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Open Source Software The Almighty Buck

Crowdfunding Open Source Software Enhancements and Bug Fixes 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the preemptive-tip-jar dept.
flok writes "It's nice when your open source pet project is popular, but sometimes the constant stream of feature requests can be intimidating. The CatInCan website aims to help prioritize a project owner's efforts while letting them make some money on the side. Think of it as a Kickstarter-variant where people can raise funds to get functionality in software realized, or maybe to get that long-ignored bug fixed."
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Crowdfunding Open Source Software Enhancements and Bug Fixes

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    so the longer i put off the bug fix, the more money I earn when I dinally do fix it!?

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @06:54PM (#43417213) Homepage

    This is of interest to me since at my day job we're trying to (advertisement warning) crowdfund our new email client. [indiegogo.com]

    We talked about funding individual ticket bounties, but that didn't make sense to us. For one thing, a lot of code changes aren't easily ticketable -- or the ticketing itself is a lot of work, i.e. planning meetings are required. It doesn't seem fair to pay for the programming but not the planning.

    But the big problem is this: how do you get continuous enough funding to have a staff, an office, health plans, etc. when you're doing individual bounties? The funding seems like it wouldn't be stable enough to support the company.

    I'd also point out that this very idea has been tried several times already, never with much success.

    • Crowd funding a company is inherently stupid.
      The company has to be able to stand on its own two feet.

      This comes in only if the company doesn't really have a interest in a feature but a user with cash does.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        Crowd funding a company is inherently stupid.
        The company has to be able to stand on its own two feet.

        So you think PBS and NPR are "inherently stupid"? Please explain.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Is your company a non-profit like PBS and NPR?
          • by MrEricSir (398214)

            Not at the federal level -- as of 2009, the IRS no longer gives nonprofit status to software companies.

        • Tnw commercial for PBS fundraising says "If PBS didn't do it, who would?" Discovery Channel History Channel TLC Science Channel Animal Planet etc. It was their own advertising which got me thinking that maybe it isn't necessary for them yo forcibly take money from everyone's paychecks. ( PBS is partially taxpayer funded.)
          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Tnw commercial for PBS fundraising says "If PBS didn't do it, who would?" Discovery Channel History Channel TLC Science Channel Animal Planet etc. It was their own advertising which got me thinking that maybe it isn't necessary for them yo forcibly take money from everyone's paychecks. ( PBS is partially taxpayer funded.)

            Have you watched those channels? Have you seen what they air? Trust me, PBS is way more cerebral and informative than this week's trucker tow, crab fishing, gold mining, oil drilling, ... s

            • GP here. You have a point about the crab fishing and UFOs. On the other hand, Discovery Networks alone has four or five channels and just the Discovery Network channels alone have more good stuff (combined) than PBS does, simply because they have several such channels. So I'd say that Discovery Network replaces PBS, plus there are the other, non-affiliated channels.

              More importantly, Discovery doesn't forcibly take my paycheck. PBS doesn't just have to be good, it has to be so essential that they are
      • So crowfounding a company is stupid? How do work most companies then but by crowdfounding?

        • Bootstrapping a company no, but maintaining a company yes.

        • How do work most companies then but by crowdfounding?

          Most companies grow by getting investors, which are usually investment firms. Crowdfunding is getting a lot of people to pay in small amounts.

          • by ssyladin (458003)

            Wait, like EA and their free-to-play games + in-game micro-transactions?

            • by Anonymous Coward

              No, unless EA charges before the game is even made.

      • This is at least useful [as in, new features or bugs fixed].

        RunRev actually had the balls to do a kickstarter campaign to refactor their existing app and open-source it for personal apps. They'll still keep selling it for all other uses, and some important bits won't be open-source [of course!].

        Basically, they coded themselves into a corner, and wanted somebody else to pay to code themselves out of it.

        I can't believe they found so many suckers.

    • by Tigris666 (197729)

      I'd also point out that this very idea has been tried several times already, never with much success.

      I worked on a project called Fundry [killerstartups.com], that was exactly this. Developers could add projects and setup paypal etc attached to it, then users could "put their money where their mouth is" so to speak and directly fund features they wanted. The idea being features would pay for themselves and developers wouldn't end up implementing features nobody wanted.

      But alas it ended up failing [matteoionescu.com], as the poster above mentioned, we weren't the first to try it, kickstarter beat us to the bunch by about 2 weeks but we continued o

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @08:04PM (#43417693) Journal

      This is why I've said that FOSS really only works if you have a business plan that uses what I call "The blessed three" which is 1.-Sell support/services, 2.-Sell hardware, 3.-The tin cup, which of course this is the third of the three, because the traditional methods of making money off the software just doesn't work thanks to the GPL redistribution clause.

