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I agree with you that the Thunderbird project needs paid developers.
The bugs you highlight are just further evidence. We also have big
changes ahead of us, so there needs to be some focused development
that's just too much for a few people on the side.<br>
<li>Donations might generate some money for the project, if done
right. I don't think it would be sufficient. I do think it's a
good complementary income source, and might work to some degree.</li>
<li>People pledging for bug fixes id a great idea in theory (see
kickstarter), doesn't work in practice for us. Users think that
$30 is a lot of money for a bug fix or feature, but that doesn't
pay several days of investigation of an experienced developer.
Then, when no result or not satisfactory result comes, the users
get grumpy, , and the dev invested a lot of time and no money to
pay rent, and everybody leaves feeling being cheated. I've been
there, right in the middle, and it's not fun.</li>
<li>Don't hope for selling support to enterprises. They normally
simply don't have the budget planned in, they consider
open-source to be free (but MS-based shops happily accept
Microsoft license fees as "cost of doing business"). It's not
fair at all, it's not right, it's often not even reasonable, but
it's reality. Many have tried to sell enterprise support
(including myself and close colleages), all have failed, so I'd
suggest to not hope for that. We could offer it, but don't
assume that it will work.</li>
<li>Sorry for being negative, I just want to share my experience,
to avoid you making the same bad and painful experiences as I
and others did again.</li>
<li>Before somebody says "sell T-shirts": Yeah, why not. And
stuffed Thunderbird animals! Not going to make millions, though.
:) hm, the stuffed animal on the office desk might be a good
channel for mouth-to-mouth marketing....<br>
IMHO, the best way is to try many many different ways to raise
money, and see which one works best. So: Please share your ideas.
Everything goes, all across the board.<br>
Any ideas should well reflect the open-source ideals. Preferably no
pestering, no ads etc. The best ideas are those that generate an
immediate (meaning: within weeks) value for the person giving money.
And ways where there's no pooling, but where their money alone pays
for the effort involved for us, and well so. If anybody has ideas,
please share them!<br>
BTW, while we're at being creative: if you have ideas how to find /
convince more users or spread the word about TB more, please share
Thanks, Kent, for opening this. It's important to think about this.
TB needs a lot more developers than it has right now.<br>
<div class="moz-cite-prefix">On 22.12.2015 03:59, R Kent James
<a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1077418#c9">https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1077418#c9</a> the
"This is a critical dataloss bug that I've just hit _again_ -
entire emails just vanishing into the ether! That's pretty much
the worst sort of data loss in a mail client (OK, perhaps silently
deleting incoming email is worse). What can be done to get some
attention on this?"
That is an important question that really needs a long-term
answer, and I think that answer to that question says a lot about
where I think that Thunderbird needs to go. Although the
particular quote is from a particular person, this message is not
directed specifically at him or that bug. It is a common issue
that needs some direction.
It seems to me the current answer to "what can be done" is to hope
that we can attract more volunteer developers, or try to get more
or better work out of those who are currently active. (I had a
more colorful, snarky answer to this that I decided not to
I don't think that answer is realistic, but it is no fun to ignore
users with problems, either. Maybe I'm someone who just doesn't
really grok open source, but I think we need a better answer. The
Thunderbird code base is too large for a handful of volunteers to
feel responsible for the many critical issues that are only
affecting a small minority of users. Maybe for code that is a
fraction of the size of Thunderbird, there is some hope that
volunteers can address these issues. But our code base is just way
too big for that. I do not want to be made responsible for
everyone's critical issues, merely because I decided to volunteer
some time to the project. For many open source projects, the users
are primarily developers, and at least in theory those developers
have the ability to fix bugs that annoy them. But as a project
directed to end users, we do not have that advantage.
Yet those problems are important to those users. Here's what I
think that the answer should be.
Really everyone needs to have some path where they can advocate
for a particular bug to be fixed, using a path that ultimately
leads to someone who is a paid developer. Here are the paths to
1) Certified support organizations with level 3 support
capability (this is borrowed from TDF and LibreOffice). We should
be able to point people or organizations with issues to service
organizations that have the capability to actually fix bugs, and
let the user advocate with that organization why their bug is
important. I'm not saying that such an organization would be able
to fix each specific bug from a single user, but the organization
should accept input from customers, and be prepared to fund fixes
that are important to some significant number of their customers.
Practically, what this means is that the support organization
needs to have on-call, and be prepared to pay, one of the core
2) The Thunderbird users group, the "Thundernest", would have
paid membership, with a mechanism within that organization to
decide which bugs will be fixed. Members can advocate for their
bugs within Thundernest that has some paid capability to respond.
If you are an organization that uses Thunderbird, or a corporate
customer with a mission-critical use, the advice would be to
retain one of the certified support organizations. If you are an
individual, the advice would be to join Thundernest, and advocate
there for your bug. People who contribute to Thunderbird in some
meaningful non-financial way would also be offered membership.
If you are unwilling to do either, than I would say "Sorry we
cannot help you". That is, your expectation to have a
free-as-in-beer email client, that you are unwilling to fund or
contribute to in any meaningful way, does not create an obligation
in me as a core developer to fix your problem.
This is a rather severe position, and I expect many of you will
take exception to this. Maybe many of you would like to offer
Thunderbird as your gift to the world, without charge. Fine, but
what is your answer to "What can be done to get some attention on
this?" for that bug and many others?
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