One of the things that has always fascinated me is how people do not understand why developers write code for free. I can't tell you how many people I've explained open source software to - only to have them get stuck on the "yes, but why are these guys writing this software? Don't they have anything better to do?" I explain that they write the software:
I also try to explain that people that write code really enjoy writing code but I've pretty much given up on that one. Unfortunately, I think most people don't believe that you can enjoy something you do for a living. They particularly don't understand that coding is not only fun but very addictive.
So given that writing code is free and most open source software developers started writing open source code for their own personal reasons, how does the fact that most open source software developers are now paid change things?
A year or two ago I ran across a study that terrified me. The study found that if you pay people to do something they've been doing out of love, when you quit paying them, they'll quit. Does that mean that all the people that now have full time jobs working on open source software would quit if they didn't get paid anymore? That's a scary thought. It's been followed up with a lot of related studies about motivation from open source software bounties to day care center late fines.
In this blog I'm going to be exploring what motivates open source software developers to work on open source software and how monetary rewards may change that for better or worse. Feel free to jump in!
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