Re: Funding GPL projects or funding the GPL?

From: David Schwartz (
Date: Thu Aug 01 2002 - 16:56:29 EST

>I don't however see the relationship between the two, other than both
>being demonstrations that you must do the actual science and statistics
>before you rely on intuition.

        They're both example of how the properties of individuals differ from the
properties of groups of those same individuals, and I believe the same error
is being made in both cases.

        In the programming case, a programmer working on a project will not be
likely to produce better code simply because his salary goes up. Generally,
people will produce the best code they are capable of producing. Similarly,
longer lengths of incarceration won't decrease the probability that a
particular person will re-offend. In both cases, there just isn't a cause and
effect relationship with the individual.

        However, this does not mean that a group will behave the same way. For
example, if we lock everybody who commits a violent crime up for twice as
long, crime in the group as a whole will go down simply because repeat
offenders will spend less time out of prison.

        Similarly for programmers. With more money, you can employ more and/or
better programmers. You can still employ cheaper programmers, it doesn't stop

        How many people currently working on the Linux kernel would devote more time
to it if they received regular anonymous donations? How many new talented
programmers who can't find employment (or don't want/need to) would take more
interest in working on Linux?

        I'm not saying this guarantees better code. For example, it's possible that
the greater volume of code produced might overload choke points in the
development that can't be expanded due to key individuals already working at
their limits. However, money brings new options.

        As you (I think?) pointed out, most free software is crap and most
commercial software is crap. The hard part is to find the good software and
the good people and then give them an incentive to produce the code that you
really want. Money is a tool for doing that.


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