PLEASE throw money at open source projects

Blimey, loooooooong time no post! So much has happened that I won’t even bother to write it down for it will take me few millennia times.
Now, lemme jump straight to the point – open source is utter rubbish when it comes to monetising.
Imagine for a second that I am leading a lecture in some open source conference and I ask this – “How many of you have some open source projects you work on?”. I would imagine all or at least huge percentage of the attendees would raise their hand. Now imagine how many would raise their hand to the question – “And how many make a living from open source projects?”. Yeah, most likely no one or very few.
And that folks is a big issue.
No, I mean not just big, or big big, I mean freaking HUGE issue.
You see, creating products requires time and effort and the better this products are, the more time and effort they require to be made.
This spring I co created a visual brand called Numix with two more open source mates. For the little time Numix has been there it has become insanely popular and we’ve been improving it on daily basis. I kid you not, the thing is very popular and very large, hence it is also quite hard to maintain and improve.
We are selling some aspects of it (mind you, the majority of it is free) and we also have a donation for at our webby (feel free to buy some of our artwork or throw some quids at us ;P) and we’ve made approximately around 900 USD for about 6 months. Compared to the crazy amount we put into it (and we will continue to put) this sum is next to nothing.
How much a designer (because this is artwork we’re talking about here, not really hardcore app development) that works for some company? Well, even in my crazy Balkan country he will make more than those 900 bucks on monthly basis. Now imagine if we’re talking about designer at bigger company in a normal country in normal end of the world? 2000 dollars monthly? 5000? More?
So, to sum it up, we are doing crazy amount of labour and we get next to nothing in return from a financial standpoint compared to the labour.
Wanna know why this is an issue?
Well, because money are necessary evil and the world is spinning around them.
Which is why mostly ALL open source work is volunteered and it’s done by folks in their free time. It is bloody hard/next to impossible to make a living out of open source (unless you get hired by a big company to do so), so most open source people have real live jobs and work on their open source projects when they have the time and energy. This results in slower and not so good development and/or designing and I challenge you to find ANY open source person that will say – “hey, I want worse quality software”.
Now, imagine for just a second how much better it would have been if the talented open source people were actually paid proper amount of money for their project so they can continue to work on them full time and as a result make them so much better. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Well, hell, of course it will be ooysum.
Which is why I think the “if it’s open source and I can avoid paying for it I will” way of thinking must die.
So, please, all you people that support open source software, if you want open source software to get better throw money at whatever projects you think its worth it and encourage others to do the same, because otherwise we (creators and drivers of the projects) are forced to have real life jobs and work on open source in our free time with the little remaining energy we have, which results in worse products and much much much slower development.
Let me get back to Numix for a while. I believe I speak on behalf on the entire by saying that we would love Numix to be not just our pet project on which we work in our free time, but our job, because it is our baby and we want to make it better and bigger. For example our newest icon theme – Numix-Circle has over 190 applications icons (and if you count the other icons from our basic numix-icon-theme, which are thousands the number gets scary) takes us a lot of time and effort and wanna know how much we have made from it? 12 dollars. Well, if you think that’s OK, then I don’t want to know how much work we should do to make Numix our real life job. We’ll probably need to clone ourselves a few hundred times to get it done. ;>
The current revenue is enough for us to buy three of four fancy devices for almost an year, but that doesn’t pay our bills, buy us food or … you get the point. So, if you want the project to be developed faster and better throw money you can spare at us. Because without money we are forced to keep it as just a pet project and needless to day that has a quite the negative impact on the products quality.