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How justified is it to charge for Listeners (i.e. add-ons)?

Discussion in 'Resource and Add-on Discussions' started by Mike Fara, Aug 9, 2013.

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  1. Mike Fara

    Mike Fara Member

    This is not a gripe, it is more or less about something I have noticed. There is a lot of activity in the Resources section and I think it is great. But a lot of people are charging, what I would consider would add-up to a considerable amount of money, for things like social plugins to share a message, or a few lines of code to put Recent Threads on your sidebar. Please note, I am not singling out any single author, but just setting up the example.

    If I had unlimited funds, I would have no problem buying all of these add-ons and trying them out. However, what is the big encouragement to buy these add-ons?

    Should, for example, paid add-ons require certain prerequisites? What if you buy an add-on and the quality is not what you expected?

    For example, should paid add-ons require mandatory customer support for the life of it being in "paid" status?

    Should paid add-ons be in a feature complete status only?

    Should paid add-ons require a certain amount of functionality be added before it should be payable?

    Should paid add-ons be reviewed by XF staff before they can be added to that part of the market place?

    I went to a person who helped me move content that I extracted from my old database, with a paid add-on, into the regular XenForo thread format. This person did not ask for anything. Instead, they allowed me to donate what I thought this was worth to me. That seems like a fair market offer. I know that this merit system does not work, in general, but my point is I am noticing a lot of add-ons that seem to do things one major add-on probably should, that should cost the same amount of money.

    Does anyone here agree with this? Why or why not? What would you contribute to these thoughts?
    florencia and Josephur like this.
  2. Jeremy

    Jeremy Well-Known Member

    Add-on developers are free to charge what they wish for their add-ons, and the support or license terms are also dictated by the add-on author. It shouldn't be, and isn't, up to anyone but the add-on author to decide this.

    You may also want to read this:
    borbole likes this.
  3. jadmperry

    jadmperry Well-Known Member

    I think that people should charge for their work. The reason being that it motivates both them for doing good work and it also sets up a market for these type of services. This attracts others to doing this type of work and it improves the availability and quality of the services.

    As far as price? What the market bears. If folks charge too much, people won't buy.

    As far as concerns about the products not being worth what it does or not being supported...well, again, I think the market will take care of that. Poor products/services will be commented on and discussed. Folks who care to investigate will have an idea of the product or the authors track record. I think that if support is promised or updates are promised, etc., that this should be reflected in the price offered for the service.
    borbole and Eric Russell like this.
  4. Brentnauer

    Brentnauer Well-Known Member

    Quality control and price justification largely comes from ratings, reviews and checking through the addon's thread to see what kind of issues or support is there.

    I disagree with some of the pricing standards I see with a few addons, but I prioritize and rethink my needs. I'm not a coder and they have a skill/product I need.
  5. Mike Fara

    Mike Fara Member

    Yes, I understand what you are saying about free market rules. But I am also looking for specific answers to those questions. What happens if there is an add-on that everyone universally despises because it is like 1 line of code, but the person misrepresents it as doing a number of things and charges, say, $50 for it? Would XF then intercede? BTW, this is just a hypothetical on that specific question. Obviously, no one would be insane enough to do that... yet. But my point is, should there be a certain level of quality control and to what extent are add-ons, not really add-ons, but template edits anyone can make, and should be shared openly with the community?

    You probably know where this is coming from. VB.org is operated by what used to be Jelsoft/IB. And they demand add-on devs charge for their add-ons outside of their site and ALSO provide support for any add-on, or declare that they don't. If an add-on becomes obsolete after awhile it goes into the add-on graveyard. I'm not saying become like that site, but is greed a factor here because the precise methodology of creating listeners isn't very well understood or known? I mean, we all know a Recent Threads mod is not that difficult to make... for example.

    I see the guy on that other thread made some comment that "all is paid" which is not the point or assertion of what I'm saying. Basically I'm wondering if there are ways to make the system better and more fair. Something that is obligatory to both the uploader and the downloader (in many instances buyer and seller).

    Do you think it is because there is a lack of knowledge in this area? It took me years to learn vBulletin, but I'll admit I'm a total newb to XF. I watched one video by someone, when this software first came out, and I was very interested. Then, maybe it was last year, I saw a video on how a listener was created on a Mac. And then I was excited. Maybe it was Kier in that video, not sure. Anyway, now I'm part of this community and I am happy to pay for mods I determine are of high quality, but determining the quality isn't always possible without a demo.

    We know that free markets without quality control run wild (well, some people will dispute this), so that is what I am saying. I bought a mod from someone and I was not happy with the quality at all, because I felt it was a misrepresentation of what was represented both on the Resource page and on their own website. I never got to demo the back end features and only the positives were listed on the description. You could say I didn't do my homework, but it looked like this was a major work in progress. So major, it met none of the needs of my members or my team. I never asked for a refund, because I had seen this person make another quality mod, and I had bought it from them, and also, I respected that they were, perhaps, making a living, or additional money for their family from this. It was not a major loss. But it was a hassle. That is where I am coming from.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
    Josephur likes this.
  6. Brent W

    Brent W Well-Known Member

    I charge $5 for a few of mine for two reasons:

    1) Get money back from having the add-on developed
    2) Keep support requests low and on target.
    Mike Fara likes this.
  7. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member


    Once XenForo starts getting involved with justifying add-ons and the prices charged for them, it is a slippery slope.
  8. Kevin

    Kevin Well-Known Member

    If you mean vbulletin.org then Crawlability has nothing to do with that. Crawlability makes used to make vBSEO and has no relation to InterNetBrands who currently owns vBulletin.
  9. Jeremy

    Jeremy Well-Known Member

    Due diligence is required by the purchaser and it is not the right of XenForo or anyone to intercede.

