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Support your favorite Open Source project

By eries in Internet
Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 05:23:11 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Two months ago, I started a Scoop site called The Open Coupon Database. It started out as an experiment to find out what new kinds of uses Rusty's stack of code could be put to. Users can post coupons and deals they find around the net, using (if they want) their own affiliate IDs, or ones that support Opons.com. I have decided, in honor of the New Year, to donate the proceeds generated from Opons.com's afilliate links to worthy Open Source projects. After all, these projects (Linux, Apache, MySQL, mod_perl, Scoop, etc. etc) made the site possible in the first place.


Which projects will receive this bounty, in true Scoop fashion, will depend on voting by the users of the site. I haven't done much publicity for this whole concept yet, so I'm posting to K5 to get your feedback on how this should work. I've posted (at Opons) some of my thoughts on the procedure. In particular, I want this to be as fair, open, and transparent a process as possible. But, since there's money involved, I know it'll be a bit tricky. My primary interest is in getting users for Opons so that I can test out some of the new features I am working on for Scoop-derivative sites. Do people think this is a good way to do some actual good for Open Source projects and foundations? I hope you'll post your thoughts, questions, comments, etc. below... Thanks!

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Poll
What Open Source project or organization is most worthy of financial contributions?
o Kuro5hin.org 15%
o EFF 52%
o FSF 16%
o Apache Software Foundation 5%
o FreeNet 5%
o Python 3%

Votes: 137
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o Scoop [2]
o The Open Coupon Database
o Also by eries


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Support your favorite Open Source project | 13 comments (10 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Open Source (1.42 / 33) (#1)
by untrusted user on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 09:48:22 PM EST

Open Source is far superior to that closed source development model of the past, so it clearly doesn't need any donations.

another suggestion? (4.42 / 7) (#2)
by eries on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 09:52:51 PM EST

If you'd rather suggest something else the proceeds should go to, I'm all ears. However, I don't think it would be fair to say that Open Source (or Free Software) would be anywhere today if it wasn't for the FSF, who needs and gladly accepts donations.
Promoting open-source OO code reuse on the web: the Enzyme open-source project
[ Parent ]
bizarre (2.50 / 6) (#3)
by titus-g on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 09:59:07 PM EST

No really.

If only I could get from A to C without going through B I would be a.

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

That's really funny. (3.20 / 5) (#5)
by simmons75 on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 11:17:12 PM EST

No, really, it is.

I forgot to laugh, dammit
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
The entire model is based on donations... (4.00 / 3) (#10)
by kamelion on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 01:44:13 PM EST

...and whether or not you want to count coders' valuable time as monetary donations or not, the entire OSS structure is based upon exactly the kind of giving being practiced by the poster of this article. He should be lauded for not lining his pockets, and for giving back to the software authors who made his organization possible - in the midst of a falling economy, this guy somehow manages to make a profit hosting a web page that doesn't actually *sell* anything, decides to give the profits away to a bunch of people who donate their time for free, and you're lambasting him for...what again? -Eric

[ Parent ]
YHBT YHL HAND (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by abdera on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 03:22:37 PM EST

Sorry, couldn't resist the obvious ;)

#224 [deft-:deft@98A9C369.ipt.aol.com] at least i don't go on aol
[ Parent ]

D'oh! (none / 0) (#13)
by kamelion on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 04:05:24 PM EST

FFS.

-Eric


[ Parent ]
Sounds good, but... (4.88 / 9) (#6)
by lucas on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 11:29:51 PM EST

Sounds interesting, but about that obnoxious popup banner window...

If you're going to create a project that is true to the spirit of whatever movement, you have to adopt the paradigm of what its participants expect. When you accomplish anything less, your credibility is often questioned.

Donating "referral link" pop-up money to projects is probably, in the eyes many hackers, dirty money. It's like making money from bulk e-mailing (spamming). You might be trying to do something genuinely good here, but I would suggest that you hinge the success of the project around the quality of the coupons you put on it.

If you want to donate, do it and don't flaunt it around, because, when you do that, people want to know how much, where to, and why you couldn't give an extra xx dollars more. It also makes them feel uncomfortable. Similarly, if it is not very much, it brings lack of confidence to your project (e.g., "with such a small amount anyway, why should I click on this link?").

The other thing is that tax-exempt status of projects (e.g., an entity must be behind it) is required to make a donation. This limits your ability just to say "who should we donate to" and cut a check. After all, open source software is decentralized and many authors contribute to it. Are you going to write a check to everyone who has contributed source? The project maintainer? This seems unclear.

Finally, the main thing that free/open software projects need is help, discussion, contribution... not money. If you really want to help, keep the money, invest in some good books, and help write software.

response (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by eries on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 03:24:55 PM EST

Thanks for your comments. I want to take a second to respond to them, because you've raised many issues which have been on my mind lately.

If you're going to create a project that is true to the spirit of whatever movement, you have to adopt the paradigm of what its participants expect. When you accomplish anything less, your credibility is often questioned.
This is completely true, and I've found the K5/OSS community especially vulnerable to mistrust and paranoia along these lines. I sometimes wonder what the source of this mistrust is. Perhaps too long fighting unscrupulous corporations?

Donating "referral link" pop-up money to projects is probably, in the eyes many hackers, dirty money. It's like making money from bulk e-mailing (spamming). You might be trying to do something genuinely good here, but I would suggest that you hinge the success of the project around the quality of the coupons you put on it.
I think this is a fair assessment, although I hope that what I'm doing is a far cry from spamming. I never expected that the Opons project would receive as much criticism as it has. It started as a way for me to organize various coupons that I find around the web. Personally, I think this has been the most amusing part of the dot-com boom, namely, the number of sites just giving away free money in order to attract users. When I realized that this could not only benefit me, but generate revenues for a site, I thought there might be some way to convert that phenomenon into something positive. But I really have no interest in offending anybody, or in even appearing to be exploitative. I wonder if K5 readers have suggestions on how to avoid that... That's the main reason I posted this story.

If you want to donate, do it and don't flaunt it around, because, when you do that, people want to know how much, where to, and why you couldn't give an extra xx dollars more. It also makes them feel uncomfortable.
The interesting thing about this point is that I (and, I think, most hackers) don't have much money. This strikes me as a very interesting way to generate money for deserving projects without having to have a lot of it ourselves. Imagine 1000 users each generate $25 for themselves and for the site (not hard to do - it only takes one signup, actually). That's $50K injected into the community. Maybe that's chump change to VA, but I think there are many projects/foundations that could really use it.

Finally, the main thing that free/open software projects need is help, discussion, contribution... not money. If you really want to help, keep the money, invest in some good books, and help write software.
Not that I want to sound defensive, but I do all of these things too. I'm not just some con artist trying to make a buck. I've written a heck of a lot of open source code: for Scoop, for Enzyme, etc. I just think that having an anti-commerce bias is something that could hinder the OSS community. I mean, somebody has to pay RMS's salary, right? What about the EFF's DVD legal defense fund? The list goes on...

Anyway, I don't mean to sound preachy, it's just that I want this thing to succeed. I think it's important enough to spend time answering these kinds of concerns. I hope others here will do the same, and voice their own.
Promoting open-source OO code reuse on the web: the Enzyme open-source project
[ Parent ]

Project worthy of donations (2.50 / 2) (#9)
by espo812 on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 11:50:48 AM EST

I voted for Kuro5hin.org - but if OpenBSD was on the list, that's what I would have voted for.

www.openbsd.org

Espo

espo
--
Censorship is un-American.
Support your favorite Open Source project | 13 comments (10 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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