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Is there some validity in paying people to develop TWiki?

3 JamesDiDonato 2013-06-05  
5 RasmusPraestholm 06 Feb 2008  
5 MartinSeibert 04 Feb 2008  
5 MichaelCorbett 22 Dec 2006  
5 CristosLianidesChin 15 Nov 2006  
5 MeredithLesly 30 Jul 2006  
4 JamesMatheson 10 Jan 2006  
5 JoanTouzet 24 Oct 2005  
4 PeterThoeny 11 Apr 2005  
5 TravisBarker 09 Apr 2005  
5 BruceRProchnau 09 Apr 2005  
5 JosMaccabiani 09 Apr 2005  
5 MichaelDaum 09 Apr 2005  
5 LynnwoodBrown 08 Apr 2005  
5 CrawfordCurrie 08 Apr 2005  
5 MattEngland 08 Apr 2005  
5 MartinCleaver 30 Sep 2004  

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Average agreement: 4.8     Number of votes: 17

It seems to me that we have a lot of people wanting help and a lot of people willing to work on TWiki, but that the work that needs doing is often beyond the reach of people's free time, especially the big restructuring work.

Unlike 4 years ago there are now several websites that mediate outsourced software development. It occurs to me that there might be a site where groups of people who each would be willing to contribute a small amount of money could make a formal arrangement with an individual or team willing to complete the job.

The result should mean that we can club together to get some of the more monumental features and reorganisations done, and that corporations can chip in the odd $10/100/1000 in gratitude for our continued efforts.

On this matter, I would especially be interested in comments.

-- MartinCleaver - 30 Sep 2004

This is a very interesting question to me, since a significant fraction of my business comes from TWiki development work.

A number of very large companies use TWiki, most of them without obviously feeding anything back to the project. There are of course some notable exceptions; Wind River and Motorola are two companies that I know have donated large bodies of software back for the common good. However that doesn't let the developers keep body and soul together; somehow we still have to find an income (you can't eat perl). It would be good to work out a way to make it easy for these companies to contribute back. I'm sure some of them want to, but just don't have the accounting mechanisms in place to enable them to do so.

Some companies will employ people under consulting agreements to build TWiki - based software, that is then contributed back. However this tends to focus on Plugins, and only on work of direct immediate benefit to the company. It works pretty well for plugins, and content development, but the big hole is that there is no mechanism to fund work on the core.

Sourceforge does have a donation mechanism, that would allow registered developers to get some reward for their efforts, But TWiki is not registered with it, and even if it was only registered developers (the core team) would benefit. Some of us are registered as individuals, but it so far hasn't generated any income (for me, anyway).

One possible route I have considered was to offer a service to companies, similar to RedHat and SuSe, where for a fee they can download and get support for TWiki Enterprise Edition. This isn't something I can do alone, however. But if sufficient people were interested, it might be possible to fund some core work from just such an enterprise.

BTW don't just think of TWiki contributos as coders. While that is laudable, IMHO TWiki has far more need of:

  1. Evangelists
  2. TWiki Application developers
  3. Technical Authors
  4. Content developers
I guess they could be rewarded through the same mechanism. For example, Evangelists could bid for money to attend a conference and present a TWiki paper.

However at the end of the day, I suspect that we've already done too good a job to attract serious development money towards TWiki. Until there is a roadmap in place that is attractive and rewarding for companies using the tool, that is

-- CrawfordCurrie - 30 Sep 2004

I only skimmed this topic for time is short, my apologies in advance.

I strongly believe in paying people for quality work, open source or not. I don't often like to say this in such a large forum, but maybe it's apporpriate here: I like to think I'm a Capitalist in the Ayn-Rand-ian sense (see "Atlas Shrugged", "The Fountainhead," etc).

My finger is on my paypal.com trigger just itching to donate at least $10 for now, maybe more if I actually end up using TWiki for my business.

(Note: I can't get the "Add Comment" or "Submit" buttons to work at the top of this page. I'm manually editing the page instead. Consider my vote a "5".)

  • Bizarre, still works for. I've voted for you -- MartinCleaver - 08 Apr 2005

-- MattEngland - 07 Apr 2005

I think this is an excellent idea for accelerating development of TWiki. I for one would be more than glad to factor in a small contribution back to TWiki in each contract I get that utilizes it.

It does raise an interesting question: who would make the decision (and how) about how to allocate development resources?

