I want to make a case for why I think their pricing is right đź’¸

Why write this?

  • There has been mixed emotions since yesterday that there is a paywall now.
  • Many feel that RemNote shouldn’t provide a Pro version at this stage, while some others feel that some of the PRO features should actually be included in the free version.
  • I feel like this is the perfect time to come up with this paywall and I also feel like they are being very generous as well.

My case :

  1. Some feel that features like aliasing and PDF editors should rather be included in the free version. I explained why Alias doesn’t deserve to be a free feature here, for more reference why Alias is such an important feature and how other apps are still struggling to get the refinement that RemNote has achieved with it, see here.

    • I have to add here about the PDF annotation feature, there are simple PDF annotation tools, which do nothing but simple highlights, text extracts and proabbly give searchability through them, some might even go to the heights of creating flashcards out of them like Polar. But that is all that the tool does and those tools charge equally or higher than the RemNote Pro feature
    • That being said, RemNote lets you do all that and much much more, and it’s not even a PDF annotation tool to begin with. This is just one of the features that RemNote lets you do, now think about how it would be fair to expect such a feature to be free, when other apps ask for more and give less than this.
  2. I see Obsidian and Roam as the two major contenders for RemNote, and let’s study the pricing strategies.

    • Arguing against Roam is going to be a breeze in fact :

      1. Roam’s pricing is 15$/month and 500$ for 5 years. Period. Do you see my point ?

      2. One could argue saying that Roam was being very generous by giving lifetime free access to all the beta testers. I would like to remind you all that there is absolutely no free tier in Roam, they don’t let anyone use Roam without paying for it and hence they could afford to give a free lifetime offer for the relatively smaller number of beta users.

      3. RemNote on the other hand, has always promised to leave a very powerful free tier open for everyone and hence it might not be very economically feasible for them to also give lifetime free access to all PRO features to a much bigger beta tester crowd.

      4. It might feel like the Free tier is quite weak at this point, but trust me give some time for the dust to settle and even try out other apps out of frustration, people will come back running realising what a great deal even the free tier is. There is always going to be a big percentage of RemNote users who are going to just opt for the free plan, hence they are forced to put a few powerful features behind the paywall so that those who might need them a lot could just pay for it and also support development.

    • Against obsidian , they offer only local app as free, the minute you want to sync between devices and want to share your work publicly you have to go for higher price plans. Even the early bird offers for these add-ons put together will cost 12 $, while you get both already with the same PRO plan for 6$. That’s half the price and Obsidian might put more features as add-ons later on, we will never know.

  3. In my view, they have carefully curated which features need to be put behind a paywall, especially for beta users. They have put features which are ONLY very unique to RemNote like PDF annotation, search portals (just wait until you see customised queries, to realise how powerful this feature would be), trash history etc., OR features that they have pulled off exceptionally well like Aliasing, templates, custom hotkeys , behind a paywall. These are features that are not present in other tools or those that are not yet well executed in other tools, so technically speaking, you are paying for features that are currently UNAVAILABLE elsewhere, literally or this well executed.

TL;DR - They have curated the payment wall in a way that the experience that every beta user had until yesterday, will remain unchanged forever (it can only get better with more free features being released, bugs being fixed, UI/UX getting improved etc., ) for no additional cost. Until today we were all ok with not having Alias and PDF annotation, if you don’t wish to support the full time dedication of two developers, you are more than welcome to still enjoy everything that you had until yesterday, FOR FREE.
Also, their early bird pricing allows you to get the PRO features locked in for less than half the cost of its current contenders. It’s a definitely worthy deal, AFAIK.

N.B. I am really happy with how much RemNote has developed over the past year and they have definitely earned this place. RemNote is the underdog of PKM tools, and I am not sure about the reason why it isn’t as popular as the other tools, but I do know that if we, the community of RemNote users can help promote the tool and all the hard work behind it, we can certainly change this. We need to talk more, support more, share more, write more and show more via twitter, paywall, workflows, blogs and youtube videos correspondingly. If we can do that, we can surely help get a lot more users turn their heads towards RemNote, there is already a lot of unhappy Roam users wanting to jump ships seeing all that RemNote has to offer.

