[IPython-dev] Should I still contribute to IPython ?

Aaron Meurer asmeurer at gmail.com
Mon Dec 17 19:03:00 EST 2012

On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 4:04 PM, Zoltán Vörös <zvoros at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/17/2012 11:36 PM, Aaron Meurer wrote:
>> there is a mindset of, "why should I
>> contribute when there is someone who is paid to do it? Surely that
>> person/persons will get around to fixing the issue themselves."  I
>> think the email Matthias received is indicative of this mindset.
> I am not so sure that this conclusion is correct. One of the problems is
> that many projects (and IPython certainly falls into this category) have
> grown to such a complexity, that it becomes exceedingly difficult to
> understand how the code is organised. In the case of IPython, it is
> exacerbated by the fact that three programming paradigms (python,
> javascript, and the Qt toolkit) have to work together in a consistent way,
> and one cannot make a meaningful contribution without understanding
> something about how these are interconnected. On the other hand, many of us
> (namely, those who are not paid for developing IPython) do something else
> for a living, and I believe, in the question that was quoted by Matthias,
> the concern was that "outsiders" won't be able to keep up with the pace of
> the development. I really don't think that the mean mindset that you are
> trying to imply was at the core of that e-mail. It wasn't about money, it
> was about the time that core/paid developers and the rest of us can spend on
> coding.
> And that brings us to your first statement:
>> I remember reading about a study that said that open source projects
>> that have funded developers actually get less contributions (or at
>> least fewer contributors)
> While this might be true, the question really is, whether the development of
> funded projects slows down (I doubt, for in that case, funding agencies and
> foundations would stop funding after a while, unless their purpose is to
> kill otherwise viable projects), or it speeds up, but with fewer
> contributors. If the second option is true, then I would say that the
> concern in the quoted question is probably not entirely baseless... And it
> would also mean that the money wasn't unwisely spent.

I've no doubt that it would speed up the development on net balance
(unless the money really was poorly spent).  But there are more issues
at stake here, such as the heath of the community, which affects
things like the degree to which the community's wishes are reflected
in what the developers spend their time doing.

And if it's not too much work to get both paid development *and* high
levels of volunteer development, then surely the latter would be
preferred.  I believe that maintaining a high level of volunteer
development is just a matter of maintaining the community ideal of
encouraging volunteer contributions, so that people get the feeling
that contributing is the correct answer more often than they get the
feeling that it isn't.

Aaron Meurer

> Cheers,
> Zoltán

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