First let me introduce myself, I'm the current maintainer of PyDev (which I believe is currently the de-facto plugin for editing Python in Eclipse).
I must say that I share some of your views (so much that I did a crowdfunding for PyDev and an Eclipse-based product which I called LiClipse: http://brainwy.github.io/liclipse/
). The crowdfunding (http://igg.me/at/liclipse
) was successful enough to keep PyDev going and to create LiClipse, but didn't reach the higher levels which I had set in order to make the code to LiClipse open source (i.e.: in LiClipse adding a new language is mostly specifying a single file with enough information for syntax highlighting, brackets matching, outline, etc.).
I believe some of my main points are exactly the ones being discussed (1. get funds, 2. improve some fundamental things in Eclipse -- in my case, having an improved dark theme and default editors).
So, I'd like to share a bit of my views on the subject:
First, the Eclipse platform as is covers a whole range of things from RCP applications to the IDE, so, there are lots (and LOTS) of different things it must support and definitely means different things for different people.
Basically, I don't think the basic platform must cover all cases. That's the beauty of its plugin system. Yes, I also have my own pet-peeves there (i.e.: currently each plugin must re-create the spelling engine, it's not possible to style some things because they don't have ids or are not reachable, swt table selection colors is not customizable, etc. -- so, some things can't really be done out of the platform, and I think this is where the effort should be geared here, for most others, additional plugins can usually be installed to do what you want).
In the particular case of having a default editor the platform does give the proper support for anyone that wants to do that (which LiClipse does) -- but I can also see others wanting the current behavior, so, maybe having a separate plugin for that is better -- which also probably avoids a ton of other related option in the platform :)
Now, I'm not saying that all should happen outside of the platform: it does need to go on and get more developers and make a stable/feature rich platform, but from an outer point of view and if someone is asked to help there, it'd be interesting to delineate what is being talked about. I.e.:
- on what exactly would the money be spent?
- is it a collection of issues that should be solved to make it go forward?
- who decides which are those issues?
I'm also not really aware how things work now on the eclipse foundation -- all devs that work come from some external company? (i.e.: how was the decision on eclipse 4 taken and where did the resources come from?).
Personally, I think that a crowdfunding could be a choice to make things better on the platform, but it may be really hard to delineate what it'd mean when it comes to Eclipse (and resonate with a community, especially because I think Eclipse has a strong enterprise-like image and in my own crowdfunding experience, it's harder to get companies to contribute to a vision than individuals).
Also, in my case, just by explicitly showing that I needed help, more people appeared and now there are more regular contributors in PyDev. In the case of Eclipse, it could be helpful to ask for development effort on specific areas to get developers there (and only after having that explicit, then it may make sense to ask for funding) -- having things specified by a committee later may easily not give people what they want.
Just my 2c.