Forum:Standards and documentation/Budget, Donations, and Succession Planning

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ForumsStandards and documentation → Standards and documentation/Budget, Donations, and Succession Planning

Hello, happy mappers!

I'd like to discuss the idea of 'succession planning', or essentially futureproofing the leadership and budget of OGF. This obviously would be none of my business if Luciano did not ask me to head this conversation, and given its importance, I did some digging and conversing to build a good proposal.

Firstly, let's take a look at Luciano's budgeting which you can see here.

I will calculate the net deficit incurred since Luciano took over OGF funding & server hosting in August 2021 until June 2023. Approximate values are taken as is. ($400 + $350 + ... + $305.50) = $5,840.50 spent ($181.39 + $194.8 + ... $240.69) + $473.77 single-time donations = $5,480.95 donated $5,840.50 - $5,480.95 = $359.55 deficit

That's not too bad, and Luciano expressed that he was more than willing to cover the money loss, so why worry? Because things go south when you look at the trend. Let's take donations from January to June 2023 and spending from July 2023 as reference for average donation amounts against current monthly costs (because donations vary more than costs).

$305.50 monthly spending $235.91 average monthly donations $305.50 - $235.91 = $69.59 average monthly deficit

$70 ain't really anything to gawk at but it adds up over time. If Luciano kept this up for just three more years, that would total over $2,500 of money lost on his end just for our hobby. To some, that's a fortune, and we all know Luciano cannot run OGF forever. We don't want to pass on this deficit to other community members / site runners. Thus, we enter:

Succession Planning!

Luciano expressed to me that taking over as the sole active admin after Thilo disappeared burned him out. It's a lot of work to deal with petty wants and territory complaints as well as server upkeep and payment. Thus, decentralization and delegation (e.g. Austinhuang owning OGFC but others administrating it) as well as maintaining transparency and visibility to our OGF community when choosing leaders and managers is vital to embolden the site's purpose and ultimate success.

So let's talk about it! What are your ideas for managing OGF's budget and administration now and in the near future? All members are welcome to comment here. Thanks everyone! --CharlieG

Thank you @CharlieG for opening this conversation. My main concern is this: Thilo did NOT plan well for when he would lose interest in hosting OGF, and as a result the transition to my hosting was much more difficult than it needed to be. In a well-run organization, even small "clubs" such as ours, we should plan for the event when the current technical host or sponsor loses interest or is unable to continue. I am very grateful to the other members of the admin team, especially @wangi and @Alessa who have provided technical know-how where I have fallen short. We really need to cultivate other members of the community who have strong technical abilities because THAT's where the community will fall apart if there isn't sufficient support. The financial side is important too, but I actually consider it easier - if I stop being able to afford the deficit in our budget, I simply start more actively requesting donations! But our "technical deficit" is more stressful: if I stop being able to maintain the servers and keep things running, right now there's only @wangi. And it's not fair to him because he too might not be able to pick up the slack (due to work or whatever).--Luciano (talk) 12:56, 30 July 2023 (UTC)
I’d also like to point out that OGF is on a much more stable footing today than it was a few years ago – for instance, I remember when reading the wiki was only possible with certain workarounds like stopping the browser at a certain point. While I agree with the sentiment that legacy planning for a collective hobby we’ve all dedicated so much time to is always important to address, I’d like to assure the community at large that there is no imminent threat of OGF shutting down any time soon. —TheMayor (talk) 14:36, 30 July 2023 (UTC)

It's less about succession planning, and more about building capacity. If you have the capacity, then an individual moving on doesn't have a critical impact to the on-going project. Yes, it might not be much fun, but it's doable.

We went from Truck Factor 1 with Thilo, and for most aspects of the running of the site we're now sitting at Truck Factor 2. But there are areas which are gaps - be that in knowledge or interest:

  • Proper iD integration for OGF
  • Overpass
  • JavaScript and it's use in various custom scripting
  • Containerization
  • Always - OSM software stack and it's provisioning

It would be great to learn of users with the skills to help out with these. /wangi (talk) 15:39, 31 July 2023 (UTC)

Thanks for this perspective, Wangi! I hadn't actually heard of "truck factor" (bus factor) before, but it's a perfect way to conceptualize our issues. If I get eaten by a bear while out for a walk, tomorrow, you could probably recover everything and keep it running successfully, which is a better situation than where we were with Thilo several years ago. But we can do better.
One thought I've had is to set up a separate Linode account for our "official" OGF servers (as opposed to my other projects, including Arhet, etc.). But I don't want to proceed on that without rethinking our organizational structure some - it strikes me as too informal but I'm not sure how to formalize it better.--Luciano (talk) 16:59, 31 July 2023 (UTC)

It seems a shame no more people have responded to this topic as i guess it's at least somewhat important. But then i think TheMayor is right in saying that for most of us it's only a hobby and therefore not the highest priority to invest much time or money in. I'm afraid that's true for me at least. I enjoy working on my country by this site for almost ten years now. But also i'm already glad to keep JOSM working for me to keep editing. I don't see myself the right person to get more involved in even more technical 'stuff', nor i have the time to invest more in this project.

For me the easiest way to contribute to contribute more would be upgrade my subscription by Patreon, but there i'm having some issues too. The first few weeks after the first post here, i was unable to do anythying with present subscription as there seemed to be some delay with the money being transferred, and therefore allowing no change to subscription. After that message was gone i now have another issue for the past two weeks that i can't change my subscription without changing the 'card' with which my subscription is payed. As i only have one bankcard i asked Patreon for help with this new issue. But they have been slow in responding to my issue. Only yesterday i got a response with more questions on the matter. I've answered them immediately so now i have to wait again for how to get the issue solved. I hope soon so i can financially contribute a bit more here.

Until that time i see no way for myself to help this site. But i hope others can help. Antoon (talk) 08:32, 24 August 2023 (UTC)

@Antoon Thank you for your comment! I actually share your frustration with Patreon. They are a large company, these days, and they don't provide good customer service to me, either. You are not the only person who has had trouble donating to help support OGF. With that in mind, I finally got myself organized a bit and I have set up two new payment methods for supporting OGF, using Stripe and Liberapay. I have added links to the bottom of the "Donate" page (OpenGeofiction:Donate). Everyone, please give them a try if you haven't had good luck with Patreon.--Luciano (talk) 15:50, 24 August 2023 (UTC)