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Our 2016 Open Source Donations (duck.co)
403 points by wicket on May 7, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

Donating to open-source seems like such a good use of charity money. I never give to charity because it always seems so abstract, or there might be better ways to solve the problem; with open source people are usually laboring over it with no recognition, and even a little seems like it has such high marginal benefit.

I'm in-between jobs right now(occupied with a side project), but at some point I'd really like to fund feature development on some open source projects:

* GNUCash has a solid heart, but has some usability issues that make it a pain to use in practice.

* Freenet last I checked had only 1 fulltime developer. And he's probably taking a serious cut to market salary to work on it.

* GHC could stand to have some performance optimization done on the compiler.

* Inkscape or GIMP are handy to have around. Inkscape even has a page describing how you can host a fundraiser for targeted feature development, which is very rare for open-source.

* I don't know that TOR needs much software help, but I wouldn't mind funding some exit nodes. It'd be nice if you could buy a locked-down black-box exit node that you could plug into your wall or something, that was guaranteed not to incriminate you. Maybe outside the scope of this, though.

* Everyone has a little app or site they use where a few people are working without much benefit to maintain something you use all the time.

Is there a good list of needy open-source software?

> I never give to charity because it always seems so abstract, or there might be better ways to solve the problem

It can be difficult to know whether or not you are making an impact with a donation. Fortunately there are sites like Charity Navigator [0] that audit aggregate and audit charities to make things easier. Some sites (like Giving What We Can [1] and GiveWell [2]) make it even simpler by suggesting a few charities that they deem most effective.

For example, one of these top charities is the Against Malaria Foundation [3]. They're a fairly straightforward charity: they receive and review requests for mosquito nets and fulfill orders with donations. When you donate they tell you exactly how many nets were bought with your donation and where they were sent. In this way your dollars (approximately) directly help prevent the spread of malaria. Now, could this problem be better solved with donations to a malaria vaccine research group? Perhaps. For the time being, mitigating the issue with nets seems like a decent interim solution.

My point is that there are many, many charities out there doing great work. It's worth looking into.

(Another note: I don't mean to imply that you shouldn't give to open source projects. I am just trying to say that you could also consider giving to traditional charities.)

[0] - http://www.charitynavigator.org/

[1] - https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/top-charities/

[2] - http://www.givewell.org/charities/top-charities

[3] - https://www.againstmalaria.com/

My problem with that is that they mitigate the issue, they don't end it. As great as against malaria is, there will always be another family that needs nets, no matter how much you donate it will never be enough. One a feature has been added to an open source software, it is available to all those who need it.

I get your point but that comes across as very callous to me, valuing a feature in software that benefits a small fraction of the most prosperous people in already-prosperous countries over the health of a family.

Consider reframing it: With a small donation you solve the problem for a family (where the problem is the risk that their children will die!), and you can solve it over and over just by repeating the action - it's the definition of scalability. You won't have to keep adding different colors of net to make that family safe.

But there's always another software feature to be added, the job is never done - and when you add a feature it's only for the one package! If you want to do it again you have to start from scratch.

Also, when you consider improvements in your projects, you no doubt consider both cost and impact. Compare the impact of the feature-add your donation might make in an open-source project, to the impact saving one or more family's lives.

The bigger issue for me is that they have such limited resources they can only investigate a tiny fraction of charities. If you have a personal interest in a certain area or want to find global optima the net is not cast wide enough. Very glad they exist though, could help raise standards everywhere.

Every piece of open-source software needs donations of some form (time/money/hardware/etc). Donate to the ones you use. If they accept your money, great. Many only accept time though (in the form of patches etc).

Tor needs help with software too.

Tor relies on exit node diversity for security. Jurisdiction diversity, organisation diversity, sysadmin diversity, hoster diversity, hardware diversity, OS diversity etc. Funding exit nodes reduces a lot of those. It would be best to setup a node yourself and convince people you know to setup nodes. If you still want to fund nodes, the Torservers project accepts money to do that. Tor itself had/has an experiment on funding exit nodes. Exit nodes tend to attract law enforcement in some cases, there are no guarantees. Relay nodes are much safer.

http://torservers.net/ https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-relays/2012-July/...

Tor needs funding diversity too, hence their recent individual supporters campaign.


Tor FAQ about funding:


I strongly agree with the Inkscape/GIMP bullet point. In fact I'd say Inkscape/GIMP/Scribus/Blender and I'm probably missing some other tools. It's really a shame how focused design classes are on proprietary software. I've heard the sentence "don't use Blender, it will hurt your chances of employment" a lot and "clashed" with some of the professors here.

