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Commercial project incubation service

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memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
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Libervis again refers to the whole network, not just this site.

I've had one idea for a commercial service that could be offered by Libervis.

Offer a service of registering (as well as DNS hosting and renewing) a domain name, web hosting and basic maintenance of an online project that fits the cause of Libervis in exchange for a lease of all advertising space on that site as long as the above service is offered. Advertising would comply to our ad policy. All surplus profits would be split between the hosted project and Libervis, meaning essentially that ideally each of these projects would eventually pay what it costs to renew domains and web hosting and earn a profit as a fee for maintenance and the service as a whole (time involved etc.).

For example, ProjectA.com registered, DNS hosted, web hosted and basic maintenance provided by Libervis. A couple of units of advertising space is occupied on behalf of Libervis. Direct costs of these services are $70 a year ($10 for domain, $5 a month for hosting if taking that one $25 a month VPS optimally hosts 5 projects). This is $6 a month. If site starts making $50 a month, $6 would be diverted to Libervis as recuperation of direct costs and $22 as a fee for the service, whereas other $22 would proceed to the project.

From project owner's point of view, he invested absolutely nothing but time into it (time he chooses to invest) and got $22 a month. From Libervis's point of view we did an initial faith based investment and ideally covered for that and earned $22 a month for our time and effort. Smiling

This kind of service may be only one of the services offered by Libervis as an incubator of ideas and projects, assuming we ultimately agree this to be its method.

This idea could be applied to existing incubated projects like EasyLFS, Passiflora etc.

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
So libervis network would

So libervis network would become a socially responsible webhost for socially responsible projects, with a nice free hosting deal?

It is an interesting idea. It would give us some more ad-sales credibility too ("your ad on 25 sites" sounds much better than what we can offer now Smiling ). The only downside I see is that some projects just won't fly, and that will mean a lost investment. On the other hand, failed projects cost no bandwidth, and little server space, only the domain name is a problem. So I suggest offering three plans:

basic - yourname.libervis.net, costs $0

premium - yourname.yourtopleveldomain, costs $9 in the first year, domain name will be sponsored in the next years if ad revenue can pay for it, will cost $9 a year otherwise, domain name ownership can be transfered for $0 at any time.

ad-free - costs as much as the actual costs, plus a bit.

Furthermore, I think we should offer somewhat standardized packages. You don't want to have to check if everyone is inserting their ads like they promised to. To compensate for a slight lack of customizability, we can offer some nice extras:

- access to a server with various collaboration software (passiflora too?)
- free account on a jabber + mail server with both IMAP and webmail (extra accounts cost $something a year)
- other goodies?

For a fee, we can also keep forums and the like free of spam and abuse.

memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
tbuitenh wrote: On the
tbuitenh wrote:

On the other hand, failed projects cost no bandwidth, and little server space, only the domain name is a problem.

Not necessarily. It's just $10 a year. We could have a policy that would say that if the project remains dormant and unprofitable for one year the domain wont be renewed by Libervis, so it will either be transfered to the project owner or left to expire.

Basically, if it shows itself as a failure, the last renewal before that is established would be the last renewal for that project so the project would either have to close or exit the incubator.

We would also have some sort of a screening process, at least some guidelines which would have to be met for a project to be accepted in the first place. Projects wont be accepted the way wordpress.com accepts new bloggers (immediately). It's not so much a mass service thing as much as a number of one-on-one partnerships.

But of course, the plans you described could be offered as well. I'm just not sure how compelling the basic plan would be considering that getting a subdomain is already easy these days, even with quite rich free web hosting.

Another issue that comes to mind is that regarding financial transparency. How would the project owner know if I am paying him exactly his half as agreed? I guess I could keep taking screenshots of my google adsense account balances for each channel (site) or post/email in which I make a deal for a particular site, but that'd be kind of daunting.

So this is still not very clear cut, but it's an idea.

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
The size of "$10 per year

The size of "$10 per year per failed site" really depends on how strict you are about accepting customers. But if you accept only risk-free ones, you'll miss out on a lot.

Quote:

Another issue that comes to mind is that regarding financial transparency. How would the project owner know if I am paying him exactly his half as agreed? I guess I could keep taking screenshots of my google adsense account balances for each channel (site) or post/email in which I make a deal for a particular site, but that'd be kind of daunting.

As if such screenshots couldn't be forged... And keeping a separate account balance for each site is going to be difficult if we're going to have, say, 100 members. We really should run our own ad server.

Revenue sharing is going to get confusing because of taxes, too...

I think trying to be cheaper than free is too complicated. But there is a different way: next to free services, we could offer services that nobody in their right mind would ever offer for free to a random project, such as forum moderation ( = cleaning up spam and obvious trolls), web design, helpdesk for software used in the free service, etc. Now if a user makes us enough money through the ads we place on their site, they get a gift certificate they can spend on one of the other services.

Damn, I don't like the lock-in-ish thing that somehow got into that idea.

To be honest I dislike any business idea that involves ads. Both because I dislike ads, and because I'm getting more and more sure the whole ad business is going to implode. Nowadays google has to put ads on the radio to sell advertising space, in the past their ad service sold itself. Another sign is that I'm no longer the only one who says that bubble is going to burst, I hear others say it too.

...

Forget about the whole advertising thing. If a site is successful, then taking care of the advertising themselves and paying someone else the usual hosting price will be a better deal for them than sharing the advertising revenue with us.

