Funding Clojure 2010

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Rich Hickey

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Dec 14, 2009, 9:33:44 AM12/14/09
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Funding Clojure 2010

Background
----------

It is important when using open source software that you consider who
is paying for it, because someone is. There is no such thing as free
software.

Sometimes open source software is developed under a license with
undesirable properties (e.g. the GPL), such that people are willing to
pay for a (proprietary) version of it that is not subject to that
license. Both Monty Widenius [1] and Richard Stallman [2] have argued
for the necessity of such a mechanism to fund open source software,
lest there be insufficient resources for its development. Clojure
doesn't use the GPL, thus conveying more freedom to its users, but
precluding me from funding it via dual licensing.

Some companies develop technology as a component of a proprietary
product or service, absorbing it as a necessary expense, only to
decide that it is not a core, unique, or advantage-bearing business
function. They can reduce their costs in ongoing development by open
sourcing it, deriving benefit from community contributions and letting
them focus on their core business [3]. It is important to note that
the bulk of the costs are often in the original development, and are
paid for by the proprietary product or service. That is not the case
for Clojure.

Some open source is the product of academic research, and is funded by
the academic institution and/or research grants [4]. That is not the
case for Clojure.

Some open source software is (partially) funded by proprietary
support. It is important to note that often the support income does
not in fact make it to the people who create the software. Such income
models work best for support sold to conservative enterprises [5].
That is not the case for Clojure.

Some companies 'fund' open source software by dedicating some of their
employees' time, or making investments, in its development. There must
be some business value to the company for doing so (e.g. it helps them
sell hardware [6]), and thus is ultimately paid for by their
proprietary products/services. That is not the case for Clojure.

There *are* companies that make software themselves, whose consumers
see a value in it and willingly pay to obtain that value. The money
produced by this process pays the salaries of the people who are
dedicated to making it, and some profit besides. It's called
"proprietary software". People pay for proprietary software because
they have to, but otherwise the scenario is very similar to open
source - people make software, consumers get value from it. In fact,
we often get a lot less with proprietary software - vendor lock-in, no
source etc. Most alarmingly, this is the only model that associates
value with software itself, and therefore with the people who make it.

Why don't people pay for open source software? Primarily, because they
don't *have to*. I think also, partially, it is because open source
software often doesn't have a price tag. I think it should. I'd like
to pay for open source, and know the money is going to those who
create it. I'd like companies to *expect* to pay for it. I'd like to
see people make a living (and even profit!) directly making open
source, not as a side effect of some other proprietary process, to
dedicate themselves to it, and not have it be hobby/side work.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to convey the full benefits of
open source software while *forcing* people to pay for it. Only in the
proprietary (including dual-license) model is there a direct
connection between the consumers of software and the funding of those
that produce it. This is having the effect of driving open source
software towards having zero apparent cost, becoming a free bounty of
someone else's other profitable endeavors, and is severely
compromising our profession.

Foreground
----------

As should be obvious, Clojure is a labor of love on my part. Started
as a self-funded sabbatical project, Clojure has come to occupy me far
more than full-time. However, Clojure does not have institutional or
corporate sponsorship, and was not, and is not, the by-product of
another profitable endeavor. I have borne the costs of developing
Clojure myself, but 2009 is the last year I, or my family, can bear
that.

Many generous people have made donations (thanks all!), but many more
have not, and, unfortunately, donations are not adding up to enough
money to pay the bills. So far, less than 1% of the time I've spent on
Clojure has been compensated.

Right now, it is economically irrational for me to work on Clojure,
yet, I want to continue working on Clojure, and people are clearly
deriving benefit from my work. How can we rectify this? Barring the
arrival of some white knight, I'm asking the users of Clojure to fund
its core development (i.e. my effort) directly, and without being
forced to do so.

Here's how I think that could work:

Individual users

If you are an individual user of Clojure, I encourage you to
contribute $100/year to Clojure development, via the donation system.
I hope that, in time, the Clojure community will become large enough
that $100/developer/year will be enough to gainfully employ myself,
and eventually others, in its development. If you are just evaluating,
a student, unemployed etc, I don't expect you to pay. If you live in a
country with a different income structure, please contribute a
commensurate amount.

Businesses

If you are using Clojure in a business endeavor, I appreciate and
applaud your savvy, and wish you much success and profit. At this
stage in its community growth, $100/developer/year is not going to be
enough to sustain Clojure development. I think Clojure needs several
of you to recognize your mutual self interest in a continuing strong
core development effort, and the collective value in pooling resources
to fund Clojure. Each business can fund some weeks or months of my
Clojure development time. In this way, no single company need sponsor
Clojure, nor bear all of the costs. This funding should *not* occur
via the donation system. Given a CA from your company, I can invoice
you, at a fraction of my normal rate, for consulting hours for work on
Clojure, corresponding to your contribution amount. Please contact me
directly via email to make arrangements.

