First, I have to apologize, because this post is incredibly self-serving, I believe everything I write here applies to myself, and if you do what I suggest, it will be to my benefit. I believe every single word I'm writing, but you have no way of knowing that, except trusting me. I can only hope I've written persuasively enough.
If you've ever asked an open source developer why they haven't fixed a bug or added a feature, the answer probably fell into one of three categories:
- .00001% That is technically impossible
- 25% I haven't needed that
- 75% I don't have enough time
(Number may not add up to 100% due to rounding).
But why do you care? If you've made your way to my blog, it's incredibly likely you're a direct user of open source software. First, I think it'd be nice if you gave back. You're under no obligation to legally, morally, or otherwise, but I think it'd be a nice thing to do.
Second, and far more importantly: open source is an obscenely efficient way to develop software. I'm pretty sure if you compared the total person hours invested in V8, SpiderMonkey, the Hotspot JVM, and PyPy you'd find that PyPy had fewer person hours than any of those, by an order of magnitude, at least. And yet we can discuss them in the same sentence.
So here's the idea, there are a lot of developers (Github claims 1.7 million users). If we each spent a little of our money to pay a few open source developer's salaries, let's see what they could build if they did have the time.
If that sounds at all interesting to you, you should go over to Gittip, and help fund someone. I'm not sure Gittip is the perfect implementation of this idea, or even a good one. But I'm glad someone's trying it, because I want to see it work.
Hi, I'm Alex. I'm currently at a startup called Alloy. Before that I was a engineer working on Firefox security and before that at the U.S. Digital Service. I'm an avid open source contributor and live in Washington, DC.