Donation Link: Formal Proposal

Kent James kent at
Mon Dec 2 23:36:33 UTC 2013

Hi Ben,

I dealt with some of your comments in my long reply to Mark Banner. So 
I'll be brief here.

One thing I am willing to do is to add specific options to the proposal 
for consideration, even if I do not agree with them. So if you would 
like to clarify your objections into specific alternatives for parts of 
the proposal, we could add them as alternatives.

Having a visible donation link in Thunderbird 31 is the essence though, 
so if you are against that then you are basically against the proposal, 
and need to do your own.

On 11/29/2013 9:38 PM, Ben Bucksch wrote:
> Hey Kent,
> this proposal doesn't reflect our discussion here at all.
> 1. I think Dave had a very strong point that in-product Donation 
> requests have a cost, and that we should first exploit the low-hanging 
> fruit of asking those followers and "fans" that came actively forward 
> by following the Thunderbird Facebook page and similar means.
As I told Mark, I have zero confidence that will succeed in raising the 
funds that we need, so I don't think we should delay this proposal doing 
a fund-raising experiment that is expected to fail. Or do you really 
believe that adding a link on a Facebook page is going to raise the 
income that we need? I'm not saying we should avoid doing that, but it 
is not what the proposal is about.

Dave is right that donations have a cost, and the proposal is to incur 
that cost.
> 2. The idea of steering the feature development by the funds. We've 
> discussed this at length, but summary is: A donation gives you a vote 
> for features, but with the clear statement that this is just 
> expressing a wish and direction and the funds will go into a general 
> pool. We would still cover needed expenses first and make that clear.

It would be great to use this chance for communication with our users to 
also get some feedback, with the caveat that this is more like a survey 
than a vote. But I feel like that is an implementation detail that is 
not critical to the yes/no decisions on the need for a donation link, 
and its accompanying governance structure. Perhaps an optional detailed 
survey that is given after the donation?

> 3. After servers, the most important thing that Thunderbird will need 
> is software developers. Users see a difference when long-standing 
> issues are fixed and much-needed features like AB/phone sync are 
> implemented.
> Contracting for specific things should be an option, but it can be 
> tricky: compare results from "Summer of Code", which is not very 
> fruitful, because it's "drop and leave". Somebody needs to manage 
> them, too - who is that, if there's no staff? Sometimes it's a good 
> solution, but not the standard solution. I think the best way to get 
> consistently high quality is to hire some standing staff. (But they 
> need to be on the right track, see point 2.)
I probably agree with you that there needs to be some long-term 
development staff rather then contractors only. But I made it clear to 
Mark that the details of this list are not the essence of the proposal, 
rather the governance structure as well as a recognition that the funds 
can be used for development (which is itself controversial). So these 
types of decisions will be made later.

> What Thunderbird needs most is developers that fulfill users' (!) 
> needs. That seems to be the one thing *not* in the spending list.

As I said, the proposal is not intended to give a detailed use of funds, 
but rather just possibilities to show that useful ways to spend income 
exists. Do you feel that there is doubt that Thunderbird can profitably 
use income? If not, then I would rather focus on the nature of the 
income and its governance.

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