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I just saw this ad, they seem to be funding Apache, JQuery etc. but looks very shady. Seems like they're trying to fit the Carbon Offset logic to coding and try to make some quick money out of it.

Is this a scam?

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migrated from Mar 1 '10 at 20:51

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

It's funny-ish way to raise money for open source projects. Just see how you need to select a project that your "purchase" should support. – Joachim Sauer Mar 1 '10 at 20:46
"They’ve asked software authors to write essays on how their projects drive out bad code, offering $500 dollar prizes." ref : – DMin Mar 1 '10 at 20:48
Looks like some nonsense along the lines of carbon emissions trading. – NebuSoft Mar 1 '10 at 20:48
Carbon trading is not nonsense; from an economics standpoint it is very effective. Whether or not such trading is necessary is an entirely different debate. – Ether Mar 1 '10 at 21:36
Carbon trading is worse than nonsense, it's just a form of wealth redistribution. It takes money from producing countries and distributes it to the less-producing countries. It doesn't actually stop carbon emissions, as many environmental groups have pointed out. – Lance Roberts Mar 1 '10 at 23:14
Carbon trading, in whatever form, is an attempt to take a market externality (carbon dioxide emission) and internalize it so that standard free-market mechanism will limit the emissions efficiently. The necessity and effectiveness of various methods is off-topic here. I don't see that bad code offsets are going to provide economic incentives to limit bad code (since it's voluntary, and the people who buy them are less likely to write lots of bad code), and so it certainly won't internalize a market externality. – David Thornley Mar 2 '10 at 18:11
@David: but it could possibly increase the corpus of good code readily available for those very same good coders to use. – perbert Mar 3 '10 at 22:56
@voyager: Sure, I don't want to discourage anybody from contributing to a F/OS project producing quality software, but it's more analogous to penance than carbon trading. – David Thornley Mar 4 '10 at 15:12
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I don't think it's a scam, given that the people behind it (including Jeff Atwood, Alex Papadimoulis, and Jon Skeet) have established reputations that they stand to lose.

It doesn't really make much sense to me though. The carbon offsetting idea is intended to limit the total amount of carbon released into the environment whilst letting the market decide how to distribute the allowances most efficiently.

There are economic incentives for purchasing carbon offsets; there are no incentives to buy bad code offsets, it's just a gimmicky way to donate money to open source projects. If you want to donate to open source projects, why not just choose the recipients for yourself and make the donation directly?

EDIT: There may in fact be economic incentives not to buy bad code offsets. Are they tax-deductible?

If I am in the US, which I'm not, and I decide to donate to the Apache Foundation, it is, in the words of Bob Dylan, a tax-deductible charity organisation. If I choose to buy bad code offsets and ask for the money to go to Apache, will it actually cost me more?

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The idea is to improve existing Open Source projects hoping that they will be used instead of in house grown horrible systems. – perbert Mar 1 '10 at 20:54
I don't think it's a scam, given that the people behind it (including Jeff Atwood, Alex Papadimoulis, and Jon Skeet) have established reputations that they stand to lose. - Hmm, just because someone has posted a few names of prominant IT people doesn't mean it's not a scam. Clearly this particular site is not a scam, but if I wanted to make a good scam site, I wouldn't hesitate to whack Joel, Jon, Jeff and Bill Gates on it to give it some cred. – Mark Henderson Mar 1 '10 at 23:47
Jon - how does it feel to have reached the level of notoriety where people claim your approval to sound genuine? – Dominic Rodger Mar 2 '10 at 7:38
@Farseeker: I'm not just going by the names on the site, Jeff and Alex have also promoted it on their blogs. – Dan Dyer Mar 2 '10 at 11:55

Deliciously ironic point: One of the leaders of the Alliance for Code Excellence founded this very site on which you ask the question that insults the heritage of the Alliance for Code Excellence.

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And another runs the advertising on this site, and another is the top-ranked Stack Overflow user, and Stack Overflow contributed money to Bad Code Offsets ( – Dominic Rodger Mar 1 '10 at 21:06

No, it's not a scam. They do fund open source projects that are considered of good quality.

The leaders are the founders of Stack Overflow and The Daily WTF.

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^ what this guy said. – Alex Papadimoulis Mar 3 '10 at 22:14

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