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I am trying to grow my project, and I am vaccillating between some examples.

Some options seem to be:

1. open sourcing the project to draw volunteer developers.


This would mean anyone can try and make some money off the code that would motivate them to contribute back and grow the project.


Existing bigger could easily copy and paste my work so far. They can also replicate without having access to the code, but that would take more time. I also thought of using AGPL license, but again, code can still be copied without redistribution. After all, enforcing a license costs a lot of money, and I cannot just say to a possible copycat that it seems you copied my code, show me what you got.

2. Keep the project closed source, but create some kind of a developer program where they get revshare


I keep the main rights for the project, but still generate interest by creating a developer program. Noone can copy code easily, just with some considerable effort, but make contributions easy as a breeze. I am also seeing many companies just open source a part of their projects, like Acquia does not open source its multisite setup, or github does not open source some of its core business.


Less attention from open source committed devs.


So option 2 seems the most secure, but would love some feedback.

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closed as not constructive by gnat, Matthew Flynn, Walter, GlenH7, Yusubov Sep 12 '12 at 17:47

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Seems like you understand the pros and cons pretty well. Not sure what else to offer. You might consider rewording the question to make it more answerable. –  GlenPeterson Sep 12 '12 at 16:17
There's a whole lot of grey area in there. and even a 3rd option of getting money (friends / family / savings) and paying people to help complete the project. This is not an uncommon place to be in, if encouragement through examples or help based on experience could result in the poster being able to confidently make a decision, this seems like a valid question.. ..just sayin' –  hanzolo Sep 12 '12 at 18:03
Thanks everyone for the great comments. Also, I believe such a question fits stackexchange type of sites, where one can see a clear winner of an answer... –  giorgio79 Sep 12 '12 at 18:17

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Open sourcing will be like letting it go and "setting it free" and who knows where it will end up, and who knows who else will be growing it. Keeping it private will definitely yield the best profit, if it gets finished, and if it's successful, but will require complete ownership and responsibility.

If you're okay with "open sourcing" the project and being satisfied seeing the pure "success" of the project (meaning it gets moving with efforts of others), which would mean that it wont be sitting in a quite part of the internet hoping and waiting, then that might be the choice for you.

But if it's "your baby", you'll probably want to do some rev Sharing, if you can find it, or maybe pony up some cash and just hiring some developers.. maybe seek some small investors (friends / family) to help out.

Personally, i'd rather pick up a second job and make 50$ an hour, and then pay a jr. dev 25$ for 2 of his hours, or something like that.

Then there's always sites like kickstarter , but that would need a nice presentation which could cost a couple hundo to get right...

I was in the same exact place, and I ended up just paying for some help with the mundane tasks which were required. This way i maintain complete ownership, and progress can be made without me having to drag it the entire way. It was well worth it.

As far as Revenue Sharing, I'm actually actively involved in project like that, I'm receiving ownership for my work... The nice things is that I"m working with a team and we're able to make real strides, the bad thing is one, I'm working for frickin free.. and 2, i'm at risk of someone else's vision and decision making. I will probably not do this again unless it's with well trusted friends who are equally committed..

good luck!

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Fantastic answer, love the Kickstarter idea!!! :) –  giorgio79 Sep 12 '12 at 18:21

Unless your project is the hottest thing since sliced bread (sorry for the mixed metaphor) your chances of getting significant, useful reliable contributors from the open source community are slim to none. 99% of open source projects have no developers except those who started the project.

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Thanks, much appreciated. If I could accept two answers this would be one of them :) –  giorgio79 Sep 12 '12 at 18:16

Are you trying to grow this into a business? What kind of business model are you going for? Closed-source you can generate licensing revenues if you're able to sell your product. Open-sourcing means your revenue stream will come mostly from consulting services helping people integrate and install your product.

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I would like to host the stuff and provide a web service. –  giorgio79 Sep 12 '12 at 18:17

Although I agree with ddyer's answer, you can also consider an open core approach by providing a free open source version and a professional/enterprise version that is closed source. I think MySQL uses this approach.

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You could have added this as a comment. –  Max Oct 2 '12 at 7:36

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