[okfn-discuss] New crowdfunding system in the works exclusively for Free/Libre/Open resources

Mike Linksvayer ml at gondwanaland.com
Sat Dec 8 20:23:00 UTC 2012

On Sat, Dec 8, 2012 at 11:16 AM, Aaron Wolf <wolftune at gmail.com> wrote:
> I can make it concrete.
> Current funding system: Please contribute some random amount of money, hope
> that others chip in. You and everyone else can be careful to put in just the
> amount you think you want, so everyone puts in just enough to feel they did
> their part or maybe feels doubtful about the project and unsure and puts in
> less or none.
> Snowdrift.coop: Would you pay $100 to have the rest of the community chip in
> $millions to the projects you support? I sure would!
> I'd rather pay $ to make everyone else donate than to just donate
> unilaterally. With Snowdrift, there's no risk. Either you don't actually pay
> much, or you pay because everyone is paying.
> Anyway, you'll be able to change or remove your pledge at any point, up to
> the point where the monthly payments get calculated. Yes, I know everyone
> might like to pull back and not put in much themselves, but that's the
> dilemma. Everyone should only donate if everyone else donates, and we just
> have to accept that. You can pull your pledge, but then everyone else will
> pay less. That's the deal. And that's sort of how reality has to work
> anyway, we're just making it explicit and reliable.
> All that said, I'm looking to change the mindset. This is a long-term goal
> to actually change the way people see their own relation to projects, to the
> community, and to their decisions as donors. Your decision is much more
> inextricably tied to the whole network of our civilization. You have
> voluntary control, but you're part of a larger system. That's how the world
> works. Our consumer economic mindset hides this too much.

There's no risk (using the term loosely) to the pledger in a pure
threshold pledge system, which is what Kickstarter is; whether you
donate is inextricably tied to the decisions of other potential
pledgers. Others such as IndieGoGo are more attenuated, taxing the
recipient more if threshold not met.

I gather from what you've written that instead of a threshold, you
have a scale, and maybe monthly allocations to projects, rather than
one-off fundings. But really you should just write down the rules.
That's how to make it concrete. :)

Here's my guess:

* Donors pledge $x to system each month.
* Donors pledge <= $x to any number of projects in system each month
* Amount system transfers to a project in a month some function of
total pledges to each project, constrained by total pledge to system
by each donor, with allocation for each donor weighted to be more like
the average donor, such that popular projects get a lot, unpopular
projects almost nothing

That could be an interesting system. The open universe could use more
mechanisms to create clear winners, and thus increased cultural
relevance and decreased duplication.

I'd also love to see more wild and crazy patronage schemes. It is
great that relatively simple has had so much success (no doubt
simplicity contributed), but there are lots of interesting ideas that
haven't even had trial implementations, eg fair share and dominant
assurance contracts, which I blogged about long ago at
http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/2004/11/17/speculate-on-creators/ and
... sadly anything really interesting would probably have regulatory
obstacles. I'm probably crazy myself, but I encourage you to flesh out
your idea even if people say your sketch is too complex. :)

> Anyway, as you can see, we have work to do on selling this idea, so I hope
> to convince people to help us work that out.

Good luck!

Also, I hope you can be thorough about "exclusively for
Free/Libre/Open resources", including snowdrift.coop (BTW, is it
really a cooperative?) itself. There have been a few platforms that
almost do that, but not quite, eg http://www.goteo.org which allows
non-commercial licenses. Read up on http://opendefinition.org/okd/ and
http://opendefinition.org/software-service/ :)


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