Back in my youthful Bristol days, More money than God was the name of a local band. Now it’s the name of a book about hedge funds. How times have changed.
This is a slightly oblique introduction to musings upon my attempts to pay for Free Software.
As regular and loyal blogfollowers will know, I am a zealous proselytizer for the Geany text editor (and the lightweight markup language Markdown but that’s another story). Geany is great: lightweight, powerful yet with enough GUI-ness for my visually-driven brain.
One of its major drawbacks is that it is very slow saving files on an Ubuntu SFTP mounted Linux web server. The technical reason is that Geany uses libc to save files to GVfs, whilst gedit (the default text editor on GNOME) uses the new GIO API.
I asked on the mailing list whether it would be possible to pay someone to fix this. Apparently you can create what’s called a “bounty” (the two mentioned were GNOME Bounties and opensourcexperts.com). But the feedback from the mailing list was fairly negative in this regard (“this is nothing we shall do as 'Geany-community'.”).
At first I was puzzled as to why the Geany community was not given to filthy lucre. And then I thought of an analogy: a friend helps with a volunteer-run arts cinema, and there was great debate about paying for a cleaner (critic, projectionist, DJ - yes. But cleaner?). How do you demarcate voluntary and paid work in a volunteer-run organisation?
I don’t know the workings of the Geany development process but I can imagine that intervening in that process with a dollar-laden bounty would just go against the grain of How Things Are Done.