-- LynnwoodBrown - 08 Apr 2005

Crawford, I appreciate very much your way of doing buisness with TWiki. We have seen lots of contributions that were driven by customers willing to pay for what they want. But the idea of contributing back as Open Source even if you've paid for it does sound odd. We know it isn't and thus there's no disunion between eraning money and FOS. Far from it.

But the "TWiki way" isn't easy for new contributors (as I am one). But why? I once heard the quote in the line of "if I want to show someone the benefits of a wiki I will certainly not show them twiki.org" What is alienating people away from TWiki thus reducing possible revenue?

-- MichaelDaum - 09 Apr 2005

Don't get too excited.

  1. For every line of TWiki code I have been paid to contribute, I have written another 19 for free.
  2. TWiki development is a fraction of what I do. There isn't enough work to support one consultant, much less a whole development team.
What is alienating people? I don't know, I wish I did. A lot of reasons have been discussed. However here are some I have heard:
  1. TWiki is too hard to install and configure
  2. TWiki is too hard to use
  3. TWiki is too slow
  4. It is too hard to contribute
  5. TWiki is too complicated
  6. TWiki is not being developed
  7. Perl
-- CrawfordCurrie - 09 Apr 2005

Quotes: "What is alienating people? I don't know, I wish I did. A lot of reasons have been discussed..."


"What is alienating people away from TWiki thus reducing possible revenue?"

Does anyone really want these questions answered? I mean really? I know they have been, but the answer isn't what is wanted perhaps.

I am not a programmer, I consider myself a web developer, whatever that means. Ten years working on webdesign etc. I do a LOT of research, actually specialized in it in college years ago. What is needed to make TWiki more popular?

Many times I get answers to my questions, "You need shell access..." Either that or an answer I don't even understand, the docs often cannot be read nor understood by a "non programmer."

Jeffery Veen of Adaptive path has written often on cms software, "Written by geeks for geeks." His words, but mine as well. Read it, please please...

To install TWiki by ftp is easy for me now, after working with it a year and a half, but I still try some plugins and styles that don't work..period, and very often want to give it the heave ho...I no longer try ANY plugins or extensions because I know from experience that it will be difficult and frustrating.

A best kept secret: I have shell access, I refuse to use it or learn it on principle.

I was recently in communication with a software engineer for a large business. He had a LOT of trouble installing and configuring twiki.He was the manager of a large software business, IT manager. If he had trouble what do you think the average person has? !!! I strongly believe that many have worked on this project a long time, and have an attitude, "you don't have the qualifications to install and run twiki."

You are all to be commended for it, and should be renumerated...but make it simpler for the other 90% of web players would help that along.

I recently installed Expression Engine. The installation was a pleasure and easy. The docs were perfectly clear on everything after installing as well. It would be the same for someone with no experience. Same with Wordpress.And other wiki's. I know twiki is different, but make it SIMPLE and easier, with docs that a non programmer can read, it will go far.

As it is, it is totally user unfrindly, poor support system that is difficult to do follow ups on, difficult to install, bloated installation files...way way too many unneeded files, shell access is NOT a good thing to require if twiki wants to go any further.

Make a simple ftp upload, easy configuration for the average person and twiki will go far. Simplicity simplicity simplicity...say it again..simplicity

I would love to trim a version that could be offered as a simple alternative for a basic, pleasant to install and use twiki.

With designing Movabletwiki I have seen that is possible and desirable. I removed almost all webs, deleted hundreds of files, and know what? I am starting to find it a pleasure to install and use. I just redid the styles and templates to match Expression Engine. It was fun even.

Have a small simple version and a large complex one if you wish. A bloated program that 90% of people cannot understand nor install will not go further. I have several organizations wanting me to write an article on wiki and cms integrations. I'm not a programmer, but have done it anyways. Now I am trying to integrate it with Expression Engine. Eventually I will. I also wish to make the simple easy to install and use twiki version. Where do I get assistance as a non programmer? No place...or learning off google is all.

My 2 cents, which will change nothing. TWiki will stay the same, a difficult complex program for programmers only.

-- BruceRProchnau - 09 Apr 2005

Bruce, your picture is too dark (as far as I've got it), albeit you've hit some important points that are worth than 2 cent.

First of all: this topic started with the question about the validity of getting payed for developing TWiki. This can be easily answered as for most FOS. And especially for TWiki.

Then this discussion - as a natural consequence - morphed to HowToEarnMoreMoneyWithTWiki. So this is all about strengthening your business muscles ... besides being a coder or webdesigner. The question about "being alienated" is thus valid and a very fundamental one. You express it yourself clearly, Bruce. I agree with some of your findings but don't let it become more complicated as it already is. So it's a question that should spur further activities, not lapse into resignation.

