OpenCollective to help sustain the project and community

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.

The following excerpts from an ongoing conversation with the same folks behind this complimentary initiative should further illustrate the potential benefits of creating an Open Collective for LibreTime…

Open Collective provides a platform and community that would enable LibreTime to increase contributions and grow it’s community by collaborating with complimentary OSS projects, nonprofit organizations, and funded initiatives.

If we can table the issue of needing a clear policy before considering paying developers (again - that would be a next step - we’d create a github issue), are there valid reasons why we wouldn’t want Open Collective as a tool to enable collaboration and community?

I would be happy to run point as the community liaison/outreach type.

The following webinar provides a great amount of information about OpenCollective and how other OSS projects and communities are using to help sustain and facilitate collaboration. Possibly there enough here to alleviate concerns that have prevented maintainers from wanting to create a collective for LibreTime.

I think an Open Collective is an attractive idea. Being able to give key developers even a token amount would be useful. I am not sure there are many companies and organisations willing to contribute to LibreTime’s on-going development (this may well change after 3.0.0 though). It would be useful to have some sort of support structure set up before then though so that when potential backers to come, we have somewhere to point them to.

We would need guidelines around who gets paid, etc. (Maybe some sort of bug bounty?) The project maintainers or project admins should probably be the ones managing the collective too, but we need solid guidelines around their selection and delegation too.

As noted above, there could be many ways we could leverage the platform and community.

Many OSS projects on Open Collective are still trying to sort out a process. We’re already setting ourselves up to not only share ideas, but collaborate with complementary projects and communities.

One such project, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), provides some inspiration for how to incorporate Open Collective as a way to sustain.

It would probably make sense to create an issue in our github repo and work out a process in the open. Again there are many other projects experimenting with bounty programs that can serve as inspiration

Unless there are maintainers against the idea of having a LibreTime Open Collective, I’d suggest that one of the project leads apply and invite anyone else who would like to help manage. We could then create an issue in github to work out our guidelines.

There’s also much-improved documentation on the Open Collective side -

Possibly the time is right to finally do this? Let me know if I can help.

I’ve created to track the thoughts on this. Based on that feedback, we can decide what our next move is

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For those who missed it, @robbt @paddatrapper and some other community members weighing in here and here agreed to create

We’ve created a #sustain channel in to discuss Open Collective and other platforms/partnerships/etc. that would help us sustain and grow LibreTime. The room is open 24/7 - please join in anytime!

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Is this still a thing? How can I join?

Looks like everybody will be able to join very soon -

There are also some related collaborations happening in #communitymedia #openproducer channels in Open Collective’s Slack

Just FYI Open Collective is about to roll out improvements to the collective page. It should provide a more intuitive way to create campaigns for stuff like reaching a milestone, funding new features, and other ways to sustain the project.

You can test by dropping in “/v2” at the tail end of the url -

The improvements have been rolled out

@robbt @paddatrapper as admins of the collective, you might want to check out this thread -

@Togar Join us!