Mint Not Considered Harmful

I’ve always wanted to write one of those “considered harmful” essays, but then I remembered Eric Meyer’s “Considered Harmful Essays Considered Harmful”, so I’m writing a “Not Considered Harmful” essay instead.

The subject for the day is Mint… something I find to be extraordinarily harmless. Beneficial, actually… the polar opposite of harmful. Yes, I know I’ve already written about my love for Mint last week, but a few things have developed since Mint’s release that I feel require comment. Here are a few of those things:

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  1. Lots and lots of people have purchased and downloaded Mint, and as far as I know, there’s only been one request for a refund. Yay!
  2. Shaun is completely bogged down helping people one-on-one (even over IM!) work through various intricacies of their server setup and how it relates to Mint installation. He is also simultaneously adding improvements here and there to the install process as well as fostering the development of the Mint Forums. In short, the man is slammed.
  3. Although the lion’s share of comments and blog posts I’ve read around the net are positive, I did see two isolated negative posts which went all the way from questioning whether or not people deserve to be compensated for software they develop to whether or not the group of Mint beta testers was somehow in the wrong for posting about Mint.

Initial success

First let me say that, yes, Shaun should be posting about this stuff and not me, but he’s buried so I’m helping out on my own volition.

I gave Shaun an estimate as to how many people I thought would purchase Mint in the first week and that estimate is already surpassed. Mint clearly is not for everyone, but for those who appreciate the feature set, it appears to be a winner. I’m not sure what the natural return rate is for software, but having only one refund request seems quite good to me. If I’m not mistaken, that request was due to a setup limitation as well.

Load-balancing The Wolf

What fool would attempt to help each customer of his new product individually? A very nice fool. If Shaun doesn’t start offloading some support to the Mint Forums (which I think he will), there is no way he’s getting any sleep for quite awhile. In fact, you might even call him The Werewolf at this point because he hasn’t seen the light of day since Monday. If you have a question about Mint, please check the forums first… chances are, someone else has your same setup and has already solved whatever the issue may be. I’m sure all Mint users would much rather have Shaun spend his time continuing to improve the product so let’s all help out by making the forums as productive as possible.

Be a critic, not a troll

Mint, just like every other piece of software in the world, is not for everybody. Whether or not you should purchase it is a fairly simple decision. Look at the feature set, check out the demo, and if you feel it gives you $30 worth of utility, purchase it. If you don’t like the feature set, are already completely satisfied with your current stats program, or just don’t have $30 to spend, then don’t purchase it.

On one of the blogs referred to above, the author derided Shaun for charging for his software. The argument was two-fold:

  1. Since there are free stat programs out there (including one by Shaun), this one shouldn’t carry a price.
  2. Shaun somehow doesn’t deserve to make money from his work.

I won’t go over the ridiculousness of either of these arguments, but I will just say this: we live in a free market society. Products succeed and fail based on the amount of utility they provide versus the amount of cost associated with them. You are part of that free market. If you make a purchase, you are automatically voicing your opinion. If you don’t, you are also automatically voicing your opinion. It is also fair game to speak or write publicly about your decision. It is not fair game, however, to claim that you somehow deserve a piece of software someone else created without having to pay for it. Everything in the technology world has a free alternative. If $30 is a lot for you, your value proposition in the free alternative is probably better. If you’re like me and are used to spending $30 on things like this:

  • A few martinis
  • Dinner
  • A shirt
  • A ticket to a game
  • Half of a fill-up at the gas station

… then your value proposition is different. Furthermore, if you’re developing sites for clients, this paltry sum can be easily passed on to them.

So again, in short… purchase Mint if it makes sense to you. Don’t if it doesn’t. Just don’t deride people for wanting to charge for what is clearly optional software and clearly something which a lot of work went into.

Beta testing and hype

The second criticism I’ve read on a blog was in regard to the group of Mint beta testers posting about Mint in the week leading up to the release. While I understand why some people might find this a little contrived, we actually suggested this to Shaun less than two weeks ago after several months of beta testing. The product was to the point where we all loved it so much and used it each and every day that, yes, we wanted to help Shaun get the message out. There was no “free-license” consideration that went into this… just an honest desire to do two things: 1) Expose readers to something which may be useful to them, and 2) Help Shaun get the word out.

I do not “hype” products simply to help sell them. Case in point, Josh Williams’ Blinksale. I beta-tested Blinksale for Josh as well, and I think it’s a great service, but I didn’t do a writeup on it for the simple fact that I just don’t send out invoices these days. In other words, I’m not the right person to tell you about how you might want to do your invoices.

I am a Mint freak, however, and that’s why I, and many others, have posted.

60 comments on “Mint Not Considered Harmful”. Leave your own?
  1. Bryan Veloso says:

    Agreed! I can’t really say anything to add to that except that I’m a Mint fanboy. But this is like the age old debate about why PS2 is better than Xbox or vice versa. It’s crazy and it gets really old after awhile.

