Subject: Re: the economics of software support (slightly off-topic) From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 2000/11/29 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Jochen Schmidt <email@example.com> | What I missed from start of this FS/OS discussion is the fact, that it | neither is so that Free Software/Open Software is gratis nor that | FS/OS programmers didn`t get paid for their work. Thats nonsense - | the core programmers of the major FS/OS Software get all paid for | their work. (Apache, Postgres, KDE...) I, too, have been paid for work I have done on top of a body of work that I had donated to the SGML community. After all was said and done, I got about 6 dollars an hour for the work I put into the SGML community over six years, even though I was paid _very_ well by all standards for the work I _did_ get specifically paid for. If I had worked with SGML for another decade, maybe I would not have regretted the first five years and the sad unwillingness to pay someone who had previously given away his work which several other contributors had suffered, too, forcing them to choose between donations and paid work. (However, I quit working with SGML for entirely different reasons: I discovered that it is self-defeating and contradicts its own purposes and premises. That didn't _help_ the regret, but most people in the Open Source and/or Free Software world aren't quite as "unlucky" with what they believe in and invest in.) If you count the countless hours of work that precedes getting paid as an investment on which you should expect a reasonable yield, and I think you should, the amounts of money that are being paid to support and maintain successful Open Source projects is almost negligible. And of course people are paid _after_ something becomes a success. Some of the time, people are paid by employers who don't know what their people are doing, but some employers are also positive to such work because they need the results, anyway. Some of the time, people are able to use equipment and resources for free that they could never afford to purchase on their own, including Internet connectivity -- the very _backbone_ of shared code development. Today's situation is quite a bit different from how things started for the things we know about, but not much so for new projects. I don't think it is very productive to judge Open Source based solely on what we have seen succeed after many, many years. Lots of projects have never taken off, have lost their community support and programmers, have never inspired enough programmers to get really going, etc. When people are paid, they don't need the same kind of continuous rewards that they would need if they aren't. This seriously affects how Open Source projects get on their way. How they act when they get large enough to sustain themselves is not very important to understand, but how they grow from nothing to that large is. That cannot be seen by looking at the most successful projects. #:Erik -- Solution to U.S. Presidential Election Crisis 2000: Let Texas secede from the Union and elect George W. Bush their very first President. All parties, states would rejoice.