Humble Indie Bundle Keeps Getting Better, Exceeding Expectations

from the how-business-should-be-done dept

Last week, we wrote about Wolfire Game's Humble Indie Bundle offering (though, amusingly, since then, it's been submitted over and over again -- with some people saying they're amazed we hadn't written about it yet), where five four indie games were offered up in a "pay what you want" bundle. I was among those who paid up and downloaded the games (though, for some reason the "big draw" game World of Goo refuses to work on my computer). Over the weekend, I was surprised to get an email telling me that another game was now available as a part of the bundle. It appears that some other indie developers wanted to join in on the fun, and so everyone who already paid now also gets access to that other game, Samorost 2, from Amanita Design. This was pretty cool on a number of levels. At a time when so many video game developers are freaking out about people getting anything for free, these game developers are rewarding people who did pay by giving them more for free.

Think about the basic conceptual differences in approach here. You can spend all your time trying to punish negative behavior, or you can focus on rewarding positive behavior. Which strategy is likely to win more loyal fans in the long run?

Along those lines, a bunch of folks have also sent over Wolfire's blog post revealing some back-of-the-envelope states on "piracy" of the game, suggesting that some folks were clearly sharing the download links and downloading more than single copies of the games. The discussion is pretty matter of fact, and basically recognizes there are a whole bunch of reasons why people might do this. But the really important part of the post is the fact that Wolfire doesn't seem particularly bothered by this, and knows that the focus should be providing more value for those who want to pay and want to support the games:
What are we going to do about it?

Not much.

Shouldn't we use a percentage of the proceeds to send our indie-lawyers after them? Perhaps trace their IP addresses?

No -- we will just focus on making cool games, having great customer service, and hope for the best. It sure seems to be working right now!

....

Making the download experience worse for generous contributors in the name of punishing pirates doesn't really fit with the spirit of the bundle. When considering any kind of DRM, we have to ask ourselves, "How many legitimate users is it ok to inconvenience in order to reduce piracy?" The answer should be none.
And that, right there, is an encapsulation of the different mindsets in the market today: do you spend all your time setting up reasons for people to buy, encouraging positive incentives... or do you focus just on punishing those doing things you don't like (even if they would never buy?). Oddly, some are focusing on the fact that the games were still pirated as some sort of condemnation of "pirates," but that doesn't make sense. If anything it shows that there are reasons other than money that people download unauthorized copies (i.e., contrary to certain claims, it's not just about "free stuff.") Sure, anything you put out digitally is going to get pirated. Who cares? The focus should be on key metrics: how much money did you actually make (and as of this posting the numbers are already pushing $750,000) and how many more loyal fans did you bring into the fold? Who cares that some people are still sharing the games for free? Those people are not the ones who matter.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    scott, May 10th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    problem

    There are huge legal problems with this. Even if they try to go after their IP's, I don't believe they'll ever get anywhere. Sounds like another lengthy battle in court with no resolution this decade.

     

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    LumpyDog (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    Just reinforces the point that -- no matter what -- some people will share files. To your point, why waste resources fighting it?

     

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    Brian (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    Awesome Bundle

    I purchased the bundle before they added the newest Samorost 2 game. One, it's a great deal for software. I have been looking for a few good games for my PC, I was also looking for something in budget... bingo! The great point is that you can specify how much goes towards the developers and the charity, so if you wanted to do it just for the charity reasons, you get good games. The whole point is that they care more about putting out good games than going after pirates. If you are replacing the games with good sequels instead of worrying about DRM and chasing pirates your games will be better and people won't complain as much. Love the bundle, love the concept, waiting anxiously to see if the rest of the markets take this ideal.

     

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    Simple Folk, May 10th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    "The focus should be on key metrics: how much money did you actually make (and as of this posting the numbers are already pushing $750,000) and how many more loyal fans did you bring into the fold? Who cares that some people are still sharing the games for free? Those people are not the ones who matter."

