Innovation, funding and FS

Andreas Nilsson emitter at
Tue Sep 18 16:25:26 UTC 2018

Hash: SHA512

Hello Paul.

> There are at least three forms of funding platforms that tend to see
> some Free 
> Software development activity:
>  * Bounty funding (such as Bountysource)
>  * Ongoing funding (such as Liberapay)
>  * Crowdfunding campaign (such as Crowd Supply and IndieGoGo)
> I think these platforms tend to favour work that can be readily
> advertised, 
> packaged and sold, but of course not all work that is worth doing
> will fit 
> into this form.
> Crowdfunding is most definitely something that has a marketing
> component, and 
> this means that people have to make a pitch to others to convince
> them of the 
> work's value, but software is still seen as intangible and less
> valuable than 
> hardware. With hardware, you hopefully get some goodies at the end of
> the 
> campaign that are exclusively yours and that people outside the
> campaign do 
> not get. With software, you share the rewards with others, and also
> with 
> everyone else if it is Free Software. People might wonder, as usual,
> whether 
> they shouldn't just leave it to others to put up the money.
> There are also a few common problems with ongoing funding and
> crowdfunding. 
> One is that some people feel that they have to be highly responsive
> to their 
> backers in order to keep them happy. This ends up with people burning
> out 
> because they are effectively having to do the work plus an "always
> on" public 
> relations job. YouTube millionaires have this problem, apparently, so
> I am not 
> sure it can be solved easily with more money:
> (The other problem is that people fail to communicate, particularly
> if things 
> do not go well, but that is another story.)

Yes. Burning out due to a deal that is taking place and relations that
are just forming sounds unnecessary and unneeded. I read about the
three different forms and systems of payment that exist today and I'm
going to look at crowdfunding when I write now. Crowdfunding sounds to
be the most stress inducing of all of these three given that there are
many funders giving small funds with each having their demands for the
project at hand.

When I think about crowdfunding I have stuff like "smaller hobby
projects" in mind such as a design for an electric circuit that can do
a funky thing. I don't have insight in the crowdfunding projects today.

With the lack of a middleman, or a team to communicate in between the
funders and fundees, there is bound to be a stress related task at hand
that is endured by the fundee. Be it a person, a team or a company.

I am taking guesses at what this is lacking is something called "demand
specificaton" in Swedish (directly translated). When a customer (here
funder) is having an idea for a product, then they are thinking in
terms of a finished product and as front end and concrete as possible. 

Their ideas could be that they want the software to have certain GUI
components here and there, while clicking on them should execute a task
explained outside of coding terms.

What I'm trying to say is that the human component for tasks like this
are probably going to lack in the crowdfunding platforms. It could and
should be taken a look at if volunteers, organizations or even
profitable companies could pitch in here.

> Bounty funding should get around this cultural problem of people
> expecting 
> "always on" responsiveness, but the work favours things that are
> either "odd 
> jobs" that don't pay very well or are things that would normally be
> put out as 
> a contract for bidding. I noted in my blog article about funding
> platforms...
> ...that while the sums involved for some bounties are considerably
> better than 
> the usual "tip jar" amounts, the rather informal arrangements around
> getting 
> the work done, combined with people competing speculatively (as
> opposed to 
> collaborating), means that these large sums go unclaimed. Three years
> on and 
> the IBM people are still waiting for their LuaJIT port (or dragging
> their feet 
> on accepting any submitted work):

Sounds like an auction of developmental work. I don't know much about
it. It's an interesting approach.

Could be used for things that doesn't have a clear value or usage, let
the bidders decide how much it's worth to them. I wouldn't use it for
critical projects.

> Ongoing funding potentially promotes a more sustainable way of
> funding people, 
> at least if we can ignore those cultural issues around keeping the
> audience 
> happy, because a developer can potentially prioritise their work
> appropriately 
> and not feel that they have to dance to everybody else's tune all the
> time. 
> But the problem then is to persuade people that the work is worth
> supporting. 
> Some might claim that a successfully funded person could just be
> working for a 
> company, but that requires a sole employer to put up that person's
> entire 
> salary.

Most funding in this fashion will probably be from organizations and
companies that are supportive of a particular software approach.

I consider recurring payment in my own budget, it is always regarding
either state financial institutions that are demanding money or it is
for a cause. There is a third option which is to fund your own good,
which I doubt much software does on these sites unless it's a
scientific approach. Say there's a software to research regarding
cancer, I could go with a recurring payment for that.

> It is true that you cannot just have people doing exactly what they
> want and 
> expecting to get paid for it, no matter what it is. (Well, actually
> you can: 
> it is called art.) Then again, by "what they actually want to do" I
> meant the 
> work of writing software, as opposed to things like meddling with
> dubious 
> financial instruments, executing foreign exchange transactions,
> drumming up 
> business on a speculative basis, and so on.

I have a hard time following here.

> But you also cannot leave it to the whims of "the market" to decide,
> either, 
> because you end up in precisely the situation where only the "cool", 
> marketable projects get funding. And those projects may only address
> the fad 
> of the day and leave nothing for others to build upon. Worse, for
> Free 
> Software, they may also exploit other software projects to deliver
> their 
> product.

I agree that the best approach is to blend various methods. Auction
payments sound much like the market is in control of almost everything,
while recurring payments sound more geared towards good software. 
Almost two opposites here. Crowdfunding is special, I don't know if you
can talk about a market in that case, in the classical sense of it.


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