…also as I pointed out…can you imagine slaving away on a critical community project, applying for support and finding out that a smaller project got more because some people made the decision that the lesser project’s need was greater, or the “return on value” wasn’t as much as it was for a smaller, “lesser” project. I could see critical people snapping right there.
I can certainly see people being disappointed if they didn’t get a grant, but I would hope that we could rely on both the individual applicants being understanding, and on the committee that allocates funds sufficiently justifying their decisions so that we can all be reasonable people and move on. Unfortunately we’re dealing with limited funds and someone will always be the disappointed person who didn’t get selected.
So that could be so contentious that if “need” and “return” were ever going to take priority over the overall value of the project to the community in the selection process then the process could perhaps not involve “applications for funding” (because that would set up such a strong resentment in the more important projects that get passed over, so to speak.)
I’m not sure how the committee would decide how to allocate funds if not for an applications process. It would be both a way to find out who actually needs money, and a structured way to find out how they’d intend to use it. If you can think of other options I’d certainly be open to hearing them.
As for the problem of need and ROI being factors, I think “overall value to the community” really boils down to the same factors of need and ROI. You want to give money to people who will make the best use of it, where “best” is always going to be somewhat a matter of personal judgement at the end of the day.
For example, a project that’s in widespread use has a natural advantage when it comes to considering the ROI of an investment compared to something with very little adoption, but if the project without much adoption is new and working toward fixing something that is a big gap in the current ecossytem then that should be considered as well. Imagine, for example, a project that was building some libraries to make haskell work better on Windows, and they wanted funding to cover the cost of some Windows VMs for testing. Something focusing on Windows support probably wouldn’t have a huge amount of adoption right now, but it could unlock a lot more use-cases for haskell overall and so it might have a higher ROI than it’s current adoption rate might suggest. I think there’s a place for considering opportunities like that, especially with small grants, to give things a chance to get off the ground if they need a bit of funding.
I think considering need is the same sort of thing, and it’s closely related to ROI. There are some things that might not be able to happen at all without grant money. To pick a random example, if there were a project to building haskell bindings for android or iOS or something, a grant for test hardware might actually enable support for more devices than otherwise would be possible. There are also probably situations where some work might happen either way, but it could happen faster with some funding. Someone applying for a grant to allow them to work full time on a project for a while, or to cover the cost of better infrastructure or a faster machine to build and test releases.
I think of it like this: The absolute best case scenario would be a project that is widely used asking for a small amount of money to do something that otherwise couldn’t be done without the money. In that case the money unlocks something useful for a lot of people. The worst case scenario would be a project that nobody uses asking for a lot of money with no clear idea of what to do with it. Most proposals will probably be somewhere in the middle, and we should have humans think about it and try to make good decisions.
Also how would the committee determine if someone’s laptop really broke? I literally have 3 of them.
There will always be some risk here. If someone says they’d like to work full time on a library if they can get some funding, how do we know they aren’t going to do other contracting work on the side. What if they get funding for something they intend to do and don’t get around to it because life happens. Hopefully the people making the calls about where the money goes will do due diligence, and we limit the risk by keeping the actual amounts relatively small.