A Free Software Auction Service


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A Free Software Auction Service


I started writing this article on 1998-12-26, to express my growing feeling of need for such a service as described. I hope that someone will undertake the task proposed, and become rich thanks to it. I have neither time nor will to undertake the task myself, though I would gladly act as an advisor during the construction and maintenance of such a service, or as a referee for bids that are within my domain of proficiency.

The article is still a draft at this time. It was begun on 1998-12-26. On 1999-01-25, I wrote down the main ideas, to be developed later.

I invite discussions to happen on the publicly archived mailing-list cybernethics@tunes.org.

A Free Software Auction Service

Introduction and Rationale

I've argued in other articles about the theory of free software and free information: my Manifesto of Free Information (in French), my page on Free Software (in French), my reply to Eric S. Raymond's articles (in English), my (still draft) essay on the Catallactics of Free Software (in English). I would like to now contribute a bit to the practice, by proposing a charter for a much needed service: providing an efficient, reliable, trusted way for people to buy and sell free software development.

Providing adequate information (for any notion of adequacy) is a service, and calls for proper retribution. Now, in a world long dominated by undue priviledges of "intellectual property", there exists no infrastructure that allows The whole economy, and even the mentality of people, is such that

The Problem of Getting Software Development Paid For

Developing software is a service. Now, software must be free. So how will software development get paid for?

Let's imagine that I am ready to offer $5 for some software component to be written. That's not enough for anyone to consider the offer. Now, let's imagine that another 1000 or 10000 or 1 million people are ready to pay as much. That's likely more than enough money to get the software written, but unless there's a way to reliably raise the money and have it spent in an adequate way, the software won't get written.

Because the people who are ready to pay for the service have no one to give the money to, that they can trust to provide them with the software, they won't pay. Because the people who are able to provide the service, but need spend resources to do it (including their precious time) can't get paid for that service, they won't provide it. In the end, no one is satisfied, since the software user gets no software, and the software writer gets no money.

But that needn't be. Just because the current monopoly-oriented economical infrastructures can't do it doesn't mean it can't be done. It can be done easily, and will be done soon. Here is how.

Providing Trust is a Service

The problem is one of lack of trust. Some people request a service, but they trust no one to provide it. Other may provide the service, but they trust no one to pay for it. Now, there may come an intermediate; that intermediate would gather money from requesters, and pay providers with it. It would maintain good repute, so that requesters can entrust it with their money, and providers can trust it to pay them for software they write.

This intermediate allows for people to trust each other and cooperate without having to know each other. It's the same kind of progress in civilization as brought trade in general. Only the service you trade is purely immaterial, and it's made of trust, rather than of material objects. This intermediate is a trust broker, and the service it provides is trust. It concentrates the desires of people who want software, and can delegate to it the hassle of raising the money, and organizing the development. It provides programmers with a regular source of programming jobs, that they can trust to pay them.


Mechanism of a Trust Broker


Providing Insurance is a Service

Programmers want be paid regularly, as salaried people. Users want a no-hassle way to achieve reliable result. Both want to avoid the complications of legal conflicts. Insurance against lack of job, against lack of result, against lawsuits, is a service. For that, will appear yet other intermediates.

Some will be brokers of actual programming services; they will hire programmers on a permanent basis, providing programmers with safety, and providing users with availability. Some will be brokers of software solutions, providing users with safety, and providing programmers with opportunities. Some will be brokers in legal trust, resolving conflicts for people in a way as cheap as possible, and as fair as possible, so that challenging the refereed decision would expectedly be costlier than abiding by it.

A service is something that saves time to achieve a possible result, possibly an amount of time that couldn't otherwise be afforded. Trust in free software is a service because it dispenses the customer with spending the time necessary to achieve the confidence needed to build the customer's project upon the given software.

To Do

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