Open Source software and crowdsourcing

So thanks to crowd sourcing we are getting a lot of linux games coming out, titles such as Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Spaceventure, Project Eternity, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, Godus, Torment: Tides of Numenera,Arcade Racer and a lot more are all coming to the Linux platform thanks to crowdsourcing.

The question that one would want to answer is if crowd sourcing can work for open source projects creating useful software or other kind of tools. One project I am really hoping gets funded currently is Geary, the open source email client from the great guys at Yorba. Not that I personally are desperate for a new email client, I am a happy user of the Evolution email client, but I also know that email is a very personal thing for many people and an area where having different client offering different experiences might make a difference. Also proving that a non-profit outfit like Yorba can fund themselves through crowdsourcing is an important thing to demonstrate. So I have already pledged to Geary and I hope you will too.

They are not the only such project out there of course. Another project I have pledged to is the Phantom Open Emoji project which wants to create a full set of liberally licensed emoji/smileys covering the Unicode 6.0 set of over 800 such things. They only need to reach 25,000 USD in funding to create the full set, so I hope they can make that goal and we can then include support for these in Empathy.

The final project I want to mention is the OpenShot kickstarter. While I do think the best solution would be a GStreamer based one like PiTiVi for various reasons I am still happy that this kickstarter has reached is minimum funding goal already as it is does show success at funding open source development projects.

That said what strikes me is that the 3 open source projects above are all actually quite cheap, in the sense that the funding amounts they ask for are not high at all. And when you consider that games such as Torment reach 4 million USD in crowd sourcing funding one could wish that people would be a bit more prepared to bankroll open source projects. That said I guess just like games had their breakthrough moment with the Double Fine Adventure kickstarter, maybe open source development needs its own shinning star to lead the way. So if you haven’t already please pledge to one or more of the open source efforts above.

There will be more attempts of exploring this space though I am sure, I am even planning to be involved in one such effort myself, but more details on that later.

7 thoughts on “Open Source software and crowdsourcing

  1. Indeed. I still think that 200k would be the minimum to fund “serious” paid indie development work on Pitivi for a year or two.

    Part of the problem is also that once you get money into the picture, it takes away the intrinsic interest in developing the software. What happens with those kickstarter projects once the money runs out and interest wanes? Tyically, they just die.

    • Do we have enough examples to say typically anything? We have had money involved with Open Source for a long time and the software is still getting developed, this is just a new venue for funding. But I would agree that it is safer to support the development of an existing project through crowdsourcing than to bet on a new development, as there is a bigger chance there of people just leaving once the crowdsourcing money runs out.

      • Just the basics of the human psyche, that apply to many, many situations. A kid draws nice pictures because he/she loves it intrinsically. Now give the kid money rewards for those pictures. Then, a few months later, cut off the money supply. The result, in the vast majority of cases, is that the kid will stop drawing and move on to something else.

        • That really depends on situation. In this case if I’m not mistaken OpenShot has concrete goals set (porting to other platforms), which I think is best way to do crowdsourcing/funding. You can do approximation how much work could cost and then try to rise that money. You certainly can’t rely on donations in long term – they will help you a little, but won’t foot a bill. But in same time, maintaining software is slightly easier than developing new stuff for it.

  2. Lightworks, a professional NLE is coming to Linux in the next version. Reviews I have heard on it from the Linux Action Show were very positive.

    • Yes, but the title of the article is “Open source software and crowd sourcing”… This is not a discussion centered around video editors, and Lightworks is still not open source anyhow.

  3. Hi everyone,

    Jeff wrote:
    > Then, a few months later, cut off the money supply. The result, in the vast majority of cases, is that the kid will stop drawing and move on to something else.

    Maybe you are right…
    If you take a look at most of the Google Summer of Code projects many students stop coding as soon as they get their final salary from Google :-(

    About the OpenShot Kickstarter success, I should confess I didn’t donate any amount.
    I was a bit skeptical about this project because I thought it is really difficult to have a *stable* NLE on all platforms (Linux, Mac, Windows) *unless* you have many full-time developers working on it…
    For instance, Krita runs smoothly on Linux. On the contrary, on Windows, the same software, suffers of many shortcomings.

    However, if you take a look at many Open Source projects, you realize that, quite often, the vast majority of developers stop being involved on them.
    Sooner or later, they stop their coding (even though there is *NO* money involved).
    For instance, Gimp, in the past was hugely developed by Sven Neumann; afterwards, Martin Nordholts put a lot of efforts into Gimp as well (e.g. for developing the Single Mode Window available in the 2.8 version).
    At present, it looks like both Sven and Martin have stopped their coding… :-(

    IMHO, the biggest problem concerning most open source project is the slowness of their progress (due, usually, to the lack of manpower).
    Blender and Firefox, on the contrary, are still hugely developed precisely because there are some full-time developer sponsored (and paid) for working on them.
    Ardour is another great example of this successful sponsoring (its brand-new version is magnificent) .

    Best regards,

    Silvio Grosso

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