Funding free software and osarch

edited November 12 in General

Hi everyone I'm new here, I hope to have some community feedback about this idea. I was wondering is it better for architects/designers/contractors to collect the money and hire a software developer team to create a good enough add on/plug in for blender/freecad so they have a free alternative that reaches the same level of archicad/revit/"sketchupBIM". I mean I just push this idea to one of my country's architecture association member(a top and influential member) of what if we have our own software that do just what we need but it is free or owned or funded by the designers/architects in the country? Building relationships, trust and eventually park their money regularly to maintain and improve the software. He said he like the idea but needs a prototype and a proposal/papers to convince the associations in the country.

Does the idea work or does it even make sense?
@duncan @Moult
Edit 2020-11-12: @duncan changed the discussion name

MoultAndreabitacovirpaulleejtm2020hyo

Comments

  • edited November 11

    Welcome to OSArch, @ra1m1 ! It's great to have you here, and would love to know more about your background and what brought you here!

    The idea you propose has been brought up on numerous occasions with a few variations. Most recently, the OpeningDesign studio by @theoryshaw is investigating profit sharing to help fund FOSS development. Due to the frequency of this idea, I think it has some legs.

    In principle, I think it is a great idea and would love to have a crowdsourced OSArch fund which is able to pay developers to work on the large ecosystem of software out there. We would be able to help isolate the best places to dedicate resources, and ensure that donors get the best value for money (note, I have updated the wiki intro to OSArch with a description of the impact OSArch is having). Financial sustainability is an interesting concept - how achievable is it? Can we do some ballpark figures? Let's make a list of "core developers" who as the OSArch community we feel is making the most impact, and how achievable is it to get donors such that every developer gets... say, 50 dollars a month? It's merely a token amount, but what can we offer back to donors to make even that amount achievable? How many developers is this? Do we pick one dev per project? Do we prioritise developers who aren't already funded, or do we aim for core developers to spend more time on it due to the longtail distribution?

    It would be good to flesh this out a bit more, with some realistic expectations of what needs to be built, how difficult it is to build them, and what people can expect. I envision something akin to an "Open letter", which may be addressed to public government bodies pushing OpenBIM, or private AEC firms who understand that we need to break the monopoly vendor cycle to advance digitally in this industry. The letter would be similar to the ODA contract, in that we clearly describe what is being offered for donorship.

    Brainstorming things we may offer: in exchange for money (what about asking for code instead? Or testing? Those are very valuable too!), we may offer training and certification, we may prioritise their requirements (this is a very tricky one), or we may simply continue to offer to run OSArch and advertise them as a sponsor.

    But don't let this complexity stop you. Go for it! Post a draft of your proposal, and let's work together as a community to turn it into a reality. Big goals are achieved in little increments.

    kaiaurelienzh
  • Hi, it seems like a great idea, I was thinking the same thing. I run a small design studio in Italy and would gladly do it.
    To contribute since I have no programming knowledge, I am willing to take this issue forward and promote it in my country.

    Jesusbillcarlopavjtm2020hyo
  • Agree with @Moult , @baswein I'm sure you also have some thoughts here.
    Here area few relevant discussions we've had:

    My personal opinion is that maybe we will need a tactical investment fund of some type. That could be split into a funders group and a technical group. The two groups can collaborate on deciding what applications for funding get support. But we would first need a legal structure etc.
    For now we've agreed to list projects that are able to receive funding so they can be funded directly. This page needs some expansion, but it's a start: https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=Donation_Directory

    While I've said what my personal opinion is I think my strongest view is that we need to reach out to other groups to investigate how they are organised and how they collect and distribute funds.

    As you can hear there's a bit of work involved, so for now some expressions of support and funding of specific projects is a "here and now" way to support osarch.

  • I've heard of https://opencollective.com/ - and I think maybe that can help simplify legal structure and red tape. I've just signed up an account, here is what an empty account looks like: https://opencollective.com/osarch - what do people think? Do we want to go ahead and turn OSArch into an organisation? Do we just go ahead and start collecting Internet coins and "see what happens"? Let me know if you want me to add you as an admin to the collective so you can check out the settings.

