As the PostgreSQL community continues down its path of world domination I can’t help but wonder whether the various PostgreSQL companies are going to survive the changes. Once upon a time there was an undercurrent of understanding that what was good for the community was good for the company. Whatever company that may be. However, over the last few years it seems that has changed. It seems there is more prevalence toward: What is good for the company is good for the community, or in other words, “The goal is profit.”
That is a flawed discipline to follow in the Open Source world. A truly beneficial, strong and diverse community has to eliminate that thought entirely. The goal is not profit; profit is the reward.
That isn’t to say that profit is bad. That would be stupid. It is profit that allows Command Prompt to sponsor my activities with United States PostgreSQL and Software in the Public Interest. It is to say that my contributions to the community as a whole drive Command Prompt’s profit. It is symbiotic; a constant ebb and flow of the relationship between community and commerce.
I would invite other PostgreSQL companies to consider this. I would challenge them to upend their profiteering motive and focus on community building with profit being the reward. The profit will follow. How do you do this? How do you continue to derive profit from community without sacrificing the community or your standing within the community? Here are some practical ideas:
- If you aren’t going to help, offer to find someone that will help. The answer, “Why would I help you” is never appropriate.
- If you release something to the community, support it as the community would. Otherwise, keep it to yourself (open source or not).
- Avoid language such as, “It’s free, funding for new features or requirements is welcome.” It is embarrassing and arrogant. It doesn’t provide a solution and has no place on a community support list. If that is your approach contact the person directly. The community isn’t your advertising platform. Instead try something like, “It is Free/Open Source, we are open to patches or feedback.”
Lastly, this isn’t a post suggesting that you abandon good business practice. I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t contact someone if you are looking for funding, only that you contact them directly. I am not suggesting you take losses every month for the community, that is bad for the community and bad for business. I am only suggesting, nay declaring that community works for business when business puts community first.