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

Aaron Wolf wolftune at gmail.com
Sat Dec 8 21:27:29 UTC 2012

Thanks for the thoughts, Mike!

We have written much more specific rules than I've stated here, but the
finalized policies are yet to be completed (and we're recruiting a steering
committee to be involved in that). I'll send you an invitation to look at
the system in progress. We're working toward opening everything up and just
want to be clear and have more things set before opening publicly.

Your impression of our proposals is pretty close already. We have a
particular formula and some other details in the full proposal.

As to Free/Libre/Open, we are being absolute. We want to require projects
to meet all the requirements of things like the Open Definition, and on top
of that to accept the upcoming Defensive Patent License and more. We do not
want to permit ANY NC or ND content! We already list on our proposal all
these requirements, and I fully evaluated the different terms like the Open
Definition. I am also VERY happy to hear you speak up against NC
acceptance. I have been worried about reaching out to the CC community
about wasting time engaging with that issue. At this point, I want to have
discussions with people who are sympathetic to true Free/Open (i.e. no ND
NC restrictions).

As to Snowdrift itself, yes we intend to run as a cooperative. The .coop
domain is regulated like .gov and .edu. We MUST run as a cooperative simply
to have the domain. We also will license everything with AGPL and CC-BY-SA.

Here's the weird thing: I'm worried (perhaps unjustly, please convince me
to drop my worry if you think I should) about opening to the complete
public too early. The irony is: I want to be open and sharing, but I also
want some very strong restrictions, namely restrictions to be Free/Open! My
concern is that if someone likes our funding ideas but doesn't care about
Free/Open, they could set up a rival site (or existing systems with lots of
clout could implement an option to function like us) but without the
Free/Open requirement! This would diminish our unique qualities. I think we
need a strong head-start to have a fully functioning system including our
requirements before anyone has the option of forking our system or ideas.
Ideally, I want to share as openly as possible with everyone who is
sympathetic to Free/Open stuff and block access of those who are anti-Open
or otherwise apathetic about freedom.

For now, we implemented a privacy system. But we're going to release the
code on GitHub next week. And we'll open up things more and more. All the
discussion here is helping me improve our clarity, and once we have a
larger team on the project, I'll feel more comfortable going fully public.
I just want a strong momentum. I hope that's understandable. I'm not
dogmatic, and I'm open to being convinced that my fears are unwarranted.


Aaron Wolf

On Sat, Dec 8, 2012 at 3:23 PM, Mike Linksvayer <ml at gondwanaland.com> wrote:

> 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
> http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/2005/05/13/public-goods-group-shopping/
> ... 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/ :)
> Mike
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