Thanks to the efforts of Michael scalability-junk Grosser, a Bountysource page has been up and running for ownCloud. Bounties allow users to contribute to their favorite ownCloud features while showing code contributors where users’ priorities lie and allowing them to earn a nice piece of cake.
Time and money
Contributing to open source enables you to learn new things, improve the software you use and make a difference for many users. Unfortunately, a day only has 24 hours to code (translate, document, …) and we always want to do more than we have time for.
So how do you get a feature in ownCloud when you work on other projects or simply have a different skill set than PHP coding? How do you know what features users want and need most to prioritize your work by?
One solution would be Bountysource.
Bountysource is a crowd funding site that focuses on individual bug reports and feature requests in Open Source projects. A developer can pick up a job and implement the feature. After that, the people who contributed to the bounty review the result and the money is paid out.
Michael Grosser introduced Bountysource to the ownCloud developers noting they provide ‘a coffee’, rather than aiming to replace a full time job. While the bounties might offer developers some help buying that Banana Pi or a new drive for their NAS – the work still has to be fun in itself. From the responses that came it was clear that not all developers are a big fan of this model and while some will participate, others probably won’t.
For users, Bountysource is far more important: it offers a chance to ‘vote with their wallet’, contribute to a project they care about – which in turn strengthens the bond between the user and the project. It brings us closer together, showing developers what users want and how much they care about certain features.
While we have not talked much about ownCloud bounties yet, more than $1300 in bounties has already been pledged. The most popular two features are Sync only the file change, not entire file, which has nearly $500 pledged, and Add a multi-account feature with $350 on it already.
Both features are on the agenda of the sync client team, but long(er) term goals as both involve significant effort, not just in execution but also in thinking, discussing and architecting a proper solution. Although, in case of the multi-account feature, client developer Daniel has shared a nice todo list of what it takes to get this done by somebody interested in taking up the job.
ownCloud Inc. employees, already paid to work on ownCloud, will donate the bounty money to the ownCloud organization on Bountysource which will use it to fund bounties in other projects for features which benefit the ownCloud project. After all, ownCloud builds on many other strong open source shoulders!
Will a bounty fix my issues?
Do the significant amounts of money on these bounties mean they will be done before the client team gets to them? That remains to be seen. They are both complicated and while $485 buys a developer a lot of caffeine (or allow supporting many projects), you still have to want to do this work. Something as complicated as syncing file changes properly within the ownCloud architecture means a low hourly rate in any case. The challenge will have to be its own reward – as it has to be, in open source. Fun, in its many forms, is why we do it. This is equally true for other issues – users can not and should not expect that contributing to a bounty will always get the issue solved or implemented. The most effective way of getting things done in Open Source communities continues to be doing it yourself.
A big thanks goes to Michael for setting this up and keeping it all running! And of course to Bountysource for the cool service they offer to Open Source projects and all the users who have already supported ownCloud development with a bounty.