    I see some merit in "just doing it" - when it comes to proposing for sponsorship from other entities, like industry collectives, it will make us look a lot more established, especially if we are already managing some funds, no matter how small.

    bitacovirCGR
  • edited November 11

    @ra1m1 said:
    I mean I just push this idea to one of my country's architecture association member(a top and influential member) of what if we have our own software that do just what we need but it is free or owned or funded by the designers/architects in the country? Building relationships, trust and eventually park their money regularly to maintain and improve the software. He said he like the idea but needs a prototype and a proposal/papers to convince the associations in the country.

    This is called Lobby. You need to keep pushing the idea with influential groups and people. It is not a work done with one interview. You will need to have several meetings, write many letters, make presentations, etc, etc. Keep in mind:

    • Currently BlenderBIM is more than a prototype. It has a community and development team. And it is an addon for a very solid 3D modeler software. The same for FreeCAD, a 3D software with a global scale level of use.
    • Source code of both projects is publicly available, with license to download and use in new developments. This is proof of how serious are these projects.
    • Right now, there are plenty of channels for donation and financial support for these projects. Patreon, Liberapay, etc. are trusted and transparent platforms for donation. At the moment, 377 people are patrons of FreeCAD development team and 15 people support with money BlenderBIM project.
  • I think it is smart to set up a fund to support development. This may be in combination with the previously shared example where the donations can be a vote, that can be allocated to a part that needs to be worked on. In this way it is immediately clear what the wishes are from the professional field.

  • @Moult yes please.

    Cyril
  • edited November 11

    @Moult said:
    I've heard of https://opencollective.com/ - and I think maybe that can help simplify legal structure and red tape. I've just signed up an account, here is what an empty account looks like: https://opencollective.com/osarch - what do people think?

    I like the idea.
    https://aragon.org/ might be an option too.
    code base: https://github.com/aragon
    The concept of a decentralized autonomous organization could be worth exploring here.

  • I love the idea ! From Argentina we can contact universities, state organizations, professional associations and even private companies that are interested in contributing to obtain an alternative BIM solution to proprietary offers.
    The proposal of how it would work and what would be obtained at the end of a first stage and in what terms must be very clear.

    CGR
  • Super interesting. I would also like to lobby to the industry about donating a fair amount for this. Exciting times indeed

  • @theoryshaw from what I read it seems as though they use cryptocurrency, what does that mean?

    Looking more at OpenCollective, to start managing funds, there are three approaches. Here is the link for the fiscal host.

    1. Option 1: I obviously have a personal bank account, so that is one option. But so does everyone else here. It's probably quick and easy, though.
    2. Option 2: I do have an Australian Business Number registered under my name, so that is another option. OpeningDesign I think is also a registered business, but even better they actually do business and make all their stuff FOSS already, so maybe that is even better.
    3. Option 3: here is the list of hosts. I couldn't really find one that fits. However, "If you have a legal entity and bank account already, you can also set up your own fiscal host." - personally I think that's the way to go.

  • Hi all, appreciate with all the replies and feedbacks, I'm currently a technical consultant with an architecture background in south east asia, I deal with mostly presales at a distribution company with software vendors like graphisoft, trimble, zwcad and chaosgroup. Dealing with associations and partners to create events and campaigns for these software brands to generate sales. It was nice in the beginning but It was all business at the end of the day and not genuinely about users with these software vendors. It is quite subjective to improve or make it cheaper because they are all corporate people. I was inspired seeing blender grow and become what it is today and challenging big players like autodesk , trimble, and etc. So for a healthy competition, consumers should lean towards opensource and "community backed software" as a viable alternative.

    I have no marketing or business skills, I'm just some guy in the construction industry that observes the situation.

  • edited November 12

    I think this is bad to mix accountancy of an existing running company with one which needs to be perfectly transparent like osarch. Imagine that the company on the business side would unfortunately bankrupt it would affect also osarch.

    OSArch should IMHO have its own accountancy. Also I think the country where OSArch is registered should be carefully chosen. Eg. in no way it should be registered in US to avoid patent trolls… Many insurance company cover worldwide except USA and Canada (as in my own contract) and there is a reasons for that. Asking a lawyer where to register it might worth even if we would have to pay him. And I think preferably not any lawyer but lawyer specialised on these kind of topics (non profits / open source foundations etc…)

    I would say option 2 (with OSArch being its own organisation) or option 3 fiscal host which will help on legal part but will probably charge a part of transactions.

