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The Good Karma License

An Experiment in Human Decency

Last updated on 11/4/2010

What Is the Good Karma License?

GKL vs. EAL Profits

2Player is licensed to you under the terms of the Good Karma License.

The Good Karma License is based on the following premise: that human beings are -- more often than not-- decent.

Here's the deal: I won't mine your personal data, expose you to literally thousands of ads for things you don't want, or try to trick you into downloading a "free" application that is nothing but an elaborate ruse to make you pay for the "Pro" version. Instead, I'm going to give you a fully functional trial version of the software, for you to use as you see fit. In exchange, I expect you to pay for a license if you like and use my program.

It's a simple proposition. I trust you to do the right thing, and hopefully, we all end up a little better off as a result.

The Forces of Evil and Advertising

During the initial development of 2Player, I experimented briefly with advertising banners as a means of monetizing my application. The economics were, frankly, horrifying to me.

Here's how banner advertising works. I include a small banner at the bottom of the screen, every time the program runs. If you click on that ad, and go to the website to which it is linked, I make about six cents. That figure varies considerably, depending on which part of the world you live in. Apparently European clicks are much more valuable than American clicks. Why, I'm not sure. But I digress. Six cents. That's what I would make, on average for each click. And to get one click, I'd have to display one thousand ads! That figure also varies. For absolute premium ads, on absolute premium advertising space, one might get one click in one hundred  But given what 2Player is, and where it's ads go, the figure of one click per thousand exposures is a reasonable expectation, based on statistics gathered during my brief fling with advertising banners.

Amazing isn't it? You'd almost think that people would accidentally click on the banner ad more than one time in each thousand ads they saw. But they don't.

Six cents per thousand exposures. It sounds insane, doesn't it? Like one of those Nigerian Lottery emails strangely gone awry, and having taken over the entire mobile application market. Or like one of those strange stories about people who spend all night every night pounding on their mouse buttons to grow virtual potatoes, but reversed.

The Karmic Equation

So, lets compare that to what happens if I trust you to buy a license if you like the program. I'm selling Good Karma Licenses for 2Player for $2.99 on Android market. Of that, I get about $2.00, which I find quite reasonable given that Google has a large amount of infrastructure and investment in Android, and the Android market, and given that Google made this wonderful Android world possible in the first place. Google may be slightly evil, but not unreasonably so.

So what would I have to do if you were to market 2Player under a Bad Karma License? where I mine your personal data, and push ads in your face every time you run the program? To break even, I'd have to get you to click on one of those ads thirty four times. And to get you to click on one of those ads thirty four times, I'd have to show you 34,000 ads. Thirty. Four. Thousand.

Ads flip over every 20 seconds, when you're using 2Player. So you'd have to remain glued to your 2Player screen for 189 consecutive hours, waiting and watching for one of those one-in-a-thousand ads that actually interest you. Which honestly, will probably never come.

For those of you who are mathematically inclined, here's the Good Karma equation stated as a formula:

      1 Good Karma License = 34,000 ads = 189 consecutive hours of your valuable time.

An amazing figure, when you consider that each of thOSE "free" apps on your mobile phone also carries a burden of an addtional 189 consecutive hours of adversiting.

The Effect of Evil and Advertising

The thing that I dislike most of all is that nobody seems to benefit.

I like 2player. It's a great peice of software. A little bit of my soul went into making it. It's beautiful. It's useful, and I'm proud that I made it. It's understated; it's elegant; it's everything a great piece of software should be.

You wouldn't think that those 48 pixels at the bottom of the screen would make a lot of difference. But they do! They come out of the album artwork area of the screen, since most of the rest of the user interface of 2Player is not compressible. The program was initially built without banner ads, and I worked very hard to use screen real estate efficiently. It's a mobile application, and the competition between screen space and functionality is fierce. Those ads turn what was a nicely balanced user interface into something less than perfectly beautiful. I hate it. I hate the effect that ads have on my user interface. I really do.

And you, dear user. What do you get out of it? You get reduced usability of the program, because 48 valuable pixels of a program that you will hopefully use on a daily basis have been devoted to presenting infomation to you that doesn't interest you.

There are subsidiary benefits as well. I don't have to spend large amounts of time prostituting what meager personal data I can steal from you to advertisers in order to maximize my profits. I get to spend more time doing the thing that I love doing more than anything else in the world: producing useful, beautiful software. And you get more features, better features, and a user-interface that is driven strictly by usefullness, rather than by an invisible line draw between those features that are free, and those that are not.

The Great Experiment

I'm going to perform a gesture of trust, and faith in humanity. I'm going to release 2player as a fully functional program, available at no charge, with no ads, and let you judge for yourself whether its value exceeds the cost of one Good Karma License. With the understanding, of course, that I trust you to do the right thing as well, and buy a license if you like it.

Consider it a competition between the forces of niceness and goodness, and the forces of evil of and advertising.

And I'll track the results, because the experiment is -- I think -- enormously interesting, and potentially evolutionary. Based on the results of 2Players' initial foray in the evil advertising world, I will provide updated estimates of what 2Player's income would have been under an advertising model, and what 2Players relative income has been under the Good Karma License. Watch the graph at the top of the page. I haven't worked out how to automate it yet; but I will update it regularly so that you can see for youself whether, as a species, we are fundamentally good or fundametally evil.