20 January 2008

The Joy of Code

Thankfully we seem to be moving beyond the simplistic idea that code written and given away for nothing is worth nothing. But not everyone has gasped the corollary: that the you get better code if you *don't* pay for it. Why? Because passion is a better motivator than pounds and pence.

If you're sceptical, trying this post that reviews the growing evidence that external rewards demage intrinsic motivations:

As many of you know, I'm really interested in the question of "Would you do it again for free?" If you take developers that are working on open source software for free and you pay them, if you stop paying them, will they still work on open source software? This was the topic of my keynote at GUADEC and will be the topic of my keynotes at LinuxConf Australia and SCALE - the story continues to evolve as I learn more. One of the things I started with was a search to see if there was any relevant data out there. I found the following five studies that explore how external rewards affect internal or intrinsic rewards

Those studies tend to suggest that rewarding people for doing something produces less good results than relying on their personal passion or altruism. Creating something and giving it away is not only better for those who receive, it's also better for those who give.

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