Free and Open Source Story Circle

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Brian and Cooper - Open Source - Finding Funding, People, and the Stories of 20 years of Open Source

Big Challenge: hard to find money and people who can do open source development

How can we fund open source projects - pay people (developers and designers) without having to rely on foundations and big corporations

Existing models:

Apache - primarily volunteer driven

Mozilla - lucky enough to “stumble” upon parking a search box and getting money

NonProfits that are specifically open source (eclipse)


open source isn’t funded by the NPO’s, it’s funded by people who are working for their day job (you work at google and work on the linux something so that you can do your job)

the issue is that you sometimes need the ability to get a developer / team of developers to be committed and so this means they can’t always be just unpaid volunteers

Some developers will work for money, then stop and work for open source and then go back to work at a company

How to fund projects that are more “app like” or system level - often when you start a new project, there’s a great start and everyone pitches off but then people fall off as it takes longer...

how do I keep it going after the hackathon

open source that was client funded - environmental groups and labor organizations for example all paid to build this

revent? - distributed call centers around the states and people on the ground can set it up but it goes to a big national database

hard thing - as soon as someone’s campaign is done, they aren’t there any longer, even when they come back for the next campaign

project -

software isn’t a project, it doesn’t end... you build it and now you have to maintain it and it’s an ongoing endeavor

companies don’t think that way about IT -

the cost structure for getting sustainable funding in this way also lends to kind of funding for a project one-off and just get big dollars

lose out when you try to get someone to put money into it sustainably for several years - now it’s not an employee, it’s not a service cost (low)

Jon: some incomplete answers

“we would not exist without open source, and long ago faced that we have to fund the things we’re working on” sometimes we can give time, but oftentimes it’s just cash.

talking to other consultancies and saying “you need to allocate money in your budgets for open source, and allocate time in your projects to work on these open source projects” - “make it happen”

CivicCRM has $10’s of thousands of dollars to get features built and agencies can solicit on behalf of their clients

some of the funding they’ve set aside in a “matching funds” way and he is saying we’ll match your funds up to a certain point in order to get this stuff built

organizing effort to hit up consultancies instead of the clients

wants to just work on stuff, and not just make people happy -

difference between a developer working for

hiring one or two developers on the inside who are really passionate about your work is more valuable sometimes than going to an outside developer

“give yourself the space to fail”

Good companies tell their engineers that it’s ok to fail, and give them a lab/space to fail

Couple of Models:

trying to figure out how to get people to contribute funding other option crowdsourcing

There’s nonprofits who need small amounts of development - stuff in the order of magnitude of a few thousand, currently there isn’t a marketplace for this although there could be

there are a number of consultancy’s who work on NPO projects and if enough in that community came together to come up with a subset of technology they could work on,

there’s certain projects that people could work on

If you are an open source project - make sure it’s easy for people to see how developers can contribute or support you.

It’s important to really make those communication channels open - what can we fund, how can we fund you?

Brian Behlendorf

Apache premise: build healthy developer community, transparent and participatory community and that will lead to good software

Developers show up and say “here’s what I want to work on”

Most of the work in open source that is most successful at getting volunteer developers are focused on platforms/software that makes developer tools - this is a duh!

How can we make something that helps nonprofits and appeals to developers?

Much of Open source development is “scratching an itch”

Not a list of requirements - find folks who are passionate about your mission

often times there are multiple modules that do the same thing and all of them could have been working together -

versioning system in drupal is kind of whacky - if you go out of alpha then there are extra

issue queues

how to articulate - what does it do, and why is it important - am i putting effort into something that will be used? what motivates me to do a good job

need to have a sense that you’re accomplishing a mission - and it’s going to drive your organizations forward and they’re contributing something

ultimately - you’ll get a better product because you’re performing by the end goal first instead of a list of requirements

As somebody who had a project and wanted to get outside help, how would you want to be marketed to as a developer - how would someone market to you?

developer to developer - go to meet-ups,

You need a UX person to build you an interface that will compel people to build something for you

talk to a lot of developers, explain what you want to do,

do searches for what you want to make, and find out if anyone else is in that space/has tried to do it or made it part of the way and approach them because that is easier than

find your super users, go to your user base and see who is interested in helping you advance/take it to a new direction

I don’t want to build something that no one is going to use I’m going to work with the groups that have their non-tech shit together, because they’ll be around and get use for more than a couple of years

A lot of developers drive on some amount of ownership of the project and recognition - as a developer, and you give advice on the project they want you to listen and take their advice sometimes

recognition, even in the sense of knowing people are going to use it and saying “hey, thank you so much for doing this”

Say thanks to your developers - “here’s a shirt, here’s some cookies” goes a long way