Proposal for Thunderbird crowdfunding

ace acelists at
Thu Sep 20 17:54:25 UTC 2012

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Proposal for Thunderbird crowdfunding
From: Kent James <kent at>
To: tb-planning at
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 08:40:21 -0700

> On 9/20/2012 5:46 AM, Ludovic Hirlimann wrote:
>> On 9/4/12 7:09 AM, Paul Morris wrote:
>>> I like this idea.  It seems to me that the community should have the
>>> means to fund itself.
>>> A number of TB users have expressed interest in making donations to
>>> support continued innovation on TB (in blog post comments, etc.). 
>>> Having an official channel or system to make that possible makes
>>> sense to me.
>> What are you guys thinking about funding ?
> I believe that I have made my position perfectly clear in the past, but
> I will repeat it.
> Sources of significant funding will be absolutely critical to having
> Thunderbird continue to meet the needs of its users, and fulfill its
> important mission in the internet space. But we are not talking about a
> few hundred dollars here and there, we are talking about at least a
> million dollars per year, and ideally 10 times that amount.
> People often misinterpret me to think that I am primarily interested in
> earning a living for myself. Yes I believe that people who are
> contributing significantly to something of value deserve to receive back
> some fraction of that value - but that includes not only myself, but
> also the other people who work on this project. I also believe that
> money is an important means of communication of what is important, and
> it bothers me when that communication is telling me to go and work on my
> own narrow little project (where I might earn some income) instead of on
> more important core bugs (like the folder compact issues that I have
> been spent the most of the last week on, but where I have no hope of
> earning any income).
> There is also a big, unfulfilled mission out there to create a
> MozAwesome full-featured communication and information system,
> encompassing multiple streams of information (email, contacts, calendar,
> video, social feeds), multiple platforms (desktop, mobile, web, and
> soon-to-be WebApp), and multiple user classes (basic, power, and
> enterprise). The Thunderbird community is one of only a few players that
> has any hope of rising to this challenge. This is not going to be met by
> unpaid volunteers working a few hours per week, students projects, and
> the occasional devoted geek with a day job.
> Back to the original topic though, one of the possible funding sources
> is donations. But to be effective, this needs to be promoted in the
> product itself. I can imagine an annual donations campaign that is
> integrated into the product in the form of a tab, or perhaps an extra
> menubar. If we have, say, 10 million reachable users, 1% giving $10 each
> would give a million dollars. The main obstacle to this though is
> Mozilla culture itself, which has grown up with the lucrative browser
> income stream where gobs of money are raised invisibly. Thunderbird does
> not have that income stream, and should not be constrained by that
> culture. Don't think, Firefox, that your values concerning monetization
> are somehow absolute, and not affected by your own lucrative income
> stream! Do not impose those values on us if we don't have your same
> income stream!
> Yet at the moment I believe that the biggest obstacle is governance. We
> simply don't have the structures in place that would allow us to push
> forward with things like this - and I get pushback whenever I try to
> recommend something. Gerv raised the issue of donations as well a few
> months ago, and at the time I said we need to wait  until after the
> summit, when hopefully issues of governance would be better defined. But
> that did not occur, at least to my satisfaction. We have structures in
> place that view Thunderbird as a "desktop email client" that is entering
> an honorable retirement, but not structures that have any hope of moving
> forward.
> :rkent

I vote for funding projects that nobody wants to do for free, like
creating more tests. For that purpose even hundreds of $ here and there
would be enough for the occasional volunteers.


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