How crowdfunding for open source projects is a delusion

Initially I believed, like probably many others as well, that there is a way to progress open source projects using crowdsourced funding methods. However now after some experience myself, having met other developers and observing the scene a lot I came to the conclusion that it is not only a bad option, but probably a total delusion, since I not only failed myself, but also everyone else I saw failed as well.

I tried to argue this topic with others,  but most people just replied "Oh you are just not good enough" or "Oh you are so negative" or "You are just jealous of all the successful people", so basically they did not reply at all or think about it to begin with and preferred to believe into their delusions.

So I tried a little exercise in common sense: If you have something, that you cannot do and you never saw someone else do, then maybe it is not possible to do. Sounds logical right? Well most people cannot think like that and instead prefer to believe in things that have never been proven to work and still try to make it work.

Yes I know there are "successfuly" funded open source projects, but those are in all or almost all cases on of the following categories, they are either pseudo open source or subsidized or both or just look like they are fully funded, but I will come to that later.

First let me try to define how successful funding would look like. The first thing you need is a real developer with real skills, since unprofessional hobbyist will not get you anywhere in most cases. Then if you have a real programmer, you have to consider how much he could or would earn on the real market, which is somewhere from $3000 to $10 000 per month an average lets say $5000 per month. That may sound much, but I looked the numbers up, I even met people who claimed to earn even more. So a fully funded one man project would cost at least $3000 per month to fully fund and this is already minimum wage. Of course you need that programmer also to be willing to work for an open source project, but lets say he is idealistic and wants to do that and throw most of his chances on earning more over board. Sadly in reality he would not only to be willing to do that, but be willing to work for less, much less. Most of the best open source developers I saw on crowdfunding earned around a couple hundred per month, which is not even existence minimum. So to be working on open source projects would mean to almost certainly starve to death.

Some people may claim "But there are fully funded successful open source projects", yes there are, at least it looks like there are. As I previously said, those are most likely either pseudo open source projects or subsidized. What do I mean with pseudo open source projects? Well I investigated some of those and a pseudo open source project is either not open source according to the definition or even if it is, it is mostly used to develop proprietary products, for proprietary platforms, for proprietary hardware using proprietary platforms and other proprietary software themselves and managing it all over proprietary platforms. So in those cases the open source part was just chosen out of convenience and for publicity reasons and even in those cases, the project is not really crowdfunded meaning funded by the people but subsidized by companies, who probably found it cheaper to outsource the development of a certain part of their software, saving the salary they would have to pay a real developer and instead donate a smaller part to the open source project. In that case you are not progressing free and open source projects, but are just an (in most cases) underpaid inofficial employee of some company.

The reason why crowdfunding for open source projects does not work is most likely because there is no market for it, the majority of population is not ingelligent enough to understand the reasons to support those projects or not even intelligent enough to understand that those things exist to begin with, so you are left with a very small percentage of the population that could donate, but a large portion of those are probably developers themselves and they may also donate to other projects they seem important, but in the long run it is not enough, if everyone donates to each other, you need a larger consumer base outside of the scene to secure significant funding, which does not exist. Even proprietary projects often need to market to delusional people aka dreamers to secure enough funding, for example like a game engine selling content to dreamers that will never accomplish anything, because they were delusional to begin with and enforced in their delusion through marketing tricks.

So it looks like you need to be corrupt in some way at least to reach a big enough audience to secure proper funding for your project and/or manage to get companies that subsidize you, probably a combination of both in most cases. I encountered a word some time ago called "openwashing" which describes the practice of big companies to water down the meaning and ideology of open source, by supposedly being for open source and progressing it, but in reality not changing anything or becoming more moral, it is more of a marketing trick to regain popularity. Later they also use open source projects to further their own company politics. I mean what difference does it make to use open source software, if it does nothing different than regular proprietary software and does not increase your freedom?

I canceled my effords to make money with it, since I realized it is not going to happen, as soon as (significant) money is involved and you have to play by the rules of the regular market, you will lose, since the bigger players already have a monopoly or near monopoly on all kinds of things. That is why I think free open source software can only survive as it is through being noncommercial and as a work of idealism and/or a hobby. Sure I have nothing against people receiving donations here and there, but as I explained I think truly making a living out of it without becoming corrupt is almost impossible. Contact me if you managed to do it.

Blog Reference: