Hi community community,
I’ve recently been intrigued by the concept of an open source business model. There are all sorts of great open source software and hardware projects out there. There are many companies turning a nice profit from developing and distribute open source goods and services. I think this is wonderful, but there are a great many more wonderful open source projects being developed by the unsung heroes of the open source community working out of the goodness of their heart. I’d love to be one of those people, but I’ll admit my contribution to open source projects is quite minimal. I find that working for the man magically puts money in my bank account.
So, is there a way to fairly compensate people’s efforts toward large collaborative projects?
I’ve been brainstorming this for a few days now and I remembered that CodingHorror blog I read when I was writing a lot of software. Could something like StackExchange or Discourse be a model for real compensation for an open source business?
I like the concept of a trust rating or reputation. E.g. Perhaps as an engineer I see that a certain robotics project could use better motor control algorithms so I submit a pull request to the code, the community ranks how useful or valuable that code is, and when the company starts selling these robots, I get a slice of the pi based on my contribution. Maybe I’m an certified accountant and I’m looking for some freelance work. I like the mission and vision of Company X so I prepare their taxes, the community really appreciates this so I get a good rating and a larger slice of the pi. Maybe there more meta involved and as a community appointed manager over sales, my value is asses by how well I asses the value of my sales teams contributions.
Perhaps business decisions could be made by a community rather than by executive decision? E.g. John has a reputation of 10 and Jane has a reputation of 20 in the manufacturing department. Steve from the operations department needs need some defect data for a particular part. John posts a quick graph that’s enough to get Steve through his 2:00 meeting which earns him some reputation (compensation?) Jane follows up with a detailed analysis which let’s Steve ultimately decide to go with a better supplier which boosts Jane’s reputation even higher. In turn, Steve did a great job working with manufacturing and presents his information to the Purchasing group which increases his credibility. So there wouldn’t be traditional job titles and roles, but communities that drive the company.
What do you think? Could this work? What other aspects could be considered when trying to pull a large community together to form a solid open business model?