Good morining, just dropping in from "one of the other timezones" ;-)
I've also got some thoughts regarding this whole sponsoring idea, and to be direct: I do have to admit that I wouldn't have any problems with such a model, actually it's just a couple of days ago that I talked to other FlightGear users about similar ideas - indeed, even exactly the one mentioned by Curtis: having a company that sells flight simulator peripherals advertise on FlightGear.org - or even: -*now*, I know you guys are going to call me a "pervert": ;-) WITHIN each particular FlightGear release, so that discussion - while being held privately - it was caused by Curtis' mail regarding FlightGear financing.
Among these ideas I also suggested to set up some kind of BugZilla system or anything else for that matter, that supports feature requests by users and directly link such a system to some simple donation system, that way it might be pretty easy for users to make small donations like $ 5.00 and assign or even SPLIT their donation to certain feature request, e.g. users would want to to be able to say: "I vote for feature request X by giving 2 bucks of overall 5 bucks donation to it"
The developers could then see which feature requests seem to be most urgent and also (financially) SUPPORTED by the community. Of course this whole thing would still be only OPTIONALLY available, but I do think that something like that might work - in particular if you think about features that professional users might need.
You could even go one step further by offering companies to make custom
adjustments to FlightGear, maybe even offer manufacturers of simulator peripherals
to add support for their hardware to FlightGear - either provided they
give out some samples or simply financially support FlightGear.
Getting back to the X-Plane example that I mentioned meanwhile in some of my posts: the author of X-Plane is doing a great job in that regard, by offering specific customization - the result being that X-Plane is now also used by some MAJOR aviation companies for _serious_ work.
And now, I do of course remember the argument being made that FlightGear is not supposed to become everybody's "swiss army knife", well I think as soon as there is financiall support involved it would be perfectly acceptable - in particular if parts of the necessary work could really be directly used for FlightGear itself, so that other users might benefit from it, speaking of adding support for certain simulator hardware, this would definitely be the case.
I *suppose* FlightGear developers could also easily adapt FlightGear in a manner to allow more extraordinary features, this also to attract even another target audience - professional users.
So, getting back to FlightGear, I do think it is quite a good idea to advertise for such companies or products which might directly benefit a FlightGear user, simulator hardware stores OR EVEN -manufacturers (!) are certainly in that range.
And also I do agree that there should of coure be some previous experience with the hardware being offered BEFORE anything is recommended, just to make sure that people aren't buying stuff that e.g. isn't even supported under linux.
Also, I like the idea of samples being sent in in order for FlightGear evaluation.
Of course there should be remarks added to those products currently not being sufficiently supported by FlightGear, maybe based on the referrer id to the company's page or anything like that. But all visitors from the FlightGear pages should definitely get the necessary information, possibly they should really use the referrer information in order to display certain additional information.
That way you could prevent users buying stuff (also with the motivation to HELP FlightGear)just in order to learn later that the stuff they purchased doesn't even work with FlightGear. THIS would of course be extremely frustrating and should be prevented by all means. So, if the said company itself is not willing to send out any hardware BEFORE there are purchasements being made, they should be asked to do the necessary examination and test the hardware themselves, in order to verify if there are any problems with certain hardware components.
Getting even more extreme, one might ponder about offering that said company to integrate their webpage address or even company logo directly into some of the future official FlightGear releases.
I am sure simulator hardware company would be interested in a deal such as that one.
Also, I do remember that X-Plane itself displays CHPRODUCTS' and NVIDIA's
internet addresses during startup...I would really doubt that the author
doesn't get anything in return for that ;-)
But I am not even talking about modifying FlightGear's splash screen in such a way, even though personally, I really wouldn't have any problems with anything like that at all - I understand that this is an opensource project and that there needs to be financial support: for an egoistic user it's all the better if it's not me who has to offer that support ;-)
Currently, there seems to be some kind of splash screen rotation implemented,
it probably wouldn't take long to make each 10th rotation display some
kind of advertisement - and I DON'T THINK that would hurt, particularly
not if it helps FlightGear itself in the end.
Something like this might be integrated into all pre-built binary
I don't think that mere advertising in itself should be propblematic, not even getting some revenue by commissions, of course it should explicitly being made clear that there exists such an agreement and also WHY it has been arranged (details for the motivation) and that users purchasing something from that said company would directly help FlightGear, respecitively it's developers to continue the work - one might even add that this whole agreement is just of temporary nature in order to see what happens and if its worth the hassles. Also, I would definitely recommend running a poll on the FlightGear webpage in order to get the necessary feedback - you might also want to ask that very question on the users mailinglist.
And I know, I am being brave by directly saying stuff like the one above-because
it was just recently that I was blamed to see things "way too commercial"
when it comes to FlightGear (do you remember Erik ?) ;-)
Actually, I do like the opensource idea pretty much - but only if this doesn't mean that some few individuals need to take up with the whole financial thing. AND if the financial demands or time contraints thereof (which leads to the same issue) doesn't slow down the actual development, as I see it now, there aren't any real fulltime developers involved, even though some of the developers would probably love to fully dedicate their time to FlightGear if they could afford to do so. Which is of course not easy if you have to pay bills.
But, contrary to some other views, I don't think this about making a (partial) living - no, not at all:
In that context, I'd like to add that most users are simply not able to really estimate the amount and kind of (not only financial) efforts that need to be being made for such a thing to really keep going.
So, I really appreciate the burden that the corresponding people are willing to accept.
I don't consider this "the wrong way", but rather I would even encourage everybody to make similar (other/BETTER ?) suggestions, there are many other opensource projects that ask for donations - and meanwhile most of these really RELY and *DEPEND* on such kind of donations. Also, I think there should be really a page set up for exactly that purpose: to directly support FlightGear, this doesn't need to be done with financial means but could certainly also be done by means of things like hardware donations or whatever comes to your mind.
I don't think there's anything wrong about it, rather I think there are
plenty of users who might not be able to contribute to FlightGear directly
by means of coding or community work (mailing list/doc stuff etc.) - for whatever
reasons (time constraints etc.), but who would still like to support the
whole thing - I don't know how many FlightGear users are really out there,
but I really doubt that many of those would mind making small donations like
1 or 2 bucks each. Some of those might even be convinced to make such a small
donation on a more regular basis. FlightGear could even get an integrated
"contributors"-dialog showing those people that made these kind of contributions
(of course only, if they want to).
This might then be another motivation to make a small donation ;-)
I don't think "bad blood" would be a major problem, this is really all
about creating some kind of financial basis for FlightGear and NOT a
"business" - a financial basis that every software project needs in a way,
in particular if the people involved need to pay bills (the latter possibly
even related to the project itself !) - so, depending on agreements like the
one mentioned above, would indeed create a new level of *independence*.
Also, I really don't think it would be necessary to publish the revenue being made,
not even how it is used.
On the other hand, I do think it's a great idea to separately offer extended support
for FlightGear - these things are usually the sources of income for opensource projects.
I agree, that google ads would be pretty acceptable, but only ONE (SMALL) banner of
ONE company wouldn't be a problem either (at least not for me).
Though, I do agree that using google ads is definitely a good idea when it comes to
really managing all this financial stuff.
So, yes: I would definitely recommend to give something like that a try
And now start to flame me for my WAY TOO COMMERCIAL ATTITUDE ;-)
P.S.: Sorry for any typos, but it's damn early over here :-)
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