Life In 19x19

KGS+ now free, shifting to donation model
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Author:  shimari65 [ Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:27 am ]
Post subject:  KGS+ now free, shifting to donation model

The AGF is instituting a series of changes to the KGS Go Server to make it more available and more useful as a tool for promoting go. As a first step, KGS+ events will now be free with users able to make a donation – not only to support KGS+ but to cover server costs and fund improvements on the software.

For those that haven’t tried it, KGS+ provides lectures and lessons with professionals and very strong amateurs. In the past, sales of KGS+ provided enough income to pay for itself as well as the server costs. However, attendance has dropped in recent years and the server has not been able to meet its costs for quite some time now. The AGF Board hopes that by opening the lessons to everyone, more people will attend, join the community, and support KGS.

We recognize that the software is now almost 20 years old, and we have a very long list of things we want to improve. Our current all-volunteer model for making those changes and maintaining the server has not kept up. Those with the necessary skills are far too busy. As a first step the AGF will be hiring a software engineer to write a web based registration module. This will allow people to register from any device, including phones and tablets, and from any computer whether it is running Java or not. The current requirement for Java has kept the server blocked entirely from many environments (such as public schools in the US and many international locations).

While the AGF is willing to run KGS at a loss as a service to the go community, we would rather a smaller loss or to break even with any added money invested back into KGS. We hope that by switching to a donation model, we will generate the revenue for upgrades, fund more events, and provide a stable platform for play. Since the AGF is a 501c3 charity, donations to support KGS will be tax deductible.

Although KGS has seen declining attendance in recent years, there are still between 350 and 800 players on at any given moment. We feel that KGS builds community in a way that other servers don’t. The chat and room functionality allow people to meet new friends, create virtual go clubs, and learn together with what are still some of the best game editing tools available. Our hope is that the community shares our regard for KGS and will contribute to help keep it afloat. If you would like to donate to the server, through Paypal or with your credit card, visit

Author:  mhlepore [ Wed Dec 04, 2019 5:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: KGS+ now free, shifting to donation model

This seems like a worthy experiment.

However, I worry that being free means 400 people join a lecture and are all simultaneously typing out their questions. That would be super distracting, disrupting the flow for the teacher who is trying to develop a point, and adding noise for attendees tying to absorb the teacher's points. If that happens, maybe consider somehow limiting the audience size (open to first N people who join, have a sign-up list, have it restricted to certain ranks, etc.) Or change the format to only allow interaction to take place at the end.

Author:  shimari65 [ Wed Dec 04, 2019 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: KGS+ now free, shifting to donation model

I think if we ever got 400 people at a lecture, we would be very, very, happy, lol. I have done several of them open to all, and we get around 30 people. Be great if more people take advantage of it, 40 or 50 would be a nice number. We could create some kind of protocol for handling questions if it becomes an issue. Usually, people seem afraid to ask questions as they are afraid of looking stupid. Wish that weren't the case, we are all idiots when it comes to playing Go, and we need all the help we can get.

Author:  xela [ Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: KGS+ now free, shifting to donation model

I'm not very active on KGS these days, but I've just made a donation to say thanks for the many happy hours there in past years. I'll have a look at the lectures and see if that's enough to get me addicted again :-)

Can I suggest that you do some market research to find out why people are using KGS less? Make two versions of an online survey form, one for currently active users and one for people who have let their registration lapse during the last three years. Before sending it en masse, get a marketing professional to look at it, and test on a hundred or so people. Then send it out to everyone (or maybe to a random sample of 5000 users if you think there are too many people overall). Expect only about 10% to reply, but hopefully that will be useful.

We in this forum can tell you what we want, but we're probably not representative of the "average" user!

Good luck with reviving KGS!

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