Money, Money, Money - Writing software, in a rich (wo)man's world

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Money, Money, Money - Writing software, in a rich (wo)man's world
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Free software advocates talk about two types of "Free": Free as in freedom, and Free as in beer. While Free (as in freedom) software is unquestionably better for users and developers alike, Free (as in beer) software doesn't pay the bills. Talk to any prominent open source developer, and amongst the success stories, you'll also hear some consistent troubles - that they've got great ideas and grand plans, but no time to execute; that they're about to burn out due to the pressues of maintaining their project; or that they've had yet another mailing list discussion with someone who doesn't understand they're a volunteer. All of these problems stem from a fundamental disconnect: the discrepancy between the clear demand for a software product, and the ability to convert that demand into time needed to service that demand - and that means money.
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the best and the and the and the and the and the mn I think much in uh society are massacred BDI if you've heard of it before
it's probably because of my work on Agenda product of inequality member there for 10 years of fighting president the generous offer foundation since 2011 what's the big challenges the dagger project in a big corpus of project that is has been to secure certainty in its long-term develop future
my day job is as CTO and cofounder of traits that we're a software as a service for tradespeople plumbers electricians carpenters that transcribe depends on a number of open source projects django Apache memcached countless others so I've got a business interests in the continuity all these open source projects but are so they don't have the resources to fund them all myself I've also got declared
interest in user interface and UI tools especially as they relate to development tools I've got all sorts of grand visions about what I'd like to do with the way project and I've received some great contributions from the community but it still largely my work but my start up again a great use of these tools if they were mature also the mind Titus's were projects
like the Python wrapper to the 0 IBI and I most the project because I had an itch my age is now being scratched but of open source project which means kind of inherited these maintenance task have accepted help from number of people most notably Matthew shingle an item list of done some great work but if I'm completely honest there might burden of pi-zeroes massively exceeds the amount of time that I personally can reasonably dedicate to it the so I've got a vested interest in free software on interest in free software as a producer of a successful project with a high as the producer of a small project with lots of users but very little personal incentives as a producer of small project will almost no profile all sorts of really grand plans and these projects will have different resourcing needs reflecting their maturity as projects I also but interest as a consumer free software both in terms of the software that I rely upon to develop my own projects and in terms of my commercial interest in the long term migrants and tools and platforms that I use I need these platforms in these projects to continue to develop to survive and thrive based on my experience of like to make a very bolsters assertion the absence of any other
constraints given equivalent resources free software with a free software approach produces a vastly superior outcome than the closed source approach the catch here is the operative courts given equivalent resources most free software projects are developed using anything close to equivalent resources of their closest counterparts now in some cases this is a blessing in disguise regardless of the prices of the project having scarce resources is an excellent crushable forbidding away the unnecessary to leave just the base metals but it's not always a blessing talk to
any prominent free software developer amongst the success stories you'll here's some really consistent troubles that they've got a really great ideas in grand plans but no time to execute that they're about to burn out due to the pressures of maintaining their project or that had yet another mailing list discussion with someone who doesn't understand why you didn't drop everything to help them fix their problem and there are plenty of examples of open SSL is the software that drive pretty much every secure connection on the internet and yet to the discovery of hot played a critical vulnerability that's in the Internet into a tailspin before they could find funding to pay for maintenance that the example below PJT weathercock almost went bankrupt trying to support GPG a project that many other projects depend upon their trust in the release process that I was with rescue had installed by the Linux Foundation score infrastructure initiatives now those about examples that ended with happy endings with funding but it's not real happy endings take example stronger this usually prefer a popular configuration management tool around 2007 2008 19 on the spot In 2008 citing burnout might overhead and he famously withdrew support for Windows saying Windows may be the 800 pound gorilla in the room but it's not my real and it's not my role this was an incredibly unpopular movements users but even with this narrow down the kind that Germany was burned out in 2009 abandoning Capistrano style and a number of other projects without its the thing is not this is a community that has lots to catch in the grand scheme of things suffer development is a well-funded industry if companies can find money for foosball tables and bowl opiates they should be find resources that help maintain the software which they based this success and if you're on the receiving end of the problem a developer free software that can be really frustrating and from the this is the really big unanswered question of the free software movement have to reconcile the discrepancy between the clear demand for software product and the ability to convert that demand into the time and resources needed to service to the bond now detailed this in theory the theory says everyone can contribute to a free software project in reality every single source of productivity