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Re: How to leverage money to accomplish high impact Debian projects

Jonathan Carter <jcc@debian.org> writes:

> On 2021/03/18 21:44, Philip Hands wrote:
>> I've been pondering how it might be possible to spend more of Debian's
>> money, and it occurred to me that we could allocate a budget to each DD
>> which they could spend on pretty-much anything (as long as, for Debian
>> funds, the expenditure is allowed under the relevant non-profit
>> restrictions that apply to the funds that we hold -- you could apply
>> your own criteria of course).
>> That way you get to take advantage of the wisdom of the crowd, since
>> people in various areas of Debian are bound to know about things that
>> have been left undone for years or decades, that some targeted funding
>> would almost certainly sort out once and for all.
>> You'd probably want to have some sort of oversight (e.g. some ex-DPLs)
>> just to ensure that the madder ideas get filtered out, but if you ask
>> people to only suggest ideas that they'd want to spend their own money
>> on if they had it to spare, that should ensure that most people don't
>> get too silly.
>> Also, one could say that the people suggesting the project should not be
>> the beneficiary, and should write some sort of report indicating how
>> well it went before they would get any new budget allocated.  People
>> that had thought of funding things that turned out to be successful
>> could then be given larger budgets to play with in future.
>> Encouraging people to pool their budgets to fund bigger things would
>> hopefully result in them forming teams of mentors to oversee the work.
> I think as things stand now, every DD pretty much already has the entire
> Debian budget available at their disposal if they can think of a way to
> spend it that benefits the project.

I was reflecting on the way the Peertube funding was achieved.

There were enough people keen on that happening that if we'd each had an
earmarked e.g. 1k budget to allocate, we could have just agreed it
amongst ourselves, and done it, without a lot of back and forth on the
lists trying to establish whether there really was something like a
project-wide consensus about it, and perhaps even not needing to ask
permission from the DPL[1].

Then again, maybe it's good to have that project-wide consensus phase,
but it means that things take much longer to get done, and are a lot
more effort than they ought to be, which is probably enough to make sure
that fewer such things get done.

One major benefit that I'd expect to see coming from the personal budget
approach would be that all those that had contributed their budgets
towards something would feel a personal responsibility for how it went,
and thus would be much more likely to follow up to make sure that things
went well, if only in order to justify having a budget in future.

Cheers, Phil.

[1] one would presumably need to run it past someone to check that the
non-profit rules were being complied with, but that could be done by a
delegated team.  I'd have thought that could mostly be managed by having
a good write-up of what is and is not allowed on the wiki, so people
know not to bother trying things that are not allowed.
|)|  Philip Hands  [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]  HANDS.COM Ltd.
|-|  http://www.hands.com/    http://ftp.uk.debian.org/
|(|  Hugo-Klemm-Strasse 34,   21075 Hamburg,    GERMANY

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