An experiment in crowd-funding prioritization of new feature implementations for web browsers.
Igalia is an open-source consultancy specialized in developing features in all of the major browser engines. We believe that a commons works best with a diverse set of voices, interests and investments. Open Prioritization is an effort to allow a more direct way for everyone to help shape and support the commons.
Our first experiment has recently finished.
Our first Open-Priotization experiment to choose a project to crowdfund launched with 6 possible candidates representing work in every browser engine, across many areas of the platform and at various stages of completeness. The idea was to both begin some interesting conversations into how the commons is funded and to enable new ways for more people to both help diversify investment in it and help prioritize the features that arrive, and when. After 90 days, we have a clear choice. One project advances:
:focus-visible which achieved almost 90% of it's goal. You can read more about the experiment and various thoughts about it in this blog post.
We'll be posting an update soon with a means of actually committing funds for your pledges through Open Collective and reaching out to those of you who pledged directly with that information. As funds come available, our engineers can start to schedule work and begin the upstreaming process.
:focus-visible in WebKit/Safari
:focus-visible pseudo-class matches only in heuristic cases where a native indicator would be
shown, thus making it possible to have good style and retain good accessibility.
Status: Shipped by default in Chrome and Edge 86 in October 2020 : Planned for shipping by default in Firefox 85. Being crowdfunded by Igalia as the Open Prioritization crowd choice.
Open Prioritization is a way for the larger community of people and organizations who don't generally work on browser implementations or web standards to have a concrete, practical and powerful voice in the process. A lot (not all) of what happens or fails to happen comes down to the ability to prioritize work. To reach completion as a real standard requires that all work has made it through every vendor's priorities, as informed by their budgets in very concrete ways. Prioritization is hard, there aren't right answers. Open Priorization aims to allow many individials and organizations to get together to decide and back it up with the economic ability to get it done.
We’re sure you have many questions, so we’ve tried to provide a number of potential answers to what we believe will be common questions below…
Isn't this the various browser vendors job?
Yes, and no. No matter how large a vendors budget, there are still very practical limits and prioritization is necessary. The net impact of this is a general bottleneck that impacts the commons negatively in the form of delays or lack of bandwidth to consider how to help move something forward. The historical system for supporting the commons is of our own making, and we believe that things are healthier if we diversify both the investment and the voices we consider. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Igalia has been expanding the number of ways that these priorities can take shape for several years, bringing rapid advancement of features to the platform by expanding investment in the commons.
Why won't <company x> just do it?
If you wait long enough, they might? In fact, it might happen next quarter - but the simple fact is that it is often gated by practical and boring realities and prioritization. If they aren't working on something, it's because they are working on something else. If they work on this, it will be something else they aren't working on. There is only so much pie to divy up. Open Prioritization lets us not just ask for a piece of finite pie to go to this and not that, it lets us just decide to bring more pie for things that we collectively agree are important.
How does it work?
Igalia looks for a list of things that we could advance and makes sure that this is acceptable to browsers, and that it isn't already in their plans. We try to estimate what it would take to get it advanced. We work with Open Collective to enable us to pool funds, earmarked for projects. As funds become available, we do work and invoice the collective.
How much of my donation actually goes toward the project?
A rough illustration is that if you donate $100 toward a cause, between $91 and $96 of that is able to be invoiced by Igalia. 4% of it ($4 in this case) goes to support what is called a fiscal host (the legal entity, which collects money, deals with invoices, agreements, taxes as so on). Payment processors also take a cut and that is variable depending on how you pay. Paying with bank accounts is cheaper (free sometimes) than with credit cards or other means.
…But, I am interested in <something else> :(
Great! Please share your ideas with us about what we should consider! Also, if you’re an organization willing to fund some standards work to help advance this, we’d still love to talk to you - it's most of what we do!
Where does the budget go?
It goes directly to development costs (i.e. salaries) invoiced to the Open Prioritzation Collective
What is the minimum pledge?
There is none, really.
So, a whole lot of developers could make something happen with lots of small dollar pledges?
Why would developers pay? Is this a good idea?
There are enough reasons that this is a post of its own.
Can I support the larger idea?
Absolutely. The Open Priorization Collective can collect general funds, including sustaining or recurring funds that will be made available to future projects decided by the community or to projects whose estimates fell a little short of real costs.
Can companies pledge?
Definitely. In fact, often we expect the majority of funding to come from organizations.
However, we believe it is very possible for developers to help fund the commons via large amounts of small dollar donations, and that this can happen more quickly than businesses can decide alone. It really just depends on how popular the idea is with how many people. We all win if the commons gets a little better.
Can a single company just pledge the whole amount?
Yes, and no.
If your company is willing to fully sponsor one of these, we’re happy to write up a contract and do that. It is much of what we do today, and there's no extra fees. Open Prioritization is about several companies working together.
Wait… Why would a single company pay the whole thing?
ResizeObserver in WebKit or lazy image loading.
Lots and lots of folks are interested in things actually getting done. They’re only truly useful if they get done. If your thing didn’t get chosen, and your company is willing to fund that work - just reach out, that’s what we do!
When does work begin?
Igalia can begin work as significant parts of funding becomes available. Generally, once there is $10k, we can start work.
What happens if a project doesn't meet its goal?
It depends! Goals are an estimate!
- If we can complete the work with the funds that were collected, then it is completed! Any surplus funds go to the collective (see next point).
- If the collective itself has funds, we can apply those to help completion of the work.
- If only a little remains, Iglia might choose to invest some ourselves and wrap it up.
- If work has been completed, but a lot remains, we might hand off whatever is done in the best state possible and hopefully a vendor can pick it up and complete it.