Appeal to the Habr community

    Welcome to the Habrahabr community!

    Friends, we launched the campaign of public financing of the Gift! In 80 days we want to raise funds that will allow us to radically improve and transform our service. And today we ask the Habrahabr community to support our crowdfunding campaign, to help us raise the right amount.

    In this article, we want to talk about what the Gift is now, in what way we came to its current state, and also in what way we want to see it exactly one year after we collect the necessary funds. Brothers Maxim karaboz and Anton brutto Karakulov, founders of the Daru-dara


    About the gift of gift and how he was born

    A gift is a online service through which people give each other their belongings and services without requiring anything in return.

    We launched our service at the end of 2008, inspired by the idea that the Internet allows you to create services with which people can work together where previously it seemed impossible. We thought that if people have already learned through the Internet to share information with each other for free, then in the same way they can learn to share their material resources. It is enough to create a suitable tool for this. And we created the Gift of Gift.

    And now, after 4 years, the Gift of Dar is a rather large and active community in which more than 150 thousand participants from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. To date, almost 2 million gifts have been presented, and more than 2 thousand are given daily.

    The geography of the Daru-Dar postal directions and their intensity The

    Dar-Dar was able to emerge and begin its journey primarily because immediately after its launch people who shared our aspirations and were ready to experiment with the new social practice that we proposed responded and began to join. And one of the first pioneers of the Gift of Dar was the members of the Habrahabr community!

    And today we again turn to you for support. We ask you to become patrons of the gift of Dar, support the development of the service with the amount that you consider possible for yourself.

    What we have achieved in 4 years

    A gift allows you to give people you have never seen before. Some time ago it seemed impossible and incomprehensible. We are all used to giving only to those whom we personally know. However, at the Gift of Gift we were able to create the conditions under which giving to strangers became absolutely real. In this we see the true social innovation of our service.

    This is achieved, among other things, due to the fact that the profile of each participant preserves the history of all the gifts that he gave, wished and thanked for. This story allows the donor to get acquainted with everyone and choose the one who is more preferable to him.

    Also, each member of the community can leave a review about another member. So a set of opinions is created around each profile. This public reputation helps to block potential fraudsters or inappropriate users from other participants.

    The right things can be searched using the classic search. And you can discover the gifts you are interested in through the prism of pre-configured filters. Additionally, you can track gifts through groups whose members collectively select gifts for specific topics. You can also follow the gifts of people added to contacts.

    You can leave the desires that the Gift of the show shows to the donors when publishing their gifts, if it finds a similarity in the descriptions of the gift and desire. The donor can recommend his gift to those whose desires are shown to him, and those who wish will receive a personal notice.

    For four years, we, a small team of like-minded friends, have created and developed the service with great energy and enthusiasm. But we were convinced that enthusiasm alone is not enough to realize our plans. We understand that the Gift that is now is just a simplified model of the service that we want to make and which we see in the future.

    The logo of the gift of Dara on the occasion of its fourth anniversary. All holiday doodles 2012

    What difficulties did we encounter

    We were lucky. At the start of the project there was a philanthropist who supported the development of the service for the first year and a half. During this time, we laid the foundations of the Gift — created its basic functions and designed the initial interface.

    But since the beginning of 2010, we find ourselves without the funds we were counting on, and without the monetization model, the development of which has been postponed for the time being when we deal with the main product. Suddenly, there is nothing to pay for hosting and moreover, it is not clear how to further develop the service, because we can no longer contain the team. The best solution that we see then is to ask support from our community and open a section of regular assistance to the project.

    We do not know for sure how much help can await us. But after several months it is obvious that this form of financing does not support the necessary pace of development. Over the next few months, we are trying to find alternative sources of financing, including engaging in third-party projects in the hope that we will be able to provide the Gift of Thanks.

