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Re: PaySwarm-based Debian donations

Full disclosure:
Transfer #1
    "transfer": [
        "type": "Transfer",
        "source": "https://meritora.com/i/d***Digital Bazaar Executive Name Redacted***/accounts/primary",
        "destination": "https://meritora.com/i/netflux/accounts/primary";,
        "amount": "0.0098000000",
        "currency": "USD",
        "comment": "Payment for Hello content monetization! by admin."
        "type": "Transfer",
        "source": "https://meritora.com/i/***Digital Bazaar Executive Name Redacted***/accounts/primary",
        "destination": "https://meritora.com/i/authority/accounts/main";,
        "amount": "0.0002000000",
        "currency": "USD",
        "comment": "Meritora Authority Processing"

Transfer #2
    "transfer": [
        "type": "Transfer",
        "source": "https://meritora.com/i/manu/accounts/primary";,
        "destination": "https://meritora.com/i/netflux/accounts/primary";,
        "amount": "0.0098000000",
        "currency": "USD",
        "comment": "Payment for Hello content monetization! by admin."
        "type": "Transfer",
        "source": "https://meritora.com/i/manu/accounts/primary";,
        "destination": "https://meritora.com/i/authority/accounts/main";,
        "amount": "0.0002000000",
        "currency": "USD",
        "comment": "Meritora Authority Processing"

(TL;DR - I (netflux) received <2 cents from Digital Bazaar executives including Manu Sporny for content that was worth less than that to me. I also took the free penny promo from http://meritora.com but I already closed the window with the JSON-LD so you'll have to take my word for it)

Very long post but for those interested in capturing the overall essence of things previously said, I wanted to just address various comments without putting the authors of the comments alongside them. You can find them in the thread elsewhere if desired.

"I am very concerned about motivations of Debian project volunteers being distorted by money so I would suggest only allowing donations to"

I wanted to point out that social relations are distorted by the fact that capitalism is a class society stratified by proximity to the means of production under conditions of value exchange. Donations are not value exchange, but are more properly part of a gift economy.

"We have never needed it, and from the discussions I have taken part in or witnessed, I really doubt we would need it now."

I met an Occupy Goldman Sachs activist who commended debian very highly to me over another flavor I had mentioned. In my discussions with Occupy activists there would be a lot of value within the occupy movement at least in having Working Groups take over some of the responsibilities of the Finance Working Group. Because we realize resources are important and that they can't get to where they will have the greatest beneficial impact with a centralized topology network

"Excluding people with money is just another way of excluding people from Free Software development. I'm not so sure it's been as healthy for us or our users as assumed here."

"We can build this system such that those that don't want any donations can pass it on to the Debian Project, or reject all donations outright. We can also build this system such that those that would like donations can state exactly how they want the donation to be split up among the project participants. This approach ends up being fair to both sides and
doesn't silence either opinion."

I would add to this that it would be nice whether the current system is kept or a new one is adopted to encourage package maintainers or debian or upstream to expose structured financial data in XBRML or some other standardized ontology on track to be maintained by not-for-profit interests in a way that could be pulled into all manner of transparency and accountability applications to find out the state of the project's finances, which so far I'm unaware of anything like that existing for debian finances. Payswarm uses JSON-LD which is unambiguous, machine readable and also very human readable.

"Anyone can locate a particular Debian contributor and wire them 15 Bitcoin."

Let's say I did some work that was valuable to a particular package. Let's say that package was valuable to the ecology of debian. How does my contribution currently get acknowledged and rewarded by debian accountants? Why is that better than letting donors choose? Because we trust donors to give to Debian but NOT to give directly to package maintainers? Even if we have sensible defaults set in public by package maintainers that are presumably part of a functional community that can presumably police itself?

Doesn't this just mean that the community can become more functional by all the package maintainers meeting with each other more often, socializing more often, so that they all know who to gift the money to and who not to?

"Debian is indifferent about how its developers find time and devotion for our shared project.

"Even finding the correct Debian Developer to send money to is a very difficult proposition for someone that is just using a piece of software."

"We tried DuncTank -- I'd contend that the net amount of productive work done was reduced by that initiative, and some very active contributors were demotivated to the point that they went away and didn't come back."

A brief cross reference of DuncTank and IBM turned up nothing for me so I'm not sure what we're talking about but I will say something about what I think motivates people. I think the rote busywork is motivated better by money and inspired insight is motivated better by paying enough to take the money issue off the table and then not having "bonus" or "incentives" after that other than mastery, autonomy and purpose. But I don't see money as having been taken off the table for the army of debian developers we never see because they're too busy fighting mortgage foreclosure or living on the streets.

"It is bound to direct money to highly visible projects, regardless of the effort required to package them"

How does the money that currently goes to debian accounting get spent? Do we really need a star network topology rather than a p2p structures to get relevant information to decision makers in a functional community that can take the time to build community and police itself.

