What’s not annoying about Making Money?

I was somewhat disappointed with the poll and article by Raphaël Hertzog concerning the use of flatr buttons on the debian planet. This was also posted to Planet Ubuntu and although I would dearly like my views shared with Planet Debian, this post can only reach Planet Ubuntu.

The poll is somewhat negative and doesn’t really have a ‘I think this poll is silly’ option.

Those who like reading my blog will be aware that I’m a fan of economic prosperity for people who perform a useful job. This means any job which takes time and is useful to more than just the performer is in justification to be paid somewhat by the beneficiaries.

This doesn’t guarantee any payment of course. Even making Free Software that benefits the entire worlds economy worth billions can see you destitute through bad positioning and sale of your trade. So Flatr, one of the few micro payment systems I’ve seen flourish in the foss world more than just as an experiment is under attack from an anti-payment mentality.

I understand that there would be some fear about someone earning money from the backs of someone else’s work. But having a flatr link directly on your work, even if your work is a blog post about someone else’s work, is precisely the most direct form of invitation to be rewarded for the act of publishing useful information. If you don’t agree then you don’t have to pay the writer. What I wouldn’t want though is a ban on making money, money isn’t a danger it’s misappropriation and misrepresentation that are the usual gremlins.

In this case I find neither. Your thoughts?

14 thoughts on “What’s not annoying about Making Money?

  1. I agree that it’s silly. Sadly, the context is that Raphaël was repeatedly slammed on the debian-project list for “abusing” Debian infrastructure by having Flattr links on the Planet. I suppose those like me that think it is silly should speak up louder, but the impassioned few that felt that it was “commercial spam” are always going to be louder than those of us who are meh…

    Here’s the first email in the thread: http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2010/11/msg00041.html

  2. Agreed. Anything that is useful to other people deserves to be remunerated in some fashion be it money, favor, help and or a return contribution. Flattr is a great way of doing this and the philosophy is right.

  3. I totally agree, Martin. Software development is very time consuming, not the sort of thing where much will be accomplished if only done on nights and weekends as a hobby. If we want really great free software, we need full-time developers. So that means, assuming the developer isn’t siting on a big trust fund, they need to get paid, one way or another.

    There are many companies paying free software developers these days (Red Hat, Canonical, etc.), but I think micro-payment sites like Flattr add an important diversification to the ecosystem. I’d dare say things like Flattr will help keep free software companies more honest as it gives coders another option. I’m all for it.

  4. Anti-payment mentality? I just find the endless begging rather irritating. (Please note that there is an important difference between “I think it’s irritating” and “it should be banned”; nevertheless I am surely entitled to express this opinion.)

  5. You are clearly in the wrong on this one Martin. I mean the nerve of people volunteering to create things asking if any of us would be willing to donate to them, and not even forcing us to do so! Next thing you know they are going to start thinking that they don’t have to accede to our demands about what projects they volunteer to work with.

    That would be like me volunteering my time to teach free web design and programming classes to anyone, while at the same time accepting any donations a person would be willing to make. … Oh wait I DO do that. … 😀

  6. If I like a particular post in my RSS reader (which happens to be Google Reader), I’m likely to open the original page on the web. I would welcome flattr/paypal buttons in a sidebar somewhere. But I don’t want to see those in the RSS feed, just like I wouldn’t want to see random “share on Facebook/Twitter” buttons inside the RSS post content.

  7. I love Flattr. And working donation buttons in general.

    However, from a obsessive-compulsive web developer’s perspective, I’m a little bothered by having these inside the feed content. For one thing, it messes with my feed reader, which (rightfully) expects images inside article content to be relevant to the article. It’s about semantics!
    (And there are a few other picky semantics things, too)

    We could really use a defined place to stick donation / sharing buttons. Maybe as something the Planet knows about so they can be presented nicely. The RSS spec has a provision for comments links, after all.

    Personally, if I’m going to click somebody’s Donate button, I’ll probably head to their website and do it there anyway. For one thing, there’s a better chance it’s a safe link and I am donating to the person I want to donate money to. For another thing, I usually open posts I’m interested in rather than read them on the planet. (But maybe I’m alone on that).

  8. “Those who like reading my blog will be aware that I’m a fan of economic prosperity for people who perform a useful job.”
    The entire monetary system is corrupt. Money creation is unfair and corrupt. The banks get the money first and get to decide who gets the money. Its a trickle down system where the already wealthy people keep most of the money and the rest of us have to scrape by.

