It’s of no particular consequence to me if apps have paid features or other moneymaking mechanisms built in, and I am fully aware that nothing about doing this violates most open-source licenses or the F-Droid rules. However, I personally have little or no extra money available to buy extra features, and my use cases almost always require the edge-case/“power user” features that most developers choose to make paid-only, so I always prefer to seek out apps that don’t have these types of things. Until recently, F-Droid has always provided the ability for me to do this easily with its anti-feature flag system, but then I encountered Fair Email and NetGuard, both of which contain ads and paid features and neither of which bear any anti-feature markings.
While I by no means want to declare any entitlement to apps that don’t contain undesirable features, I also have no tolerance for those that do, and it would really help me a lot of these anti-feature markings were maintained more completely, so that I could be saved the trouble of installing them and only finding out that I can’t do certain things when I actually attempt to do them. This occurrence is why I no longer use apps from Google Play when I can avoid it, as it is a serious nuisance to me.
Once again, I definitely do not think that these apps should be removed from F-Droid or that their developers are doing something wrong; I simply think that there should be more transparency about what an app does on its F-Droid installation page. Paid-only features are a big deal to me and many other users, and so I think that they should be well-indicated before the app is installed.
To put it in a more concise form, here are some lists. I want to make it clear that they do not attempt to explain any laws, F-Droid’s rules, or any other objective or binding requirements, but merely my own thoughts.
These are things that I think developers should be allowed to do without receiving backlash:
- make apps with paid features or advertisements
- post these apps on F-Droid
- refuse to assist in obtaining free access to paid features
- refuse to provide support for the app for any reason
On the other hand, the following are things that I do not believe are things that developers should do, or that should be condoned by F-Droid:
- attempt to hide the existence of paid features or advertisements in their apps during the user’s selection and installation process
- call other people over-entitled or freeloaders for refusing to use apps with paid features or advertisements
- direct backlash against people who take legally-permitted actions to avoid paid features or advertisements, or to circumvent them in their own copies of apps (e.g. building them from modified source)
- insist that their apps do not contain anti-features, when, in fact, they do
I am completely aware that app developers need money to live just as much as anyone else. However, I really do not believe that they should have any right to hide the paid-only nature of certain features until a more opportune time and place than the F-Droid installation page as a marketing strategy. I think F-Droid needs a “contains paid features” anti-feature flag, and that this and the other anti-feature flags should be kept up-to-date with due diligence for all listed apps. Without this, F-Droid becomes much less useful and much more frustrating for me and no doubt many others.