I just listened to Insiders #3, and the opening finding (folks who’ll use Premium get it for free) was painfully ironic. I wanted to suggest a few reflections after the video, and would love to hear your opinions on them too.
TL, DR: Focus on what a new student would want enough to pay for, and what takes relatively little time to arrange.
First off, the video introductions. With all due respect, they’re probably better free introductory tutorials out there, especially in Python. Furthermore, this is only useful to people who prefer video-based learning - are people going to pay 10 dollars a month for that?
It’s important to keep in mind the global audience of Exercism - to someone from the U.S. or Europe, ten dollars is worth a few coffees, for many outside - I’d go so far as to say most - 10 dollars is a lot of money. (In fact, I’d generalize this to offer localization for Premium, it’d probably increase incentive and total revenue. I don’t know if we collect demographic data, but a quick glance at Exercism’s Impact shows that we have a good number of users in countries where 10 USD is significant)
Furthermore, as Jeremy mentioned, it’s these people who actually need our educational resources the most. I think that’s a difficult problem to solve: I’d tentatively suggest financial aid, but that brings in a host of problems.
So in effect: I doubt this move is gonna increase Premium subscribers. I think we should capitalize on our assets, as said in the video - but video based tutorials is hardly our asset.
What are our assets?
The first thing I say about outsiders about Exercism is mentoring + community. I suggest two important changes in mentoring: first, Premium users get supermentors to mentor them alone, in a separate queue - for those unlucky to get a bad experience first time (note that this is more likely as new mentors will flock to the very exercises new mentees do), this may push them off the platform altogether.
Second, a more long term mentoring for new programmers. For regardless of people clearly saying that Exercism is for learning new languages, not programming, a tremendous amount of people use it to learn coding itself. A more long time mentoring would help the student a) gain confidence, b) have someone to turn too in case of issues, and, well, there are a lot of advantages as I see it.
Another thing I consider an asset is the hoard of languages. Perhaps we could have a new role of “Translators” - folks who specifically assist people learning one language from another. I can imagine a demand for such people, but it might be hard to obtain them. Just bouncing ideas here, we can discuss the practicality later.
I’d also link the review idea here. We could expand it - maybe include flashcards or such, to highlight differences between languages for folks who’re translating, or features for new people.
Priority support, perhaps? I’ve long disliked the idea that people who pay get special treatment from the team, but if we’re scrambling for ideas, this is perhaps something to consider. People won’t pay for one or two features (unless they wanted to help Exercism, in which case they’d have donated).
I think, in essence, what I want to say is that none of the current Premium features are useful. I don’t mean to be rude, merely honest. If I could, I wouldn’t pay for Premium if I didn’t want to support Exercism. You’ve got 60 people - perhaps a lot of that are people who just wanted to donate and did so based on the extra marketing? And I repeat: I don’t mean to be rude, I just want to call this out. Premium features should be worth paying for users who aren’t interested in supporting Exercism inherently.
What do you think about these ideas? And do offer your own ones, too!