Paid features in opensource apps


I think we are going back to the pricing point which I’ve already addressed in a previous comment. FLOSS is not about money, it’s about user freedom. If the server is open, I don’t think there’s a difference. Yes, it may be slightly annoying to have to run your own, and it has discouraged me from using some apps in the past, but it’s almost always about local vs remote storage rather than paid vs not paid.

As said above:

just to re-emphasise my previous point: I’m not against apps that require a server having some indicator to mark them as such. That’s why EteSync has included such wording from the very beginning. I’m just against marking it as an anti-feature (if the server is also floss) or discriminating based on a price-point (free vs $1 vs $10).

I think the wording in EteSync atm is probably fine:

In order to use this application you need to have an account with EteSync (paid hosting), or run your own instance (free and open source)

Though I think that if we are to start focusing our efforts on pushing agendas into f-droid that are not within it’s mission (i.e not related to FLOSS vs not FLOSS), we should start with privacy. Mark apps that are not end-to-end encrypted and etc. Because again, I think user freedoms are rights are much more important of a topic than apps that have an option to use paid hosting.

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I’m speaking from that point of view. Mobile devices are extremely
valuable in people’s lives. You can see people around the world have
mobile phones even when the nearest GSM signal and power is a 10km walk



I completely agree with this. But how about not just marking negative things about apps? Along with anti-features we could emphasize some neutral and positive features too. Maybe with a traffic light system like:

:green_heart: positive features:

  • actively promotes free software
  • educates about free software

:white_circle: neutral features:

  • contains advertising
  • contains pay to unlock features

:red_circle: anti features:

  • promotes non free services
  • depends on other non free software


My 2c, apps with paid features should be clearly marked as such. With many apps users spend considerable time choosing the app, trying to setup and customize it and after all this work they find out that they are supposed to pay for a feature?



I understand the concern. Well it’s ok that they are trying to sell some features of the app, it still does not make the app closed source. They are obviously trying to make some money for their work. I don’t know, what features aren’t there in K9 that you are looking for? What’s there in Fair Mail that is not in K9? K9 does get constant updates and I personally find it very good. In Fair Mail they simply block access to certain features using their server, that is not an issue of software freedom. Perhaps it is an issue like an email provider using open source software, yet blocking users from using all features if they don’t pay.



Interesting idea, but impractical. I think it’s highly subjective whether something is a morally positive or neutral feature. As you can can see in this thread it’s even hard to find consensus about labeling paid features/services.



Perhaps (optionally) list all of above attributes, & (further optionally) allow us to set color/weightings/“anti-feature” status, w/ defaults to the above set by a poll?



As i wrote before, filter on per-anti-feature would be a good start to solve subjective opinions

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I am also not against f-droid having apps that might require payment (like nextcloud or etesync), but I do think that new anti-feature (perhaps too strong a word, but it is how they are called currently) for apps which are crippled (eg. have some features disabled) until user pays probably should be implemented.

Or alternatively (or in addition) at the beginning of the description, have a paragraph which makes it easily visible and transparent what you get by default, and for what you must pay or have some other restriction. (currently in for example FairMail, there is only ambiguous “pro features” buried in the middle of the long description)

For example, for FairMail it might say at the beginning of the description “Note: Some of the features of this software are DISABLED unless you pay for them.

Or for nextcloud and etesync it might say “Note: This software requires that you either HOST your own instance, or PAY to use commercial instance” (EteSync does say it - but even there, IMHO it should be as a first, separate paragraph; instead in a middle of non-formatted blob of description)

(It would also be good is wording could be standardized, so all software with same requirements could spell it out the same way)

I think that does not require technical changes (just editing the descriptions0, would not be disrespectful toward developers, and most importantly would be transparent and clear and concise to users what they should expect.

Also, instead of “Pro features” (which could be interpreted by some to mean that you could install the software and start using some advanced/professional features) in description could we please write “Features requiring payment” ? It would be much less misleading that way (at least for some of us non-native english speakers).

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I think it is important - transparency is the biggest issue for me.

But another issue in this specific example is not (I think) so much the amount of money itself, but the fact that some of the users either lack the means to pay online (like minors or people without credit cards), or are reluctant to do so - maybe because they are (rightfully?) afraid of online card / identity thefts or are not educated enough to do it safely, or they do not want their credit card name being associated with buying specific software (think: big brother which is monitoring you and see you buying crypto features for your FairMail might be pretty bad news for you), or they are recidivists with online spending issues and dare not venture there again, or any of the million other issues.

On the other hand, some people want free software but have no problem paying for it. Or, some people have no problem donating money, but extremely dislike idea of deliberately crippled software forcing them to pay (also, they might have a problem with the idea that they commit to using some software, and then when they upgrade hardware that app reverts to “open-core” mode, and because the publisher no longer exists they are in world of pain)

That is why I think it is best to be transparent and concisely and clearly inform the users at the very beginning of the software description what are prerequisites and what they should expect.



Yes, do fork the app…

Simple-Email is that… how did that pan out? Months behind FairEmail, by ~1500 commits.

SimpleEmail has a community focus, all contributions are welcome

Issues answered? Maybe some.

Merge Requests from the community? One, but important



That’s why they are called anti-features and not plain negative features, right? I did translate that string into Spanish as “características controvertidas”, i.e. “controversial features” in the F-Droid client. Did I understand something badly?



I’m using “features that you might not like” so yeah… “controversial” sounds interesting too.



So paid features are anti-features, by that definition. Why so much discussion? Nothing inherently negative or bad in the term.

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