"Crowdfunding" for Joomla

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sozzled
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"Crowdfunding" for Joomla

Post by sozzled » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:12 pm

The matter of how to obtain revenue for Joomla development and, thereby, use those funds to remunerate the otherwise-voluntary nature of how the project comes together has been something in the news over the past couple of months.

I don't know whether financial incentives will improve the amount of work or the quality of that work. That's a matter for debate but, in my view, the financial incentives would have to be on a par with, say, the salary levels that operate in successful businesses. In other words, one would have to be talking in terms of millions of dollars.

Whether these levels could be achieved is something we can only speculate about at this time. And, if those levels can be reached, will it result in a lift in the output and quality of work? I really don't know.

Joomla is open-source; there's nothing about "open source" that suggests people should be entitled to all the benefits of products or services obtainable through that source without having to pay for some of them. For a more thoughts on this, I recommend a really good read suggested to us by @mbabker, viz. https://steemit.com/opensource/@crell/o ... e-is-awful.

In another forum post here, Quo vadis, Joomla?, I offered a couple of practical ideas about leveraging the forum that would yield two [positive] outcomes:

1) Use the forum to provide a small income stream, the funds from which could be applied to other activities managed under the auspices of OSM; and

2) To eliminate the waste (and the efforts required by forum moderators to manage the garbage collection) generated by forum spammers.

I have no problem paying a modest annual subscription fee to use the forum. I don't think anyone would have a problem with that unless, perhaps, the EFT collection procedure could not operate in the countries where members of the community live. Even if people only had one question about Joomla, and it cost a dollar or two in order to create a forum account to ask that question, regardless of whether that question was answerable (or answered in a timely manner), it would demonstrate that the Joomla! forum remains the #1 place to obtain up-to-date, relevant, practical advice.

Spammers/obvious time-wasters (as a general rule) won't spend a cent to join a forum to post "Buy the best **spam** product here" knowing that they're wasting their money. We read a lot of how-can-I-prevent-forum-spam topics on this (and other) forums and, speaking from years of experience, when you require someone to pay up-front for the privilege of being able to post on a forum, the subscription model is probably the most effective counter-spam method available.

The likely yield from using a forum membership subscription scheme? Based on a $1 to join and $1 per year membership, I've modelled the potential yearly income would raise maybe as much as four thousand dollars in the first year (after deducting EFT transaction fees and administration costs) and possibly three thousand dollars per year after that. It's not a lot of money but it would lessen the forum moderators task in spam-reduction housekeeping.

I don't like the idea of pay-per-download licensing charges (or worse, pay-per-site-update charges) because I think, this would lead to a black market in software distribution.

In conclusion, while I can't think of a way to raise millions of dollars for Joomla, I think the ideas I've mentioned here and elsewhere would not cause riots within the community if they were implemented. What do you think?

**UPDATE**: I have created a straw poll here: https://twitter.com/sozzled2904/status/ ... 5894123520
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Re: "Crowdfunding" for Joomla

Post by Webdongle » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:10 am

Nope, can't afford it. I will use it without paying financially and 'pay back' by giving my time freely by posting answers in the forum.

Another model. Charge to download Joomla and give it free to us volunteers who don't charge for helping. That way you have revenue to pay those who want/need to charge for developing/testing and an incentive for those who freely give their time.

It would require a change in licence for Joomla and a BIG change in direction. Perhaps some devs could fork Joomla (take some volunteers with them) and start up a company?
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Re: "Crowdfunding" for Joomla

Post by mbabker » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:42 pm

I don't know how you crowdfund Joomla as a project. Yes, the entire project has funding needs and until the OSM board sorts out this whole foundation thing its ability to solicit "major" donations is limited, but without having tangible benefits outside of a "thank you for your sponsorship/donation" (which may very well be enough for a number of individuals, but organizations typically want some kind of return on investment), I'm not sure how you get things going in this area. Also, a lot of the project's income generating capabilities are limited by what the people in "control" will allow at any given time. For those unaware, the elephant is the mascot of PHP, and over the course of the last decade there have been a lot of PHP elephant stuffed toys created featuring the branding of various conferences, companies, and PHP based projects. Someone had proposed to create one for Joomla, and it was an idea that had a lot of support from leadership at the time, but the idea was basically killed by one person because they felt that no external entity should be able to profit from the Joomla branding (even though most of the profit was to be given to OSM, the producer was going to keep enough to either cover their expenses or generate a minimal profit, I forget the specifics, but apparently that was too much for one person and their disagreement managed to convince everyone to not see that effort through).

Individual contributors have tried getting their work on core code contributions crowdfunded in the past with varying degrees of success. Chris Davenport attempted to have his work on building a webservices infrastructure for core crowdfunded with no luck. Hannes Papenberg got his work on the routing code in core crowdfunded, but even with it being funded, there was a lot of resistance from within core to accept it (part of the reason I took on the 3.8 release is because I wanted to ensure that work finally landed in core because I felt it was a move in the right direction). So, I don't think individual contributors (or even small groups) could lead their own crowdfunding efforts without the project's support.

One thing I think the project has failed miserably at is getting sponsorship for various sprints. In the past, there have been project hosted/coordinated sprints focusing on the core code, documentation, marketing, work on the JED, a security focused code sprint, and effort to improve the automated testing coverage. From my memory, the only sprint that has had any kind of direct sponsorship was the automated testing sprint where 1and1 Hosting covered the lodging expenses. Even if that money doesn't go directly to the contributors, if the project did more to get sprints at least 75% covered through sponsorship it would enable the project to do more to bring contributors together to focus on core (project wide, not just the code) work (and there is a slight benefit of the project "rewarding" contributors with a most-expenses covered travel package (food, lodging and travel for the sprint) and in a lot of cases I know people have opted to include an extra day or two of extra time out of their own pocket to stay in the area for their own personal vacation time), the only downside here is it still requires the contributor to take time away from their paid work).

I don't know the legalities behind it (and maybe the foundation thing helps with it), but perhaps there is a reason the project itself does not organize crowdfunding efforts and distribute funds raised toward those efforts to the contributors. But if there were a way to make it work, it would be a step in the right direction if the project opened its own Patreon account or created its own crowdfunding/donation platform. At first, it would probably only sustain a small number of hours for "routine" work (i.e. give George 2-3 hours of paid time to work on 4.0 related tasks, such as merging forward the latest changes from 3.9), but as the account gets funded it could potentially cover larger blocks of time for a greater number of contributors (i.e. the marketing team could cover 50 hours of work on material for the 4.0 release). Again though, for a lot of larger payments, the individual or organization is going to want some kind of return on investment for their money, so part of coming up with a solution to this problem is also finding ways of saying "thank you" in ways that are appropriate. Things like "if you contribute X per month, you gain access to a special forum area for dedicated support from an 'accredited' support person" are a good idea if you work out the logistics of it all (what's that minimum, how are the "accredited" support people selected (this would be a way to give a kick back to people like @Webdongle or @sozzled or a handful of the others who are consistently answering support posts), and whatever other quirks would need to be worked out to make this one task work).

I do understand there are a lot of people who believe in "free" software being "free" in every sense of the term (the software is available for free, the work on the software is free, etc. etc.), and I do believe that can work at a small scale for a short period of time (I still release small software packages for various platforms I work with for free, and I contribute to some free OSS packages on my work time as those packages are core to the work I do). I don't believe that is a sustainable model for a mass distributed software for a long period of time, and I honestly feel that Joomla is an absolute anomaly in the fact it has survived on this model for as long as it has. So, one of the biggest challenges overall is finding sustainable ways of the project generating income dedicated toward compensating contributors for key tasks without alienating those who want nothing to do with any type of paid model in the project, and I have no idea how you pull that one off.

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Re: "Crowdfunding" for Joomla

Post by Webdongle » Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:39 pm

Not sure that I would be comfortable with a 'kick back. For one thing it would make me feel obliged to help. Another reason would be that so long as I can download/use the software without paying then I am happy giving my time freely to help.

With the way things are (more complicated) then perhaps it is time for Joomla to become commercial with regular paid devs. Whether or not that could be done and still have Joomla downloaded at no charge ... I am not sure.

What is becoming more and more clear is that .... things internet related are becoming so complicated that some kind of job/career orientated system needs to be initiated. It is (for many reasons) no longer viable to develop and maintain software without regular financial compensation. But if Joomla is to remain free to download then where is the money to come from to pay regular wages?

I for one would be happy to help for free while the devs are getting paid so long as I did not have to pay to download and use Joomla. I would be miffed if there was a paid Joomla download and a free 'lite' version.
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Re: "Crowdfunding" for Joomla

Post by sozzled » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:27 pm

Thanks, @mbabker. I agree with your opinion.

I started this topic because I was tired of seeing repetitious urgings posted on the forum over the past few weeks—impractical ideas such as using pay-per-download or pay-per-update models that, in my view, were never going to to fly—about the long-term financial sustainability of the project. So, to test the water even with a very modest proposal (and not one that I believed would be truly sustainable), I created an online poll at Twitter https://twitter.com/sozzled2904/status/ ... 5894123520. I honestly did not expect much of a response but there's still most of a week to go before the poll closes. ;)

I'm surprised that people cannot afford a modest cost impost, to spend one dollar per year for a forum membership subscription, to give them the right to post messages on the forum. One dollar per year; not one dollar per post. I wasn't suggesting that the right to read what's on the forum would require any payment at all. Even that modest idea seems to be a bridge too far. Oh well.

As I've written, there are a handful people—I am not one of them—who advocate for some payment to use some of services provided by Joomla's websites. It seems to me that these people are keen to continue to push their advocacy as long as they shouldn't have to fork out any money themselves. It was for that reason that I created this topic as a test of the sincerity of people who can suggest a proposal and be willing to commit to it; skin-in-the-game, if you like.

I think @Webdongle and I agree that (as a part-"summary" of the situation):
Webdongle wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:39 pm
... if Joomla is to remain free to download [while at the same time paying those who build and maintain it,] then where is the money to come from to pay ... wages?
There's also the corollary condition known as "deep pockets/short arms", I guess. ;)

I feel that any discussion about Joomla paid/"full" vs. Joomla free/"lite" is off-topic here. I still remember how the community fractured over the futile Molajo experiment.

Best wishes and thanks.

I can be called upon to donate a few dollars to a community fundraiser (whether it's for a local charity or for things like Wikipedia and Joomla).
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