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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] crowdfunding free software

From: Daniel Pocock
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] crowdfunding free software
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2015 09:38:21 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Icedove/31.8.0

On 20/12/15 20:12, Aaron Wolf wrote:
> On 12/20/2015 11:04 AM, Daniel Pocock wrote:
>> On 20/12/15 19:50, Aaron Wolf wrote:
>>> This whole issue is complex, and it relates to what we're trying to do
>>> with — we are making a system more specifically designed
>>> for the challenges faced by free/libre/open projects.
>>> Here's our run-down of why these reward-focused campaigns are ill-fit:

Here you have written "no sustainability or accountability"

In fact, I feel it is up to individual projects to declare their own
strategies for sustainability and accountability and it is then up to
donors to discriminate in favour of those who have done so.  If a well
known free software project with a trusted governance system in place
was raising funds through Kickstarter, for example, that would be very
different to somebody that nobody had ever met raising funds through
Kickstarter for the same goal.

Under the heading "Result: high-pressure campaign", you comment on the
"high-energy, marketing-focused campaign".  Isn't that also how our
democracies work, for better or worse?  Elections (whether it is for the
US President, the Debian Project Leader or Australians voting for the
queen in 1999) typically have a fixed date and for some period of weeks
before that everybody asks the candidates questions and listens to their
answers and this inevitably takes time away from actual hands-on work.

You also write in bold that "Most crowdfunding sites have no requirement
for FLO release of products" but if I understand correctly, Kickstarter
used to state that software projects should be open source, but I can't
find that stated on their site any more.

My general feeling is that this page makes many good points (I was
already familiar with quite a few of the issues) but doesn't say too
much about the benefits.  For example, it may be beneficial that
Kickstarter encourages people to spend time learning about marketing,
making videos and promoting their work, as these are valuable skills in
themselves.  If we want to promote the concept of software freedom (even
when not asking for money), these skills are invaluable.

>>> But anyway, we aren't operating yet (although we're working hard to get
>>> there). We ran our own one-off drive and continue accepting regular
>>> donations during our pre-launch phase. We did thanks, stickers,
>>> sponsored-commits, shirts, that sort of thing. It's a lot of work and
>>> hassle and we have to think of the whole thing as publicity value as
>>> much as money because the costs and hassle of this type of fundraising
>>> are substantial…
>> Thanks for this feedback - it is worth noting that in any industry
>> (whether it is in research, in a big corporation, non-profit, etc) there
>> are overheads for getting funds for projects.
>> The bigger questions are:
>> - how does crowdfunding relate to the alternatives?

Under the Grants heading you write:

"Public or private grants can be wonderful, but applications can cost
project teams a lot of time and distract from real work"

While I understand the point you are making there, the reality is that
applying for grants is also work.  Some people have jobs doing exactly
that.  Maybe you could revise the text to reflect that.

>> - if people go for serious targets (six-figure dollar amounts), can they
>> realistically budget for the month they spend making videos, preparing
>> the rewards, risk factor, etc?
> Yes, the fundraising can cover its own costs, but it's still risky and
> costly
>> - do certain types or project fare better than others?
> Of course certain projects fare better. Ones with big excited audience,
> with trust and credibility, with reliable history, with the best
> marketing, with realistic goals; and, unfortunately, as the article I
> already linked emphasized, *proprietary* projects with pay-for-access
> restrictions have a better time because they have more ways to offer
> exclusivity to donors.
>> Maybe these questions are better discussed on a thread on the more
>> general issue of crowdfunding though, so I changed the subject line.
> for more history
> for full
> run-down of crowdfunding platforms at all relevant to free software
> We've done a lot more research too and writings on this. Of course, I'm
> biased here and can't be objective totally, but we're working on
> because we believe other fundraising methods for free
> software and free culture are fundamentally inadequate, see the
> snowdrift dilemma.
> While I'm willing to discuss more about here, it's (A)
> not usable immediately so doesn't answer questions of those doing
> immediate fundraising and (B) anyone who really wants to engage with us
> should join the discuss list or #snowdrift
> on or otherwise engage with the writings and stuff we've
> put together. At the least, I know lots of people have appreciated the
> research we've done and find it valuable even though our vision isn't
> realized yet.
> Cheers,
> Aaron

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