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Re: Using money to fund real Debian work

On Wed, Oct 11, 2006 at 10:09:06AM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> Roberto C. Sanchez <roberto@connexer.com> wrote:
> > [...] Person A gets mad becuase he is afraid that person B will will 
> > get pay for something that both had originally agreed to do for free.
> Now there's a key part of the problem: this changes agreements that some 
> developers made with the debian project.  While that doesn't make it 
> wrong in itself, some people may not agree with the new terms.  I 
> believe they should be allowed to state their objections in an effective 
> way and suggest ways to find a wider agreement, as a bare minimum.
> However, Dunc-Tank seems to be a bizarre half-in-yet-half-out-of the 
> debian project structure which changes the agreement and still tries to 
> involve DDs, yet is ultimately beyond the project's control.
I'm not aware of the particulars of dunc-tank.  However, in most cases
where a benefactor donates monetery resources to an organization, think
school, non-profit org, etc, the donor is ultimately beyond the control
of the organization.  Now, based on your reasoning, the United Way
should reject a $10 million donation from Warren Buffet.  I mean,
seriously, that money would be used to pay full-time and part-time
staff.  But others are there volunteering to work for free.  Paying some
people and not others would make those who are not payed unhappy.  Such
a thing would cause the entire organization to collapse.  To say nothing
of the fact that they United Way has no "control" over Warren Buffet.

Now, if you would be so kind as to tell me what fantasy world you live
in, where all charitable organizations refuse donations so as not upset
their membership, I would like to come and visit.

> > Well, tough.  It is the donor's resource.  It is utterly insane for a 
> > resource limited organization to refuse additional resources, 
> If the cost of accepting a donation is greater than refusing it, then it 
> is insane to accept it.

What is the cost of accepting a donation?  Making a few people jealous?
Life is filled with decisions.  It is not possible to make everyone
happy.  Personally, if it will make Debian that much better, more
improved, whatever, then I would rather see some DDs get jealous, or
even leave the project, as in the end it will result in a better Debian
GNU/Linux operating system.  Is that not the goal here?

> > especially when there are not any additional restrictions imposed.  
> I thought all donations from dunc-tank were restricted to particular 
> people and times.

Again, I am not familiar with the particulars of dunc-tank.  All of the
arguments that I have seen/read have simply against the introduction of
money into the projct to pay developers.  But then, I don't really see
anything wrong with the donor setting the terms for use of the donation.
Ever hear of earmarking?  The university where I attended received a
large donation from a wealthy local family.  They made the donation
specifically for the construction of a new medical school building.
That appears to be a restriction.  So what?  Was it going to make the
engineering faculty jealous?  Probably.  Did the university refuse the
gift?  No way.  It would have been foolish to do so.

Now, in an ideal world, the donation would come with the instructions:
"spend this how you see fit, no restrictions."  But even when there are
restrictions, unless they go against the core beliefs of the
organization (thing donation to a church to provide abortions), there is
really not a good reason to refuse.  It just makes the organization
look like a bunch of unreasonable fanatics.  Now, what core belief is
violated if the Debian project allows some developers to be paid for
their work on Debian?  None, you say?  Because it already happens?

> > Please, people get over it.  So what if someone else gets paid and you 
> > don't?  If you came into it with the notion that you were going to do 
> > it for free, then that is a decision you made for yourself.
> For some of us, that is fine.  Others will move debian down their list 
> of priorities if they feel debian is becoming Yet Another Pay The Bills 
> scheme.  Others may move it down until they feel it benefits them 
> more.  Others may try to build little empires that only they can 
> service, in the hope of being paid for running that empire later.

How is this different than now?  I'll be honest.  I enjoy working on
Debian.  But I have limited time.  One of my motivations for working on
Debian is that one day I'd like to become a consultant specializing in
open source solutions.  Working on Debian and becoming a Debian
developer will help me in that goal because I gain skills.  Now, does
that make me a bad person?  Hopefully not :-)

> We've seen these patterns happen for other free software projects.  Can 
> we avoid them for debian, or at least try to predict what damage we need 
> to take into consideration?  This money is not without potential loss.
Please give one example.

> > Now, go read the parable one more time to make sure you understand it.
> It's amazing what inequalities and injustices can be defended with 
> scripture if you squint at it the right way.
I'm sorry.  You appear to be misinterpreting the point I was trying to
make.  Based on that statement, it is unfair for *anyone* to *ever*
donate *anything* unless they can donate equally to all.  Think about
the absurdity of that.  If I went downtown to a large city and handed
out $20 bills to five homeless people, would that be an injustice?  If I
only had $100 to give, that's all I could do.  Now, if 10 other homeless
people came up to me and said, "what about me?", what would happen?  I
would tell them that is all I had.  If they got mad, I would simply have
to tell them that it is my money and I can do with it as I see fit,
perhaps they could try feeling happy that someone in similar
circumstances was helped out.  Is that a great injustice?  Absolutely
not.  It's called "doing what you can."

I resent the idea that you say that I am using scripture to justify
inequality and injustice.  Inequality and injustice are facts of life.
Turn it around for a moment.  What of the owner of the vineyard in the
parable had not gone out seeking workers?  Those men would have stayed
there all day, without working, and without receiving a wage.  Which is
the greater injustice?

> Roberto C. Sanchez <roberto@connexer.com> wrote:
> > There is no sanity attack.  In fact, what I was implying is that there
> > is an apparent lack of maturity on the part of those who are
> > irrationally against something which is supposed to help improve the
> > project.
> Right, it's not a personal attack, you're just saying all objectors are 
> immature(!)  8-/
Not at all.  Just, that their objections are immature.  Again, they are
objecting to someone else's good fortune.  Where I come from that is
simply considered immature and bad form.

> [...]
> > > Can Dunc-Tank advocates answer these essential questions?
> > > | Why is devel 1 paid but not devel 2?
> > 1) Because there are limited funds.
> Not an answer.  For example, we could split the limited funds between 
> devel 1 and devel 2 in some way.  Why is devel 1 paid but not devel 2?
What if splitting the funds would result on two things getting half-done
or done poorly instead of one thing being finished well and in a timely

> > > Is devel 2 not doing good work?  
> > 2) No.  Devel 1's work was deemed more important/critical/visible/etc.
> So why would anyone expect devel 2 not to see this as a message that her 
> work is more unimportant, non-critical, invisible than others?
I would expect people to understand that there is work of various
importance.  Please look at the packages in which I am involved


Now, AFAICT, if I disappeared off the face of the earth today, maybe
half a dozen people involved with Debian might notice (though not for a
week or two of not responding to email pings).  I don't pretend that my
work is the least bet important compared to Steve's work as release
manager or compared to Manoj's work as secretary or compared to the ftp
masters, or to those working on the installer or porting to
architectures.  It's called having perspective.  If people seriously
cannot estimate the value or importance of their own work in comparison
to that of others, I wonder hw they function in a real company.

> Also, if getting paid is motivating for some, then you can be fairly 
> sure that not getting paid will be demotivating for others.
So what?  In the end, the project is the better for it.

> > > | Will it work for devel 1 if they work more on Debian so get paid as 
> > > | well?
> > 3) Why does it matter?
> I don't know, but it clearly does matter, else the question wouldn't be 
> there from someone as serious about this as Martin Schulze.
I don't why Martin feels the way he does about it.  However, I think his
thoughts are irrational on the subject.