As a good FOSle you should internalize business as intrinsic reflexes. There's a techie hat and a business hat. Bear in mind to wear them both. That's all you need. The solutions needed are not so far away or blurred as you might think for TWiki. Finally, twiki.org seems to be its own best customer unfortunately.

(And Bruce, you've forgotten to vote.)

-- MichaelDaum - 09 Apr 2005

It isn't complicated at all, TWiki is. And I wrote what I did in answer to two previous questions. And I just voted wink

-- BruceRProchnau - 09 Apr 2005

I think:

  • MartinCleaver has an interesting idea
  • CrawfordCurrie is probably right about not enough demand for paid dev team under the current model.
  • as a side point, I should say, I would also be willing to set aside a portion of profits.

What is alienating people away from TWiki? well this one I can answer a bit. TWiki "out of the box" is a lot like a jig-saw puzzle, or better yet a large box of legos. All of the pieces are there but you have to have the mind to put them together in a way that results in something productive for your desired applications of it. Some of us are great at this sort of thing and we enjoy the flexibility that comes with it because we can put the pieces together and make things work the way we want. Others are less interested in the options available and want a solution that "just works" in some specific way. Well, TWiki does "just work" but only after it is setup to work in that specific way through the use of a mismatch of plugins and other modules that produce the desired end result. This is where the dev team that MartinCleaver talked about may come into play. perhaps we could build "subTWiki's" prepackaged with certain plugins/add-ons/modules and forms preinstalled that are geared toward some of the more common specific applications that are in demand. I am talking about SubTWiki packages such as WebTWiki LanTWiki DocsTWiki CustomerTWiki AccountingTWiki eCommerceTWiki etc etc. If we can identify markets where TWiki can be used and indeed is being used, then maybe we can start building premade packages: "TWiki distros" to meet those particular needs. This sort of approach could make it easier for non programmers to choose twiki for their real world applications and easier for us as developers to help them in that process.

I too would be interested in feedback on some of these ideas.

-- TravisBarker - 09 Apr 2005

Expanding on that just a bit, what about some kind of form/survey for the user to fill out that will return a list of suggested plugins that they might consider depending on needs?

"Will your TWiki be internet accessible?" if so there is an entire series of plugins they should probably consider that are basically useless if it is to be a LAN site. This is just one example, I'm sure you see my point. Making TWiki more user friendly means helping narrow down the options a bit, making it easier for the user to filter through the noise and get at the bits they want/need

-- TravisBarker - 09 Apr 2005

Follow-up in HowDoWeGetToWhereWeWantToBe

-- CrawfordCurrie - 10 Apr 2005

I propose that donations first cover hosting and domain costs.

-- ArthurClemens - 10 Apr 2005

Is it possible in any way for twiki.org to come out with...say...a twikiblog and charge for it?

-- BruceRProchnau - 10 Apr 2005

No time yet to digest this interesting discussions. See also related TWikiAppPackageHowToDiscussion.

-- PeterThoeny - 11 Apr 2005

(My original comments here were asking about a topic like HowDoWeGetToWhereWeWantToBe ...before I saw the topic reference above, hence I withdrew my comment. Sorry for any confusion.)

-- MattEngland - 11 Apr 2005

After talking with a consultant in a government instution it occured to me that individuals usually have the descretion to spend company money to purchase small value items and to some extents don't mind doing so on their own budget.

I'd like us to brainstorm about how we can collect payments, whether they be token payments to say thanks (e.g. a book purchase) or funded contracts to TWikiConsultants. Perhaps we can establish wishlists on people's home pages? (Don't forget to lock down your homepage!)

I know many of us question the time we spend on the project, I believe getting more $$ flowing would help many of us set aside more time to think and code more strategically for the good of TWiki.

-- MartinCleaver - 03 Aug 2005

On sites like ScriptLance I've seen people pay out $30-50 for a TWiki install and setup. Perhaps a setting up on TWiki an installer service page for $30 a pop, or rent-a-twiki-dev for $50/hr. or something similar.

-- RyanKnoll - 18 Feb 2006

ScriptLance as a broker for twiki work sounds interesting.

It doesn't look that used at present; a simple search for "twiki" at scriplance (http://www.scriptlance.com/cgi-bin/freelancers/search.cgi?keywords=twiki&submit=Search&desc=1&showstatus=&show=) lists 3 closed requests (latest is 2005).