    Well written Mr. Davidson.

    … But I do believe that if you do eat a whole leaf of mint, that your mouth sense wouldn’t appreciate it too much. So, it could be harmful in some weird f’ed up way.

  2. MT says:

    Here, here. Werewolf, indeed.

  3. Bob Sawyer says:

    If only Mint worked with Oracle….

  4. Collin says:

    I never could understand those people who believe in open source so much that they feel everything and their mothers should be free. Sure if rent was free or if it was free to have kids or free to eat with free cars and free gas for those free cars. Then I could see what the big deal is.

    I’ve worked this entire last week mostly on a project that is volunteer work. If we could all work that way it would be great but since we can’t I think Shaun can and should get whatever he wants for each copy of Mint. In fact, I think he is undercharging! The initial people buying mint would buy it no matter it the price was doubled what it is because of the hype.. as the hype wears down so does the price.

    Shit, look at MetaTraffic which is a fine tool but how have they survived so long while charging as much as $1295 for a developers license or $50 per site.

    Just be thankful that Shaun is a developer and not a marketing genius otherwise the price would be higher. And he would likely have the same initial number, if not only a few less, then he has had the first week.

  5. Bryan Veloso says:

    Amen. Well, see the thing to do would be to price around the market, but the funny thing with our industry is that there is no market price to base anything off of, like Colin’s example above. I’m sure he did caclulations as to how much he could charge and still make a decent living off of… remember he did quit his job.

  6. I know which blog you are referring to that criticized Shaun’s work. It was a rather odd debate, and I do agree with your sentiment, having read through all the comments.

    I’ve been reflecting on that post, however empty it may have otherwise been, for bringing all the “big guns” to the defense of Mint. If anything, this is the one “truth” that struck me about the whole thing: you, and Shaun, and Jon Hicks, and Jason Santa Maria, et al may not fully realize just how much respect and authority you carry. The “little fish”, in their naivete, may not understand that you work hard, and success isn’t guaranteed. From the outside, a cursory glance may look like the powerful congratulating themselves for another easy triumph; certainly, not the case in reality. Such goes PR, I suppose.

    In any event, Shaun deserves praise for his hard work and given all he’s done for the community, the benefit of the doubt (if there is doubt), if nothing else. Mint looks beautiful and useful. :)

  7. Add me to the list of people who agree that 30 dollars is a more than reasonable price to charge. I’ve seen stats programs (hosted) that charge 10 dollars a month for their services, and they’re nowhere near as nice.

    For what you’re getting, the level of support around it and the community that’s behind this product, 30 bucks IS pocket change.

  8. The critic vs. troll is especially relevant in this sphere where comments are everywhere.

    Also, even if you were hyping it just to sell product, it’s called marketing. I would love to think that everyone talked about a product because they truly love the product, but it’s just not the case, and it will be ok.

    Looks like a great product, and I will definetly consider it on future products where cliants need something to look at when they wonder who is visiting.

  9. Jakob Heuser says:

    Well said, Mike. I think it would be a great asset in the Mint forums if someone would provide some screenshots / walkthrough of a Mint install for those who are having issues. The community really has to pull together since Shaun is 1 man with many questioning masses. =]

    To the beta testing and hype, I have a feeling every single person who posted about Mint would have paid the $30 outright for the program anyway. I don’t think “free” would have ever been a factor.

    @Bob: Depending on the peppers you use (and your desire to monkey with mint), you can probably get it running on adodb. The pepper has a few display queries, and the Mint() object has a few mysql_connect type things that can be easily ported. Trying something crazy like that is on my list of things to do this weekend. If you’d like, I can let you know how it goes. (Mint on Postgres/Oracle would be a blessing for client bases)

  10. David Hagman says:

    I haven’t quite followed the debate, but I do frequent the inner circle of leet webdesigners on a daily basis (Nah, not meant in a bad way.).

    The way i see at his Mint is that it’s one of very many softwares out there with the same functionality. Most of them require some skills in php/mysql/linux in order to get them working, and then you have to design your own skin for them if you want to customize them. Most of them are based on open source, which is the big thing here. Shauns MINT does not, and that’s the breaker for me.

    Considering the support you state he gives, and the absolutely stunning looks of it, it’s sure worth the $30 though. But. I’d prefer it to be open source instead of closed source. Then I’d gladly pay $30 for individual support and the great theme he’s designed for it.

  11. Colin says:

    Mint certainly looks great.

    But it would be very nice if there was a trial version to download to get a peek at it in action. I realize there was a demo on the website, but I think that it is still (temporarily?) offline. The movie that’s replaced it just isn’t satisfying enough for someone who’d like to “kick the tires” a bit.

