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Re: Raising money for Debian

[...I realize campaigning is over; but I notice after a busy weekend
that several questions were asked fairly last-minute, so...]

On Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 10:26:28PM +0200, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> Hello,
> there's a discussion going on on debian-project about entering an
> agreement with DuckDuckGo to get some sort of affiliate commission from
> the money that DuckDuckGo would earn from traffic tagged as coming
> from Debian.
> 1/ To Wouter and Gergely: this discussion touches several sensitive topics
> but you have not taken position...  what do you think of the project?

Reading that discussion, I see two concerns being raised:

Some people point out that entering in such an agreement could damage
relations with upstreams who may have different agreements of that sort.

As I understand the proposed agreement, however, this shouldn't be an
issue. It has, or will be, made clear to DDG that implementation of the
agreement would be entirely voluntary for our maintainers; no package
would be required to be modified so it would generate the revenue
streams for Debian.

Since our package maintainers are also our main contact points with
upstream, this means that they can easily dodge that bullet should the
need arise; all that is required is that we formulate any explanation of
this agreement in Policy or the devref, wherever appropriate, in such a
fashion that it's clear it can be ignored if it would be harmful to
upstream relations.

A second concern is about implied loss of privacy of the proposed
agreement for people using Debian. I agree that it's a bit weird for a
search engine that claims not to track their users to suddenly start
doing so, if only on the basis of operating system usage, if it gains
them money; but in the long run, I don't think that's really our
problem. Debian is not a distribution for the privacy paranoid (there
are other distributions, some of which are Debian Derivatives, that try
to be that), and while it may be good to not needlessly make it
difficult for people who care about their privacy a great deal, I don't
think adding a string "Debian" in a configurable search URL means a
great deal for such matters.

> 2/ To all: are there other ways to raise money that we have not yet explored
> and that we should try?

We could add a "welcome" screen, shown upon completion of installation,
that explains who to contribute in various ways (technical, monetary, by
talking about it, ...)

> 3/ To all: The commercial world is full of such "win-win opportunities".
> Some are more obnoxious than other. Are there some that would be
> acceptable in the Debian context according to you? Where would you draw
> the limit?

When monetary agreements make technical decisions difficult or
impossible, we'll have ceased to be a volunteer organization, so that
should not happen.

Any agreement that gains the project as a whole money which does not
impede maintainers to make correct technical decisions, however, is
something I think we should welcome.

> If you need some examples: an hosting company could give back x% of the
> monthly fee paid by customers running Debian servers and would likely
> appreciate some promotion of this "offer" on the Debian side.  There
> is a book editor who is giving $1 for each sold copy of their Debian
> book.

If there are sufficient such offers, adding them to the "How to help
Debian" section of our website seems like the right thing to do. We may
want to also make announcements on the -project website when they are
added, or perhaps create a more appropriate mailinglist for that

> Etc. Most of those offers are created for marketing reasons in the hope to
> get noticed/promoted within the Debian community. Shall we promote those?

I think we can and should promote such offers if we can do it in a
non-obnoxious way. I think the examples I gave above are not obnoxious.

Examples of things that would be somewhat obnoxious is to start adding
banners to our website, or add them to our mailinglists like sourceforge
does, etc; I would not like to see them, but don't generally mind them
on websites I visit provided they don't get in the way.

One step further, and thus *completely* out of the question (if the
above wasn't already) is things like javascript click-through ads.

> Can we just inform people about their existence without promoting them?

No, because if we inform people about the existence of such offers, we
are by definition promoting the offers. You can't promote something and
not promote it at the same time.

We can consider /how/ we promote them, however, and I think if we can do

The volume of a pizza of thickness a and radius z can be described by
the following formula:

pi zz a

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