Let’s get together, to do all we can, to help make RemNote a success :muscle:t3:
Power to the Rem ! :brain:

Signing off ! Thanks for your patience and I would love to hear other’s thoughts on this.

Update: Not boasting, but hear this out guys :
Rob’s tweet about how cool or big PDF editor in RemNote is.

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Thanks for sharing your thinking, and for the support Karthikk! Thanks to everyone else providing feedback of any kind - we’ve gotten a good amount of feedback, ranging from content customer to constructive criticism :wink: . We’re reflecting on all of your thoughts. The team understood that the pricing release would be controversial, as it is for any product, and we’re seeing some of that now. But we feel grateful to have a motivated community to help get us to where we all want to go. Overall, the team is very pleased and excited by the response that we’ve seen so far, and are ready to keep executing on the community’s shared long-term vision :slight_smile:

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couldn’t agree more! I feel too fortunate to have grandfathered access to the pre v1.1 features.
Even if I didn’t, I’d rather use the free version than not use it at all(or use any other tool) :sweat_smile:
but image occlusion is one of the features that should be free though

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My impression is that Roam is overpricing it’s product and thus should not be used in comparison. That hype bubble will eventually burst.
My only suggestion is to accommodate prices a bit, since some of us don’t live in “1st world countries”, i.e., $300 has very different value for underdeveloped countries (economically speaking).

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Yes, I strongly second this request. A lot of respectable tools do give special prices for under developed and developing nations.

A notable mention is LiquidText:
while the pro version costs Rs. 2700 normally, but due to developing nation adjustment it only costs Rs.900 in India. (Just 1/3rd of the full price)

I would love to contribute for the one time payment if such discounts were given :slight_smile: 300$ is a lot in our money :wink:

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I’m sorry, but I don’t feel that sycophancy is an appropriate response to whatever discontent there may be. The only reason people would be upset is they wanted to use the app more, not less.

I must admit, I was blindsided by the choice to take on Zotero as far as pdf management is concerned, but I am completely fine with paywalling pdf uploads. The people in a position to be most in need of the functionality are likely the ones who can afford either the sub fee or the lifetime purchase. Of course, there is always the completely free alternative of zotero+zotfile+hypothes.is.

What I am disappointed by is the decision to lock features that are most necessary for students (and ones that will become necessary as they engage more deeply with the app over time) behind a paywall while still proclaiming to be acting in their best interests. Maybe if there were full scholarships to the pro version given to verified .edu addresses or something similar, I’d find it easier to swallow.

Roam got the sub model locked by spinning up fast and marketing to rich power users aggressively, and they got the investors to show for it. Obsidian went the other way with only asking to pay for what they must pay themselves in data storage, thus securing the adoration of local first and frugal people. I would expect an app for students whose long-term vision is empowering lifelong learning to lean toward sustainability, affordability, and definitely not nickel and diming every feature that could be monetised. Sadly, I have yet to see an actual response as to why the sub model with locking features that don’t take any extra data is the only one being considered. Why not donations, why not one time purchase?

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While I welcome, respect, and even consider your points as valid arguments, you are making it impossible for me to give them any serious thoughts because of your provocative judgement.

I don’t see how making a case to explain why I personally feel about something has to be “sucking-up” and what in the world would I ever get out of this ? :joy:

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Your topic is titled “I want to make a case for why I think their pricing is right”. I don’t think you have any ulterior motives, it’s just that your judgement happens to align with the team’s and you chose to present it in support of theirs and against “mixed emotions”. Perhaps I could have chosen a softer synonym (if was not meant to offend), but my points stand regardless.

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I mostly disagree with you (though you wrote so much that I certainly agree with many of the things you said as well :slight_smile: ).

I elaborate my position here:

In the end, there is really no “right” answer. Ultimately it comes down to which strategy the developers decide to adopt…

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If you wanted to avoid giving offense, you should have chosen a word other than sycophancy. Every use of sycophant I’ve witnessed has been intended as an insult.

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Yes that’s the point, these kind of words create toxicity. Thanks for acknowledging. I used those lines you quoted, deliberately, to make it clear that this is just my stance.

At the end, it’s nothing more than my personal opinion.

