Should Antennapod begin accepting donations?

Between this forum, the new 2.0, a new website, this project is reaching a new level of development and attention.

Perhaps it’s time to create a donation drive to help cover costs? After all, this is the only active open source podcast client for Android and it is going against dozens of paid, adware, and even subsciption-based clients out there, and the number of clients isn’t going to get any smaller. It makes sense for Antennapod to at least be able to receive funds from users to keep the project going.

I personally suggest opening an Open Collective account because it lets you accept Bitcoin, 1-time donations, and recurring donations with 1 account instead of opening a Liberapay/Paypal/Github Sponsors, etc to do all these things. F-Droid uses Open Collective for their funding and it’s been working for them quite well.

What does the team think?

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My main problem with accepting donations is that it adds quite a lot of overhead (taxes, etc) but that seems to be easier with Open Collective. The donations will probably not be enough to work full-time on AntennaPod, so another big question is how they should be distributed. I don’t think paying contributors for each pull request will work because that will likely attract spam. Also, this will not honor the work of volunteers who do not code.

Some ideas what could be done with the money:

  • Pay for the forum server
  • Print stickers
  • Special “Contributor” stickers that are sent to active developers or forum members
  • Other merch like T-Shirts for extremely active contributors?
  • Organize an in-person meeting where contributors get some free drinks (if the virus situation gets better)
  • Donate to gpodder to make the synchronization feature more reliable
  • Produce a promotion video for the play store

I am still not really in favor of accepting donations but I like the idea of sending stickers to active contributors. What do you suggest we should do with the money?

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I think it should strictly be used to cover costs.

  • Pay for the forum server.

  • If necessary, buying new devices to help Antennapod work on the latest version of Android (Pixel, etc)

That’s the only thing I can see the money being used for. It ensures nobody benefits more than others and it keeps the project from being paid for out of pocket. Anything extra would just go into a surplus fund that would be used for future or emergency costs.

The running costs are not much (~6€/month). What’s probably more costly is the big amount of time that some people need to spend to keep the project going. Maybe things like stickers could attract new contributors and therefore unburden the core team a bit.

This month, Hacktoberfest has lead to a significant spike of contributions of new features. I like that I currently only need to deal with reviews, bug fixes and releases - not new features. If giving out AntennaPod T-Shirts would keep the number of contributions that high, that would be pretty great :slight_smile:

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Good discussion. The situation is such, that aside from personal development time, we live in a world where some of these expenses are relatively low for developers on small projects.

On the other hand, I feel open source developers deserve to get compensated as much as anyone else. I think the points that @ByteHamster makes are all very valid when considering their situation. And I think we are best to respect the wishes of the developer.

That being said, I have two thoughts. The first is that I like the idea of stickers and merchandise (like a t-shirt or hoodie). In some ways, donations can become manipulative. Where as, if I buy a hoodie and know that I am purchasing something, but also know that €5 goes to help the developers, I would certainly do that.

My second thought is this, though I suspect I can guess what the response of @ByteHamster will be (though I hope I’m wrong :wink:). There is one other open source app that I use on my phone by a German developer and is hands down the best app I’ve ever used. It is free and it is also without ads of any type. However, there are “pro features” that can be unlocked by making a donation of €7 or more of which goes to support the work of the developer.

The app is so amazing and well designed and thought out, I’ve considered making another donation just because I want the developer to keep working. I feel similarly about AP.

These two apps (AP, plus the one I refer to above) plus Signal, are the only apps that I use every single day and am happy to support the work of the people behind it.

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My idea was actually to do it the other way around. If someone contributes a lot, they get a shirt for free. Users could get some stickers for free (on conferences, for example).

You probably guessed that but don’t think we need pro features. :slight_smile:

As AntennaPod does not have noteworthy monthly expenses, I don’t think we really need money. What we need is contributors. If money can be used to get more contributors, donations would be an option. An actual fee for users without having expenses sounds strange to me. Also, it would probably make me feel more obligated to work on AntennaPod, which I would rather try to avoid.

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Thanks. I completely understand your point about the “pro features”.

Whilst I understand your point about a shirt, there are many people who would like to do something or show support, but don’t have the skills to be a contributor. Like me for example. I’m not a developer, but love the app and would like to support your work. The other thing is that you and the others in the team shouldn’t be responsible for paying for shirts for others. No one did that for you.

You have :slight_smile: Helping users in the forum does not need development skills. It even helps with development because developers then have more time to focus on development. That’s why I would suggest that every active contributor (forum, developer, translator, etc) can get stickers/shirt. We would obviously need to decide what active means.

I meant to use donations to buy shirts, which could attract volunteers. Not (like in your previous message) to sell shirts to get money and then don’t know what to do with that money.

Great discussion going on over here! Perfect use of the forum :smiley:

This makes me think of a ‘buy one, give one’ scheme (ish, because only if you sell three or so hoodies you’d be able to give away one, but you get the point). I think ppl buying hoodies and others getting them for free doesn’t have to exclude each-other. As long as the ‘criteria’ for getting the free one are transparent.

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Excellent point that you make!

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Are you convinced of proceeding with donations, @ByteHamster, provided that it’s used only for what you describe?

If yes, how should we proceed? First develop the guidelines for handing out goodies? Maybe check the details of Open Collective (check how it would work with taxes and fees)?

I would love to see donations be used to promote AntennaPod via ads, and marketing on… Podcasts.

