Subject: Re: Bounty for Bugs in Open Source Projects?
From: Joe Corneli <jcorneli@math.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 18:08:09 -0500


   There is quite a lot of software that people would like to develop,
   the skill is available, the personal interest is available, and people
   would like to use it, but it's _not_ being developed as free software.
   The question is: how can we better bring these interests together, so
   that more of it is.


My current point of view is that free software is very _educational_.
(Writing free software is what I'm doing instead of finishing a
graduate degree.)

But at the University, everyone has money in their hands, either to
pay with, or that they are being paid with.  Where are the
scholarships for studying free software?  Nowhere I've seen.  But at
least there isn't any tuition, either.

By the time the "student" has gotten to the point where he or she can
write code that could sell (maybe), only the first hurdle has been
crossed.  This "graduate" must become an entrepreneur.  

Presumably, as a student, some coding goals were imagined - the sort
of thing that might go on the left-hand-side of a reverse bounty.  But
the world may have gone in a different direction; the world is
offering forward bounties for a completely different set of things
(which are often _not_ free software at all).  Like any entrepreneur,
free software novice must make choices.  More than likely, the choice
will be to "go back to school" and continue to work on interesting
un-paid programming projects.

Eventually, perhaps something is finished - and the novice (half
starving, now) has to figure out whether to give it away, or try to
charge for it.  Perhaps this experiment should to be done some more,
but I assume the usual outcome is that the novice, wishing at least as
much for recognition as for income, will crumble, and simply give away
the code, and the "market" will gobble it up and not even leave a $.50
tip.

A potentially better (and more socialistic) way to go would be to
establish a Free Software University that gets governmental and
industry grants, and which is set up to sponsor the _scholarship_ of
its participants, from beginning (once they know that this is the
career they want) to end (retirement).

Perhaps there are some clever folks who can make the "real" university
into a place like that.  So far, I have not been anywhere near that
clever.  Code does not follow the same rhythms that the established
programs follow.

Perhaps the Free Software University would be best set up sort of like
Morpheus's goon squad from "The Matrix" universe.  What we need is a
supply of monocellural protein paste to pay hackers with.  Oh yes, and
some way to cover rent.

Our only other option is to help the novice hacker... in that moment
of crisis... figure out how to actually start getting paid (according
to a more capitalistic model).  

Or perhaps the test (by fire) is to see whether the hacker will
continue to give away good code.  Enough of that behavior, and
"society" will probably begin to see that it is worth sending some
support.