Idea: Dependency Funding Tool

I have drafted a proposal for what I call “The Dependency Funding Tool” (TDFT).

It’s purpose is to provide funding to all free software projects, regardless of their proximity or visible to the people utilizing them.

TL;DR

  • The tool relies on a federated graph of project (as nodes) connected by dependencies (directed and weighted edges)
  • To calculate how reliant one project is on another all paths between the two projects in the dependency graph are taken, their edge weights multiplied and then summed up.
  • The tool analyzes the usage of a person and creates a list of projects they are directly or indirectly reliant on by calculating for each program they interact with directly all the projects they depend on and sorting them by their dependency.
  • The tool can be configured to send automatic recurring fees or direct people to a project’s CONTRIBUTE files.
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The problem @CSDUMMI describes is also acknowledged in this article linked from SustainOSS forum: Sponsoring dependencies: The next step in open source sustainability - Sustain Open Source Forum

Hostea is a collective that dedicates 25% of its income to funding dependencies. It needs tooling to implement its revenue sharing model.

This was already discussed in the forge federation general chatroom and I do realize the tools discuss here does not exactly fit. But I suppose it’s worth mentioning, in case someone comes up with a brilliant idea that would bring it in scope.

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@CSDUMMI as mentioned in chat, on Hacker News I bumped into a discussion about Microsoft open-sourcing a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) project. Didn’t know what a SBOM meant, but it looks to be interesting for this project. I documented here. There are existing tools that can do the dependency analysis that this idea needs.

A python function implementing the revenue sharing model was done and can be found here. It is a NP-hard problem and there will be cases where it cannot compute the optimal solution in a finite time despite the heuristics. But Hostea is small still and this is unlikely to happen right now.

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