Subject: Re: Competition by internal expertise for F/OSS vendors
From: Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net>
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2008 15:47:10 -0700
Wed, 03 Sep 2008 15:47:10 -0700
simo wrote:
>>> Ben Tilly and Chris Di Bona already summarized well that there are other
>>> rewards than just money in this field.
>>>   
>>>       
>> They summarized people's self-reported attitudes -- which are
>> irrelevant to the question of exploitation.
>>     
>
> How is it irrelevant to question the people you accuse of being
> exploited and asking for their opinion?
>   

It is irrelevant to question them in that manner.

The attitudinal surveys *are* relevant in other ways.  For example,
formal and informal surveys focus on "career development" as
a motivation for volunteering labor to commercial efforts.

That tells us something about how the exploitation works:

The exploiters allow and encourage volunteers, rewarding
*just enough* and *just the right ones* to maintain the
*hope* among others that their career is being advanced.
We learn a little bit about the structure and function of the
propaganda behind the exploitation from those attitude reports.






>   
>>> I too started *donating* my time. I did it for fun, to help people, and
>>> of course to advertise myself and my skills. This allowed 2 jobs to
>>> literally fall on me when I came to the US.
>>>   
>>>       
>> I don't fault you for doing that.  I do that myself, too.
>> That's not the point.
>>
>> Where are the *opportunities to donate*?  Who creates
>> the bulk of them?  Who sets the rules of where and how to
>> donate?   What do the people running the show get out of
>> the deal?  compared to the people donating?
>>
>> Consider a subset of the opportunities to donate:  there's a 
>> subset which are those opportunities to donate that can land
>> you a job.   There are other places to donate coding that won't
>> help much with a job but there are a few reliable places,
>> at any point in time.
>>     
>
> Not all volunteers want a job in free software, actually I'd say most of
> them do not look for a job in the field. Either they already have a
> satisfactory job, or they just do it for fun.
>   


Yes, this tells us more about how the scheme works.

It was a neat trick, the invention of the concept of "open source",
that managed to lift the idea of volunteerism from the free software
movement and steer it away from caring about having a free software
job.


>> They are mostly in the business of supporting a platform for
>> non-free software.  They mostly compete by not paying for
>> large amounts of the new code they use each month.
>>     
>
> Care to make examples please?
>   


What do paid-up RHEL installs mostly run?  How
is the "total cost of ownership" of RHEL kept low?




>   
>> Meanwhile, you and 10,000 other guys are putting all of
>> your "donating" efforts into that narrow range of 
>> projects, completely ignoring the question of which projects
>> are the most tactically important to eliminating proprietary
>> software -- all while putting money in the pockets of
>> shareholders of a few vendors.
>>     
>
> So far when I decided to partecipate in a project or start one, I did it
> because it appealed me or I found it interesting in some way.
>   


Of course.   There's nothing wrong with individuals doing pro bono public
hacking.   I could just do without the manufactured celebrities and I think
that if a self-respecting corp. wants to work with the community of such
individuals they should do it like a business would and speak with their
wallets.   Otherwise, we all have to keep counting our fingers whenever
we shake hands with these firms.


> In my experience the projects that are driven or started by vendors is
> an incredibly small amount with respect to the total sum of projects.
>   

There's a lot of junk on freshmeat, sure.   Those firms drive the main 
action.




> And most of them require paid developers because volunteers have no
> interest in them. There are notable exceptions, but I'd like you to show
> some facts before drawing conclusions because I do not agree at all with
> your feeling.
>   


What numbers ya got?




>   
>>> Also let's not forget that one of the rewards is getting back a lot of
>>> free software from other volunteers or paid programmers alike.
>>>   
>>>       
>> Yes, but *what* free software?   That which makes the most
>> sense or that which happens to "fall of the back of the truck"
>> the vendors use to deliver their platform for proprietary software?
>>     
>
> Uhmm I didn't know that Debian used to distribute software that happened
> to "fall of the back of the truck" of vendors , I must have been living
> in a different place the last years.
>   

Where did Debian get its desktop software?  (to name one
example.)






> But working for a vendor I can tell you that the amount of software that
> would be nice to have for enterprises needs is not even close to what
> the volunteers community usually is interested with.
>   

I have no beef with such things.   I'll put in a plug for a team I like:
Oracle happens to host the developers of [Berkeley/Oracle] DB XML.
I think Oracle picks up pretty darn close to 100% of the tab for that
project, albeit they do put up a wailing wall where you can send an
email to report a bug.   They run a mailing list where users can help
one another but more commonly, the Oracle-hired team volunteers
to help users with questions.   There is no obvious "entre" for public
volunteers to sign up and "gain status" as a contributor although if
someone made a serious effort for reasons of their own I don't think they'd
be refused at the gate.    I really like the whole operation of that 
project.

In contrast, another piece of code I use is Fedora and I start poking
around there for this or that piece of information and I'm quickly
confronted with a solicitation to volunteer to write HOWTO
documents for them.     This is like being a plumber invited to a
party where the host greets you saying "Hey, welcome to the party!
Say, while you're here, do you mind taking a look at the drippy
faucet upstairs?   I wouldn't normally ask but we're thinking of
actually hiring a plumber next week and I'd like to see some samples
of your work.  Awfully convenient that we happened to have a
dripping sink, eh?"