    That's what I want, when I do as asked and pay for games - to be SHOWN that I matter because of it. I don't see it from the bigs - I get sob sister stories of piracy and five kinds of DRM and hoops-jumping and denials and nickel pinching and half-done glitchfests and circular hells of tech support lip service for a much larger price tag and I'm done with 'em because of that.

    I put in 10 bucks for each Humble Indie dev and each charity - bucks I didn't have to spend - to show gratitude as well as appreciation for their efforts and skill. And I'll do it again for whatever they offer next in a heartbeat.

     

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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    Can't say Linux users are cheap

    I like how the site has the breakdown of how much the average payment per person has been by platform. When I downloaded it over the weekend Linux users by far contributed the most per DL with Mac second and Win a distant third at around $7 per/DL. That strikes me as interesting since Linux is open source and according to the entertainment industry open source is nothing but people looking for free stuff.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 11th, 2010 @ 7:39pm

      Re: Can't say Linux users are cheap

      We are just looking for "free" stuff. It's just that our definition of free frequently includes paying money.

       

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    Matt Harris, May 10th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    Contrast ARS Technica

    Contrast TechDirt entry with ARS Technica.

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/05/humble-bundle-gives-pirates-what-they-want-g ets-ripped-off.ars

    Where the title is much more provocative.

    -Matt

     

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      paperbag (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 3:13pm

      Re: Contrast ARS Technica

      Yea, the Ars Technica article is totally BS. "Ripped Off" ?? I want to be ripped off and make $750k please.

      Apparently, this is how Ars works. I used to be a fan of that site but after the advertisement fiasco and their constant bashing in stories like this, not so much anymore. It is a shame too because they have some real talent there.

      Sadly too, their user base (based on comments to the story) totally buys into the article and calls everyone thieves, stealers, robbers, etc.

      I wish I had an account at Ars, just to show this story and tell them to shove it. But, it's too much work to make an account at yet another website that doesn't care.

       

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    Forge, May 10th, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    I bought mine at 20$ the first day I saw it. I figured 4 good games at 5$ each was fair, even though I already owned World of Goo (which is lots of fun, BTW). If I'd known it was going to five games, I would have paid 25$. Guess I'll have to "buy" again, though I'm worried about skewing the average price down.

    FWIW, I got the email for Samorost 2 and forwarded it to a good friend, told her she could have my copy of that one. She's now going to buy the bundle too. :)

    EA! Activision! Take note! I'm a die-hard pirate, and I'm BUYING their bundle! Nyah! Down with DRM! Trust your customers and they will trust you!

     

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    Detour, May 10th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Minor correction: it started with 5 games (not 4) and 2 charities. Samorost 2 was the 6th game. I paid $42 before Samorost was added because it's both geeky and divisible by 7.

     

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    lux (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    This sounds like a great business model for folks who don't like money.

    Radiohead tried with this with their 'In Rainbows' album, and clinched a spot on the '101 Dumbest Business' moves:

    http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0712/gallery.101_dumbest.fortune/59.html

    If only we could hear a follow up about Wolfire in 3 years time, once all the buzz dies down, then we'll see how great of an idea this is.

     

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    Wesha (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    Mike, you're misisng one more important point here.

    THE TOP CONTRIBUTIONS BOARD.

    I, for one, am really tempted to pay $1001 to get on the top (I can afford it =^.^=)

    And, since I started watching it, a few guys already paid "more than the other guy" to displace some (lesser ones) of the top 10.

    So it's not only feeling good for donating, but recognition/bragging rights, too. It's one of the drivers, you know?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2010 @ 3:15pm

    Interesting "conclusion" reached.

    This model doesn't seem comparative since many people are drawn to giving to charities. I know many of these indy shops have 5-10 staff, in which case $700K isn't going to begin to cover costs for the amount of time they've put into it.

    A cute effort. What is interesting is how Linux users gave so much more.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

      Re: Interesting "conclusion" reached.

      This model doesn't seem comparative since many people are drawn to giving to charities. I know many of these indy shops have 5-10 staff, in which case $700K isn't going to begin to cover costs for the amount of time they've put into it.

