Wednesday, Seesmic sent all Ping.fm users an email with “important information”. Dated May 31 (Seesmic’s timezone is well ahead of mine), the letter included some basic information that we all pretty much knew. But one sentence actually made me happy:
To further support development and upcoming features, we will offer Seesmic Ping as both a free and paid service.
(emphasis added). Back in February, I wrote “Why I Will Not Use Seesmic, Ever”, a post expressing my dismay at the shutdown of Ping.fm and the apparent paid-only nature of Seesmic Ping. I begged the company to consider a “freemium” model and not make all users pay for the service. My post got the attention of a Seesmic employee, who commented, inviting me to share further feedback via email. I never emailed Yama—perhaps I used a feedback form instead, I don’t recall—but anyway… I’m glad to see this announcement of tiered pricing and a free base service.
A March 14 blog post from Seesmic gives the pricing tiers:
There will be three plans for Seesmic Ping: a free plan, so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy it, a $4.99/month plan for the ones who want to get more, and a $49.99 for the ones who just want it all.
Before reading the blog post, I posted this suggestion in Seesmic’s UserVoice feedback forum, asking that they maintain a free service tier. The response was pretty swift, and positive:
We will have a free version with limited accounts and posts per day. We’ll continue to add features and services which we’ll make paid. — jyamasaki, Seesmic admin, on UserVoice
Limiting the number of accounts makes sense. It’s something HootSuite has done for a while now, requiring a paid plan to add more than five networks. Since I presently post to four networks I care about, and would make Google+ a fifth if Ping.fm supported it, I hope that Seesmic Ping’s free plan service limit is also five accounts.
I’m leery, however, of the posts-per-day limit. It has the potential to be unreasonable and oppressive if set too low. Personally, I’d like to see a number between 25 and 50 as the daily posting limit, and enforcement in a rolling 24-hour window (no “resets at 00:00 GMT” or some such). I think it’s legitimate for a personal user to average two posts an hour. Posting during a regular 14-hour day, a limit of 50 posts would allow a user to share their thoughts about every 15 minutes or so. For people I follow on Twitter who work office jobs, that seems like a common average sharing rate. (Sorry, no scientific study here, just guesstimating.)
All in all, I’m a lot less down on Seesmic Ping than I was three months ago. The final pricing & limitation details will ultimately set my opinion when they’re released within the next few weeks, but for now I’ve rescinded my personal ban on using anything Seesmic makes in light of the “free plan” announcement.
If Seemic closes Ping.fm before I can auto-publish my blog posts to Seesmic Ping with a WordPress plugin, though, I’ll get mad again. Fortunately there’s already an API for the new service in private testing.