Perhaps other forums for these kind of tasks are used more?

-- SteffenPoulsen - 30 Jul 2006

MartinCleaver wrote in SyncContribDev:

I'd be delighted to solve these problems etc. but this code is - like all my contributions - as-is, until my clients (or I personallly) need it or the twiki community finds a way to make it pay.

This is a structural community problem that needs to be addressed at the top. Without infrastructural community intervention, GettingPaidToDevelopTWiki to ensure eventuates efforts will continue to wane on many interesting fronts.

I see this differently. The TWikiCommunity is a pure open source project. Getting paid is nice and good, but not contributing or maintaining ones code just because there are no $$$ is not really in the spirit of open source. Many people work on TWiki for the fun of it, and to support the community. Like other contributors I spend many unbillable hours on open source TWiki. If there is a client who is supporting my work, all the better, but I think it is important to do the right thing for the TWiki project, regardless of funding.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank SteffenPoulsen on behalf of the TWikiCommunity for the selfless work he is doing on updating so many Plugins for TWiki 4. This is incredible work, and truely in open source spirit!

-- PeterThoeny - 03 Aug 2006


"Just to pose a counter point, working on opensource is a personal decision and no one is forcing anyone to do so. If you work on a project for a company, then you are being paid by that company" -- OpenSourceFunding

And http://koala.ilog.fr/twikiirc/bin/irclogger_log/twiki?date=2006-08-02,Wed&sel=575#l571

> You should care about TWiki and our customers. And all the rest of us that test and fix your code for free. [21:27]
> MartinCleaver what if I stop running TWiki? Should I still care? [21:28]
> MartinCleaver I do have some clients using TWiki. Not all of them do. When when none of them do? What if I do more strategy work than coding work? Must I commit to fix bugs ad infinitum?

So, understand: for me this is very simple - I got involved with TWiki because it served some communities that I was interested in (e.g. I expected some worthwhile reward). And please Heed my words: when TWiki stops serving these communities TWiki stops serving me.

Re: the spirit of open source / right thing for TWiki: BewareOfTheQuietLeavers should provide sufficient exit context for the TWiki community to have learnt something and put into actions some interventions. Has it done enough??

The leadership on this community is soley responsible for making sure that TWiki attractive to developers. As harsh as this may sound, new developers choose between TWiki and e.g. Jot, and I think TWiki needs to make a better statement for itself.

I have contributed a fair amount to this project over the last 5 years but I maintain that I still wholeheartedly welcome and encourage approaches in ensuring fair recompense to developers for efforts. Such results is neither untenable nor undesirable.

At the same time, understand that if I have to make the jump I will: I am not tied to TWiki.

-- MartinCleaver - 04 Aug 2006

Some are better able to provide TLC with regards to TWiki than others. I'm wondering if you are not writing yourself into the latter category these days, Martin?

Also I can't get my head around the logic in making a split between 1) the individual and the community, 2) the individual and the leadership. Imho doing this separation is just displaying a lack of will to take any responsibility.

Making a better statement for TWiki is imho best done as a joined and voluntary effort, blaming "us minus me" doesn't help much in getting us from a) to b).

No one ties you to TWiki. For my own part I hope you will jump quickly if you are going to jump - it will allow you to use your energy in a more positive way, earlier.

-- SteffenPoulsen - 04 Aug 2006

Ok. I made a realisation while asleep (& had to get to write: its 5:51am here).

As much as I believe its a structural issue affecting many, I've jumped to the conclusion that it ought to be addressed at the leadership level. Yet, I have to look at myself too: surely I should make it work for me and transfer the learnings upwards, if it makes sense to do so.

Further, as much as we value free-speech here, there are more constructive ways to voice them that what I wrote above.

Back later, after a couple more zzz.


-- MartinCleaver - 04 Aug 2006

At a greater scale, sourceforge is currently planning to add a marketplace feature to their setup this year (summer). It is currently a possibility to sign up for "interested in selling services" at their interest list:


-- SteffenPoulsen - 03 Apr 2007

I can imagine paying for TWiki-development, that supports the needs, that we have in our company. Such as: GoodSortingForSearchResults smile

-- MartinSeibert - 04 Feb 2008

It might be a good idea to look at the example of mantis sponsoring. See here: http://www.futureware.biz/blog/index.php?title=sponsoring_issues_in_mantis&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

The main idea is, that people sponsor small amounts, that add up, to a couple of maybe hundreds of dollars, when the feature is realized.

-- MartinSeibert - 06 Feb 2008

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