      You seem unfamiliar with the concept of incremental revenue. The games are older games that have been out for a while...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

        Re: Re: Interesting "conclusion" reached.

        Then by all means why don't they do this for newly released games? This method shows a lack of confidence. In fact, has any publisher relied on this method solely? No, they have other distribution methods like Steam and other online DRM schemes.

        Again, a cute experiment, and I find it admirable, but by no means are they going to rely on this method again long-term. Especially because people will grow bored of the "I'm an indy starving artist please help meee!"

         

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          Nastybutler77 (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 4:13pm

          Re: Re: Re: Interesting "conclusion" reached.

          "No, they have other distribution methods like Steam and other online DRM schemes."

          I don't believe any of these publishers ever used any DRM even when the games were new.

          "Then by all means why don't they do this for newly released games?"

          Maybe after seeing how well people responded to this bundle, the developers might begin to do this for newly released games.

          "by no means are they going to rely on this method again long-term."

          And you know this how?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2010 @ 6:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting "conclusion" reached.

            He doesn't. Probably one of TAM's disciples; couldn't add two and two if you cut his thumbs off.

             

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    paperbag (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 3:33pm

    Why I didn't buy

    Here is why I didn't buy. Yes I understand this is a bundle, but a choice to leave out specific game devs would have been nice. Maybe overcomplicated, but nice.

    I already have World Of Goo. There is no way to pick and choose what game(s) I want. I don't feel up to paying for World of Goo twice. So everyone loses here. I'm to lazy to even go pirate the other games.

    I could be rude and give all the money to charity, but that isn't fair to the other developers.

    I don't pay for most things twice, that's my hard stance. I'll just have to wait until the next bundle comes around.

    Anyone else not buy because they didn't want to pay for a game twice? Anyone own all the games and pay the devs twice for them?

     

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      paperbag (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

      Re: Why I didn't buy

      A quick reply to myself. 'to lazy' should be 'too lazy'.

      Also, I still own and actively use a VCR. I don't rebuy movies on new formats just because they look better. Further my personal stance not to pay twice for the same content. I guess that makes me cheap? :)

       

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        Michael Whitetail, May 10th, 2010 @ 4:03pm

        Re: Re: Why I didn't buy

        Are you daft man? You could name your own price from 1 cent upto $1000 or more dollars. Each game has its own download link.

        You could have simply paid what you thought was fair for the other games and been done with it. No buying anything twice; you wouldn't even have to download goo since you already have it.

        Laziness is not an excuse here, it's really ignorance, and in your case, it isn't bliss.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

        Re: Re: Why I didn't buy

        Id I were you, I'd just download hi-def versions of the stuff you have on VCR and already payed for or no longer bother with the VCR. I completely agree with the 'pay for it once' philosophy and think it's fine to feel justified in format shifting.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2010 @ 4:21pm

      Re: Why I didn't buy

      Eh? You can download the games individually. Just pay what you want and don't download games you already have.

       

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      Jonas, May 10th, 2010 @ 4:51pm

      Re: Why I didn't buy

      I just wonder why...I had already bought the Penumbra-title (and the sequel) so I didn't bother downloading that one.

      So yeah, the Penumbra-guys got a few bucks from me that they otherwise wouldn't have got but so what? It was a bargain for me, the developers, and the charities anyway.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2010 @ 6:09am

      Re: Why I didn't buy

      I simply paid what I thought the bundle was worth, minus what I'd already paid for the games I already owned.

      The money all went to the devs, because I want them to profit; I didn't care to nitpick over who got what amount exactly, as long as the total revenue gained was sufficient.

