Clarification of the Liberapay endorsement


Someone filed a bug report because … the Liberapay page is unclear. To improve that I changed the following:

  • Add a description to the SecureDropCommunity beneficiary to link it to the forum and the documentation so that a visitor knows it is a collective of individual instead of having no clue what it is about.
  • Edit the SecureDrop team to add my endorsement so a visitor knows it is not a scam.

Is that enough? Suggestions welcome!

1 Like

/me was the reporter of this issue.

Aha, so that funds there are only used for community contributors and not by the core developers?

BTW the link and official statement in the forum is nice, but linking the team to the GitHub organization of SecureDrop or so might be even better. Although then it could be unclear whether the donations go to the community or the official team.

It is to be spent by volunteers (as opposed to people who get money for participating). If we define a core developer as someone who contributes on a regular basis and is generally trusted by other developers to Do The Right Thing, there are two core developers who are volunteers (@heartsucker and myself). And there are dozens of other contributors who do not write code (which is usually implied by “core developer”) but they matter as much as we do.

You got the idea, exactly. We are advocating for a decentralized community. There are more than one center. They contribute to the same project, SecureDrop, but in different ways.

Hmm, okay, that’s just still confusing for users, who want to support the project. And, IMHO, a central foundation or something like that, who distributes the money to all contributors in a fair way, would not be a bad thing.

We’re precisely trying to decentralize and you’re right: the first challenge is to communicate that in a non confusing way. We’re so used to having centralized projects that we automatically look for the center of all things. And when we don’t find it we assume something is off.

The problem with a foundation is that it re-centralizes everything. What is beneficial to SecureDrop it to have at least two independent organizations working together, on a equal footing. And no formal foundation and umbrella on top of them. We automatically assume this is a bad thing because it only happens when the project forks. But it does not have to be this way.

I don’t have an answer and your concern gives me a lot to think about.

Thanks for the description. Maybe that thing can be put into the description somewhere, too…

BTW I know others on Liberapay, which have a " <projectname> community" (e.g. “SecureDrop community”) account there. (maybe in addition to the one for the core devs/core fundation/whatever it is), which may be a way to go.

Also Liberapay can be used for distributing money in the community at least. As people may be verified (as contributors) and added to the team. The downsite is they can take out as much money as they can, but well… somewhere you have to trust them.
Currently you have one personal account in the team and one, which seems to be more or less the community thing. This rather looks like centralization, considering I have no idea who runs that one account. (And BTW, it’s possible and not bad to do so, if you e.g. have one account for “hardware costs” or such stuff, as Liberapay itself has it, but it should be clearly labeled.)

FWIW, I generally think that community-run projects like this fundraiser should be branded as “SecureDrop Community” as rugk suggests, and where possible this should link to an explanation of how SecureDrop Community work is currently organized. If in future this develops into a larger user group or network (“Press Freedom Technology Network” or whatever), then the name can be updated accordingly.

It may make sense to create a derivative of the SecureDrop logo for easily identifying these community initiatives. And I don’t think there would be any harm in mentioning that Freedom of the Press Foundation sponsors the bulk of SecureDrop development right now, so donating to FPF is also a great way to support SecureDrop. FPF’s work and additional community efforts around SecureDrop are complementary, as in many other free software / open source projects. :slight_smile:

Having a different name/logo would indeed clarify things. What really matters is what we do and not so much the name. It would be like Debian GNU/Linux, RedHat or Ubuntu, all including the Linux kernel but having a different name. It would be slightly more difficult to distinguish all of them if they had the same name and logo :slight_smile:

That would match a known model where you have the main project brand and then, on the side and subject to approval, a community which is not independent. I think we’re trying to setup something different here. Two independent organizations which have different structures and goal, working together. So there is no subordination.

@eloquence how do you feel about that?

Yes, but I do not see these two organisations behind the Liberapay account. (Actually it is two accounts. One private and one, where I don’t know what foundation/organisation is behind it.) You could of course setup multiple accounts or not. Or one account, where you have two members (one the one foundation one the other). Or whatever…

@dachary I don’t think the use of “SecureDrop community” implies that one is subordinate to the other, but one way to create assurance of that in the long run would be to draft trademark guidelines that are clear and permissive. I’d be happy to work with you and Trevor on that, but I don’t expect there’d be any problem using the phrase “SecureDrop community” for stuff like this Liberapay account before such guidelines are in place.

A different way to sidestep this issue is to avoid the use of the name – obviously not workable in all cases, but for something like this fundraising account, it does seem like a reasonable option. As you know, I still favor the model of a broader Press Freedom Tech focused user group or network, as I suspect that not all related volunteer effort will fall under the SecureDrop umbrella anyway. Such a group could list support for SecureDrop development among other activities, and fundraise without the need for any relationship with Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Right. The Liberapay account is managed by the community. And the other SecureDrop crowdfunding is managed by Freedom of the Press Foundation. They are independent, decision making is different and they both contribute to SecureDrop in their own way. If both had to reference each other they would not be independent. Of course there is nothing preventing such a cross reference and that is likely to happen eventually. The important thing is that they do not have to.

This is reasonable and that’s what most project do: they have a trademark, establish rules for using the trademark and organizations are allowed to use the trademark on the condition that they obey the rules. It has merits and there are plenty of good examples to follow to create a governance based on that.

We want to create something decentralized and there unfortunately is no way to decentralize the ownership of a trademark. It would have to be owned by an incorporated entity or individual and we are back to a centralized model.

Not having a SecureDrop trademark is a good thing. If there was a trademark it would block independent organizations from supporting SecureDrop.

While this is true, I feel like it’s slightly misleading in the sense that (to my knowledge, saying this a merely a volunteer and not official FPFer) FPF doesn’t disburse payment to community members. It seems some of the point of LIberaPay is collect money from the community to give back to the community which is similar, but not equivalent, to how FPF handles money.

This could even be done like BitHub where the fund makes direct payments to community members. The community could then decide how the money is spent (price tags on tickets they want closed, flat rate for all tickets, etc). This could be done outside org / board approval.

@dachary I can’t speak to FPF’s approach to the “SecureDrop” name at this point, so I’ve reached out out-of-band to move that conversation forward.

@heartsucker I don’t see them as fundamentally different in kind, just in degree. But I think we all agree that these different fundraising efforts are clearly complementary. We should just develop clear language around this, so donors can readily understand the difference between pages like and .

I’m pretty sure the proposed structure to allocate the money raised is one of a kind :wink:

2 posts were split to a new topic: Using the SecureDrop name and logo