  • @ra1m1 is it okay if I change the name of this discussion to something like "funding free software and osarch" ?

  • I think we should organize a video meeting with some other orgs. Maybe FSF, OSGeo have time to talk to us.
    Let's just not rush this, it'll be a pain to shift to a different solution later if we have some meaningful sums of money involved. Our different priorities can become very clear once we start competing with each other to influence the direction of funds towards specific goals.

    MoultMeetlat
  • @duncan yup sure, you can.

  • edited November 12

    @duncan that is a great idea. Anyone interested in leading this initiative and reaching out for advice? Also agree this should not be rushed.

    There is another approach, instead of a community fund. Another approach is that OSArch never creates a community fund as a matter of principle, to truly promote decentralisation and grassroots initiatives. We may take the stance that any centralised fund will therefore imply centralised resource allocation, no matter how democratic we attempt to make the process. Instead, OSArch can continue to act as a brand, and a set of principles for people to follow. When there are OSArch branded initiatives, such as a training series, meetups, future hackathons, or when OSArch members are hacking on a project, we can simply document and highlight the initiative and those dedicating their time and money to it on the wiki, and people can contribute. This is akin to how charity navigators work - they direct you to the best charity to then donate directly to.

    Such a decentralised manner doesn't mean we cannot raise funds like a centralised organisation. For example, let's say OSArch decides to create a paid "donor" status, like how you can be a Blender foundation donor, or Friend of GNOME, etc. Instead of how the Blender foundation works, where you donate to the foundation, instead, you can donate to any OSArch project in the directory, and evidence of the donation is used to then verify you as a donor, then we can put your name (or corporate logo) on a donors / sponsors page.

    This decentralised funding (but centralised marketing) strategy also ensures no individual player gets preference, or is likely to be "over funded", so long as we document known donations as transparently as we can. It also prioritises individuals and evidence of actually doing things, not organisations and overhead.

    Also, less red tape. Less lawyers. More fun. More code.

    Thoughts? I don't know anybody who has tried this approach before.

    brendanmcfozJesusbill
  • Given different approach taken in funding our projects, decentralised funding may be the better solution.
    It provide a clear path for users to push the project they are willing to, without any need to "balance" through some kind of voting system.

  • edited November 12

    @Cyril said:
    I think this is bad to mix accountancy of an existing running company with one which needs to be perfectly transparent like osarch.

    Agree, could get a little muddy, as much as I'd like to help.

    ...

    Agreed, we should not make any premature decisions now, but I do think we should test run some approaches.

    If okay, I'd like to start an #osarch DAO on Aragon to play around with. I've been interested to potentially start one for OpeningDesign as well.

    I do the like the idea of playing around with OpenCollective too.

    ...

    Let's approach this, like an open source project. Throw something out there, see if it sticks, modify as needed.

  • @theoryshaw said:
    Let's approach this, like an open source project. Throw something out there, see if it sticks, modify as needed.

    Most opensource projects never go anywhere and die in obscurity so I think we should focus as much as people are willing to compromise (but not more)
    A decentralised funding model is fine for now and gives us time. But eventually if we want to send people to conferences and sponsor courses etc we will need centralised funds.
    For now I suggest we agree on some principles projects should follow to be on our 'priority list' for sponsors and then publicize the list. If someone agrees we should talk about such a list, please go ahead and start a new discussion.

    iosvarms
  • edited November 12

    On the front of whether the funding is more decentralized or more centralized. I waver on this as well.
    I can see arguments for both, but I tend to lean toward a semi-centralized funding approach, where allocation is done through some type of weighted voting.
    I feel having a semi-centralized funding approach will better incentivize various open source projects to streamline their efforts to interoperate with each other--which is thus, one of the objectives of this group.
    I actually think we'll find more funding that way, as well, because the signals of where the funding will be going will be more stabilized--ie, these companies know where it's going, and why.

  • edited November 12

    @theoryshaw go for it! Create an OSArch DAO account :) Just like me creating an OpenCollective account, we can just explore it without committing.