       

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    Greg, May 10th, 2010 @ 3:54pm

    There seems to be a common thread in all these stories: content 'piracy', the war on drugs, welfare scams, etc. People get so outraged by any possibility of the 'cheaters' (whether they be 'pirates' getting free stuff, addicts getting free treatment instead of jail time, welfare cheats scamming the system, etc.) gaining any benefit from the activity, that they refuse to even consider that it might just be a net positive to let them do so. Instead, it seems like a huge proportion of people believe that they can prevent these benefits to the cheaters by implementing tighter controls (DRM, the war on drugs & encompanying massive incarceration rates, outrage over tax money going to cheats & resulting cuts to social programs, etc.) It seems like we continually shoot ourselves in the foot by reimplementing these controls rather than just freeing the processes and dealing with the 'cheaters' in more positive ways: rewarding people who purchase content, treating addicts and thus keeping them out of prison and re-integrating them into society, offering job training programs for welfare recipients, etc.

    The attempts to use negative reinforcement-based control techniques seem to have failed spectacularly, so why do we keep trying them? There will always be cheats/scammers in any system, so trying to eliminate them 100% through control will just eliminate the intended benefit of the system, no?

     

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      nasch (profile), May 11th, 2010 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      That is true, most people will value "fair" above actual benefit. That is, they'll punish someone else for trying to cheat, even if they themselves would be better off not doing so.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2010 @ 6:11am

        Re: Re:

        That's why game theory sucks; people CANNOT rationally behave in the prisoner's dilemma or other similar situations -- they will happily shoot off their own nose to spite someone else's face.

         

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    Blake (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 3:59pm

    I already have World of Goo & Gish. So I only contributed a minimal amount. Mostly to try out the underwater one. Got it the first day or two after it came out :p

    It was only on the weekend when I took my mac laptop out on a road-trip and was looking for some games to play with no net access. (Normally I'd just play some flash games or WoW on the mac) So I installed these on the mac and its awesome.

    I wish I had donated more, infact there are still a few hours left on the clock so I might do it again but flag it as a Mac purchase :D

     

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    The Mad Hatter (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 4:35pm

    Congratulations to Wolffire

    I think they've done a fantastic job, and I predict that they are going to do well in the future.

    FYI - I don't play games myself.

     

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    Alex, May 10th, 2010 @ 5:14pm

    I'm a happy customer.

    I don't pay for much anymore, but I paid a little for the humble bundle. It's not only made me happy, but I've been promoting it as much as I can. Not only do I help indy developers, but I only help charities? It's worth it. I wish there were more bundles like this.

     

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    SB, May 10th, 2010 @ 6:31pm

    if world of goo doesn't work for you, its probably that you have dual monitors and windows 7 or something crazy ;).

    Just put the resolution in the config file to the one you are currently running.
    C:\Program Files (x86)\WorldOfGoo\properties\config.txt

     

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    Andrew F (profile), May 10th, 2010 @ 6:40pm

    The first penny

    It's interesting reading the comments on their blog. Apparently, some people who didn't pay even a penny because:

    (1) The payment systems offered didn't work for them
    (2) They're kids who hate asking their parents if they can use their credit card.

    The first penny is always the hardest. There's probably a great opportunity for those willing to cater to those who want to "pay" through non-monetary means -- e.g. read scanned text to help improve OCR technology a la reCaptcha.

     

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    frodus, May 10th, 2010 @ 8:17pm

    Pathetic

    Further proof that pirates while always whining about being "freedom fighters" for "Digital rights" are in fact a bunch of pathetic maggots. I mean this was to support the EFF who are fighting in the courts to prevent restrictive software trade practices AND to help children... CHILDREN! I mean come ON! This isn't EA or Activision or Microsoft you are screwing this is little kids and the people you claim to be fighting for!

    A long time ago when the entire Napster revolution took hold I was all over it like a fat kid on a smartie but a few years later I started DJing and have not pirated ONE song since. Why? Because I was making a profit on some one elses work and it has become so affordable to pick up what you're looking for it's just not cool. With alternate options to give money to the creators without going through a middle man I don't.

