Kohacon 14 Day 3 – Funding the Koha project

Brendan with help from Tomas who was translating talked about possibilities for funding the Koha project.

Brendan mentioned we need money for developments, and other things. He covered the process for getting code in, someone submits, another entity signs off, qa checks, then the release manager checks and pushes or not. Out of this whole process, the only part that is directly funded is the initial development of the feature/fix. Once it is passed to community, we rely almost entirely on volunteers.

Developers get paid for new features mostly, because new things are what libraries want to fund, but there are also things under the hood, often called plumbing problems, that they don’t want to fund. Some of these plumbing issues are big pieces of work. Brendan proposes as a community we need to create some kind of community that can collect and disburse money which we can use to fund fixes to these 2 issues.

Brendan showed the Koha dashboard, showing that today 215 patches need to be signed off, and 64 waiting for QA. He covered the fact that most signoffs are done on volunteer basis, and in a conservative estimate we can see we need at least 700 hours to per 6 months to keep up with development.

Two complementary options:

  1. Add more people to the project to signoff/test
  2. Create an entity to grab funding which we can pay people

Big features take lots of time to test, very hard for a volunteer to deal with these, so they wait for a while. Also this means that if the code has moved, rebasing needs to be done.  So if we can fundraise and have people working on signoffs and QA as their job.

Brendan then talked about stability vs rapid development. Brendan sees that both points are valid and that it is a balancing act. With so many libraries (10,000 ish) it is peoples livelihoods depending on the stability of the product. However we need to continue to innovate as well. So get involved have your ideas presented. Mail the list, come to hackfests, chat on IRC etc. No ideas are bad ideas, only the ones you don’t present.

An audience member asked about the idea of a foundation, Brendan said lets start with a funding organisation, and start small with perhaps a donate now button. But that organisation should not having anything to do with the direction of governance of the project, just collect funds.

Action Plan

Bob and Brendan are going to work on a proposal during hackfest for this funding organisation to present to the community, to get this ball rolling

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