Note that I have every intent and desire to continue working on
Clojure. It is some of the most satisfying work I have ever done, and
you, the Clojure community, are some of the best people I have ever
worked with.

Thanks,

Rich


[1] http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of-mysql-or.html
[2] http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
[3] http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-storage-at-linkedin/
[4] http://www.scala-lang.org/node/146
[5] https://www.redhat.com/products/
[6] http://www.ibm.com/linux/systems.html

Sean Devlin

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Dec 14, 2009, 9:39:40 AM12/14/09
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Rich,
For those of us in the US, what are the tax implications? Is there a
non-profit set up at this time?

Sean
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...

Rich Hickey

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Dec 14, 2009, 9:48:19 AM12/14/09
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On Dec 14, 9:39 am, Sean Devlin <francoisdev...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Rich,
> For those of us in the US, what are the tax implications?  Is there a
> non-profit set up at this time?
>

It is not a non-profit.

Rich

Paul Nakata

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:08:41 AM12/14/09
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This is being linked to externally, is there a link for the donation
site handy that can be put in this thread?

Rich Hickey

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:16:11 AM12/14/09
to Clojure
It's just the Donate button on the home page:

http://clojure.org

Also, this message is on the site here:

http://clojure.org/funding

Thanks,

Rich

bOR_

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:36:09 AM12/14/09
to Clojure
About the donations. Is there any way we can see how you are doing
donation-wise, compared to the target for personal donations you would
like to reach? I think people find it easier to donate, if they have
insight in how much you've received this month / this calendar year
compared to your target.

It might be interesting to put the target per month / per year you
want to reach up there with the donation counter immediately, even if
currently the community is still too small to reach that target
through donations. While we might not be able to make it yet, it sets
a clear goal for everyone. I am not sure if being so open about your
financing is something that feels comfortable to you, personally, but
I've always liked the blogposts about bands putting albums online with
a donation button, or games being sold on donations.

Whatever form it takes, I hope it works out well!

Patrick Sullivan

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:48:28 AM12/14/09
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I barely have time to do anything in Clojure these days, but the work
you've done, the talks you've given, and so on are worth "the price of
admission". I really do hope enough chip in so you can focus on your
work with the language until such time as you can make it profitable
in other ways, if that's possible.

Keep up the great work.

~Patrick

Chas Emerick

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:58:42 AM12/14/09
to Clojure
Snowtide will be sponsoring Clojure. But, we're small, bootstrapped
(i.e. not venture-funded), and just one of what I'll bet are a fair
number of commercial users of Clojure.

If you're reading this, and you use, enjoy, and perhaps profit from
Rich's hard work, please contribute or sponsor Clojure.

- Chas
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...

Zef Hemel

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:44:08 AM12/14/09
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I'm happy to support you in this way Rich, even though I only use
Clojure for hobby projects and do not make any money on it either. I
sent my donation.

Good luck.

Zef

ianp

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:46:26 AM12/14/09
to Clojure
> If you are an individual user of Clojure, I encourage you to
> contribute $100/year to Clojure development, via the donation system.

Done!

And should I ever be in the position of using Clojure for anything
more than hobby projects I'll be sure to push for some more money to
come your way.

Cheers,
Ian.

grantmichaels

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Dec 14, 2009, 11:15:20 AM12/14/09
to Clojure
despite that I'm a hobbyist and have never been paid to program, the
experience/knowledge I've acquired thus far from the presentation
videos makes contributing an easy decision. while i'm hopeful that
the businesses using clojure will contribute, i think it's even more
important for individuals to participate, so that clojure remains well-
rounded going forward. even if you only know enough to think you
might like clojure, now is really the most important time to be
supportive on the individual level.

cheers,
grantmichaels
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...

Mark Engelberg

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Dec 14, 2009, 12:50:40 PM12/14/09
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For me, Clojure actually decreases my income. I can program so much
faster in Clojure that I generate fewer billable hours :) .

Seriously though, I am donating because Clojure makes programming more
fun. That's reason enough for me.

BerlinBrown

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Dec 14, 2009, 1:19:02 PM12/14/09
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On Dec 14, 9:33 am, Rich Hickey <richhic...@gmail.com> wrote:
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...
This is a great post. However, I don't know if Clojure is the
software that companies/people will invest in that will garnish the
kind of support you need. For example, it seems like a lot of
software like MySQL, Apache Group, Python were in use for years, maybe
even decades before becoming a self sustaining entity.

