Subject: Re: the economics of software support (slightly off-topic)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 2000/11/29
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Jochen Schmidt <>
| 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.

  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.