Here is a MUCH better idea: the first year is free, including a domain name. We don't care if you want to put ads on your site or not, but we won't put them there. We even offer free advice on making the site profitable.
The next years, hosting is rented at a decent price.
The catch? The first 5 (or some other number) years, we own the domain name. So if you don't pay in the second year (and perhaps move to some other host), we sell the domain name to the highest bidder, or keep it for our own purposes.

Yes, that is lock-in. But at least we're not locking anyone into buying extra services from us. And actually it's quite similar to a loan, only instead of money you get a service for "free" when you can't pay for it yourself, which has to be paid back later.

Meh. I still don't like it. Why can't we just sell a service at its actual price, and let the client figure out how they pay for it? Everything else is dishonest in one way or another.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
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Improved last idea, now

Improved last idea, now without lock-in: first year is free, domain name is yours after a year, but if you move to a different host, you won't be linked from our sites anymore, which means a lot less traffic, especially if we pull in a lot of RSS to relevant places on libervis sites.

memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
Replacing lock in with

Replacing lock in with incentive. Nice. Smiling

As said on IRC and in summary, this kind of service is not absolutely essential for Libervis as a community powered incubator. Just by helping people form new ideas we are already to an extent playing that role.

But providing a free service to people who, as a result of our discussions, want to start a project, is a nice incentive for people to actually consider coming to Libervis to forge their ideas with us, and it is also just a nice thing to do. It increases our traffic and reputation potential.

So, I think, so far, your last suggestion must be a winner. Smiling

Cheers

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Ok so one approach is to

Ok so one approach is to make it complementary to Sourceforge, the facilities here could look at the full picture of what makes a successful project and offers some of the missing pieces in package deals.

The other thing to consider is GNUHerds, the job section seems operational but it's still in beta. It's easy for me to suggest some collaboration, quite another for each project to work out the details of what could work while remaining consistent with respective goals. That's my unease with divided resources manifesting itself there, two more teams trying to get into a very crowded place, but there's something to be said for the diversity of trying different approaches.

I'm always in two minds about the way to approach these things, one impulse is to work out a great plan and get busy for the big unveiling in x years, hoping no-one beats you to the punch and it's still relevant when it's released. The other is to get something working, anything, and build from there. While you have to struggle through low initial take-up you learn and improve as you go. Then if you want to collaborate on synergistic joint missions with anyone you have something more tangible to bring to the table.

PS http://opensourceparking.com/ just popped into my head, could be another carrot in the stew.

memenode's picture
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I'm not sure if it will be

I'm not sure if it will be complementary to source forge, or anything really. The thing is quite open ended, not limited to software, social networks, brochure kind of presentation sites, community forums etc. etc. The only rules are that it pursues the goals which are consistent with the Libervis vision, as described in the last post here (although I'm still working it out in my mind about how to present this scheme in a much clearer and definitive sense).

It might be worth describing the process as I see it exactly:

Once this revision is implemented Libervis.com becomes the community center of this whole network. It plays a role of both a think tank and a most general discussion forum about deeper issues surrounding humanity, its technology, its environment and its social justices and ethics - ultimately freedom as the fundamental value that allows all of this to make any sense in the first place. It would be evident that freedomware and free culture is what we're working on the most, but it would be open to the pursuance of any topic the result of which might be the furthering of our ultimate purpose: A world in which we and our technology advance in a socially, ethically and ecologically responsible way (much like the utopia of Star Trek Eye ).

It may seem too general, but there is really one word that can more or less precisely encompass what this makes Libervis.com: a community of thinkers. Not big and small thinkers, not rich and poor thinkers, just thinkers - people who wish to advance themselves and the world and share Libervis' vision of the future world. What we do here is discuss, consequently write articles, consequently share new ideas and consequently develop these ideas. It starts with a "hello, I am interested in this or that and wish it would be this way or that way" and end up with "I am so glad I came here, now we actually have a project and Libervis will host us for one year to develop it, a project which pursues those wishes I expressed when I first came here".

And that's the key here.

So in short, the process from the point of view of a new user is as follows. Let's call the user simply "Joe Ambitious":

1. Joe Ambitious comes across Libervis, reading an intriguing discussion.

2. Finding similar interests being pursued in the discussion he joins in and starts expressing his own views.

3. As he continues to engage in this exchange of views as well as debates, he learns some new things, BUT also gets new ideas.

4. Being ambitious as he is, these new ideas he starts, together with the community here, developing into concrete plans

5. The community staff (including me) sees this and offers to help realize this project by offering free domain name and hosting for one year.

And you know from this topic how it goes then. The project becomes a part of Libervis Network so long as Libervis Network is hosting the site and domain.

At the same time, and through pretty much the same process above, we come up with new project ideas ourselves (we the staff, or myself at least) hence starting projects which forever stay as part of Libervis Network, making it financially ever more sustainable and socially ever more reputable and influential.

So, this pretty much leaves ANY collaboration opportunity widely open, from sourceforge to GNUHerds, but it depends on a specific idea being developed and a specific project. And all the time, any organization out there who wants to participate in the above process can do so if they wish. Or some can even mimic our model of incubating new projects themselves. It's not like this is necessarily a very unique approach, one way or another some projects on the web may already be doing something like this. Tux Project comes to mind, but their focus is more specifically on GNU/Linux and Freedomware marketing and their style may perhaps be a bit different. They are more practical outright while we intend to be tackling the deep issues first and then lead it to the practical stage from there.

Cheers

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