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    That’s my general impression of open-source projects vs industry work -

    x1000 times the impact and benefiting mankind

    x0.0001 the personal payoff

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      I’ve had the opposite experience, to be honest. I’ve published a bunch of open-source projects over the years and with just two exceptions back in the mid-1990s, nobody but me ever gave a damn about any of them. Meanwhile, especially during my stint at a big -name tech company, I worked on professional projects that benefited literally hundreds of millions of people.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love and continue to contribute to open source but I think open-source project impact follows the same power-law curve as anything else. Probably 90% of projects could vanish overnight and only their authors would notice or care.

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        In the same vein, I imagine 99.9% of industry code could vanish overnight and no one would care. In fact it does all the time, since maybe 5% of new companies end up staying alive for longer than a few years, and within those that stay, internal projects constantly get thrown away and replaced.

        I worked on professional projects that benefited literally hundreds of millions of people

        You must be one of the lucky few!

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        Would not necessarily agree and the second point. I don’t have any significantly popular open source projects, but hiring managers still usually make positive comments on my GitHub, and explicitly say that it makes me more attractive than other candidates.

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            I’m in a bit of the same situation, although the best I’ve got open source wise is probably 1M+ downloads of a tiny library. My approximate reaction to this is: that’s a good thing. You got to have a big impact in the world, and you got paid. That the two aren’t linked is slightly annoying, but I’d rather have both without the link than one or neither.

            Also, if you work for an org because they’ve got goals of big impact, they may well not achieve them for reasons that have nothing to do with you (lack of money, bad organisational stuff, something something market forces, etc). It’s weirdly sometimes easier to do this as an individual OSS person as you can just build the thing you want without having to pay any attention to things like “can we make money off this?” and so actually achieve the goals.

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                Sublime Text is still around. Since it’s closed source, its authors get to have complete control over its design, and that’s what gives them the competitive edge they need.

                Open Source projects need very committed maintainers in order to go in the right direction, and that’s very time and energy consuming. All for nothing in return - no wonder you keep seeing maintainers give up lately.

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                  Since it’s closed source, its authors get to have complete control over its design

                  I’m not saying that there are no disadvantages to open source, but I don’t think this is one of them. Why wouldn’t they have control if it were open source? Open source doesn’t mean you have to accept all contributions.

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                    As a VyOS maintainer, one of my tasks is definitely to discard contributions that don’t align with the design goals, and do it gracefully enough to avoid discouraging their authors from contributing at all. The latter part isn’t very easy, but still not nearly as hard as creating the design that will not hold us back in the long run. ;)

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                      It’s indeed very hard to discard people’s contributions, because on one hand you really appreciate the effort they’re willing to put in, but on the other hand you’re also thinking about the long term and/or overall design. I found that setting very clear and honest expectations really helps with this: if you expect something will be merged then you’ll end up disappointed if it’s rejected, but if you know beforehand that there’s a decent chance it might get rejected then it feels a lot less disappointing. It also affects the work people put in: a minimal proof-of-concept vs. a fully-fledged PR with doc updates and whatnot.

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                    Yeah well MSDOS is still around too.

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                  I don’t quite understand what the author is getting at. Is it that he feels like he missed a market opportunity? Or that it isn’t right that there isn’t a way for him to make a living off his open source project?

                  I also think he is equating scale of use to impact. All those people using his software for free are using it in some way very similar to the jobs he says haven’t had as big an impact. So, if he feels like his commercial work has had little impact why would people using his free software in commercial ways change that?

                  I’m not knocking the piece. I genuinely think it’s great he built this project that gets used so much. But, I also think it’s great he has been able to be gainfully employed and provide (I am assuming) for the ones he loves. Both have a big impact, no matter the scale.

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                    An alternative question to ask: in an industry that talks a lot about innovation and disruption, it’s very easy to find employment polishing style sheets or making services talk json to each other. It’s next to impossible finding work that creates software that accomplishes something new.

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                      I don’t think the author has a point. It’s an observation, and some reflection. Not every thought needs to have a point.

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                        That is true. And it is definitely an interesting observation.

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                        Considering bit the people using the tool have impact themselves bit interesting, but I think not the point. People are using the tool and making their lives better. That is impact. Computing hrs the power to transform so much activity so much more and many people are still stuck cut-pasting all day long

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                        I love how the article is written, very honest. It makes me think more about my own job and side project

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                          Feel like asking the author if they have ever heard of pandoc… But maybe I misunderstand the project.