The World of Peer-to-Peer (P2P)/Building a P2P System/Developer
There are many reasons why one should invest time and effort in creating a P2P Application. As we already covered in the first chapter the P2P technology touches and has begun even to have impact in many fields of human endeavor. Besides the normal reasons behind any type of programming task (money, fame, and fun), it can also be an expression of a political stance or a vehicle to implement new concepts in networks or even economics. The bottom line is that P2P resumes itself to person-to-person, people working together for a specific goal. It is up to you, the programmer to create the infrastructure necessary to make this happen.
Any P2P project aims to become a widely used, trusted and reliable. Few are open, secure, free, non-discriminating, egalitarian, unfettered and censorship-resistant.
Selecting the Programming Language
Selecting the License
Selecting the right license is the most important step for any software for public distribution. It will determine how the project will be done, even restrict the programming language that is selected to implement the solution, the time it takes to get to a final product and is of increasingly importance to the relation with the users.
There is a never ending list of licenses one can use out of the box and as the implementer you can even create your own. On this last step be very careful if you don't have a grasp on all the implications you shouldn't risk it.
The Open Source Initiative (OSI) offers a great an annotated definition of what Open Source is, here ( http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd ).
Open vs Closed Source
How can P2P generate revenue
Donations is a model that is open for all types of software, open source or closed source, the objective is to let users to freely contribute to a project they like, most probably you will not get a fixed income of this revenue source but it may not be the only way you use to get a payoff or even profit from the project. If you use this method attempt to be clear on how the donations will be used (to further development, etc...), immediate needs you may have (hosting, services and equipment to develop and test ).
Depending were your project is located and how it is structured and focused there are ways to maximize the revenue, a common way to run a donation based project is to set up a non-profit corporation (you can even issue receipts for tax purposes).
Most people my not like it but providing a donors/supporters page list does incentive participation, and may event show users that small amounts are of help, if you decide to list donors do offer an option to be excluded from it.
For an in depth look on the most of donation problems, you may read the article, When Do Users Donate? Experiments with Donationware: Ethical Software, Work Equalization, Temporary Licenses, Collective Bargaining, and Microdonations ( http://www.donationcoder.com/Articles/One/index.html ). You may even try to join their project or support similar ones, like for instance microPledge ( http://micropledge.com/ ) or even create a similar offering around your own product.
- Software in the Public Interest(SPI) (http://www.spi-inc.org/) a non-profit organization which was founded to help organizations develop and distribute open hardware and software. (used by the Debian project)
It is also common programmers or projects to accept hardware donations by request or as incentive to the project for adding support to exclusive features or specific setups. If you adopt to support this feature, do provide and maintain a list of hardware that is wanted and how it would help you.
This is the most problematic setup due to the legal hot-waters it can get you into and the formalisms and obligations that you need to comply to.
Also restricting the participation on the network will be intentionally reducing its usefulness, this is why most P2P services are free or at least support some level of free access.
There are several models that are variations of the simple donation/pay model, they give specific goals to the users or to the project in relation to the values collected.
- Put features or the code of the application up for a ransom payment, if people do contribute and fill that goal you accept to comply with your proposal (ie: opening the source code, fix or implement a feature).
Ransom has been shown to works in practice, it is used in several open source initiatives and even writers have tested this scheme, an example of the later is the test the writer Lawrence Watt-Evans has done on several titles, all successfully reached his monetary and production goal.
- Pay for features
- In a variation of the ransom model, in this particular case you should be extra careful to inform users on what they are paying for, and the legality of what you are providing for that payment. Extra feature may be better services or even a better quality for the existing ones.
- Paid support
- Paid support include providing users access to a paid prioritized service for technical support, this is very commonly use on Open Source projects. You should restrain yourself for over complicating the software so you can profit from it, as the users will be the network. One solution is to provide a default dumb down version for public consumption and enable a very high degree of tweaking of the software, protocol or network and then attempt to profit for it.
License new technology
In case you came up with a new technology or a way new interconnect existing ones that to can be made into revenue source.