Subject: Re: Nessus 3.0's failed community
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 16:46:54 +0900

>>>>> "Michael" == Michael Bernstein <> writes:

    Michael> You're taking what I said *slightly* out of context.

True.  My point was that so do a lot of Slashdaughters.

    Michael> So, when a community member becomes an employee, their
    Michael> involvement in the community diminishes or even vanishes
    Michael> because they are no longer as free to participate in it
    Michael> as they previously were.

Day jobs have a habit of doing that.  Even if the company _encourages_
participation, in many cases the freedom to be involved in the
community necessary diminishes.  Eg, transitioning from unemployed/
student/employed elsewhere but dissatisfied to employed by the firm in
question.  In many examples I've seen the kibitzers do _not_ give the
company credit for this.

I'm not arguing against encouraging community participation.  It's
good for the company.  However, encouragement is nowhere near enough
to balance the new employee's duty/desire to do the work the firm
needs in many cases---his community participation will shrink visibly.
And don't forget, if the hacker-by-night suddenly gets the day job of
his dreams, he may very well start playing guitar nights, instead of

    Michael> In short, the company is now forbidding the new employee
    Michael> to do the very thing that likely got them hired in the
    Michael> first place.  This is, to say the least, at least
    Michael> somewhat hypocritical on the part of the company,

I violently disagree with that statement in this context.  Brian
started the discussion by talking about a hypothetical FSB "no matter
how open".  A well-intentioned FSB is not going to be _forbid_ding
community participation.  And as far as I can see as long as the code
continues to be publicly distributed as open source, that's a private
matter between the company and the hacker, and the community, if it
cares about the hacker's well-being, should rejoice at his good
fortune.  No?

I see no hypocrisy even if the net effect is a large withdrawal of
resources from "the community".

As I see it, the question is whether the net withdrawal needs to
happen to achieve the goals of company and employee, and how to
prevent it if not.

    Michael> Contrast the results of that policy with one of
    Michael> encouraging employees to participate in the community on
    Michael> company time as a necessary part of their jobs. This
    Michael> creates a virtuous cycle. Community members that are
    Michael> hired suddenly become *more* valuable to the community
    Michael> instead of less (even if they have less actual time to
    Michael> participate), and the community in turn becomes more
    Michael> valuable to the company.

Sure, I believe it happens; what we need to figure out is "how and
why"?  Will it work for _any_ FSB, or are there classes of OSS (or as
Larry Augustin pointed out, OSS business models) for which it won't
help enough?

School of Systems and Information Engineering
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.