I’ve been thinking about this post for a little while. I wanted to make sure I gave the right message and asked the right questions. I think I have a few key questions now that I’d like to present. There are of course other reasons, everyone is unique and we can certainly have vastly different reasons for contributing (or using) open source. My main question is semi-rhetorical-Why do you use open source?
There are of course a number of reasons to use open source and as I mentioned in my opening paragraph it would be foolish to think I could cover all of them in a simple blog post but I’m going to list a few and I’d like you to use them as starting points to decide why you use open source and if it makes the most sense to continue using open source for your needs.
Reason 1: Belief in a goal
The first reason many people get into open source is for a deep-seated belief in a goal. I’ve written previously about what makes a strong community and why a shared set of goals and a vision is a powerful motivator. Does that require the product or community to be open source? Remember, I’m asking just questions I’d like you to consider and think through your reasonings. Can you accomplish the goals you want without being open source? Is there a reason you selected open source to accomplish what you want?
Reason 2: Make the big bucks
Second reason for choosing open source. You want to make the big money. You want to find yourself ridiculously wealthy and open source sounds like a hot buzz word that would be a great niche market to make your fortune. Is this a valid reason for choosing open source? Certainly there are open source companies which have done exceptionally well (obligatory link to the RedHat model). However, there are dissenters who strongly disagree with this model. Did you choose open source because of the money? Was open source created by companies looking to maximize profitability?
Reason 3: Share the joy
The third reason I’ll list why you might choose open source is because you like to share in something fun. Maybe you like to have a good time and enjoy hanging out with friends and having a laugh. Open source communities are a great way to meet people and just ‘hang out’ but I’d ask the same question as before. Does it have to be open source to do that? Can you have the same amount of fun outside of open source? Sharing is more unusual in a business environment but sharing fun is still something you do with your friends outside of work. Of course open source is all about sharing…but is it all about fun? Is this the reason you chose open source?
Reason 4: Leave a legacy
Maybe you chose open source because you want to leave a legacy. You want to be legendary and you believe open source is the only way to do that. Obviously that’s a bit tongue in cheek as there are many ways to leave a legacy without working in open source code. Right? A quick look at history will yield the truth about the true legends of our time. Does open source offer the only way to be legendary? Does it offer any way to leave a legacy? Be sure your focus in right when considering your motives and reasons for wanting to leave a legacy.
Of course there are many, many good reasons for using open source. I will list a handful of them in a future article but for this particular post I simply want to ask you why you chose open source? What do you want to accomplish? What motivates and drives you to work with open source.
Where to start
The best place to start is understanding your “why”. This point is key. If you aren’t sure then watch this clip from Simon Sinek. It’s absolutely worth your time.