Suggested developer fee for new apps in F-Droid

@hotlittlewhitedog suggested in another thread that F-Droid should consider doing something like Apple’s annual iOS developer fee or even Google Play’s one time developer fee. I think this is a great idea! When people submit a new app, we should ask them to pay the one time $100 developer fee like Google Play. This would be a donation and be optional, but we should nag them.

What do others think?

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Is it 01 April 2021 already?

What’s the split exactly if an internet rando submits it vs app developer?

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do we care who pays it? I was thinking mostly as a donation nag. If you look at orgs that live from donations, they spend a lot of time nagging for donations. Like Wikipedia, Linux Foundation, etc.

That was my first thought, too.

As a developer, Google offers a lot more tools that help me. I can perform staged roll-outs and I get crash reports. I can see how many people use the app and which locales they use. I can read comments to get a feeling for how users feel about an update. This all helps to make development easier. To me, personally, F-Droid feels a lot more like a burden than Google Play. Even some basic things like changing your developer email address does not seem to be possible. Whenever I publish an update, I have to follow the wiki to see if the update was actually built. Every time, I have to deal with 1-2 issues asking why it is not yet available on F-Droid.

To me, uploading a release on GitHub or a website would not feel much different to F-Droid because I do not have any “connection” to the users there. If they would all be gone suddenly, I probably would not even notice. The reason why I develop open-source apps is that I like to help users. With F-Droid, I do not know if I help users. Is it 10 users? 10’000? 100’000? I have no idea. That does not make me want to pay for it, in addition to spending a lot of my free time.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like F-Droid from a user’s perspective. I get most of my apps from F-Droid. If you want to nag someone, I suggest to nag users (who actually profit from using F-Droid) and not developers.

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Well that’s the thought, as far as I understand. As many (most?) RFPs are from users.

We need a repo label with no tax paid yet ? Will this trigger the great F-Droid repo decentralization that we want (in theory) when repos pop-up with “free FOSS apps”? Will the Fediverse doxx us all? Can they get a reduction in price if more apps are submitted (buy 2 get 1 free)? Will the $1000 tier allow for 12 apps (1 per month)? Will the app page show a trophy with “Sponsored by user: Pen15” ?

So many questions…

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If it is only for RFPs and aimed at users, not developers, I am fine with it. The first post sounded different to me. Developers should not be hindered from publishing their app (and a big “pay developer fee” button with a small “don’t pay” button would be hindering).

Something like “You can submit the app yourself using git. Alternatively, you can pay 25 dollars for us to submit the app” could work if publishing with git is reasonably easy. AFAIK, the data repo recently got CI for pull requests, so that should already make it easier for developers (no need to set up the builder VM).

Unless they changed it, Google only has a $25 one-time free.
Apple is $100 a year.

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@hotlittlewhitedog suggested in another thread

Link, or it didn’t happen. LOL

@ByteHamster

As a developer, Google offers a lot more tools …

+1 AntennaPod user from f-droid, on a device with Android 7. (Aside regarding AP) A couple strange/inconsistent things I noticed - In settings, app permissions, AntennaPod wants Location and Storage. Why location? Oddly, both are disabled, but it works OK anyway. On Google play web page it lists those permissions and more. On AntennaPod privacy web page it only lists Storage and View WiFi connections.

As a user, your comments on not having numbers for non-play store users are very interesting. Most privacy statements are so long and vague I interpret them as “anything can happen.” Yours is (thank you!) more brief than usual, and mostly says we don’t track you, but has enough “excepts” to give some uncertainty as to whether some data is sent home or not. It’s good to hear some apps don’t call home.

This might be an option to consider?

You also falsify my assumption app developers benefited more from f-droid users, because they were more likely to test new versions, file detailed bug reports, and help debug issues (but unfortunately AP beta versions from play store lead, and f-droid versions lag). I’ll be sending you a bill for my therapy costs. AP adds to my “fear of missing out” because I can’t keep up with all the subscribed podcasts. (half joke)

(Back on topic) Annual or monthly memberships seem to work for FSF, and annoying popup campaigns seem to work for wikipedia as you said. You might try adding a “buy f-droid a coffee” at the top of app lists in the f-droid app, and move the “buy the developer a coffee” to the top of app detail displays (instead of buried lower down). Yeah, add “donate now” or “join now” images to every web page, charge by the byte for downloads, split the proceeds with the RFP submitters, make this forum “members only” and see what happens.

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As you said the annoying ad of Wikipedia, you can also check the annoying ad of Archive.org

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I hear all the issues and complaints, that is why I’m talking about ways to get more donations. If we have more donations, more people can make a living working on F-Droid and things will improve. Google makes it difficult to ship 100% free software apps, that’s why getting apps into F-Droid is hard. Google wants all the data it can get, that’s what it sells to its customers. The users are the product. We have volunteers inspecting apps for Anti-Features like Tracking. That’s why users want F-Droid. F-Droid strives to put users first.