  12. Dave S. says:

    “If anything, this is the one “truth” that struck me about the whole thing: you, and Shaun, and Jon Hicks, and Jason Santa Maria, et al may not fully realize just how much respect and authority you carry. The “little fish”, in their naivete, may not understand that you work hard, and success isn’t guaranteed. From the outside, a cursory glance may look like the powerful congratulating themselves for another easy triumph; certainly, not the case in reality. Such goes PR, I suppose.”

    Here’s a general observation, and not a specific attack on you Shaun G., but…

    This is web design, not politics. Just because someone happens to design well, means they all of a sudden can’t talk up something they like? They’re supposed to keep their friends at arms length, or even snub them, because it could be construed as too clique-ish?

    It’s like people have decided that once you find even just the slightest shred of success, then you no longer have the luxury of free speech that everyone else gets. It’s okay to bitch about people you don’t know on a site when you don’t have traffic, but it’s not okay to say a few nice things about people you do know if you’ve got it. Figure THAT one out.

    What makes this conversation especially silly is that none of the people we’re talking about have had even half the success of others even in the same industry. The paycheck to navel-gazing ratio is exceptionally low. Much as I love JSM, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have the bankroll of, say, Ev Williams. Or at least that’s what he said to get out of paying for drinks in Austin.

    (For the record, I wasn’t invited to be a Mint beta tester, and I largely ignored the big newsreader-dump of hype last week.)

  13. Brandon Cox says:

    Even debating the price point is ridiculous in my opinion.

    What Mr. Inman has done is create a statitstical viewpoint that can be comprehended by people with varying techincal competencies.

    The problem with other stat programs available to businesses is that they present too much information. It then has to be analyzed, summarized, presented, and explained to marketing people, business development people, and then the boss people.

    This is the true value of Mint – its reduction. If applied correctly, will save loads more than $30 in traffic analysis in one’s business.

    And if some people really think that’s too much, they should write their own stats software using the time they would spend writing comments on blogs.

    Oh, and I think the beta team’s co-ordinated posts were really helpful in setting expectations for the product.

  14. Eric Meyer says:

    As someone who’s seen (but not purchased) Mint, I can’t say if it’s worth it to me or not. But I would like to say that at the outset, the “all the beta testers pimping Mint” looked like a tightly coordinated sales-hype campaign, and the intuitive assumption was that Shaun had orchestrated it. That leads to the very next intuitive assumption, which is that doing so was a condition of being a beta tester and getting a free copy.

    Of course, it was a (relatively) tightly corrdinated hype campaign– we were just wrong in our assumptions about who’d orchestrated it.

    I personally wouldn’t have minded if Shaun had directed the campaign; in fact, I had a mingled “what a pimp/what a good idea” reaction. But these days, rightly or wrongly, there is an automatic suspicion of such things. So it’s all to the better that you and the other testers have clarified how the campaign came about.

  15. JD says:

    People criticizing his marketing strategy? That’s absolutely bizarre.

    Do the same people criticize Microsoft or Apple for giving away pre-release copies of their operating systems to notable developers and journalists?

    Either these people don’t agree with the concept of captalism, or they’re a tad jealous that they weren’t asked to be a beta tester too.

    FWIW, Mint looks darned cool. I might play with it sometime if a client ever wants it.

  16. Jeff Croft says:

    Well said, Mr. Meyer.

  17. Mike D. says:

    Shaun G: I suppose you could call something like this “PR”, but where I come from, PR is quite a bit more orchestrated, machiavellian, and downright dishonest at times. This was a small group of beta testers deciding on a whim “Hey, we should all pick our favorite feature and post about it!” Those who read this blog know that when I see/find/purchase something I love that I think readers would benefit from, I write about it. Doesn’t matter if a friend designed it or not. I have no friends at Casio and yet I hyped the hell out of their EX-Z750 camera. Why? Because I LOVE it. I would say that if anything, this experience has taught me just the opposite of what you suggest (although thanks for the compliment). When someone like Eric Meyer, who knows me, assumes that this is any more than just a bunch of beta testers giving their honest opinions in order to help both users and Shaun out, it worries me. You’d like to think you have enough credibility and integrity not to arouse suspicions like that, but hey… if Eric’s suspicious, then others undoubtedly could be as well.

    That said, I have no idea what I would have done differently. I suspect nothing. It’s still exactly as it was before: an honest review of a great product. If anyone has any ideas how to do something like this better, please post it here.

  18. It’s great to hear someone in the tech industry with a good grasp of the basics of Economics! It seems that most people are closet-communists and just troll against anyone successful with the same tired (and economically-refuted) lines of the ’60s… or maybe it’s just Stallman and his cronnies.

    In any case, the most valuable part of this post, in my humble opinion, is the short but relevant lesson of economics.

    P.S. Your layout is broken on this page, after I’ve voted, in Firefox 1.5beta1.

  19. Bryan Veloso says:

    I love to see when people find alternate meanings to these types of conversations. :]

  20. Ryan Irelan says:

    Like so many other things, I find I’m somewhere in between.

