Subject: Re: economic efficiency of free software
From: "Benjamin J. Tilly " <ben_tilly@operamail.com>
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 00:00:25 +0800

Rich Bodo <rsb@ostel.com> wrote:
> 
> > OH MY WORD!
> 
> Forrest,
> 
> 	Have you checked out the bug bounty programs that other
> projects employ?  These programs are becoming quite popular and are
> not too hard to implement, but still take time (and some money, if you
> want to accept credit cards on line) .  
[...]

I would be cautious about this approach in an FOSS context.

Consider the case where someone has a bugfix which possibly
introduces problems of its own.  Getting past the ego to explain
why the patch is not being accepted isn't easy.  If there is
money on the line, then it becomes that much more painful.

There is also the spectre of people saying, "I know how to fix
this bug, but why don't I let it sit and see if someone will pay
me for it?"  I saw this first-hand when I compared my participation
in free online communities (eg perlmonks) and ones which were
willing to pay me (eg experts-exchange).  While money was a nice
draw, it ruined the social dynamics and I wound up participating
less.

Introducing money is an incentive.  You just have to be careful
that it doesn't introduce perverse incentives that ruin key social
dynamics.

Cheers,
Ben