Re: [debian-knoppix] Open accounting and Open source

From: Mark Constable <markc(at)renta(dot)net>
To: debian-knoppix(at)linuxtag(dot)org
Cc: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: [debian-knoppix] Open accounting and Open source
Date: 2003-05-01 01:47:27
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On Thu, 1 May 2003 10:46 am, Ray Ontko wrote:
> > My point comes back to the subject of this thread... which is how
> > to provide an "open accounting" system of contributd resources to
> > segments of open source projects that the contributer WANTS their
> > contribution to go towards.
> > ...

> I like the idea of being able to contribute at the package or
> group-of-packages level, but I see a few challenges:
> 1) I might like the idea of supporting the package maintainer,
> but I might prefer to support the upstream developers instead.
> Do I get to choose?

Yes, if the kind of system I'm vaguely thinking of existed then
it'd be from-anyone to-anyone for any-reason.

> 2) I might like the idea of donating to support work that I
> don't have time to do, but who will see that my donations
> are being used wisely and distributed fairly? If I give
> $1000, does that buy me 1 hour or 100 hours of development
> time? Who keeps track? If 1000 people give $10 each, but
> there's only a little work to be done, does the package
> maintainer get it all anyway?

No doubt the policies to manage this are complex but they could
be consolidated into code and presented as a web interface rather
than "hidden" in some committee or individual that makes the call.

> 3) When the money is distributed to a programmer, are they
> employed by Debian for tax purposes? What if they live outside
> the country?

I am not in the US and my imagined focussed contributions would
be to KDE and Knoppix which are also non-US based so, for me,
the system would have to be completely free of any US legalities
or I simply would not "trust" it, for a wide range of reasons.
The fact that SPI/FSF/EFF are US tax exempt is meaningless, to me,
and last time I really took any notice, most people on the planet
live outside of US... err, sensibilities.

> 4) There are many services for Debian performed by non-maintainers.
> Do they get a piece of the pie, or would we need to create a
> mechanism for allowing contributions to groups like the security
> team?

I would think the potential contibutor could nominate what they
are prepared to contribute towards and "negotiate" with developer(s)
to achieve the end result. There are zillions of web portal/wiki
examples to provide a base and open forum for these "negotiations".
The most fundamental aspect is that it all MUST be (in RFC parlance)
a completely open and transparent interaction.

> 5) I might want to contribute to the debian translation teams
> so that package descriptions and other important information is
> available in a specific language (e.g., Slovak). Are we willing
> to provide conduits for funding to non-programming services as well
> as programming services?

Yes, absolutely ! If you want to contribute to something, as you've
outlined, then this "open accounting" system could easily accomodate
non-hard-core-programmers all the way to the logo/icon level...
even peer-to-peer distribution systems where folks could "donate"
bandwidth and hard drive space to help propogate projects comes into
this "open accounting and open source" model. It's not just cash.
Sourceforge is a magnificent resouce but what if they ever go
belly-up or Bill decides to buy them out.

> I think it would be relatively easy to provide an accounting
> mechanism, but I'm not sure how to make it accountable.

One clue for accountability is to get an SSL cert from, while some are free, and see how they have
solved, in my opinion, the identity issues internationally. I
can't think of enough superlatives to describe the procedure.
Awesome is barely good enough... not a bit of paper or fax-crap
in sight and works jst fine from 10,000 miles away from the US.



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