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Re: KickStarter for Debian packages - crowdfunding/donations for development

Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com> writes:
> With respect to Debian-packaged software, if we address both issues,
> the benefit is that more resources can be directed toward Free
> Software development.

That is an assumption that I happen to think is completely unfounded.

IBM tested various ways of incentivising coders decades ago -- almost
all of them were disastrously counter-productive.

We tried DuncTank -- I'd contend that the net amount of productive work
done was reduced by that initiative, and some very active contributors
were demotivated to the point that they went away and didn't come back.

It is bound to direct money to highly visible projects, regardless of
the effort required to package them, while people working on vital but
largely invisible infrastructure will get nothing much -- how good is
that going to be for the project? (when the Morlocks see the Eloi having
all the fun, I fear that they may start to get hungry ;-) ).

How do we determine a fair split between a couple of developers, one
living in a penthouse in New York, and another living in a shanty town
on a dollar a day.

I presume we'd be open about what people were being paid?  How about if
we end up publishing that we've given someone what amounts to a fortune
in their locale?

I'm not against people being paid for Free Software work -- that's what
pays my mortgage after all, and much of my income for the last 20 years
has been at least peripherally related to Debian.  I just don't like the
idea of Debian being the conduit for the money.  I think it's even
problematic for Debian to act as the advertiser.

If a developer and their customer negotiate a deal, nobody but the
developer need worry if they think it's a fair deal, and nobody but the
developer's reputation is at risk.  Otherwise we'll start to see
complaints like: "I gave Debian $1000 and they don't even acknowledge my
bug reports"

In conclusion, I think this is a very dangerous idea, and that it would
cause nothing but trouble.  The main underlying assumption is wrong.
People work on Debian as amateurs, in the best sense of the word
(i.e. motivated by the love of it, not for financial gain).  An influx
of mercenaries would not be a net gain.

If it were needed or useful, Debian would not exist.

If it was a really good idea then we'd all be using something like
Mandrake instead.

Cheers, Phil.

P.S. in answer to:
> What do you think about the counter-argument to that statement posed by Martin Owens?
>     http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2013/06/msg00031.html

The idea that it's currently impossible to fund Free Software is
nonsense. See IBM, HP, Canonical, my customers, anyone that's ever said
to a DD (or anyone else for that matter): "I'll buy you a beer if you
help me package this..."

Where payments to work on Debian make sense, removing friction is a good
thing for all involved, but that should all be done (far) outside Debian.
|)|  Philip Hands [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]    http://www.hands.com/
|-|  HANDS.COM Ltd.                    http://www.uk.debian.org/
|(|  10 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, London  E18 1NE  ENGLAND

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