    If you can't demo a product, you should contact the author for a demo. This topic is hashed out every so often and the answer is always the same:
    It's up to the add-on developers, XenForo only provides a listing of add-ons and associates in no other way.
  10. Mike Fara

    Mike Fara Member

    Yes that was a typo sorry. They must have been on my mind when I wrote that. I meant Jelsoft.
  11. borbole

    borbole Well-Known Member

    Of course it is fair for you. Because you get helped for free or for whatever you think others work and time was worth to you. Who would not want such a system? I mean I can go to a shop and pay for stuff what I think they are worth to me and not for their real value.

    It is the second time that you mentioned that mod. If that is that easy why do not you code it yourself? That and other mods.

    It amazes me when people want to get everything for free and they complain and moan if they see something that is up for sale. I would like stuff for free as well but in the real word things do not work that way unfortunately.
    John, Brentnauer and Brent W like this.
  12. Brentnauer

    Brentnauer Well-Known Member

    This is exactly right. I don't have the skill necessary to create the things I've purchased, nor do I have time to invest in learning to do so.

    If an author is selling something for a price I think is unreasonable, I'll ignore it and make do with what I have... Until another author releases something similar for a price I agree with. The resources area is pretty active and the more xF grows, the more competitive the offerings are going to (and have) become.
    borbole likes this.
  13. RobParker

    RobParker Well-Known Member

    If anything I think things are grossly underpriced here. Paying what constitutes far less than a night at the pub for something that you consider really useful to your site is a bargain. I'm sure most people here have spent (much!) more on Apps for their phone than for addons for their site...
    John and borbole like this.
  14. Mike Fara

    Mike Fara Member

    I agree, but I also believe that the seller has some obligations to the buyer. Under the Universal Commercial Code, if no service is rendered, no payment can be collected. So when we start going legal, what some people could do, if they are releasing crap mods, could land them in PayPal hell, at least, if the mod becomes popular, than breaks without any support, not due to any change in XF, and people keep buying it due to old favorable ratings. My thoughts would be would you want to add some important fields, at least, like does this mod make DB changes, does it include manual template edits or not, does it do x, y or z to the core software. Is a guarentee/refund offered? Does it have a working demo?

    These would be some mandatory declarations the publisher would have to make if they want it to be a paid resource IMO. Just a thought. I am not against people pricing their products whatever they want, but my thought is that, yes, some of the mods are over-expensive, and this is probably because XF is a new community, and few have really had their hands held to the flame if they release a very poorly written or bad mod. Also, the really good "free mod" people, are not yet willing to give away their secrets, due to the fact that XenForo is a high quality software, and very few "How to Make X.." guides have been released yet. The ones that have, though, seem to be immensely helpful. What I am saying is that the advanced knowledge to make really great advancements to XF is already there, but many people have not fully integrated it into their skill set because of how new the software is.

    A low demand, or perceived low demand for some add-ons, should raise the price, while a high demand should make the price go down, or make it free. But because there are not many big time coders lending free time to XF yet, at least not in the range I think it would be where an immense amount of information is just public, I think you're seeing this trend. I feel like I should simply be able to look up, quickly, how to make a Recent Threads mod, and not have to dig around and learn the whole system. Surely someone will do this eventually, and maybe it will catch on, as XF gets bigger and bigger. Then, only very high quality mods will be paid for by the community. Sometimes, even putting a price on something implies quality, and thats why I think it would be important ot track certain things if you want to put up a modification, like whether or not the author states it is currently supported or not supported, and whether or not the author has made changes to the core database. (This could even be differentiated from edits to pre-existing tables and edits to new tables). Perhaps a field for explaining what state the software is in (pre-dev alpha, beta, release candidate, stable, edge). Is it a branded mod (public accreditation built-in)? How is it licensed so derivatives can be made (GNU? Creative Commons? Copyright? Proprietary License? Unrestricted License)

    I think SourceForge is a good resource because it has a certain level of tracking going on in this manner, and these are optional disclosures, the function to provide them is built into the system. Although I have not been on there in a long long time.

    I recognize that in this area, though, there is a lot of potential. I think most of the people who are publishing paid add-ons deserve it, but people selling small modifications and rubbish that will probably never meet the standard of XF base code, they would normally be considered outshined once a number of considerate, and highly skilled people come in with free template modifications, add-ons, examples, samples, and links to donate... I think
    Josephur likes this.
  15. Jeremy

    Jeremy Well-Known Member

    If an add-on author doesn't specify a license it can be assumed to be proprietary with a no-distribution clause per the XenForo forum rules.