significance has leaders at the most basic level it's whoever has the committee and you need that leadership especially when you do anything with design is involved the running gag is that camel is a horse designed by committee the very worst API as we deal with on a daily basis are the ones that were designed by committee you need someone with taste running the show but there's a bigger problem is the extent of the engagement that users have with the project in the 1st experiment proves the point when a room full of Python uses gender is a free software project who in this room has found the bug in Django rising niggling thing that like the see Figs with Django IPI shorthand the given the body that half the room this term that good about reporting gender and most of us again pretty good who submitted a patch to gender for let me go yeah canceled and about a 3rd of what was left they all of us who had that patch committed In the a capitalist better better the better results and I got a pack of Australia the so what's going on here with a massive star that from people who say they have a problem that people had that problem fixed what's going on here it reflects 2 different ways of looking at a piece of software projects and products as a matter of personal perspective my projects can be your product and vise versa when I look at a piece of code is a project is a body of code where I'm contributing to a larger goal unwilling to spend my resources focusing on other people's needs in the hope that they needs will have like the product of the hostile better I'm willing to do this because I get some personal Guyon LeCun have public profile of the tool was really close to my work all face or if I know that I can make a really substantial contribution but the further I get away from Michael face the harder it is to make a contribution to the less inclined and we what should contribute to a project most of the time it's a product that I'm using what soul if a product has bugs or worker well I find alternative rather than navigating the contribution persons to contribute a patch back strain In the case of a product the freedoms that afforded by free software are a bit about freedom of speech is the freedom I most definitely not it's comforting to know that is there but I don't spend every day making sure that I fully exploit the expense of those freedoms there are people who do the protesters advocates a controversial social position and 1 died given lot circumstances I might join and help them but most of the time I was 1 of the pragmatic and get on with living the dichotomy between the theory and the practice is also the reason why comments like patches welcome get made in free software mailing lists on the 1 hand it's completely correct anyone can contribute to an open source project and I most predicts patches are welcome but most people don't go that look at a new open source project is an opportunity to engage in the development process most people just want to use the damn software yeah and you can argue that this is because people are focusing on the wrong interpretation of free you haven't captured the spirit of free software and again that's 1 100 % true but utterly counterproductive as a position anyone who's done anywhere you which work knows that if users a consistently making a mistake we you user-device blaming the user gets you know where you are in charge of what user experience they may be because of a fundamental cognitive disconnect and even if everyone did get the right message let's be realistic it wouldn't work anyway Mr. demand much artist you cannot deliver project faster by throwing more people that know and women can't make a baby and 1 not a project doesn't just made resources it needs the right resources in the right quantities and ultimately that means the project finding a way to get the resources they need to be self-sustaining so that means if you want free software to be maintained a maintain well we need to find a way to fund its moments as in years ago August Raymond public an essay entitled to feed on of those are the catalyze the start of the open source movement is a redefinition of free software to make it clear that openness not price was the important input property we're aiming for what is known as well remembered is that the cathedral and the bazaar was the ESA that run run time he published 2 other essay shortly after the the 1 up Mungle hunting the news fear about social organization motivations behind free software projects and the magic cauldron about the economics of free software 1 of the key distinctions that Ryman highlights in essay is the difference between use value and sale value so the value of a product is the value as a saleable commodity bitterly what you can sell it for the use value of a product is is economic value as a tool as a productivity multiply as amateur economic benefit the user will get from apart the important thing about is that the 2 not necessarily connected in a traditional manufacturing environment focuses on sigh value because that ultimately lead to manufacturing cost the cost of pop the materials necessary to turn this thing off a production line but most software is produced the
sale value its in-house software produced the use value In the case of free software the final value of free software is 0 that doesn't mean that the use value is 0 and the catch is working out how to exploit the use value that exists within the organization and using that as the monetization shall the I guess around the options you have well studies you can sell merchandise and this is really easy to do i frothing up the spring is selling T-shirts but let's be honest you're not gonna find yourself or in part by selling T-shirts again you can get it uses the Python documentation write a book that uses the price for it OK unfortunately the dirty little secret detect writing saying is that nobody gets rich writing books thank you enter an incredibly valuable resources for the community the greater part of the reason I but they're not segmented revenue stream memory that does play well is selling training employers are willing to pay big bucks a training courses if you can put together a three-day intensive workshops you can say that again again again you can productize your offering source code remains free that is a simple easy-to-use using standard that costs money and this works really well what you have is a clearly identifiable product something like say an IT 1 specific model of privatization software as a service give the code away for free but highly for the convenience of someone else having in has Annals administer for you any open-source web project is a good example this you can install the software on your on service yes but honestly I wish about a reason to care use someone else's hosted solution given money every month wouldn't take care for you but suffers a services on really viable if you can deliver as a service which means it's really viable for that notice this community that's all such a bad thing but as a bit stuff when doing things that every software can be doled every piece of software can be developed this offers a service and as technology like darker commodify development it's possible that even this revenue stream might evaporate because the thing is you like the hard part the actual deployment might be I would be completely fact about I guess the videos can you sell will you can sell access to the developers if you can maintain over project you in the best position to provide support to debug complex problems which made during the proposition the self supporting consulting on the collar closes the Ghostbusters business model you gonna call you can still access to the suffered so strangely Trolltech did this with Q to riverbank still doesn't to ITT bindings the library itself is GPL but if you wanna use in a closed-source project you plan for feet the this has the advantage that it 1st as commercial interests to actually pay for what they using but it also has a problem of discouraging small size scale commercial tinkering if I'm writing a new tool and on flows between open source in my tool or playing a thousand dollar price tag 1 I might consider using a different option you can also get in the business of providing certifications in Dante's orbiting code to ensure quality or compatibility providing guarantees about fixing bugs so defined individuals a skilled in the use of your product this is a big part of that's business small writing packages making sure only drop right is expected insurance security updates available meet the same standards certifying the system administrators there is this is a set of products that appeals to the enterprise in the town and that's a really lucrative into the market beginning to not those customers also tend to only what those guarantees for certain types of software broadly speaking or funny daddy software your operating system you doubt about these the pieces of software that must be rock-solid enterprise city your debug to allow maybe not so much of it has been wrapped up in some other big suite of tools the another granularities revenue sources is that if you run your project well along the ruled out or at least severely curtailed if you make something truly simple-to-use you've just remove the market for books and training courses or at the very least move the ground to advanced courses in advanced books which a lot harder to write and had a much smaller audience gender so this 1st hand and documentation was famously very good from a very early stage and as a result it is very hard to get published take on gender but projects because the documentation was true good and undermining the market for books it's taken a long time and publishing it's some very dedicated individuals like interesting area and to get good gender books available for sale if you have a project mailing list with the community answers questions for free and it's a healthy responsive mailing list why would I pay for support and the staff was well-designed modularized interface is a well documented and I need a modification why would I describe them 1 myself now but that I am exaggerating there are legitimate reasons the places bringing a consultant even if the device is a clean will document but my point is the better you do your job is a free software engineer the harder it becomes to make the business case your revenue stream because the value proposition becomes a lot less obvious yeah and if it isn't directly undermining the value proposition it can still undermining indirectly because the more time you spend money the less time you spent playing very big doing what the money is supposed to pay for administering acidification project about program takes time running in developed developing training courses takes time consulting can be lucrative the developing a science pipeline takes time and if you're consulting you need to make sure that sells part 1 is full which means you got out there on the side of taking more taking on their work less which means you just close the door on the time you have available to work on open source yesterday to be careful in selling your business cards you undermine you mind project if every hard question your mailing list is answered with well we can answer that for the you can start selling like a show and you projects is it needs money to make sure you stay stay on top of security issues we have to be really careful how you say that because the easy interpretation is well this closure project must be insecure because it top of security now is also a question of style Python Django these a large projects with a large communities make the business case for Python Django isn't that hard so trivial but as possible but as the main of a smaller projects the inside gender developed to about and I seriously expected to rotten solid book about gender developed about a preference development or training certification is used revenue streams that really exist smaller projects have no you I to the vitality of the overall Django ecosystem but does put if on form the opportunities for fund-raising that larger projects have it doesn't have to realize that not all products are for these opportunities apart the revenue and ITU-T can be productized a developer library probably not different projects need a different mix of revenue strings I get so can we do this without selling something all free software stems from a moral imperative so can we fund development throughout always altruism and patronage well yes it's hot out there evidence that can be done 1 options in a lot of activity recently is crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter Indiegogo provide a wife a group of people to pitch in and contribute to about gender community is a couple
