Snowdrift

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= a sustainable funding platform for freely-licensed works.

URL = https://snowdrift.coop

"an ambitious project to revolutionize Free Culture ... we start with the central idea of a novel assurance system to facilitate the worldwide community better funding Free Cultural Works and related projects"


Definition

"The best solution to the Snowdrift Dilemma is an assurance contract — an agreement that we will all do our part if others do their part. Without such an agreement, it is hard to develop the critical mass of supporters that is needed for many projects." (https://snowdrift.coop/w/threshold-systems)


Description

"Most project teams don't care about having proprietary control as an end in itself, they just want a stable income. If we cooperate, we could have all the best resources we see today and more — all FLO, without ads or privacy intrusions or any other anti-features.

Our matching patronage system allows everyone to support FLO projects with minimal risk and maximum impact.

Unlike the one-to-one matching used in traditional fundraising, we use a many-to-many matching pledge that creates a network effect (like the internet itself) so that we all reinforce one another. Unlike one-time fundraising campaigns that help projects get started, Snowdrift.coop pays out monthly to provide sustainability for ongoing work.

Before the times of modern market capitalism, creative workers were supported by wealthy patrons. With Snowdrift.coop, the global community becomes the patron. Instead of businesses deciding the options that we then merely choose from as "consumers", we will support and actively work with projects that best serve the interests of the public.

Our approach minimizes the cost and risk for both projects and patrons, making the system realistic and practical. Each new pledge presents an invitation to others to join in. If we only fund some projects or provide only partial funding, it will still be worthwhile. If, on the other hand, we succeed on a greater scale, we will inspire a paradigm shift toward a more democratic economy and a freer world.


* How it works

Deposit funds to your private Snowdrift.coop account.

Pledge your support to your favorite projects. The base-level pledge says:

"Each month, I will donate a tenth of a cent for each other patron who joins me."

There's no risk to pledging; if nobody joins you, it costs you nothing.

When you join, your pledge means existing patrons will donate more to match you!

You control your budget. Pledges will be automatically dropped if your account runs out of funds. To maintain your pledge, you can make a new deposit.

Larger pledges get some extra matching, and you can adjust your pledges whenever you like.

Contribute creatively via our built-in collaboration tools.

We celebrate community participation and work to assure that the introduction of money does not hurt the social focus of community projects.

To help projects involve everyone, we have tools for discussions, tickets and requests, a wiki system, and more.

Pledge your support to the Snowdrift.coop project itself to join the co-op and have more say in running the whole system.


* Holding projects to the highest standards

We require all projects to use Free/Libre/Open licenses, to be transparent, and to follow an honor system. With funds coming from ongoing monthly payments, projects are held accountable to the community. Patrons can adjust their pledges based on how they feel about each project's progress.


* Why the name "Snowdrift"?

Game theorists have studied something called the Snowdrift Dilemma: Imagine a huge drift of snow blocking the road; who will clear it? We all have other things to do. Like funding for FLO, nobody wants to take on the burden alone (and often we can't succeed without help anyway). In the FLO dilemma, proprietary restrictions and funding troubles make up the obstacles we need to clear, and we can solve these dilemmas together through our cooperative funding pledge. Hence: Snowdrift.coop." (https://snowdrift.coop/p/snowdrift/w/en/about)

Discussion

The rationale of the project:

"The internet enables the community model on a greater scale than ever but works against the producer-consumer model. Non-scarce digital works can be shared freely, so there's no need to pay for access.

Artificial scarcity via technical and/or legal restrictions can enable the consumer model for digital works, but this hampers the community's ability to freely use, modify, and share things. Such restrictions also lead to abuses of power, and amplify economic inequities, taking things that could be open to everyone and giving access only to those who can afford it.

Free/libre/open projects reject such restrictions and instead celebrate the virtues of the community cycle. Yet without much funding, projects struggle to achieve their potential. Community volunteers can do a lot, but robust projects need leadership from dedicated teams, and people need to eat and pay their bills.


How can we better fund free/libre/open projects?

Asking for donations helps but is rarely enough. While some people donate, most of us put our limited resources toward scarce goods.

Consider a metaphor: the Snowdrift Dilemma. A huge drift of snow blocks the road. Who will clear it? We all have other things to do. I worry that if I start working, then everyone else will freeload. Ironically, everyone else may be thinking the same thing!

Thankfully, there's a solution! We agree to do our part if everyone else does theirs, and in a long-term community, there's incentive to follow through and build trust.

Hence, the Snowdrift.coop system. Instead of just donating and wishing others would do the same, each patron funds a private account from which donations will later be drawn. They then choose projects to support and say: "I pledge X cents per month for every 100 others who join me."

There are some further details designed to maximize reliability, flexibility, and fairness; and to keep projects honorable and accountable.

At Snowdrift.coop we envision a holistic system for long-term community patronage. Beyond fundraising, we will offer tools for community engagement, showing thanks for creative contributions, handling feature requests, discussions, support, and more." (https://snowdrift.coop/)


Status

under construction, not operational yet. Info from Aaron Wolf via wolftune.com