> SPI acts as a fiscal sponsor to many free and open source projects ... we encourage programmers to use the GNU General Public License or other licenses that allow free redistribution and use of software and hardware developers to distribute documentation that will allow device drivers to be written for their product ... all donations made to SPI and its supported projects are tax deductible for donors in the United States.
It's a wonderful gesture, I don't want to take away from that. Just wondering how straight up donating compares to contributing.
I see what you mean. However, as a two person company we think the impact from supporting those projects is a better use of funds. It's all a bit of an experiment, but we wanted to put a stake in the ground somewhere because of how important open source has been to our existence as a company.
Joe (Eventbot co-founder)
One of the hardest things we've found is helping small projects (1 or 2 people) that don't have/need the structure of Open Collective but still could use the funds. PayPal is surprising bad since you can't even accept a recurring payment without going through hoops to set up a page/button.
Also, allocating 3% of my developers time is not super useful. That's less than 1 day a month per developer. Far better to allocate 1 developer for X time. By giving cash, you facilitate that for someone else. You could of course choose one person in your company to be that person and pay them directly, but thats hard for political reasons.
This was a great read: https://www.fordfoundation.org/about/library/reports-and-stu...
I have experience with many open source projects, and the large ones are generally closed to small new contributions (the ones that can be studied and written in a few hours). Most of the time, they will rot, even if they're useful (as in "solves an open issue" useful) and competently written.
Some time ago, there was discussion (commotion) about the years-old Python bug fix that was never mainstreamed. In the real open source world, that's routine. Even Torvalds once acknowledged this phenomenon; I stress that I'm talking about competently written code.
Once, the maintainers of a certain project, which is structured around donations, essentially ignored my company's development contribution offer, even if it was significantly more valuable than the donation(s) they typically get.
To summarize, for small projects, or those who desire traction, contributing by all means, but for large ones... money, or just shift the attention to smaller ones :-)
Maybe, maybe not. Projects can be rate-bound on other issues than rando's work-time e.g. maintainer's financial incentives or troubles, infrastructure, … in which case more contributors isn't necessarily helpful. Keep in mind 3% dev time is about a week / week-and-a-half, how relevant it is depends heavily on the specific project and developer.
And the 3% developer time is not necessarily equivalent to 3% revenue (e.g. because they're contributing heavily to revenue growth). Plus tax incentives could be a factor, for the company there might be more for the buck giving 3% revenue than keeping revenue and giving employee time.
It intuitively makes a lot of sense if you are building on top of a platform to dedicate some resources towards the continued well-being of the platform. With SAAS, the resources are the money you pay each month, but with open source you can donate either money or time!
In what way? Any sources?
Some people abuse the position (like management) they are in and get get paid way too much money for the position.
I would also suggest contributing to individuals directly. Seek out maintainers of the projects you want to support and see if they have a patreon or liberapay page.
I think it could be pretty cool to have a donation aggregator, though I'm not sure what it would do differently than what existing places I don't donate to do. Perhaps more transparency?
It'd be kind of neat to have 'OSS Index Funds' (misnomer to convey the idea) that a donation aggregator could provide. I could offer a fund for 'Rust' that might support 30% compiler team, 30% core team, 20% something else, 10% docs (I obviously don't know what the percentages should look like, just demonstrating). A different fund could be 'Programming Language Development' which might invest 20% in the Rust fund, 20% in Zig, and so on. A fund for Graphics like GIMP, Krita, Blender, etc.
Discovery of who to support is, maybe, one of the big problems preventing direct support. If you eliminate that problem without making people feel like they don't have a say and don't overwhelm them with information.... then maybe it could catch on?
Sometimes I've thought about donating, only to realise that its the website/readme/whatever that's making me think about it, and wondered how many projects I owe more to that don't have as good donation-grabbing copy that aren't getting as much.
And does it even make sense to support the project most valuable to you, or perhaps rather the most endangered that has any non-trivial value?
We definitely need a way to make inroads on this, good work.
There are valid reasons to look at other build tools, but "because your current tool is 4 years old" isn't one.
We do not need subsistence economy, we already won technically, open code is everywhere now. The big loss is the miss of political support. The big loss is the mass ignorance of how private companies trap open code in closed "boxes" from Android to WSL/DeX/Crostini to our PND/NAS/router/*.
