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Re: [ox-en] Re: Free Software and payment

Hi Stefan and all!

thx for your thoughts. i took some of your critisism (too complex distribution mechanism) and added it to the VN_CRIT document.

BTW: Not every Free Software project which money involvement is

dont get me wrong: my point is not that money is the crucial thing that makes an os application successful. i think, however, it can serve as a very useful tool - if applied properly - to make any project more successful. devil is also in the details. but i think the framework that we are building up and are already implementing is a good basis to experiment with, make (unavoidable) mistakes and learn from them (hopefully for other interested productive social networks/os communities).

"successful in the
market place" (for me) means that its a viable competitor to closed source programs and that people (and not only techies) know about it and use it.

So you basically mean successful on the end user desktop. That's quite
another story - though in the past there is definitely movement in the
right direction :-) .

as i said, i think "success" is much in the eye of the beholder. with the recent novell-microsoft announcement, personally for me success means not only actual success on the desktop but also where the project is about the product and not making money (like with for-profit entities like red hat and novell). perhaps ill get more pragmatic over time...

Don't you think that if the joomla people would see it that way you'd
know about it? On SourceForge for instance you can ask for donations
for your project. Do they?

the main problem im having with voluntary donations is that most people dont donate even if the "should". i, myself, am not an exception. basically all the money that i have available i use for myself or i put it into vn. even if i truly admire and benefit from the joomla work, i do not donate as long as im not forced too. given my limited resources, i just see money more effectively invested that way. dont know if i should be blamed for that or not. on the other hand, if joomla would introduce mandatory membership fees, for instance, coupled with a transparent mechanism (like we have) who gets the money and for what purpose, i would gladly pay *without* any negative feelings and i full heartedly defend the fees against anyone who complains about them.

second, you cant do any serious budget based on voluntary donations.

I think I didn't cite it but Steven Weber had a very nice example
about the role of meeting personally in Free Software projects. In
fact if you have a co-located group of developers and a few which are
only on the Internet you have a very unhealthy situation. This is too
asymmetric and personally working in a situation with co-located
developers I only can emphasize this insight. Lots of tacit knowledge
flowing during a coffee break sticks to the co-located people and
kills cooperation with the Internet community.

i agree. i dont think the whole production process should be done in a centralised location - given the nature of many open source projects with developers from all over the world this is not possible anyways. but i think personal (conference) meetings once in a while are defenitely a plus. for the team spirit, its also good to have beer together once in a while. and this cant be done over the internet yet.

but money would give me the necessary independence to work
on the achievement of the goals.

Well, I think this is wishful thinking.

well, i can only speak for myself of course, but this is not only wishful thinking but a fact. one cannot generalise this because my attachment to the project is much stronger than that of all the other people that are involved in it. but is my personal attachment to the project so different from the attachment of a core os developer and "his/her" project? i think for this small, yet crucial group of people the "lure of money" is not such a threat. they want their product to work and used in the first place - thats what gives them more satisfaction than a couple of euro on a bank account.

Money doesn't create
independence but dependence. My employer does not pay me for being
independent of him and some would not do either. In the
contrary: Money is paid *because* I do useful things for my employer.

i agree. money is used/spent on a task in order to achieve a certain goal of the institution. but i dont see why there cant be an overlap between the "selbstentfaltung" of the individual and of the institution. look what google (as a for-profit-company) does: until recently they gave developers some 20% of their time to work on projects they like. they seem to somewhat reverse that strategy now, though, given the tons of services they have. nevertheless, i kinda like this "throw out a couple of services and see whats popular" approach. i think its very pragmatic and highly efficient. in terms of costs to google and the actual time investment that is done by the developers. im sure, at the end of the day, google gets many more work hours done (for them) offsetting the 20% salary costs.

second, on vn, even if the task you are *asked* to do (via voluntary tenders) is outside the traditional scope of individual's selbstentfaltung, perhaps the context makes the task interesting (i fully believe in the importance of an interst driven project). in addition, where we can we try to explain why the task is necessary to help achieveing the goals. the first question we always ask students here is "what are your main interests". that also explains the variety of different events we organise.

And if is really different from that I'd really strive for a
job there :-) .

no, vn is not different. we dont pay for being independent. but we offer money to people who are interested (beta tester) in achieving our goals to do tasks that - we think - are necessary in order to achieve the (more or less overlapping, common) goals. i assume, the more people are on board, the more effective this mechanism is going to work. other problems will arise... like if there are a couple of people who REALLY want to do a specific task; but we are not there yet.

No, money is structural force and it exactly exists for creating
dependence. You would pay Free Software developers to build things
*you* want. That is you structurally force *your* will onto them.
That's not independence by any useful meaning of the word.

see above.

This all applies when the amount of money you receive regularly is
substantial - i.e. you live from it. Now you could argue that it
should not be lots of money. If it is only a symbolic amount you can
loose easily then I'd agree you are independent of that money. But if
you don't need it why asking for it at all? After all the involvement
of money makes things *really* difficult.

on vn its not a full time employment but rather freelance income. however, the amount to be paid is considerable more than just symbolic (for instance 200 euro plus 640 popularity based for the dumpin the bycle animation). i dont think it reaches the degree of "serious dependence" (perhaps a couple of hundred euros per year)

so if your main critisim against the "structured force" of money rests on full time payment/dependence on the one end, and on "inefficiency/waste of resources/too much beaurocracy" on the other, but vn is in the middle, i dont see a justified critisim (in relation to vn that is). im going to add this to the VN_CRIT paper. feel free to convince me otherwise.

For instance your
and all its complicated procedures and instiutions are just there to
distribute money. Why when the money is really not needed?

first, the money is not symbolic and matters. so the distribution process should be fair and transparent.

second, i think the procedures look complicated at first but i really dont think they actually are. unfortunatly, i cant very well explain the whole thing in an easy manner. to a large extent, i blame the "deutsche gruendlichkeit" (dg) that i "suffer" (exaggerated) from for this failure to explain the whole thing in a reasonable, simple, easy to grasp manner. while dg is certainly benefitial for the creation, in my case its a terrible thing to have when it comes to promotion/communication with outsiders.

regardless whether the distribution process is complicated or not, the user (Beta tester) doesnt really need to understand it, does he? i mean when you write code the majority of users just use the binary. same here. those who are interested in how the distribution mechanisms (algorithm?!) works, by all means, they are invited to analyse, comment on and improve it and make it fairer. those who are not interested and supposed to use it (beta tester), they just use it (i.e. do a poll). in fact, seen from the users perspective, i think the distribution mechanism is narrowed down to the core and quite userfriendly (a few simple polls every once in a while and the values are set for the given period). the current design is terrible though.

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