Have you ever considered working with a larger company like Oracle/
Sun, IBM or Google in some kind of research capacity and working on
Clojure full time there? For example, I believe the JRuby developers
worked for Sun at one point while they developed JRuby.

Emeka

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Dec 14, 2009, 3:20:05 PM12/14/09
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I have not done something like this before but your Clojure changed my life , so I owe you something. However, coming from a far away continent(with low income per head) I may not be able to match 100/developer/year price. I hope you won't mind  my widow's might when it comes.

Emeka


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David Cabana

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Dec 14, 2009, 6:24:22 PM12/14/09
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For years I have complained about the parts of java I don't like, and
lamented the stagnation of lisp. I never imagined anyone could
simultaneously attack both issues so beautifully and so successfully.
Bravo.

I have yet to make a dime using Clojure, but hope to some day. So as a
Christmas present for myself, I sent in my donation.

Thanks for your amazing work Rich.

Daniel Simms

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Dec 14, 2009, 7:13:20 PM12/14/09
to clo...@googlegroups.com
On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 6:33 AM, Rich Hickey <richh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> [...] Individual users
>
> If you are an individual user of Clojure, I encourage you to
> contribute $100/year to Clojure development, via the donation system. [...]

That's less than 0.3 starbucks-coffees per day! (Even less per day
if you drink milk- or espresso-based drink...) A bargain at many
times the price.

Nicolas Buduroi

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Dec 14, 2009, 7:16:20 PM12/14/09
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That's a great idea, hope it gains some traction. I'm recently
unemployed and trying to bootstrap my own startup, so I'll skip this
year. When my financial condition will be more solid though, I'll
certainly donate something. In the meantime, as I intend to build my
projects in Clojure, I'll contribute code back as much as I can.

- budu

On Dec 14, 9:33 am, Rich Hickey <richhic...@gmail.com> wrote:
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...

Mark P

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Dec 14, 2009, 7:30:41 PM12/14/09
to Clojure
I very much hope your voluntary donation approach works. I
suspect the best chance of making it work is if you regularly
remind-people-of/market/promote the idea of donating. That is,
I believe there is a lot of goodwill out there, and a lot of people
will have good intentions, but it is easy for these good intentions
to not translate into actual donations. Of course, there needs to
be a healthy balance between promoting the idea enough and
doing it so much that people get annoyed. But I think it should
be possible to get the balance right.

Hopefully the donation approach is a success, but if not, may I
suggest a Plan B. And that is that at any point in time you have
two versions of Clojure going:

* a proprietary version of "the latest and greatest"; and

* an open source version which is "1 year old" (or something
like that).

Each proprietary release would include in the licence "from date
XX/XX/XXXX and onwards, this release may be used under the
open source licencing terms ...". This would give proprietary users
the guarantee that at some point the version of clojure they are
using would become open source.

Proprietary users would be paying for the ability to use the latest
and greatest. If the licence fee were reasonable, then this, together
with the goodwill factor, I hope would be enough to get people to
finance the project.

This approach seems to me to be a good compromise between
open source and proprietary funding. It provides all the benefits of
open source over time, yet provides a tangible reason for paying
licence fees beyond just goodwill. It also means that employees
who are part of businesses that can't understand voluntary donations,
can more easily justify the expenditure.

Don't get me wrong, I think the voluntary donation model is the best
one - if it works - and so is worth a shot. But if it doesn't work
out,
I offer this alternative model as one that might be worth considering.

Cheers,

Mark P.

Martin DeMello

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Dec 14, 2009, 7:37:44 PM12/14/09
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On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 6:00 AM, Mark P <pier...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> This approach seems to me to be a good compromise between
> open source and proprietary funding.  It provides all the benefits of
> open source over time, yet provides a tangible reason for paying
> licence fees beyond just goodwill.  It also means that employees
> who are part of businesses that can't understand voluntary donations,
> can more easily justify the expenditure.

This strikes me as a potentially disastrous idea; look at how much
mindshare going the proprietary route has cost Rebol, for instance.

martin

Brenton

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Dec 14, 2009, 7:45:12 PM12/14/09
to Clojure
Rich,

I second the idea that there should be some kind of status report so
that people can see what you need and how close we are to meeting the
goal.

Just having a Donate button on the site was not enough to get me to
contribute. But spelling it out like you have here pushed me over the
edge. I think if people could see what the need was then they would
be willing to give more. Otherwise they may continue to think that
someone else will do it and so they don't need to.

It may also be good to have a web site set up where people/businesses
could actually make a monetary commitment per year and then those who
have donated could see what the commitment level is and then know if
perhaps they need to up their own commitment or try harder to get more
people involved or get creative and come up with other ideas for how
to raise money. Obviously not a job for you personally but for someone
else in the community to take up if you think it is a good idea. I may
be willing...

