Every once in a blue moon, someone goes on an e-mail reflector somewhere and complains about the cost of the subscription or maintenance fees associated with a program. That event happened over the weekend on the WriteLog reflector.
It’s really about the perception of value to the user paying the maintenance dollars against the use of the program. If you think you get value for it, you pay. If you don’t think you are getting value out of the program, you don’t.
I go through this same value proposition all the time when it comes time to renew my anti-virus subscription, my anti-spyware subscription, my ARRL membership fee, my AAA membership, when I fill up my car with gas, when I consider going to Visalia or Dayton, when I renew my membership in a radio club, when I decide whether or not to support Field Day, when I put a dollar in a QSL card to get a return card, and on and on.
Ham radio software is a bit different from the rest of the software world, though. The difference is that I don’t know of anyone who ever retired wealthy by writing ham radio programs.
Almost all of the programmers of ham radio software have day jobs so they can feed their families and themselves. They have to work the corporate game or stay self-employed. The radio stuff, like all of us, is done because we can use our skills, enjoy our hobby and help out the ham radio community.
I get no dollars from anyone for maintaining the WriteLog users site and yet it costs dollars every month for the domain name, the web hosting, and the dollar investment associated with purchasing and maintaining the software I use for the site. Not to mention my time. I obviously get other things of value to me from the site, one of which is providing a service to my fellow ham radio operators.
But, one of the things that happens when I receive no dollars for the site is that the updating and maintenance of the site slide compared to other things that I do to earn a living.
And if I got $10 for every hit on the site, I’d be making more than a pretty penny — and I’d be logically more incented to keep the site right up to date with the latest releases of WriteLog.
To be fair, I’m way far behind on my updates and I’m in the process of fixing that as I write this.
But paying thousands (and for many — more thousands) of dollars on radios and antennas, plus making pilgrimages to far away Hamventions every year, and then complaining about the maintenance fee for a program that’s used for every contest…well, that’s why we all get to decide the value proposition to ourselves when we renew, isn’t it?