13 October 2007

Why Open Source Works - Honestly

People often wonder why the open source development process works - why hackers selflessly code for the greater good. There are obviously lots of reasons, but one is captured by this BBC piece:

We all know about honesty boxes. In staff rooms and clubhouses across the country there are boxes for hot drinks or food that rely on members of a community making their fair contribution towards the cost of something.

The principle has been applied in the real world. In the US there are newspaper vending machines that rely on the consumer putting his coin in and not taking more than one paper.

And in Britain, at WH Smith branches in train stations, the customer is asked to make their payment for a newspaper into a container.

According to the company, the "vast majority" pay the correct amount, and one of its shop assistants even reported the boxes make money as people who don't have the correct change over pay. However, they could quite easily pay less or even walk off with the paper for nothing having feigned the act of paying up.

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