    Unfortunately, the plan with external projects worked inefficiently. This almost completely distracted us from developing and improving our favorite service. News on the developer blog less and less announced improvements and new features. For a year and a half, from the beginning of 2010 to the middle of 2011, from the more or less significant we did only the following:

    During this period, our resources are depleted so much that we make a collective decision that each of us finds outside work and continues to support and develop the project as best we can. Due to the fact that we have made contextual advertising as aggressive as possible, we are able to leave one developer in the Gift for a permanent basis. We hope that the strength and energy of one person is enough to support the service.

    Postcard on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the Gift. All postcards 2012

    However, in practice, it turns out that the strength of one person is enough only to support an existing service, and any development or improvement moves extremely slowly and inefficiently. It also becomes clear that it is difficult for a person to engage in service and community alone, without constant communication with the team. Therefore, six months after the dissolution of the team, the person remaining in the Gift of the Gift is also forced to leave for another project. At some point, another comes to replace him, but he does not stand it for more than six months. Of the significant, for all this time we managed only:

    About a year ago, we started looking for an investor, but have not yet achieved a result. Since then, we have come up with some practical ideas for monetizing the service, but their implementation requires focused teamwork. Now, the Gift of Gift receives money from two sources: contextual advertising and donations from community members. This is about 70 thousand rubles a month. But in order to develop the Gift, we need about 300 thousand rubles a month.

    Diagram of patronage of aid for February 2012

    We are at an impasse - months go by, and the service stands still, as does the community that needs to be addressed so that it does not stiffen and remains vibrant and vibrant.

    About six months ago, we became interested in the idea of ​​crowdfunding, which became incredibly popular.overseas recently. We were also inspired by the experience of Wikipedia , which annually conducts public finance campaigns and collects 70% of the amount necessary to support and develop the service throughout the whole year.

    We thought that the Gift of Nature was close to Wikipedia by nature. On Wikipedia, people give knowledge, and on the Gift of Gift people give services and things free of charge. The experience of Wikipedia shows that it’s easier and more effective for us to unite once a year to collect the necessary amount, rather than doing it regularly and separately throughout the year. And so, we decided to take a chance and attract the necessary funds in this way.

    What we want to achieve in a year

    There are three areas that we want to tackle in Dar-Dar next year:

    Convenience (design and engineering)

    We want the Gift to become simpler and more accessible.

    A thorough redesign of the interface is required taking into account user comments and our own observations in order to clarify the basic mechanics of the service, simplify and speed up the implementation of the main donation scenarios: from publishing a gift to choosing a gift, promise and transferring a gift, on the one hand, and from finding and finding the necessary a gift to his desire and receipt - on the other.

    We want to fundamentally review the principles of human interaction with the service. So that a person could spend less time manually finding the right thing, and could voice more his specific desires and respond to the desires of others. Those. so that you can just once look for the thing or service you need, and if you don’t immediately find it, forget about the Gift of the Gift at all for a while. And the service itself will find a person who will be ready to give you what you need, even if he himself did not think to offer it as a gift before. Those. we want to apply the concept of social search on the Gift of the Gift .

    We want to make a qualitative leap in reducing the noise level of “unnecessary” gifts, which is individual for each accomplice. To do this, we want to restructure the principles of information circulation in the community. For example, gifts will be distributed among topics matching the current “keywords,” and these topics will be edited collectively — thousands of other people will manually fill them. You can subscribe to topics that interest you, and not configure filters that find everything that contains the word you specify. In other words, we want to realize our version of the graph of interests , and the task is complicated by the fact that most desires are short-term and regularly replace each other - unlike hobbies or hobbies.

    Poster cabinet of Daru-dara with general parcels

    We want to create a full-fledged tool for voluntary postmen - people who give their service to move gifts between cities. Postman should be made more accessible - so that anyone can take part in it when he has such an opportunity, and less sacrificial - so that the postman would give his service more than he would do community service. With the new tool, gifts will not be sent out by the formless mass in general premises, but as concrete gifts between specific people. The history of postman will accumulate, it will become clear which gifts this person helped to transport. Finally, the postman can be thanked! We expect that the new toolkit will significantly increase the flow of gifts between cities and reduce the time for their transfer.

