In the past week, two separate open source projects, Funambol & OWASP have announced plans to pay developers small (but respectable) sums of cash to work on certain aspects of the projects. The work involves things like testing, documentation or adding new features that don’t have an owner as yet.
In typical mature open source projects, the core developers work full-time on the project (funded via a commercial or non-profit entity). These developers have a vested interest in making their piece of the code/project as solid as it can, because of their own reputation and the fact they need the software itself. They have ownership of the code and a vested interest to stay interested in the code/project.
What is surprising about the Funambol & OWASP news is that the developers are being hired for short term work. There is no strong feeling of ownership for these developers (although maybe that is what Funambol & OWASP hope will result). Just as important, the hired guns may not even use the resulting software from the project.
A key strength of open source projects is the community around the project. I wonder what impact paying hired guns for short-term work on an open source project will have on the community aspect.