First of all, I really glad that this idea is taken in consideration, I really hope that it'll be useful. I really respect and appreciate your consideration and your great work.
Firstly, let me comment your remark @laufhannes
It's pragmatically and technically true, donations via paypal/patreon should be the same. But in the facts it's not. I cannot justify or really explain why. But I can try just to describe the "why". There are several points, but there's a keystone: the public is sportive people, and, a prori, most are not geek/informatics users/developer/'whatever that make them understand the current donation system importance... In consequences:
- A person has to think "I should support it" to do so. The point is that most people is used to free services and never think about the "why it's free". I personally did because I'm taking part in the "libre" world, but I know that most people never do it. And it's not clear on your service that you need it, we just have a tiny "support" link at the bottom. Your donation system is very austere and discrete, and never gets people’s attention.
- The donation that you use is paypal, which is technically perfectly fine (and even less expensive than a patreon-like systems). But it has a very professional aspect and philosophy. In most people minds it's not done for casual and individual money exchanges (still because they don't know/care much). Patreon tries to communicate in a way to let people think that it's easy, trustful, for individuals, done for them, everybody/anybody uses it, with a specific and fancy page in which you explain why you need it, is on-trend, etc. Not very pertinent arguments, but arguments you are sensible to when you technically don't know much about the donation problematic. It's purely marketing, and that's why it works.
- A lot of donator are already on patreon like systems and donate only through these. It's my case because I'm lazy and because people have to maintain a specific feed that let me understand a bit where my money is gone.
So in brief: marketing to a non much informed public.
May I now push a couple of arguments for why I hope for a non-premium system:
- Runalyze is not anymore fully open source
- Runalyze may lose the "premium" system
Then, in which fundamental point will runalyze be different from another tracking service? Promise that you won't use the data in an unknown code? Better service for the base user since the premiums will provide your resources? Even if it's non for benefits but just to maintain it, it can become critical at some point.
I'm probably wrong, but my main fear is that, slowly and naturally, you'd tend to another tracking service.
Just to finish this endless reply, I would like to complete my suggestion with a couple of new ideas, especially for the "pay something to get something..." side
- The patron site has an API. I didn't take a look deeply but I guess that you can take out the "who has paid". It can be interesting that the backers have a kind of indicator, such as bronze/silver/gold coin, beside his forum pseudo. I know that you already read everything, but it can add a weight on patron opinions and give a kind of reconnaissance. You can just do it by hand, without the API BTW, it can include paypal donors. But it's harder to updates regularly I guess.
- Still on the API, but harder to implement. A voting system based on who is paying how much. For instance, you gain a vote per dollar. Then when you have to settle features priorities, you can let people "put" their "money vote" on a specific one. It has the double interest to let you know what people want, and to allow people who want something specific to try to contribute to push it. Still a reconnaissance for the patrons.
- For "big backers", you can propose to give access to the source for own instantiation without specific support. And for "very big backers" you can add a support for servers installation/debug. Still in the example done before (comics) an editor that prints and sells it in shops (Glénat) backed 950$, which can be taken in consideration.
I don't know if these ideas are pertinent or correspond to your philosophy, but I really hope that it feeds the debates among the developers.
Thank you again for your answer, I hope it'd be useful, and anyway continue the good job