    In addition to global changes, we will improve and correct what already exists: increasing transparency and visibility of the profile, dividing gift ribbons into global / group / individual, simplifying the publication of the gift, the possibility of combining similar gifts in a series, recommending gifts to each other, the ability to moderate group members and their activity, simplifying work with a large number of gifted people, creating roles of custodians and stewards of gifts, more transparent work with self-organization tools tion, partial user the ability to lock.

    Meeting of the giver and the giver. Moscow, Trubnaya square, 2012. Photographer: Daria Karakulova

    Sustainability (refactoring and scaling)

    We want the Gift to become more stable.

    This requires the modernization of internal architecture with the full allocation and atomization of internal services. We need to create a predictable scalable platform that is resistant to random crashes.

    First of all, to highlight the service that serves media files (illustrations for gifts and thanks). This will completely highlight the level of the application, making it independent and easily scalable. For the user, the work with downloading images will become pleasant and painless: he will no longer be annoyed by sudden crashes that periodically occur due to running out of space on hard drives, which requires stopping the entire service to add.

    Then upgrade the storage system and interfaces with them. Prepare them for separation, take out part of the calculated data in noSQL storage for faster access to them. To make it possible to scale this level by simply adding new databases, tables, collections - without additionally interfering with the application logic and periodically stopping the service to increase the computing power of the servers that serve this level. This will speed up the writing and reading of data, and as a result will accelerate the response of the application. It will save you from errors and pauses associated with the inaccessibility of the data warehouse resource at peak load times.

    Unforeseen situation on October 26, 2009

    It is also imperative to reorganize the application logic associated with the asynchronous execution of certain tasks. This is necessary for easy scaling during peak loads on internal services - to ensure their continuous availability during the processing of any user activity and significantly reduce the application response time at such moments. For example, downloading images, followed by the creation of thumbnails, sending emails, taking into account user activity, timely indexing of published gifts for search results, processing of votes and recommendations, etc. Introduction of queues will allow to solve such issues and make the Gift more lively and fast.

    Availability (API and mobile apps)

    We want the gift of gift to become much closer.

    A gift must go beyond the browser and enter everyday life. To make this breakthrough, we need to make the service mechanisms available to third-party developers - open the API and gradually increase its capabilities. This will allow everyone to create their own services with similar mechanics, make local or niche "gift-giving", embed them in their community.

    Moreover, on the basis of this API we want to create convenient mobile applications that people can use, regardless of where they are located, what they are doing, what devices they use.

    These applications, first of all, should facilitate the moment of transferring gifts between the donor and the donor, provide them with quick access to contact information about each other, as well as remind them of upcoming meetings or general parcels. They will simplify the publication of gifts, make the digitization of things that a person would like to give, an easy process. They will also allow the participant to promptly receive information about events related to the gifts that he gives, wishes or promises. Such applications will make the Gift of God a part of our daily lives.

    What else do we strive for

    We strive to ensure that the Gift is not only useful to direct participants in the service, but also benefits the wider community.

    We will share the technologies of social interaction that we discover and test in Dar-Dar, with all the teams that also create new tools for cooperation. So, for example, some time ago we created the Laboratory of Social Design , with the help of which we want to organize closer interaction and exchange of experience between social services.

    Activists of the Daru-dara. Trubnaya Square, 2012. Photographer: Daria Karakulova

    Crowdfunding in Russian

    Crowdfunding is a new social practice in the Russian-speaking space, which we ourselves are creating right now. This way of financing seems to us an interesting alternative to the methods that are now widespread. We are very curious to explore this little-studied territory and then share our experience with others. We invite you to support the Gift of the Gift and go this way together!

    For our campaign, we chose crowdfunding service With a trace of the world , because we saw in his team a persistent desire and courage to create a new social practice of public finance. And we want to help them in this, to bring our experience and energy to the creation of such a service, with the help of which Russian-speaking people will also learn to be patrons of projects that create the future.Support us!

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