Subject: Re: Order entry application user group
From: Brian Bartholomew <>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 11:51:17 -0500

Tim writes:
> It's not just a matter of "boring enough or time-consuming enough",
> it's also "specialized enough."

I think "boring" and "time-consuming" are sufficient to chase away
volunteer labor, without needing specialized creators or users.  For
instance, plenty of people have the skills to clone quickbooks, and
there are plenty of interested users, but nobody is doing it (yes, I
know about the free quickbooks cloning projects, but they aren't good
enough for you to use personally, are they?)  And if you aren't
convinced by that one, there is always tax-preparation software.

> I do believe that there's a lot more behind the scenes work with the
> numbers at this scale.  It isn't just a low-friction net thing, but
> requires some f2f time or other deep contacts.

I see that part as solvable.  If you're willing to pay real money,
somebody reputable will step up to do the job on a contract basis.  If
they need to manage subcontractors, they can do that.

But I'm surprised you don't see the free rider problem as a show-
stopper.  What do you do about your publishing competitors who say,
"I'm glad that O'Reilly is volunteering a non-inconsiderable sum of
cash to write this!  Let us know when it's finished."?

I hope for software which is as libre and gratis as possible -- but
not so libre and gratis that nobody cares to create it.

A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA