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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Does Open-Source "Donationware" work?

An anonymous reader writes: We've been developing an algorithm for 3 years that could be useful to a lot of different people working in a variety of fields. Our attempts to commercialize it, however haven't been successful. No corporate entity that we have contacted to date has agreed to invest in it, or to participate in commercializing it. We are sitting on something really useful, but industry doesn't seem to understand its usage potential fully. Now we are thinking "How about if we Open Source the algorithm?". We would put our source code online for anybody to use, and place a "Please Donate Money if this is useful to you" link on the website. Has anybody does this in the past? Do people donate to you if you give them something useful for free? Or are most people natural-born "Free Riders", who use your software with gusto, but clam up when it comes to donating some Dollars in return for that? We have spent over 140,000 Dollars developing this algorithm, so if no money comes our way, we'd have to pick up the financial tab for that. Any help or advice on this from Slashdotters would be most welcome!

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.