[SciPy-dev] scipy mainpage lacks visits counter and "donate" button

Joe Harrington jh@physics.ucf....
Fri Sep 14 21:36:55 CDT 2007

Two thoughts:

First, while it's not a good gauge of the size of a project, once can
pretty much track growth rate by two means: downloads vs. time, and
email messages on the combined mailing lists vs. time.  The assumption
is that each is subject to an inflation/deflation factor that is roughly
constant.  The real growth rate might be higher because as a project
gets popular a larger fraction of users isn't linked into the host
community, but that just lends credence that the reported rates are at
least as high as quoted.  For example, after numpy 1.0 came out, there
was a big jump in the number of messages, which has sustained itself
since that time.

Second, I've been thinking of donations for a while, actually.  I can
think of a number of ways to spend small chunks of money to support
documentation and packaging, our two areas of greatest need, and others:

- support sending outreach ambassadors to conferences
- pay technical writing majors as summer students to write some good docs
- pay a student for a summer to build native installers for a few popular
    platforms and get them included in the mainstream of those distros
- support the conference
- seed an endowment

So, I'd propose:

Put up a microgrants page and a donate button; rig it to some mechanism
(Paypal+bank account?) that collects and stores money.  Put up a plot of
the pot vs. time so people can watch it grow and see the effect of their
donation ("that jump is mine").  The drops would be linked to the
results of each microgrant.

Put up some initial proposal ideas like those above, and solicit more.

Declare that when the pot reaches $11k, we'll make 2 microgrants of $5k
each, put $1k toward endowment, and set a goal of raising that sum by
April 30 for summer projects.

When the pot reaches $10k, start winnowing the proposals down by
community vote to 5.  Pick 3 community leaders who will choose 2 from
among those 5 after a phone interview with each proposer, listening to
community input, and a telecon with each other.  (I'm open to other
mechanisms, but remember that they must deal with Uncle Sam, provide
some accountability and fairness, and prevent hijacking of the pot by

The recipients would do a 1-page web-page report to the community when
they were done.  Those and the successful proposals would be permanent
exhibits on the microgrants page.  That would show donors what gets done
with their money, and might result in more donations.  It would also
help to build our community.  Maybe some of the tasks would get taken up
by volunteers.  Others might attract direct funding from someone with
leftover money in a research grant that uses SciPy.

Rinse, repeat.  Grow the endowment by taking $1k for every 2 microgrants
from the donated money, plus directed gifts.  Once it's large enough to
support 2 microgrants a year, it will contribute its interest above
inflation to the microgrants pot, and grow only by directed gifts.

If we're lucky and get some real money, we can consider supporting
programmers as well.  The reason not to do that right away is that we
need some way to juice our doc and package efforts.  On the other hand,
I don't object to putting up a directed-programming donation pot,
either.  While Enthough graciously uses some of its profit to pay its
people to work on development, others, like Travis O., are on their own,
at least much of the time.

We do need to do a couple of things to make this fly.  Initially, we'd
need a bank account, a few trustees, a basic charter, and some web work.
These are not difficult to do.  In the longer run, we'd want 501c3
status (which also makes it more likely that someone will remember us in
their will, and no I am not kidding, I've seen little community orgs get
big bucks this way).  The easiest way to do this is to associate with a
larger organization that takes smaller groups like ours under their
umbrella and feeds directed donations back to us.  This approach might
require changing our program somewhat to fit their model.  Finally, we
could also set up to sell "gear" to benefit the program.

I will pledge $300 if the idea flies.  


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