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Re: Question to all candidates: financing of development

Hi Raphael,

On Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 08:18:00AM +0100, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> Hello,
> this is a question to all DPL candidates.
> Imagine a DD contacts you, she wants to setup an infrastructure to finance
> Debian related projects (i.e. paying people to enable them to work on the
> projects that they'd like to do for Debian) but she wants to avoid the
> main mistakes made during Dunc-Tank; in her project:
> - everybody can propose projects to be financed
> - the projects to be financed are selected by the Debian developers and
>   by the donors
> - eligible projects can only concern new developements and not recurring
>   tasks
> What advice would you give her?

A very good question; thank you for giving me the chance to reply to it.

Let me first say that I do not think it is a bad thing that some people
get paid to work on Debian while some others don't. That's a perfectly
normal thing; some people like Debian so much that they don't want to do
anything else, others see Debian just as a hobby, which they'd lose if
they'd get a job that involves Debian.

I also don't think it is a bad thing, in principle, if Debian were to
pay people to work on Debian. However, it is generally a bad idea if
some cabal were to select who could get Debian monies and who couldn't;
I believe that is the main problem that existed with the Dunk-Tank

> What other pitfalls from Dunc-Tank must she pay attention to?

Not sure.

> Do you have concrete suggestions for her on how it should be working?

I know that the FreeBSD community has experimented with paid development
for FreeBSD in the past; the first such attempt was done by Poul-Henning
Kamp[1]. AIUI, the model they have used goes something like this:

- Some FreeBSD developer decides to do sponsored development. This
  developer announces that fact, states the areas that the sponsored
  development will be about, an amount of money that would be required
  for the plan to go through, and asks for sponsorship pledges.
- People with an interest in the things this developer intends work on
  pledge monies. There have been people who pledged as little as one
  euro, and companies who pledged several tens of thousands.
- If the amount of community pledges seem reasonable enough and, in the
  judgement of the people in charge of the FreeBSD foundation (which
  holds monies in trust for FreeBSD), the cause is worth it, then monies
  may be pledged to the cause by the foundation as well.

> Would you encourage her to go forward or would you try to convince her to
> forget this idea?

I believe the FreeBSD model keeps a good balance between spending money
on causes that benefit the project on the one hand, and not being too
cabalistic on the other, and would encourage anyone who wants to attempt
something similar in Debian. I do not plan to actively pursue this
myself, however.

I don't think having some "infrastructure" for sponsored development
within Debian is a good idea.

[1] http://people.freebsd.org/~phk/funding.html

The biometric identification system at the gates of the CIA headquarters
works because there's a guard with a large gun making sure no one is
trying to fool the system.

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