[ubuntu-web] Another idea for Ubuntu Wanted's future
oli at thepcspy.com
Sun Aug 10 00:11:56 BST 2008
Hi all. I've been reading the Ubuntu Wanted postings going on and I
think it hold great potential for getting existing developers with free
time hooked up with projects that interest them. I think we might be
missing an opportunity though, one that could really change the way
business looks at community-supported Linux. I could be wrong and the
idea may, once implemented, actually do more harm than good, but I'm
just "putting it out there".
Companies like commercial support. They need bullet proof systems that
always work and sometimes they need flexibility. Desktop Linux is by no
means a complete project. There are issues in places that prohibit some
people using the system, or really limit its abilities. In my personal
experience, this has come down to bugs in some packages. I've submitted
a fair few bug reports but as you all know the time-to-fix is heavily
variable, usually depending on the availability of the project's main
developer(s) and their willingness to help. This isn't great for people
whose livelihoods depend on the bug being fixed, especially when bug
reports get filed as WONTFIX.
In the commercial software world, the same thing is true but it is
mitigated by threat of refund or not repurchasing. There can be both
carrot and stick incentive for those developers to improve their apps.
In FOSS there is neither.
My proposal (sorry it took until the fourth paragraph) is to create a
marketplace for mercenary FOSS bug fixing and development. Organisations
and individuals can start projects and pledge money for them being
completed with certain criteria. Developers can look at what people want
and then take on the work, submit their fixes and addons, give
instructions on how to use them, submit everything upstream and getting
paid after review.
I hope the benefits are clear. If devs can get paid for working on FOSS
(for the benefit of everybody), chances are they might be able to devote
more time to it. It also means a lot more people could see the point in
getting involved... Oh and people get what's important to them.
The downsides are harder to predict. This would undoubtedly be
controversial. Existing developers might see this as people getting paid
for releasing buggy software and patching it on demand. The hippier
purists might see this as bringing in unwanted commercial interests.
Quality of software might fall. Developers might stop producing free
updates. Other development inside projects might slow down too. The
direction of the software might head against the majority of its users.
It's hard to say.
The largest real problem would be payment handling. I'm sure lots of
people pledging would be faithful but there might be silly bids coming
in that mess up the system. We'd need an escrow service but that
introduces a whole new set of issues.
So yeah... Some immediate benefits with plenty of issues. Just thought
it might be relevant for discussion while you're all fleshing out
functionality ideas for UW.
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