    If every add-on was create as a 'how to' guide, there would be no creativity. Everything you are requested should be obtained, if desired, before you purchase an add-on by asking the developer.
  16. Mike Fara

    Mike Fara Member

    Firstly, I am new to XF, but we are working on a Recent Threads block right now. I have given back a lot to the other community. I am in the special thanks cred for vBulletin for the assistance I gave them over the years. I using Recent Threads as an example because there are a lot of them. As for wanting things for free, and not paying for it, I have probably paid over $100 on paid modifications from this site, and I've only been a license holder for two weeks. I was hoping to focus on the resource center and how it is evolving and not myself. But if we are going to start justifying people selling scripts that print out what a RSS feed basically does, that is not a justifiable response, in my view.

    XenForo has provided an open platform to develop modifications, so I am surprised so much is being charged for. I was wondering what other people think could improve this, for the entire community, and not just myself. I don't like to run a lot of modifications, only the ones I need to make my community happy. I have contributed plenty of mods, and code, for free, just not here. I run a site that basically provides information for free and is supported by paid software and advertising. It has helped me pay for my health insurance for the last year, and for the last 3 years, my living expenses. So my goal is, again, not to get anything for free, or undermine the work of people who make paid modifications, but to open a dialogue on the subject.

    Just like you are not forced to buy a modification, or release one for free, you are not forced to participate in this discussion, but by doing so, I think you would be analyzing and perhaps finding yourself giving your own input as to where there may or may not be room for improvement. Thats all there is to it. I have no agenda.
    Josephur likes this.
  17. Mike Fara

    Mike Fara Member

    Honestly, I understand your approach, but I think this is naive for future use. The type of disclosures I am talking about for the publisher would protect both the buyer, seller, and to some degree, the website. While this is all in its initial stage right now, when really big companies start adopting XenForo, instead of vBulletin, and they will, they will start setting up boards, and buying modifications. Some will do it in bulk, and some will pay a lot of money. If those modifications are not up to par to their standards, or cause a harm to their business interests, and their legal team determines there is standing against the author, this is going to become a much more serious discussion. "Because quality control was not there, this happened..." I hope that day never comes, but with large corporations and businesses who rely on a brand, it is inevitable. It takes two decades to develop a brand and five minutes to destroy it, and those without real scruples always look to adjudicate a claim. We already see some people looking at with VBSEO, but because its indeterminate as to what is going on, and because they were selling and hosting off-site, its unlikely to involved IB. My understanding was they never got a long well with them anyway. So I am just saying you would want to keep standards high, with any system, even if its optional. The whole idea of ask the publisher, to me, may work now, but it will lead to false claims and trouble when XenForo becomes even more profitable for publishers of add-ons and content. The adoption rate will continue to grow. Every forum admin has seen this. And when you get big brands using add-ons, I think the hammer will come down on how it is all dealt with and what quality control measures are put in place. We discovered malware, third party verified by a pentest cmpany I know the CEO of, that has existed for at least 3 years, that attacked Mac Rumors, and one of my sites. It was meta refreshing people and injecting a base64 encoding and encrypted JavaScript that then launched another encrypted Flash file. We are still trying to understand what it does, whether or not it injected into the datastore of the failing alternative to XenForo, and if its used for link or click fraud and/or monitoring. We already determined it phoned home. We found it on Analytics pounding our site after we switched to XF. It also blocks mod_rewrite from stopping the meta refresh. I spent hours with a high level executive and close friend from a very popular US website, and a pentest and webhost owner, decrypting this thing all night. The code is astonishingly complex, it does not appear on virustotals.com as being identified by any av/malware company. We are looking at it right now as spyware and malware that is cross-platform. US-CERT is looking at it. So I'm just saying.. if someone embeds something like that in a script from here.. wow is the hammer going to come down. And then there will be a real discussion, instead of "you want a freebie". I hope it never happens, but XF will get much bigger, that much is certain. And when you become the market leader you get targeted. Especially when you are providing something useful. So that is also a consideration, IMO, about keeping standards high if you see a lot of incomplete/buggy scripts being charged for $10 and so forth. Eventually you may get malicious publishers, and it may be in your interest to demand disclosure from them. Best on this, as I don't see it going far from the responses.
    Josephur likes this.
  18. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    XenForo is not Apple.

    It does not have the time nor resources to audit every single add-on.
    borbole and Amaury like this.
  19. Jeremy

    Jeremy Well-Known Member

    I think its time to close this thread, as its been discussed at length before. It is XenForo's official policy that we do not 'police' the add-ons released here. Its practically impossible to review every add-on, and nobody has the right to dictate what someone charges (or doesn't charge) for their add-on. If you find an add-on with a security issue, report it and it will be dealt with accordingly.
    borbole, Brentnauer and Amaury like this.
  20. Slavik

    Slavik XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    How about a service where if you paid us X fee, say $50, and then send us the addon files we can tell you if its coded to a good standard or not? (Not including testing or looking for bugs, just if the code is well written)
    Adam Howard, borbole and Brentnauer like this.
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