Building a community is best done in bars IMO. This is how the American Revolution happened, it's what the people who built the pyramids were paid in (beer) and I wouldn't feel comfortable drinking at a bar at a debian user group that hasn't told me the community building beer budget in advance of the event. Could get corporate sponsorship I guess, but if not, then I may have to stay home cause it's awkward going to a bar with no money.

"How do we determine a fair split between a couple of developers, one living in a penthouse in New York, and another living in a shanty town on a dollar a day."

Let everyone tell their story and let donors choose. How does debian do it at present? By not doing it, that's all.

"If a developer and their customer negotiate a deal, nobody but the developer need worry if they think it's a fair deal, and nobody but the developer's reputation is at risk.  Otherwise we'll start to see complaints like: "I gave Debian $1000 and they don't even acknowledge my bug reports""

Firstly that's conflating Debian with a default preset group of recipients set presumably with community input, which could be Doctors Without Borders, a graphic artist and a janitor, but more importantly do you think there'd be a surge in the number of reports that anybody gives a damn what the big spender thinks he bought with a clearly labeled donation?

"If it were needed or useful, Debian would not exist."

"It's nice to think everything is hunky-dory, but all I see is a large sea of users completely cut off from remedy and lots of developers complaining they don't have enough time because they need to take jobs either doing non-free software or not-software."

"If you're seriously attempting to equate "I'll buy you a beer if you help me" with "corrupt bribery", then I suspect the net effect is going to be that people stop reading the rest of your argument."

So you're saying the monetary value of the bribe is too small for you. But you don't know what percent of my budget is spent on food and beer and you don't know whether I am a missing voice from the debian community either. So you don't really know how much of my time has been diverted from debian by bribes small enough to fit in a single cup, do you?

"By 'people', you meant you right?"

This is a recurring issue.

"I'm very lukewarm about this right now, but I think with some sound arguments, I'd warm up to it."

Love it!

1) I want to donate to a nameless faceless debian package maintainer based on metadata such as what package it is and how long the current maintainer has maintained it for. I do not need their address or facial recognition software to make this decision. I am a grown-up. I have already met people with cable bills and proofs of mortgage and addresses and identifiable facial features and they were a dime a dozen.
Or alternatively I am poor and unable to do the above but I'd be very good at software if I could devote more time to it.

2) Co-maint of gcc, bash, libc, linux should be done by responsible people. If they're responsible they'll re-gift the money intelligently. This is a gift economy and a transparency issue and a community issue of what should the future of debian be as decided by those entrusted with its future, especially the maintainers of the more popular packages.

3) About "paybullies", manage expectations better. Coders don't expect money for their code at present even though as others pointed out there are sometimes structural ways this happens indirectly. So "paybullies" shouldn't expect code for their money even though anything can still happen (but having a functional community capable of policing these expectations is both more likely and lessens this problem).

And the reason for this change is that if the point is to lessen pay for play in free software, then leaving it up to the corporations has major structural problems but without the community engagement that would otherwise be there to help address real problems.

----- Original Message -----
From: Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org>
To: debian-project@lists.debian.org
Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 1:00 AM
Subject: Re: PaySwarm-based Debian donations

Martin Owens <doctormo@gmail.com> writes:
> On Mon, 2013-06-17 at 21:18 -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:

>> how Debian is "in the way"

> Debian takes code from websites with donation buttons, economic
> incentive options, kickstarter updates, support contracts, developer
> sponsorships, programs and projects of all kinds and general invitations
> to participate.

> Strips them all out. Then strait faced, delivers them to consumers who
> are never given the opportunity to know about any of it.

Ah, I see.

Well, first, we don't strip them out if they're included in the package.
We retain such documentation in a well-defined place in the distribution
and maintain metadata pointing to the upstream web sites.

However, apart from that, I don't think our users are that dim, honestly.
I think Debian's users generally understand the difference between a Linux
distribution and upstream.  This may not be the case for distributions
that are explicitly targetting and marketing to a mass audience, but
that's not Debian's niche.

Also, I'll say that, as a free software *user*, this is what I expect from
free software.  I don't expect to be badgered for donations, nor do I
expect my relationship with free software to be economic.  If that's what
an upstream is after, they should pick a different software license; the
free software licenses are really quite explicit that money should not be
expected to be forthcoming.  I don't release my work as free software for
money; I release it because I like helping people, and because I use a
bunch of *other* people's free software.  It's a communal relationship.

Some of us (myself definitely included) are involved in free software
precisely *because* we're strongly anti-capitalist, anti-marketing, and
firmly opposed to the economic structures that dominate so much of the
rest of life.  If your plea is for distributions to act more like Apple in
routing customer money to developers, I think you're going to get a quite
chilly reception.  Avoiding that financial structure based on "customers"
and "producers" is the whole *point* for some of us.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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