby free and ad-free. :)

    I don't know when you actually started doing this though. I'm not using the alpha releases.

  • Joe

    Forgive me if this sounds inappropriate, but have you given any thought to Open-Sourcing Digsby? That way the burden of developing and maintaining the software is shared by the community. I for one would be happy to help support its development. I'm also curious how you made Digsby so awesome :-).

    I'm not saying this should replace what you're talking about. It's good you're making these components optional. What I'm saying is that you shouldn't have to do all of the development yourself, especially without getting paid.

  • Eia

    Thanks for this very thorough explanation! Your points on the mistake that was made is spot on, and made better understand why you did what you did. It's totally understandable that you need to make money somehow and I hope you'll figure out a way to create a revenue while still keeping Digsby free! (Or, at least, one version of it if you ever decide to go "pro", "ad-free" or similar)

  • jim

    i would go for the research modules. my computer is on 24/7 so i would have no problem with that and i assume it would give you more revenue...

  • I think it's great that there's a post to let the users know what's going on with the company and revenue plans. I also think its a great idea that the ads come on during the install cause that essentially means that someone out there won't come up with a hack to kill the ads in the main window e.g. WLM

    On the other hand, I wasn't too happy about the fact that the installer now only has a small executable that finally downloads the program after you launch it. I personally do not prefer this model as it feels like I'm wasting time trying to download twice (plus the fact that a lot of people out there use various download managers). A suggestion would be to have the full installer for the program available but an option to download the toolbars within that installer should the user opt-in.

    Just my 2 cents. Keep up the great work!!

  • Evan

    Funny, I made a post complaining about this a few hours ago and then I get off the train to NYC and here is an explanation of it all.

    The grid computing revenue model seems intriguing, not sure I've seen this used before but I'm sure it's around. The only problem I have with this revenue stream is that when I use my aircard, I only get 5 gigs a month of bandwidth. This isn't my main connection but I do travel a lot and use it.

    It'd be nice if we could see what we're helping with and how much bandwidth and processor we're contributing to the "cause".

    I've only installed Digsby once with the new installer that is ad-supported but I believe the accept buttons were in the same spot as the next buttons. So if you just quickly pressed next, next, next...like a lot of people do, you could easily wind up installing all 5 of those offers. You probably know this already and did that purposely, but I am not in favor of it.

  • keeping Digsby free is a worthwhile endeavor, and I'm thankful for the options you have offered. One thing that would be helpful with the second model is to clearly publish what projects we are donating free compute cycles to. In the unlikely event that some of us in the user community might deem a project say, unethical - we can be informed and choose not to donate the cycles.

    Other than that, great job and great product!

  • Eldon

    I am very excited to see a program as creative as Digsby not getting overrun with ads like other IM clients and even happier that you guys would help non-profit organizations, as well as making revenue from other research projects. I totally support the implementation of a research function in Digsby.

  • Alberto Simon

    I would actually prefer to just pay for it, I love digsby and I would be willing to pay potentially a fee to use it as long as the upgrades keep coming. a subscription type model might work as i have seen many people pay for twitter update apps that just do that.

    If i had to pick from one of them Id say option 1 sounds best but 2 doesnt sound bad as I currently participate in an @home program on my ps3.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Copyright © 2007-2014 dotSyntax, LLC.   All Rights Reserved