Also, I think 6$ a month is something that I am sure any student from a developed nation, could easily spend on something that helps them study or remember better. I think it’s easily possible that students spend more on post it notes every month compared to this.
So it’s not a question of whether this is affordable (subscription model), it’s more of “are you actually willing to cut down on two cups of coffee a month so that you could support a tool that helps you study better?” .

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i disagree on the roam thing herein… i am in those small beta users and they are providing everything free to those who were early adopters and they are not differentiating in terms of features with beta and other paid users as far as i know…

secondly in obsidian too you have access to all the features (even in case you are a free user), obsidian does not have limitation to sync through their system only, with some knowledge of tools and few addons you could sync your data to the cloud freely in realtime…plus they offer addons like obsidian to anki to turn questions into anki flash cards realtime (one functionality offers remnote type quiz with:: being transformed into flashcard too!) and other being neuracache for flashcard creation through obsidian notes. Obsidian is quite generous in many functionalities herein plus their is no issue of slow loading or anything as all data is processed locally… It has some shortfalls like no native app (like remnote) and some learning curve…

now comes the other app which is worthwhile to mention here- anki, which is a flashcard app been around for a lot more time and has been free till date- i know their is the issue of not organized notes therein but overall anki still is free today (and it is one of the great tools that have sturdy SRS)- i am not asking for developer to offer free services for all but if you wants to grow as a major tool then you must think of all the users… not everybody will start paying you at the first instant… many could be capable of paying but they wont pay until they get used to the product or they find utility in the product by turning it into their main source… In my view it was quite early for the developers to roll out paid version and even if they rolled out the paid version they should have given free users the access (albit with limitations to differentiate against the pro version) equivalent to pro… notion first started with blocks concept for free users (meagre 1000 blocks were given to free one) and when it removed that limitation its popularity and user base multiplied many times…

what i got to know from my experience till date is the fact that their is no best tool and
for people like me who are searching for the tool that checks most of their requirements is the good tool…and each day we are getting new tools each providing some unique feature but in long term its the openness and new features alongwith the availability of system for free users that matters (because from these free users your most of the pro will come)… so I dont feature limitation on account of pricing is not right thing… In my view most of the free users will turn to Obsidian and old ones like Evernote, One note and Anki (for sake of stability in terms of feature and all…)

PS- for early free user like me aliases and note occlusion as a pro feature is a big miss and other future to launches like knowledge graph and other features limited to pro is a dampener… mine personal view…

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My objective for writing this post was :

  1. To show that I support the team’s decision, they have bootstrapping for so long and I think deserve a break. They could use the money and the extra help that comes with it.
  2. To probably give a perspective of how others are pricing and thereby try and convince some of the frustrated people that this pricing is not all that bad.

I still think their overall goal of helping. The student community is still being maintained well, here’s how :

  1. Sharing and collaboration is a free feature. Publishing notes for others to access is free. Which definitely is something that the student community is going to benefit from.
  2. The equivalent of what you could do with Anki, is almost available in the plan. Probably giving out all spaced repetition based features free would be highly beneficial for students, but at this stage - not being funded or backed up, it’s quite hard to dish out huge offers.
    People aren’t really that benevolent that enough of the users who benefit from the tool and can pay, will actually donate enough.
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I am not being harsh asking for everything free from developers… Ultimately its the money that matters because we as a student are studying to get jobs and money to satisfy our needs… Similarly developers are right too in charging their product because they also need money to run the system (because everything comes at cost- be it servers or the hard work of developers in making the system as it is today) and earn respectfully for themselves … So I am not for free… Because free wont also create the innovation…
But try to understand my point herein that sometime you have to let the system grow fully (means people should be able to use this product as a main system) and let the people decide…

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I don’t see what is there to disagree, I never made a point that Roam is withholding any features for beta users in the first place.
My point was that, it wouldn’t have been a big deal for Roam to offer full lifetime access for Roam beta users, because it was a very short beta period and the user count was very limited. They also don’t have a free tier and hence every user is going to pay and they can get away with a few hundreds of beta users not paying for life.

Whereas with the case of RemNote, they have a good free plan that most of the people will end up using and also have a very huge beta user crowd, hence giving all the beta users unlimited access for life would be a very big deal to a team that doesn’t have any investment backup yet.

