I'm seriously considering removing all of the downloadable versions of my tutorials.
What is prompting me in this direction is my recent awareness of a torrent posted on 3DBuzz that contains 61 Blender tutorials. Nineteen of those are from my site. I know that once something like this starts, it becomes seen as something to do even more. I don't view it as a way to "get the word out" about my site, especially if I'm not even asked first. There are other tutorials in the torrent from other popular websites, as well.
I feel that I've made the effort to consider the circumstances of those with slower connections while still trying to maintain high-quality tutorials. However, some see that as an opportunity to make themselves feel worthwhile by taking advantage of the hard work of others. I mean, what's next? My tutorials being sold on ebay like Blender is currently being sold...illegaly? I may not be able to stop it but, I'll do what I can to not make it so easy.
My biggest concern with all of this is that, at some point, my efforts must become commercially viable (I'll always do regular free tutorials, btw). It takes a lot to do this and many sites have failed due to a lack of vision and understanding of basic economics (i.e. everything can't be free). My hope is that BlenderNewbies is a continuing and growing success. I can't do that if all of the content of my site is all over the internet. Why visit the site if you can get it somewhere else? What if I choose to create compilation CDs of all the tutorials? I lose options like that when torrents become involved. Which means I lose an opportunity to create some income to help keep the site alive.
One reason I switched to the SWF format is because it gives me the best presentation options (along with the best picture quality) and is probably the most widely used format. The biggest reason, however, was the streaming aspect which allows viewers with slower connections to have access to the tutorials 90% faster than having to download the entire file first (10% buffering and you can begin watching the tutorial). So, not having a downloadable version shouldn't be so bad.
I haven't decided, yet. I'm keeping tabs on the torrent to see how many downloads there are. If it gets to be pretty high, I'm pulling the plug on the downloads...sorry.
What are your thoughts?
Sunday, March 18, 2007