    Mike is exactly right. Free market, baby.

    Eric Meyer is exactly right. The campaign looked orchestrated (I’ll add “hokey”) from Shaun’s end.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with marketing your stuff – in fact people that don’t, probably won’t succeed. So, who can blame him (and his friends/beta testers)? Not me, certainly.

    But I will say one thing: The hokiness and fact that so many people caught on to the overly orchestrated marketing campaign, probably says more about it’s failure than its success. And the fact that you made this entry and we’re having this conversation is another testament to it’s possible failure.

    Regardless. Mint looks beautiful and fresh. Bravo to Shaun for kicking some butt and not being afraid to market his software.

  21. Collin says:

    Well like it or not it is cleverly orchestrated in a way. Maybe it wasn’t openly planned but there is certainly a group of people have have a mutual respect and through that respect/friendship a plan was put into action.

    I know for a fact that Shaun would not have won the respect of his beta-testers and received such support for his launch if the product wasn’t worth it. So what you have here are honest opinions and excitement that you would expect from a loyal fan base and not from a marketing team.

    The problem: none.

  22. Mike D. says:

    Ryan: I’m not sure why anyone would consider it a failure. From what I can tell, the reception has been overwhelmingly warm so far. Furthermore, from my standpoint, my only objective was to tell people about something they might like. I feel like I have succeeded in that regard.

    It amazes me what qualifies as an “overly orchestrated marketing campaign” these days. Five people sitting down over the course of a few days and writing a quick blog post. Wow.

  23. Mike Holley says:

    Ignore the NAYSAYER’S, they have nothing beneficial to contribute. Especially the ones that have not even used the app.

    Mike is correct, everyone has the choice to purchase “MINT” or NOT. After using it I would even pay more. It is hands down better than Urchin even if it lacks some of the options. (give “MINT” some time)

    I think “MINT” is great. I purchased it the moment it was available and have become a “MINT” freak myself. I have even pimped “MINT” to others. If I had developed a product like “MINT” I would be promoting it as much if not more than Shaun and his friends.

    To Shaun, Mike and all who contributed: NICE JOB

  24. Bryan Veloso says:

    It amazes me what qualifies as an “overly orchestrated marketing campaign” these days. Five people sitting down over the course of a few days and writing a quick blog post. Wow.

    But it seems that these 5 people have been assigned “blogging celebrity” status. So it’s not just any 5 people to a lot of the viewers of this situaiton.

    Meh.. I dunno, probably talking out of my ass now.

  25. Tom Fallowfield says:

    No-one seems to have mentioned that is a great looking site. I haven’t purtchased mint but i will if a version that supports ASP is introduced…

    Beautiful design work anyway.

  26. Eric Meyer says:

    “If anyone has any ideas how to do something like this better, please post it here.”

    I have an idea, though it’s obviously too late: have made it clear in the original set of posts that you’d all loved the product so much during the testing that you’d come up with the idea of all posting about your favorite feature(s). Sure, you’d still have the really suspicious types (“I bet Shaun just told them to say that!”) but for most of us, that would have pre-empted any thought of Shaun-directed marketing.

    And let me reiterate: had Shaun been the instigator of the campaign, I would be totally, completely fine with that. He’s trying to sell the product of all his work, and really, anything that doesn’t fall into fraudulent or criminal areas is cool with me. He’s as free to promote his product as others are to buy it, or not. In fact, that kind of talking-and-linking campaign is a pretty smart approach, given the product’s intended market. So when I thought it was Shaun’s work, I was more admiring and envious. Now I’m just envious that he does work so good that he has a bunch of very smart people all willing, on their own initiative, to promote and cross-link on its behalf. That speaks pretty damned highly of his work.

    I also think I was unclear about my own perspective. Speaking for myself, of course, I didn’t for an instant think you– any of you– were lying, distorting, or otherwise unduly amplifying your feelings about Mint. I think my initial assumption was that Shaun had asked the testers something like: “Hey, could those of you who really liked some aspect of Mint please post about it on day such-and-so. and link to each other? It would really help me out.” The ‘very next intuitive assumption’ I mentioned was one that I felt was easy to make, and that I suspected many people had made, even though I personally didn’t make it.

    So if I implied that I thought you (or any other tester) were whoring yourself and your integrity for a free copy of a $30 program, Mike, I humbly and abjectly apologize. I most certainly know better, and I should have expressed myself better. I, um, I blame the DayQuil. Yeah, that’s it! The DayQuil.

  27. Kyle says:

    I really don’t see the big deal everyone has with mint. Sure, it may not be the best developed, or feature-rich, or even a “good” application (speaking completely from ignorance and hypothetically) – but that’s really not the point.

    Shaun had an opportunity to offer something beneficial to others, and make some money off of it. He took it, and pulled all his resources towards promoting it. Any one else would have done the same.

