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It's time to update my 2005 book "Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project". Help me do it right.
314 backers pledged $15,376 to help bring this project to life.

Going into overfunding! New reward, and more...

Posted by Karl Fogel (Creator)

My sincere thanks to all of you for backing this project.  You have made it possible for me to update Producing Open Source Software in the ways it most needs.

And there's still a week left in the Kickstarter campaign!  I'd like to take this into overfunding -- below I'll explain why, and explain how you can help.  No, it doesn't have to involve pledging more money (you've done enough!); it's about spreading the word.

Instructions are at the end, if you want to skip past the explanation that follows :-).

A few people have asked "Hey, why doesn't O'Reilly Media just pay you to do the update?"  You have to understand that books like this are not about the money, for either the publisher or the author.  Even with the rather nice advance O'Reilly paid for the first edition in 2005, the time spent writing is not paid for at anything like a salary level, nor did I ever expect that -- the economics of publishing just don't work that way, for non-best-selling books.  Which is fine.  I wrote it because I care a lot about collaborative free software projects and helping them succeed.

Now this Kickstarter campaign has raised enough for me to make the updates I know the book absolutely needs.  But with overfunding, it can go farther.  As I said in the original Kickstarter campaign launch:

"The amount I've set as the threshold is enough to make all the important updates I'm aware of right now, but things don't need to stop there. If this project gets overfunded, that's even better: that would allow me to spend even more time improving the book, including doing more research (e.g., talking to people in more open source projects, companies, etc), having more colleagues review the work-in-progress & incorporating their feedback, improving site infrastructure to better automate the ebook builds, improving the translation infrastructure, etc. More money == better book and better access, basically. I'll be doing my work in a publicly visible repository, so anyone can stop by and see what's going on at any time. Patches welcome, of course."

Let me make that a little more concrete.  The updates I currently have planned are based on my experiences working with various open source projects since the first edition came out in 2005.  More Kickstarter funding allows me to go farther outside those boundaries -- to do more research and better research: for example, talk to people at a large corporation about why the organization doesn't contribute much to open source projects it depends on, to people in government about some of the reasons they say standard open source licenses have special problems when used by governments, etc.  Quality research takes time, and more funding means more time.

I also want to make some infrastructure improvements.  The book's many translators have been working with somewhat fragile infrastructure for some time now; they've been very patient and persistent, but it would make their lives a lot easier (and thus enable more & faster translations) if I could devote some time to improving that infrastructure.  A similar situation holds even with the English version: the book is released online, but too often one glitch or another causes the PDF or the ePUB regeneration to fail, and the online copy lags for a while until the probelm can be fixed.  With some concentrated attention, I could either solve those problems myself or hire area experts to solve them.  Similarly, I'd love to set up an online annotation system so people can more easily comment on (meaning "submit bug reports against") the book.

I won't know how to begin prioritizing among these needs until I know how much extra time my readers' generosity has bought me, but these are the things I'm aiming for with overfunding.  If you think these are worth it (and I do, or I wouldn't be asking), please retweet:

Kickstarter campaign to update @ProducingOSS book going into overfunding! New reward available...  . Thanks, backers!

(And blog it, Reddit, dent, Google+, Facebookify, etc.  See also, where I've blogged about it.)

I've also added a new reward level (Michael Bernstein's excellent suggestion):

Pledge $10 or more

"... I will dedicate one of the book’s version control commits to you, or to the project, person, or organization you designate. Note that all the book’s vc checkins go into a publicly visible repository."

After much thought, I've decided not to add any stretch goals or extra fancy rewards, though people have suggested some clever ones.  This is a book, and I know what needs to be done: the best reward I can give for overfunding is to make the book as good as it can possibly be for the time spent.

Remember, we're already at the initial goal.  If you do nothing more, the book will still get updated.  Now it's just about how far we can take it.  If you'd like to see how far, please help spread the word.

Thank you all for the support you've already given!  It means the world to me.  I'm greatly looking forward to making these updates and releasing the second edition of Producing Open Source Software.



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