Exploring solutions: Supporting Sponsorship for Drupal Contribution

Shadlington's picture

There are people who would like to spend more time doing Drupal contrib work but who cannot financially justify taking time off commercial work or minding the kids (or other demands of life) in order to do so. These are often highly skilled and experienced members of the Drupal community.

There is an opportunity to make it financially (and otherwise) viable for these contributors to choose to do Drupal contrib work by helping them find commercial sponsorship, primarily from companies who benefit from Drupal being a better product and a stronger more active community.

By providing a mechanism for one or more contributors to define a project and it's benefits and then helping promote this opportunity to companies in the community who may be willing/able to support these projects, we can help make Drupal more amazing, more quickly.

All work done under this initiative is contributed freely back to the community. Sponsoring companies have no rights to direct the work being undertaken although they are welcome to provide insight/feedback as to their particular requirements.

This is a contributor led system resulting in output that is available freely to the entire Drupal community. Contributions of all types would be supported by this system including design, code, documentation, support / training, marketing, research, etc.

(pls note, this is a MASSIVE edit of the original post for the sake of coherence. Pls check revisions if you want to get a sense of how this project has progressed since it's initial posting if that is not entirely clear from the commentary below).



LewisNyman's picture

I like the idea of bounties being attached to an issue. It would only provide encouragement to fix some lesser issues and is a great way of supporting the Drupal community. However I can imagine it will be a bit of a chore to implement, both technically and legally.

I'm not to mad on the idea of developers being to set a required target, every developer values their awesomesome differently, what you will end up with is a bidding war.

There's also the issue of quality. Like I a said this would be tough to implement correctly.

I totally get that this'll be

Shadlington's picture

I totally get that this'll be tricky to implement. Legal issues in particular is something I hadn't given much thought to. Its a scary can of worms that I don't know enough about to comment on... Which is a problem.
I considered that we could have problems when more than one person contributes to an issue and that is definitely something that would need to be addressed. Perhaps some way of marking a bounty as something you're working on, so others don't (can't?) try to do the same (with an expiration date so that they don't just hang forever) might help.
But that is really only one situation, there are definitely others. If this gains any traction at all then it'll need a lot of thought, yes.

You're right about bidding wars... We should avoid that. Maybe the whole open nature of the bounties I was thinking about should be dropped in favour of a more restrictive 'the bounty is only available to the module maintainers' system.
Maybe it should be rolled back even further to just the module maintainers can setup the bounties - that's pretty much what happens now, it would just be a more integrated system.
I'm not sure. I really need to think about this some more.

(EDIT: I changed this post because we should really avoid bidding wars. I don't know why I thought that idea was alright when I wrote this originally - didn't think it through)

brad.mrumlinski's picture

I think its a great idea and could really move drupal development forward faster. I know there are many times I wished a module would move faster and would have happily put down money for a specific feature to be implemented. I think this might be a great way to allow for businesses and the open source community to work together for the greater good of everyone involved.

The only issue I see being a problem is that some of the people who currently work on drupal stuff for free would become resentful and could potentially slow down development for those developers until they started receiving compensation at a similar rate.

This system might be better off run by a 3rd party privately to avoid a close intertwining of the two systems, avoiding the potential resentment and other issues.

hkebede7's picture

Yes you are correct, the 3rd party is needed. Good news that 3rd party is here already, go to patchparty.com

Not going to happen, you are wasting your time.

Jeff Burnz's picture

There is already a way to get this done that has worked for years, contact the developer and offer to pay for the feature. Done. You want to have people bid for work, go post it on elance or similar.

Bounties, bounty hunters and targets etc are NOT cool (you must be mad to think these things are "cool" and totally out of touch with why most hard core FOSS developers work in Drupal). If this were to happen the community would split, Drupal would be forked and thats the end of Drupal as we know it. Perhaps you are simply not aware that more than 50% of community bitterly oppose any such moves and would simply walk away - myself included. I do not come here to compete with 10 000 bidders or "bounty hunters", I come here in the name of FOSS.

From my perspective this is almost wasted conversation, because its never, ever going to happen.

Not going to happen, you are wasting your time.

hkebede7's picture

Wait, what about the 3rd party idea.

Ouch. That's a really strong

Shadlington's picture

Ouch. That's a really strong criticism and I get it. I was stupid.

I didn't give the bidding element enough thought and you're right. That should just drop from the conversation, its a bad idea.

However, it isn't the main idea. It is just something that sprung to mind as I was writing this out.

The main idea is the crowdfunding element. Some way for multiple, unassociated people to get together and donate to a cause that they all agree is worth their money, but which individually they are unable to fund.

This is completely separate to an individual or company hiring a developer. This is the community getting together to pay for something together that individually they lack the impetus to pay for themselves (and which otherwise the developer lacks the impetus to do themselves).
FOSS is awesome and I love it. I would just like to provide a more integrated system for something that already happens without hurting FOSS.

This is about enabling the masses, not driving developers to be more money-driven.
I, for example, am not able to afford to pay a developer to do something by myself. I am underpaid and support my ME-suffering partner as well as myself. I have a small amount of extra money each month that I would be able to spend on something other than bills and food, but I'm not going to be able to get a developer to add a feature to a module for $50. There are tons of other people in a similar situation to me that would love to contribute funds to drupal developers but simply cannot afford to do it individually.

The bidding element was stupid though. I don't know why I even bothered trying to defend it. I'm gonna edit my original post because I don't want it to overshadow this topic.

EDIT: I'd like to point out that I didn't suggest we should have bidding wars. It was pointed out that some parts of what I was proposing could enable bidding wars to take place and I made a feeble, poorly-thought out defense for it in response to that.
Bidding wars would be bad, yep.

Ouch. That's a really strong

hkebede7's picture

I think this problem can be solved by using Chip-In service from patchparty.com

Patch Party is a place for software developers to publish and support their open source patches.

What is a Patch Chip-In?

Developers that want to contribute back to the community by releasing their software as open source in exchange for a one-time cost can create a Patch Chip-In.

Hi,With Jeff on the

thomjjames's picture


With Jeff on the bounties, not a good route to go down!

Going back to the top, one of the pain points for users you outlined was "they have no clear way of making this happen" in reference to donating to a project or issue. A lot of developers just write on the project page that they accept donations and how to do it. So maybe just an enhancement of that through predefined fields ("I accept donations" checkbox & info field where developers can copy & paste https://flattr.com or paypal donate buttons) on project nodes would be the simplest solution, although I really can't see this happening anytime soon!

However, I have no idea what legal implications some kind of donation system could have for Drupal itself, for example what happens if someone gets scammed on a project that never happens, who's fault is it, who's to blame etc

That's my 2 cents,

A question and a model...

leisareichelt's picture

so, I think this is a really interesting area to pursue.

As a freelance UXer who would really like to contribute more to the community but has very little to gain from that contribution (other than professional challenge and working with you all!), a little financial backing here and there would go a long way to enabling me to more fully participate and contribute more and better. I know a lot of development work is done by developers who are employed to work on Drupal and the development enhancements are often a lot more broadly useful than project specific design/ux work, so from my own personal perspective, I'm very interested in this. (Having said that, I hope it's obvious that I give plenty of my own personal time to contribute as well and I'd neve expect to have all of my Drupal time funded)

So - my question is this. What is the PRIMARY user story?

Is it:

  • I'm a contributor (developer/designer/supporter of newcomers/whatever) and there's something I'd like to contribute to Drupal but in order to make it viable (or achievable in a reasonable timeframe) I need to get some funding (so I can take time off from other projects would by my personal story here).


  • I'm a company and there's something we need to do/would like to see in Drupal that doesn't currently exist and we don't have the people to do it, but we're willing to fund someone else appropriately skilled to do this.

I understand that we no doubt have both of these stories but I think that to move this forward, it would be ideal to choose one as the PRIMARY story, then we can work out what a good model might look like.

It strikes me that by making the contributor the originator of the project, you remove a lot of the competitiveness of bidding/bounties etc. that promotes undercutting, poor workmanship and bad blood in general. Rather, the contributor pitches both their idea and themselves, puts a price on their time, and then on those merits, companies can opt in and out of supporting it. Two similar or identical pitches could be made and 'the market' can then decide which contributor to support or perhaps support both! (why not, it is Drupal afterall). Or the contributors could come together an combine their projects/work together.

I really like the kickstarter model - take a read of their FAQs here: http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq
Their emphasis on openness really fits well with Drupal I think - there are never any guarantees that a project will actually be completed or that it will be done well but community reputation (which we can hopefully make more visible ref: http://groups.drupal.org/node/142559) should help to ensure that people are able to choose projects that are more likely to succeed and if someone behaves poorly (doesn't deliver or delivers rubbish work) they only get to do that once and their likelihood of having future projects funded is virtually zero.

If we go with the contributor led model, then I wonder how much we might be able to re-use the kickstarter model and where we'd need to tweak it? There would, of course, need to be some dispute resolution measures in place and some kind of legal entity 'owning' the infrastructure, but... it strikes me as something we shouldn't completely write off.

Jeff says:
'There is already a way to get this done that has worked for years, contact the developer and offer to pay for the feature. Done. You want to have people bid for work, go post it on elance or similar.'

This solves the 'I'm a company that wants something built' problem but doesn't do anything for me. (Not that this is all about me of course but I figure I'm representative of a whole other audience/ set of user needs). Posting on elance the kinds of things i'd like to contribute to the Drupal community makes no sense at all.

I don't think this is a wasted conversation. I think this is a conversation that fits perfectly in to the ambitions of the Prairie Initiative - doing more and better Drupal work, making it easier for more people to contribute. Again, using myself as a representative of the broader community - resolving this issue would help me do all of these things.

Perhaps what we need to do is re-frame this. Focus it on the contributor pitching projects and work out the most simple way we can enable this on Drupal.org so that more people can do more great work while still remaining aligned with the philosophy of Drupal and FOSS in general.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Keep going

moshe weitzman's picture

I'm going to encourage Leisa and others to keep going with this idea. It is really important. We have a community that deperately wants features or version upgrades. They have small amounts of money in hand but there isn't a formal way to aggregate that desire and purchasing power. I think the 'formal' part is important. Thats whats needed to get more money flowing in, and more useful code flowing out.

Some folks object to this because it is not in the FOSS spirit. I submit that these folks are confused about what exactly FOSS means. The code that is built via group funding would be FOSS, just as always. Only now we have more of it. And specifically we have code that would otherwise not have existed because it was expensive to produce.

Some others object that existing developers would stop contributing code for free but instead wait until the community paid for it. Or would concentrate on projects that get paid. I am not too concerned about this. Furst, I think unpaid contrib work will continue with little change. Also, I think this is a minor problem compared to the benefits.