    Is the ABC burger at firestones really worth the $6 it commands? Probablay not. Could I make it cheaper? Probably so. Do I still buy it? Yes I do.

  28. Dave Metcalf says:


    There are alot worse things than respected professionals endorsing something they tested and liked.

    It would be a different story if he just paid someone to endorse it. For instance, does anyone actually believe Terry Bradshaw is making collect calls or that Paris Hilton eats at Carl’s Jr. or that Teri Hatcher goes to Radio Shack? Where’s that outrage?

    Even if Mike was straight up hired, you wouldn’t listen to him if you didn’t already like and respect him. No one is forcing you to use the product or to listen to the people who are using and liking it. It’s not some massive, Star Wars-esque campaign that you can’t avoid.

    It’s amazing when seemingly benign minutia can set off some hypersensitive zealotry.

  29. Brad says:

    Nice write up and a fully agree. Charing a price is fully reasonable although I really wish Shaun would consider a $30 initial domain fee but then something like $10 per domain after that. It’s just very pricey to have on all my personal sites in addition to my clients sites.

  30. Ryan says:

    It amazes me what qualifies as an “overly orchestrated marketing campaign” these days. Five people sitting down over the course of a few days and writing a quick blog post. Wow.

    OK, I got a little carried away with the language.

    I’m not sure why anyone would consider it a failure. From what I can tell, the reception has been overwhelmingly warm so far.

    Only a failure because the topic is the “campaign,” not Mint. But like I said:

    Regardless. Mint looks beautiful and fresh. Bravo to Shaun for kicking some butt and not being afraid to market his software.

  31. Chris G says:

    It’s funny, Kathy Sierra over at Creating Passionate Users not too long ago was pointing out how the most popular products fuel the fires of the faithful and the rage of the un-enchanted. The debate alone, even the fact that we’re commenting, shows that “failure” and “Mint” don’t belong in the same sentence, and won’t any time soon.

    Shaun’s passion seems to have somehow been made contagious via this little gem and now people are loving it or hating it all over the place.

    It’s fascinating that everyone can get so inspired over a little statistical analysis tool. Maybe we should thank the beta testers for showing a little passion, because while Mint will run you $30, the “big fish” opinions and contagious inspiration are free and clearly not contrived.

  32. Marco says:

    All flaming, bickering and trolling aside I think one thing is sure, even though some are denying it: No matter who ‘orchestrated’ it, the beta period and release of Mint worked as an awesome marketing effort, whether it’s been done intentially or not.

    I’m 100% sure that if the person releasing Mint were me, or any other weblogger who isn’t a ‘big name’ it would never have been as successful. This is a fact we’ve got to face. However does this mean I’m jealous? Nah. People like Shaun haven’t earned their reputation overnight. They’ve worked hard to get where they are now.

    I look at the hype around Mint as a nice extra for Shaun. Becoming a ‘big name’ isn’t exactly easy because one can’t be a big name if one hasn’t accomplished great things in the past. If then some other ‘big names’ support your new project by posting some blog entries about it consider it a nice bonus for Shaun and definitely nothing to get jealous over.

    It’s like money really. If you have a lot of it, it’s very easy to make even more money. If you’re a ‘big name’ it’s quite easy to get a hype such as the one around Mint going. However to get a lot of money to begin with, most people will have to work hard. Exactly so with becoming a ‘big name’.

    I guess it’s how humanity works ;)

  33. I just want to say a big well done to Shaun for 1. Being able to keep up with the tremendous amount of support requests as well as being able to keep the rolling updates coming and 2. Being good enough to ignore those who have nothing better to contribute to the discussion than “it should be free” or “Shaun’s charging a bomb for nothing”.

    I myself have just purchased two licenses for my websites, and although the price was $60, I’m not complaining. I believe in credit where credit is due, and Mint is a great application that has obviously been thought out and well executed. For that, I am prepared to spend a little more. There are many companies out there that charge thousands a year for ugly page hit counter-style pieces of junk. The price may be a little high for some, but then that’s not who it’s aimed at. For web designers working on large projects, it’s easy to integrate within an existing plan and it adds little overhead to the price. As a plus, it looks good too!

  34. Dave says:

    AMEN! Only problem i have found is that 0 of my email’s have been responded to :S But i understand he’s a busy man so not too fussed. o well there not serious problems fixed one myself anyway. Lovely product definatly worth $30

  35. allgood2 says:

    I LOVE Mint. Before Mint, I used a combination of referrer logs and monthly statistical analysis to try to ascertain what Mint provides quickly and rapidly—what articles are people reading, when, and why.

    Mint makes it very easy for me to say, O’ I got mentioned on this or that forum/web page, and all a sudden my traffic for that video I created two years ago, jumped by 300%. Or for me to realize that while people seem to love my videos, my photo gallery, and my music based posts, that my regular posts get almost no traffic.

