Eliminating Free Riding – Not Even A Coherent Objective

Some people have a difficult time understanding how a project that is generated purely by volunteer efforts can be successful and they’re especially puzzled when it’s normal for others to benefit from the project without making any contribution. I think it’s a pretty easy point to clarify and this article does a very good job of it.

One of the interesting points this article reminds us of is that “free-riders” actually are a motivational mechanism for the contributors and as such are actually, albeit in some very minor way, contributing. As this topic relates to TOPSAN, perhaps the most important idea from the article is:

“All that matters is whether the absolute number of contributors is adequate. And because some fraction of new users will always become contributors, an influx of additional “free riders” is almost always a good thing.”

Referring to one of his references (am I allowed to refer to such a thing?) the author quotes:

“…eliminating “free riding” is not only undesirable, but that it’s ultimately not even a coherent objective.”

I think these days everyone at least suspects that the old rules need not apply and what would be counter-intuitive five years ago is, today, proven with numerous examples.

One Response to Eliminating Free Riding – Not Even A Coherent Objective

  1. chrisxed says:

    Boing Boing has a post scoffing at a post by Andrew Keen that predicts the demise of volunteer internet projects based on the bad economic conditions re-instilling people with a sense of the value of labor.

    I agree with Boing Boing; sounds like nonsense to me.

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