Also, in case it wasn’t obvious, I’m talking asking for donations, not requiring payment.

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As you said, F-Droid puts the users first, not the developers. Why should developers then be nagged, not users? :slight_smile:


@justsomeguy Please post such questions on forum.antennapod.org :slight_smile: I will answer some anyway.

It’s a workaround for the WiFi filter feature that is only needed on Android 10. Version 2.0.0 will remove the WiFi filter feature as well as the permission on Android 10.

Maybe we should clarify the text. It got longer than what I originally planned. AntennaPod does not phone home at all. The policy just warns that by using the app, it needs to connect to servers of podcast publishers and that those therefore might be able to collect some data.

If there is something really wrong, a new release on F-Droid takes more time to ship than on Google Play. I usually roll out to 5% of the users first and keep it like that for a few weeks. That’s usually the time the bug reports arrive, not the months of beta testing before that. Staged roll-outs do not work on F-Droid. As a developer, I like the automatic crash reports on Google Play because they give an idea how many users are affected (as a user, I have disabled the feature).

Beta versions can be uploaded to Google Play with a single click of a button. For F-Droid, I have to create a PR. This takes more time.

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I’m a developer and new to f-droid, but the app of mine that’s available here has been free and open-source on various platforms for 20 years with well over 100K users in that time. Over those years I’ve received two or three donations at best. I think f-droid taking a cut of that would be reasonable, but there’s not a large pot to be split however you do it.

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I guess nagging developers would only sometimes be appropriate, and often times be kind of offensive, so I agree it doesn’t make sense for us to do that. I do think that RFP (Request For Packaging) is still a good place to ask for donations. It would be cool if there was an easy way to tie in bounties to RFP issues.

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I :heart: F-Droid and free software and I happily maintain my app in the F-Droid repo. But I’m posting from a throwaway because this comment isn’t about me or my app, and many people get outraged at the mere suggestion of paying for free software. This is a huge problem for F-Droid maintainers and for app developers.

Maintaining my app on F-Droid requires a considerable time commitment and has a net negative impact on my Google Play revenue. I don’t know how many active F-Droid installs I have, but based on third-party API token statistics I can confidently say that a significant portion of my total user base comes from F-Droid. Yet one month of my Google Play revenue, after deducting 30% rent, is greater than more than half a decade of F-Droid donations combined. And I am nowhere close to earning a living from my Google Play revenue.

In my opinion F-Droid needs a privacy-respecting replacement for Google Play Billing. App developers need paywalls, nagging for donations is not enough. I would happily give F-Droid a 30% cut of my revenue. It would be a win all around, even if users didn’t feel that way.

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Hehe I was expecting this thread to be a suggestion to pay a small amount of money to new app developers

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I think that if “nag” is being replaced with “ask” and “100$ fee” with “donation”, it doesn’t sound bad then. E.g. if there is a highlighted block about donations in F-Droid bot’s reply on RFP tracker, it’s fine. Nagging for 100$ is just rude. You should understand that users and developers community is very diverse in terms of income. Not everyone makes 1000$/mo to give 100$ to F-Droid. Some people don’t even make 100$/mo and it’s not their fault. So, you may not agree with me, but the ways to solve this is to either approach more organizations or try to cut on expenses.

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Rather than asking developers for donations F-Droid should help developers to monetize their FOSS apps.
I think FairEmail is a good example for how pro-features can be purchased without Google Play (https://email.faircode.eu/donate/). Basically you do a donation/payment and get a token by email.
This token can be opened directly in the FairEmail application to activate the pro features.

The dream scenario for me would be if F-Droid would start a partnership with OpenCollective/Liberapay/… to offer an alternative API to the Google Play in-app purchases (com.android.billingclient) that respects the privacy of the users as much as possible.
This way the FOSS applications will not rely on donations alone, and developers will have an easy way to integrate pro features into their application.

Then F-Droid would receive a fair amount from the purchases and everyone profits.

Edit: Also we could show a preview for apps in the F-Droid client that are in RFP and ask for donations/pre-purchases/bounties to get the necessary work done and paid.

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Faircode’s donation keys are exactly what I had in mind. I don’t know what the general consensus is, but I recall seeing hostile reactions to it on the F-Droid forum and Reddit. Unfortunately quite a few people think the ‘F’ in ‘FOSS’ is referring to cost.

An F-Droid sanctioned paywall that benefited F-Droid and app developers would also be good for users, albeit indirectly. I hope it would be well received by most. I know implementing this is way easier said than done, but I think it could be the best approach to funding F-Droid.

My app isn’t wildly successful but I can realistically estimate that a 30% cut of my paywalled F-Droid revenue would result in hundreds of USD each month.

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How about a box on the f-droid website. It displays the monthly costs and monthly donations. This will add transparency and hopefully drive donations.

Also, invite more people to help out for common tasks. This will help to involve new people in the project.

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There is a section for Donations on the site… which links to those sites and sums can be seen.

But not of costs…

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