Skip to content

Open Source Bounties

Information wants to be free

Economically speaking, it is more efficient to pay for the production of information than to pay for information itself.

This is true for a number of reasons:
1. Information is a public good, and therefore can’t be sold
2. Copyright creates artificial monopolies, which cause market innefficiency
3. Because copyrighted information is non-rival, and the marginal cost of adding another consumer is zero, a zero price is required in order for the good to be used efficiently.

Some would argue that treating information as a public good would cause a market failure, since “no return on investment” could be obtained after the goods were produced. This makes the assumption that information should be sold. It is a public good, and therefore inherently unsalable. What should be sold is the service of producing information.

Open Source Bounties

Bounties seem to be an efficient way to reward the production of information. More and more open source projects are resorting to bounties to compensate programmers. Here are a few examples:

I want my OpenID is sponsoring ten $5000 bounties for Open Source projects to implement OpenID.

Funambol is sponsoring bounties of up to $3000 for coding server components, and $25 for completing cellphone tests.

Mozilla is sponsoring a $500 bounty for each critical security bug found.

Bounty Services

From a programmer’s perspective, it is preferable to find all bounties posted in a single place.

Of particular note is’s Bounty List. Not only do they list bounties, but also calls for tenders and grants. What’s more is that they provide RSS feeds for each category.

By comparison, Bounty County is simply a blog that lists some bounties.

Finally, BountySource attempts to provide a SourceForge-like development platform, but integrates secure escrow services for posting and collecting bounties.

These bounty services are still very new, but they represent an important trend in Open Source development.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *