In the last progress report, I wrote about the challenge of communicating about the subscription model. Since then, I have met with community members and colleagues to obtain support and start a communication plan.
In recent months, the Foundation has received a number of very large donations from a 20th anniversary fundraiser that shifted the urgency of monetizing the p5.js Editor. Along with the rest of the team, I made the decision to delay this project and shift priorities. The grant period allowed me to conduct all of the foundational research necessary for future implementation. Monetization of the Editor, grants, and donations allows for our team to create a sustainable, diversified funding and development model. The biggest thing I learned is how much infrastructure it takes to monetize a web application, and how much it changes the perception of an open source tool.
I also worked with a designer to work on the visual interface for the subscription model. This work included the screens for users to sign up and features for a subscription-only tier. The most important thing we talked through was how to explain the subscription to users in the context of other ways to support the p5.js project. Through this discussion, I learned we need to improve how we communicate the p5.js Editor as an open source project that needs support and is supported by a larger non-profit organization.
I ran into some major issues that needed to be addressed, due to some phishing reports I was getting. I added the ability to ban users, which will be useful and related to any threats against our PP/ToS. I also had to ban the rendering of full-screen sketches, which users were abusing in phishing scams. While it is frustrating because I’m aware that some users have good intentions to show their artwork full screen, the p5.js team’s bandwidth and capacity makes it difficult to address the dozens of reports we received.
I also started working on a communication plan for the subscription model. I pulled together writings I wanted to reference and I thought about the ways, big and small, to communicate, such as linking to the Processing Foundation from the Editor, to a blog post on the organization’s Medium. I also started NEW INC, which is an incubator for folks working at the intersection of art and technology. With it, I have access to a community of peers, mentors, workshares, and workshops. I spoke with some of the mentors at NEW INC about how to approach this type of writing as well.
Lastly, circling back to the unprecedented amount of donations the Processing Foundation received this past fall, our organization radically shifting and transitioning into a new infrastructure. Whereas a year ago, I was wondering how we would fund the maintenance and development of the p5.js Editor, now the funds exist to create full-time positions with benefits. I made the decision to halt work on creating a subscription model, but I am open to this project happening in the future. The most successful open-source projects have a diversity of income.
- Created designs for the subscription plan.
- Created a small system for user moderation, with the ability to ban users.
- Handled issue where users were using the p5.js Editor in phishing scams.
- Began NEW INC program.
We haven’t communicated about the subscription project in public at all. I have gotten support and feedback on it as part of the NEW INC fellowship.
Because of a recent influx of large donations to the Processing Foundation, we have decided to wait on implementing this project. The reason is given less monetary constraint, there are issues with the p5.js Editor that are more urgent to attend to. Some of these are:
- Addressing technical debt
- Leadership/team changes (burnout is very common for open source maintainers)
- Access (accessibility and inclusion) features
At this point, there is not a need for community support, as the needs of the Processing Foundation have wildly shifted over the past few months.