examples a really successful crowdfunding projects and H. raising tens of thousands of dollars but if those are the people who did these projects really make money on those projects that engineering time that went into them really exceeded the amount of money there rights to
another the ideas floated regularly is the idea of bug bounty placing a price on specific but this is really just another form of crowdfunding have you wanna specific bug fixed feature added contribute money you really want it contributes to more and eventually someone will like the bite and fix that bother implement that feature as an attractive model but it also has some really big problems most notably who gets paid do you powered by lines of code written what did that knows the contribution of reviewers it's how much more important than running code is reviewing cockle triaging about or writing the documentation the biggest problem I see with crowdfunding approaches is that they are in conflict with establishing a working income if you're hiring yourself out the showing engagement the higher rally right this is a hedge against unemployment you do indeed a contract if you don't get Kickstarter how your best served by having a very small clearly described clearly achievable goal so over multiple to work possible that means you need a charge you short term right in order hedge against your long-term income but it's also in your interest have a low fund-raising targets of the campaign actually tips and seems achievable it's too high and scare off potential bidders it also means that the community is paying a premium for the development of new features which is in the best use of already scarce resources I can't so if you out longer-term income communities that looking at longer-term engagements this means you have to start looking at funding specific projects as that looking at funding the person we've got fellowship positions on including poetry ominously because is effectively crowdsourced patronage end up paying for a specific thing it's keep doing what you doing that now the last 10 months gender has been using this model we hide a fellow at the end of last year the fella dispensed in rhyme is responsible for keeping the project wheels graced the metabolite that is perspective and this has been a roaring success to migrating region where to get back while the response times and good reviews a lower than that of the baby the hard part has been raising money to pay we get a fundraiser start of you specifically defined the fellow the campaign raised about 50 thousand dollars that's no small chunk a change but also not a lot when you talk about a full time employee we're gonna need to do another fund-raiser really stood at the fellow fellowships gonna continue almost everyone agrees to spend money well spent the convention and nations is being hard work where battery launched that fund-raising campaigns we can all contribute hopefully get a continual we will be added contribute that on a continuing month-by-month basis so that we can hopefully building established income we know we have every month to span another approach of raising money to embrace the devil go commercial commercial interests have the money so why should they pay for it and this can be very successful in a certain circumstances but you also have to make a business case for the corpora under openstack's a great example these wire backspace hedge the it had a bond to all Institut OpenStack because they sell products that benefit from commodifying hosting environment by making it cheap and easy to control cloud deployments they increase the size of the market the class of hosting which means more money for them no JS is funded by joint similar reasons joint is making a long plight that's it's easier to develop would software more people right with software increase in the market the joint services but node is also a cautionary tale about quarter corporate interests what happens when the community and the corporate sponsor disagree about the direction of a project while you get projects but it's like i jx corporate money can corrupt you need to be careful of project governance is independent of the funding souls having a single cover must also push the project at risk that corporate master loses interest gender was originally under the wing of the well company eventually that interest waned and the corpora support dried up to the other corpora answer the get floods to go get venture money and there's some great examples of people doing it visual for example funding the development their platform with money from venture fund that got plenty of money are engineers designers whatever they need what makes me nervous about this model we've been here before whom he remembers easily Chang we go OK so if I did I remember a lot nineties easily the dot com company was funded to develop the Nautilus file manager phenomena and got to use a great open source code and then the bubble burst and the company went bust because strangely enough no 1 wanted to buy a company that produced a farm manager now the good thing is we still have a code that would be better to have that code still being actively developed the and again this discussion is happening an industry where billion-dollar evaluations of the neural large parts of an industry are built on a foundation of free and open source software but without because of the capacity to contribute in many cases not contributing some up the companies that do give huge amounts that so's companies but there are a lot of companies that don't give back and even those that do give back many of them give the help that able to it is necessarily the help that is needed to to be assessed for example regularly receives offers for free and subsidized hosting from hosting providers and don't get me wrong it's great most of incredibly helpful in very very very useful but we really need is something on the parapet review bouts earlier on the development of agenda we need people review new features where constant need for graphic designers and artists tech writers we need people who know how to do she said that we need community outreach and we don't need a thousand people died 1 hour when he came very specific people working 40 hours a week the when a disaster hits organizations that the Red Cross call for donations and I will usually say please give us money not tins of food or blankets the reason money can buy what's needed you can't control people don't enough do happen to donate exactly what is needed there is a huge