08 July 2011 Last updated on 16 January 2012

Discontinuing free support for all of our software

Dear all,

After a very long time –almost five years– of providing free support for all, I have decided to discontinue this service. From now on, support will only be provided to subscribers. A cheap subscription (called FORUMSUPPORT, priced at 7.79€) will be provided for those who only want to receive support for an urgent issue but can not afford a full subscription fee. This subscription will give full forum access for 8 days.

Subscribers to the ATPRO, AKEEBAPRO, AKEEBADELUXE and SUPPORT levels will have full access to the Akeeba Backup and Admin Tools forums. Moreover, subscribers to the AKEEBADELUXE and SUPPORT levels will also have access to the Akeeba Release System and Akeeba Subscriptions forums, as well as our Private Ticket support system. Subscribers to the upcoming FORUMSUPPORT level will have 8 days of full access to all forums, but not access to the Private Ticket system.

This change in support structure and availability will take place over the late hours of July 8th, 2011. We regret to inform free support users with open issues that replying to those forum posts will not be possible.

Why this change?

I am sure that many of you will be disappointed and a few of you even infuriated by this decision. I can understand your feelings and that's why I would like to explain why this change of heart and why now.

Providing free software and free support is very expensive. Just because the price tag reads "0 Euros" it doesn't mean that it costs nothing to produce. The free software takes countless of hours of thinking, trying, failing, developing, debugging and fine-tuning. Providing free support takes an astonishing amount of time as well. Even the simplest support request, which is answered with a link to a documentation page, costs at least 10 minutes of my time. Consider that every month I am replying to a staggering 780 posts, half of which come from people who are requesting free support. Doing the math, this equals 195 man-days a year. An average worker works 220 days of 8 hours per day every year at 80% productivity, or 176 man-days a year. As you understand, providing support is putting on me more load and stress than a full time job!

On top of the support, I do have to write code. If I stop writing code there will be no point for this site, or me, to exist any more. But having a full time job providing support forces me to work overtime (read: very long hours) to write code, that is produce the software that you use. This takes its toll on me. I can no longer work 12-16 hours a day, 365 days a year. The obvious solution is to hire more support staff. I agree with that. Only that the support staff needs to be paid (nobody works for free, apparently). Free support produces exactly 0 Euros per hour of income, whereas support staff's rates are 10-30 Euros per hour, depending on skill level. As you very well understand, providing free support became a non-scalable bottleneck in my function as a developer.

Moreover, the vast majority of questions I am answering every day on the free support forums I have already documented in the documentation, the troubleshooting wizard or replied to dozens of times in the forum already. Quite a few of them (about one third the last week) has actually nothing to do with the software I produce, but were merely an issue with a misconfigured host, a PHP version mismatch or something as mundane as a known Joomla! issue. I already give you the tools to help yourself for free. You can always search the forum, too. There is no point in me paraphrasing what I have already written time over time on the forum or the documentation. But if you want me to do that, that's fine. In this case you're asking me to do the reading for you, so I consider it more than fair to kindly request a small amount of money which will allow me to better fund the development of new software and the maintenance of existing software.

I hope that you now understand the motives behind this change and support me in my effort to continue providing top quality software for free.

Best regards,

Nicholas K. Dionysopoulos
Lead Developer, AkeebaBackup.com