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OpenLogic’s Expert Community ProgramRaven Zachary, May 8, 2006 @ 7:10 pm ET
OpenLogic, an open source “stack provider”, announced its Expert Community Program today (press release). Basically, experts in the open source community (experts defined here as open source project contributors or committers) can sign up to be part of a distributed support network for OpenLogic customers. When members of this support network solve customer issues for OpenLogic, they are rewarded with points that can be converted into cash or prizes. More information about the program is available on OpenLogic’s Community page.
Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It’s a way to solve the breadth of expertise issues that challenge stack providers. It’s not cost effective to hire open source project team members for all of the open source components supported in your stack. This is a way to augment the core team, with a network of specialists that can be approached, on demand. OpenLogic is trying to solve a set of problems for its customers, and this seems like a good approach.
That said, as a developer, are you going to sign up for half a dozen vendor-sponsored programs like this that could follow OpenLogic’s lead? It’s a clever idea, but one that may result in limited success under the auspices of a single vendor. OpenLogic may want to spin this off into .org and create an industry marketplace of open source experts ala Experts Exchange or eLance for problem resolution bidding on the open market, and invite its own competitors to participate.
So what do open source developers think about this? It’s too early to tell. As of this post, there have only been a handful of blog postings about the announcement (with limited commentary), an eWeek article, and a Slashdot discussion.
If you take a look at the Slashdot discussion, you’ll see some themes – complaints about the point-based reward system, the legal agreement to participate, and the XBox 360s being given out to the first set of resolved customer cases. Slashdot discussions tend to break down into cynical jibes even on the most positive topics, so I wouldn’t read much into this if I were OpenLogic. However, it is the first set of community feedback we have, and while it may be harsh, it expresses a set of concerns that OpenLogic would be well advised to address publicly.
The way to win the hearts and minds of the expert community is through transparency, among other things. Cash might work, but I’m not so sure about prizes .
UPDATE: Check out this blog posting on the topic by Ian Holsman, a contributor to the Apache Web Server project. If this ends up being the majority opinion from the community, then OpenLogic needs to engage Ian and others on a revised model before this spins out of control.
UPDATE 2 (05/09/06): Stormy Peters, Director of Product Management for OpenLogic, has posted a blog entry about the launch of the program.
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