I think there needs to be a strong "not Adobe" toolkit and probably something similar for music and film (Blender is good for film actually). Those are creative and content oriented fields that often get overlooked by us programmers but there's so many young folks that need/want good and free tools to express their creativity. [it doesn't help that digital drawing oards and the like often don't work with Linux so maybe some more hardware as well]

Similar to the TOR point you made, maybe it's not the projects that need the money (eventhough I'd say if in doubt give it to them). More tutorials that focus on the free tools would help a lot in that field. You can actually drive adoption by having better tutorials. If my first 10 hits when I search for "draw comic book character" all lead to Inkscape and not Illustrator tutorials that's a nice win.

You don't donate to charity because maybe it isn't the perfect solution, but obviously giving money to open source is worthwhile?

> GHC could stand to have some performance optimization done on the compiler


I wonder, why they have chosen Freenet? Not I2P [1] as much more modern alternative and active community, bigger and faster network, bigger dev crew. Also I'd like to mention C++ implementation [2] of I2P client, since it's more important for bringing it on the microcontrollers, IoT, mobile devices, like Tor. It will produce smaller binary and less memory footprint.

[1] https://geti2p.net/en/

[2] https://github.com/PurpleI2P/i2pd

There is the Software Freedom Conservancy: https://sfconservancy.org/

It allows donating to free software projects without burdening the developers with the administrative cost of accepting donations.

It currently supports about 40 projects: https://sfconservancy.org/members/current/

List is outdated and shows several dead projects, like foresight linux. Be aware.

Are there other dead projects? Looks like only Foresight to me.

> I never give to charity because it always seems so abstract, or there might be better ways to solve the problem;

I decided a long time ago that there are too many good causes, and too many charities. While I don't donate much every single donation I've made for the past fifteen years has gone to the same three charities.

I can cheerfully ignore starving children, tsunamis, and all other good causes precisely because I know that I'm making a (small) difference in some other areas that are both meaningful to myself, and which I've "audited".

Too many charities seem very vague, or produce little measurable impact. I think the key is to pick something local, and something with which you want to be engaged. (Or sidestep the problem entirely and donate time, space, resources rather than actual cash.)

What are those three charities, if I may ask?

* RNIB, The Royal National Institue for the Blind.

* RNLA, Royal National Lifeboat Association, - their members get my respect for literally risking their lives to rescue others. (Alongside other people such as firemen, mountain rescue teams, etc.)

* A specific cancer charity.

I would encourage you to donate your time to some open source project that you use instead.

Thanks, reminded me that I needed to donate to Inscape (done :)) ! Love it for its simplicity and powerful stuff!

The donations are great for open source projects.

I just wonder if DDG is investing in their own crawler? With Yahoo BOSSS API bite the dust therefor loosing access to Bing search result. DDG nowadays has to rely on Yandex (Russian search engine) for their search result. The search results of DDG have gone from okay to a bit worse, so what's their long term strategy? Stay a meta-search-engine, or invest major resources to crawl the web themselves? What many people hate is high latency and to lower latency you cannot rely on third party APIs for the main search.

There is an official Bing API coming out soon (a Bing developer recently mentioned this in an HN thread a couple days ago, although I can't find it atm), so they won't have to rely on Yandex for much longer. I have no idea if the pricing will be comparable to Yahoo BOSS though.

Just wondering, how many GB per second does a modern search engine have to crawl?

I'm surprised DDG can donate so much money to open source. They must be doing well? Or is this money they've helped raise from their users? $225,000! That's a lot of money.

DDG has done excellent work building their traffic[0] and have been getting a solid 10-12 million or so searches per day for a while. Even if you halve that due to !bang redirects and ad blocking and put a fairly low CPM on the ads they have quite a few millions or or low tens of millions coming in. I haven't been following too closely but my impression is Gabriel has been increasing staffing and other costs at a rate far lower than the increasing revenue.

Additionally the donation itself got a vast amount of coverage in the relevant communities, including HN, so the expenditure is offset against advertising for user acquisition they didn't need to do. It probably also strengthened their core community, making their users more sticky. The donation also went to some of the infrastructure they use anyway.


Not to pour water on things, but after 8 years or so I'm not sure it's growing that well...

After 6 years, Google was doing 200m searches a day.

Google now does something like 4 billion a day. So duckduckgo, after 8 years of growth, has captured about 0.3% of the search market. At that sort of rate, it'll take decades to get any meaningful share, and that's assuming Google stand still, which they won't.

That's assuming you have to own the market. You don't, you just need more income than outcome. It would appear DDG is achieving that. Good for them I say.

