As a Free Software developer, I need Free Software development tools that are developed in a sustainable way by people and organizations whose primary goal is to further the interest of the general public.
That’s the case for Free Software dominated by publicly traded companies such as GitLab, VC funded companies such as Penpot or an international trade organization such as the Linux foundation.
- engage with the organization in public spaces as a client (if at all possible), not as a community member. The money is distributed among the shareholders and they drive the project to achieve this goal. The Free Software community that exists around the Free Software project is not worth engaging with because it is ultimately dominated by the shareholders.
Understand the business model of the organization dominating the development of a Free Software, if any (see Strategy applied to VC funded Free Software for an example).
Engaging into an action that will eventually be blocked is a waste of time: it is worth identifying, very early on, if such blockers exist. They can be very subtly hidden when an organization dominating a Free Software project derives an income from that blocker.
- The organization’s ultimate goal is not to act in the interest of the general public (for instance VC funded organizations, publicly traded companies or trade organizations).
This set of criterions can be used as a checklist to think about the value of a given Free Software project. This is not 100% rational or fact based (the value of Open Standards can hardly be quantified).
- How much value is the software creating or giving away for free by the core team (1)
- How much of the value created is owned or shared by the community in an efficient and sustainable way. (2)
- How many other tools and products, whether FOSS or not, are benefiting from this and how much net positive impact such a tool is creating. (3)
- How much is it helping to promote open standards, accessibility and interoperability. (4)
- How much of this value is an extremely fragile offer because of the governance model of the software. (5)
- How much of the value created has a conflict of interest with the community. (6)
- How much pre-existing created value has been used by the software in order to exist. (7)
- How much value is the software “capturing” or keeping to itself. (8)
That “capture” is not only monetary ROI, it could be innovation ROI, agenda ROI, competitiveness ROI, but even if we focused on monetary ROI alone, the question would be, what’s a FAIR ratio between value creation and value capture WHERE value creation is of certain resilience and devoid of conflict of interest FOR a product that could not exist in the first place without value created by pre-existing FOSS?