Speaker Stormy Peters, OpenLogic
Time 2008-01-31 09:00
Conference LCA2008

View: if somebody does something for free, and you pay them, then you stop paying them, they will stop doing it.

Preschool kids, playing with paint brushes

  • one group rewarded for efforts, another group praised for efforts.
  • the group that were rewarded more likely to do it again.

Nuclear waste

  • would you allow dumping of nuclear waste in your property.
  • what if you get paid 1.5 months worth pay?
  • people turned it down, despite award.

School study

  • Students paid for attendace, paid for taking test, paid for results.
  • Need to work out why they don’t want to go to school.
  • Would have to pay for all of the education right through to university.
  • Never heard anything, can only assume it didn’t go well.


  • Parents pay fine if late to pick up kids.
  • Parents saw it as baby sitting.
  • Removed fine, parents still late to pick up kids.

Would you continue working on same projects if you lost your paycheck?

  • 40% FOSS developers are paid.
  • 10-15% work on open source software without managers knowledge.

How can a company influence a project?

  • What motivated the developers in the first place?
    • Cool factor.
    • Don’t they have a life?
    • Solve problems, see things happen.
    • external reason? develop skills for new job, pay raise, neighbour request?
    • no, internal reasons: interesting (same as a good book), learning (same as a 20% pay raise), creative solution, need (scratch at itch), skills (because it is fun to learn, not for new job), show that they are clever, fame (internal or external reward?), do the right thing (RMS mindset).
  • What form of payment is it?

1/3 open source developers feel software should be open source. Surprised figure isn’t higher.


Is payment normal?

If a church paid people to go to school, it would be so unusual, people would get upset.


  • Criticised on performance.

  • Completeness of project required - may not be the same thing that motivated programmer to start project.

In kind payment

  • OLPC, pay for 2 computers, get 1.



  • I will pay $X for the first person to write this feature.
  • Have not worked or failed.
  • Require good project management, specification.


Real world?

Have projects failed after funding withdrawn?

  • Easel, dead project, developers probably went to other projects.

Nobody works on just one thing, typically 5 projects at the same time. Unlikely that they would leave the community.


  • payment influences open source projects, like it or not. Design is often left out.
  1. Hunter gatherers
  2. Agriculture, feed more people, not everyone has to look for food.
  3. People become accountants. People become attourneys. People become programmers. Left brain jobs. Open source software. Creators.

Whole new way of thinking.

Not just left brain solution.

Put it on the web, pick and choice the parts that are interesting.

Programmers (creative) vs management (need to do business).

Open source project management is very open.

Management project management is very closed, decisions decided behind closed doors, sometimes without programmers input.

Open source project management need to be integrated into business.

Help corporations do the right thing. Show them how you did it previously as an unpaid open source project.

The open source census:

Example: person came in for the weekend to code a specific feature, but the boss complained that this wasn’t the top priority at the time.


Loosing open source programmers are often lost when uni-students graduate

  • Uni students have only one avenue for programming - open source.
  • Companies are loosing out, loosing creativity of these people

Some people write open source software only because boss says so

  • However we loose them when the stop getting paid.
  • Some do get the FOSS bug, and continue afterwards.

Documentation, testing

  • Should companies pay programmers on non-fun stuff, documentation, testing, etc.


  • Ideal world, everybody completely open, everybody could see everyone’s needs.
  • In HP 20% of time to work on what ever you want. Time to work on your project until management can start seeing it.
  • Tough one, transition required.

Low numbers of women

A lot of women who write code, but don’t contribute to FOSS.

A lot of women who contribute to FOSS aren’t coders.

Number of women decreases with:

  1. University
  2. Jobs
  3. FOSS

A lot of women in computer science help out, but not with the code.

Only 2% developers are women.

Call out the roles of the women who are involved in FOSS.

Communication problems

Communications problem between tech people and management.

More people can see both sides.

Rather push open source into management, bridge open source and management. Tech people need to understand management more.