Long lasting bounties / Community as a client

Hello Nextcloud and its community,

I administrate a Nextcloud instance for my family, friends and me. I recently bumped into issues and was ready to pay for it to be fixed, although I don’t have the same “money weight” as a company would.

I found Nextcloud related bounties on Bountysource, and especially the issue which is bugging me.

I also figured there was only $95 of bounty paid, on a potential of $1,125. Some bounties are open since the owncloud fork. Bounties as high as $764 are still open. I really appreciate that Nextcloud is trying to open as much as possible and to build a community, but it seems that either the bounties are not high enough for developers to give it some “free time”/freelancers to take care of the issues, or they are not advertised well-enough.

I would like to pay back for the high quality software I use, but it feels like adding to the bounty would not significantly help. The root problem seems to be that there is no estimation available regarding how much money make an issue interesting for a developer.

It is hard to set a price that would be interesting for developers worldwide, since for the same work not all earn the same wage. That said, I believe it would be interesting to give Nextcloud employees some time to set a “price” on the bounties for which they can commit to fix the issue within a year. It would allow the community to be a “community client” of Nextcloud and unclog the issues/bounties.

Whether all this is possible or not, thanks a lot to the Nextcloud team for this great software, and thanks for the community who helps along!

Edit: typos and highlighting the main ideas


regardless of what @tmartin just wrote… wouldn’t it be a good idea to start with a bounty- category here in the forum as a first step? that would be a bit more than just the keyword bounty

we even could link the category-text to bountysource.

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@jospoortvliet, do you have some thoughts on that?


thanks for the impulse, I think it’s a really important one!

We’re running a growing nextcloud with ~ 150 people and a lot of initiatives from different areas. People using it for their private use are paying to cover the costs, while the surplus is used to support the development of the nextcloud cosmos and FOSS-issues in general.

We’re about to make the next vote in order to decide where the money goes and I find it hard to preselect apps/issues where the money could make a difference.

It might be a bit much to ask, but I wonder whether some promotion/integration by nextcloud could serve to connect ressources and capacities.

These bounties do not compensate for the work which is done by developers (to earn money). It’s more like a symbolic compensation for people who work on their free time that they can at least get themselves something. The best thing to really get a feature is to get enterprise support or to do it yourself. So the bounty is just a small incentive, but it is not a reliable way to get a feature.

I think you can give them to the Nextcloud project in general, and they then redistribute it to suitable issues.

Once there is some work on a feature, you can help testing it, writing documentation, …

Hi @tflidd and thanks for your answer.

You nail it here, it was actually my point: individually supporting a feature will probably never gather enough money to compensate the developers, and this is what we currently see on Bountysource.

My point is that the community would benefit from a structure. These ideas are probably flawed, by we can think of a sort of “Gold Membership” that would be granted given a person pays a monthly/annual fee, and it gives him/her the right to vote on what feature the community structure will fund. Such a structure would pay enterprise support to get these features developed. It would allow the community to drive the project a bit more.

That said, it is hard to imagine building such a community without Nextcloud’s agreement/endorsement, and it’s at least as hard to imagine anyone spending hard earned money on a non-official community.

Another point I think is preventing a lot of bounties is the lack of visibility. I am willing to send money to Nextcloud, but I don’t want to send money to BountySource that will sit here for months or years (or never be claimed at all). This is also why I propose to set a price on bounties along with a commitment to fix the issue within a predefined period if the bounty is funded.

I wish I had both the skills and the time to do so. I currently don’t, which makes me extra-grateful to all the contributors of the project. Thanks a lot guys :heart:

As Nextcloud was forked from ownCloud, ownCloud wanted to give the community more consideration by letting the community vote over a number of possible features. It was done once, didn’t have a huge success.

With these platforms, one problem is that they keep a substantial amount of money to themselves. For certain features or feature packages, you could imagine something like kickstarter. However, the organisation requires some effort as well.

Or support a foundation that can give support for such developments (https://opensource.com/resources/organizations)

The kickstarter may seem like the best “middle ground” here, doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be better if Nextcloud ran a campaign itself to avoid intermediaries?

I believe the steps mandatory to have a successful campaign are:

  1. Identify which are the features/issues the community wants the most, which companies are not willing to pay money for (e.g. Gallery sorting photos by EXIF date instead of file creation/modification date)
  2. Set a price for each of these features/issues
  3. Prioritize which fetures/issues should be addressed
  4. Launch the campaign :slight_smile:

Can that be envisioned? Is there anything preventing it?

There we need to ask @jospoortvliet about the conditions and which sum is worth the effort. On a long run, it would be preferable to have more community contributors so that the whole ecosystem is more sustainable (many apps are completely community operated). Or if it is a dedicated app or small project, there could be some financial support for an internship (probably easier to finance through a foundation).

@tflidd you make a very good point about sustainbability. It is true that funding enhancement or bug fixes on Nextcloud core or official applications is very different from funding new applications.

I’ll try to find some time next week to aggregate some data about the apps, whether they are official or not and who are the main points of contact for coordination.

@jospoortvliet, how does Nextcloud feel regarding a Kickstarter campaign to fund community-driven features requests? Is such a thing as a “Nextcloud Foundation” envisioned in not-so-near future?

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I like the idea of a structured approach involving nextcloud very much, and by using kickstarter or similar platforms, more awareness could be raised.

I’m open to dedicate some time and energy into the whole thing, so keep us posted. :slight_smile:

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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 :point_up:) 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 :wink:

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 :wink:

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.

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I @jospoortvliet and thanks for this very detailed answer.

The main points I get from your answer is:

  • Nextcloud wants to develop features that benefit everyone not a single customer, which is the reason why Nextcloud does not want to offer consulting services to implement customer-specific features
  • There is little to no communication around Bountysource, but it could be an efficient platform
  • There also is no clear view of the home-users expectations, whether by mapping the most backed issues on Bountysource, or by asking the community through general channels
  • Nextcloud has concerns that a failed crowdfunding campaign would affect its public image
  • Nextcloud has no funding issues, rather issues to find skilled people for the features it wants to implement

I believe a good middleground could be found if either:

  • Nextcloud made more noise around Bountysource, which could lead to enough money backend the hottest. This would in turn generate enough money so a developer actually starts implementing a solution
  • There was a crowdfunding campaign lead independently from Nextcloud, but with a commitment from Nextcloud to give a high priority to the Pull Requests coming from the work funded by that campaign

My main issue with Bountysource is that people give away money which sleeps for quite long at Bountysource, and which may never land in the hands of any developper at all. With this format, potential funders give money and hope that someday someone may implement a solution.

In comparison, a crowdfunding campaign gives much more visibility regarding which features will be implemented, and has someone accountable for it.

The well-known French non-profit Framasoft is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on their own platform with some real success (the source code of that platform is available too).

It can be envisioned to use successive goals to fund more or less features for Nextcloud, and to hire a third party developer to implement those features. Of course, this cannot be done without some commitment from Nextcloud to actively participate in the merging of the new features developed.

I cannot commit already to give a clear view of home-user expectations, but I’ll try to review the most active issues on GitHub and Bountysource :slight_smile:

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