This would support podcasters, and get more users to use AntennaPod… and encourage people like me to contribute to make fixes and features for AntennaPod.

As a developer, I make fixes to the app for myself, but if my friends and co workers use AntennaPod, I would contribute more time.

So use donations to grow our end user community :slight_smile:

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That’s about what I’d expect to see people donate, even a year from now. If it covers that cost and then some, it would be great.

I am against any idea to introduce monetization to access some features. (The same way I am against it for apps like VLC or Notepad++ on PC)
Antenna won’t really be anymore a true free app.

I would find it best to only add a Donation section in AntennaPod next to the About one so user can easily be redirected appropriately if they want to donate.

Clothes could be a good idea but at which point do you become a commercial entity and need to have account and pay tax? (Keunes spoke about it and he is right)
Does other open source project have merch products? How do they manage the commercial part?

About promoting I am not sure it’s a good idea to pay for ads or marketing. It would seems odd for an open source project to do that. Are we not good enough so we have to pay some medias to speak about Antenna?
Promoting would be great but I think it has to be more like someone wanting to manage public relations so medias can be sollicited when there is something new and be active on social networks.
What’s been attempted right now with 2.0 is a good thing, I hope it will work.

I don’t want to sound against all ideas but we have to remember Antenna is a free open source from volunteers and not a company trying to impose its app. IMHO their methods are not appropriate for a good free open source app.
It would be a good idea to know on what other open source apps use donations for ? (apart running costs)

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I would contribute and it should be your discretion as to how the money is used. Personal or business. Also I commented over the summer that scrolling on the episode page frequently slid over to the new and favorites page. That issue has been resolved some how and I am very pleased. Great work.

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Agreed (but I think there’s consensus on this among our active community members)

I think the quantity doesn’t matter, more how you organise it. Either set up an official organisation, or trust individuals to organise this. If using Open Collective I think taxes are not a problem.

Not strictly open source, but at FOSDEM I bought a t-shirt from FSFE. From 0 A.D. I bought a CD with the music (which I could have totally downloaded for free myself). Vim seems to sell (via another party) t-shirts. Company-backed projects like Elementary, Ubuntu and probably countless others also sell merch. Would be interesting to hear of more examples.

I like the reasoning: more users, brings more developers. Advertising could help strengthen the ‘vicious circle’. And as a communications officer in daily life, I’d love to get AntennaPod a larger user base, even with paid ads. I like the idea of doing it through podcasts, as money flows to the community of makers we are ‘serving’ to our users.

But… we’d have to tread very carefully there, as certain podcasters I think we wouldn’t want to give money too. It quickly gets a very tricky process. Therefore I’d say: let’s keep it in mind in future, but let’s focus on the stickers (and maybe posters, for on events) first :wink:

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I am fine with stickers to start. Lots of work to ship these stickers to contributors like myself, thank you for taking it on

I don’t think stickers should be the start. The start should be covering costs and creating a surplus fund that should go towards future costs. Stickers are for bigger projects like Newpipe, etc that have many, many times more users than Antennapod and no commercial alternatives. I’m not sure why people think merch, stickers, etc are something to even consider at this point when the project hasn’t even opened up an Open Collective yet. We should do the following.

  1. Start an Open Collective

  2. Post the Open Collective button everywhere we can, like F-Droid, the forum, the site, the app, etc.

  3. See what kind of funding the project gets while covering current costs after a year and THEN decide if there’s enough surplus to do something else with the money.

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I am aware that pledges are not the same as donations and the numbers would likely drop (especially when switching to another platform) but it looks like users are already willing to donate around 7€ per week on liberapay. After paying the costs, that would leave 20€ per month for merch.

Guidelines could be along the lines of:

  • Developer who closed most issues in the last month
  • Translator who continuously contributed for the longest time
  • Forum member who posted most “accepted answers” in the last month

What happens if there are other notable actions that are not in the guidelines (eg. someone rewrites the website)? Who decides what volunteers will get merch? In case of hardware purchases (for example, I purchased a Chromecast only for testing with AntennaPod), who is eligible to get money for that?

This does not mean that I want to come up with full guidelines before starting but I think that before asking for money, we should at least generally agree on what the money will be used for and who has the final say.

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Glad to hear that it needs some serious thinking before starting anything. It is important to define what AntennaPod is, what is the project philosophy, what does it means to accept donations and how we use them accordingly.

In my opinion a great way (better than goodies which I am not in favor) to use cash are :

  • running cost of course
  • and if we want developer mercenary :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: : bounties to implement features (which will mean features / refactoring / debugging planning)

Now my rambling… :sweat_smile:

AntennaPod objective is developing an app which is free, friendly to use and sufficient for all podcast needs. I think it’s not a good thing to ask for money more than necessary to cover running cost. If there is ever a donation page it should be capped to avoid having too much cash… It’s a good thing if user want to give money but it doesn’t mean it should all be accepted.

Besides I thought there were already a limited time for development and a limited number of developers. Is there time to manage donations, giveaway, ordering products and so on? If somebody does it how does he reports what the cash is used for? If there is a lot of money won’t it be better to create some kind of entity? And how much more time would be needed?

Concerning myself I wouldn’t want to benefit in anyway from money given to the project just because I helped a little. I did in self interest because I wanted it to be better, because It feels good if we have a good community and so on. (And it helps me a lot in practicing English, look at how much I wrote :-D)
Besides producing stickers, clothes or anything else doesn’t sound too good for the environment. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

That’s it for me. dropping mic :wink:

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