I also really like the Contributor centric use case, and Kickstarter as a model.


Jeff Burnz's picture

The 100% free model may have problems, but the pay-for-code model also has a lot of problems. Its not a magic bullet. Some discussion of the problems and downsides is needed to balance this discussion. These downsides could be very detrimental.

Agree re: explore the detrimental aspects

leisareichelt's picture

Jeff, I don't think anyone is going to do anything but agree with you here - we need to try to work out what the obvious detrimental aspects of this might be and whether there's something we can do to avoid them, or if, as you suggest, the whole mission is doomed.

So, let's do it. Let's try to clearly define what we think the negative effects could potentially be and do a bit of a risk assessment re: likelihood/impact etc.

Ones that I've heard so far include:

  • it will cause a rift in the community
  • it will stop people from contributing when they're not being paid
  • it will reduce the quality of the work that is being done
  • it will reduce the likelihood that people will stick around to maintain their work once complete.

what other concerns do we have? And can we start building these out a little more so that we can all understand the dynamics behind this. So, why exactly will it cause a rift? Why will people stop making unpaid contributions etc?

Once we have a shared understanding of the problem we can have a better shot at making an informed decision.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Sure, some of my major

Jeff Burnz's picture

Sure, some of my major concerns where about a bidding system inside Drupal, pulling this back to a better way for developers to offer reverse bounties mitigates a lot of issues imo.

I think you used the word "will" to liberally, clearly those are potential downsides, its just not that black and white and there will be a lot of gray. Using the word WILL seems to put and absolutist spin on these points that seems unnecessary:

it will cause a rift in the community
- certainly this COULD happen. no matter how this is implemented someone or some group is going to loose or feel disinfranchised. there are highly likely to be rifts within our community.

it will stop people from contributing when they're not being paid
- see Borismans comment below - this is exactly what he is arguing.

it will reduce the quality of the work that is being done
- it could POTENTIALLY lead to lower quality work, clearly this is what happened in other projects (Joomla for example).

it will reduce the likelihood that people will stick around to maintain their work once complete.
- not sure why you say this, the point that was being made is that there is no rule to force me to support my work, paid or unpaid within Drupal.org - there is no mechanism for guaranteeing support - clearly if users pay for something they likely want it be supported, however I can build this or that feature, module, upgrade and then abandon it. Perhaps you need to become more familiar with the project space and what project owners can and cannot do.

From my point of view there is one major potential downside - a change in the underlying culture of Drupal. Right now our no-pay-for-modules culture actually protects Drupal users from charlatans and merchants outside of d.o. If we change our culture to one where paying for modules or code is OK we remove that inherent protection. People here seem to think this is only about Drupal.org - its not, this will permeate the entire Drupal ecosystem. It will open the door on a Joomla type culture where users cannot get any decent extensions without paying for them - I say "open the door", not that it WILL happen, that it COULD happen.

Think long term - 5 years down the road what is our ecosystem going to look like if we introduce a pay-for-code model?

Will it be better, or will we be in a Joomla type situation where many are simply walking away from Joomla and over to Drupal because we have high quality, free modules that allow users with little or no budget to build great sites. Please consider the long term ramifications of these plans.


Michelle's picture

I missed the "bidding wars" bit since I'm just reading this now but I agree that doesn't sound like a good thing.

For me, Drupal is a hobby. I maintain 3 modules that I developed and support for free. They came from my own hobby site, not a client, so there was no initial funding, either. While most of the time I'm happy to do this and get my "reward" in community karma, a little spending money now and then is nice, too. :) I usually have a chipin running that gets donations here and there. Usually not much but, occasionally, someone will surprise me with a big one. Even so, a "big" donation usually covers no more than an hour at a typical freelance rate compared to the hundreds of hours I've put into this for free.

I didn't like the idea of the app store because I don't want to get into selling my modules. I like that they are free for anyone to use and don't want to put on a cost for using them, even a small one. Charging for use changes the whole support dynamic and ups the sense of entitlement big time.

Something like this, though, where people kicked in for a specific feature would be nice. There are some things people want their forums to do that I have no use for on my site and I tend to drag my feet on those and focus on the stuff that my site needs. A little money would give some incentive to work on stuff that isn't my "itch" without making the entire module about making money. It also would speed development in general because I can say to my husband, "You need to watch the kids while I work on this code I'm getting paid for." a whole lot more than, "You need to watch the kids while I work on my hobby." :)


May or may not be "bad" but probably won't work

rfay's picture

Well, I don't know whether this would be bad for the community, but the fact is that lots of key developers over time have given the community the option to help pay for their work (via ChipIn, most notably, but other ways too). In general, not enough money flows through it to make it more than a farce.

Also, lots of us have done small improvements based on offered pay via the issue queue. I regret one that I did. It's not sustainable and wasn't a highly valued feature to anybody except the person paying. That approach to design and prioritization can result in really grotesque work.

We have had some rather notable success with an organization paying for specific significant work to be done. The final push on the redesign was a massive example, where the Drupal Association paid. There are examples of companies paying (outside) developers for significant community work.

But the bottom line is that people really don't seem to be willing to let money flow in any significant way via bounties and such. It's just been a dead-end for the several who hoped to go that way.

fair comparison?

leisareichelt's picture

hey Randy

thanks for chipping in :) (ah, this topic is so pun-worthy,... sorry!)

so, here's what I'm wondering - is it a fair comparison, what you're describing and what we're proposing.
if implemented somewhere along the way I envisage it then a few things would change including:

  • contributors would own/pitch the projects rather than developers doing piece meal work for change
  • the projects would be more meaningful/exciting/motivating because they've been 'designed' (in the loosest sense of the word) by the people who would be seeing them through
  • we'd make sure that these projects were properly promoted so they would get a wider audience
  • setting a 'price' for the work sets expectations for the value of the work. For myself, unless I'm pricing my time at similar to market rates then this model is broken, but it's up to us to set those expectations and not make this a place to find bargain basement developers.

so, in effect, I see this as being a totally different model to what we've seen in the past so the comparison, while useful, isn't really going to be an accurate indication as to whether or not the new model of funding would succeed.

We can't see this as a place to get bargain basement Drupal developers. This is a place where people who really know Drupal and what Drupal needs can put together a compelling pitch which we then help them take out to a broader audience and allow a number of partners to come together to financially support that project.

If you want some bargain basement Drupal development work done to get your pet feature built, that's a whole other problem that, frankly, I'm much less interested in (and I'd say that's outside the scope of the Prairie Initiative anyways).

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

You've just described reverse bounties

Boris Mann's picture

You've just described reverse bounties, circa 2005 :P The first reverse bounty (link on drupal.org) went to chx, who at the time wasn't the best Drupal. But it got the job done.

I continue to believe that yes, the contributor / developer needs to own it for all the reasons that you've described. There is also an element of trust / karma. Has this person done work before?

I think we should actually USE kickstarter* or similar platform that already exists rather than re-inventing the wheel. I agree with Moshe's comments on a "formal" way to do this. I think this could be as simple as highlighting and re-writing the raising money post on drupal.org to link to THE preferred location to post these things, along with specific instructions on how to do it. Marketing / raising the profile would help. In fact, thinking about this some more, I think marketing is where we can add some innovation.

I think I just convinced myself that it's worth taking another crack at this :P One thing I would add, is that lets help developers around this. Let's have a sort of vetting process to help promote great reverse bounty initiatives, then let's use the Drupal community resources at our disposal - Facebook page, Twitter account, front page posts, etc. - to hilight these vetted / selected bounties.

*Kickstarter is only possible in the US at the moment, because it uses Amazon Payments, so it's not the ideal system at all. Unless some entity (like the Drupal Association) is the actual entity that gets the funding. Which might not be a bad idea, again on the formalization track.

I think I'm starting to come

Shadlington's picture

I think I'm starting to come round to this reverse bounty concept.
I had liked the idea of having both bounties and reverse bounties, but several problems with regular bounties have been highlighted that I reallllly don't want and would be tricky to deal with. Keeping it to reverse bounties keeps things a lot simpler and pretty much avoids most of these problems.
It'll almost entirely be self-regulated thanks to karma (though I still think a reputation/experience system would help prop this up and give users a better indication of who they can trust).
And if users really want to set up their own bounties, they just need to voice this. If setting up a reverse bounty is a simple enough process then the developer can just set one up when people ask for it.

I'm sold.

However, I'm not keen on kickstarter being the service used. For starters, the US-only thing immediately excludes a huge number of people (myself included - I'm British).
Also, kickstarter takes 5%. I am all in favour of whichever system is used taking a small percentage, but I'd much rather it was drupal.
Then there's the whole thing of developers having to jump through kickstarter's hoops - which are good hoops for what kickstarter is mainly used for but don't really fit with what we need here. I don't think developers should have to think of a series of rewards for pledging money, for example. And I'd rather it was a very quick process to set up a reverse bounty, with as little waiting period as possible. If its a hassle getting a reverse bounty set up then that might set a bar of how much development work is required before it is worth it. I guess there will always be a bar like this but I'd like it to be quite low, really.

I still think that - if the legal aspects could be worked out - a drupal-run and d.o-integrated solution would be best.

Great comments, really glad

Shadlington's picture

Great comments, really glad you guys are chipping in.

I'd first like to say in response to rfay that some of the inspiration for my posting this at all came from seeing quicksketch raise the $800 (and then some!) he needed to fund the D7 port of filefield sources (see: http://drupal.org/node/864800).
So that's a fairly recent example of this working.

I think we would see a lot more of this if there was a highly visible system in place that donators a) were used to and b) felt they could trust.

That said, I have to agree with leisa that this needs reframing. I screwed this up because I wanted to push my own ideas out there when I really needed to just explain the use case and maybe suggest my idea separately. I thought attaching funding requests to issue queues tied in with existing infrastructure so well that I got over-excited about it and ran with it a little too far.

I don't want to hurt the community in any way.
I want to :
1. Empower users to get together and fund drupal development as a group.
2. Provide drupal developers with an additional source of income that isn't reliant on finding individual clients.

That's my core motivation here. I don't want to see the community suffer any degradation as a side-effect though.

how to solve problems 101

leisareichelt's picture

This is a great demonstration, actually, of how redesigning the way the issue queue works can help us approach problem solving and design more effectively.

Step one: define the problem
Step two: brainstorm solutions

don't beat yourself up - jumping into solutions is an age old Drupal tradition (and not just Drupal to be fair), but it's one thing I'd really like to see us do differently in the coming months and years.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Empower users to get together

Jeff Burnz's picture
  1. Empower users to get together and fund drupal development as a group.

