So a few thoughts:
- Bountysource does indeed take a cut, but I don’t believe it is huge
- Note that our business isn’t consulting (as in, feature development for pay by customers). We do that, yes, but our goal is to sell ‘subscriptions’ to our services. The reason is that we want to be paid for improving Nextcloud, not sell hours doing tiny features that benefit a single customer but are barely of interest for others. Generally, customers want things that don’t move a product truly further: no customer would ever have paid for developing Talk from scratch, for example. Consulting is typically small improvements like changing a button, adding a tiny feature etcetera. Consulting never pays enough to implement something a customer wants in a way that benefits all users, I can give dozens of examples of that but a simple one: some customers ask for metadata. They typically want, eg, a way to ‘approve’ a document, or a way to add relevant-for-them data to it and search for that. If we’d implement each of those separate requests we’d get 10 more tabs with 50 buttons. We’d LOVE to implement a generic metadata solution, but none of these customers wants to pay for that, so that has to come from somewhere else. This also means that we’re not set up, nor overly interested in doing paid development for a kickstarter.
- Indeed, typically Bountysource doesn’t generate anywhere near enough money on a single feature to actually pay a decent wage to a developer. Often, IF a third party developer picks something up for profit, it requires quite some work from the maintainers (paid by subscriptions ) to get it developed in a way that is generic enough to be worth merging.
- We do of course try to develop things we believe helps private users, but we generally simply discuss these things at our release planning meetings, and leave a lot of freedom to our devs wrt what they want to work on. So ideas are thrown at a board and people pick up tasks they want to do. Being there and making a good case for a feature can help, though. These meetings are open and typically happen at our contributor weeks and conference, hint hint
Now that might all sound negative, but there might be ways around this. For one, really, bountysource is a good bet. I know it doesn’t seem super effective, but if you can rally enough attention and funds around an issue, it is likely to get picked up. I’d be happy to help with that - eg, we could do a monthly blog about the biggest/hottest bountysource issues, give it more attention that way. If one or two people in this thread want to take the lead on that, coordinate, find issues and then get us a draft of a blog, we’d publish, tweet, put it in our newsletter…
A kickstarter is also possible, of course. Note bountysource has a kick-starter like thing, too, btw.
We are not super enthusiastic about a kickstarer, in part for PR reasons: we think it is likely to fail, which looks bad if it gets picked up by the press like “oh, Nextcloud is doing this kickstarter for X” and then “Nextcloud kickstarter was a big failure”. That’s not the news I’d like to see
And then there’s still the point of who implements it. As I mentioned, we’d rather not do feature development that doesn’t really fit our vision/internal plans. Of course, it is possible that there is something we want to do and that gets a great result on a kick starter. That could be a good candidate. But I’m a bit skeptical, thinking the chances are low: most features individual users want are a bit similar to the customer consulting project, benefiting a narrow use case. Plus, we have to have the resources. For example, money for E2E or the Virtual Drive isn’t the issue: hiring good people is! Not that we’d say no to money, but we would feel pretty bad if we couldn’t deliver, it has all been taking much longer than we wished for already.
Hope this answers the questions a little. Sorry for being a little negative, I guess - and I’d love to be proven wrong. If you want to give this a shot, I’d go the bountysource route with some blogging and other attention, I can help with that. And then come to the conf, talk about the result perhaps (!) and see where we can take it from there.