[darcs-users] fundraising

Gwern Branwen gwern0 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 3 02:40:05 UTC 2009

On Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 5:19 PM, Eric Kow <kowey at darcs.net> wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> As you know, we have been working on joining the Software Freedom
> Conservancy.  Joining the SFC makes it easier for us to raise funds and
> to hold assets (such as the darcs.net domain name, which is currently
> owned by David).
> I think most of us here would agree that having access to money is a
> good thing.  But before we launch into any fundraising campaigns, I
> wanted to make sure that we as a community, come to some sort of rough
> consensus about (a) what are acceptable ways for us to raise this money
> and (b) how uses we should make of it.
> Context: the Day Job Problem
> ----------------------------
> At the risk of over-steering, I would like to suggest a bit of
> context for this discussion.  Since August 2008, when I started becoming
> more active in the darcs community, I have been very interested in
> solving what I call the Day Job Problem, which simply the fact that
> while we have loads of things we want to do with darcs, most of us are
> busy trying to fulfill our other commitments.
> How can we get the time to work on darcs?
> The four anwsers I can see so far are to
>  (a) increase the number of darcs developers
>  (b) allocate tasks and decision-making roles more efficiently
>  (c) concentrate small shards of time into useful bursts (sprints)
>  (d) increase the availability of the darcs developers
>     (e.g. 20% time, see below)
> So my interest in fundraising is ultimately about buying time, directly
> or otherwise.  But how exactly should we go about it?
> Raising funds
> -------------
> Is there anything about the following ideas that anybody finds
> objectionable?  What would be the most effective approach?
> What other ideas do you have?
> - Sponsors page.  Would folks here object to a sponsors page on darcs.net?
>  How should this be set up?
>  If we do have a sponsors page, I would like to offer the University of
>  Brighton to put their logo on it. The University are effectively
>  subsiding darcs development, as they have agreed to have me spend 20%
>  of my time working on darcs, as opposed to my normal research.
> - Fundraising drives? This is National Public Revision Control.
>  Please give us your money.
> - Donation button on the home page?
> - Selling t-shirts, mugs, cookies, books?
> Spending them!
> --------------
> What kinds of things should we be spending money on?  Are there any
> essential services that we need to secure, for example?  Any devious
> schemes, perhaps involving an unspecified number of sharks, lasers
> and pieces of twine?
> Ideas I have are
> - Hardware? hosting? any essential services that we need to secure?
> - Prizes for contests? It's great that the Real World Haskell
>  authors are willing to donate a copy for a darcs hacking
>  contest.  Are there other kinds of prizes we could put together?
>  We would likely want to keep the prizes small, though, as prestige
>  and fun may be better motivators for these contests than prizes.
> - Paying for travel and accomodation to sprints.  We could either
>  try to spread money evenly, or try to subsidise those that have
>  to go the furthest.
> - Hiring talent we don't have access to (for example, our current
>  logo was put together by a paid professional)
> - Marketing: perhaps not the right time for this
> - Bounties: I doubt that bounties work, but maybe in the right
>  contexts, and with some creative twists, we can make them work
> - Hiring developers: if we manage to raise lots of money, could
>  we find a way to get some paid darcs hacking done?
> Maybe one way we can break things down is by the amounts we can raise.
> What could we do with $500?  $1000? $5000? $10000? $50000?.
> Dream big, dream small!  Advice wanted!

I think one of the best things might be to hire students for a summer,
like in Google's Summers of Code. It would be really elegant I think
if we could reuse an existing process - perhaps we could go to Google
or Jane Street and say "here's $4000 for a Darcs-only project (if any
show up)"? Kind of like a scholarship or endowment.

It's not like we couldn't easily pull together a long list of things
to do - "rewrite our test scripts in Language.Sh/ShSh",  "make our
mmap support do awesome things" etc.

Given how many current darcs developers *are* students, seems like a
good idea to me. Not that I have any idea who to contact in Google or
Jane Street.


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