They can already do this, via g.d.o or the issue queue - what you guys are talking about is not empowering groups or their ability to contribute, you are talking about introducing a broad base pay-for-code model. Look, there are many other ways users can contribute, and many things other than money that developers need from end users in order to advance their software. Using money as the catalyst for collaborative efforts to help developers feels like the "easy solution", not necessary the best solution for Drupal. I am not seeing balanced debate here, there are many many downsides to this and they are not being raised.

  1. Provide drupal developers with an additional source of income that isn't reliant on finding individual clients.

In other words turn Drupal contrib into a market place - because in effect that is what will happen.

contributors would own/pitch the projects rather than developers doing piece meal work for change

I don't understand what you mean by this. Who are you referring to as "contributors".

the projects would be more meaningful/exciting/motivating because they've been 'designed' (in the loosest sense of the word) by the people who would be seeing them through

This is an assumption that cannot be guaranteed. Some of the best projects in existence are API's, would end users get excited about an API that actually had no functionality on its own? Additionally what is "seeing it through"? Delivery of code? What about support in the long term - there is nothing to stop me delivering code, then abandoning a project. I can't see that changing - its a basic tenant of FOSS that I don't have to provide support and can just walk away.

we'd make sure that these projects were properly promoted so they would get a wider audience

The issue is who is going to police this, not promote it. Who will police this and how?

setting a 'price' for the work sets expectations for the value of the work. For myself, unless I'm pricing my time at similar to market rates then this model is broken, but it's up to us to set those expectations and not make this a place to find bargain basement developers.

What is the market rate? $5 an hour or $105 per hour - it rather depends where you live. Am I offering bargain-basement services because I charge $12 ph or is that actually double the local going rate? (before you get to excited I do not charge $12 ph.. he he).

In response...

leisareichelt's picture

Ok, all of my responses are going to be framed from a wider perspective than developers scratching their own itch via code, esp people who want to help make Drupal better in any number of ways by improving UX/usability, marketing, documentation, education, and any number of other activities.

Money as a catalyst is the easy way: I don't disagree, but incentive is vital in order for people to be motivated to contribute actively. What is the incentive for the experienced practitioners that Drupal needs in order to grow and develop to work on Drupal in a way that doesn't make anything for them? This is necessary work and we need to incentivise it to the extent that it can take the place of otherwise paying work. I welcome any non-financial alternatives if they exist.

This is particularly true for non-coding contributors but I think many developers would also empathise whilst remaining fully supportive of the FOSS philosophy.

Policing not promoting: I'm not entirely sure exactly what needs policing? If I have a project that I'd like you to financially support, it's up to me to convince you that I have the skills/motivation etc. to do the job. If you choose to fund me you're pretty much taking the same punt as you would be if you were hiring a freelancer or agency except you have the added advantage that I've done this publicly, effectively staked my reputation in the community on it. If I have no reputation and you choose to take the risk then - assume we get to also do the reputation project - that's your choice and your risk.

Re: market rates - my experience (and I've done a bit of research on this over the past 6 months or so) indicates that location has increasingly less bearing on pricing - however that's not the point. The point is that this is not intended to be a competitive market place (at least not as I imagine it), it's more like a catalogue of great ideas waiting to happen. You've gone and had a look at kickstarter, right?

I may very well be being completely naive and idealistic about this - i've thought about it a lot more from a design perspective than developer - and I agree we need to think the potential repercussions through more fully, but I'm still not convinced this is a non-starter. But we absolutely do need to make sure that it is positioned correctly.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Money != FOSS

Seth Murphy's picture

If you need money to participate in a community, it's called a business. Start a company and be responsible for it. If you want to contribute to FOSS, join the community and contribute, no string attached.

Companies exist because when money is involved, they are the best structure to deal with it.

If you want to monetize the Drupal community, it must become a company.

I don't think those who created/contributed to this want it that way.

If you want money, start a company, deal with it, and leave the Drupal community as is.

I am not a module developer, but I think I am only stating the obvious, and feel someone without bias needs to say it out loud.


Boris Mann's picture

This is not about monetizing Drupal. This is about putting food on the table for developers that want to follow their passion. They need money so they can AFFORD to follow their passion.


Jeff Burnz's picture

Boris, to say this is not about monetizing Drupal on one hand and then its about developers earning a living via Drupal.org seems like an oxymoron. There are plenty of avenues for earning a living via Drupal outside of Drupal.org, so I am not entirely sure why developers suddenly need to charge for upgrades and features within our project.

Is it possible we need to have better visibility within the community for good developers - such as user badges/ratings or a much easier way of assessing a developers karma/contributions and contact them for paid services? Clearly its very hard for new users to differentiate wheat from the chaff at the moment. If our better developers are indeed being prevented from more/better contributions due to financial reasons then this is a problem, but is monetizing Drupal contrib upgrades and feature requests the most appropriate solution, what are the downsides for the wider community?

I have to say that I don't know a single Drupal developer, themer or site builder worth his or her salt that isn't overloaded with work right now and has been for the past 2 years at least. If there was any reason for reverse bounty (developer posting a bounty for an upgrade or something) it would be about time - to be able schedule d.o work within normal working hours and account for it, so not really about money per se, more about time management. Otherwise that time comes out of family or leisure time, which is bad and leads to burnout etc etc. Maybe I am unusual and some developers really are falling on hard times, in which case we should do something about that, its just I'm not entirely convinced that upgrades-for-sale is the best idea we can come up with.

Regarding the reverse bounty raised in other issues, I think this is pretty good and can work, but on case by case basis - to open this up to anyone would be rife for exploitation, our community is already so large we can't even keep up with things like VCS applications let alone keep tabs on a bounty system. I would reserve this only for the most senior contributors and only for specific purposes such as major version upgrades.

If you think of it as Google

Boris Mann's picture

If you think of it as Google Summer of Code that runs all the time, would you feel better about it?

Most developers I know aren't good at marketing / promoting themselves, and so often just take the work they are asked to do. This flips it around and gives them some help in gaining visibility.

I'd personally only want to fund features / new modules, not maintenance and upgrades.

Lowering barriers to participate

leisareichelt's picture

Forcing people to start a company in order to get financial support for contributing to Drupal does not achieve our core objective which is to make it easier for more people to contribute more great work to Drupal.

This means getting more people making contributions, but also allowing existing community members to make better contributions by allowing them more time to work. I'm sure I'm not the only person who is frustrated by being limited to snatches of time here and there and the level of contribution that allows, compared to the quality and quantity of work you can do if you could dedicate half a day to a project.

That is what this discussion is about - it's not about 'monetising' Drupal, it's not about making vast profits from Drupal, it's just a way to make it easier for people to choose Drupal work over paid commercial work, or to get their husbands to watch the kids while they do Drupal work - both scenarios I can strongly relate to)

Let's focus on the end goal we're trying to achieve here rather than whatever solutions we have in our heads at the moment.
The end goal is a good one. If we stay calm and focussed, I'm think perhaps we can finally make our way to a solution that does a whole lot more good than bad.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

3rd party solution may work best

Seth Murphy's picture

I think Kickstart is a great venue to raise money for larger projects (i.e. MetaTags), when a specific major feature/module is needed. Crowd-sourcing can be a wonderful thing. It is a viable 3rd party tool to use, and would keep the responsibilities away from drupal.org. Although some of the same pitfalls could exist there too, at least it would be a bit insulated from drupal.org, and there would be less collateral damage on drupal.org should a "contract" between the developer[s] and funder[s] be broken.

I just don't see how if a bounty system is integrated into drupal.org, it will not monetize it, despite our best intentions. The RICOH act (http://www.ricoact.com/) is the perfect example of good intention gone wrong.

One or the major reason I chose Drupal over Joomla because I felt Joomla modules were a bit too monetized. I would hate to see my reason for this choice destroyed. Money does change things, no matter how much people say it won't, it always does.

And as for starting a business being too high a bar of entry to get paid, it is not that difficult, and would be the prudent thing to do in any case where you are getting paid to do a job where there are expectations of work done and money involved. I wouldn't go do a job as a consultant without forming a company, even if it is just myself, and it should be no different here if there is money involved.

I am also not sure introducing money would "make it easier for more people to contribute more great work to Drupal." Maybe I am interpreting this wrong, but I see money as only making it more rewarding, not easier. To the contrary, I see it becoming more difficult if money is involved.

The community recognizing contributors and allow potential funders to judge participants would seem like the first step in any solution. Might I suggest shelfing the whole idea of money and bounties, and instead concentrate on this portion of the problem, which I am sure the community would be behind fully.

"One or the major reason I

tvn's picture

"One or the major reason I chose Drupal over Joomla because I felt Joomla modules were a bit too monetized. I would hate to see my reason for this choice destroyed."

Exactly why/how I came to Drupal as well. Even more epic experience than with Joomla was with DotNetNuke which suggested to actually buy user manual after I first time downloaded their CMS.

However I do like the idea of "GSoC running all year long" and not only for the code but for other types contributions as well. Funding is needed for many great initiatives going on. But implementing such system without screwing everything will be really tricky.

Joomla v. Drupal business model

jdwalling's picture

My understanding of the current proposal(s) is that buyers pay contributors for effort, not product. The product remains free. Isn't that different from the Joomla business model?

Hard to say

eigentor's picture

Generally I am rather in the camp of trying such a thing somehow. Drupal module maintainers are a bit too much on the alleged atruistic side for now. We don't know how money would change things.

One thing that made me think is the basic Experiment Daniel H.Pink bases his book "Drive" on. In short: once people get money for a task they performed for free before, the intrinsic motivation diminishes. Once the money goes away, they may be on a lower level of motivation than before.

But I don't see this necessarily has to happen. Today Maintainers often do not implement features (a fully functional upgrade path for Views 1 to Views 2, anyone? :P) because they do not need it themselves. Entire modules do not get ported to D7 because the maintainer does not need it.

And as for altruism: it does not exist that much in OSS. The motivation to publish a module may be part of wanting to show the world the cool thing one has invented, a dream of fame, a lack of thinking of consequences (being tied to the issue queue forever) and others.

So for the scenarios of stuff all the people want but the maintainer does not need himself, a little extrinsic motivation in form of cold hard cash might be the stuff it takes. Maybe the Developer even discovers on his way of implementation that this is so cool.

We tend to think to much black and white in FOSS work. The best example is Leisa herself: being on the job largely on a paid task at first, she is now doing it for the love of it (or for the hatred of it? :D ).

Can we establish a system where bounties and Donations blend in with the predominant intrinsic nature of our motivation? I would like to find out. Maybe we can find some kind of test baloon that is run outside of d.o. and shows what can come out of this. D.O. is a highly political place and the barriers in form of people not wanting to be sold out are high.

Kickstarter appears to be the perfect place. Anyone posting an proposal to actually implement some of the stuff Media Module has promised two years ago but fails to deliver for causes that may have multiple sources is sure to get more than a hunderd bucks from me.

