What happened to the Freeware Picks?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Tom S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have been a subscriber for well over 4 years now, and lately something has been bugging me a lot ... The newsletter greeting for each newsletter states that you have two freeware programs in each newsletter, but there are almost no programs offered or mentioned anymore. What's going on? PS: Thank you for your time, and all your efforts! "

My response:

You're not the only one to ask this question.

We don't have freeware picks any longer in the newsletter for two main reasons. The first is that since 2006, Brandon Dimmel took care of searching for and compiling the freeware picks each day, but he received a full time job earlier this year and is no longer with our site. I appreciate all of Brandon's hard work and effort he put forth for the last 7 years as editor, writer, and all around behind-the-scenes guy he was.

The second, and perhaps most important reason, is that we don't have the funding to produce freeware picks any longer. Since 2011, we have lost approximately 98% of our search engine traffic due to an algorithm change by Google, and it has devastated the website financially. As a result, we have had to cut back on the number of articles published from 5 a day down to 1. Also, the PC industry has seen a rapid decline since around the same time, and as a result, any income we produced previously through Google advertisements has also massively declined.

To help ease the financial burden, I have moved the website to a new data center in 2014, redesigned the site (in hopes of correcting the problem with Google), taken back the position of Editor for the last two years, and started writing articles again. I am also offering tech support to our readers as a way of producing revenue for the site.

I have also sought out volunteers to replace Brandon and his freeware picks, but unfortunately it hasn't panned out. Each time I find a volunteer I have to go through the training process and set up accounts on the site, etc and it's just too much of a hassle to keep doing it. Based on past experience, volunteers are not as reliable as someone you might hire. In order to do it right, I'd like to hire someone full time to take care of the position of freeware pick compiler, but I simply cannot afford to pay any more out of my own pocket.

Freeware Picks Fundraiser

We might be able to bring back the freeware picks if we do a fundraiser -- but only if enough people are interested in contributing. I estimate that compiling two freeware picks each day will cost $7 per day x 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) = $21 a week x 4 weeks a month = $84 a month x 12 months = $1,008 per year. I think it's reasonable to assume that $7 a day is a proper amount given the amount of time it takes to search for and produce a freeware pick and then edit it. Any less than that isn't viable.

You can help raise funds by visiting our donation page and contributing. It would be especially helpful if anyone donating to the site would do so on a monthly, recurring basis, but it is not obligatory. The option for recurring payments is listed on the donation page.

Thanks for your understanding.

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dbrumley3077's picture

Thanks for your explanation about the loss of the Freeware Picks selections. I understand completely, and am making a contribution, not so much for the return of Freeware Picks, (although I appreciated them very much), but because I've taken your great newsletter somewhat for granted and wanted to show some real support.
BTW, I did not realise you are located in Canada! That is wonderful. Hopefully, others will chip in to help out. I would really hate to see the site taken down. Good luck to you and thanks for all the hard work and advice you have given us over the years.
Dave in Bardstown, KY. (USA)

Dennis Faas's picture

Thanks very much for the kind words and support!

Stuart Berg's picture

Wouldn't it be possible to create a freeware forum on your website where any registered user could list freeware that they like along with a sentence or two about why they like it? An occasional mention of the forum in your email newsletter would get people to look at it and, hopefully, the traffic would increase your revenue.

Dennis Faas's picture

That's an idea, but there are a number of issues that will likely arise if we go that route. One is that if we open a forum, we'll likely get spammers dumping bogus links on the site and linking to malicious pages. Another issue is a matter of accurately describing a program, and whether or not a certain program is being promoted too often. Another issue is plagiarism, where some users may copy and paste content from another site; we'll get penalized for that with Google. I think it's best to stick with the current plan - have someone dedicated to going through freeware picks, overseeing all the descriptions and landing pages, and posting them on the site. That is why I need to train and pay someone to do the job, because it would address all the issues I just mentioned.

Dune_Finkleberry's picture

I too miss the Freeware coverage as well. I don't have much money, but will be doing some soul-searching (not to mention bank account searching) to determine how much I can afford to give.

I always had the feeling that these "Freeware Picks" were personally checked out for reliability, and freedom from any malware that was attached to the download, but don't neccessarily know it to be true. Have you in the past checked these out, or did you base your coverage on just a "nice" freeware?

Anyway, cheers! You've got a really great site, and have often shared your many aritcles on Facebook, and email! Keep up the great work you do! :-)

Dennis Faas's picture

Up until this point all freeware picks were previously screened through a long list of rules and regulations put in place over the last 13 years. That's why we haven't had very many complaints about the freeware picks put online the site.

Without the oversight and editorial supervision, I guarantee people will complain that: descriptions aren't accurate; that they ended up downloading something that wasn't what they expected; that they can't find the download link on the landing page; that they somehow got infected with malware because the download contained bundled software; or that their antivirus flagged the file as being malicious (and blame us for it), or similar. I could go on, but based on 13 years of doing this, I guarantee a poor outcome if freeware picks aren't closely regulated.