    Mint also makes it very easy for me to say, how many people visited my site yesterday, or Tuesday, which ever day last week, I select. My current stat program, FunnelWeb (which is fantastic), can tell me which days are more popular, but its a pain to figure a single days visits.

    I think, I agree with Chris G. products that inspire passion also inspire rage. I thought the linked posts were exciting, and they inspired me to learn more about Mint. Now maybe I don’t give as much weight to Mike (sorry :)), Jason Santa Maria, and others as some do. I think your all great designers, with good blogs; and if your excited about something, I’m going to give it a look-see, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to love it.

    The only thing that disappointed me about the semi-coordination of the write-ups was that there weren’t more of them. Ten would have been great. That said, thanks for introducing me to MINT. It’s my favorite new web-app. And it works great with Expression Engine (EE), my all time favorite web app.

  36. Ian Cheung says:

    I know I’m late to the debate and responding to comment 4 no less but:

    those people who believe in open source so much that they feel everything and their mothers should be free.

    I think that’s a common misunderstanding. Open source’s free is more like free speech than free beer. Even Richard Stallman believes you should be able to charge for open source software.

    Since the focus of this dicussion is more to do with the pre-launch organised hype campaign, and its assumed success, I have one more thing to add.

    I think that short term (ie. for Mint) it was successful, however longer term it has negative effects on the blogging/design community. Glowing reviews of future products will be taken with a pinch of salt even if everything is genuine, sincere and unorchestrated (Note: I am not saying the Mint campaign was fake or insincere). I do believe that people should always question things they read but I also believe that we should assume people to be innocent until proven guilty. This is why I think that the campaign is more of a failure than a success and a disservice to the community.

  37. Mike D. says:

    Ian: You said —

    I do believe that people should always question things they read but I also believe that we should assume people to be innocent until proven guilty. This is why I think that the campaign is more of a failure than a success and a disservice to the community.

    I think I need that explained to me. What about any of this is a disservice to the community? Far as I can tell, we’re all talking about the merits of a product here, and from the poll on this page, it appears a good amount of people have tried Mint and are enjoying it. Where’s the disservice and where’s the failure?

  38. When I read the various negative comments on the blogosphere about Mint, I see a lot of miserliness and jealousy. And sadly, this is pretty common.

    Let’s face it – most people think they’re hot stuff in their profession, but never really do anything above and beyond what is required to collect a paycheck every two weeks. “Oh, I could do big things if I wanted to, I’m just waiting for the right moment” is the prevailing thought amongst such folks.

    So when someone comes along and says “Screw waiting – I’m going to do something NOW!” and takes action to create something, to build a business, to do anything above and beyond what it requires to be a paychecker, the others resent it. It serves as a reminder of their own inaction, their own insecurity, their own complacency.

    But the resentment doesn’t boil quietly, no. It gets channeled onto the Internet, that great release valve for passive-aggressive sentiment. The resentfuls feel so much better once they’ve had a chance to tear down the one who dared to step out of line.

    However, none of that vitirol changes the fact that, faced with the same 24 hours we all have in a day, one person decided to do something a little broader and longer-lasting than most do with their 24 hours. That kind of enterprising spirit is something that should be praised, respected and rewarded, not derided and devalued. That kind of enterprising spirit is the reason why we live in a time more prosperous than any other in history.

    Your average developer sits at his desk, feeding himself B.S. about all the great things he COULD do. Shaun got up off his buns and DID it. We should celebrate that.

  39. Kdavis says:

    All I know is that I signed up to get a notification via email when it was released and didn’t get one…is this thread about a beta-type release or the real deal…?

  40. Elliot Swan says:

    I’m loving Mint as well.

    I did have to reinstall it a couple times before it was working correctly (and from looking at the message boards it appears others have had to reinstall as well), but other than that it’s great.

  41. Ian Cheung says:


    Far as I can tell, we’re all talking about the merits of a product here

    The last thing you talked about in your post was “Beta testing and hype” so we are not all talking just about the merits or demerits of Mint. I haven’t tried Mint because I couldn’t play with the demo and the video is not persuasive enough. When the demo comes back online, then maybe. From the poll a whopping 70% of readers haven’t tried it either.

    What I was talking about was the doubts you (as a group) have cast into the minds of the community about glowing reviews from A-listers of other A-listers products/sites/projects. Next time round I think a lot of people will pause and wonder about the hype cloud.

  42. Mike D. says:

    Ian: Wow… totally disagree. Not that I even care what percentage of readers purchase Mint, but 30% sounds enormously high to me. I was expecting more like 10%. Possibly even less.

    Furthermore, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of doubt out there that beta testers love the product, especially considering that satisfied users are so far outnumbering unsatisfied users by about 10-to-1.

    I knew these polls were going to come in handy!

  43. Oliver Zheng says:

    But then again, for that 30%, if they did not like Mint, they wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place. For a web application that costs $30, most people would be quite reluctant unless they got to know the product very well.

