Re: [Tails-dev] selling merch as Tails while outsourcing the…

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Author: sajolida
To: The Tails public development discussion list
Subject: Re: [Tails-dev] selling merch as Tails while outsourcing the effort - some concrete ideas
syster via Tails-dev:
> I'm in a position, where I have at one point time to be committed to offer support to Tails, and then from one moment to the other it can change being offline for months.
> Being the contact person will fail sooner or later.
> where help by core is needed:
> contact Person:
> Being the contact person the collectives/company can reach out if they need to.
> This should happen rarely. An email list for this would be good. I can respond when I have time, and others when I don't.
> Agreements:
> I can be the person to collect/document potential agreements. Final say needs to have core.
> tax:
> Uniformed opinion: Maybe you need to send the collective(s) some paper.
> temporal final decision on process:
> At one point there needs to be made a decision about the exact process that I'm going to propose. So it will require some time by core to think through the proposal, have a discussion and form a decision.

Thanks syster for moving this discussion forward!

On top of what intrigeri said regarding your approach to minimize the
work by Tails workers, I also appreciate that you're putting social and
political values in the mix :)

For the record, we've already discussed similar things in the past:

- Way back in the days, some core developers were reluctant to Tails
selling merch because of the social and environmental aspects. I think
that we moved a bit past these concerns (though I didn't check). For
example, we've been promising and shipping T-shirts to big donors and

- Some years ago, we discussed joining forces with Riseup to have
procurement services (sorry for the jargon!) in both the US and Europe
operated by grassroots collectives. This didn't go anywhere.

- Last year I think, Tor started outsourcing their merch handling to a
procurement service. I don't know which one or how they choose it.
We should ask them.

- In October 2020, the topic was raised again on tails-project@:

I'm still interested in the topic because:

- We're currently spending time and money on shipping T-shirts to
sponsors and we haven't been very good at it: some sponsors have been
waiting for their T-shirts for 1 year because of the logistics problem
induced by someone leaving the collective combined with Covid.
We might have been able to avoid these problems if we had a
procurement service doing this for us.

For example, an MVP could be to have a procurement service to improve
our relationship with sponsors. And then expand on this.

- The money that we could make through merch is "unrestricted funds"
(jargon again): a steady stream of income that we could use for
whatever we need and brings more financial sustainability.

- Outreach. I think that Tails is pretty bad at outreach and I would
value positively every step in this direction.

I think that the first step that pretty much anybody, like you system
could really help with is to brainstorm possible options and evaluate them.

Here are the criteria that have been mentioned already or that I could
think of:

- As little work as possible for Tails workers. That's the core idea of
such procurement services.

- Worldwide shipping. Only with our few sponsors, we've had to ship
T-shirts to the US, Russia, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Germany!

- Social and environmental values, as syster rightfully stated. For
example, the T-shirts that we have right now were made in Turkey, with
a pretty good quality (quality is also environmental sustainability),
organic materials, and fair labor.

- Political affinity. I would rather work with people that the project
could align with politically than with whatever organic business.

- Web ordering tools. To move from sending T-shirts to a few sponsors
to automating orders from a website. Could we forward people from our
website to the online store of the procurement service without having
to do complex integration on our website.

Our own payment facilities are also weird and limited because we rely
on fiscal sponsors without a direct access to our bank accounts. Could
the procurement service handle all the money and only forward the
benefits to our fiscal sponsors? Otherwise, how would we interface our
donation mechanism with the procurement service? For example, how do
we go from a bitcoin donation to our own address to a actual shipping?

- Cost. If we're selling merch to the general public, we should make
sure to still make enough money for the project to be worth it. When
dealing with T-shirts, for example, it might not be obvious or end up
in pretty expensive T-shirts. I think that the project is fine with
that: in the past we would only "give away" T-shirts to people who
"donated" 50€ or more during events like the CCC (Chaos Computer

- Items production and diversity. Does the procurement service also
handle designing and producing the merch or do we have to do this
ourselves? What kind of items can they produce themselves, eg. USB
sticks or condoms (Tails is the condom of the cyberspace!).

Anything else?

I created an issue on GitLab to track this research:

Our Fundraising team is seriously understaffed so I won't put energy
into doing this research myself but it would be great if syster and
others start gathering info on the GitLab issue. I also don't see us
doing this any time soon, so bare in mind that this research might not
be put to use before years. But we also want reliable procurement
services on the long-term so our slow pace shouldn't matter so much :)

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