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Funded Free Software

A Drupal developer asked outright what people thought of attempts to monetize. I responded to icanlocalize's blog:

For-pay support is definitely a model with promise and worth trying. Try to avoid keeping key pieces online and proprietary though; that i think is bad for the ecosystem.

At best, though, [support or software-as-a-service is] a roundabout way to subsidize development costs. The way for free software to blow proprietary software out of the water in quality – because we have a superior development model – is to to get a better funding model, and that means people organizing to pay for software in advance.

Jan's ideas, and a tip jar for sponsored modules that original donors and developers could decide how to distribute toward new work would be a great addition to that.

We have a lot of plans in this area for 2011 (and have a not-for-profit organization that could support it; the Drupal Association has made it clear they are not interested in leading something like this). If you're interested also contact us.

Needs a web site, of course. Perhaps software.VisionsUnite.org for this... but there's a number of possible domains i've been collecting, including powertognu and powertodrupal.

Key elements of this plan:
- 20% of funds going to a project manager
- a designated client, to represent all funders
- all modules would have to be intended for d.o

Expectation: Developers will flake out. Feelings will be hurt. The system must be designed to carry on.

See past thoughts in this direction:

Searched words: 
open source free software funding model

Comments

My Long Statement on Having Nothing to say about #drupalappstore

[originally an e-mail regarding Drupal Dojo / Kata app store involvement]

I have no interest in an app store-- i said all i had to say on the topic before it was branded as such [above]. I have not had time to keep up with the controversy Robert created (congratulations, by the way! i will submit this episode to anyone claiming social media activism has no effect). I've just been collecting the names of most people involved with the intention of reading up and contacting them about collective fundraising.

I would like to see a very broad group of people (including those motivated by opposition to the app store idea or in favor of it!) come together to create 'the' way we in Drupal try to collectively fund our free software. I've talked about this with a few others. Daniel Kudwein i am hoping will write down his thoughts as a specification; with permission i will forward this to him and also Allie Micka and Claudina Sarahe who (all separately so far) are keenly interested in making funding happen.

Maybe i've missed a white paper or three not keeping up with this, but selling an actual application means selling code, and hosting code off of d.o is what the community collectively is spending a great deal of effort to avoid (see git migration), and drush and all our tools revolve around d.o and that's how it should be. Features of course we want to see take off -- drop in and it's all configured -- but they should be modules too.

We should be creating something truly new, not trying to mimic what proprietary software does. I try to make the point in the closing chapter of the Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 that giving money is indeed a way to contribute to the community, so i would be quite happy to see buying support / priority for features / maintainer goodwill as integrated into an overall framework for funding projects-- so any app-store-ish things that dojo/kata/VisionsUnite-PWGD do should be part of it, not a separate effort, in my opinion.

In summary, i'd like to see efforts focus on:
- collecting funds (with threshhold total for putting plan into action) for specific goals and (critically) coordinating and managing the efforts to meet these goals
- the default tip jar widget for all Drupal projects
- making it very easy to subscribe to support, and managing that so that people who do subscribe
- democratic socialism. It, not a market based on supply and demand, is the natural economic system for anything that, once produced, can be shared by an infinite number of people without cost to anyone. Have funds distributed by a decentralized, low overhead, democratic system (such as each contributor distributing 100 shares to various projects) and we have a real win. What this would mean in a community like Drupal is making donations a little less voluntary. Contribution levels to the pool of funds would be public and your treatment in getting free or paid support from conscious Drupalistas (who may be getting a significant share of their income from this collective funding) would differ markedly if you contributed nothing, or appeared to be operating a profitable business and contributing at the lowest level.

Note that i see the latter two points as being way, way off on the horizon.

CMS app stores suck

Just check out the Concrete5 addons "marketplace" (www.concrete5.org/marketplace/addons). Every time I

    buy

an app, developed by the makers of concrete5 itself, for a client's CMS from there, I have to tweak it to make it work, I have to nurse the site to make it show up right, and I have to inform the client how to delicately use it so it doesn't break.

Almost everything I use with Drupal, meanwhile, is bulletproof. There are no client surprises.

Complementary approaches

Make Drupal Grow: 3% from we who benefit
http://rufzeichen-online.de/make-drupal-grow-project-3

(will move these to a wiki on http://groups.drupal.org/paying-plumbing soon)

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