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Proposal to Fund Debian Sparks Debate 162

lisah writes "The announcement earlier this week of 'experimental' group Dunc-Tank's plans to bankroll the work of certain Debian developers has sparked some controversy across the open source community. The leaders of Dunc-Tank say their primary motivation is to see that Debian version 4.0, also known as etch, is released on time this December. Debian developer Lucas Nussbaum, however, says that research shows that 'sometimes, paying volunteers decreases the overall participation.' Dunc-Tank member Raphaël Hertzog countered that the opposite is true and 'many Debian developers are motivated to work when things evolve,' a veiled reference to Debian's notoriously slow release cycle. Dunc-Tank member and kernel developer Ted Ts'o took the idea a step further and said, 'If money were among anybody's primary motivators...they probably wouldn't be accepting a grant from Dunc-Tank; they could probably make more money by applying for a job with Google — or Microsoft.'"
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Proposal to Fund Debian Sparks Debate

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  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:05AM (#16159037) Homepage Journal
    No-one actually collects those bounties. It's a failed experiment.
  • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday September 22, 2006 @05:33AM (#16159571) Homepage Journal
    Basicly, it's the mass version of the prisoner's dilemma.

    It's called the Tragedy Of The Commons.
  • by jesterzog (189797) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @06:44PM (#16178653) Homepage Journal

    That really destroyed my motivation. Why give away your time for free when others that are less motivated and less qualified are getting paid?

    Obviously it varies for different people, but just because someone's being paid doesn't mean they're any less motivated. Ideally, you'd want to pick out the most motivated people and give them a salary so they can completely devote themselves (instead of 50% of their time), but it doesn't mean that there's no benefit from still getting help from others. I can think of several examples, but to mention a couple:

    • At our local astronomical observatory, some staff are paid whereas others are volunteers. It doesn't really put off people wanting to volunteer, though. There's a severe lack of funding for the facility, and everyone involved realises that while some paid staff are needed to keep the place going from day to day, it'll be better overall if volunteers also help out. It's also pretty obvious that when the observatory is hiring from time to time, the volunteers will the the first people they'll go to. It's much easier to hire from a people you know you can already work well with. I'm sure the management would love to pay all the volunteers, but if it did then there wouldn't be an observatory, and everyone knows that. The staff and management at the observatory put a lot of effort into returning the favours, though, among other things by working a lot with the local societies, offering use of facilities, and so on.
    • In New Zealand (where I live), the national government's Department of Conservation maintains approximately 1,000 back-country huts [doc.govt.nz], which are scattered around all sorts of places and are a real help for people who want to walk to and see some of the remotest areas. The department flies them into all sorts of remote places for use by hunters and trampers (that's NZ's word for hiking), which makes a lot of the back-country a lot more accessible for people who are fit and able enough to get there. There's a token fee for staying the night at huts which helps to pay for some of the maintenance (not heavily enforced, and people are exempt when there are safety issues), but there's no way this could ever be done if it wasn't for the cooperation of all the tramping clubs, hunters, and pretty much all people who use them. Tramping club volunteers act as good citizens and help out, some even adopt particular huts and shelters in the back-country, and send out voluntary work parties to help keep the tracks maintained. In return, they get to use the services, and DOC makes a lot of concessions to the clubs in return. (eg. Substantial discounts on actually using the huts.)

    In both of these cases, there's a clear combination of money being paid, and volunteers, and it's working great.

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