Life is a journey, not a destination

I'd almost 100% agree with

Shadlington's picture

I'd almost 100% agree with this post, if only for the kickstarter thing.
I don't think it fits, unfortunately.
Drupal is an international community, but kickstarter is US-only. This is the biggest problem with it IMO.
There's also the way you have to meet kickstarter's application criteria, rather than anything specific to drupal (or just open source in general). As well as the whole 'rewards for pledges' thing that will be too much of a hassle for small proposals to want to bother with.
I'd rather a lower barrier of entry.

So... What are the basic requirements of a crowdfunding system that we need?
Perhaps we should establish that and then judge the options against these requirements.

I'm with Jeff. I haven't seen

davidhernandez's picture

I'm with Jeff. I haven't seen bounties do much besides force out smaller site owners who can't afford to pay, and create a flood of bad code submitted by developers for pennies on the dollar. It is one thing if you create a bounty for something specific you need on your site, ("Hey, my custom theme is broken, can someone fix it? I'll pay X.") but when it is integrate into the community itself, and the project, it gets real hairy.

I can see a real animosity being created, not from module maintainers, but secondary contributors. Why should I find bugs in your code, or submit patches, when you are getting paid to do it? Do it your damn self. When money is involved, it changes EVERYTHING. To think otherwise is a bit naive. Money is a way to value contribution, and people's effort (ie, people themselves). If someone is getting less, or none at all, or whatever, it affects how people feel about the project. And the worst that may happen is not fighting, or changing the way things are done. Instead, having good people that just walk away. Lots of people might still develop with Drupal, but I wouldn't be surprised to seem them contribute less and less in the community. They'll disappear from groups, they won't volunteer to help with things, etc. Again, this MIGHT happen. Or it might not. Is that something worth risking?

"What is the incentive for the experienced practitioners that Drupal needs in order to grow and develop to work on Drupal in a way that doesn't make anything for them?" What has the incentive been for the last ten years? Did something change?

Also, what is done about non-code contributions? If people can get money for fixing bugs in a contrib module, or upgrading their module, what about documentation? Are we going to have bounties to fix doc pages? If not, are you saying fixing a bug has monetary value, but writing documentation doesn't? How will this affect the direction and quality of modules? Will people be more inclined to take a module in a bad direction because someone paid them more money? Again, all hypotheticals, but something to think about.

I'm not against getting paid. I'd like to get more money. I'd also like, and would be willing, to pay other developers for contributions. I just know that throwing money into any situation requires massive consideration.


Ignore the bounty / bug

Boris Mann's picture

Ignore the bounty / bug discussion. Any of this discussion still wouldn't force out site owners: the end product is still available and open source.

Would it be worth me editing

Shadlington's picture

Would it be worth me editing my original post in light of the new direction the discussion is going in?
The initial post sets a tone and I no longer support the tone I set!

It can still force out site

davidhernandez's picture

It can still force out site owners. If you get in a mode of "I'm not fixing any problems unless you pay me" it will still force out people that don't have cash, especially hobbyists, even though the end result is still open source. But, looking at your comments about using this for bootstrapping, focusing only on major projects "sounds" more reasonable.


Boris Mann's picture

Agreed we are sunk if the attitude of cash for bug fixes takes hold. Up with bootstrapping!

Defining the problem

Boris Mann's picture

Let's stay away from bug fixes and general maintenance. The problem is 'buying' time for developers to work on new modules and major features. This requires a bootstrap period of time / energy that is hard to fit into the regular flow of maintenance.

If you'd like to support developers generally, then please read my app store post - in short, everyone should be donating to contrib modules every time they build a site with them for money OR actively budget project time to contribute to those modules that are used.

My (failed) experiences with crowd-funded initiatives

dww's picture

Exhibit A) The Drupal Release System. In 2006 I started a chipin to raise a ridiculously small amount of money ($5K) to build the entire release system for Drupal. Before that, all we ever had were -dev tarballs, CVS checkouts, and a manual process to cut official releases for core. Granted, I was newer back then, but the community was much smaller, and I had already proven that I knew WTF I was doing and delivered important work in this space (I was the one that finally added access control to the contributions CVS repository). So, no one can say I was totally unknown. In spite of even Dries chipping in $100 himself via a blog post to the world saying how important he thought my proposal was, months dragged on with $5 here, $10 there, occasionally $100. If my memory serves me, I think after about 3-4 months the chipin was only at about $1,100. Finally, a company called IO1 decided "this setup is stupid -- this idea will revolutionize Drupal for the better, I can't believe they're waiting for a tip jar for this". So, they approached me and asked "if we just cut you a check tomorrow for the remainder of the chipin, how soon can you get this done?", which they did, and the initial version was deployed in a matter of weeks. Fintan from IO1 has said about that $3,900 that "The return on that investment has been incalculable." I'm sure he'd say the same thing if he had paid $5K not $3.9K. Of course, in the end I did literally thousands of hours of work on this system, so my effective hourly rate was well below minimum wage, but that's a different story. ;)

Exhibit B) Fixing subscriptions on drupal.org -- over two years ago now I setup another chipin to fix the stupid way Drupal.org handles issue subscription/follow functionality. If you believe in that stuff, I'm one of only 7 people with a CertifiedToRock score of 11. I'm about as visible as you can be in this community, with a long track record of solid, important work. Everyone hates how this functionality behaves now. I did a Drupal Planet blog post about the fund-raising initiative, the post has been linked to at least 100s of times, lots of people talk about it, blah blah blah. After 2 years, we're still under 20% towards the (again, modest) funding goal. WTF?

Possible conclusions to draw from my experiences, check all that apply:

1) I'm terrible at "marketing" myself and my ideas. Probably true.

2) Crowd-sourced funding only works for small projects that require less than $1K.

3) Crowd-sourced funding simply doesn't work.

... (please post your conclusions as replies to this comment if you have other ones).

I dunno. Maybe I think too highly of myself. But from my experiences, if I can't manage to get such fundamentally important and obvious wins for the entire community funded via community means, why does anyone expect this model is ever really going to work? I've totally given up on this as a strategy to avoid paid work for clients that only goes to benefit them (work I try to avoid, but end up taking when I have to pay the bills). I'd much rather work on things that benefit everyone, and do tons of that for free all the time. But, my main marketing efforts these days basically go towards companies that make a lot of money off Drupal and trying to convince them that the stuff I'm trying to improve on drupal.org will benefit their company enough that they should hire me to fix it.

In my view, chipins are a sad and painful joke.

Your milage may vary. ;)


Agree with all your comments.

Boris Mann's picture

Agree with all your comments. The background with IO1 is important and useful. I said in my app store post that passing the hat with large companies should easily be able to raise 1000s of dollars...it's just that someone has to commit to passing the hat. This is a variant of what we're discussing, and is probably a good fit for core (hey, let's build an awesome web services backbone, who is in out of BigCos for making this happen?).

ChipIn for developers where the developers shoulder the burden of marketing all by themselves suck.

(yes, you do suck at marketing, said in the kindest possible way)

The ONLY reason that I'm at all interested in taking a run at this again is the thought of actually leaning on the "crowd" to help with the marketing and visibility piece as well.

I didn't realize the subscribe ChipIn was still going (I may or may not have seen it before - this is the first time I'm really recognizing it).

One of the important factors in running funding issues like this is that they NEED to be relatively short time frames -- either they get the visibility and funding they need, or they expire and don't get to try again for some period of time. I certainly can't take the effort seriously given that it's 2 years old - people do need to sign up to bang the drum on these things.

Exhibit B / OTOH

LP's picture

Just to share one perspective, FWIW... In all candor: I was still really new to Drupal + d.o. when I stumbled across the chipin for "death to subscribe comments." I was confused as to why a chipin had been up for a year with so little progress, not prominently featured on d.o, and (I don't mean to offend) on a blog that had sporadic updates (I hadn't yet learned this isn't so unusual for other devs).
In a not so distant land, CiviCRM has had what could only be described as remarkable success with their "Make-it-happen" initiatives. The current MiH cycle has raised 27K of 150K across 13 goals. There are some qualitative differences between the types of projects being tackled to be sure, but it's worth noting.

my thoughts...

leisareichelt's picture

I think these are great examples because, you're right, they represent valuable work being done by someone who people should be jumping at the chance to work with. If you were going to do it all over again in our 'new' (currently imaginary) environment, here's what I think we should do differently.

  1. pitch companies not individuals - this is where the money lies and also where people will really reap the most value from our work.

  2. indicate expected contributions - if you don't tell people what you want them to chip in, they'll think $100 is a big contribution - actually, for projects like what you're describing, that is literally a drop in the ocean. You know when you're donating to charity and they give you radio buttons with a range of values that you can choose from - that's them setting your expectations as to how much they'd like you to contribute (they probably expect you to contribute somewhere in the middle, they really don't expect you to contribute the highest value, so always set that one much higher than what you'd actually expect people to contribute if you're planning to test this out using ChipIn in the interim)

  3. the role of individuals is to help you to promote your project and get it in front of companies and help you demonstrate to companies that this is an important and valuable piece of work, increasing the likelihood of them funding it and also increasing their marketing/PR mileage by choosing to fund you. We need to give people (individuals) ways to like/comment on/raise the profile of your project. Ideally we also create a place where all of these projects are listed together so there is one place to go to find project to fund (or to see if there is already someone pitching to build the thing you really want).

I think by making these small-ish changes you'd see substantial change in your success with chipin. But this requires that we change our mental model away from lots of small individual contributions to one or a few larger 'sponsorships' from companies or wealthy benefactors.

I also think that we should keep any question of 'pay per module' completely separate from this conversation. The way I see this working is that you get sponsorship from a company to enable you to do more contrib work, but that you then contribute that work back to the community, for free. Meaning Drupal, as it is now, stays as free as it is now for anyone who wants to use it. But we can potentially move Drupal forward more quickly by helping more great people do more great contrib work that is then available to everyone.

Really appreciate all the great experience everyone is contributing to this conversation.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Really like where this is going

Shadlington's picture

I really like where this is going.
It feels a hell of a lot more realistic and viable.

Personally I feel that if there was an improved visibility of projects like this and a clear understanding of how funding their development was good for the community, we would see more small contributions from more people.
Yes the small contributions aren't much by themselves, but I think if there was an attitude of 'this is the done thing' with regards to donating to projects you care about, we'd get a lot of donaters. And whilst $100 isn't a lot, 100x $100 is.

Perhaps I'm being naive and idealistic though. I would rather have something that works than something that I would like to work, but has a high risk of failure.
I like the idea of pitching straight to the companies. And I can't think of a way to change people's attitudes to donating. So I am all for targeting the companies instead, because that will be a much less steep hill to climb and maaaaybe as a side-effect we'll see an increase of small donations too (though it could go the other way).
And I suppose it also offers a way of individuals to contribute to funding these projects that doesn't involve them giving any money - helping to promote and raise awareness of projects.

So I'll quit my objections on that front. Allowing companies to chip in rather than individuals is something I believe we have a high likelihood of succeeding with.

Also, I am completely on the same wavelength with regards to pay-per-module.
I don't want to go down that route. That almost certainly would hurt the community.

Great thoughts -- should we run a research experiment? ;)

dww's picture

Thanks for sharing -- your ideas make a lot of sense (as always)!

Should we, under the name of the Prairie Initiative, run a little research project with this floundering chipin?


  • We announce that we're considering crowd-funded development as part of the Prairie Initiative, and that we want to use a proposal directly from the Prairie as our test case -- fixing subscribe/follow functionality on d.o.
  • Leisa and I will split the proceeds from whatever funds we raise, to both design and implement the changes. We'll happily involve as many volunteers as want to help, but we'll mentor/project manage/step in and get the work done ourselves as needed. We'll ensure it happens. Any money raised above the goal will be seed funding for further Prairie work.
  • We pitch the thing mostly to bigger shops, with a few levels of sponsorship "for sale", much like DrupalCon sponsorship packages. We continue to welcome individual contributions of any size.
  • We post the whole thing prominently on our blogs, here on g.d.o, and then try to get other folks to help publicize it (e.g. asking Dries, webchick, et al to tweet/blog/facebook it, etc).

Either way, we'll learn if this crowd-source stuff is really worth considering seriously. And if it works, we'll get this major area of badness cleaned up for good!

What do you think?


Prairie Initiative?

MGParisi's picture

Leisa, is this now an official part of the Prairie Initiative? I would hate to see the entire initiative get bogged down because of this.

Owner of Toastyart a Drupal based High Quality Art Gallery.

there is no 'official' only 'aligned'

leisareichelt's picture

there's nothing 'official' about the Prairie Initiative at this point in time so there's not really an answer to your question, but I know what you mean. The only way to answer this is to ask if it is in alignment with one or both of the initiative goals, and it seems to me that the answer to that is - yes.

Having said that - there are a lot of areas in our initiative that have dependencies on each other - from what I can see, this is pretty much separate from all the other areas we're looking at so it shouldn't create a log jam.

I'm working on a way to visualise all the areas we need to focus on and their relative priorities. In the scheme of things, this is not the top priority, I don't think. I'm hoping we can keep this discussion bubbling along while we keep moving the issue queue redesign and other important projects moving forward.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

I'm keen to experiment...

leisareichelt's picture

I'm more than happy to explore this but I wonder whether we might re-shape the proposal a little?
Shall we talk about this offline and put together a little proposal?


leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Small targets

Michelle's picture

2) Crowd-sourced funding only works for small projects that require less than $1K.

That may be a big part of it. I did donate to the "subscribe" chipin when it first started up because that irritates the heck out of me. I haven't donated again even though it still bugs me because it's moving so slowly and so far from the goal that, honestly, I wonder if I'd be just putting money in a black hole.

For me, I've had some success with donations but I have small goals. Usually my chipins aren't more than $100. The biggest one I ever did was $450 to buy a small laptop to bring along to Drupalcon, which succeeded. Most donations I get are $5-$10 though sometimes I'll get bigger ones. It's nice pocket money and gives me incentive to work on my contrib stuff when my altruism is feeling a bit weak. :)

But I couldn't pay my bills with it by any stretch. I don't have an accounting handy but I don't think I've gotten more than $1000 in donations total over all these years and most of that was in that laptop chipin that had a couple of big donations.

So I'm skeptical about how well this will work for funding really large projects. For small-timers like me, though, it's nice. :)


Not a single donator has responded.

MGParisi's picture

I have not heard one person come on and say that they would use the system if it was implemented.

Owner of Toastyart a Drupal based High Quality Art Gallery.

I would

Shadlington's picture

I would :)

As for companies, we haven't been targeting them yet. If dww & leisa go ahead and test the waters about this, then we should know whether or not people will actually donate.

stop calling it 'bounty'?

leisareichelt's picture

just a small thing but in terms of helping people better understand what is being proposed here, I quite fancy removing reference to 'bounties' (reverse or right way around)... to me they have connotations of holding something/someone to ransom that I'd really like to make sure we do everything we can to eliminate.

If we want this to move forward and if we want the community to embrace in the way it is intended, I think it's really important that we position it correctly. Personally, I think the 'sponsorship' concept is a lot more positive and supportive and aligned with the intentions of this initiative. After all, that's the attitude we're trying to foster - 'I have this great idea I just need a little financial support to be able to choose to not do commercial work and instead build and contribute something awesome for everyone in the community to benefit from freely', rather than 'I have the skills and in order to benefit from my skills you must pay me'.

You can't really make a technical solution to enforce this, I don't think. And we're shooting ourselves in the foot if we don't pursue the former because of the risk of the latter. We just need to make sure that the spirit of this initiative is clear and as a community, support (financially and with visible, vocal support) those who are aligned with the spirit and counsel (and don't fund) those who are not. And the spirit of this is to let more great people contribute more and to provide incentive to people who want to contribute but don't have the same itch -> scratch incentive going on (there are more and more of us and Drupal needs us more and more as it matures).

And yes, we'll need to monitor it carefully, to watch how it's being used and by whom - to try to adjust behaviour when we need to and to respond to opportunities when we see them. But that's the nature of collaboration and community right? And if anyone has experience with that, it's the Drupal community, right?

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Yes please -- "sponsorship" is much better

dww's picture

+1 for calling this "sponsorship". I agree with every point you made here...

And although you didn't explicitly say it, let's be sure not to attach "code" to the name, either. We need to have a system that allows sponsoring all kinds of labor -- design, documentation, accessibility research, whatever -- not just the act of writing code itself.

CiviCRM Experiences with crowdsourcing ...

lobo's picture

I'm the founder and lead developer of CiviCRM (http://civicrm.org/). We support both Drupal and Joomla (and would like to support WordPress also). We are quite different from Drupal, have a very strong focus on tools for the non-profit / membership / advocacy / political organizations (i.e. civic organizations). However a large part of our developer base are drupal developers also :). Our user base is also a lot lot smaller than drupal (0.1 - 1.0%? maybe)

This is more a stream of thought post, so forgive the jumping around.

So someone from the community who had given her fair share of blood, sweat and tears approached us with this very idea approx 9 months ago. We had a great relationship with her (had met her a few times, and trusted her judgement) and she convinced us that we should at least give this a try. We agreed, but said: "Lets use KickStarter", easier for us, can do refunds etc, no management nightmare. She dug in her heels and said: No, lets eat our own dog food, use CiviContribute etc, do things manually if needed etc. We relented and said, lets give it a shot.

We gave folks an option to refund their money if their "Make It Happen" (MIH) was not met. So far < 10% have selected that option. Most users have said: Use the money for another initiative

Some approx stats: In CiviCRM v3.3, we did 4-5 projects and raised 10K+. for v3.4 we pretty much doubled the number of projects and the amount of money. For v4.1 our goals are to increase it by 50 -70% from v3.4

We've modified a few things as we do it every release (we also have a 3-5 month release cycle). The community is a lot more involved with helping us choose and decide which projects to propose for fund raising. We've realized that projects that come out of the gate with some "seed" funding are more likely to succeed. So most MIH's have a seed sponsor. The MIH helps us "discover" companies like IO1 (from dww's post). A few times, we;ve gotten an email saying: we need this for the next release, we'll pick up the rest of the tab.

The overall project has been a lot more successful than I expected. It also puts us on the road to sustainability (or so i hope) and gets us away from foundation funding.

On another positive note, its also involved the community a lot more into the product building phase and how much cost/energy/time is involved with building and supporting software. I think it has made the community stronger and work together to help make things happen

I'll try to do a more detailed blog post and analysis on http://civicrm.org/. You can check out our latest Make It Happen page here: http://civicrm.org/mih (and please do support your favorite initiative :P)


I have to say no...

MGParisi's picture

Open source development is more productive then any other form of development. One of the MAJOR reasons is found in motivation. People are doing what they love and want, instead of doing what they have to (as found in commercial development). The productivity of people who code in open source projects compared to that of other forms of development is in the rang of 10-100 times. Which means that at the bare minimum, every hour someone spends time on a project they love and do what they are passionate about are at least 10 times more productive then that of an individual who is doing something because they have too.

My History

I have over 10 years of CMS experience. I started in CMS development before Drupal even started. Back in the portal days. phpNuke just switched from a open source project into a for profit project. The result was multiple forks. Back then the predominate open source CMS was the now defunct PostNuke. phpNuke did so much damage that the name "nuke" was forever tainted. Therefor postnuke could noticed because its name had "nuke" in it.

I stopped working on that project before it died. I simply did not have the time or incentive, but I continued to watch the community and its twist and turns. When I regained a desire to help with open source CMS systems, I started looking for an open source community, I looked at over 100 CMS systems and communities. One of the first projects I started to examine was Joomla and quickly left it behind because their community was not what I was looking for. One of the major parts of this decision was that many modules did not follow GNU/GPL. I was all to familiar to this in the old nuke days. I also found a community that's primarily was focused on paid services. It seemed that Joomla.org was more of an opportunity to make money then to design and develop.

These observations are found in the the history of open source projects and/or online communities. Things like this have happened in other communities, and for the large part they have created a collapse of a once healthy social environment. Small changes like this have been the catalyst of forked projects, and what appeared to be minor change have lead to wide scale devastation. If you want to start researching this history, I could point you to OpenOffice and a few mistakes Sun made that caused a huge fork. You may also look into the once healthy phpNuke development, into a now largely abandoned project. I do not wish to debate the causes of these things, or how they apply to the proposal, but do want to provide a starting point for people who wish to research the history of open source and its growing pains. There are MANY other examples; and I can not do this topic justice in a reply to a proposal. I could write a thesis about what creates healthy and unhealthy growth in open source.

What impact will this have?

D.O. is a healthy social environment that is quite productive. As someone who specializes in building healthy online communities, I can say that the effects this would have on the Drupal's community would be profound.

First everyone would request money. The flood of this would result in a wide scale community resources from developing and contributing to promoting their for profit projects. Many long term not for profit contributors would find themselves left in the dust, and these initiatives would make many in Drupal turn from promoting Drupal to promoting themselves.

This would open up a can of worms. It would be the first step into a much larger move into other avenues of profiteering within the Drupal community. I would ultimately propose that this would move Drupal away from a volunteer project and towards a social environment where profit dominates.