      Is this a bad thing? No, in fact if you build around the blessed three you can make a LOT of money, just ask Red Hat, but what that means is you are gonna have a hard time keeping that email client funded if you can't figure out a way to use the blessed three because in FOSS the software is free in every sense of the word so traditional methods just don't work. This is why you've never seen a FOSS game with the depth and quality of a Bioshock despite all the free engines, this is why you've never seen a desktop with the level of polish of OSX or Windows, its because these things are VERY difficult to fit into the blessed three model.

      So I wish you luck but its probably gonna be rough going unless you can figure out a way to fit into the blessed three, because desktop software like the desktop itself just isn't an easy fit into that model. Servers fit because there is always companies wanting this or that feature or this or that bug fixed and having direct access to the devs is a useful thing to have in that space, it works in embedded because its the hardware itself that brings the value, it can be a solid and lucrative business but like all business models you really have to conform to it, it can't conform to you.

    • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @11:32PM (#43419103)
      Most OSS projects get basically no funding. I work on code if and only if my need for it is more than the work it requires. If it would take $100 worth of time, but I only get $50 worth of benefit, I won't do it. On the other hand, if I get $50 worth of benefit AND I collect a $70 bounty, I'd do the work.

      But the big problem is this: how do you get continuous enough funding to have a staff, an office, health plans, etc. when you're doing individual bounties? The funding seems like it wouldn't be stable enough to support the company.

      I'd guess that less than 1% of OSS projects have an office and a health plan. For the 99%.that include people doing it in their spare time, being able to make a little extra money contributing to OSS would sure encourage me to do more.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        I'd guess that less than 1% of OSS projects have an office and a health plan. For the 99%.that include people doing it in their spare time, being able to make a little extra money contributing to OSS would sure encourage me to do more.

        If hobby programmers are already working for free, offering to pay them makes no sense.

        And while "less than 1%" of open source software might be made by professional developers, that tiny little fraction of open source software is what people actually use: Firefox, Linux, Chro

        • by jabuzz (182671)

          Ggedanken experiment, take one hobby programmer who maintains an OSS project. Let's assume they have a garden which needs the lawn cutting once a week, and general maintenance. Takes couple hours a week for six months of the year, lets say 80 hours a year for round figures. Perhaps if someone where giving him money to work on his hobby aka the OSS project he could afford to get in a gardener and spend that time on his hobby.

          • by rduke15 (721841)

            In theory, yes. But you picked a particularly bad example with gardening. A programmer whose hobby is programming really needs that little exercise he would get from gardening. Replacing it with more programming will lead to his brain rotting, and his programming skills declining rapidly.

          • by MrEricSir (398214)

            That's a rationalization, at best. You're still expecting people to work for free for the benefit of others.

        • If hobby programmers are already working for free, offering to pay them makes no sense.

          Unless, of course, you want them to do more, or to do something specific, like code a feature you want. I contribute to Moodle, an open source learning management system. I have some use for a certain feature, but not enough to get me to actually code it. When another user mentioned getting three or four people to contribute to a bounty I said I'd code it if they came up with $100. (I'd get the $100 plus the benefit of being able to use the feature, worth $30 to me.) Without the bounty, I won't spend t

      • Most OSS projects get basically no funding.

        Can you give examples of significant OSS projects that get no funding?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Most OSS projects get basically no funding.

          Can you give examples of significant OSS projects that get no funding?

          define 'significant'

    • I'd also point out that this very idea has been tried several times already, never with much success.

      Yeah. There was even a kickstarter-like site (complete with threshold pledging, like you've wisely decided to use on Indiegogo) that predated Kickstarter, as I recall. Annoys me that I can't remember its name.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean, part of the appeal of open source to me has always been the collaborative process of building a piece of software. Monetizing the process kind of kills the dream.

    Like the above poster mentioned, this has been tried before. I can't see it working out, not do I hope it does.

  • Well, I think a devs dream would be that the community would help supporting a project without having to focus on specific issues, although from the ones I've seen, such as the PyDev crowdfunding: http://igg.me/at/liclipse and the PyPy crowdfunding: http://pypy.org/ , I think the model that seems to work is having both, a 'general' funding and putting on something targeted too so that it can get a wider audience...

    Still, after working on software projects for some time, I think the real work is more on the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    * http://wayback.archive.org/web/20110514070546/http://elveos.org/ [archive.org] the source of which is available at https://github.com/BloatIt/bloatit [github.com]

    * http://selfstarter.us/ [selfstarter.us]

    This catincan business seems nice enough until you notice a Facebook like button on the page. The 0-click variant, no less.

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:18AM (#43420359)

    Look at PowerDNS. They have been successfully doing open source development with paid developers since probably the earliest start. Other companies have variations on this theme.

    Getting a crowdsourcing website set up to facilitate relatively unknown projects to advertise for backers is a logical follow up to this. I doubt that it will be profitable for the people setting up the crowdsourcing, since a lot of projects are not going to get any relevant backing because they simply aren't grown up enough to be useful. Starting a program from scratch with crowd sourced money will be much harder than to get money to get a nice feature in an already popular program.

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