Working for a Free/Libre/Open World: as a model of community patronage and participation in software and beyond

Short Form


In designing, we have done our due diligence. For example, we actually reviewed over 700 crowdfunding and related platforms. We've read dozens of Codes of Conduct. This is the Open Source ideal: making the most of past resources and ideas.

I can tell you about such things as the struggles with the idea of bounty fundraising (where you offer to pay if someone makes a certain feature or fixes a certain bug in a program). It's been a popular idea but has some fatal flaws. There have been dozens of failed bounty-style funding systems, but a few have somewhat succeeded (and I can tell you which of those are the most ethical and Open Source). People who have not researched the history keep proposing this same flawed idea over and over.

In this talk, I'll share with you the challenges and insights in building a new platform dedicated to Free/Libre/Open ideals and how we have made tough choices about when to avoid wheel-reinventing and when to break with the past and push for new ideals.


Software economics has many parallels with that of other soft creative works like music, journalism, and research. On the one hand, funding is essential as developers need to pay their bills. On the other hand, Open Source culture involves a lot of volunteering, intrinsic motivations, and ethical principles that are often in conflict with traditional business models. is a new system aiming to provide livable salaries to Free/Libre/Open projects of all sorts without compromising community values. It incorporates a network-effect matching patronage system with a democratic, cooperative community platform.

Beyond just the details of as proposed, Aaron will share insights from his journey as a hesitant newcomer with no programming experience becoming deeply involved in Open Source.

From the beginning, has worked to document all its challenges to provide a guide to anyone else facing the same issues: How to start a new Open Source project, build a new community, welcome newcomers, recruit volunteers, be transparent, and provide an inspiring and realistic vision… There are special challenges to doing all this while assuring everything is fully ethical, privacy-respecting, and 100% Open Source.


Free Culture, fundraising, community-building

Speaking experience

I have taught classes and private music lessons for many years, so have experience and confidence presenting. I have only given a small number of presentations on this topic. The first was at a local Linux Users Group. I have given lightning talks at a couple different conferences. The one recording and set of slides (now quite dated) is available at