Lets look at it this way. First we allow people to post jobs and advertisements. Next allow module developers to informally mention that they are willing to provide commercial support for a fee. Now we are examining ways in which we can formally find funding for certain projects. What comes after this? Once you start the ball moving, it seems to continual without much help.


Drupal means allot to Me. I am passionate about it. There are a large variety of reasons people work on Drupal. Everyone probably has different motivations. I do not reject the people who work on Drupal for reasons then mine. In fact I embrace their freedom to do so.

I am seeing this conversation over and over again. Worded a dozen ways. Pitched with slightly different, refined approaches. Its getting tiring. Its completely against Drupal's culture. I'm starting to feel that the problem isn't us enabling a pay for services, but that we started this all by allowing module developers to post an advertisement in their module description. I would prefer to revisit some of the older discussion's about why we should consider any attempt to ask for money as spam. Many people made the said that this was a slippery slope that would lead too further things. I guess they where right.

I personally work on Drupal not because of what Drupal gives to Me, but what I can give to it. I work on Drupal because it provides Me an opportunity to help other people. To give back. I work on Drupal because when it is properly deployed, it is one way to provide the right information to the right people. This may allow people to make money off of Drupal, and that is not a negative thing. It is nice to know that maybe because of My hard work, it may improve someones quality of life, and if this provides them with a paycheck then that's GREAT.

However if we (members of D.O.) introduce formal options to provide monetary incentives into Drupal.org website we are moving away from "what I can give to Drupal" and into "what Drupal can give to me". For me, this would cross the line. D.O. would no longer meet my needs. The day the community move's away from the spirit of giving to the spirit of taking will be the last day I work for Drupal. I do not care if you call it Sponsorship, Bounty, Sales, or Freedom Fund, I will not support it.

This may sound like a threat or ultimatum. Whatever you feel about it, it is true and it is not empty. Its how I feel about how the principles of the community that I help to develop open source in.

That is not to say you can not create a DrupalJobs.com or an OpenSourceTrustFund, or what ever name you want to give it. I hope you do, and I also hope that it works. But Drupal.org is not a place for selling things. Its not a place to collect money. It is not an exchange. We do not, and will not, provide these services. Drupal.org is a place for communication and development. To host a Drupal module it must be GNU/GPL. No exceptions.

I have though about a dozen different ways to say this since the first hours this post was written. I must have spent at least 4-6 hours on different subtle responses. But this is not a subtle topic. I do not see a way to tip toe around this issue. I do not care to play the political dance to try and sell my view point on this issue. You may attack the messenger and not the message. Feel free to mock my spealing or grammar, say I'm being overly dramatic, overly reactive, censoring ideas, trolling, that I am a problem maker, what ever. I really don't care.

I have been on the other end of this. I have been the new guy who got his idea shot down. I did not respect it at the time, but I do now. I appreciate the honest up front reply. Ive spent way too much time on this post. Its not perfect but ahh well...

Owner of Toastyart a Drupal based High Quality Art Gallery.

Motivation, passion and reality

dww's picture

I'm sorry, but I'm a bit tired of people (not just you, please don't take this personally) coming in with an "Open source means doing what you love, not what you get paid for!" ultimatum approach to this question. I'm about as much of a long-haired commie pinko open source fanatic as you can find. I've been contributing to open source since about 1990 (before many in the Drupal community were born). Yes, open source is wonderful. But, as a Marxist, I also believe in the Labor Theory of Value. My labor is a commodity that I sell, and that's how I get my needs met. Sure, in an ideal world I could just have free access to food, shelter, health care, etc, and I could freely give my labor to things that I was passionate about. However, reality in our still-capitalist world is that my landlord demands payment every month, I have to buy food, pay out of pocket for private health insurance (I live in the United States, where we've utterly failed to handle health care in a sane and reasonable way), and so on. I'm glad that there's a way to get paid to work on open source software, since that's something I'm passionate about and believe in. Before I worked on Drupal, I was a full-time academic staff researcher in a major computer science department. I was also paid to work on open source software. It was a nice gig. Yes, lots of open source is developed "after hours" by people in their free time. But huge swaths of it are funded and paid for. That doesn't make it any less open source. The code can be licensed as GPL, but someone labored to write that code. And that labor costs something. Whether the laborer decides they want to give their labor or sell it, the resulting value can still be GPL'ed code. I wish more FOSS fanatics understood the difference. No one is saying Drupal should stop being GPL'ed, that we should hide our source code and sell our binaries (good luck with an interpreted language like PHP)...

Please don't tell me that I'm wrong to want to pay my rent and put food on my table by finding people willing to buy my labor to work on open source software. As I said above, I'd vastly prefer to sell my labor to people who want to let me write free code than to have to sell my labor to work on closed source code and then only have a tiny chunk of my week left to work on GPL'ed code. That's just short-sighted and misses the reality of open source code under capitalism. Reality is that I have to sell my labor somewhere. Wouldn't you rather I was selling my labor to work full time on Drupal, instead of only working on Drupal 5 hours a week?



MGParisi's picture

There is a difference between engaging people with business proposals that can also benefit open source and having Drupal.org be providing a business framework for this. I am not opposed of people making money off of Drupal, and in My post I even encouraged it. Sharing information helps allot of people do allot of things. A more intelligent individual can make better decisions. Some make money by providing this information in unique and helpful ways. Many of these companies do things that benefit themselves and the project.

We have groups, forums and other places that you can put in a request. You can also create an external website for this, you can use kick start or other programs.

I certainly am not a "Pink open source fanatic". And I definitely do not discourage the use of open source to make money, in fact I support it (if you read My Post its in there).

What I am saying is that Drupal.org and the Drupal Organization is not a business, or a business model, and its certainly not a pay for development opportunity. If Drupal.org or the Drupal Organization becomes a business model rather then a place to share information regarding the development and usage of Drupal, then count Me out. You can call it what you want. Spin it how you feel, but in the end its a business model.

Why would I write documentation on a module that someone is getting paid to make unless they provide me with compensation? Who pays for Documentation at all, when its cheaper to hire someone who already knows what they are doing? Who pays the people who delete spam, or do the countless other thankless and unnoticed positions. Who pays me for 6 hours on IRC answering questions? Do I get a bonus every time someone comes in demanding features or support (yes this is sarcasm)? Are you purposing that we fight over the slice of the pie, or do you have a specific Drupal.org Business Model in mind?

Maybe we shouldn't call it a "Business Model" because people wont like it.... We can call it a "Community Initiative to Raise and Systematically Disperse Funding". I would LOVE to get paid for Open Source development and documentation. I would love to choose my own projects and spend countless hours choosing what I program, when I do it, and how I do it all while getting paid. That sounds like a dream come true... except lets be real... The scale and impact of this is HUGE. At the very least people will leave because of disputes over money.

"Why does he get $10 and not ME!" and whats worse is that the fights will range from the large to the small (yes $10). I have seen this before, I have read the forums with people fighting over $10. I have seen people leave an open source community over $10. I have seen a project (Like Drupal) turn from an open source community to 2 dozen fractured forked projects. I am not speculating, I am telling you that this has happened, will happen, and rarely do I hear success stories.

Owner of Toastyart a Drupal based High Quality Art Gallery.


Boris Mann's picture

Hey MG -- I've seen you digging into quite a few initiatives, which is great to see.

I would suggest a level of focus. The discussion here has been about how we improve the fundraising experience, rather than IF we should. There is a simple way out, which is to not sponsor a project.

Yet to oppose a project.

MGParisi's picture

Up until this point I have yet to oppose a project. If you are referring to the Drupal Kapta project (which is on another domain name; not Drupal.org), then I have 0 problems with it (hell I support it). However if you think this project is anywhere near ready for Drupal.org; then you are sadly mistaken. But if you want to declare victory before you even establish a business plan, details, code, processes, legal approval, etc, then you are sadly mistaken.

Owner of Toastyart a Drupal based High Quality Art Gallery.

It is fantastic to see this

eric_sea's picture

It is fantastic to see this topic getting so much attention. I have to catch up with the discussion, but wanted to let people know that there is a tutorial for building a Drupal KickStarter-like solution. The project was recently completed by Advantage Labs’ and is known as the Seeder Project (example site) - It is a KickStarter-like solution for Drupal.

We are working with Advantage Labs to deploy this Seeder Project for the Drupal Open Learning Initiative (DOLI) and hope to be using it soon to raise funds for Drupal Learning Projects. This will enable the DOLI to raise funds for Drupal 'awesomesause' projects that are built in the open by Mentor / Apprentice teams, documenting portions of the project in the DrupalKata. The Drupal Kata is the Open Atrium site currently being used for management and documentation of Drupal Learning Projects.

The idea behind the DOLI's Learning Projects is to eventually have Mentors, while also gaining from the experience, would be paid for their work and potentially receive other benefits such as a DOLI Mentor badge or even credit towards their score Certified to Rock. Apprentices would gain experience and finish projects with a showpiece, recommendations from Mentors and other respected members of the Drupal Community, making it easier to gain employment or generate new business. The contributing sponsors would receive the product of the work, credit for sponsoring the work and potentially some added support or training from the Apprentice. The work (or relevant portions of the work) would be contributed back to community via Drupal.org.

The fund raising, content distribution, and project management pieces are but a small part of the equation. The bigger pieces are the governance, infrastructure, strategy, program guidelines and of course the dedicated personnel to make it all happen. The real trick is to make it sustainable.

The DOLI and it’s programs, including the Drupal Learning Projects (the Drupal Kata) and the depository for Drupal Learning Resources (the Drupal Dojo) are community driven and there is a great deal of room for others to get involved.

There's an effort for this coming out of DrupalCon Chicago

mlncn's picture

With a 501c3 nonprofit willing to stand behind it. Lots of research, planning, and (inevitably, for Drupal!) coding to do, please get involved!

We're hosting planning at http://drupalkata.com/community-initiatives

Discussion of course should take place on groups.drupal.org - great to see! Shadlington i'd appreciate if you could join and then edit and add your post to http://groups.drupal.org/paying-plumbing

benjamin, agaric

I think I need to do a major

Shadlington's picture

I think I need to do a major re-write of the original post in light of all the discussion that's taken place.
The idea has moved on a fair bit.

My thoughts are a little scattered at the moment so I need to get a handle on exactly where we are with it prior to reposting it in the paying for plumbing group.

My understanding is that a new funding system would be primarily focussed on pitching to companies, though individuals could contribute too.
(I imagine the balance of companies vs individual contributors would shift towards individuals for smaller projects and towards companies for larger projects)

There are a lot of details to work out but leisa and dww may be putting together a test proposal (based on dww's old 'death to subscribe comments' project) to see if this will be viable. If that works then it would hopefully provide some useful insights into how best to tackle the whole funding problem.

