F/OSS, Free/Libre and Open Source Software, has become quite a popular thing on Flattr, along with a bunch of podcasts. So it didn’t take long before someone realized that we need to highlight these and give them a bit of extra attention. This someone was Raphael Hertzog, who created a FlattrFOSS category on his blog with an attached newsletter service of flattrable FOSS-things. Software published under a FOSS license gives the receiver the freedom to study, modify and redistribute the source code.
The initial idea was introduced while describing how Flattr works, and how you can support Free Software with Flattr.
Raphael is a Debian developer and has been contributing to Free Software since 1998. He always wanted to work with Debian on a full time scale. Unfortunately there hasn’t been any company to offer him such a position. He does admit to; liking his independence though, and so has never tried hard to find a job coming closer to it. This led him to always look around for ways to fund the work of free software contributors.
Here’s what he told me about Flattr and FOSS:
There have been many initiatives over the years mostly around the principle of letting users offer “bounties” for specific bug fixes or new features but usually the bounties never match the amount needed to really implement the feature. And software driven purely by the request of users would end up becoming something not very coherent.
When I discovered Flattr, I immediately saw its potential: simple to use and an easy way to give small amounts regularly. Most people are thankful for the work we put into free software but not to the point of being ready to put 10 or 20 EUR with a direct donation. Giving something that looks like a tip is much easier to do.
If we consider that there are several orders of magnitude more users than developers, it’s perfectly possible to fund some developers with micro-donations from the users. The problem is “just” that those donations need to be regular and the users need to remember to make those donations.
That’s where FlattrFOSS enters, I designed it as a monthly reminder for users. They get a mail once per month with 5 new free software projects (or people) that can be flattred. Of course, they don’t have to pick one of the suggestions, they can flattr whatever they like and it’s fine to always flattr the same projects.
Of course, we also need a large set of users willing to make micro-donations but I believe that this will come naturally over time as more free software developers are embracing the logic and communicating about their usage of Flattr.
Why is it so great for FOSS to use Flatttr?
Both for the software and the people working on it?
It’s great because it opens up new funding possibilities. It’s quite common for free software projects to have a PayPal donate button but it has been far less effective than Flattr for me.
It’s easier to convince users to make a Flattr micro-donation than a PayPal donation. The initial Flattr subscription might be somewhat daunting for users but the logic behind it just makes sense, so if they have seen Flattr buttons on several blogs/services that they regularly read/use, they will make the effort.
Give to get, and Pay it Forward
While I was corresponding with Raphael for this article, we were (here on the blog) discussing Give to Get, and I decided to ask him a little about it as well.
He answered like this: “Concerning “Give to Get” compliance, I don’t think it plays a major role but it’s not a big problem either. I’m happy to give my share to other free software contributors.”
Giving to get, goes hand in hand with Paying it Forward, which is in itself is an important part of the whole Free Software movement. The idea, when applied to FOSS, is to contribute to a project where your skills are needed. Then have them return a favour; the person doesnt owe you anything, it’s just a gift.
How this goes hand in hand with Giving to Get might sound a bit strange. It’s not about what you can gain, but what you are actually willing to put into the community.
In the spirit of sharing and giving, we’ve come to decide that we’ll spread the word about FlattrFOSS every month on here as well. There might be a few changes and added stuff/info, but it will always lead back to the original article. Which means that you can both poke us and Raphael about new projects you’ve found.
He can be reached on Twitter, and of course identi.ca the open source micro blogging service!
If you want to subscribe to the FlattrFOSS newsletter you can do that here.
If you want to catch up you can read the previous posts as follows:
First Flattr Foss Suggestions
Free software to Flattr, where he decared more people joined the movement!
Suggestions for October, someone within the movement had joined Flattr, who can it be?
5 Free Software to support with Flattr, November, Chromium and Firefox related things in this one.
Support 5 Free software with Flattr, December, enough things are starting to come up on Flattr so no worry about running out of stuff.
16 Debian Contributors that you can Thank, January, pretty much explains itself.
5 Free Software Projects to support, February, GNU Wget! And what more?
5 Free software to support, March contained a full distribution, which?
April edition and FlattrChattr gets a mention. Woho.
The picture can be flattred by clicking it, or following this link. Thank you Kevin.