Behind the scenes of #LinuxTag
(part 2): This time, we talk about a problem. As you may have noticed, the LinuxTag Call for Projects started recently. What happens right now, and what happened in all previous years: People from software projects apply for a sponsored project booth, about whom we are seriously unsure, wether their engagement is truly nonprofit. Worse: Explicit companies
apply for a sponsored project booth. This is a problem.
Why, sponsored project booths are a tool to present a free and open source software project to an official audience, without it having to pay for the booth. It is cost-free (travelling and accommodation costs are not covered, though). This tool is meant to support those projects, who have no money at their disposal - unless they would throw their very own private money in (in addition
to travelling and accommodation and, of course, their time). This is sort of the basic principle of LinuxTag: Them with (some) money support them without (any) money, in order to have all of them here - both the volunteer's and the business' side, so that diversity, attractiveness, and the spirit of open source can thrive.
Now, if you have people from a software project applying for a free booth, who seemingly (or even obviously) earn money from the software developed by that project, this seems to be wrong. So we try to tell them to rather sponsor the LinuxTag by paying for a booth, instead of grabbing a nonprofit project booth sponsored by others.
Some people, however, start to argue. Either they consider themselves sponsor enough - for example by promoting the LinuxTag event - and are convinced to thusly qualify for a cost-free project booth. Or they consider themselves truly nonprofit. "foo.org
is a free project", they say, "foo.com
is a different thing".
What to tell them?
There are also some people, that are not easyly to be attributed with "economic background". For example, you have a community around some software, and some of the members started a small business out of it. Or you have a free project, that is in heavy use in some company, and maybe even members of that project are employed for working on the project software, although they initially started to work on that project in their freetime.
Where to draw the line?
Any thoughts in the comments appreciated.
This is how we deal: The sales and project people at LinuxTag e.V. do their very best to find individual answers to individual cases. We want to high-five from the heart both with commercial and nonprofit faces. Still, some people remain unsatisfied. To them goes this appeal: Ask yourself, if you or your company really
doesn't earn money from your FOSS project, directly or undirectly. Neither lie to yourself nor to us, how much you can give. Then, choose facts, not tears, to state your situation.
Even if you still
remain unsatisfied and don't get a booth (either because you decided not to, or because the selection process for free booths didn't choose you), please remember: This is nothing personal. This is an event, run 100 percent by volunteers, who try to do it right. Criticise, but don't spoil our work. Join us, if you like! There is plenty to do - balancing between sales and projects is really just one thing amongst others.
Thanks for reading. :)