August 6, 2012

Using Subtle Hints To Remind People Of The Ethics Of Donating In Free Software

I have a Twitter account that I mainly use Choqok to manage. Choqok is a great microblogging client (Think Twitter and that is available for free right in your standard Kubuntu system. Just launch the Muon Software Center and install it. If you're into microblogging from a PC, even casually, you'll like it. It has most all the features of any other microblogging client on ANY platform, including web-based clients.

Choqok in action

However, this is not a post about Choqok per se. Rather, it is a head-nod to a great idea in user-interface design that I felt should be acknowledged. If you're running a recent version of Choqok, and you click the little Choqok-birdie-thing in the upper-right of the GUI in order to bring up the menu, you might notice something unique. That is, there's something there:

Click the little birdie - You know you want to
Notice anything? the big red circle might have given it away. There's a donate button. Right there, in the menu! I think this is genius. I'm not going to go into a big moral dissertation here about how it's important for all of us in free software to donate in some way. For most of us who don't code, this would imply maybe donating a small amount of money to one or maybe several of your favorite open source projects. Besides, I already shared some of my thoughts on this topic a while ago

The point of all this is that having a donate button right in the application serves a few purposes:
  • Convenience
    • Of course one is more likely to donate to a given application when they are using it
  • Repetition
    • Get the thought started and then reinforce it through redundant visual cues
  • Setting a precedent
    • ....That perhaps this should be a standard item in free software? 

I expect not everyone would agree with me, and that perhaps a few would think it's a little brash to ask for money right in an application. My thought, however, is that we humans all mean well, we really do. But that every once in a while we need a swift kick in the horse's derriere gentle reminder that donating money is one way we can show our appreciation for free software and those who make it.

What say you?


  1. Its not at all obtrusive, so if you don't feel like donating, it just becomes another menu item for a feature you never use.

    If you're the sort who does donate when you remember, then a subtle reminder in a menu is going to be far more effective than a link on a website that you'd never otherwise visit.

    1. I agree - unless you're having some type of issue, you're not that likely to visit the website. Good point.