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I was rather surprised to see this question closed: Viability of Open Source Business Model. It seemed directly related to the career of programming, as well as more interesting notions such as the nature of open source and the way open source code is developed. While not dealing with actual code, I (and many others, judging by the votes and responses) thought it was a genuinely useful and insightful question. A number of similar questions have been asked before without closure (I'm not going to list them here, as I don't particularly want them closed).

Since I am powerless to vote to reopen, I'd at least like to hear the reasoning behind this close decision (Shog9, I'm looking at you). To pre-empt the usual responses: I realise that each individual gets to make their own voting decisions, the community will shall triumph, etc. etc, but that doesn't change the fact that there should be broad standards on what the difference is between an acceptable and an unacceptable question, to aid both askers and the answerers who put time and effort in. What are the perceived benefits of closing such a question? This closure, in my opinion, was a clear mistake.

Full disclosure: this one is particularly annoying to me since I spent several hours writing a long summarising response, as an experiment in answer aggregation after the comments on meta yesterday. Even were that not the case, I don't understand this.

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Why just Shog9? There are other names on that hit list. – random Aug 27 '09 at 8:50
@random: Not picking on anyone. He's the only one I know who regularly posts here. – ire_and_curses Aug 27 '09 at 8:55
Maybe these should be moved to SU rather then closed now? – beggs Aug 27 '09 at 9:18
@beggs: It may or may not be right for SO, but it's definitely not right for SU – Macha Aug 27 '09 at 9:25
Btw, linking to your own answer at the end, with the link saying it's your answer is ok, but IMO a link saying "this question" should lead to the question, not your answer. It seems like an attempt to gain upvotes. – Macha Aug 27 '09 at 9:27
@Macha: I completely agree. That was a typo - fixed. For what it's worth, I didn't mention this answer in yesterday's meta discussion because I wanted to avoid any votes, positive or negative, from the meta community, to see if the rest of SO agreed with the views expressed here. Now its closed that doesn't seem to matter any more. – ire_and_curses Aug 27 '09 at 9:33
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I read it as a question on the Business of Software, not programming. SO is ill-suited to such discussions, but fortunately there's a perfectly good forum for discussing those topics already.

However, Neil and John note that the question can effectively be considered a duplicate, and you've even gone through and cross-linked to a couple existing questions. I applaud your efforts to clean up these questions, as well as provide a comprehensive answer, but rather than spreading answers all over the site, it would be better have them merged - i've used the "flag for moderator attention" feature to request this, and suggest you do likewise.

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Thanks for flagging this. I added the link to the original to the top of the dupe question. I'll merge them later (since merged questions just seem to disappear, and I want to give everyone who's interested time to see the link). – Bill the Lizard Aug 27 '09 at 14:06
+1 Thanks for this answer. Merging the questions sounds like an excellent idea to me. Although following your 'Business of software' logic through presumably means this new merged question will soon be closed, lacking as it does 'any programming content at all'. That seems a shame to me. – ire_and_curses Aug 27 '09 at 16:16
I'll leave that to others to decide; IMHO, the topic is borderline, but the earlier questions have been open for many months and seem to have been well-received... Perhaps merely due to the way they were asked (see Gortok's answer: i'm not at all sure this question originally intended to ask the question that was answered). – Shog9 Aug 27 '09 at 16:36

Here is the full text of the question:

How does the Open source software business make money? The software is ostensibly free, so how do Developers make a living from it?

No programming content at all, and besides which, it is a dupe.

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Yes, it should have been closed as a dupe. The dupe is not closed (yet) and shouldn't. I think how to earn money with programming is programming related. – Ladybug Killer Aug 27 '09 at 9:00

I voted to close it as 'Subjective and Argumentative'; though if I'd seen the duplicate, I would have picked that as the reason.

Here is the text of the original question, before my edit:

I keep wondering how open source developers make a living. Does anyone know who pays them?

The question as asked, supposes that in the mind of the asker, open-source developers should not be paid. It gives no reasoning for this line of thought, and also asks the question 'Who pays a software developer'.

In order to improve it, I reworded it, and added in reasoning for why the poster would ask 'who pays them?'

It was Subjective and Argumentative before I edited it; and even though I tried to retain the author's intent while removing the Argumentativeness from it, I do not believe I was successful.

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