    So the mentality that your work has to be useful to someone else produces poverty and instills the hierarchical class system.

    “What I wouldn’t want though is a ban on making money, money isn’t a danger it’s misappropriation and misrepresentation that are the usual gremlins.”

    Money is in fact a danger. Money is responsible for planned obsolescence, poverty, and social stratification. Money also is an incentive to go to war and to be in continuous war. Money is an incentive to propagandize your product (also called advertising) and to pollute the earth.

    I think the open source world is better off without money and hope that it remains monetarily free.

  9. @Marius Gedminas & @Dylan McCall

    Though I understand your point of view, for me personally, the convenience of having the link in my RSS feed makes me all the more likely to use it. I wouldn’t even think about donating any money if the image there didn’t help remind me.

  10. Hi Doctormo,

    I did not want to turn this poll into “Pro Flattr” vs “Anti-flattr”, that’s why it’s mainly targeted to the “Anti-Flattr” people. I want to know their concerns so I can take into account the most important ones.

    I don’t doubt that on the global readership of Planet Debian, we have more people that do not care because they are already trained to see “social buttons” everywhere.

    But I must definitely take into account the bad impact it can have on other contributors. I don’t like annoying fellow Debian developers (just saw Colin Watson’s comment!) if I can avoid it.

    So don’t worry, I’m not trying to get a “ban on making money”. I just try to reduce the frictions involved.

  11. Everyone needs bread and butter to survive. I don’t find flattr bad. Actually I find that flattr is a great thing. Every open-source contribution should be complemented – it can be congratulations, providing resources or donation.

    Nowadays I do hunt for Donate or “Flattr this” button whenever I find an awesome post. “Share this” spreads the article and “Flattr this” awards the article.

    If we want more awesome FOSS applications/tools we need to give up the mentality that money is evil. Doesn’t everyone need money to keep their boat afloat?

  12. > The poll is somewhat negative and doesn’t really have a ‘I think this poll is silly’ option.

    > is under attack from an anti-payment mentality.

    > money isn’t a danger it’s misappropriation and misrepresentation that are the usual gremlins.

    Dear DoctorMo, I believe that with this blog post you are pointing at the wrong target.

    Every community is entitled to their own customs. The Debian community is profoundly volunteer-driven. In Debian we are a gift-economy and we use donations only to pay for non-human resources. This is a profound difference with the Ubuntu distribution which heavily mixes volunteer work with work done by Canonical employees. Both models have their own merits and anybody is entitled to her own opinion on each model.

    In a pure-volunteer-driven model, there are always tensions when trying to introduce payment models, as that creates disparities within the community. That is not specific of FOSS communities. Anyone who has experience in other volunteering realities, which migrated from a pure-volunteer model to mixed-model, has most likely seen these tensions appearing. (There is also extensive literature on the subject, in the context of sociology.)

    Now, why am I saying that you are pointing at the wrong target?

    Because in fact, the background of Raphael’s post is intimately related to the Debian community. It is completely normal that you, coming from a different community which has a different model, disagree with the reasons behind Raphael poll. It is not surprising at all. Hence, you should rather question the appropriateness of having Raphael poll post appearing on Planet Ubuntu. IMHO that post simply did not belong there (and in fact, the choice of posting it there, has also chances of skewing significantly the poll outcome).

  13. You’re missing the point. This is about motives.

    If people can get sponsored for their work by IBM, Google, clients, or their own small local company, then contribute their work to debian without ulterior motives, that’s great. They’ve been paid, probably gotten more time to work and gotten more work done, and they’ve enhanced a global project in the process.

    However, if people start thinking of debian contributions as a WAY to make money, then that’s an entirely different matter. This commercialises debian, changes the reasons for contributing, changes the goals of contributions, changes the priorities of contributors, and more.

    Yes, people should be paid for useful, hard work. No, this is not the way to do it.

  14. @Lee, if you can see the motives of people. That’s the problem really since this method could likely not be the motive but instead a way to continue to contribute.

    If the motive is money then I dare say they are in the wrong place for it, no donation button is ever going to earn enough for anyone for it to be a primary motivation. On the other hand it might just earn enough to buy a sandwich.

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