Kickstarter for Open-Source Projects?

The Web site http://www.kickstarter.com is an interesting place. Basically, it's a site that allows people to invest in various projects, giving people real money to develop an idea. Those ideas vary from film-making to programming video games, but the concept is the same regardless of the project.

What is the motivation for investing in someone's idea? That's the beauty; it depends on the project. Maybe it's an M.C. Frontalot album you want to see created, so you give money to the project so the album is produced. Perhaps it's a video game you'd really like to play, so you give money to the developer to make the game. Perhaps the developer gives a copy of the game to all investors. Perhaps not. There are no rules, just collaboration.

Recently, we've seen open-source projects use Kickstarter, and it seems like a great idea. If you see a program idea you like, send money, and if the creators reach their goals, they'll create the programs. Because it's open source, the benefit is obvious: you get to use the program when it's complete.

Granted, it's not a perfect system. It certainly would be possible to abuse it. It seems that actually funding open-source developers is a good idea though. Perhaps this method of funding is a fad, or maybe it's the start of something great—paying developers to develop free software. If it works, it seems like everyone wins.

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing. You can contact Shawn via e-mail, ljeditor@linuxjournal.com.

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