I have donated to several open source programs that I use regularly. I would also like to develop some open source items but I’m spending all my time making money. I like the idea that software could be mostly free (no cost) and open so people can see and enhance it when necessary. A common open source funding model is to charge for support. This may deemphasize quality as your funding increases as you develop more complicated, buggy and low usability software. Open source with donations on the other hand is difficult as there is little incentive to donate.
I suggest a software funding model where you have a feature list and allow people to donate money and vote for the features they want. The more money donated the more votes they have. I haven’t seen this done yet but I just did a few Bing searches.
- Increased donations as there is a perceived future value to the donation.
- Encourages quality code and design as support problems reduce the profit of the developer.
- Greater customer involvement
- Eliminates exponential profit. Sometimes you can create an item and sell a number of units that far outweigh the cost or original design. On the other hand, with crowd feature funding, the developer’s profit is linear to the amount of work. You will make a good living but you most likely will not get obscenely rich. This may be a benefit for some altruistic people.
What is the first application that should be funded this way? I would do a website so that software developers can crowd fund their features. Anyone interested?
If you know that this has been done please let me know in the comments