Also, the seeder projects mentioned by eric_sea sounds very interesting and the example site certainly looks like a close approximation of kickstarter - so perhaps that would be a good starting point.

Let Me Give you a Suggestion

MGParisi's picture

Its no secrete that I am against this idea implemented on Drupal.org. However I can be won over with proper documentation. When we involve Drupal.org into a project, an unusual amount of documentation needs to be done. When you want to include transactions of money, then even more documentation is necessary. I usually am opposed to people who reject projects without offering solutions. So I will offer a solution.

You have an idea, and what seems like wide support. You purposed that idea and it seems to have gotten some support. If you want to go ahead with this I would purpose that you come up with a business plan. A LARGE amount of harm can be caused by a poorly implemented idea. Be honest

  • Research of other open source projects that have taken this step. Failures are as important as successes.
  • What is the target audience and establish a customer base. Lets make sure people are willing to pay.
  • Who will get the Money, what projects are going to be featured, and what is the selection process.
  • Legal issues regarding that of internationalization is a major problem. Why is kickstarter only US?
  • Payment. How do companies pay for projects. Who will be the accountant, and who will be the auditor of the money. There ABSOLUTELY needs to be a person watching the person who is collecting the money. To insure that they are following the procedures and policies. Prevention of theft and of abuse. How do we assure that the Auditor is not only trust worthy, but that (s)he is given the ability to report any issues/concerns without the fear of backlash.
  • When someone raises money for their project, how do we include accountability? If someone is paid and they dont do the work, how do we get our money back? If we with hold money until project completion (which seems to make the most sense), how do we define scope, features, end product quality.
  • A W2 must be issued for any amount of money that exceeds an X amount that is given to a private individual. Who will send these? What tax information has to be provided for international recipients of this money?
  • UX and IX documents must be created.

  • This may look good on paper, but what happens when it hits the real world? Many great theory's fall apart when faced with real world situations. Goals should be established, as well as a way to measurement of success's and failures. Will this negatively impact our contributions? Essentially address My concerns that this will not tear apart the Drupal.org society. Document's, Webmasters, Core Developers, are absent of the project scope. Will this cause a rift? I especially fear the reaction of those that need to support these projects (such as the documentation or webmaster team). I would suggest including documentation in this.

A common business plan alone is over 10 pages long. Include with that the establishment of policies, procedures, interface design, code design, security, flow charts, quality processes, etc. and you are looking for a large amount of documentation. I am sure there are allot of people willing to help with this process. I will definitely read all of this and address area's of concern and if possible solutions, but I am currently undertaking another project (of the same caliber and amount of documentation). A healthy dose of pessimism is not to be feared but can be a valuable asset. You wont make everyone happy (you will probably never win my approval), but you will make everyone unhappy if you do harm. So listen to My rants, My objections, and My opinion be patient with people like Me, and utilize our optimism as a tool for the success. I maybe opposed to the idea, but make no mistake, I want what is best for Drupal. So if this will make it onto Drupal.org, I certainly have every incentive to make sure that it has the best chance of improving things.

I can hear the cries that I am requesting too much. However I have done this documentation before (and for things that are not hundreds if not in the thousands of times not as valuable as Drupal). It absolutely is ALLOT of work, but we are not talking about a tidy processes. When we talk about implementation of a project on a site and community with this number of traffic and active users we need to be assured that our actions do not cause harm. I have written more then this will require for a single class in collage, and the is one of the most active, successful open source projects in the world. If their was a Open Source Fortune 500 Drupal would be with in it. When we attempt to modify the scope of our project by introducing new revenue streams or services then this level of professionalism and accountability is not only reasonable, but should be expected.

We must see Drupal for what it is. Its value is absolutely in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Owner of Toastyart a Drupal based High Quality Art Gallery.

If we followed this process,

Boris Mann's picture

If we followed this process, Drupal itself would never have been built.

This is not something that is going to be rolled out on Drupal.org overnight, if ever. It will be experimented with on different platforms and venues.

Next steps: organizing group / tools for people that want to actively work on using dww's death to subscribe as a test project.

I can contribute an Unbounce landing page to host the call to sponsor. We'll want updated copy and some nice graphics.

Also: someone to write up a call for proposals for a 'from scratch' project to sponsor.

Problems that need answers

MGParisi's picture

Documentation breaks barriers and opposition (it does not create them). Its not a restricting force, its a liberating force. I am essentially telling those who support this project how to overcome the resistance that this project will face from people like Me. I am telling you all how to get past the conflicts and to present a solution that has a chance of being implemented but also the best way to achieve success.

Boris, if I wanted to stop this I certainly wouldn't purpose what I did. I have enough experience in Drupal to know how to manipulate the system and kill a project. However I do not approve of those tactics. If this gets implemented, I certainly have a vested interest in making sure it has every chance to succeed, and if it does not work as purposed and is detrimental, then we all have a vested interest in ways to which we can identify problems, purpose changes, or close the project. We all must agree that theory often does not play out in the real world.

I am surprised that 10-20 pages of documentation is seen as such a HUGE task. When I was in school, every week I would have a 15+ page paper due, and since MIS was under the school of Business, many of these papers where the same type of documentation that I purposed.

Owner of Toastyart a Drupal based High Quality Art Gallery.

document what?

leisareichelt's picture

you seem to be operating on an assumption that we know exactly how this process is going to operate and that, as such, we can document the process.
the very use of the term 'business plan' implies that Drupal.org will be facilitating the transactions and money handling - I can see where that expectation may have come from but it is far from embedded into the problem that we are trying to solve nor into many potential solutions.

if we get to the point where there is the level of complexity that you seem to expect then we may indeed require the kind of documentation you describe. It strikes me that a more likely route is that Drupal.org plays matchmaker and anything transactional is then handled between the parties involved, at their own risk.

So I don't think anyone is suggesting that 10-20 pages of documentation is a HUGE task, if it is the RIGHT task to be doing right now.
I think the objections you'll be hearing are from people, like me, who think we are not yet at the documentation stage, but rather still in the exploration stage.

Once we have a clearer idea of what we're actually proposing, then I'm sure people will be more than happy to create the appropriate form of documentation for the style of project that emerges.

It would be great if you could throw your considerable energy into assisting in the exploration of solutions rather than talking of manipulation and project killing. Surely it is clear that everyone involved in this discussion has nothing but the best interests of Drupal at heart. It is never a bad thing to explore ideas in an effort to solve a known problem.

If you are against 'this project' then this what you are currently against - exploring ideas.

I understand that some people don't like this phase of problem solving, that's fine. But at least wait until we know what we're proposing before you start imposing documentation requirements and taking a position for or against the project.

leisa reichelt - disambiguity.com

Death to +1 subscribe

eigentor's picture

Yeah, I guess the Solution for Subscription to Issues might be a good starting point. http://3281d.com/2009/03/27/death-to-subscribe-comments
They still need 4000 Dollars to start. This is not a cheap one, but not an unrealistic figure. Is there any consensus on choosing a guineapig project, a third party / whatever off d.o. platform and go for it?

Life is a journey, not a destination

That's the plan...

dww's picture

Leisa and I just need to talk, which will hopefully happen in the next few days. ;)

Chipin, Scale, Community, Issue Ranking and Fame

BeWhy's picture

I'm not a coder, but I'd like to weigh in nonetheless.

I think the sanest way to fund module development is to create a chipin that only goes to the current module maintainers, not the maintainer that set it up. It's the maintainer's self-stated responsibility to maintain a module, and a Chipin is an additional way for them to be rewarded aside from the elegance of their code. I think the money that goes into the pot should be drawn/given to the maintainer over a period of time. So if I put $100 in a chipin for a module, then the maintainer might get $20 for five months. This may not be incentive enough to do what I asked, but it is a nice reward. This in no way prevents any individual or company from paying a developer to fix a bug or whatnot. In case you hadn't figured it out, that the Chipin (or some system) would be a standard feature of every project, not just maintainers who want to create a reverse-bounty (thanks for that link Boris).

I would also say that the people/companies that Chipin for a module should get a mention on the project page (yes, both of these suggestions would go hand-in-hand with the project page UI redesign) with perhaps an all-time leaderboard across the site (categorized by individuals, companies, frequency, size etc.). And, gasp!, I think that chipping in should add to one's reputation, if nothing else than being willing to throw money at an issue if not the coding skills. This leaderboard and project page fame might be integrated with some kind of userpoints radioactive integration.

Also Eigentor raised the issue that module maintainers sometimes don't maintain or upgrade their own modules because they no longer need the functionality (i.e. porting to d7). I think by having the chipin to go to the maintainer, it is a step to encourage to maintain the whole module, not just what the maintainers need. And to also ensure that development went into what's needed by the community, issues could be ranked by up/down by the community until those things are fixed or features are created (while this is not directly relevant i do think making the implications explicit would help clarify things when this initiative moves out into the rest of D.O.). This would go a long way into helping both the maintainer and community come to an agreement about what needs to be done with the module as a whole. And people/companies could still be able to walk in and offer money for a particular functionality/api. A Chipin would be implicitly funding the development and maintenance of the module as a whole.

I am also cognizant of Lobo's CiviCRM stuff. But I'm not sure whether we and he are talking the same thing. CiviCRM is much more specific and focused than Drupal. Their initiatives are for large projects and probably affect a large percentage of their userbase, whereas sponsoring development of say, taxonomy node filter (Drupal's least installed module), by Chipping in for module maintainers or reverse bounties or whatever is a different species altogether than Make-It-Happen initiatives. I think we need to consider both tacks (large initiatives and individual module development, as well as development of modules that support or rely on other modules (like ctools, and/or reverse nodereference). If we don't drill down into these differences I think we might be comparing apples to apple-trees to orchards.

MGParisi has some constructive points, especially about the potential changes that this kind of thing might rub into the community as a whole. I would heed most of his warnings as we think through how to implement this (and by think I mean document), if at all. Hopefully this post helped a little in that direction

what you don't know will inspire you

So, here is my 2

donquixote's picture

So, here is my 2 cents:

  1. Let's not expect too much from this. The amount of time that the community does spend on contrib projects is enormous. The willingness to pay for something you might also get for free (just wait until others pay or do the work) is very limited. But, if some people who nowadays get nothing for their contrib work, will then get something, this is a desirable first step.
  2. If drupal.org can provide a comfortable infrastructure which does make donations, sponsorship, chip-ins and overall financial contribution more attractive, I am all for it.

Some problems to solve on the way:

Where does the money go?

