Curtis L. Olson wrote:
But any way you cut it, putting advertisements on our web site will change the look and feel of our web site and probably influence the impression our project projects to the world ...
Yes, it will make a significant difference to FlightGear and a lot of extra hassle for Curt.
We'll look less like a friendly, volunteer Open Source project and more like a corporate Open Source startup. That may significantly change the kinds of volunteers we attract and the way we're treated by conference organizers and the press, as well as users' expectations of code stability, support, etc. People don't volunteer to help with corporate OSS projects like JBoss the same way that they contribute to, say, Mozilla, Apache, Linux, or FlightGear (and even JBoss doesn't have ads on its site, I don't think). It's hard to find any really friendly OSS projects with wide participation *and* ads on their site.
When I was paying to keep the main SAX site at megginson.com and getting many thousands of hits each day, I was also briefly tempted to run ads to help cover expenses, but I realized that doing so would have changed the way people saw and used SAX.
I'd suggest trying some different approaches:
1. Set up a PayPal voluntary donation button on FlightGear.org -- no one will mind that (but see tax issues below).
2. If you cannot cover expenses with the voluntary donations, set up a separate *.com site (flightgear.com was already taken, last I checked). You can use it to distribute extra information, set up forums, etc., and perhaps you can run ads and offer consulting services through it.
3. If you absolutely *must* run ads on flightgear.org, please use Google text ads and not banner ads.
That last point is important. Managing an advertising account is a tricky job, and not one that you want to do on top of everything else. With Google ads, you know you'll get paid and you don't have to worry about the advertisers.
Another important point is tax. FlightGear is not a legal not-for-profit organization, so I think that any ad revenue that comes in will have to go onto Curt's tax return, and he'll end up paying a big chunk of it to the government. The same is true for a PayPal donation button.
So, in the end, my advice is not to do it. If you want to make a living or partial living from FlightGear, set up a separate commercial site and be prepared to learn about CRM, tax laws, incorporation laws, legal fees, insurance, NDA's, contracts, and all the other fun that comes with running your own small business. If you just want to cover expenses, try posting to the list with a subject line like "Need new $500 hard drive", and I'm sure that a lot of us will be willing to pitch in.
All the best,
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