[kwlug-disc] what would you pay for good kernel documentation?

Robert P. J. Day rpjday at crashcourse.ca
Sat Jun 5 23:45:20 EDT 2010

On Sat, 5 Jun 2010, Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:

... snip ...

> Stuff on the internet is there for everyone to "consume" unless you
> put it behind a paywall. Once you put it out there, people can read
> it, there is no obligation on them to pay it.
> Remember that there are lots of stuff out there on Linux. Are you
> differentiated enough that your site is THE resource on the topic,
> or would searching Google reveal similar information? Why would
> someone donate to your site, and not the tens of others?

  excellent points and, after thinking about it a while longer, here's
an alternative i'm considering.

  i'm going to take that beginner kernel programming content and turn
it into an actual online *course*.  following the model of my earlier
kernel newbie column, it will start from scratch and there will be one
"lesson" approximately every week, each lesson covering the next
logical topic in sequence, the goal being that, at the end of, say,
six months, someone will at least have a solid grasp of the
*fundamentals* of kernel programming.

  how this would be different from other sites is that it would be an
actual *course*, totally hands-on, with code to write and modules to
build and load, and each lesson would have a comments section so
people "taking" the course could leave feedback and ask questions and
i could fix any glitches quickly.

  that would seem to be a differentiator -- it wouldn't be just online
writing, it would be an official *course*.  and it wouldn't be
available all at once, simply because i want to go back and rewrite
and bring things up to date so releasing a new lesson about every week
seems like a reasonable approach.  and how would i monetize this?

  i'm thinking that it could be clear from the beginning that, say,
the first month's lessons would be free, after which you would
subscribe to the rest of the course for some reasonable amount like
$39.  if you didn't think the first month was worth it, you walk away
and you've lost nothing.  if you were enjoying it, you pay the money
and complete the course.  (there's no bait and switch here -- it would
be clear that there would be a subscription fee after the first

  i have to admit, given how people in some of the other forums were
freaking out over a proposed amount of five or 10 dollars just for
documentation, $39 might drive them right into a fainting spell.  but
the difference now is, it's a well-defined product (a *course*) that
they're *purchasing*.  they get to test drive it for a month for free,
so they have that long to make up their minds.  and anyone who thinks
$39 is somehow excessive is, of course, always welcome to go register
for a similar course elsewhere for the standard $400-500/day that
typical high-tech training costs.

  does this sound more reasonable?  now i have a fixed product, and it
has a known cost, and it will be for sale.  and if i try it and it
crashes and burns entirely, well, i'll know that it's not a viable
business model.  but does it at least sound more doable and sellable?

  thanks to everyone for the feedback so far.



Robert P. J. Day                               Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA

            Linux Consulting, Training and Kernel Pedantry.

Web page:                                          http://crashcourse.ca
Twitter:                                       http://twitter.com/rpjday

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