September 23, 2010

The 5 Dollar KDE Challenge

OK so today I was browsing the forums over on the Choqok website as it had been a while since I had been there. Not only did I want to see what was going on with KDE's favorite micro-blogging client, but I wanted to see how the novel idea of "support Choqok by funding the features you want" concept was working out. I thought this approach was rather a cool way to allow ordinary users a voice in shaping the application's development into being what they (the users) wanted it to be, instead of just reflecting the assumptions of the developers.

While there I looked around and was rather shocked at the low activity there on the forums. I was forced to assume two possible scenarios as to the lack of (apparent) funding: A. Choqok was developed with the vast majority of features anyone could ever need in a micro-blogging client, or B. People and their money are not easily separated in the free software universe. Honestly, in Choqok's case I would buy that the answer might be "A" for a large percentage of people. Choqok does some amazing things like thread conversations, allow users to subscribe or unsubscribe, read all recent communications from a particular poster, search trending topics, on and on...all from right with in the application's interface. Stellar!

Anyways this is not meant to be a review of Choqok, cool as it is, but to allow me to make a point: We are lucky to have many great applications in KDE. Everything from financial apps to great media players to CD/DVD authoring tools to a full-fledged office suite. Great games. And on and on it goes. Not to mention to gorgeous KDE Workspaces we luckily get to look at every day. And let’s not forget all the work and costs associated with running the KDE e.V. as it supports and funds so many KDE activities. And it's all free! And while we’re at it let's not forget the individual distributions out there that put it all together for us. And the bloggers and all of the people who donate their time in order to promote and support KDE in many ways every day.

But you likely know this already and are probably wondering what exactly is my point? My point is that nothing that humans produce in life is free. This holds true even though you as a user, by the sheer definition of free software, can decide that in your case it should be 100 pct free.
Getting back to Choqok for a moment, one of the requested features was for an in-line realtime translation option for Tweets and Dents that are not of one's native language. Brilliant! I often have cut and pasted posts from various micro-bloggers into Google Translate in order to see what message someone was trying to convey. Both the KDE Community and the micro-blogging community as a whole are completely international groups with divers users and developers from all over the world! So yes, a built-in translation service would be a very good thing, indeed. And other competing products out there have this already (yoono, for example).

Another cool thing for us over in the USA, and presumably Europe and other places around the globe as well, would be Facebook integration and Google Talk integration. I would personally love to see Choqok evolve into a total social client, incorporating the major social media providers out there. How about Nepomuk integration as a way to aggregate and track topics over larger periods of time? There might be a great value there as well. Again, the point being that nothing happens in the software world for free, whether its free software (as in speech) or software developed by developers who are paid by companies and sponsors. Even when a developer doesn't expect a dime in return for his or her time, time has a cost that can become significant as it takes away from other things the person could be spending their personal time on.

As I looked out on Identica tonight from within Choqok I was amazed at all the people out there using this little green headed birdie for making their Dents and tweeting their Tweets. And it hit me: What if every person using Choqok gave just one dollar (or Euro, or <insert your currency name here>). What if they all did it THIS MOMENT? How much better could Choqok be? Even though it's already a cool application, probably a lot better than it already is! So here it goes...


My challenge to you, dear KDE lovers, is to reach out and support your favorite KDE applications by sending the projects of your choice 5 dollars (or the equivalent in your denomination) once a month for 12 months. You could either send $5 a month to one group or project, or $5 a month to 12 different groups or projects. It really doesn't matter. The point is here is that many of us love KDE. We love the people, the products, and the Community. Think of how proud a free software developer would be to know (with a little unexpected boost in the wallet for all the time, love and effort) that people appreciate all his or her hard work, and want them to KEEP IT UP! What an emotional boost it would be - a nice sincere way to say "thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the projects and products you love making for us". What a difference we, mere users, could make!

And if you need proof what donating a few dollars a month can make, one needs to look no further than Linux Mint's fearless leader, Clem. It was mainly through donations that Clem was able to quit his daytime job and dedicate 100 pct of his work-hour time to Linux Mint. And look at it today, sitting near the very top (currently 3rd) over at Distrowatch for what now seems like forever. And the innovations keep coming now that the project is getting the time it needs. And yes, we all benefit from the effort of people like Clem and the team over at Linux Mint.

I'll start things off by donating $5 to Choqok for the development of the built-in translations. And next month another $5 will go to another worthy cause. What say you? Will you take the challenge? Will you buy lunch for a KDE developer or project member and say "Thank You, KDE Community!"? There are 100's of blogs about various KDE-related things published every month. How awesome would it be to have these great people start blogging about how their lives have been made a little easier because of some caring people from across the globe.


PS - Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't state the obvious, that all these wonderful KDE projects also need help and volunteers from us, the KDE Community, as well. So even if you can't spare $5 (or even $1?), you can help out in many other ways as well. Either way, your efforts will be rewarded in how good you feel, the difference we'll all make, and the friends you'll make along the way.