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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

To Open-Source or Not To Open-Source...

When I posted on Reddit about that I'm building a Ravelry-inspired sewing database site, I got a bunch of very kind responses from developers that totally took me by surprise. It seems that there are people who would consider joining this project if it were open source.

Yet, I hesitate to open-source this project and I've been thinking about why I do.

The list of reasons I came up with is
  • I'm scared of people looking at my code and laughing. (Actually, I know that in the long run getting feedback on my code would help me improve my skills a lot. So this is more or less an irrational excuse.)
  • At the moment, I don't see my passion in coordinating a bunch of developers but rather in creating. I'm not sure I'd enjoy this journey as much as I do now if I'd be taking care of architecting a project with multiple contributors - whether I do would depend on how well I get along with the contributors I manage to rally.
  • I'm a bit of a control freak and definitely a strong introvert which might make it hard for people to deal with me.
  • I hate criticizing people. It makes me feel bad. I'm fine with receiving criticism, though.
  • I need to earn a modest income from the site at the latest in three years so I don't have to take on a regular day job that kills the project. Yet, I feel that me getting the "get-out-of-the-corporate-world-for-free-card" while everyone else gets nothing tangible wouldn't be fair to the open source contributors.
On the other hand, there's good reasons why going for a larger Open Source effort could be interesting:
  • With a bigger development team, we could completely transform the web for the sewing hobbyist scene - and also for pattern designers and small businesses. Both in much less time than I alone would need and on a larger scale.
  • I feel a lot better about being a part of an Open Source project than about raising funds from venture capitalists.
Still, there are more options than just "the big open source project" and "a closed-source one-developer-job":
  • I could do a Kickstarter to raise money to hire experts to code Open Source libraries for use on the site or to improve existing Open Source libraries I'd like to use if they had a certain feature. Though, I'm not a Kickstarter expert and I don't have good contacts into the Open Source scene.
  • More realistically, I could open-source potentially reusable parts of the site's code I'm struggling with and try to get collaborators/feedback for these parts.
What do you think?

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