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Are we playing a Dangerous Game? Freeware

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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I have noticed an intolerance which seems to be growing towards any freedom of speech where it involves Freeware.I think there is a serious danger that any comments which are not glowing praise of a freeware product will become unacceptable in the forum and stifle the whole basis of what a forum is about.This is a MSFS forum to discuss all things relating to flight simulators.It is a place to learn and improve our simulations and that includes freeware developers learning and improving as well.I have been involved with numerous freeware projects over the years and seen how the best developers operate.The best only accept the best from themselves and continually strive to improve what they do.They relish feedback whether through the forums or E mail as long as it is positive criticism as for them that is a major weapon in discovering where they can improve or where they can get new ideas.A forum is a place to discuss and in those discussions new ideas and ways of looking at things do come forth even if at the time the process is slightly painful (no pain no gain :-)Commercial ware seems to be fair game, yet just because an author decides to change overnight from freeware to commercial ware doesnt mean that his pride or feeling change too.Yes Commercial developers are answerable because they take money for their products but their feelings are no different and they have equal pride in a job well done.It is getting to a point where posters are fearful to say anything which isnt glowing about freeware and start by saying "please dont take this the wroung way I think your aircraft is great but......" and they still get jumped on as if they have spoken a Blasphemy.We should not tolerate negative criticism and hound that out of the forums but to become intolerant of polite positive criticism is playing a very dangerous game and one which would harm the forum as a whole.I loved feedback whether good or bad in the forums on projects that I was involved in as that was the only solid way to advance the product and bring abouut new ideas.I would hate to be cotton wooled or nurse maided incase my fragile ego collapsed and that goes for real world flight as well as this as we are all forever learning whatever we do.So beware where this new attitude leadsPeter

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I agree in principle. However, in the case of the AVSIM forum, they are practicing what you are trying to point out and that would be their right to publish in the manner that they choose. Their right to free speach. Look at it like a newspaper. We are contributors. Avsim is the entity that actually makes these contributions public. They have every right to make public, or not, what they choose. Is there a slant? Maybe, Maybe not. It is no different than any other form of media that chooses to have a bias. It is AVSIM's right to publish in the manner that they choose. If there are those of us that disagree, then we are free to create our own forum, post at other forums or to contact a designer directly. Freedoms of speech are not just for the inidividual. A publisher is not obligated to print everything that they are presented. They are in fact practicing the right that you are trying to defend. Isn't America Great!!!By the way, I do not work for Avsim ;)

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Peter, I am not sure if you are referring to something AVSIM did, or postings by individuals. Can you clarify please.

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The french philosopher Beaumarchais wrote:"Sans la liberte de blamer, il n'est point d'eloge flatteur"(without the freedom to blame, there is no genuine flattery).That was true in the 17th century and still is today.I like your style Peter.Twister

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>Commercial ware seems to be fair game, yet just because an >author decides to change overnight from freeware to >commercial ware doesnt mean that his pride or feeling change >too. Commercial ware has a lot more at stake. The publisher or author is charging a lot more than just some download time for his product. If somebody lays money down for a payware title, feels that it was not worth the out lay and conplains or comments about it publicly, he may be saving others from being disappointed. A freeware addon cost you only the time and effort to download it, (unless you are paying by the minute for online time as some do in Europe). I think that there is an overall perception out there that alot of payware developers are "in it for the money". I think that may be an incorrect perception, but may have some basis in attitudes projected by diffent authors. >Yes Commercial developers are answerable because they take >money for their products but their feelings are no different >and they have equal pride in a job well done. As far as "feelings" go, when you enter the commercial world, you have to learn to take the good with the bad, if you can't, then you get out of the business.>It is getting to a point where posters are fearful to say >anything which isnt glowing about freeware and start by >saying "please dont take this the wroung way I think your >aircraft is great but......" and they still get jumped on as >if they have spoken a Blasphemy. Sometimes there is evidence of this, but for the most part people let loose with comments, complaints and praise irregardless of cost. I think that the perceived "kid gloves" that are reserved for freeware authors are there because their contributions are valued and so many have either quit or moved over to payware when they started to get disillusioned or felt they were being unfairly criticised. There are many examples of freeware authors and groups "taking their toys and going home" over differences with each other and the community at large.In closing, I think you may be onto something here, Peter, it will be interesting to see where it leads.MikeKOCF

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I think the polarisation of freeware and payware is growing. I have also noticed that freeware is becoming more protected by the community, almost as if it was becoming a scarce commodity and an attitude of "let us keep encouraging these guys". Both these products are improving so much in quality that critical views are being expressed more freely for payware while the freeware guys are being handed ever-nicer polite comments. It is nice for the freeware guys sure.I have recent freeware products which I did not think were very good but I have also left the criticism lest it affect the enthusiasm. Don't know how someone will react. :-roll Well I personally like feedback especially if the slant is constructive. I would not really like to hear "your designs are **** and you do not know what you are doing so consider another hobby"...I have received my share of critical comments but where I think it is justified I take note and where not I politely decline comment or just reply with a thanks for downloading my sceneries.I do think severely adverse unjustified comments can dampen enthusiasm.I admit though that sometimes I may appear aloof with a users observation and think "here we go again with another beginner not knowing the installation procedure" as in the case of a user of my LGA scenery who observed that night lighting was not available. I thought "how could that be? and replied that it was not possible". Well the user and I exchanged a few emails until to my horror I realised he was right! I had forgotten to include the night light textures in my uploaded scenery package! :-bang I learned my lesson in this case and also appreciated the critical comments.Shez

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I agree that _constructive criticism_ should be put forth openly. However, if you reread D. Pimentel's posting, the one which set off all the replies in defense of Mike Stone, it should strike you as being a bit malicious in it's style of criticism. There is nothing constructive here. Pimentel's posting was written in the spirit of insult by perhaps, someone who considered himself a "rival" designer. People who appreciate Mike Stone's work have every right to defend him from this kind of attack. Your point is taken, but I think there are better examples of "polite postive criticism" to defend than Pimentel's.

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Tom,To The poster above and your good self this has nothing to do with Avsim or their policies towards freeware.This is to do with a new trend which has been developing not Through Mike Stones aircraft release and the comments associated with it but a general trend which stems around the principal that because an item is freeware then "though shalt bow down in eternal gratitude to the Author and though shalt not say anything detrimental against his creation lest he runs away, cries and never creates again".Originally intolerance was towards people who demanded change from the Author as a God given right or their postings were negative or insulting.I totally support intolerance against people like that but now that intolerance is being directed at people who are polite and point out a fault that they see.I am usually fairly outspoken on faults I see, Freeware or Commercial ware but have noticed that even I :-) hold back about making constructive, positive criticism concerning freeware.My concern is that this is a forum where we should happily discuss and contribute towards projects put up for download and not be jumped on as if we have used the Lords name in vain.I hope developers are "BIG" enough to take a little heat now and again :-)I get plenty :-)Peter

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I am very much a proponent of vigorous debate and constructive criticism...(just ask my friends, or try me sometime) and believe that a healthy curiosity makes the world go 'round. I agree with Mike 100% on his chef analogy. One must exercise a certain deference to the feelings of freeware developers b/c they have donated their time freely. I think criticism is healthy, very healthy...but a true businessman, leader, or public figure knows that in order to get something you have go about it in a political manner- there is a right way to do something and there's a wrong way----for a Darwinian efficiency based person like myself that is a harsh realty--but in the last couple of years, I have finally come to realize that you can get more by sometimes doing less, hence the "Lose the battle win the War." What's my point? As a pure capitalist, I believe that anyone who is going to go to the lengths of taking your money for a product, should be be striving to make the product as good as it can be, and that includes customer service!! And, as a result of their endeavour, they should be criticized to the fullest extent if the product does not meet your expectation as a consumer. This criticism is how products evolve, and become better. Supply and Demand. However, keep in mind the distinction between freeware and commercial. The commercial realm is not designing and disseminating a product out of the goodness of their heart, they are doing it to make a buck, and that buck comes out of your pocket. You are entitled to the best product they can make. If they don't make the best product, then less people buy it in the long run, and demand dictates their fate. If they fix the product or send it on a gradual evolutionary phase, then perhaps they will retain customers, again demand reigns supreme. In a third scenario, if there is a better alternative to the commercial product, then once again, demand has dictated the course of their product. But, in the converse, what if the product has no alternative? Well, then we are stuck with imperfections that, if the developer truly cannot or won't change them, reside with us during the duration, and no amount of criticism or boycotting will solve the problem.In the freeware realm, we do not have the supply demand equation as such. Sure, you can easily choose to download/not download a product, but what is the repurcussion- no dollars out of your pocket, and no downside to the developer. Your opportunity cost is nothing. His opportunity cost is the time invested in the product, that could have been spent on flying, boating, fishing, drinking, etc. So, THE FREEWARE DEVELOPER CLEARLY HAS SUBSTANTIALLY MORE TO LOSE THAN THE CONSUMER IN THIS SITUATION!!! So, moral of the story, while we should most certainly make RECOMMENDATIONS, not CRITICISMS per se, about freeware developers work, we should be cognizant that these guys are really doing this out of the goodness of their heart and barring any horrific quality defect, we should err on the polite side. (for those who still have a 56k modem, that bad result might understandably be more frustrating b/c of not knowing the product quality until hours later) In summary, we should not filter the posts, or lock threads. However, if you go over and look at Flightsim, you can almost immediately sense a different tone of voice in the posts. Everyone is very antagonistic and cynical. It is a subtle difference, but I truly believe that this forum is much more productive than our friends over yonder. So perhaps the solution is to merely police ourselves from time to time. Easier said than done for some perhaps, but eliminating posts and locking threads seems a little protectionist. Most developers are adults or young adults and can stand the criticism; if they can't, then the real world is going to be a rude awakening.If you really think about it, MS 2k2 was a big improvement, and I have flown about 5000+ hours since the first FS on my Apple 64k in the fifth grade. But whether it was flight models, scenery, AI traffic, clouds, weather, etc. (really 90% of the sim), freeware has taken us light years forward. MS is the one who shold be criticized for putting a product on the shelves that is incomplete. Again, I have to put forth the caveat of relativity. MS is a multi-billion dollar corporation. And for the resources that they have...and considering that a CD (.20-30 cents) and box ($3) are the minority of the $69 purchase price, I think that MS inefficiently used their resources. I mean think about it. If you are talking about a team like Terminal Reality (FLY), to come up with what they did was amazing! Limited resources and team members, but their panels blow away MS! MS on the other hand devoted similar amounts of manpower and time, but they have billions of dollars more resources and made about twice the profit per unit that Terminal Reality did. But, where does that money go, back to developing the product? No. It is easy to see that MS has come to realize that freeware developers will take up the slack b/c not only do they have the knowledge, but our hobby, inherent in its nature and personnel, has an obsession with tweaking and making things better. It's a poor stance by MS, but, have you ever wondered why they only put 5-7 aircraft in the damn sim? B/c they know that you all (the developers are out there) will make more. They don't have to. So, either we create a united fron against MS to put some more effort into each release (given the amount of money that they both have available to them and receive for each unit sold), or we decide that freeware developers are saving a simulation that otherwise should have been labeled a game. And trust me, as an active private pilot who is getting my multi rating in two weeks, and is finishing up the Instrument and hopefully on to commercial, this thing has truly become a simulation after all of the freeware tweaks. IT has saved me thousands in flight training, and I still fly it about 10 hours a week.Well, with more time, I could have written a more poignant response. So, I apology for any rambling, but we all have to step up and be adults, while being respectiful, while pushing for change, while, focusing our attention on the real problem (MS), etc. etc. etc.......Christopher Michael BraunP4 1.8768 ram 80 gig hardriveVisiontek Ti4 4600CH yoke/pedals19" inch monitor-Soundblaster PCI 512Win XPPrivate PilotAOPALawyerPilots Bar AssociationNTSB Bar AsssociationPIC- Warrior, Archer, 172N-SP, Aztec, Malibu SIC (for fun)- Conquest, Cessna Ram 421, King Air C90"Men without dreams are never free, twas thus this way and thus will ever be."

