Saturday, November 18, 2006

An Open Letter to People Who Use Free Tutorial Sites

There are a number of "free" tutorial sites on the web. I put the word "free" in quotation marks because developing and operating a site is not free. It costs money (and hours of time) to create, host, and maintain a web site.

While I can't fault anyone who offers their tutorials for a price, I admire people who put up their tutorials for free. I, personally, know the cost and the hours it takes to run a tutorial site. I also know the satisfaction one feels when many students use and appreciate the information - after all, it's one less thing for them to have to purchase toward their education. However, my pet hate is when users who are able to provide support to the site fails to do so. These users don't give donations, visit advertisers, or purchase products and services offered by the site.

The main reason why people don't provide any support for the site is many of them think that "someone else will do it". Unfortunately, if the operator of the site notices that the return on investment for offering the content for free is low (because no one is donating, visiting advertisers, or purchasing products and services), the operator either changes to a different business model by charging for all the material through subscription services or the operator takes down the site because the operator doesn't have the funds to maintain the site. The amusing thing about that situation is the users who didn't do anything to support the site are the first to complain because the site is now pay-per-service or the site no longer exists.

Please don't get me wrong - I understand that most people don't have a lot of disposable income. However, I know that most people do have some disposable income. It seems that the same people who use the excuse that they don't have $10USD to purchase a product that a site is offering are the same people who can instantly come up with $10USD to buy liquor or pot for the "next big bash".

I'm making a request - if a site has provided you with useful information, you should do something within your means to show your appreciation. Make a donation to the site. Visit the advertisers on the site. Purchase products and services from the site. If you really and truly are stone broke, volunteer your time and labor to help. Your visits to the site are nice, but it doesn't pay for the upkeep and for the labor involved in making the site.

Best regards,

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