logistic task of working out what's being denied and how to get it works native for an open source projects so much the sign they require resources some companies donate common and that's great but it's really exactly what is needed and is very easy to get distracted working out what to do with what has been done I did but you don't have an immediate useful and I just as the charities many companies just don't don't idle element climbing these companies have been deliberately malicious it not funding source if anything we as a community have failed them because we haven't help helped them help us most importantly we don't have a mechanism in place to make it easy to spend money and easy to receive money the current state of affairs clearly demonstrates that is not enough that there is a lot of money in a community you have to make the mechanism for donating that money is obvious and seamless as possible and you have to have someone to direct that money to notes 1 of our community that I think that is really well is the WordPress community where Press is GPL software there are books videos Blanton however I would put plug-ins and things the same as everything every open source community but critically there also books videos and blogs about how to make a business writing Wordpress plugin and things when persons GPO force are all the planets but they're gonna spell achieving gotta to buy those plugging and free ones and easily installed a new would persistence the WordPress ecosystem has fundamentally embrace the fact that money needs to be part of the equation and by doing so they created an industry that is self-funding and this I'd argue is a big reason but 1 of the big reasons for the success of word processor platform in that vein I want to make a very controversial proposal what if popular I was a revenue string where if when I registered and application the project popular I could specify price either prone still appear installed perversion perhaps of whatever and then let people still the cost is stated that attached to my and I populate can I get a monthly charge my credit card that gets passed back to develop projects if populist that's a believe Django is downloaded from partly I'm old a million times every month he pretends St. tall on each of those downloads that would raise a hundred thousand dollars every month enough to pay for 10 full-time well-paid developers or method but what diversity at RHIC gender golden community support you can also leverage the popular dependency information to pay it forward if you're running a project that depend on project you got to pass some that revenue upstream or requested that people people downstream project provided type and then is the biggest dependency all party IronPython itself pipe I took a small cut the revenue race that could help pay for the development of magnets of pipe line and potentially Python itself you also to be some of that money collected putting new development poles of his a new project that needs and bootstrapping cash to get started on established project and it's about for big task like a Python 3 upgrade the community is a hollow can funnel money to words that project and what about that we don't have money well you can often still offer free passes your agenda go uses primer cord have free access you can still be a variety of software cost and it's still free software you still developing Python's you still going to get the souls you could probably even like the sun process completely optional while you're doing is saving account path making it easy to collect tall on the easiest possible way of using the software now on side any this is gonna be easy implement completeness of many technical challenge in nailing down that both the task it's a bigger philosophical trained for our community and that's the much bigger issue but the philosophical question about money is a discussion that we that we as a community we need to have where we've got the mothers a tragedy of the commons everyone agrees that this software is good everyone knows the software needs to be maintained but Russian 1 individual company take on the economic burden of maintaining the funding maintenance of a product when they competitors are getting the benefits of phrase for me the key lesson from the music and movie industries in the last 20 years is that if you make it simple and seamless from uh make it easy to do the right thing people will do the right thing if you make it simple and seamless for a large company to slap the credit card get charged hundred bucks a month for using always open source software may be using uh using free they will yes people going to cheat of body about as well as changing is isn't easier than doing the doing the right thing the biggest reason this is happening right now is that is it is obvious what the right thing it's I could delighted eosinophil appears that's the leader will organize and is not clear whether money goes on either side of a few patrons aside about Downey program but not everybody's there really want that but that's being given out is we have to find a real living out of whack contribute be money so what we short answer is I don't know and it probably isn't going to be a suitable I'd like to think that much of the monetization channel party I would work but I'll be the 1st person to admit that that might not be the answer will there might be problems I have the same but I firmly believe this conversation is a conversation we have to have free software is a movement is over 30 years old open source is almost 20 we've conquered the technical tools we even conquered the policy hurdles now it's time tackle how we make this a long-term sustainable industry not just the commercials a commercial interests exploiting the naivete of a stream of doe-eyed volunteers now I mentioned that had a slightly more controversial position now and and not take questions this point the 2 reasons firstly because this sort talk is a magnet for I have a comment on the question questions um but also because this is in the subject where I have the answers this is the discussion we need to have is a community and really it had that discussion just not on the stage were bike for a further info for often tea please come and see me on more than happy to come to talk about this at length and as always get me to stop talking at length is often the problem thank you all remember it but the the and the Holy it in things