Brenton
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...

Brian Carper

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Dec 14, 2009, 8:05:12 PM12/14/09
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I sent my contribution. Thanks for your work on Clojure. It's
brought me many weekends of joyful hacking. Please continue to let
the community know what's necessary to sustain Clojure's development.

On Dec 14, 6:33 am, Rich Hickey <richhic...@gmail.com> wrote:
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...

Mark P

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Dec 14, 2009, 8:10:40 PM12/14/09
to Clojure
> This strikes me as a potentially disastrous idea; look at how much
> mindshare going the proprietary route has cost Rebol, for instance.

I don't know anything about Rebol except for some quick
googling that I've just done on them. But the impression
I get is that what they've done is substantially different
from the Plan B that I've proposed.

From what I can tell, there is no guarantee that the current
Rebol code base will ever become open source. The Plan B
proposal guarantees that after 1 year (or whatever time
period is chosen) the current code base will become open
source.

One of the big pluses of open source - in my view - is the
long term guarantees it provides for the code base. If Rich
ever dropped Clojure development, open source means that
everyone would still be freely allowed to use, maintain and
further develop the code base. Plan B still provides this. As
a worst case it merely delays this.

I am not saying Plan B is the ideal choice. The two main
issues with it, I think, are:

* it means administering two versions; and
* it means some restriction of its use.

So I prefer what Rick has proposed - if it can be made to
work. But if it doesn't, I can't think of a better choice than
Plan B, although the "work for Sun/Company-X" option that
BerlinBrown suggested might work if the right job offer
came along.

If Plan B were implemented in a reasonable way, with
licence fees not unreasonable and with open source
guarantees not too far away, then surely the goodwill
would remain - especially if it were essential for the survival
of the project. And if goodwill remains, and guarantees
remain, surely mind-share would remain???

Martin DeMello

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Dec 14, 2009, 8:27:49 PM12/14/09
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On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 6:40 AM, Mark P <pier...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> This strikes me as a potentially disastrous idea; look at how much
>> mindshare going the proprietary route has cost Rebol, for instance.
>
> I don't know anything about Rebol except for some quick
> googling that I've just done on them.  But the impression
> I get is that what they've done is substantially different
> from the Plan B that I've proposed.

I don't know much about Rebol either, but from everything I've seen it
seems like an excellent language, with one of the best runtimes of any
scripting language I've seen. If it were open source, I'd have been
very enthusiastic about it; as it is, I can't bring myself to devote
my time and energy to a closed language. And it's not just me - if
adoption were based on language capabilities and usefulness, Rebol
looks like it should have far greater mindshare than it does.
Promising to open the source after a window is definitely a better
plan, but still risky - you'll probably just have the community
cluster around the old version, which means the new version will
suffer a lack of testing, libraries, etc.

> If Plan B were implemented in a reasonable way, with
> licence fees not unreasonable and with open source
> guarantees not too far away, then surely the goodwill
> would remain - especially if it were essential for the survival
> of the project.  And if goodwill remains, and guarantees
> remain, surely mind-share would remain???

I'm not sure how far goodwill would carry it through. Speaking purely
for myself, I love clojure, and will definitely contribute to the
current funding drive. But if Rich had gone with your plan B and given
me the impression that I'd be a second-class citizen unless I paid for
a commercial license, I'd probably have left without a backward
glance. And not because I'd begrudge Rich the money, or consider
clojure not worth paying for, but simply because that would change the
dynamic of the language and community in a way that would not make me
feel excited about contributing time and energy to it any more.

martin

Martin DeMello

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Dec 14, 2009, 8:56:36 PM12/14/09
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Boyd Brown

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Dec 14, 2009, 10:32:01 PM12/14/09
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Haven't used Clojure much yet, but plan on using it more as soon as I
am capable. In fact, I am so sold on Clojure I stopped using a paid-
for copy of Lispworks a week after buying it when I discovered
Clojure. Since Clojure runs on the JVM and interoperates with Java, I
am now learning Java, something I would never have done otherwise.

I wasn't aware just how far the funding effort was from meeting the
continuing needs of Clojure development and support. Therefore, I am
donating $100 to the effort since I don't want Rich to stop working on
it. Rich, keep us informed of the financial needs so we can all act
responsibly.

Thanks for all your efforts,

Boyd

tbatchelli

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Dec 14, 2009, 11:41:25 PM12/14/09
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Thanks for bringing back the joy of programming to my life. I
contributed and I hope to be able to give more as a business endeavor
in the near future (crossing fingers)

Good luck with the drive! It *must* pan out.

