But there are many, many smaller projects, with specialty capabilities used by only a few. How do you get support on them?
The simple answer is to contact the developer and offer to write a check. But the skills of a good developer and a good support person are different. Few good developers have patience for stupid people with questions.
Roberto Galoppini and I chatted about this yesterday. I smelled an opportunity. He expressed reservations.
Dominic Sartoro called this the "open source mediation conundrum" and it bears watching. Because, as Roberto notes, software has to work together or the whole system crashes. It's not like books or music where long tail products just need shelf space.
Proprietary companies have a simple solution to this problem. They limit their product lines. Open source does not have that luxury.
So how do we support the long tail of open source?