That's not a bad share of the market. Their strategy is fairly smart/standard chasm crossing. Capture programmers/tech oriented users first. As long as they have solid growth in that department I wouldn't worry.

But Google also more or less owns the market now. Back then it was anyone's game (and internet usage in tdeveloped countries was growing rapidly, making the market a bit more volatile).

Not just ad-blocking; they have a "disable ads" option in their settings.

I actually don't think it is really that much money. It's as much as/less than a developer would cost.

Seems to be a fairly good deal. I try to convince the bosses where I work to do something like this and they just roll their eyes at me.

It is a lot of money, but it's about as much money as you'd need to hire one additional employee.

The money is from DuckDuckGo but we do involve users by calling for nominations from the community (see https://duck.co/blog/post/247/2016-foss-donation-nominations )

I'm surprised to learn that Freenet is still a thing. What do people use it for?

Decentralized microblogging using Sone, the twitter-like system on Freenet. Freemail, the encrypted email system. FMS, the forums. I also use the distributed data store for storing data. Basically anything you'd use IPFS for but more anonymity.

Here's an example of using it for the backing store for my blog: https://bluishcoder.co.nz/2015/09/14/using-freenet-for-stati...

Here's a series of articles on writing dynamic apps for Freenet - in this case chat-like things http://www.draketo.de/light/english/freenet/communication-pr...

In addition to what doublec described: I use Freenet for confidential communication with friends. Encrypted Freenet traffic provides a cover which not only masks when we talk and what we talk about but also whether we talk at all.

For details and how to do it, see http://www.draketo.de/english/freenet/connect-speak-freely

It seems like a pretty great list at first glance. Lots of free speech and/or crypto related projects. Good job DDG, once again doing it right. I hope this generates some good PR for you :)

[Now hurry and make DDG better for non-English languages, I want to use it for everything and more importantly want to make it the default for my parents, friends etc...well I guess strategically it doesn't make much sense if the target niche is developers but one can hope :D]

Message received and understood! Although we're currently trying to improve Instant Answers for developers, we're also continuing to work on better search results for mainstream users as awareness of privacy issues increases.

I wish somebody would just give KiCad a few million dollars and we could be free of OrCad/Altium/Etc

I couldn't agree more.

The trouble is KiCad just won't cut it for complex boards. Eventually it could get there, but I ended up buying Pulsonix. Maybe starting a nonprofit to throw KiCad fundraisers?

Very nice. More companies should come up with posts like this to a) spread awareness b) encourage more people to work on open source projects(when there's money on the table). That would also clear up the question of how open source software can be sustainable and where do funds come from.

Wow, DDG has come a long way since I was last there a few years ago. It's great to have a serious player in the search space dedicated to privacy. After spending some time using it just now their ranking algorithm still feels somewhat inferior to Google though. This is not surprising given the resources Google devotes to machine learning and the like I guess. Does anyone know roughly how DDG arrive at their results?

On topic, I think their donation is a great move.

We use several sources[1], in particular Yahoo, Bing and Yandex, and then try to improve relevancy in the results as much as possible.

[1] https://duck.co/help/results/sources


Now... this is certainly great, especially given the particular selection of projects receiving the donations. I've upvoted the article and hopefully more companies (aka open source consumers) will do the same.

But then I wonder, what is that the community would benefit most from? Money or actual code contributions?

I develop open source software and I get paid for doing it, which is a great luxury. Go DDG, raise the bar even further, employ people working on these projects if you don't have any already and even release more software!

I'd love to bring really important open source projects to baqqer and support them with monthly pledges. I'd like them to be transparent and open with their direction and progress, while simultaneously letting the community there help guide and support their efforts. Does anyone know any great open source projects that would be open to this?

What benefits does baqqer provide over Patreon (for single Makers) and Bountysource Salt (for OSS projects)?

How much does baqqer charge on the donations that a maker gets through it? I can see very little to no information without signing up.

We help people, products, companies also grow through our community and forums. You can also perform micro-campaigns to raise smaller amounts of money for one-off required items. IMHO the experience is wholly different, because I wanted the crowdfunding experience to be much more intimate and supportive.

Right now we charge 7% but only because we're trying to reach our server costs quickly since we're bootstrapped. Once we're at a break-even point we'll be dropping it down to 5% and remain competitive.

Most information is (probably erroneously) here: https://baqqer.com/tos

I know duck is all about the trust but couldn't they have picked some non encryption/security OSS projects. It sort of reminds of the brief period where all these sustainability/eco startups where picked for awards or help.

We did have some non-encryption/security nominations from the community, but we decided in advance that this year's theme would be "raising the standard of trust online", hence this final list of recipients.

Where are they getting money


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