Doesn't it make developers mad??

Lauri Watts lauri at
Fri Oct 29 00:47:52 BST 2004

On Thursday 28 October 2004 22.46, faraz khan wrote:

> Just looking for opinions.. I thought KDE might be the best place to ask
> since this is ONE MAMMOTH of a OSS project- taking a lot of developer time.

This is something that comes up now and then, and perhaps we should make a FAQ 
entry about it.

Mad? No.  We'd just stop if it made us mad.  Frustrated? occasionally.

KDE is an amorphous thing.  I kind of think of it sort of like a coral.  It 
looks like one thing on the outside, but when you look really closely, it's 
an entire community of  many hundreds, constantly coming and going, but 
always growing.  

I look around the mailing list posts from today and see only a few people who 
have been around as long as I have, and a few that have been here much 
longer.  Many are much newer, many who began with KDE long before I did, are 
no longer involved.  Sometimes I see long missing names pop up unexpectedly 
in a conversation, or people who are busy suddenly drop out of sight, as 
lifestyle changes cause people varying amounts of spare time.  Me, I've never 
completely dropped out, but I did have a longish (a year or so) time of being 
really unmotivated, and not actually doing anything.

There are as many reasons for contributing to KDE as their are developers, but 
here are a few of the common ones:

* Probably the most common reason most of us get into it is to scratch an 
itch.  *We* want something, and nobody has made that something yet, so we do.  
And once it's done, you may as well give it away.  So the first motivation is 
often "because I want it"

* Some of us receive reward in other ways (not always monetary).  Writing 
books, magazine articles, or using your KDE work as practical examples to 
complete courses of study.  Pride.  Ego.  Fact is, there's certain circles 
where people recognise your name and say "Hey, are you the Lauri Watts from 
KDE?" and then tell you about all the things they like or hate or use or 
don't use.   The occasional thanks from the users:  There was a nice thread 
of thanks a few days ago right on this list, and it gave me a warm glow to 
read it.  A while back I had a long email conversation over several months 
with a pensioner in the US, initially about KDE, later about many other 
things.  I'd never have made that friend without KDE.

* To fill in time.  When I first got involved in KDE, I was living in a 
strange country where I didn't yet speak the language, and I had a very small 
baby (literally, I think she was a month or so old when I wrote my first mail 
asking if I could help).  I literally didn't have anything else productive to 
fill in my days with, and needed something that I could feel useful doing, 
gave me contact with the outside world, and that I could pick up and put down 
as I had time.  

That small baby is 5 now, and an old hand at using KDE.   There's another 
reason - pleasure seeing people using something I helped to make.  

* Some people are in fact paid to work on KDE, by companies that base *their* 
products on it.  It makes economic sense for them to provide development 
hours to the project as a whole, since it strengthens their base.  There's 
quite a few people around that work some proportion of their normal working 
hours on KDE things, with their employers blessing.  There's a few who are 
employed specifically to work on KDE things.  Not everyone is doing this for 
free, although paid employment tends to come to those who are part of the 
community.  That is, not many companies hire complete outsiders and send them 
to work on KDE - they tend to hire out of the existing KDE developers to fill 
a job opening they have, and then cut them a little slack to work on project 
related things now and then (or at least, turn a blind eye to it).

* Because it's *not* what I do for a day job - it's a hobby, and it's fun to 
do something different.  Hobbies are their own reward, enjoyment from doing, 
not necessarily the result (although one tends to enjoy the results of ones 
own efforts too.)  

That's the last one I can come up with, although there's surely hundreds more.  
All the above apply to me, in varying degrees.  KDE is a complex beast, and 
it's developer community is at least as complex.  

Like that coral though, we're tough, and growing, and even when we move on, we 
leave behind something to remember us by. Something we made together, as a 
community, but it wouldn't have been exactly the way it is, without each of 
our contributions shaping the whole.

Lauri Watts
KDE Documentation:
KDE on FreeBSD:
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