Even if it is for a small amount, someone needs to decide how the money is to be shared. Suddenly we have a previously non-existent topic on the plate, which can be quite distracting at best.
What if we have one "historic" long-term developer, one who recently jumped on and did some major revamp, and then yet another who has very few commits, but plenty of patches posted on the issue queue. Do we want these developers to have a discussion about who did the most work?
Probably the best is to let the financial contributor decide, unless the developers really have an agreement. But for that, we need to make it very transparent who did what. Things like rating of issue comments (esp. those with patches), etc.

What can you expect for the payment?

I could imagine a model like this:
1. Sponsoring should be for work that is already done. You see a module, you like it, you choose the amount you want to sponsor. Doing this should be made as easy as possible.
2. You now have some "Karma" for this respective project, that other people can see when you post issues and comments, or when you vote for issues (if that is to be implemented some day).
3. The maintainer does not owe you anything, but he/she will be more motivated to deal with your feature requests..

Any Karma system or user ratings can create inequality in the community.
Also, the amount of money flowing through this is probably limited.

Benefit, compared to a bounty system:
No delaying of features only to wait for people willing to pay.
Development not limited to a set of features that is "in the contract".

Benefit, compared to the current situation:
Some people who currently have to set their projects asleep for indefinite time, might now afford to actually take care of them.

I wouldn't say that I'm

danigrrl's picture

I wouldn't say that I'm opposed to the idea of offering developers some sort of monetary reward for their code, but my question is: how much is "enough" money? Many, many module and theme developers create their work for a specific problem they want to solve (generally for a paid project, so they receive professional fees for creating it), and spend their time maintaining it out of an internal commitment to Drupal.

If we all of a sudden create a system that says, "hey thanks—here's $20-$100 for all the work you did," now we're making the motivation external. There's plentiful research that suggests the addition of external/money motivation moves people from doing something out of love to doing it for the money, and the amount of money needed to achieve the same level of motivation is significantly greater than what we're likely to get from this process. Dan Ariely's book "Predictably Irrational" has some examples of this shift in thinking, and I'm happy to find some peer-reviewed studies that illustrate this issue as well.

My primary concern is this: if I'm a developer contributing a module out of a desire to contribute to the community, I don't really care about the money; I care about the social rewards (respect from community members, bragging rights, etc.). If my motivation moves from this social reward to a monetary reward, now I'm thinking about the hours I put in, and balancing that against my hourly rate. Imagine being offered a payment equivalent to 1–3 hours of work for something you spent 20 hours on. You may not have thought about the 20 hours at all until money's on the table, but now that it is, you may think, "really? This is what my 20 hours is worth? F*** off!"

It may sound like I'm being a nay-sayer here, but I've seen it happen.

It's also important to note that many modules are actually sponsored by big Drupal shops, who use the module as part of their projects. As such, the maintainers are actually paid by their employer to work on it. Do these also get paid by this system? Or do specific developers apply to get sponsored for a specific module idea, a'la Kickstarter, and post an approximate amount that would make developing the project "worth it" to them?

The second model I could easily see working, because it allows people (both creators and end users) to self-select, allows creators to decide what fair compensation is, and makes sure that people perceive they're being paid fairly for their work (thus being able to feed themselves, the kids, etc.).

Have we done any user interviews within the Drupal community to explore motivations for contributing, need for compensation, etc.? I'd be happy to recruit some folks and put together an interview plan.


Michelle's picture

I agree that we do not want this to become compensation for time spent because the ROI on contrib is horrendous. :) This very much needs to be a "tip jar" and to be made clear that the donations are because someone liked your work and wanted to give you a little something rather than them paying you an adequate amount to equal the time spent.

Hopefully that came out clear... 2am on Friday after Drupalcon is a silly time to be participating in this...

How about patch crowd funding?

PatchRanger's picture

Carefully read the entire thread, I realized that I have a solution.
Have you heard about feature donation development? This is the same as the reversed bounty but without fixed amount and timing. That is a sum is accumulated as long as there is someone who accepts a challenge and who will provide a patch (under the GPL, of course), which solves the problem. Reward is paid only if the community is satisfied with the proposed solution - and it is easy to check: if issue is in the status of “fixed” more than 2 weeks – it means the community is satisfied.
Here is a link to the project: www.patchranger.com – the first Drupal patch crowd funding platform.
How does it work? - an article, containing an easy to understand explanation of what is going on.
Why is it free? - description of our business model.
and below I will describe how the project solves all expressed problems.

  • Crowdfunding works only for small projects.
    Indeed. That is why the object of donations in the PatchRanger project is a patch - an elementary item of software, the atom. No IT project is smaller than a patch. We can reach the maximum speed of development only by financing patches, rather than projects. It also gives great flexibility, no more dead projects : if the project is abandoned, but its functionality is needed - you can always ask for a patch, which merges with another module. The same situation is with porting to another version (see the link given by Shadlington : http://drupal.org/node/864800 for an example) and even ...

    a fully functional upgrade path for Views 1 to Views 2, anyone? :P

    @eigentor with upgrade path.

  • It breaks Drupal spirit; it can change license to proprietary.
    Money is a power. Developer need to eat - it is a fact. The question is how those who contribute to Drupal earning money. PatchRanger is just a way for Drupal developers to escape from the need to work not on Drupal, the need to be distracted from their favourite job and hobby for surviving of their families.
    As MGParisi said

    People are doing what they love and want, instead of doing what they have to (as found in commercial development).

    And if this work becomes paid one day – it will stay be loved and wanted, right?
    And it is important that work products will stay under true open source license.

  • It makes community greedy; people will start to request money; developers may become resentful.
    One word to answer - it is voluntary as it used to be. Voluntary to develop and voluntary to donate. Developers don't need to request money - it is assumed: if you want this feature faster - donate or contribute. The situation is quite simple. Developers do develop Drupal because they like it. And they will continue to do it for free - because it pleases them. PatchRanger is just a way to give them the opportunity to do it all the time without compromising the independence of community and open source spirit (see the previous and next paragraphes).
  • Corporations dictate.

    Sponsoring companies have no rights to direct the work being undertaken although they are welcome to provide insight/feedback as to their particular requirements.

    The fact of the matter is that it is impossible to obtain sponsorship and to be independent. Who pays the piper calls the tune. The only way to remain independent from anyone open source community - is an organized system of self-financing.

  • Individuals or corporation?
    It's not a problem at all because PatchRanger service is available for both types of financing: the minimal sum is only $ 0.01!
  • 3rd party or native?
    PatchRanger is implemented as a 3rd party service. Think about it like an experiment, like a polygon to try an interesting approach without affecting the reputation of original Drupal.org site.
  • It must be international, world-wide.
    It is. Kickstarter, PayPal, ChipIn – this way is leading to US audience, not world-wide. They are great projects but can't attract Vietnamese or Indian.
    PatchRanger uses the international payment system LiqPay, which allows card payments from almost all countries in the world with minimum commissions. All transactions are made with 3D Secure technology, which minimizes the possibility of fraud and fishing.
  • Any examples?
    As an example that the principle works - a link given by Shadlington : http://drupal.org/node/864800. Let us make it a rule, once it has proved its effectiveness!

I'd add that PatchRanger project requires no registration, is completely free for users (read Why is it free? to learn more about business model), is fully compatible with the current Drupal.org infrastructure (it operates d.o issues as objects of bounty assignings) and is open to suggestions and proposals by its own issue queue on Drupal.org (you can see it in action on Roadmap page, direct link: http://drupal.org/project/issues/1717054).

Thank you all for this constructive discussion.

A picture is worth a thousand words

PatchRanger's picture

A picture is worth a thousand words. In order to convince others that such bounty system is what Drupal really need and that it is indeed timely, we need to present graphs and charts containing Drupal statistics over time. That's why I'm going to do "Drupal data mining": investigate how the number of open issues is increasing every week, how the average issue lifetime is changing, etc. I am currently collecting data for this analysis, because all the necessary infrastructure for this is already in place, including News section on the PatchRanger website, allowing to share content through social networks.
I'll keep you posted.

Drupal statistics visualization : nice charts to see

PatchRanger's picture

Hello everyone.
I have created some nice charts, visualizing Drupal statistics.
They show the number of Drupal active issues in dynamics.
Some trends are interesting to discover.
Everybody is welcome : http://www.patchranger.com/drupal-growing-fast-and-looks-teenager .

PatchRanger's picture

Good day to all.
Today the second statistics report of active Drupal issues was born.
Trends become clearer, conclusions - more founded.
In addition, the first attempt to analyze the average lifetime of Drupal core issues was made.
You should see it: http://www.patchranger.com/06092012-weekly-report-drupal-active-issues.

New weekly Drupal statistics report is ready

PatchRanger's picture

Now, in addition to data on the number of issues in the status of "active" on a project, it includes data on average lifetime of issues, aggregated by type (bug reports, requests for new features, support requests and tasks) over the last month and over all time. The projects presented in the report: the core, Views, Ubercart, Drupal Commerce, CTools, CCK, Date, Webform and others.
Weekly Drupal statistics report.
The value of this report is that it shows how the main indicators of Drupal community change over time. Dynamics, frankly, is impressive.
Doing the findings is up to you.

Convenient way to determine your level of consent

PatchRanger's picture

I have published new Drupal statistics report.
You could find it here: http://www.patchranger.com/20120920-weekly-drupal-statistics-report .
I hope you will be also interested in the fact that now you could fill in Adherence form to provide the information about when exactly I should officially invite you to the project. What do I mean? I mean that this form gives you an opportunity to tell me directly what is your level of consent, for example:
- How many Developer users should be registered on this site to attract your attention?
- How many Sponsor users should be registered on this site to attract your attention?
- What sum of money should be already paid to arouse your interest?
- How many issues should become fixed before you appreciate?
You could find Adherence form on any page on PatchRanger site.
Thank you for reading.

Plus email subscription

PatchRanger's picture

Good day!
The new weekly Drupal statistics report includes data for more than a month: http://www.patchranger.com/20120927-weekly-drupal-statistics-report.
The sharp edges of charts become smoothed making visible the outlines of long-term trends.
PatchRanger is on the way - and it is going to hit the trend of steady growing the number of active issues. How? By getting a critical mass of supporters, wake the crowdfunding power.
Be the first - fill in Adherent form on any page of the PatchRanger site.
Please note that filling in makes you subscribed to PatchRanger News - it is more comfortable to receive an email directly, isn't it?

The first ever reward has been assigned!

PatchRanger's picture

I am proud to announce that now you have an opportunity to get paid for your Drupal contribution. $72 - is a reward to one, who will manage to create a patch that fixes the issue. See details in appropriate piece of PatchRanger news.

Related posts on GDO

mgifford's picture

Great discussions in 2011 & 2012. I've put in some related issues on d.o here:

Related posts on GDO

mgifford's picture

Great discussions in 2011 & 2012. I've put in some related issues on d.o here: