On 12/22/2016 02:10 PM, Stephen Michel wrote:
> This is the spiritual successor to Bryan's "Snowdrift.coop's immediate
> goals" (quoted below), but is a bit broader in scope, so I'm starting a
> new thread.
> The questions he outlines in that thread apply to more than us. They're
> the most important questions that *any* project that wishes to use the
> site will be asking. We should have answers.
> Here's some other, related questions. They're not MVP, but we're close
> to MVP and need to start thinking beyond it.
> What happens if we don't have the user base to support our project's
> income needs?

Whenever things aren't working, we evaluate and consider pivoting, and
there's always a possibility of folding or merging with other
initiatives etc. There's always promotion and other things. We're not
setting up an institution with huge overhead and liabilities, so it's
not like we'll have to declare bankruptcy when we have tens of thousands
of dollars or more of debt and can't pay it off. At this point, we're
avoiding financial investment generally more than we're taking on
financial liabilities.

If the crowdmatching is working for other projects but we ourselves
can't cover the expenses to keep the platform going, and we've tried
outreach and promotion etc. then we'll consider things like taking a
small percentage or requiring project owners to join the co-op etc.

There's also grants to apply for when needing one-time cash. The more
successfully and quality the system, the better chance of getting grants.

> What happens if we have too many patrons, and people can't afford to pledge?
> How do we assuage people's fear (realistic or not) that a project will
> explode and eat up their budget?

This concern has been fully addressed already in the basic concept of
how we handle budgets. It's only the details about how we design the
UX/UI and how we explain the budget to people. We do not worry about one
project eating everyone's budget because (A) we're going to get tons of
press and attention and success the instant we have a truly run-away
successful project, even if it eats up budgets for other projects (B) we
already plan to implement some notification system so that people are
aware of budget issues and can adapt.

If people *care* to keep supporting the runaway successful project *and*
their other projects, they will adjust their budget. If some choose to
drop the runaway success project, there will still be enough people
supporting that project, it will still do fine. We've written about
various other ways to address this situation if we succeed at getting
there. Having those things spelled out and clarifying the communication
strategy for questions is all we need right now.

> The reality is, each project's constraints will be different. I
> informally propose the following approach to calculate things:
> 1. Define an income goal.

We need to express *what* we will hope to do with income, not express
just a monetary goal in itself. And we want a UI that provides that sort
of goal info to patrons.

> 2. Define an patron count goal.

I don't see the need for this necessarily other than as the flipside to
income needs. It's fine to have, but not necessary. We aren't set on the
tenth-cent pledge amount either, it's all stuff we're testing as the
initial setting.

> 3. Calculate $pp ($ needed per patron), income/patrons
> 4. Calculate match level, $pp / patrons
> Then we follow these rules:
> A. All patrons have their pledges capped at $pp. Much like how we
> currently have a hard limit on the snowdrift project. If a project has
> enough patrons that the pledge would go over $pp, it remains at $pp
> instead (so the extra patrons act as a buffer, in case some patrons drop
> out).

Oh I see what you're getting at. This is all early optimization. It's
stuff that may be needed long-term but really is distraction right now.
All of this is "we have all the income we need now yay!" it's the
"Snowdrift.coop is a total success! Now that FLO funding (for at least
some projects) is solved, we can adapt the system to best manage
sustainable support from here on. We're SO far away from actually
solving FLO funding for basically any project other than Wikipedia that
it's really counterproductive to take time with this right now besides
spelling out ideas for people who want to think about it all.

For now, the communication is: "we're trying to get projects all the
funding they need. When we live in a world where projects actually have
all the funding they need and it's just a matter of making the burden as
fair as possible among patrons, there are ways to adapt the system to
that reality — it's nothing like the current reality, and our goal now
is to get to that."

> B. We "remove" (ie, never implement) the concept of a patron-set pledge
> limit, and also of deactivated pledges. They're no longer needed because
> when you pledge to the project, you're guaranteed that your pledge will
> not exceed a certain value. We should still show the total value on your
> dashboard (the sum of the limits of all the projects you pledge to).

Okay, I see now where you're heading even further, but this leads to
asking patrons to give up another level of control.

The fundamental point of your suggestion is: have patrons pledge to
projects to get them to *actual* needed funding levels, give patrons the
information about the scope of what that could mean.

I think if it were actually feasible for projects to specify really
concrete, unchanging financial goals, this would be workable. I think in
reality that projects will expand and often really do not have the
ability to clearly set a long-term fixed amount of total needed funding.
The ask from the projects to specify something like a truly fixed
funding goal that is actually a cap and not just a milestone indicator
may be far too much to ask or get meaningful ideas from most.

I think it's a nice concept, but it depends on tons of unknowns. It's a
desire to get more omniscience than is feasible.

> So for us, that looks like:
> i. My vote is for $3500, to cover current expenses. 

There's no sense in which $3500/mo covers our current expenses. Our
actual hard monthly expenses right now are around $100 or so (Bryan is
only a volunteer now, we have no paid contractors). To implement
Snowdrift.coop fully and optimally as we envision, we could easily use
more like $25,000/mo or more to fund a full-time team and pay lawyers
and take on all the necessary tasks in ways that volunteers struggle to

> ii. I'm going to arbitrarily pick 1871 patrons.
> iii. So we need $1.87 $pp.
> iv. Match level is $0.001 -- our current level.
> A big advantage of this system is that it corresponds really well to an
> idea of, "I'll do my part, but only if everybody else does theirs",
> which I've found to be really effective way of explaining the mechanism.

Agreed, that's a core key elevator-pitch line about public goods in general.

> It's like Wikipedia's "If everyone reading this gave $3..." message. And
> then you go to the site, and see the pledge level at (for example) 1/100
> of a cent per patron, capped at $3. So if 30k+ patrons each pledge, the
> level hits $3 and Wikipedia gets its funding.
> Thoughts?

The primary problem is there's no proposal in this about how to deal
with changes to budget goals for the project. These caps become somewhat
arbitrary. It's not an impossible suggestion, but it's a *lot* like just
a monthly-budget version of setting Kickstarter goals (something that is
TYPICALLY, i.e. more often than not, set badly by projects — costs
commonly are much much higher than the crowdfunding goals they guessed at).

One element of our current design is that we're aiming to welcome
everyone to *grow* projects, we want to see clear medium-term hopes, but
the prospects will change as projects progress and funding comes in. We
don't want to either (A) aim too low and give people the idea this is
about petty little things and not really about inspiring dramatic
changes or (B) aim too high and seem like we're deluded about what's

I often emphasize that this is about people getting in where little bits
help a project struggling, but as things grow, we will keep projects
accountable, and those that do wonderful things will grow and reach
levels we hadn't imagined… the possibilities really are great, and we
want to be on track to building a better truly FLO world etc.


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