Summit Part 2: Funding -- How get attention for a "donation"

Jim Porter squibblyflabbetydoo at
Fri Oct 24 17:17:51 UTC 2014

On 10/24/2014 01:44 AM, Axel Grude (Axel) wrote:
> I haven't heard people complain about the "Go" menu item although probably
> very few use it.

The "Go" menu item isn't in the primary UI for Thunderbird, unless you
go through the effort of enabling the menu bar.

> It is an important function to raise money for the
> product and there is no inconvenience or change of workflow attached.

But there is an inconvenience. You suggested having the icon animate
"every 20 minutes". People's brains are hard-wired to notice animations,
and we shouldn't be writing software whose intent is to distract the
user. Email is distracting enough as it is.

> If you find Wikipedia asking for money to fund themselves obnoxious (not
> 3rd party advertisements) it sounds to me you prefer a product that is
> funded by nobody or people who are interested in your private
> information.

Wikipedia's campaigns are obnoxious because they're *designed* to be
obnoxious. I'd have much less of a problem with it if the campaigns were
just a short one-line message at the top of the page that could easily
be ignored by folks who don't care. (At least they always have a close

Wikipedia's model doesn't make much sense for us anyway, since Wikipedia
doesn't know where their users will land (they can't just put a donation
advertisement on the front page, because who visits the front page?).
Thunderbird, on the other hand, starts in a predefined state.

> If you gave the hardliner "free as in beer" users an option to configure
> it away (without userChrome or about:config hacks) in order to retain
> the probably very low number of users that cared, would you then agree?

I'd probably shut up about it, if that's what you mean. But I wouldn't
agree that it's a good idea. I'd like to think that we could do better
than that to raise awareness of the fact that Thunderbird needs money.

For instance, one often-suggested feature for Thunderbird is a "home
tab" that would effectively replace the first 3pane as the primary tab.
It would have an aggregate of all your accounts (and calendars?), and we
could easily have a "Thunderbird news" widget that talks about things
Thunderbird users might care about (e.g. new features, tips of the day,
bug bashes, fundraising campaigns, etc). This gives people a reason to
look at this section in the first place, and makes it useful beyond just
being a plea for money. However, even then, I think it should be easy
for any user to hide this message; if being made aware that Thunderbird
needs money doesn't convince them to donate, nagging them sure won't help.

That said, I think corporate support contracts would probably be a much
more reliable source of money, since like it or not, most home users are
going to be perfectly happy with webmail (which, we should remember, is
free*). Corporations, however, are used to paying for things. Our
primary competitor in this field would probably be Outlook, which is
very much not-free. This model seems to have worked well with the
various Linux distros that use it, at least in the sense that they're
still operating and can afford to employ people.

- Jim

* Obviously that's because the user is the product being sold, but most
people don't care about that. If they did, ad-supported sites wouldn't
be the norm.

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