Funding (was: Proposal to start a new implementation of Thunderbird based on web technologies)

Ben Bucksch ben.bucksch at beonex.com
Tue Apr 11 15:46:24 UTC 2017


R Kent James wrote on 11.04.2017 05:26:
> While we have some amazing volunteers that have kept the project 
> alive, yet email is serious business and it is not reasonable to 
> believe we will have a serious product done mostly by volunteers (and 
> I say that as someone actively recruiting about 10 volunteer students 
> to work on aspects of this).

I agree here. I think volunteers will give excellent support, and some 
components might even be written by volunteers. Many of the people 
participating in the thread here have contributed entire modules.

That said, an effort like this needs to be concentrated, focused, and 
most importantly directed with clear leadership. Herding cats takes 
serious resources. So, I agree that the bulk work will have to be done 
by paid developers. And the kind of devs we need here are the most 
experienced ones.

But I do look forward to some individuals volunteering for certain 
parts, and implementing them entirely. We have a huge feature set to 
cover, and if some people contribute filter UI, or MDN, or PGP support, 
or Kerberos, or things like that, this would be great. I am hoping that 
maybe 20% of the effort will be done by volunteers.

And that's not to minimize their influence. Volunteers are a critically 
important corrective for things that are overlooked or misguided. 
Everybody makes mistakes in judgement, and that outside corrective is 
important for making the result mature. That's in part where the power 
of open-source comes from. So, these 20% are important.

> The problem is, I have had a very, very hard time getting anyone to 
> seriously discuss the question of how to fund this.

Kent, I'd like to discuss this. However, we need to make one step after 
the other. We first all need to agree on a overall direction. Only when 
we're united behind a goal, can we make sound decisions afterwards, and 
choose the right path. Financing is then the second step.

Just one example, we could make a donor campaign specifically for 
Thunderbird-Next. Even people who are not donating right now. Once 
people have a specific goal, they are much more happy to fund things. 
That "shiny object" reflect.

> We cannot compete technologically if we do not have a business model 
> that can compete with models such as the Postbox paid user, or the 
> Nylas paid server services. What is the plan here?

Kent, we don't have a classic "business model". We're an open-source 
project.

I think it's great we're getting so many donations. This is encouraging 
that this might actually work only with goodwill, instead of a hard 
sale. That said, we can and should do more to encourage donations, and 
be more visible.

And most of all, show more action. See the "Outreach" thread. I am 
immediately getting a front of people telling us "To something first, 
that we can be excited about". Our users are expecting action.

I'm surprised so many people are donating despite the situation. Imagine 
what happens when we have a concrete, exciting, useful project to fund!

Ben


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