The reason why obsidian feels so stable and polished is because they took such a route to start with, they didn’t build a WYSIWYG editor from the get go, which is a really hard one to get right. Their design choices were simple, build a really good markdown editor and they did a great job at it.

Try block referencing or aliasing in obsidian, it’s so manual and frustrating. The ease that RemNote offers with the WYSIWYG and the user friendly aliasing and referencing is not even comparable to Roam and Obsidian.

Also, Notion made that free tier very powerful only after years of paywalling and with millions of money in investment. At that point it was more of a PR stunt that was necessary, than a altruistic motive.

Very valid points, thank you for clarifying your stand.
Like I said in the earlier post, if we let it to the people to decide how to support a tool, the devs can’t make a living out of it :sweat_smile: we aren’t really that benevolent, especially during our scrawny (economically) years.
That is one of the reasons why very very few OSS projects that doesn’t have a paywall rarely succeeds in being economically viable for a team to earn from it, if people were capable of donating and supporting a project we would be seeing more of such free projects and developers living happily out of them.
There was a huge commotion when Wikipedia asked for donation even :wink: I don’t think RemNote stands a chance :smiley:

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regarding alias thing in obsidian i dont see any difficulty infact its one of the quite easy things to do… for users who do create alot of aliases they could create the template and start using therein the said feature… Yes block referencing seems a tough nut to crack for me…But all said it depends on individual to individual… Yes obsidian has chosen different path and they have been able to get most of the features rolled out for all users…
Yes I agree for the wikipedia commotion :wink: … Totally agreed on free cannot make innovation and development run and I cleared this in my previous post… Anyways my point is for the free (with max features) and pro with no limitations … And I hope developers have done all the maths behind their approach on this model judging all scenarios… personally I am abit taken back by fencing free users against the future features… So personally speaking I will go for traditional tools like one note or evernote and anki and new one but stable one like obsidian for my studies…

Interesting, so you think a better model for users would be if they differentiate the free and pro version based on limitations like number of rems or flash cards, rather than on features ?

To me, it’s a matter of aligning what is being said with what is being done. The stated goal is to furnish as many students and academics with the tools that will enable them to better themselves and the world. Quite lofty and quite charitable. Historically, the tools with the same goals (Anki, Zotero) have achieved them by demolishing any barriers to entry and actively seeking good will engagement from the community, rather than splitting the app into a limited and a full version.

In the spirit of idealism, here is my dream of how RemNote should be monetised and developed further:

  • Open Source. The MIT logo is right there, plus there will surely be people willing to contribute.
  • Only paid features are the ones that carry an immanent cost to maintain. Some limit on file uploads, no limit on text, possibly keep a free web app, but local only is fine.
  • Solicit donations openly. RemNote is not Wikipedia, neither in traffic nor perceived development costs. I’m sure that people who successfully matriculate/become PhDs using RemNote would be glad to freely give some money to cover dev costs. Of course, if they have been paying for it like Netflix the whole time, different story.

Less idealistic version:

  • Chase after investors. Roam did it, Notion did it, so you do it. If you don’t wish to crowdsource, you will need to aggressively scale internally just to keep up. Trying to wring a few bucks from students over months or years is too slow.
  • Maintain an actually fully featured free version. Image Occlusion, Templates, Aliases aren’t premium features, they are the primary features of any wiki or spaced repetition program.
  • Paywall the PDF uploading and real-time collaboration (once it arrives). The people who would use these are the ones who are paying 15$ for roam at the moment. Get them and keep them, and you will have more than enough cash flow to give away emojis for free.

Crucially, there is no other popular app at the moment that splits its features so arbitrarily - it’s either no cost for everything, flat cost for everything, sub fee for things that are time and data dependent. And since the idea is to stop being perceived as a desperate startup and start trying to take on the big boys, it is necessary to look the part.

How lucky that I only used sycophancy rather than sycophant then. The devs are big boys, they don’t need defence from hurt feelings. Anyone using and talking about RemNote at this stage are the people who need an app like it and wish it (and the devs) only the best. I have little reason to doubt that the devs similarly only want to achieve their stated goals. So if there is any friction encountered on that path, I find it more useful to offer ways to course correct rather than dispense back pats no matter the situation. By definition, a sub fee will cut off people who can’t afford it. How many students will look for help in their studies only to find another bill to pay?..

