Axel Grude axel.grude at
Mon May 1 19:19:55 UTC 2017

> *Subject:*Donations (was: My comment on Exchange Calendar as it applies to financial 
> issues of Thunderbird)
> *From:*Ben Bucksch <ben.bucksch at>
> *To:*Tb-planning
> *Sent: *Monday, 01/05/2017 19:05:02 19:05 GMT ST +0100 [Week 18]
> R Kent James wrote on 01.05.2017 16:40:
>> Adding EWS as a "supported" protocol to core Thunderbird does not magically make 
>> the resources appear to maintain it. This particular addon, Exchange Calendar, is a 
>> really good example of the problems. The work required is substantial, a 
>> free-as-in-beer developer can enjoy working on it for awhile, but then there is the 
>> inevitable burnout followed by periods of poor support, which we seem to be in the 
>> third phase of now. Personally, I believe that something mission-critical like 
>> Thunderbird (and critical addons such as this one) deserve better than that if 
>> people are going to rely on them to get real work done.
>> But this gets at the core of what people mean by "open source" and "free software". 
>> There is always that hope that there are lots of potentially motivated volunteers 
>> that could be attracted, if somehow we just do things better.
>> Personally I don't believe in that, but I am in a minority - and I get plenty of 
>> flak for charging for ExQuilla. (Note I am the ExQuilla author as well as a member 
>> of the Thunderbird Council). The solution that I think makes sense is something 
>> like a non-profit user coop, where there would be enough benefits to the users to 
>> pay for membership, the code could continue open source, but somebody would be paid 
>> to keep the lights on. We're collecting substantial donations now, and that is 
>> helping alot, but not enough to imagine that EWS could be added to core Calendar 
>> and supported.
> Hey Kent,
> I agree that people who critically rely on a piece of software should also be 
> willing to pay a reasonable amount for it. Free Software doesn't mean the work is 
> done all by itself.
> How about simply offering recurring donations on the donations page, and explaining 
> to users why we need that? It's not obvious to them why the software needs 
> maintenance just to keep the lights on. Once we explain it in a way that they 
> understand ('we fix security bugs, we fix other bugs etc, and that takes several 
> employees just to get that done'), they might be willing to make recurring donations. 
I agree in principal. Let's look at the Patreon model
> They should be in the area of $30/year or so. If 1 in 1000 of our users does that, 
> we have already significant progress.

I think that is too much. Postbox has recently switched to a lifetime license (but 
only for version 5) for less. While I think that there are quite a few users who would 
accept this sort of payment I would bet you would also find many more supporting 
Thunderbird with10$ or 5$ / year. If there were different support levels like on 
Patreon (and we could debate on some perks such as blog notifications, downloads of 
debates, Youtube videos , workshops) it might be possible to pull of a more nuanced 
variety of monetisation.

I think a monthly model with 1$, 2$ or 5$ levels might also make some sense, because 
it is more dependable in regards of hiring developers and a lower risk commitment on 
the part of the users.

Another possibility would be something like sales weeks (e.g. black Friday, Holiday 
sales) where a cheaper "license" could be obtained.

As  one of the few Addon authors who monetises I would also be open to handing out 
vouchers for cheaper licenses to anyone who supports Thunderbird Core with a donation.


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