  44. lt says:

    Point 1. I can understand that Shawn is having a hell of a time trying to reply to all the requests (mine to too), but he should be expecting this and should hired some qualified help.

    Point 2. I didn’t like the orchestrated blog announcement. Although I’ve read every post and found useful information in them, it was a very obvious marketing move.

    Point 3. I’m only guessing here, but I’m afraid that most of the beta testers were not chosen on the basis of their expertise in the matter, but mostly from the In fact the were bloging celebrities. In addition it seems that the beta installations were not representing the various types of web hosting situations. In fact the first installs have some serious missings and bugs.

    Point 4. I’m a long time user of the free ShortStat and some of the Mint’s features were promised as an upgrade to ShortStat. I think that it would be more correct to offer to the current ShortStat users and “upgrade” offer just to show an appreciation of the community support.

    Point 5. I will agree that the have a mint site is very attractive but from the user’s perspective the site has a rather confusing navigation (the same is true for the Mint application interface) and the information provided is very limited.

    Overly, after using the Mint for 3 days now, I can say that 30$ is a fair price and that it is a useful little app. I cannot speculate about its success but I think that most of it has to be attributed to ShortStat.

    (Editor’s Note: Once again, the beta testers were chosen because we are friends of Shaun and we are all stat freaks. Shoot us for that, if you’d like. People like Dave Shea, Jeffrey Zeldman, and Doug Bowman get a lot more traffic than people like myself, Jason Santa Maria, and Matt Thomas. If what you suggest were true, there would be a completely different set of beta testers.)

  45. Mike Holley says:


    Point 1. At least he is trying to get back, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft some times don’t even respond.
    Point 2. Your choice, its a free world. Somewhat
    Point 3. I have not seen any of the larger companies do a much better job at representing the various types of installs with a much larger staff of beta testers. And bugs are all relative to your install, I was not a tester and have not had problem since I bought MINT the first hour it was available.
    Point 4. In my opinion, since ShortStat is free that it would be more correct if current ShortStat users offered to show an appreciation by the community helping by developing or improving upon what is there. Just how MINT owners are by spending there much appreciated time to make peppers.
    Point 5. hmph, looked at your site, limited information, and navigation is almost the same except floated to the right. I guess from a users standpoint that made all the difference. As for mint, I have not read that many posts that state either are confusing or hard to use. I actually found it easy to use.
    Point 5. I can’t speak for ShortStat users, but I currently use MINT and Urchin. I don’t find myself viewing my Urchin stats like I do MINT. I think MINT is great and just keeps getting better.

    My 2 cents

  46. Ian Cheung says:


    It’s not my intention to get into a flamewar or a even a long drawn out argument going back and forth but you seem to be knocking down a strawman here. I’ve never argued that Mint is not worth it, or people are unsatisfied with it, or the poll pointed to the fact. In fact I think I would like Mint and there is a high possibility I might buy it, but I have to play around with the interactive demo first to decide.

    My main point was highlighting the negative consequences of the organised hype campaign. Something you haven’t responded to. You can agree or disagree that the campaign will have negative consequences that’s fine. But from the above comments, I’m not the only one that didn’t like the way it was conducted.

    As I said I don’t want to get drawn into a long winded argument so on this topic I’ll let things rest.

  47. Mike D. says:

    Ian: What’s the strawman? You are calling a series of blog posts a disservice to the community. You are also claiming that a “whopping” (your term) 70% of people not purchasing Mint is a high number. I’m disagreeing with you on both counts and I’m just not seeing a whole lot of negative consequences. I’m also never going to refrain from speaking about a product that I love because I’m worried about what a few people might think.

    There are always times when people may take things the wrong way, and if, in this case, you and a minority of others want to take it as anything more than it is, then I can live with that. This was and continues to be people talking honestly about a product that they have spent a lot of time with, and anyone who has reservations about that can do their own due diligence. I am not making other people’s software decisions for them.

  48. From reading the comments here since I last wrote, it seems like some people are asking for a demo before they commit their $30. However, with a web application like this, it is difficult to get a system running where people can have time dependant licenses (say 30 days) for demo testing on their own websites. Maybe what is required is a test installation of Mint where everybody can play around and see if they like the UI and the feel of it. I realise that the official demo has been taken down due to high interest, but how many people would be interested in a Mint demo installation to play around with before commiting? If interest it enough, I might as well do one myself so everybody can have a look…

  49. Joel says:

    Demo or not, what if someone posted some comprehensive screenshots even? That might help.

    I have no frame of reference other than the *very* small quicktime clip. Like other people have said, the clout, reviews and hype around mint are all well and good but without something tactile to play with or a better visual representation, it’s tough to justify paying for it.

