Subject: Re: Exploring the limits of free software
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 13:01:42 -0700 (PDT)

On 24 May 1999, Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
>    Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 23:32:12 -0700 (PDT)
>    From: Brian Behlendorf <>
>    You probably mean the sourceXchange -  I've not
>    posted here about it for fear of being seen as spamming, but since it was
>    brought up, I'm happy to answer questions about it (privately or
>    publicly).
> Does it differ significantly from the Free Software Bazaar at
> ?

I'm really not eager to get into a comparison match between the bazaar,
cosource, the GNU jobs page, or any other system that is like or might be
like sXc at this point, mainly because we haven't launched yet, and only
time will tell whether the things I think are significant actually are.  I
will say that early on we rejected the bounty model (flat payment only
upon delivery) because we think it *discourages* developers from tackling
tougher projects.  There were other things I brought to this that I'd
learned by being in the time & materials contracting space for almost 5
years while at Organic Online - such as the importance of peer review,
milestones, and developing histories of both sides of the equation.

> If I were to hire somebody to do some contract programming, I would
> either want extensive control, as in hiring an on-site contractor, or
> an established reputation for reliability and on-time delivery, as in
> hiring Cygnus.

The myth of "extensive control means having developer on-site" is
tractable to address, I think.  Besides, now that the courts have
established working on-site as one criteria for calling contractors
"employees" (c.f. the Microsoft ruling last week), companies are going to
be eager to find off-site developers.  

Reputations will arrive over time as developers work on projects... the
obvious question is how to evaluate the reputation of someone who has no
history.  Looking at their resumes and their previous work should be
enough for that, as well as recognition by others in the community.  

I'm not writing these issues off, of course; but they're not different
issues than what contractors today face.

> The eBay model meets different needs, since with eBay I only have to
> trust that the person owns the object and will reliably send it to me;
> other than that, he or she could be a total flake for all I care.

Which is why I cringe whenever the eBay comparison is brought up.
Delivery of IP is definitely different than delivery of hard goods, and I
think we've addressed it.  

> So it's somewhat hard for to imagine that sourceXchange will be used
> for anything other than very limited or very lowcost projects.
> However, web organizations have certainly defied my expectations many
> times in the past.

Time will tell.  I appreciate your skepticism.