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@UMNiK said it all, all the things I couldn’t put into words… They are not going there by trying to scrap a few bucks from the tiny community they have now, while at the same time they stop new folks from a full experience. They need to scale now, they need really investment. Not our few bucks, although I already subscribed pro, but just because I’m a fan and I really want them to thrive!!!

P.S. please guys inform yourselfs with pros, don’t try to just solve this between you 4, you need help :slight_smile:

I am sorry @UMNiK and @Bruno_Miranda, no investor would invest the big money and let it go for a charity. Going for investor money is the hardest thing for any founder to do, who is trying not to rob its users. Every investor wants to get at least 10X the returns they put in and every decision that the startup takes will then be watched, scrutinised and influenced by them in a way that such a ROI is achieved as soon as possible. No investor is interested in putting their money in so that students can have a completely free access. That’s just a very naive or shallow understanding of the business of things.

The examples that you guys quoted - Anki and Zotero, both were always meant to be free and open sourced. Zotero was created institutionally and backed heavily by other such charitable sources. Anki was open sourced from the beginning and no one depended on it as a career choice. RemNote has never stated anywhere that it would be an open sourced project, unless due to unforeseen circumstances they had to shut the company down. All they promised was that they would want students and scholars to benefit from it, and hence they would always maintain a powerful free version for those who can’t afford to pay. This was their mission statement and promise.

They merely wanted to provide a free version for users and they did. What they offer in a free version is as powerful as any other tool that is currently available in the market, whether paid or free.

Roam is heavily profitable, of course investors flock.
Notion is even more profitable thanks to the enterprise version, which is the major source of income for them and hence they attract investors, give them ROI and are also now able to maintain a free version for individual users.
RemNote isn’t the kind of tool that would attract enterprises, the only source of income would be individual users. Being a tool that focuses mainly on learning, it’s already at a big disadvantage as the main user base is heavily economically limited - students. It’s not in anyway a desirable investment choice for investors already (even if there was a paid only option) and now having a free tier, makes it even less profitable in their eyes. Imagine a completely free version that gives the option of donation ?

I really fail to see how this would succeed as a startup or any kind of business ?

You keep saying that everyone who’s objecting to the paywall now is doing so only in the best interests of the tool and the devs, so that the tool can stay for long, get more users onboard etc. But tell me now, how does any of your suggestion make the tool any more successful ? How are they going to make money and hire more people and earn something after years of bootstrapping? The only way a tool becomes successful is if users support the devs, by paying for it.

You said going Open Source will solve the problem, that people would wanna help. The devs opened up CSS and API access long back, we still don’t even have a handful of themes or plugins to use. There are just one or two active devs helping in this aspect. You really think devs would contribute hours of actual coding to make the tool better and that people will donate enough for these devs who have been building these tools to make a life out of ?

@Subham_Mohanty and a few others praised that obsidian had such a good price plan and that they won the hearts of the users. Did you know that not long ago, their users were forcing licat and silver to make obsidian into open source ? One would think that users will be satisfied if they gave a more powerful free tier, but sad reality is, for most us nothing is enough. We are all greedy and entitled to expect more.

I am really confused, if you are all loving the tool and benefiting from it, and you want to help get better, how is it that you can’t spare two coffees a month to pay for it ?


This is a commonly sold ball point pen in the US, six of them cost around 7$, doesn’t using RemNote produce enough value of replacing just six pens, which would barely last 15 days for a heavy note taker ?

How is this a problem of affordability ? There is definitely value here for what it’s worth. Then what is the problem ?

There is definitely a line where feedback is overthrown by cynical criticism. We should be able to analyse that and reflect upon.

the developers have been really clear from the get go that there will always come a paid tier, but because they want to help students they would always keep a very generous free tier, and that the beta user will be rewarded with grandfathers access. Then why is everyone acting all surprised and confused ?

Suddenly everyone is an expert in startups and investment banking, everyone wants to give startup advice now.

@UMNiK, this is the first community where I see a moderator ruthlessly giving cynical comments and being harsh on the language to users who are supporting the tool. That’s just sad man :sweat_smile: shouldn’t it be the other way around ?

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