Toni
http://disclojure.org

On Dec 14, 6:33 am, Rich Hickey <richhic...@gmail.com> wrote:
> [1]http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of...
> [2]http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3]http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-...

John Bell

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Dec 14, 2009, 8:00:55 PM12/14/09
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I haven't used Clojure for anything yet, but I've really liked your
recorded presentations--they've already had an effect on how I
program. I also would love to see an open source project like this be
able to survive on contributions from individual developers so I've
donated.

While I appreciate that you don't want to force anyone to contribute,
I think it might be a good idea to incentivize it. Maybe have some
screencasts, forums, or additional information available only to
contributors. If someone can't afford to contribute money maybe they
can contribute some code, documentation, or a screencast to get
access. Admittedly, it might be difficult to find the right mix of
"free" and "premium" content to not alienate new users while still
encouraging donations. You might also want to have a list of donors
displayed prominently (if the individual donor is okay with it).
Everyone can contribute something, it doesn't have to be money. I
don't see anything wrong with making contributing an expectation even
if it's not a requirement.

John

Mike Meyer

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Dec 14, 2009, 9:41:36 PM12/14/09
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I'm sorry, but I find the whole "donate" thing a little
off-putting. I've just started looking into Clojure, and the thought
that the key developer might just stop working on it doesn't exactly
give me a warm fuzzy feeling. Now the evaluation will have to include
looking at the community, and trying to decide if Clojure could
survive Rich departing it(*).

Part of it is that I don't recall any other open source software
movement having dunned me for money before - and that's with having
been using, writing, and contributing to such for over 20 years now.

In particular, Larry Wall managed to grow Perl from a cute little
report generation language he used to get his work done at Unisys to a
specification rivaling CL in size without dunning users for money.

Larry - and others I know who've worked on open source - did this in
part by having a position with employers who realized that the tools
helped them do their job, and would let them release the results
unencumbered. I think Rich mentioned that sort of thing in his long
posting, but it's not really something to hope for these days.

But they also did other things. Many of them were regulars running
tutorials on their software at Usenix meetings, which paid a pretty
penny at the time. They also did talks, lectures and tutorials
elsewhere for a fee. From what's been said here, Rich is an excellent
speaker - possibly something like that would help?

They also made money writing books and doing contract work, including
custom code that was later released under an open source license. The
classic example of the latter is Cygnus Solutions, which made money
porting GNU to new chips while under NDA until it was sold to red hat,
turning all the people working for it into millionaires.

Yeah, I realize that those things don't contribute directly to
Clojure, probably aren't as much fun as working on Clojure (for those
of us who think of working inside LISP systems as fun), and would
almost certainly cut into the development time available for
Clojure. But as a potential Clojure user/developer, I'd be a lot more
comfortable if the message was "By donating, you'll free Clojure
development time" or maybe even the typical donationware message of
"Donate to have your feature requests/bug reports given higher
priority" than the current one of"I may not be able to continue
developing if you don't donate".

One last thought: Clojure was designed to help deal with concurrency,
something no really popular language does well. Seems that the people
interested in funding research into that aer the ones putting multiCPU
boxes on people's desks: AMD & Intel. The Java link - as well as Sun's
history of dealing with multi-cpu systems - makes Sun an obvious
choice, but between the potential Oracle purchase and the financial
difficulties that lead to it, that's another thing that's not exactly
a warm fuzzy feeling.

<mike

*) I don't know Rich, and haven't seen much from him directly. I have
no idea how likely this is to happen, and don't mean to imply that
it will. That's yet another task that this change has added to my
evaluation process.

Charles Nutter

unread,
Dec 14, 2009, 10:51:12 PM12/14/09
to Clojure
You might find this interesting:

http://www.oreillynet.com/ruby/blog/2008/03/the_ruby_mendicant_project.html

Or this:

http://www.modrails.com/enterprise.html

There are only a handful of such efforts in the Ruby community, but
when buoyed by a reasonably large and active community, it is possible
to live off donations for some time. The Mendicant project lasted over
a summer, and the Phusion guys periodically run donation drives to
bring them up to a particular amount. I know lots of other sites run
similar drives, but they're always targeting a particular dollar
value. Perhaps that might be worth doing here, so people know whether
their $X have brought you closer to a specific goal? At any rate
contacting groups who have run similar drives might stir up some ideas
too.

Best of luck with the donation drive, either way, and after Christmas
perhaps my wife will let me near the bank account again so I can make
a donation myself :)

- Charlie

Charles Nutter

unread,
Dec 14, 2009, 11:03:49 PM12/14/09
to Clojure
On Dec 14, 12:19 pm, BerlinBrown <berlin.br...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Have you ever considered working with a larger company like Oracle/
> Sun, IBM or Google in some kind of research capacity and working on
> Clojure full time there?  For example, I believe the JRuby developers
> worked for Sun at one point while they developed JRuby.

