On transparency, funding and efficiency


Because fedeproxy is 100% transparent, including funding, it has become abundantly clear over the past six months that although @pilou and I are paid the same, I’m the one doing most of the work required by the organization funding the project and that, for the majority of deliverables, I work on my own. Is the organization funding the project fine with this? Yes: they care about the deliverables being completed, not about who completes them or how. Am I fine with this? Yes: @pilou is less efficient than I am on this project, just as I could be less efficient on another project. I’ll publish a post on my personal blog to explain my thinking in more details.

I feel the need to clarify this point because I hope it will be helpfull to whoever is willing to apply for funding for fedeproxy (for the third DAPSI call or in the months to come).


I think the underlying questions to answer are the following:

  • Will this way of working lead to friction and maybe conflict if project + community scale, and more contributors join the fray?

  • Does this financial structure pair well with the envisioned FedeProxy Community Manifesto?

So the community manifesto states that “there is no hierarchy” and “there is no spokesperson”, but there are two paid ‘employees’. How does that rhyme together?

And also, while there is no hierarchy, no spokesperson, and anyone can ask consensus or start a vote, newcomers will still have ‘cold feet’, be hesitant to come in proposing big (but maybe much needed) changes, as they need to refer to and feel they should respect the work of those who came before them. There’s implicit hierarchy of those-in-the-know, those-who-have-committed-before, to take into account. Established community members have gained authority, even though the manifesto says it should not be that way.

I think all ways for working lead to friction. And the way @pilou and I worked also leads to friction, such as when I make a mistake and make a decision that impacts everyone by myself instead of waiting for consensus.

I think it does but maybe you see issues that I don’t?

I’m glad you ask because that’s something I thought about already. When the grant application was drafted, it could have been in the name of an organization created for this purpose (registering a non profit in France is very easy), but … that would not have been very horizontal and this idea was discarded.

Luckily it turns out the European Union funding does not require a single organization: it can be a mix of individuals and organizations, which is exactly what a horizontal community is about. So… technically speaking we are indeed both employed by the European Commission. But from the point of view of fedeproxy we are both on an equal footing which is the essence of horizontality. There is no hierarchical dependency between us, even though we are both paid by the European Union.

Similarly, it is quite possible (and IMHO desirable) that individuals and organizations with various agendas get funding independently and cooperate on making fedeproxy a reality. It is likely to be messier than if they all belonged to the same organization or foundation, but it would probably be healthier too and more sustainable.

Yes, this is the well known problem of the tyranny of structurelessness. Right now I embody this tyranny because the project is very new and I’m doing most of the work. Acknowledging this problem is, hopefully, a good start to prevent it from growing and reduce it until it disappears.

I wish someone would get funding to work on fedeproxy or forge federation, reason why I’m working to help Gitea and proposing my help to people willing to file a grant application. Ideally I would not be involved and that would help with horizontality.

Does that make sense?

On the whole I think this whole plan is insufficiently clear to the outside world, and hence may not come about as you intend it to work. What you say absolutely makes sense, but it should be communicated better in all kinds of ways.

Wrt funding there are other methods to possibly be explored. Just brainstorming a bit as it pops into my head right now:

  • Have all grants and donations in a community fund that is owned by no one.
  • Based on roadmap planning create a list of one-time and ongoing project tasks.
  • Based on community consensus assign money (bounties and/or hourly pay) to each of those.
  • Allow anyone to apply for any of these, and - based on consensus - deal them out to people.
  • After work is done have a sign-off where - based on consensus - pay the money that is due.
  • :arrow_double_up: Rinse and repeat… this is an ongoing process.

Some of this process is already in place, but informal (“we set aside X euro for Y, do you want to do that, person Z?”), but it can be made more obvious and transparent still.

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Each member of the fedeproxy community member is trying to figure it out, one step at a time. And each of them is working on fixing problems they care about: in the past few days you proposed a new name, I wrote code to contribute to Gitea etc.

I try my best to write code that goes in a sensible direction, because that’s what I do. You have a vision to communicate in a sensible way, to reach out to the outside world. I think that what we’re trying to do here is to combine our respective skills and desires in a sensible way. Is there anything stopping us from doing so?

I don’t know how I feel about the whole organization setup, tbh. Only after spending significant amounts of time here some of this becomes a bit clearer to me. And I don’t feel like I am a ‘community members’, just a ‘passer-by’ that watches you closely, provides feedback and doing promo wherever I can. Because I feel this work is important, both to openness of forges as to the fedi as a whole, by bringing a totally different application type to the ecosystem.

Doing promo I’ve met countless people stating “how important they felt this project is”, but 99.9% of them didn’t think to jump in here, join the community. You’ve told me there may be a community-building component to the next DAPSI call, so I was thinking that on your next application some part could be community improvement. Alongside next steps that logically followed from the first grant deliverables. DAPSI is not specifically for community building as I stated, so we might need to be creative there. But there’s no real follow-up there, as ‘no one is in charge’. Something that can also mean that ‘everyone is in charge’ and apply for whatever grant they wish.

We may have a vidcall to discuss, but I don’t know if this grant application is where I’ll jump in. Still in doubt and much to think about :slight_smile:

Update: I once again want to stress that I am only trying to provide constructive feedback, not being critical but honest and direct. In this I relate from own experience and also try to perceive the project as an outsider would encounter it.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Project name change revisited

I don’t know of any other software project with this setup. It would take a formidable effort to advocate and clearly explain. I try that over the years, when a particular aspect unfolds (for instance the effectiveness of a code of conduct, or more recently the name centralization issue) but it takes time. It would also probably help to do some story telling about facets of fedeproxy that only exist because the community is horizontal.

I share your impression and analysis of the situation: I could not have worded it better than you just did. If there was an organization in charge of the project and someone within this organization was in charge of fundraising, it would be up to this person to decide whether to apply to DAPSI or not. And someone observing the project, however closely, would have no say.

In the DAPSI call topic and did my best to clarify that there currently is no work done and no leadership. Because, when it comes to funding, work and leadership is usually not a matter of public record.

If I understand correctly and rephrase what you said, you would happily contribute to a grant application for the community building part. But for that to happen someone would need to take the lead on writing the grant application as a whole. Is that correct?

I always read your comments and criticisms with pleasure and they give me a lot to think about, each time. Thank you :slight_smile:

The community should be in charge if you ask me, but in current set up there’s no community. or a very watered down form of it. (update: well, I don’t know really)

I don’t know, but was until now just exploring what your mention of the DAPSI call in relation to community building might entail. Possibilities, expectations, collaboration, roadmap, commitments of others, etc. And how I can tie that in with own plans.

But typing this I think I’ll make the decision right now, and let this one pass for the time being :slight_smile:

Yes, please do move the naming-related posts. Consider this merely my proposal, and do as you wish with it.
The logo is CC BY-SA.

I don’t think it is possible for a horizontal community to be in charge of fundraising for the simple fact that it requires centralization. It is however possible (as demonstrated by the current DAPSI grant) for individual members of the community to engage in fundraising for the benefit of the project. It is a little tricky but not that much, surprisingly. For instance care must be taken to not write the grant application by use a vocabulary that implies the project is owned or represented by and organization or a particular individual. It is not very different for the Gitea community, although it is no horizontal, because there is no organization incorporated to represent the project.

Will do.

For the record, I published a blog post on this topic today.

From the point of view of the DAPSI consortium/European Commission, one of the parties is both coordinator and beneficiary, the others are only beneficiaries.

Wouldn’t it be more accurate to compare ourselves to contractors rather than to employees?

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It is good thing for the project that @dachary spelt out our agreement.

To whoever is willing to apply for funding for fedeproxy, including for the third DAPSI call, I recommend spending the necessary time to settle the content of the consortium agreement.

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I feel you are a community member :slight_smile:!

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