OpenCollective to help sustain the project and community

Circling back to another previous discussion about using OpenCollective to help sustain the project and community.

As OpenCollective also provides options for moving funds between other projects/collectives, partners such as hosting companies or projects incorporating LibreTime could help sustain the OSS project and/or specific features and functionality.

With over 100 stars (that was quick!), you’d be able to create the collective very easily and it would be hosted alongside other Open Source Collectives

Basically would open up a lot of additional possibilities for sustaining the project and community.

I’d be happy to help answer questions or connect you with the folks at OpenCollective.

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This is certainly something that I might be interested in. I’m not sure how the other contributors feel about it and how funds would/could be distributed fairly. I like how this project is completely community ran. I know that some of my contributions to LibreTime have been subsidized through a work-trade agreement with my dad. But I’m not sure how we would handle the distribution of funds and whether it would make sense at this point without specific funders in mind. My only guess is that we might be able to get some kind of regular donations from users and people who found the software helpful and want to support the project, but this in and of itself is unlikely to provide a means of financial support.

I know going forward in my personal life I would be interested in having my livelihood and source of funds connected to a free software project vs. getting a full-time job and spending my free time on this or something else as a side project. At the same time my primary job at this moment is taking care of my daughter while my wife finishes her astrophysics degree and I’m trying to divide my limited free time between LibreTime and helping volunteer run WCRS-LP.

Thanks for showing up again Gus. I’d definitely welcome feedback from any other members of the LibreTime community.

Thanks Robb!

Out of all the great points and background you just provided, I’d say this would be a primary reason to set up a collective. Making a living contributing to a community run open source project that you care about…especially one that can empower communities, musicians, and creative artists… that’s been my ultimate goal over the past 10 years. Probably many others in this community that would love to do the same.

Conversely I haven’t seen many examples of an all-volunteer open source project of this or any size last very long. Even projects with maintainer time sponsored by their employer or company responsible for the project may be neglected if priorities change (like Sourcefabric / Airtime).

The cool thing about OpenCollective is

The platform and community is still relatively new, but those are just some of the reasons I think people like ourselves (and others reading this) may actually be able to make a good living contributing to and helping sustain a project like LibreTime.

Rather than rambling any further, I’ll just reference this post that probably addresses other concerns about bringing funding into an OSS project -

Definitely would be good to get input from other project leads and contributors.

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With Drupal officially incorporating OpenCollective as a tool to help sustain projects and community…that should provide some validity…also should create additional opportunities to partner with Drupal projects and collectives.

I think OpenCollective is definitely valid. I’d just like to see some interest from other LT developers so that it isn’t something that I’m primarily pursuing to retrieve funding for myself.

I’d suggest we try to get input from contributors (maintainers, project leads) who have spent a significant time on the project. Would the option of funding allow you to spend more time on priority issues (bugfixes, testing, docs, new features, etc). Could the option of funds be a way to provide incentives to contributors beyond that?

Who should we be asking for input (aside from anyone who is reading this!).

I don’t know that many contributors are limited at this point by a lack of funding. I doubt that we will be able to gather enough funding to create a stand-alone company capable of providing full-time employment. I know other responsibilities in my life are the biggest obstacles to my dedicating more time.

Think the ideal is to provide the best possible options for those wanting to spend more time on the project if they could.

I’d circle back up to your ideal and ask if anyone else has a similar interest.

I ‘think’ this is recent addition, but it looks like Open Collective also hosts Cooperatives

So a LibreTime coop might be another way to help sustain the project further down the line.

Would be great if y’all would set up the project to make it easier to sustain and also collaborate with other projects, communities, and contributors already there.

In addition to more OSS projects coming onboard, Open Collective is beginning to provide more and more support for meetups and chapters. For the latter, they are actually providing a financial incentive for those interested in setting up an Open Collective Chapter in their region.

How could LibreTime benefit? One way, assuming you create a collective for the project, is there could be hackathons in a given region where OSS tools could be built for community media orgs. This could happen at an Open Collective hackathon and also other projects/communities such as Drupal and WordPress that have similar events.

To follow up on related discussion about LibreTime Development Priorities, the next steps to creating a collective would be -

  1. Apply as an Open Source Project -
  2. Add maintainers (who would like to be added)
  3. Add some detail about the project and ideally some info on goals and milestones
  4. Discuss sponsor levels and best practices with other project maintainers in the Open Collective community.

I’d be happy to be added to the collective and help with outreach, marketing, and fundraising.

The other stuff I’m mentioning in the previous comment could overlap with your station and 501c3, but for the project itself, it would be hosted by the nonprofit Open Collective set up for OSS projects

Think we’re ready to test the waters?

Ok, well looking into this I think I need to grant OpenCollective access to the LibreTime organization to apply. We do have 147 stars so we are over the 100 star threshold.

I don’t really feel comfortable making this decision without feedback and participation from other people who would like to be maintainers, at this point @hairmare is the only other maintainer via github and he has been busy with his paid job.

Since you are more familiar with how open-source projects use opencollective how is the distribution of funds typically handled. I just have no idea what the workflow in general is. I see that in general 13% would be taken by OpenCollective and in return we get a transparent page to pass the money onto the developers.

Since at this point most of the developers are casually contributing PRs and there isn’t a cohesive group of developers that have decided to make decisions and collaborate on the project on a regular basis. I’ll e-mail @hairmare and see what his thoughts are on the whole thing because I’d like to see things move forward. I have in the past and could continue to receive informal funding for my development work outside of the projects organizational framework and that seems to make more sense unless we have a few other developers who want to put more time into the organizational aspects of the project.

I’d definitely reach out to maintainers and active contributors. Thing to keep in mind is you’re mainly providing an opportunity for sponsored development, but in the early stages of the project (and OSS funding in general) nobody is going to have added expectations or obligations unless there are funds in the collective to distribute. IF/when you get to that point, that’s a very good problem 'cuz it means the project has stakeholder value. I don’t think anyone who values the project is going to object to enabling ongoing development, maintenance, docs, and community… in fact, if you glance through this recent survey, people/orgs who care about a project will be happy to support it!

This should provide a pretty good overview of the transparent process for collecting/distributing funds -

As mentioned previously, I’d mainly provide an overview of the project and couple goals tied to milestones and needs. For instance, many projects set a funding goal to cover the cost of a certain amount of contributor time. Again, the transparency allows the freedom of trying things out in the open.

I’ll be happy to be one of the core contributors and take on the non-developer, community stuff. Just getting the project set up will be a big step. Let me know if I can help w/ anything!

See also:

Bounty Source

Hey Robb - with the recent amount of contributor activity, I think it would be a good time to set up a Collective as a way to help sustain. Also could be a way to transfer funds from a hosted beta or consulting directly into the project. Again, I’d be happy to help set this up and manage. What do you think?

Personally I’m not convinced that A. there are funds floating around just waiting to go into the coffers of fund and B. that this is the ideal way for the project to inject and manage financing development.

The non-profit that I help operate received a grant for $4,500 to pay me to develop improvements to the automatic playlist/smart blocks from a local arts non-profit. This is the first money I think that has been directly paid for LibreTime development vs. outside contracting and setup. I thought about having it go through open collective but we didn’t have that setup and it isn’t clear how we would decide how we distribute funds between individuals. I don’t think we want to go the direction of having a core of a few developers getting paid and the rest of the community volunteering. I also don’t think that without finding funding from outside funders such as foundations or stations with large budgets there is sufficient funds to support anyone.

So what are the benefits of having the money be transparently divided and 5% cut out to a separate host organization ?

People and Orgs could contribute directly to LibreTime, there is an open question as to how many people would provide funds and if there would be sufficient funds to support developers in any meaningful way. It may just establish a hierarchy of paid devs vs. unpaid devs. We don’t want to emulate the SourceFabric model where there are paid developers and then there is a community who has to submit everything to the paid devs who have their own agenda. Part of the C4 is focused on keeping things focused on the code and community driven.

Specifically I’m thinking of this quote from the Zero MQ book - by Peter Hintjens author of the C4

Thirdly, communities need some kind of financial backing. This is the jagged rock that breaks most ships. If you starve a community, it becomes more creative but the core contributors burn out. If you pour too much money into it, you attract the professionals, who never say “no”, and the community loses its diversity and creativity. If you create a fund for people to share, they will fight (bitterly) over it. With ZeroMQ, we (iMatix) spend our time and money on marketing and packaging (like this book), and the basic care, like bug fixes, releases, and websites.

I don’t want to create a fund that we end up fighting over and it may make sense to keep the funding model as a part of the separate organizations that use LibreTime and just recruit people who have a knowledge of the codebase vs. setting up a OpenCollective per se.

I don’t know for sure though, it is an open question and not one that we have a consensus on. Specifically @hairmare has never chimed in with his thoughts on this and he has probably done the most in terms of coordinating development and getting LibreTime to be a real project but I also know he has a full-time job and I doubt that whatever funds we have would be competitive with that.

