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Author Topic: [Article] Software Below The Poverty Line  (Read 6332 times)


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[Article] Software Below The Poverty Line
« on: June 20, 2019, 06:09 AM »
Most people believe that open source sustainability is a difficult problem to solve. As an open source developer myself, my own perspective to this problem was more optimistic: I believe in the donation model, for its simplicity and possibility to scale.

I decided to collect data from OpenCollective and GitHub, and take a more scientific sample of the situation. The results I found were shocking: there were two clearly sustainable open source projects, but the majority (more than 80%) of projects that we usually consider sustainable are actually receiving income below industry standards or even below the poverty threshold.


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Re: [Article] Software Below The Poverty Line
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2019, 06:33 AM »
Thanks for sharing this.  We are living in interesting times.  It would be impossible for me to recommend a donation-based funding approach for software developers who are hoping to receive enough money to make it their full time job, as that is a road paved with disappointment for almost everyone.

For most open source / freeware developers, I'm not sure this is a big problem, as few are really trying to generate full time work revenue from their projects.  For those that are, some of the other platforms provide some clues as to how to make it work.. YouTube seems to have spawned an entire new class of workers, who produce enough content and fans that a few of them are actually getting rich off it.  But whether coders could brand themselves well enough for this and whether users would be willing to support them in a similar way seems unlikely.

Open source developers also have a really sticky problem to solve, which is that by nature most medium to large open source projects are a collaboration of many coders, whose participation waxes and wanes.  Thus figuring out how to divide up donations and funding is a difficult problem, that has yet to be solved well.  For single-author open source projects, the path is easier.

The easiest path for open source single-author projects is to be useful to large companies and get funding from a small number of them.  This seems by far the smoothest path to being well paid for open source work.


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Re: [Article] Software Below The Poverty Line
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2019, 04:44 PM »
That reminds me of Heartbleed. Five years ago, a critical bug in OpenSSL shocked the (tech) world. It became known that a security-critical library that was used in thousands of web servers and hundreds of products was being maintained on a donation-based $2000 a year budget.

Here's just one of the articles about it (well, I know most of you remember ;) ):


I would not be surprised if the next 'Heartbleed' will be found in one of the under-funded open source libraries in Staltz's list.

Are most businesses that depend on such open source libraries aware of the fact that they cannot necessarily rely on these libraries being up to required security standards when the people that need to ensure that security cannot even live from what they are doing?