That's the real point to get and IMO apart FSF we need to take action at school/universities level, workplaces etc. Putting money like that is a way to loose money without return.
Suggesting all code should be OSS is orthogonal.
I start a new project, for instance to autoclassify documents. Ok users of my code will contributed in code, hosting, documentation simply because they share my similar need/desire. If there is interest there is no need for money, software is not a product nor a thing we can live on. It's shared knowledge. There are no "producer" nor "consumers", only participants.
If we have a single-man-show that say "hey, found me so I can keep the project up" it means that:
- we completely lost FOSS model, transformed to a sort of neopatronage, the erotic dream of proprietary vendors that dream a world of products to be sold and bought;
- the project is already dead not because of lack of founds but because of lack of participants, knowledge, interest.
One reason for that is that many codebases are large and complex, and so even expert programmers won't automatically understand how to improve them substantially without a considerable amount of study. It's likely that many people will need to be paid for that investment, not because they ideologically believe that software should be property, but because it takes up a huge amount of their time and effort that they won't be able to apply elsewhere.
And indeed, when people have empirically looked into some of the larger FOSS projects they've found that a majority of the contributions were made by people who were being paid to make them—again, not because of any ideological aspect, but because being paid for it allowed them to invest a huge amount of time and focus and helped them to be more sophisticated and productive contributors.
(Edit: Just to be clear, I don't think that trying to convince people to use, develop, or procure FOSS instead of proprietary software is bad, or that, if successful, it won't also lead to more resources being applied to FOSS development. However, a lot of those resources will probably be mediated by money.)
On contrary there are other companies that pretend to sell "open" product that are open like a bunker (to name a few try looking for business software from ERP to CRM to DMS etc) and those are not contributed to FOSS. Even if they both pay someone to develop FOSS code and publish it.
I hope to have being able to clarify that point in my limited English...
On complex codebase: FreeBSD codebase is not exactly simple and little, but it live on it own foot since decades, for instance? Emacs, Debian, ... the same. I do not intent that a project must run on casual contribution but simply that contributors must be subjects that need/desire such code so they contribute to it for their own sake like the Intel example above.
If these donations dried up then the projects would suffer. That’s not an outcome anybody really wants.
You seem to acknowledge that companies paying staff to contribute to OSS is ok. Why then is it not ok for companies to provide funding for a specialist to do the same thing?
If project like Django need maintenance the answer is: universities. Universities train students and can easily maintain projects providing not only people but also resources.
FOSS is knowledge, so a thing that need to be entirely public and entirely relay on public. It is ok if a company need a certain software and so develop it, it is not ok to be "founded" like Patreon, LibrePay, PayPal donation etc. We need freedom and participation not charity.
This isn't just a technicality, either, it will literally become something different with a whole different set of incentives involved for everyone in the ecosystem.
I am making no comment on whether this would be a positive or negative thing. Rather saying that you have to be careful about messing with established, organic systems with top down planning and tweaks through regulations, no matter how smart or well-intentioned you think you're being.
One observation is that when there's money involved, some things which otherwise are extremely simple become extremely complicated. Like, for example: ownership, collaboration, contributions, credit, etc - the implications of these all change drastically when there is money on the table and it changes the entire dynamic of everything in the system top to bottom. What comes out of those changes may not be what you want or expect.
(This does happen on a small scale because some government grants do go to academic researchers who are developing FOSS, and because U.S. government agencies can't hold copyright in their original work, so there are some codebases that have been released. But it's not like a large-scale software development government agency or grantmaking entity.)
I personally don't agree with either approach, but I think Stallman's idea would have a much better result than forcing companies to donate.
Make the tax voluntary, give incentives to companies for paying it and keep the definition of FOSS.
But fundamentally, you are wrong. Grandparent’s proposal doesn’t violate the Four Freedoms and would still be open source software.
In point of fact, DARPA funds the development of FOSS and isn’t the only organization which transfers taxpayer money to developers for FOSS.
Regardless of the other shortcomings of the proposal, making the software ‘no longer FOSS’ is not among them.
If you force anyone who owns a copy of the software to pay for the source code, it's no longer FOSS. You absolutely can charge for said software.