One of the interpretations of LibreTime is “free time” and running this as a volunteer based project done by people in their free time has been one of the underlying default philosophies. We didn’t start this to run a SaaS service to compete with Airtime and make money. Funding development and encouraging more people to contribute would probably be a positive but it also makes sense to keep things orientated around a community effort to provide free and easy to use software for low budget radio stations around the world rather than turning it into a commercial effort. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons that Airtime abandoned their open-source model was they weren’t making enough money off of to cover the salary of their development team let alone have their development team put the extra effort into making sure there was a well ran open-source community.

I do think it might be possible to get some grants to fund the development like the one my non-profit received and we could do that through my 501c3 just as easily as OpenCollective and we wouldn’t need to necessarily earmark 5% to the organization. That discussion would need to be run by more board, but its definitely another angle that we could pursue.

Encouraging collaboration amongst developers and ensuring the project runs smoothly is great. At this point I think that we are gaining momentum and I don’t know if creating the overhead of OpenCollective will be helpful.

What I’d love to see is a plan for moving forward from Zend and I came up with some ideas that I’ll try to add back to Github or post on here.

Until we have someone with a large check book that wants to make LibreTime work it doesn’t necessarily make sense to worry too much about it. I’d spend our time researching grants and potential funders and then if we see any grant opportunities we can discuss how we would distribute and receive funding. Just my opinion. Would love to hear any different ideas.

thanks @gusaus and @robbt !

i agree that money collected through individual donations, and then split between multiple developers isn’t likely to let us quit our day jobs. See the very similar Azuracast project - it appears to have a larger user base, be closer to a final release, and all funds go to one single developer - and yet he appears to be making $84/month for all of his work.

However, the symbolic value of this money could be a useful organizing tool, and it’s better than a kick in the pants. Where I live, US$20 is a school teacher’s daily wage. I’m imagining a scenario in which we reached out to developers who have contributed to the project (such as @xabispacebiker and several others) to ask if they’d like to be a part of getting 3.0.0 shipped and if as a symbolic token of gratitude they’d like to be included in being paid via opencollective. if anything, the fact that it isn’t much money could help us not to fight …just brainstorming…

so, i’d vote yes to opencollective if we have clarity and transparency as to:

  • a process for entering into the group of devs who are getting paid. eg. if you’re contributing a minimum of insert criteria here, then email gusaus and he’ll get you set up.
  • we can agree from the start that this money is merely a symbolic token of appreciation, and that our main shared goals are the health of the community and quality of the software.

one last point:
i also agree that grant funding is both feasible, and much more likely to actually pay rent. that said, i personally do not plan to put time into grant writing until after my community radio station is squared away, pleased as punch running LibreTime 3.0.0+. I think we can (and should) release 3.0.0 without worrying about money, but that we will need to figure out funding in order to start the major post-3.0.0 refactoring that will be necessary in order to ditch Zend v.1, vastly improve the user experience (especially on cell phones), and modernize/simplify testing etc. To be clear, I’m not arguing for grant funding instead of donations. Both funding sources have their place.

I’m way too exhausted to spin another variation of what we’ve been discussing here and in related posts. The reasons for having an Open Collective on the top of this post are still valid… the concerns laid out by @robbt absolutely valid, not unique in OSS, and addressable.

As mentioned in the tail end of LibreTime Development Priorities, I don’t think a continuously updated and maintained version of AirTime broadcasters can depend on is achievable without a mechanism to directly collect and distribute funds.

How we’d use Open Collective would be the next step, but I’m hoping (as someone who would like to use, provide, and contribute to community) we can at least make a decision and set it up.

Sorry for chiming so late. This hasn’t been anywhere near the top of my Priorities. I think we would need to set up some kind of foundation with a board of directors that has at the very least regular calls and maybe office hours to garner input and discuss allocation of funds. IMO right now of focus should be on growing the pool of Maintainers so the bus factor of the project isn’t just me and Robb. At least there has been some progress with new people contributing to the GitHub in meaningful ways.

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Couple quick followups -

I think we would need to set up some kind of foundation with a board of directors

Open Collective would provide LibreTime options such as Open Source Collective, Open Media Foundation, Kendraio, and other nonprofit organizations already set up to host projects.

…at the very least regular calls and maybe office hours to garner input and discuss allocation of funds

Everybody agrees there needs to some sort of process with regards to allocating funds. Another benefit of Open Collective is, they’re providing transparent ways for projects to set their own policies, we’d be joining a community of almost 800 other OSS projects.

…right now of focus should be on growing the pool of Maintainers so the bus factor of the project isn’t just me and Robb

I think Open Collective could enable more developer time to get involved and active one the original goals of a continuously updated and maintained version of AirTime broadcasters can depend on. It would certainly allow non-developers such as myself a way to contribute and grow the community.