  50. Mike: I didn’t mean to imply that you or any of the others who posted positive things on their blogs about Mint were engaged in “PR” in the sense of being manipulative. Far from it. If you found the use of this term offensive, I do apologize. I read your post as an honest “I like this and you may too” statement (and you’ve since made this clear in multiple posts) and only used the term “PR” in the sense of finding yourself clarifying what you originally said, versus engaging in a manipulative campaign from the start. Better words could have been chosen.

    Dave S. and I generally agree: web desigers should get recognition for their work; people should be able to post their opinions to their blog; and the motivations of the successful should not automatically be suspect. He made a distinction between people being web designers versus politicians, and don’t disagree that blogs by web designers aren’t about power plays, rank and all we associate with politics, they are about, well, web design and associated things. But, being sensitive to one’s influence and being a politician are two different things.

  51. Matt says:

    I have Mint and I love it. I can’t believe people would complain about a $30 product. If you don’t like it get a refund. Why do geeky web designers always come across as the biggest bunch of whiners as soon as something’s not free?

  52. Dave says:

    I’m only guessing here, but I’m afraid that most of the beta testers were not chosen on the basis of their expertise in the matter, but mostly from the In fact the were bloging celebrities.

    It, you couldn’t be more wrong. I was, in fact, a beta tester and I have never run a blog; hell, I rarely even read these things. And I can guarantee that nobody gives two-shits about my opinion.

    We were never required to write anything; we reviewed the product and gave Shaun feedback over several months of development. These assumptions that people are making seem ludicrous.

  53. Joel: I have posted a couple of screenshots and a live demo of Mint [] for everybody to have a look at and get to use.

  54. Joel says:

    Ruben – thanks man. That’s exactly what I was looking for :).

  55. Don says:

    Funny set of posts. Give me a break. What are ad’s on tv … hype. Billoboards? Print? Why not pump something you like. We have a fine stats program for our needs that we sell ($10) and give away in a less robust version over at, so I haven’t tried mint, but more power to him. Just because one likes open source doesn’t mean everything should be. There is no free lunch. He is just lucky to have widely read friends. It doesn’t matter to me if you got a free license or not. If you had not tried/used it … why would you be telling me about it and why would I care?

    It would be a different story if he just paid someone to endorse it. For instance, does anyone actually believe Terry Bradshaw is making collect calls or that Paris Hilton eats at Carl’s Jr. or that Teri Hatcher goes to Radio Shack? Where’s that outrage?

    There goes my fantasy about Teri Hatcher needing a limitless supply of batteries.

  56. Nathan Smith says:

    As always, I’m chiming in late. While I haven’t given mint a try quite yet, I wanted to speak to the issue of people ranting and raving just because it comes at a cost. I think that Shaun is perfectly justified in charging whatever he wants (just be glad it’s only 30 bucks). After all, he is the author.

    I would equate this situation to that of TextDrive. For years, Dean had been giving away open-source, free software / web apps. One day (though I’m sure there was much more planning), he up and decides he wants to start a hosting company, and… What’s this!? He wants to charge people for it?

    Nobody really got too hot under the collar about that, and one could argue that it was a bit more out-on-a-limb than Shaun’s endeavor. I mean, the idea of charging would-be customers up front in order to raise the funds necessary to start a hosting company seems crazy.

    And yet, because of the track record, everyone that got in on the ground level of TextDrive trusted that Dean was going to deliver on a great hosting package. This is the same situation with Shaun. He has a proven, reliable product in ShortStat, so those who want to use Mint have no qualms about shelling out $30 to use it.

    I think the reason people are up in arms over Mint is that it is a product that has made itself nearly irreplacable (in ShortStat). It would be the same reaction if MSN suddenly started charging for use of its IM client. Because it’s been free for so long, people would demand it stay free. But, it would be perfectly within Microsoft’s legal rights to decide to charge us.

    So, to Shaun and any/all other open-source developers out there, I applaud you. Please continue to develop great, light and functional utilities and don’t feel too bad if you get a few complainers here and there.

  57. “Free as in ‘free speech’, not as in ‘free beer'” is Richard Stallman’s dogma for the open source community. Those claiming that every software should be available at no cost ignore that spirit.

    Despite Mint’s laurels already expressed in prior comments, it is explainable that site stats aren’t a vital asset for each and every site owner.

    I’d like to direct everyone who is not able or willing to pay for software to Peastat, which is a tiny ad-hoc visitor tracking package in its infancy. Peastat works by simply parsing the log files. No database, no JavaScript, no fee. Less features as well, but it satisfies curiousity.

  58. Ben says:

    I don’t have mint and don’t see any need to use it in the near future, but this blog is fascinating – there’s much talk of people raving about the cost of mint vs. opensource ideas, and people getting heated and defensive, but as far as i can tell no one has actually said that everything should be opensource.
    Who are you arguing with?

  59. Chris says:

    It’s just about people, one will pay being fully satisfied, another won’t pay and still be unsatisfied.

  60. The sweet taste of mint

    Yesterday I installed Shaun Inman’s new mint on my site. Three words: I love it….

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