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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Ethics of selling a data-saving app

I have an idea for an app that would definitely help protect your PC against ransomware attacks.  However, I'm thinking if I charge for it, people will retaliate and say I'm profiting from other peoples' misery, and that it should be freeware as a goodwill thing.

I compare my idea to being similar to an anti-virus app, and people pay for those... so, do you think it's unethical to charge for something that protects a user's data?  I'm thinking just USD $9 charge.
PSB136 Send private email
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Based on your logic, police and doctors should not get paid.  And all the anti-virus software apps out there should be free.

If someone wants to whine because they don't like that you are profiting off other people's misery, tell them you'd be happy to promote the app THEY must have written to solve this problem. as a free alternative  to your paid ap.  What's that?  They don't write software? 

There is a problem and you are solving it.  That is what is at the heart of every business transaction.  Now, when you start releasing your own malware to cause the problem your software solves, then you need to start worrying about your ethics.

Until you feel at peace with this, every day, I suggest you start every day by saying this out loud: 
I am a programmer.  That is my business.  And any self-righteous moron who does not like it can write their own free app to replace mine, or, better yet, just STFU.

And when you do make a sale, revisit any sniveling complaint you've ever received and smile and say (to yourself) someone just bought one of my programs.  Ha. Ha. Suck it!

With all that said - anytime you want to give away a copy because you want to for whatever reason, do it.  But never feel guilty for receiving payment to provide a valuable service.
Emily Jones Send private email
Sunday, November 15, 2015
I love your responses, Emily!  :)  Thanks.
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Hey PB, just curious: are you this questioning of every feature of your life, or just software selling? People tell me I overthink things. Just wanted to compare notes. :D
Racky Send private email
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Racky, I only question my business decisions, because this is the Business of Software and I like the responses I get.  They put things into perspective, and make me think of things I wouldn't normally consider.

Also, without my posts, there's literally not much going on around here, so I'm sort of keeping things a bit active.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, November 16, 2015
Protecting against ransomware attacks is/will be a gigantic niche.  And the nice thing is businesses are the ones that will pay, which means better prices, (generally) lower per-transaction support burden, etc.  So if you really think you have a solid and robust solution, go for it. 

But be really sure of your solution -- I have a bit of an insight into this market and the problem and your solution absolutely must be robust -- people get very cranky when their servers crash or get locked on a false positive.
Doug Send private email
Monday, November 16, 2015
To me the only ethics involved in selling software is whether or not you own the software to legally do so? Or does the software require the user to do something unethical to successfully use the software?

If you legally own the software and you don't have to do anything shady to use it, then sell away.

Worrying about people chastising you for selling a product is like opening  a store and only charging people what they feel like paying. Unfortunately if you hope to make any use of the sales that model doesn't work very well.

Also anyone in the market to actually use the software will try and get it as cheap as possible or free. So they will always come up with something against you for selling what you made.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, November 16, 2015

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