    We can start with a decentralised funding model simply due to the fact that I think we are "already" doing a decentralised funding model without acknowledging it. If we find that it cannot achieve certain goals, and we think centralisation is the solution, we can move towards semi-centralised, and then if that doens't solve it, move to centralised, or use a combination of all three.

    To explore the current state of affairs, I've started this wiki page. Please have a look through and add yourself! I feel populating this wiki page will help us quantify exactly how much support is currently behind OSArch, and and help us set realistic goals for what we want as an organisation. This page can help us know who is involved with what, who might be interested to step up and contribute more, and so on. Right now, the only stats we have are wiki accounts, wiki pages, and forum accounts.

    https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=OSArch_Supporters

  • @Moult said:
    @duncan that is a great idea. Anyone interested in leading this initiative and reaching out for advice? Also agree this should not be rushed.

    There is another approach, instead of a community fund. Another approach is that OSArch never creates a community fund as a matter of principle, to truly promote decentralisation and grassroots initiatives. We may take the stance that any centralised fund will therefore imply centralised resource allocation, no matter how democratic we attempt to make the process. Instead, OSArch can continue to act as a brand, and a set of principles for people to follow. When there are OSArch branded initiatives, such as a training series, meetups, future hackathons, or when OSArch members are hacking on a project, we can simply document and highlight the initiative and those dedicating their time and money to it on the wiki, and people can contribute. This is akin to how charity navigators work - they direct you to the best charity to then donate directly to.

    Such a decentralised manner doesn't mean we cannot raise funds like a centralised organisation. For example, let's say OSArch decides to create a paid "donor" status, like how you can be a Blender foundation donor, or Friend of GNOME, etc. Instead of how the Blender foundation works, where you donate to the foundation, instead, you can donate to any OSArch project in the directory, and evidence of the donation is used to then verify you as a donor, then we can put your name (or corporate logo) on a donors / sponsors page.

    This decentralised funding (but centralised marketing) strategy also ensures no individual player gets preference, or is likely to be "over funded", so long as we document known donations as transparently as we can. It also prioritises individuals and evidence of actually doing things, not organisations and overhead.

    Also, less red tape. Less lawyers. More fun. More code.

    Thoughts? I don't know anybody who has tried this approach before.

    This is brilliant, @Moult, it solves some nagging questions I was struggling to put into words. I think this can work.

  • @duncan said:

    @theoryshaw said:
    Let's approach this, like an open source project. Throw something out there, see if it sticks, modify as needed.

    Most opensource projects never go anywhere and die in obscurity so I think we should focus as much as people are willing to compromise (but not more)
    A decentralised funding model is fine for now and gives us time. But eventually if we want to send people to conferences and sponsor courses etc we will need centralised funds.
    For now I suggest we agree on some principles projects should follow to be on our 'priority list' for sponsors and then publicize the list. If someone agrees we should talk about such a list, please go ahead and start a new discussion.

    All the activities (whether they need funding or not) can be decentralized (much like it is at the moment). If people want to attend conferences, they can organize themselves into a project and OSArch supporters can decide if they want to fund them or not. Ditto sponsoring courses. The tricky part for the decentralized funding model however is with transparency and reporting. What level of responsibility does OSArch assume for projects it recommends for funding? Another one is how to determine what projects OSArch will consider suitable to promote on its platform. Any project that crosses our radar? Or are there some parameters for pre-qualification that will not break the decentralization model? Maybe OSArch needs an OS / dashboard for managing these projects in the decentralized way envisaged, while adequately taking care of these emerging questions.

    iosvarmsbruno_perdigao
  • Just wanted to report back, after playing around with it, that I don't think https://aragon.org/ is a viable option right now.
    The transaction costs are wayyyy too expensive. It's actually kind of ludicrous.
    To just create a simple vote, it costs almost US$3 and to just cast a vote requires about $2. I don't get it either. I understand paying 'gas' to log these transactions on the blockchain, but those costs are crazy.
    People are talking about fixing the crazy pricing: https://forum.aragon.org/t/migrate-a-dao-to-the-xdai-chain-create-step-by-step-tutorial/2302
    Needless to say, this bleeding edge technology is bleeding too much.

    CyrilMoultJanF
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