Those were certainly happier times for our industry. Then someone
else's bubble burst (not our fault this time!) and things got tight
again.

Tom Enebo and I were hired by Sun in 2006, and we are very thankful to
Sun for all their sponsorship during the years until we had to make
our exit. It's a damn shame more companies aren't like Sun, willing to
fund promising open-source projects for both the tangible and
intangible benefits they may produce...but with a better strategy for
helping those projects fund their bottom-lines.

To be honest, I still feel like there's a company waiting to happen
that specializes in JVM languages, the frameworks around them, and
making the best use of available language and VM experts. You wouldn't
need that many developers to form the technology core and there would
be scads of support, consulting, and grant-driven research
possibilities as a result. And that's not even mentioning that on the
non-JVM side of the world, Microsoft *does* fund multiple languages,
all in-house, all sharing resources. The Bazaar is definitely stronger
in some areas, but collaboration across religious boundaries is not
one of them.

Unfortunately I think the whole world is still struggling to find the
right way to make funding open-sourced products profitable in the long
term, especially in lean times when people tragically take advantage
of unrestricted common resources. The sad situation is that a massive
number of companies derive tremendous benefits for free on the backs
of open-source devs. I don't know how to fix it.

- Charlie

Brent Millare

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 1:50:06 AM12/15/09
to Clojure
Rich,

What prevents Clojure from being funded by grants like NSF and DARPA
which normally fund academic research?

Best,
Brent Millare

olalonde

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 4:00:48 AM12/15/09
to Clojure
I'm not convinced donations alone is a sustainable funding method. Why
don't you derive a commercial product ? You could build an IDE for
Clojure and sell it. You could write a book (although that is unlikely
to really pay). You could build a "stackoverflow"-type community,
organize events/conferences, etc. You might want to talk to some VC
firm and see if they'd be interested in funding you. They could help
you out figure a revenue model.

Best of luck!

nchubrich

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 2:38:23 PM12/15/09
to Clojure
Mike---

> the thought that the key developer might just stop working on it doesn't exactly
> give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Look at the last paragraph of Rich's message. He has every intention
to keep working on it. Surely he will speak for himself, but my
impression is that he wants to be able to work on this full-time as
opposed to part-time. I don't see any direct threats to abandon it.

Larry Wall's project was not without risk of dying either. He could
have lost his job and had to go to work for a less enlightened
employer. In some ways, it is easier for you to evaluate the Clojure
community than it is to evaluate the likely continuance of other
circumstances in the founder's life. And a strong community may be
better able to ride out a bubble bursting than a company.

The sort of funding activities you are talking about would work, but
they would inevitably take time away from core Clojure development.
Is it worth being "dunned" for money to allow development to proceed
that much faster? To me (and apparently plenty of other people), it
is most definitely worth it. I'm not the first person to say this,
and I won't be the last, but Clojure has been a dream come true. As
great as it is now, I look forward to everything that Rich wants to
add----Clojure in Clojure, declarative logic..... I want him to be
able to focus on these new things full time. I want him to work for
the community, rather than for whoever he consults for, or whoever he
lectures to. (The community has been great----if the number of dumb
questions of mine that have been cheerfully answered is any
indication....) He has created something that has been of great value
to me personally and in my work. I feel I owe him.

If you are not sure what Clojure is worth to you yet, then you don't
owe him anything. And if you believe that there should be no need to
pay people whose open-source work you have found useful, you don't owe
him anything either.

There may be a version of the open-source ethos that disdains making
money directly from coding. This ethos would claim that the way to
repay people is in code, not in money. I think this attitude ends up
being exclusionary. The vast majority of people cannot or do not
contribute useful code. But they have just as much of a need for good
software as programmers do, if not more, and yet their interests are
not always well-served by open-source software. When your
remuneration comes not from your core activity, but from various side
activities, or when open-source coding itself is a side activity, you
are bound to be distracted. When your only currency and standing
comes from other programmers,, things that non-programmers need
especially----important but uninteresting things like documentation,
interface polish and ease of setup----tend to get neglected in the
distraction.

Not surprisingly, the open source movement has created a great deal of
powerful software, but it has had mixed success creating software that
the vast majority of people can use.

If we want open-source software to live up to its full potential, we
will have to abandon exclusionary attitudes, and most importantly
think creatively about how to give people like Rich Hickey a living.
I wish he did not have to ask for donations, but that's a lot better
than him wasting his time.

