I was thinking how to motivate (and even grow) the community to help and resolve Scala issues.
The competition concept
What do you think about organizing a Scalac/Dotty issue-fixing competition? Give the community and interested companies a chance to place a monetary bounty on issues important to them, and have the community try and close them, if they wish to get the bounty. Since a lot of the community’s work is based-on volunteers, I suggest that there will be no direct money prizes, but a chance to choose which non-profit target will receive the bounty donation.
The work being put in is payed-in twice. Once, for the good of the Scala community, since annoying issues are being fixed. Second, for the good of the whole, since the bounty is given to a good cause.
Main points discussed
We need people to compete for bounties, and people to place bounties. So we need the competition to be known among Scala contributors and users (companies as well). Additionally, among general programming communities (e.g. computer science faculties), which might take a try at Scala because of the competition.
I have no idea if such things were done in the past. I know of regular-prized competitions and sprees. But this is kind of a crowdfunded-donation-competition that is somehow connected to the Scala github issue database (even if a loose connection that just lets the user write an issue number when placing the bounty). I guess it needs its own dedicated platform. However, maybe Scala Center can contact a few of the major crowdfunding platforms to see if they can provide something appropriate.
Since international money transactions may prove to be problematic, it is best to keep the Scala Center away from it. It is recommended to parter with donation organizations (like GiveWell). Such an organization can provide both a coverage-umbrella for the money transfers, and a publicity advantage, to encourage people to place bounties, knowing their money will be put to good use.
It is still important in my view that the bounty winner will have a range of charities to pick from, since this choice is the prize.
Like everything in life that involves money, a lawyer is required
An Honor-Based System
If handling the money proves to be too complex, it is possible to set the competition rules to be honor-based. Meaning, the bounty-setter is “pledging” to donate if the issue is resolved. Once the issue is resolved, the fixer mentions his/her target charity for inspection by the bounty-setter. Worst case, the bounty-setter can ‘nag-on’ the deal, and a Scala issue is still resolved. Yeah, it will leave a taste of bitterness, but it’s an acceptable ‘risk’, as an alternative to dealing with money…
It is also possible that the bounty-setter can say “Donating XXX$ for YYY when issue ZZZ is resolved”, but I think it is less “fun” the competitors.
There are other more small issues:
- Having Scala-Center as a target non-profit. This was proposed during our gitter discussion. Personally, I’m against it if Scala Center organizes the competition. However, I am open donating to open-source non-profits and other ventures (e.g, Wikipedia).
- Is there a time-limit? This bounty mechanism can theoretically remain active forever. I think that it is good to set a limit, since it will be more beneficial to all sides to reach completeness more quickly. However, if there is a limit and bounties are paid in advance, then there should be clear rules what happens to unclaimed bounties.
- Wall-of-honor: Since the competition doesn’t provide tangible prizes, I think it will be nice to have a page on Scala Center with the letter of thanks from the charities that were given donations.
Please comment your thoughts on the matter. I must say that both as a scala user and recent contributer I would have loved to take part in both ends of the competition: to place small bounties on issues I care about, and try to take a crack at issues other people care about.