> > > Why does devel 1 have to work on a day-job to get something to 
> > > | eat but not devel 2?
> > 4) Because the project cannot afford to pay someone completely
> > full-time.  Or perhaps, the resources need to be spread out over more
> > tasks.  Or perhaps, the task does not require as much time.  Or perhaps,
> > devel 2 is a student and is able to his/her work in conjunction with a
> > school project or something.
> Again, not an answer.  How about paying people according to their needs, 
> or according to their desire?
Becuase Debian's ultimate goal is to produce a universal OS for their
users, not to run a charity for poor technologists.  If their needs or
desires match up with the project goals, then great.  But I think it
would be foolish to pay someone, for instance, who was quite needy, but
maintained packages used by very few people.  Instead the things that
need the most work should be first.  For example, if the installer
needed serious work, it should be considered to pay those developers
first to work on that, regardless of their financial situations.  Now,
if they come back and say "I'll do it anyway, no need to pay me," then
that is great.  But remember, Debian is not in the business of
supporting poor developers.

> > > Why is the project involved in selecting people 
> > > | worth for funding?
> > 5) Because the project is in the best position to prioritize tasks that
> > are important to the project.
> Currently, dunc-tank is not task-based.  Why is the project involved in 
> selecting *people* worth funding?
Same reasone.

> > > Why can't all developers who work hard on getting 
> > > | Debian better be funded similarily?
> > 6) Because the resources are not unlimited.
> Again, not an answer.  If one doesn't assume that it's only worthwhile 
> paying people for big blocks of time, this reason does not work.
> I hope the above shows that there are some tough questions underlying 
> the complaints of some against Dunc-Tank and not just personality 
> problems.
I don't see any "tough questions".

> > > > For example, why join the Debian project in the first place? 
> > > 
> > > Because it's more efficient than the alternatives for many tasks.
> > > 
> > Then that is fine.  It is why we have a choice to use Debian or to use
> > something else.  It is why we have a choice to contribute to Debian or
> > to contribute to something else.
> Not unreasonably, people who have been major contributors to Debian feel 
> unhappy with the prospect of walking away without trying to share the 
> benefit of their experience without other projects where people who 
> agreed to do tasks for free start being paid.  Even if we disagree with 
> their conclusions, we should try to learn from their experiences.  Those 
> who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
> > > > Seriously, if money is someone's nly or primary motivation, they 
> > > > should go work for Red Hat, Novell or Canonical.
> > > 
> > > However, some developers won't make the ethical compromises necessary to 
> > > do so.  What if money is one of your motivations, not only or primary?
> > > 
> > Life is riddled with decisions.  Most people must either make ethical
> > compromises or financial compromises.  Choose your poison.  [...]
> That's largely bunk IME.  Also, someone whose only or primary motivation 
> is money won't go for Red Hat, Novell or Canonical, as you don't often 
> get rich by working as a wage-slave.
What are you talking about?  I didn't say that people who work for Red
Hat, Novell or Canonical were planning to get rich or only motivated by
money.  Rather, that compromised some of what people here would consider
ethical considerations for some financial considerations.  An example of
someone who compromises all ethics for all financial gain is a hitman or
assassin.  Arguably, they are not wage slaves.

> Roberto C. Sanchez <roberto@connexer.com> wrote:
> > [...] Why is it that we cannot rejoice in other people's good fortune?
> We can rejoice for them, but we should also mourn if we believe it is a 
> net harm to the project.  Why should we only rejoice if other people 
> make their fortune as a result of our common project when we need to 
> make our fortune from it, yet make no fortune from it?
Again, your that this will harm the project is unsubstantiated.

> > Why cannot we rejoice in the idea that there are people out
> > there who care enough about free software (for whatever reason) that
> > they wish to finicially support its development?
> Do you think that those people who want to financially support 
> development would be happy with financially supporting developer 
> disenchantment?  Can we rejoice if we con them?
They probably want to improve the project.  I can say this much, though.
If I had come along and offered a large donation (whether it is similar
to Dunc-Tank's or not) and the ongoing discussion were the reaction I
observed, I would retract the offer and go find another "worthy" cause.
> Stephen Gran <sgran@debian.org> wrote:
> > In my world, I have to work full time in order to pay the bills, and
> > this reduces the amount of time I have for things that are fun.  Do
> > things work differently in your world?
> In my world, my work is fun.  More so than debian hacking, even.
Hmm.  In my world, hacking on Debian is more fun than my day job :-)



Roberto C. Sanchez

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