Mike Hogye

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 8:50:13 AM12/15/09
to Clojure
+1 for the idea of offering a _thing_ for sale.

The company I work for isn't going to give a donation; that's just not
something it does. But if there were a _thing_ I could purchase on the
company's dime, well ... it's much more standard for a company to make
a purchase than a donation. Particularly if the thing offered is
useful.

Of course, it would take _work_ to make something to sell, and I don't
really have any strong suggestions. Maybe the community can build
something dual-licensed, whose proceeds go to developing Clojure
itself? Boils down to devs donating effort instead of cash.

nchubrich

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 3:09:08 PM12/15/09
to Clojure
Maybe the _thing_ could be a more packaged version of Clojure;
something for which setup is a little more seamless, etc. No extra
features, just convenience. Maybe an IDE plugin with extra debugging/
instructional features, and more facilities for browsing libraries
(java and clojure). It could be something you buy by default, but
with an opt-out for people who want to build it themselves.

Mike Hogye

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 5:20:19 PM12/15/09
to Clojure
Maybe take your ease-of-use idea in a slightly different direction and
call it "support." Lots of business models rely on selling support.

I have found the support available through the Clojure community
(specifically: this Google Group, and the IRC channel) to be superb.
Could commercial/corporate devs be required to pay for access to this
community?

Maybe:
* Hobby-only devs still get free access to group and channel, just
like now.
* Corporate devs get free access to group and channel while
evaluating Clojure.
* Once a corporate dev is no longer "just evaluating," payment is
required (per-developer per-year).

For me, that would justify spending my company's money. And if I were
a potential Clojure user, it would not drive me away.

bOR_

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 6:00:45 PM12/15/09
to Clojure
I had some trouble trying to explain my university to pay for free
software as well. They will much rather pay for a mathematica licence.

How about just a printed install CD for clojure. Utterly useless, but
very tangible :).
> ...
>
> read more »

nchubrich

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 7:51:19 PM12/15/09
to Clojure
Maybe it would be reasonable to charge for support if it added
something to that already available on the list. After all, the list
is made up for the most part of volunteers who do not need to earn a
living answering questions, so it seems a little strange to gate
access to them for \anyone, no matter how corporate. But corporations
may want to pay for more intensive support to solve a particular
problem. That could be provided by Rich himself, or any number of
other contributors who would receive some money for the privilege, as
would Rich in part. The results could be posted to the list as well
so all could benefit.

More speculatively, corporations (or individuals, for that matter) may
wish to bid on features that would be specifically useful to them.
This would provide a rigorous (though not necessarily ideal)
prioritizing of features. Not only could they offer bounties for
features within Clojure, they could offer bounties for contribs.

An author of a contrib could be seen as writing a contrib as a sort of
proposal, that once completed (for a fee) would be more useful. There
is no reason that a number of people and corporations could not get
together and offer to pay something for a completed feature.

This is a risky approach, because it may encourage \more things to
remain uncompleted until some payment is received; writing of
incomplete features could become a form of shakedown. The hope would
be that, once people realize a certain feature is probably not going
to be paid for, they would go ahead and finish it anyway. But that
introduces a delay.

Hard-core open-source people are right to worry about the ill effects
on motivations and priorities of introducing money into the system.
That's why I suggested a packaging approach: money for packaging isn't
going to distort the core functionality of Clojure in the way paying
for support or features might. (The distortion of paying for support,
is that there is an obvious incentive to make features that \need
support.)
> ...
>
> read more »

Sergey Didenko

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 3:30:17 PM12/15/09
to clo...@googlegroups.com
I suggest to make a call for popularizing Clojure also. 

I feel lack of publicity and *quick explanations* with *simple examples* of why Clojure is better than others.

May be we have a situation when everybody thinks that Clojure is so excellent that everybody understands it. But though Clojure is indeed excellent, more conservative programmers need real and simple examples. They need to get that Clojure is not just "another crazy language".

As a community we have a lot of opportunities to tell other people about Clojure, so let's use this power.

Seth

unread,
Dec 15, 2009, 11:12:54 PM12/15/09
to Clojure
I'm glad Rich stepped up and made this difficult but important point
clearly. With a gentle yearly reminder I will continue to contribute.

For other revenue, I'm glad to say that I've signed up for the
Pragmatic Studio's Clojure training in March 2010 -- https://pragmaticstudio.com/clojure
Several other developers from my company have also registered. I will
also be leading an internal training session on Clojure in March.

For advocacy, I have been unconsciously obsessed with Clojure lately
on a personal blog. It's not much but it's hopefully useful to other
people starting at the bottom of all these learning curves.

I think the donations are a great nod to Rich's pioneering work... but
now that Clojure has developed a community I am curious to see how it
grows.

Many thanks to Rich and all seriously involved in this very neat
language!

Seth

Dave

unread,
Dec 16, 2009, 9:00:47 AM12/16/09
to Clojure
I'm not using Clojure in any real way yet, but just funded.

Why? Because I respect the effort, wish I could do the same thing, and
would want people to support me if they loved what I was doing and/or
found it useful or joyous.

Dave

Bradbev

unread,
Dec 16, 2009, 11:34:01 AM12/16/09
to Clojure
Just donated. Thank you very much for Clojure, and I hope that this
funding model works out for everybody!

Cheers,
Brad

Alan Busby

unread,
Dec 16, 2009, 8:28:19 PM12/16/09
to clo...@googlegroups.com
I'd just like to second the request for selling a CD with Clojure 1.0 on it. No support, no additional features; just a CD with the Clojure jar file or something.

I'd even go a step further and have multiple versions that would be identical except for the disc label,
Gold, $1000
Silver, $500
Bronze, $100

Rich could order a big box of CDs with 1.0 on them, and then it would be easy for people to purchase them for the office and expense them like any other software. 
Many companies wouldn't bat an eyelash at paying $$$ for great software that improves productivity, but getting a large organization to donate to something can be *very* difficult.

Just my $0.02,
     Alan


brian

unread,
Dec 17, 2009, 1:37:36 AM12/17/09
to clo...@googlegroups.com
I have looked at hundreds of languages and flavors more as a kind
of hobby these days. I know these comments are getting a bit
tedious by now, but what I think clojure needs is higher visibility.
Right now only a handful of people know about it. The thought
occurred to me while I was installing another open source language
system today, I (but have only dabbled in clojure a bit so far), was
that they had a visually appealing website. Visual signals send a
strong message. This particular one has a lucious red strawberry
(hint hint) motif, simple, clean, and appealing, and kind of
lightens up a drab subject, makes it almost.. well I won't get into
it. I'm coming at this as a bit of an outsider as have not been a
programmer in a long time since I got involved with start-ups. So
anyways, my point is, if you're looking for mass appeal, eveything
is pretty web-based packaging these days. Forget even the CD idea,
thats old, even for an old guy like me (I don't even have a CD drive
on my computer anymore !). Also a windows installer, and no asking
the user to compile things, make it as shrink wrapped as possible,
with a good online tutorial, and chat help all bundled together in
a quick install.

Brian

> don't *have to*. I think also, partially, it is because open source

> Clojure. It is some of the most satisfying work I have ever done, and
> you, the Clojure community, are some of the best people I have ever
> worked with.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Rich
>
>

> [1] http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/10/importance-of-license-model-of-mysql-or.html
> [2] http://keionline.org/ec-mysql
> [3] http://blog.linkedin.com/2009/03/20/project-voldemort-scaling-simple-storage-at-linkedin/

Wojciech Kaczmarek

unread,
Dec 17, 2009, 10:21:01 AM12/17/09
to clo...@googlegroups.com
Speaking of websites, if you're talking about Matz creation, please
bear in mind it has had a less appealing website for almost 10
years... ;) So maybe let give Clojure a bit time.

Of course many things Ruby community achieved are cool. Both Ruby and
Rails have very good introductory tutorials & docs which lowers a
barrier to entry. OTOH Clojure documentation is awesome considering
the fact how young project is it. The community here is expanding,
smart people are writing smart tools, all that may seem to be a
disorganized cloud of github projects, but in fact some order and
standards are emerging. Evolution takes time. Referring to Ruby again,
it earned gems & rake about 7 years after initial release IIRC.

Now about Rich's manifesto: thanks for the honest and clear words.
I'll donate and start persuading some organizations I work for to do
so.

Brian Goslinga

unread,
Jan 15, 2010, 12:29:43 AM1/15/10
to Clojure
I think it would be useful if there was some way to (mostly)
automatically donate $10/month.

Giancarlo Angulo

unread,
Jan 15, 2010, 2:18:59 AM1/15/10
to clo...@googlegroups.com
I second this.
=====
angol
=====
-----|-^_^X@^_^, =====|+^_^X++~_~,@-----
www.onthe8spot.com
http://www.facebook.com/giancarlo.angulo
http://twitter.com/Neoryder



On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 1:29 PM, Brian Goslinga <quickba...@gmail.com> wrote:
I think it would be useful if there was some way to (mostly)
automatically donate $10/month.

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Mark Derricutt

unread,
Jan 15, 2010, 9:39:55 PM1/15/10
to clo...@googlegroups.com
Paypal can be setup for reoccuring payments. I know I do that with
DropBox - not sure how one sets that up thou...

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