I just wanted to comment on the thread.
The Debian project has been with OPN since before 1998. You've grown, we've
grown. Maintaining a two hundred client network wasn't that difficult. But
the network has gotten quite a bit larger.
It's not all Debian, by any means. There are quite a few projects on OPN,
now freenode. I think the Debian project benefits from the cross-
fertilization, from the exposure to other groups and other projects. We'd
hate to see you leave the network.
Maintaining a 7,000+ client IRC network as a 24/7, friendly, useful place to
interact is not easy. It takes coordination. Finding time to coordinate
such a project was much simpler during the Internet boom. But the Internet
boom is over, and it's harder to allocate the time when there are not so
many employers willing to give people time to work on community projects.
Our parent organization, Peer-Directed Projects Center, has just started up.
We need a small operational budget just to have the resources to proceed.
PDPC is a non-profit corporation. It has applied for IRS 501(c)(3) status
and that application is currently pending. One of the aims of the
non-profit is to ensure that the network remains in existence and continues
to improve in terms of stability and quality.
There are plenty of funding sources for a non-profit. Grants come to mind.
But they are generally project-oriented, and they take time to research.
And grants are not generally made to pay for initial operating budgets.
So we've started a fundraising campaign, designed to raise a small, initial
operating budget. We're asking for voluntary contributions on the network.
Since global notices are annoying, we've tried to come up with a workable
compromise. We're putting up a total of two global notices per day, and
we're putting them up via a single client, called FUNDRAISING. We've posted
directions on how to ignore the notices in three places: the IRC MOTD, the
network FAQ on the new freenode site (http://freenode.info/faq.shtml#fundraising)
and on the contrib page (http://freenode.info/contrib.shtml). It's not
ideal, but as the FAQ says, to raise funds you have to ask for them, and to
ask for them you have to be heard.
I know it's not the usual approach. The conventional wisdom is that IRC is
supposed to be "free as in beer." But we've put a lot of effort into
maintaining the network, and I hope that a number of you feel we've done a
good job. All we're asking is the opportunity to keep at it, and to keep
serving the Debian project. No one has to contribute. But the only place
we're going to be heard when we ask for contributions is on the network.
We're not a weblog or a news site. We're an interactive discussion medium.
Anyway, as you talk this over, please bear in mind that nobody is trying to
make money from the Debian project. We're trying to keep a service running
that we think is unique, and considerably more useful than the average IRC
network. We hope you'll let us keep providing that service to you.
Executive Director, PDPC
Head of Staff, freenode
"that OPN guy"