-t


> Volunteers tend to volunteer to whatever project they like or find
> useful for themselves, they are certainly not coerced to provide help to
> vendors on projects they do not care about.
>
>   
>>> Most people get back ample rewards/returns even if it is not money.
>>>
>>> Show me evidence of the contrary please.
>>>
>>>   
>>>       
>> I have been.   Please see it.
>>     
>
> Sorry, I guess I either fail to see it, or you failed to provide
> evidence. I see you provided opinions, but they are not facts until you
> get some real world data to sustain your thesis.
>
> So far only Chris provided some data, and his data does not agree with
> your vision (and you discarded it as irrelevant for that).
>
> Simo.
>
>
>   



simo wrote:
Ben Tilly and Chris Di Bona already summarized well that there are other
rewards than just money in this field.
  
      
They summarized people's self-reported attitudes -- which are
irrelevant to the question of exploitation.
    

How is it irrelevant to question the people you accuse of being
exploited and asking for their opinion?
  

It is irrelevant to question them in that manner.

The attitudinal surveys *are* relevant in other ways.  For example,
formal and informal surveys focus on "career development" as
a motivation for volunteering labor to commercial efforts.

That tells us something about how the exploitation works:

The exploiters allow and encourage volunteers, rewarding
*just enough* and *just the right ones* to maintain the
*hope* among others that their career is being advanced.
We learn a little bit about the structure and function of the
propaganda behind the exploitation from those attitude reports.






  
I too started *donating* my time. I did it for fun, to help people, and
of course to advertise myself and my skills. This allowed 2 jobs to
literally fall on me when I came to the US.
  
      
I don't fault you for doing that.  I do that myself, too.
That's not the point.

Where are the *opportunities to donate*?  Who creates
the bulk of them?  Who sets the rules of where and how to
donate?   What do the people running the show get out of
the deal?  compared to the people donating?

Consider a subset of the opportunities to donate:  there's a 
subset which are those opportunities to donate that can land
you a job.   There are other places to donate coding that won't
help much with a job but there are a few reliable places,
at any point in time.
    

Not all volunteers want a job in free software, actually I'd say most of
them do not look for a job in the field. Either they already have a
satisfactory job, or they just do it for fun.
  


Yes, this tells us more about how the scheme works.

It was a neat trick, the invention of the concept of "open source",
that managed to lift the idea of volunteerism from the free software
movement and steer it away from caring about having a free software
job.


They are mostly in the business of supporting a platform for
non-free software.  They mostly compete by not paying for
large amounts of the new code they use each month.
    

Care to make examples please?
  


What do paid-up RHEL installs mostly run?  How
is the "total cost of ownership" of RHEL kept low?




  
Meanwhile, you and 10,000 other guys are putting all of
your "donating" efforts into that narrow range of 
projects, completely ignoring the question of which projects
are the most tactically important to eliminating proprietary
software -- all while putting money in the pockets of
shareholders of a few vendors.
    

So far when I decided to partecipate in a project or start one, I did it
because it appealed me or I found it interesting in some way.
  


Of course.   There's nothing wrong with individuals doing pro bono public
hacking.   I could just do without the manufactured celebrities and I think
that if a self-respecting corp. wants to work with the community of such
individuals they should do it like a business would and speak with their
wallets.   Otherwise, we all have to keep counting our fingers whenever
we shake hands with these firms.


In my experience the projects that are driven or started by vendors is
an incredibly small amount with respect to the total sum of projects.
  

There's a lot of junk on freshmeat, sure.   Those firms drive the main action.




And most of them require paid developers because volunteers have no
interest in them. There are notable exceptions, but I'd like you to show
some facts before drawing conclusions because I do not agree at all with
your feeling.
  


What numbers ya got?




  
Also let's not forget that one of the rewards is getting back a lot of
free software from other volunteers or paid programmers alike.
  
      
Yes, but *what* free software?   That which makes the most
sense or that which happens to "fall of the back of the truck"
the vendors use to deliver their platform for proprietary software?
    

Uhmm I didn't know that Debian used to distribute software that happened
to "fall of the back of the truck" of vendors , I must have been living
in a different place the last years.
  

Where did Debian get its desktop software?  (to name one
example.)






But working for a vendor I can tell you that the amount of software that
would be nice to have for enterprises needs is not even close to what
the volunteers community usually is interested with.
  

I have no beef with such things.   I'll put in a plug for a team I like:
Oracle happens to host the developers of [Berkeley/Oracle] DB XML.
I think Oracle picks up pretty darn close to 100% of the tab for that
project, albeit they do put up a wailing wall where you can send an
email to report a bug.   They run a mailing list where users can help
one another but more commonly, the Oracle-hired team volunteers
to help users with questions.   There is no obvious "entre" for public
volunteers to sign up and "gain status" as a contributor although if
someone made a serious effort for reasons of their own I don't think they'd
be refused at the gate.    I really like the whole operation of that project.

In contrast, another piece of code I use is Fedora and I start poking
around there for this or that piece of information and I'm quickly
confronted with a solicitation to volunteer to write HOWTO
documents for them.     This is like being a plumber invited to a
party where the host greets you saying "Hey, welcome to the party!
Say, while you're here, do you mind taking a look at the drippy
faucet upstairs?   I wouldn't normally ask but we're thinking of
actually hiring a plumber next week and I'd like to see some samples
of your work.  Awfully convenient that we happened to have a
dripping sink, eh?"



-t


Volunteers tend to volunteer to whatever project they like or find
useful for themselves, they are certainly not coerced to provide help to
vendors on projects they do not care about.

  
Most people get back ample rewards/returns even if it is not money.

Show me evidence of the contrary please.

  
      
I have been.   Please see it.
    

Sorry, I guess I either fail to see it, or you failed to provide
evidence. I see you provided opinions, but they are not facts until you
get some real world data to sustain your thesis.

So far only Chris provided some data, and his data does not agree with
your vision (and you discarded it as irrelevant for that).

Simo.