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Mike Firstly Mike my comments arent directed at you. I admire your work and have been involved in many many freeware projects myself so I do know the rewards ;-)and the motivation, hours spent and also the times when you wonder if its worth it.The comments around your posting were reflective of a larger trend to protect freeware which itself could become negative.Please dont take this personally because it wasnt meant that way and no you are an accomplished freeware developer not a 13 year old kid releasing his first attempt to the wicked world :-)>This was too greasy, that was cold, that tasted horrible, you need to use more salt.

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KevinD Pimentels posting wasnt constructive I agree. My own posting wasnt made on Mikes responses but on a number of similar postings over the last few months where there is a growing intolerance of any criticism of freeware no matter how polite or well intentioned. The attitude has changed to "if you dont like it bin it but dont dare to say so in the forums".That cant be right eitherPeter

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I have never seen (alright, rarely seen) a freeware developer who will not accept constructive criticism... they key, however, is that is must be constructive. Too many times have people in forums said "The model is way off." I can understand how the developers could get angry, reading that. But if you said "The APU vent is on the wrong side of the tail" I'm sure they would welcome the suggestion.I think a more pressing concern is payware developers who will barely allow criticism from their paying customers...

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I don't think anyone ever objects to polite, constructive advice or critics, and that goes for discussions also.I think what is called into question is the cavalier, unthinking and often insulting remarks that many seem easily able to make without a second thought.I (not even speaking of freeware endevours)have thought many times of leaving the forums for good when a good natured debate or question turns into personal insults or impolite remarks-it is just uncalled for, not necessary, and frankly uncivilized. This effect is of course ten fold when the subject is something that you freely have placed hours of your soul into, in the case of freeware. Avsim is the only site after 18 years of flight simming that I frequent because of its' higher standards of civility. However, even with that things seem to on a weekly basis get out of hand.I think what is being questioned is civility, and common courtesy (maybe even common sense)-which frankly seems missing a great deal in our world today-not just here. (I am 44 but I start sounding old :-eek). I don't think anyone advocates "protecting" freeware-just using a little common sense and consideration when dealing with it. If this was followed I don't think this would even be a subject of discussion..http://members.telocity.com/~geof43/geofanim2.gif

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Having started a freeware site () at the end of February, I'll say from my perspective that I look forward to constructive criticism, as long as it's written as such.I won't deny that I received one email where the guy seemed really ###### because of our product and the way it looked. As a human, I do have pride. As a developer, I strive always to make things the best they can regardless of my personal feelings. And somewhere inbetween lies my daily existence. So you're welcome to criticize, as long as it's done constructively. There's no room for insulting comments or emails, it's just not necessary and accomplishes nothing.I have continually, since our inception a little over two months ago, striven to make our sign making web application the most comprehensive and easy to use. All of this is based on comments from our volunteer designers and the public alike. Yesterday, I released the fourth revision of the web application for designers to help them design the sign sceneries more efficiently. Also, the new sceneries will look better.I may not be speaking for everybody, but as a freeware developer, I welcome comments of all sorts. It's not an easy job developing freeware, and having taken the plunge, my hat's off to everyone who's been doing it for so long. Personally, the website is taking about 85% of my free time. It's costing me plenty of money out of my own pocket. But that's no reason not to accept comments that make the site better in the long run for everybody to enjoy.(Yes, you're welcome to "let it rip"...email signs@taxiwaysigns.com)Thomas Lin[link:www.taxiwaysigns.com]TaxiwaySigns.comVolunteers (testers and designers) needed, please visit the site for information

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