"As before, due to burnout and other obligations this roadmap has no timelines."
- developer

It's always sad to hear that people working on the commons are struggling with . I know what that's like. I've been running on low-energy, post-burnout mode since about 2014 or so. It sucks. It's exasperating to struggle through what ought to be sime tasks and not knowing when (if ever) I will get my mojo back.

People are saying the burnout is about a lack of funding but I'm not so sure. Maybe in some cases. But I suspect it has more to do with the increasingly stressful (even toxic) experience of being in the community. The culture wars for example. But also a massive increase in users getting involved (which is good) but being pushy and demanding instead of collaborative and diplomatic.

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People running commons projects are asking their users/ audiences to buy them a coffee once a month, and fair enough. We deserve that. It's so little, right? But imagine if you tried to give that much to every piece of software you use (including all the dependencies), every net service, every blog you read, every activist org you support etc etc. I can now afford to donate a bit (unlike the 20 years I was on welfare), but I'm paralyzed trying to figure out where to start.

I don't believe the problem is a lack of willingness to contribute. It's a) chronic inequality that means most people really can't afford a coffee a month, and b) a lack of transparent, reliable systems for collecting many small donations and distributing them sanely, instead of folks sticking dollar bills in whatever hole in the dyke they happen to see.

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Also many people think they *are* contributing by haranguing devs about their particular school of identity politics and whatnot. Don't get me wrong, some great non-coding contributions are made in making free code projects/ services more inclusive etc. But I've seen people in the fediverse going about that in the most toxic ways. I really feel for the lead dev of Mastodon in particular, who seems really well-meaning and cops far more of that than anyone deserves.

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TL;DR the desire to contribute (both time and money) is there, but it needs to be channeled and focused.

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As a non-coder who tries to be a helpful user and support rather than demand (hopefully I succeed more often than I fail), I feel like there's a need to for users to organize ourselves, and train ourselves in how to file useful bug reports, help efficiently with triage, make feature or UI requests and take part in roadmap planning more diplomatically and in the right place for a project's workflow (eg the user support forums instead of the bug tracker) etc etc.

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Also to structure free code projects in ways that create more semi-permeable layers between users and devs, so the user community can protect devs from users being dickheads, while still allowing helpful feedback to reach them.


I have way too much time on my hands ...

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Also to structure free code projects in ways that create more semi-permeable layers between users and devs, so the user community can protect devs from users being dickheads, while still allowing helpful feedback to reach them.


I have way too much time on my hands ...

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I still think the Governance Model has a lot of useful insights to offer about how such a structure can work for both users and devs (or creators and audience in a non-code commons):

promoted this almost 10 years ago now. IMHO they were way ahead of the curve and as with , it's sad their project didn't survive.

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@strypey I was inspired by a blog post by Andre Staltz on Scuttlebutt where he says that he uses the activity of free software development as a replacement for dumb entertainment, like watching TV for example.

I've been trying to do the same with moderately good results so far.

IMO, a developer needs three things to work effectively - time, money and attention.



Partial funding like a coffee a month doesn't help much, since the full-time day job takes the majority of the time and attention of the developer.

Only when the free software development pays sustainably enough so that the developer can work full-time on it can they devote their full attention and time to the project.

This is not to discourage small donations, since they can pay for servers etc.

I'm just speaking from my personal experience.


@njoseph @strypey Hmm, I always had the idea that a lot of that depends on scale. If you have software with millions of users of which say 1% donate a euro a month, you can still live reliably with that income. If course it's hard to get to that point and it's getting to that point that takes the most work.

@stevenroose @strypey I agree. I wasn't trying to discuss how to fund free software but how much is required to have an impact.

Let's say a free software developer gets 10% of the amount required for sustenance from X funding model. Their lifestyle doesn't change. Their day job still demands the same amount of time and attention. Whatever is left goes to the free software project.

Your project gets $200 per week on Liberapay doesn't translate to more hours per week or more mental space.

Exactly, yes. The complaint I'm hearing is that most people aren't able to fund fulltime salaries from donations. Pooling funds and turning them into secure, fulltime jobs used the be the function of the firm. In some countries (eg Japan) that idea of the lifelong "company man"(yes, usually a man) still exists. But if we want that from decentralized networks, we need to build structures that do it.

@strypey @njoseph @stevenroose another thing we can do is to socialise the idea the proprietary software is one step away from unethical... davelane.nz/reflections-propri If we could make proprietary software socially unaceptable (as it should be), companies would instead develop and fund developer salaries (I did that for 14 years)...

@lightweight @stevenroose @njoseph @strypey

That’s ridiculous. Free software is a wonderful gift, but he who makes it owns it, in all things. If he decides to give it away, bravo! If not, it wouldn’t exist without him anyway, so no loss.

I blame my friend Leor Zolman for the fact that you can’t make a living from software licenses (unless you’re Oracle or IBM). His BDS C compiler, in 1973, was the first dev system to not charge a run-time license for code compiled with it. RMS took it much further, of course.

> who makes it owns it

Until they make someone else a consumer or user of it. Then transparency is required. What's the ingredients of the food or medicine product? What's the source code of the software? We can either trust a central regulator to audit that for us, or we can make it public knowledge and audit it for ourselves.
@lightweight @njoseph @stevenroose @billstclair

Besides, the only thing that keeps the source code of software secret is the state enforcing a copyright monopoly on it. See 's writing on that from propertarian "libertarian" POV:
@lightweight @njoseph @stevenroose

@strypey @stevenroose @njoseph @lightweight

Or we can decide that state certification of everything we use is not only unnecessary, but dangerous. Those requirements WILL be denied for political reasons, and omitted for bribes.

I like food and medicine ingredient requirements. I can even see requirements that airplane control software be held to a higher standard. But in a free society, certification by independent companies should be preferred to state mandates. Those who wish to pay more for certified products are free to do so. Those willing to risk uncertified products should be similarly free.

But then I believe we should have "Armed AIr", whose passengers are encouraged to carry handguns on their airplanes, and "Fly Safe", which searches all passengers to ensure that nobody is carrying a weapon. And let the market decide which survives (possibly both).

in a society where software is operating people's implanted medical devices, driving our cars etc, the quality of software is more and more analagous to the quality of air traffic control. It potentially affects everyone, not just the vendor or customer. As I say, I don't want the state to certify software. I want them to stop enforcing the obfuscation of code by software distributors, so we can choose a certifier we trust.
@lightweight @stevenroose @njoseph

@billstclair @njoseph @stevenroose @strypey proprietary software licenses, build upon the convention of the govt granted monopoly of copyright are an example of artificial scarcity. The artificiality is not understood by most but intuitive wrongness of it is why there's little or no social stigma against copyright infringement... Compare that to actual theft...

@njoseph @strypey The effect that it can have is that the developer will be more likely to spend his free time on that project that nets 200 a week than to wander around and perhaps abandon it in favor of another project. So it can be useful to secure the continued existence/support of the project. Even though it might not guarantee a full-time dev's worth of time.

@stevenroose that assumes that money is primarily what motivates people. That's not always true. I've been in a position of trying to find people to work on deploying free code software for a small permaculture NGO, for very small, short-term amounts of money. TBH I found it easier to recruit people as volunteers, working for the cause. Paying people at that level didn't seem to make people any keener to sign up, or reliable any more reliable at working to timetables either.

@stevenroose I think that's because the value of money depends very much on your situation. As
@njoseph says, if you already have a day job that covers the bills, and free code is a passion project, whether it can pay you a few pingers or not will not determine whether you stay involved. It's better to be a valued and respected community leader than an underpayed contractor.

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