DonPark, CalebPhillips and RussellSenior were talking a little on April 7, 2006 about an idea (probably not original) that Russell had regarding a way to self-fund nodes. The basic idea is to have a node funded by its users on the pledge drive model. Russell's initial idea was to divert users to a splash/donation page with increasing frequency as funds available for the node decreased. Don didn't like the idea of getting bugged more than once at login. Caleb and I suggested that if funds were really running out to support the node, then getting bugged in advance might be better than losing the node altogether. Caleb had the idea that, instead of the mid-session diversions, we could put some kind of node-local thermometer on the splash indicating node balance and what the funds paid for, that would be up-to-date on each login, providing feedback to the users about the status of the node finances, hopefully encouraging them to donate. Donators could, at their option, be recognized on the splash page. Donators would get no other special privileges, other than recognition (if they want it) of their contribution.
Russell thinks that this model could have some benefits in some situations. The impending move of Node55 adjacent to the Hollywood Library and the possibly unreasonable expectation that the new host node (a neighbor of the existing node) will bear the entire cost of operating the node, is one possible application. Another is the future expansion of the Mississippi Grant Project. The funds used to build out the existing MGP network will soon be exhausted. Developing funds to extend the network further off of Mississippi Avenue than current funding allows is an unresolved issue. PersonalTelco does not have the cash flow to independently fund operation of these networks. Business sponsorships are great, but diverse and motivated financial assistance by users might have desirable side effects, e.g. of user-awareness of costs, user-engagement in network health, etc. In some situations (e.g., where sponsored/hosted by a business) the node host is the most motivated and/or most capable of keeping the node in operation, and the stability of total node-host sponsorship trumps.
This is a totally unproven, possibly unworkable idea. No software or financial accounting is remotely implemented to support this idea. However, it seems like an intriguing one worth further consideration and/or future experimentation. Your thoughts are hearby solicited.