Open Source is Selfish

Most people I meet see open-source as "putting all your work free to the public". Do you think that I'd love it so much if that was the case?

That's why I want to talk about the selfish benefits of open-source, that come first, almost always, but just a few people can see them. And that selfish open-source is a good thing.

There are 2 major views I see in open-source: a victim and a selfish egoist.

Open-Source as a Victim

We had a panel discussion at PHPLive 2018 about the pros and cons of making your code open-source and it surprised me how negatively open-source is viewd. This might be related mainly to Czech & Slovak programmers, since we were raised victims by default in communism till 1993.

What am I talking about? That open-source code is something you do for the public, in your free time. You expect them to contribute to your project; in a way you expect the code to be written. You feel like a boss and you own all the keys.

People are not listening to you, you have to raise them, you do it for them, you help them, you take care of them. You were the chosen one and you know the best, because you have programmed for much longer than them, you're older and you earn at least triple their income.

They should be thankful!

You see the victim?

How Does it Work?

I'm exaggerating a bit, but this can easily happen to anyone, due to the power trip effect. It has happened to me before and I still have to be careful not to give in to strong emotions. This is the best way to drive people away, trust me.

Open-Source as a Selfish Act

Jakub Kratina is a friend of mine, who organizes livestreams in Péhápkaři. He helped me a lot to become a better businessman and - little may he know - about self-love in open-source.

One day I was frustrated with EasyCodingStandard - I wanted to have the best (the all) features and resolve all the issues as fast as possible to make people happy. Inside I felt I want to do something else. Instead, I wanted to migrate from magic in extension to explicit services. I felt like those people are stopping me from being happy, I was a victim of all those issues.

Luckily I talked with Jakub and he told me very wise words (I even printed on my love board later):

"It's your open-source, your code, your passion, and your work. If you want to do it, do it. What is the point of doing work if it's not making you happy?"

I realized a very simple point:

The Open-Source Work Has To Make You Happy

And if not, I'm doing something wrong and I have to change that, or I will burn out. This helped me to push my idea to a PR a few days later at Epicon.

There is More than Meets the Eye

How does open-sourcing makes your code grow, get your company to hire great developers, or give you a super boost in programming skills? More posts to come on this topic.

Oh, you can't wait that long and want to challenge my points in person? I'll have a talk Why Your Company Loses Money By Not-Open-Sourcing on PHPPrague this Saturday. Be sure to come!

You can go further on Why I'm Frequently Absent from Open Source by James Long.

Happy code-loving!

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