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OSCON: Financial incentives for open-source development

OSCON: Financial incentives for open-source development published on 2 Comments on OSCON: Financial incentives for open-source development

The OSCON session on financial incentives in the open-source community was fascinating, partly because it goes to the heart of a lot of what we ask at Social Signal: what motivates people to participate?

The conversation made it clear that money can be a double-edged sword (note to self: do not actually use double-edged swords as money): encouraging some forms of participation, while potentially actually alienating other potential contributors.

The panelists were Leslie Hawthorn (Geek at Large), Donald Smith (The Eclipse Foundation), Todd Crowe (Todd Crowe Web Design & Development) and Stormy Peters (GNOME Foundation) – with moderation by Rob Lanphier (Wikimedia Foundation).

The forbidden dance

The forbidden dance published on No Comments on The forbidden dance

Hey, I get it. A lot of people would like to make money from blogging. I wouldn’t mind it, either. (Hence the Google ads on, which so far have earned me a total of… um… excuse me, I have to go cry silently in a dark corner.)

But I’ve met enough people whose level of single-mindedness around monetizing their blogs worries me – for their sakes and their readers’. On the blogs I read and love – including the ones that make a lot of cash – what shines through is the writer’s passion for the subject matter, and for connecting with their audience.

Passion for making money? That’s a distant third at best. (Unless the blog itself is about making money and is still powerfully written and passionate, in which case you’re John Chow.) The blogs that are concerned first and foremost with driving eyeballs and flogging clickthroughs all seem to me to be dead, soulless places.

There’s joy to be had in this business, right alongside analytics and conversion rates. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know it’s my bottom line. And once we start commoditizing our relationships and conversations, we’ve given up something very precious.

By the way, my wonderful wife and partner Alexandra Samuel had a great post on something similar a few days ago. Do have a look!