elementary-dev-community team mailing list archive
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"I'm Quitting": we both overreacted
Yesterday I announced in #elementary-dev and #elementary-web that I'm
quitting the project. Rumors spread fast and they're usually more scary
than truth is, so I'm writing this to clarify what happened, what caused me
to do that and "if I'm really quitting".
I'm attaching the controversial log so you don't have to take my word for
anything. My IRC nickname is "SergeLion" these days.
I removed the username and password required to access the development site
from the log because I'm not sure I'm allowed to publish them and replaced
them with "<username:password - deleted because I'm not sure I can publish
them. --shnatsel>". No other edits were done.
The frontpage discussed in the log is down at the moment, but you can
download the mockup at
It seems to require Inkscape for proper rendering.
*What's my problem with that*
My problem is particularly about this part:
<DanRabbit> Once again, this is not the time or place for that discussion
> <DanRabbit> the discussion is not about whether the pay process is
> attached to the download process
> <DanRabbit> it is
> <DanRabbit> that's how it's gonna go down
> <DanRabbit> the discussion is about how we ensure people know they can
> pay $0 if they'd like
> <SergeLion> DanRabbit: where and when do I start the business model
> <DanRabbit> SergeLion: like 6 months ago or after this model doesn't
> work out.
> <SergeLion> DanRabbit: shit. I quit. Now.
> <DanRabbit> It's a little freaking late to try to change everything dude
> <DanRabbit> It's not like we didn't have this discussion a LONG time ago
Business or fundraising model is an important and touchy issue affecting
the whole project. I'm a little surprised that as a (mere) developer, I'm
not aware of an important project decision made "like 6 months ago". I'm
especially surprised by the closed-door business model decision because
I've been studying the free software phenomenon for the past two years, and
I did mention that more than once to the council. I cannot show off a PhD
in free software and free culture theory, mostly because this subject is
pretty much unexplored and I'm kind of breaking new ground. There are even
hardly any books on the subject - Eric Raymond's "Cathedral and the Bazaar"
back from 1997 and Lawrence Lessig's "Free Culture" are pretty much
everything we have, and I'm not aware of any work besides mine to
systematize the recent facts and give a broader understanding of how e.g.
free culture business works and how it can be used. My only arguments for
being right are: always relying on facts and existing success stories,
being invited to lecture along with professors and accomplished
businessmen, and not being proven wrong so far. Sure, I cannot state I know
or correctly understand everything, but I at least did study the subject
and as of my experience no-cost business/fundraising model will work much
better (do I have to remind of Nine Inch Nails' albums being released *for
free download* under creative commons and failing to reach tops of any
charts but *ranking #1 paid purchase* on Amazon MP3 service at the same
I've uploaded and shared the funding opportunities document with the
council on the 26th of March 2012. Here's the document, you can see that in
the revision history:
The document invitation was sent to council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, so I assume
the Council members were aware of its existence.
That was 3 months ago. I was not notified by any Council member that
everything is already decided.
And now I'm confronted by an accomplished fact. The decision is made. It's
not backed by any successful cases and it seems to be vastly suboptimal, if
not disappointing to me. I think I have a better alternative. But I cannot
influence the decision. And it's also disappointing because this is not the
way I intended my work to be used.
I can't help but feel pwned. These are not the ideals towards which I've
been working all this time. This is not the elementary into which I can put
my spare time, effort, hopes or beliefs. I'm not going to willingly put my
effort into it. I'm quitting.
*What really happened*
I have to admit DanRabbit always took my concerns into account and never
pushed his decisions, and for that I respect him greatly. This is actually
the first time I bump into such issue for the whole my year-long
participation. This is really not like Dan. And if he *really* wouldn't
care, he could just get away with some bull reply, like that they'll
consider it in the next council meeting and I'd fuck off (that is actually
a bull reply because I have no way of knowing what happens in council
I assume he's just tired of discussing the matter and is willing to take
any decision just to settle to something. I have been through this myself,
so I can understand that. Dan seems to have been really busy lately, both
in elementary and IRL. In addition, elementary puts a great deal of
pressure and responsibility on him. So I hope he did not really mean what
the log reads.
I plead to the Council to make a business/funding model decision in a
transparent way and consider community suggestions. This decision is
dictated by the way the money will be used, which is also a sensitive
matter and would better be discussed with the developer community.
I also plead for establishing a better decision-making process. I guess the
incident proves that the current one is not good enough.
I've hit up some books and got some ideas on the subject which I'm willing
to share, but that's a vast separate topic.
Please not to discuss the business/funding model in this thread. This is a
touchy and now controversial issue, so I fear it will do more harm than
good. If you have concerns regarding it, please write them down for future
reference, and bring them up as part of Council-organized process.
I blame burnout and hack on until DanRabbit comments on the events.
I will also attempt to participate in the process of deciding the monetary
goals and offer my expertise on means of meeting them (again).
Sergey "Shnatsel" Davidoff
<khampal> Oh and guys, we need to talk about the homepage. A zillion people have now said to me that we should really change the donation thing on the home page
<SergeLion> those horizontal separators still upset me
<khampal> SergeLion: really? I quite like them
<SergeLion> khampal: agreed - people don't want to donate before they try the product
<khampal> SergeLion: it also needs to be obvious that lunas free
<khampal> people will just insta close tab
<SergeLion> khampal: Granola required any sum of money for just downloading and trying it, that really pissed me off
<SergeLion> khampal: agreed
<DanRabbit> Welcome to the real world dude
<DanRabbit> Most products require you buy them before you use them
<DanRabbit> that's why you read reviews, etc
<DanRabbit> But you can always put $0 if you've never heard of elementary before
<khampal> DanRabbit: yes but its not obvious
<khampal> a zillion people have said that to me, including in RL
<khampal> they've said "Oh it's not free?" etc
<khampal> if nobodies there to tell them, they'll just close the tab thinking its not free
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: software companies provide trial or demo versions
<DanRabbit> So read the text
<DanRabbit> I think with an accompanying Journal entry, and other press
<DanRabbit> it'll be clear
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: and put up huge FREE (trial) banners
<DanRabbit> oh god no
<DanRabbit> that's so tacky
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: yes
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: welcome to real world
<DanRabbit> Did you used to work for MS or what?
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: IMHO the current thing is too intrusive indeed
<DanRabbit> It's supposed to be intrusive
<DanRabbit> we want people to give us money
<DanRabbit> we're not currently making significant money
<SergeLion> on one hand I'm too lazy to recall and type all the credit card credentials, if I have a credit card at all; on the other I don't want to be a dick
<khampal> DanRabbit: uh the whole point is this is the FRONT page
<khampal> DanRabbit: they wont bother looking for a journal post to see if its free or not
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: I'm pretty sure we can do better by not requiring money right away
<khampal> they'll be turned off instantly
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: I've expanded the funding doc recently - please see https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pAEymg8cQ5-tqhn6exxaUEWZbZXQ47YbfeYkM6nMqdQ/edit
<khampal> I'm not saying get rid of donations from the front page, I'm telling you it needs to be more clear
<DanRabbit> It's not like we can't mention it in the video as well
<khampal> they'll close the fricking tab before they watch the video if they see it costs
<DanRabbit> "Name your price…" is pretty clear
<khampal> its just not clear
<khampal> not from scanning the page
<DanRabbit> The fact that it's a text entry seems pretty clear
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: enter 0 = be a dick
<khampal> everyone else whos seen that page disagrees
<DanRabbit> SergeLion: Yes.
<DanRabbit> The point is getting more money.
<DanRabbit> If someone thinks that's bogus, then fuck off
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: we'll end up having tutorials on free download all over the web and the fan base we have now will be really turned down
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: this is not the right way
<DanRabbit> There's nothing wrong with developers wanting to make a living doing what they love
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: I've presented quite some ideas that are already known to work well at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pAEymg8cQ5-tqhn6exxaUEWZbZXQ47YbfeYkM6nMqdQ/edit
<DanRabbit> if you have a problem with that you're a super dick
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: we can, that's my plan
<khampal> DanRabbit: yes, I'm not saying removing donations....
<khampal> but it needs to be more clear that money is optional
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: I really really want to get out of this country and work for elementary in some office and be able to communicate with you and devs personally, and we need money for that
<DanRabbit> If you're not smart enough to figure out it's optional, you're probably not smart enough to know what to do with an ISO
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: look at izo's present commitment to open source for example; it wouldn't be there if ubuntu or other apps used pay-what-you-want scheme
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: if we default to 0 it may be more obvious
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: but asking for money before people try the OS won't work well
<khampal> SergeLion: ++
<DanRabbit> SergeLion, khampal: that's how every product in the entire world works.
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: I thought it will but after granola accident I've changed my mind. And I already know it works well.
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: software uses trial and demo versions since 1995 at least
<DanRabbit> And trial/demo is almost always associated with ads or crap
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: this is not going to work for software. Really. Please read the updated doc.
<DanRabbit> The current model is not working
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: it will not
<DanRabbit> we have not succeeded by sticking to the "tried and true" bullcrap FOSS
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: we don't even have a model at the moment, lol
<DanRabbit> This is something that we've teleconferenced about and discussed at great length
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: well, we didn't really promote it tbh... and paypal-only donations are pretty off-putting
<khampal> our model is basically living off the odd donation (paypal only and not particularly noticeable) and advertising in not very strategic places
<khampal> oh and being extremely lucky that we have a super generous guy giving us a server
<DanRabbit> We need to supply a more aggresive and YES INTRUSIVE monetary model in order to sustain ourselves.
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: I have some good news on business models for you
* aroman (~aroman@unaffiliated/aroman) зашел на канал #elementary-web
<aroman> DanRabbit: you rang?
<DanRabbit> aroman: Yea, can you please help me explain how we've discussed this in length
<aroman> okay well who is proposing what, first of all?
<khampal> DanRabbit: I just want you to make it more obvious that luna is free by tweaking the homepage a little
<khampal> is it so freaking hard?
<DanRabbit> Luna isn't free though
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: a guy made some pretty crappy proprietary software for linux and then said "if 4000 people pledge to pay me $1 a month, I'll open-source all this and it will be community-governed". It got to OMG, where it got lots of negative comments - but it still worked. Here: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/06/help-linux-tycoon-more-go-open-source
<DanRabbit> it's pay-what-you-want
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: with this thing and a kickstarter campaing for some good cause we'll be more than able to sustain ourselves
<khampal> people will just glance at that page and think "oh no it's not free", close the tab, lose potential users and lose potential donations/developers who might otherwise have tried luna and liked it
<aroman> okay well
<aroman> here's what I'm thinking
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: and as mentioned in the doc, we'll get much more by being free if we use that. Pay-what-you-want in the world of linux distros is just too off-putting, and doesn't encourage spreading Luna or anything like that. And our early adopters and spreaders are guys familiar with linux distros.
<aroman> I totally see Sergey's concern about not wanting to freak people out about charging for linux.
<aroman> I also understand that our model is, and has always been, pay what you want, including $0, for the OS.
<aroman> I think it is entirely possible to word the homepage in a way that makes that crystal clear.
<aroman> There is nothing off-putting about asking for money, particularly if we say "Or nothing."
<SergeLion> aroman: the problem is mostly in charging people before they even try the OS
<khampal> as I said, I'm not opposed to have the input box there. Just so long as its clear
<khampal> that the os is free
<aroman> but there is no reason to be bashful about asking for money.
<aroman> khampal: i think we're getting hung up on that statement
<aroman> you CAN have it for free, and you CAN pay for it.
<khampal> but having the homepage like it is now on the new site will just put people off
<aroman> I think something like "Pay what you want, or download for free." or some properly worded will be fine
<SergeLion> aroman: we can keep a very loyal community and still get (arguably more) money by keeping it free and fundraising for a good cause in a clever way
<aroman> SergeLion: but we're not changing the cost.
<aroman> this argument is about language
<aroman> not our business model
<DanRabbit> aroman: +1. I think altering the page copy is plenty
<aroman> we should make it abundantly clear that YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY FOR LUNA
<SergeLion> DanRabbit, aroman: I think I've finally come up with a business model that will work for us
<aroman> we should also make it abundantly clear that it is PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT
<aroman> SergeLion: that's out of the scope of this discussion then
<khampal> look, all I wanted is for something to say clearly that you can get luna for free. dan seems opposed
* cassidyjames (~email@example.com) зашел на канал #elementary-web
* ChanServ дал статус оператора канала cassidyjames
<SergeLion> aroman: one-time donations are not getting us anywhere
<aroman> and the four of us can't just decide on a new business model
<aroman> khampal: i completely support that.
<khampal> aroman: THANK YOU
<aroman> we SHOULD say you can get it for free
<khampal> DanRabbit: ^
<khampal> cassidyjames: hi
<DanRabbit> khampal: I'm not opposed to changing the Copy, But I want to make the pay process very clear and integrated into the download process
<cassidyjames> What's up e'ryone?
<SergeLion> aroman: I've put up https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pAEymg8cQ5-tqhn6exxaUEWZbZXQ47YbfeYkM6nMqdQ/edit a long time ago for council review; now I've updated it and I want to call the council upon it again
<aroman> but we should ALSO say that the price is whatever you feel comfortable paying
<DanRabbit> having it separate as it is now is not discoverable enough
<aroman> SergeLion: excellent, let's bring that up at the next dev/council meeting then
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: notifying the user that we're fundraising for a good cause while the file is downloading should do
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: the user tries the os, if they like it, they return and donate to make the OS even more awesome
<DanRabbit> khampal: What if we change the field to say "$10 (or click to change)" or something?
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: make it clear how we're going to use the money for improving the product
<aroman> SergeLion: i'm not sure that's realistic
<khampal> DanRabbit: even a small button or link saying "Download Luna for free" would be okay with me
<SergeLion> aroman: I did rather extensive studies on all this
<aroman> why not just have a slider with the endpoints labelled?
<khampal> just so long as its clear at a glance that you can luna indeed for free
<aroman> $0 to $300 or something
<aroman> khampal: how about what I just proposed? ^
<SergeLion> aroman: having a top limit is not cool :P
<aroman> alright well listen guys,
<aroman> I've gotta go. dorm activities
<DanRabbit> aroman: alrighty, good luck
<khampal> aroman: yeah, but FREE instead of $0 and $300 shouldnt be the max :p
<SergeLion> aroman: I dislike pay-what-you-want because "give $0 = be a dick"
<cassidyjames> Aroman and maybe a place to say more?
<DanRabbit> SergeLion: that's part of the whole point.
<cassidyjames> DanRabbit ++
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: we're not getting ourselves any more dev volunteers like this.
* aroman ушел (Quit: aroman)
<cassidyjames> Khampal yo. So what're we talking about?
<khampal> cassidyjames: the homepage :)
<khampal> cassidyjames: too many people have said its not clear you can get luna for free
<cassidyjames> Stupid kb
<cassidyjames> Khampal lemme take a look. Is it live at galaborel.com?
<khampal> cassidyjames: yup
<khampal> cassidyjames: <username:password - deleted because I'm not sure I can publish them. --shnatsel> if you've forgotten
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: I totally think we should start making money with Luna. But the current way is not going to work.
<DanRabbit> And Humble Indie Bundle thinks differently
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: they're proprietary and don't rely on community for development
<cassidyjames> Khampal Okay so who are these people and why are they complaining? ;)
<DanRabbit> And if we made significant money we wouldn't rely on community devs either.
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: also, all of those games have demo versions, just FYI.
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: which is not guaranteed to be a good thing.
<khampal> cassidyjames: because they either go "Oh, luna isn't free?" "It's not very obvious that you can't get it for free" etc
<khampal> it puts people off instantly
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: we are growing very rapidly and we just can't pay off the growth we have now and hopefully will continue to have. Especially with this totally one-time thing.
<cassidyjames> Khampal gotcha. Okay, what about a $0 -----|----- $[_] slider or something.?
<DanRabbit> SergeLion: I really think that is a 100% non-issue. Let's please lower the scope of the conversation to 1 thing:
<DanRabbit> let's make it clear that Luna is Pay what you want (including $0)
<khampal> $0 needs to be labelled as free
<khampal> by all means make them feel guilty when they are set to free in a dialog box of some sort
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: pay-before-trying-it is not going to work. Paying should have a clear connection to improving the product, you should describe how the user will benefit from paying. Then it will work.
<cassidyjames> Khampal that just makes it more complicated. :P What's wrong with labeling it $0?
<DanRabbit> SergeLion: I *don't care* if you think it's not going to work. End of discussion. That is not what we're talking about.
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: okay. Where do I start the business model discussion?
<cassidyjames> SergeLion so people should be able to eat a hamburger before paying for it?
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: also, do we have any Jupiter download stats?
<DanRabbit> cassidyjames: lol +999
<khampal> DanRabbit: it might not be what we're talking about, but you should most definitely care about what your own devs think
<SergeLion> cassidyjames: software uses trial versions since 1995 at least
<khampal> SergeLion: there are some stats on sf for number of downloads
<cassidyjames> SergeLion if they're unsure about it, by all means they can pay $0.
<SergeLion> cassidyjames: "enter $0 = be a dick"
<cassidyjames> Khampal can we have an email filed after/while downloading to keep up with news or something?
<khampal> cassidyjames: sure :)
<cassidyjames> SergeLion or $0 == I don't want to pay for it.
<cassidyjames> SergeLion whether or not they feel like a dick is up to them.
<khampal> cassidyjames: we can even prompt people to donate after downloading if they choose to download it for free :p
<SergeLion> cassidyjames: I think you guys have a very vague idea of developer and fan motivation in free software world.
<cassidyjames> Khampal for sure.
<SergeLion> cassidyjames: I've studied these things for years. And tried them on myself.
<DanRabbit> Once again, this is not the time or place for that discussion
<DanRabbit> the discussion is not about whether the pay process is attached to the download process
<DanRabbit> it is
<DanRabbit> that's how it's gonna go down
<DanRabbit> the discussion is about how we ensure people know they can pay $0 if they'd like
<cassidyjames> DanRabbit: Thoughts about a slider?
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: where and when do I start the business model discussion?
<DanRabbit> cassidyjames: I'm +/- 0 on a slider
<DanRabbit> SergeLion: like 6 months ago or after this model doesn't work out.
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: shit. I quit. Now.
<DanRabbit> It's a little freaking late to try to change everything dude
<DanRabbit> It's not like we didn't have this discussion a LONG time ago
<DanRabbit> If pay-what-you-want is a total failure, let's change it
<DanRabbit> But elementary is not a Linux distro. It's an Open Source linux-based operating system.
<khampal> lets calm down and think rationally here. There's no harm in discussing an elementary business model during a dev or council meeting. But all I want now is to talk about the homepage
<DanRabbit> khampal: +1
<SergeLion> DanRabbit: bye.
<cassidyjames> DanRabbit, khampal agreed. SergeLion, let's plan to dig into business models at a later point after Luna is released.
<khampal> SergeLion: I find it a little odd you want to leave over disagreeing on something - seeing as this is a community project theres always going to be disagreements. You should probably raise the issue at a dev or council meeting. I just want to talk about the homepage right now. :)
<SergeLion> khampal: I'm not quiting because of disagreement.
<SergeLion> khampal: I'm quiting because the disagreement is not going to be resolved.
<cassidyjames> Khampal, so. Home page. DanRabbit can we mock up a slider or something?
<DanRabbit> cassidyjames: Yes sir.
<DanRabbit> khampal: would a slider be sufficient?
<agent00tai> SergeLion: please just calm down
<khampal> DanRabbit: yeah sounds reasonable to me
<SergeLion> khampal: I thought elementary is remotely meritocratic... or at least the decision-making guys are willing to listen. If not to mere devs, then to people knowledgeable about the topic.
<SergeLion> khampal: I was wrong.
<cassidyjames> DanRabbit: okay. What about the cap issue?
<DanRabbit> cassidyjames: tbh I don't think anyone is realistically gonna pay over $300 :p
<SergeLion> The doc is still there for you if you want to use it. Good luck
<cassidyjames> DanRabbit: lol
<khampal> you never know
<agent00tai> SergeLion: you ALWAYS say that you studies stuff like that for years etc. but in fact: no one has ever really done this
<DanRabbit> The only way to avoid a cap is to put an entry/spinbutton
<SergeLion> agent00tai: done what?
<cassidyjames> DanRabbit: but having it set at $300 feels a little weird. XD
<DanRabbit> So I think the realistic options are either a. change the copy or b. use a slider (that has a cap)
<cassidyjames> DanRabbit: True.
<DanRabbit> copy including the hint text in the entry
<SergeLion> agent00tai: just read the freaking doc. The last paragraph.
<DanRabbit> we could always set the hint to like "FREE (or put a number here)" or something
<SergeLion> I'll try to make a neutral post on the topic to the dev mailing list in a few days. But now I have university studies and exam crap to attend.