    About the same time I got a job working in a software company I stopped pirating software. As a person who has now worked in two development houses I know people work long and hard on software development and it's not the huge mega-corps like EA and Activision you are hurting but the little people, and then the scumbags who claim they are just fighting tyranical DRM spit on children like this it just further proves there are a bunch of people out there who are not worthy of being called human.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), May 11th, 2010 @ 12:39am

      Re: Pathetic

      Further proof that pirates while always whining about being "freedom fighters" for "Digital rights" are in fact a bunch of pathetic maggot

      I think you missed the point of the entire post.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 11th, 2010 @ 5:45am

      Re: Pathetic

      Cool story bro! When I start DJing I will also stop downloading songs. And when I start working in a software company I will then stop pirating software. Just like you! You see, we're the same!!

       

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      Matt (profile), May 11th, 2010 @ 9:18am

      Re: Pathetic

      As a DJ you pay for derivative work rights and sync rights, not just the basic cost of a CD, right? Your software company pays patent royalties on its UI, right? No one has ever "pirated" music or software. Some people have appropriated music or software in ways that protectionist lobbyists have managed to persuade legislators to declare illegal. There is a difference, both moral and legal.

      No one ever bought your music or your software because doing so was legal - they bought it because they liked the music or software. You do not make money by being pro-copyright, you make money by producing better music or software. On the flipside, you do not lose money when or because people disagree with your misinformed stance on copyright.

      Also, flame bait.

       

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        nasch (profile), May 11th, 2010 @ 11:14am

        Re: Re: Pathetic

        On the flipside, you do not lose money when or because people disagree with your misinformed stance on copyright.

        I found this sentence difficult to read with "lose" spelled correctly.

         

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    MrSonPopo, May 10th, 2010 @ 10:12pm

    Hopefully the donation statistics will teach other indie game developers not to ignore Linux and Mac users who want to give them money to play a good game. Right now Linux + Mac amounts to more than 50% of the donated money.

     

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    Ben (profile), May 11th, 2010 @ 4:35am

    Re: Thanks Mike!

    I just wanted to say thanks for letting me know about this offer. I hadn't heard of this before this post, so I went over and put my money down.
    I have heard of world of goo before, and it has been on my list of games to buy ever since I tried the demo, so this clinched it. If anyone is interested, I paid 15 bucks, split 10 to developers and 5 to the EFF (I have already donated to child's play earlier this past year).
    I think this is a great way of mixing all aspects involved:
    - Platform agnostic (almost went of the linux version, but I have windows in more places)
    - Selectable charity output (the custom sliders are great)
    - Statistics of what has been done so far (give the purchaser more information to make an informed choice)

    Overall I am looking forward to getting home and trying my new games tonight. Hopefully more offers like this come up again and I will be sure to keeping an eye on these developers for any new games they might have.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 11th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    They made over $1,000,000 for a few games that already came out. In one week. That's fucking impressive.

     

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    TechWeasel (profile), May 11th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    This was the one time that my lady made me spend more on video games than I otherwise would have. I was about to put down $20 but she made me put down $25. And I'd already paid for World of Goo on Steam.

    Excellent, excellent thing. Everyone wins; the charities, the developers and the consumers. Plus, now I'm very likely to buy the next two games in the Penumbra series.

     

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    identicon
    Vivian, May 12th, 2010 @ 12:35am

    Wholesale sport shoe.

    Hello, dear friend.
    Welcome to our online shop www.nike-go.com
    We can offer brand name shoes, clothes, handbags, sunglasses, jewelry Candle craft and daily necessities and so on, I hope you will enjoy our products.
    Thank you.
    Website: www.nike-go.com
    Contact us: yao51218@hotmail.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    pirate mmorpg, May 17th, 2010 @ 5:16am

    Thank you.

    Yeah, most of the people will value "fair" above actual benefit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2010 @ 7:54am

    The Stick vs. the Carrot

    You can spend all your time trying to punish negative behavior, or you can focus on rewarding positive behavior. Which strategy is likely to win [...] in the long run?
    When are people going to realize that the stick doesn't work? It doesn't work in interrogations, it doesn't work when disciplining children, it doesn't work when training pets, it doesn't work to enforce the law, it doesn't work to discourage "piracy", it simply doesn't work. Positive reinforcement is the only effective behavior modification strategy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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