[Techtalk] opinions wanted again! why would anyone code for free?

Meryll Larkin mll at alwanza.com
Fri Jul 24 15:33:50 UTC 2009

I belong to a great horticultural organization.  I love horticulture.  I
also love coding.  I love perl, databases (any databases, even the evil
ones) and web coding.  

As a volunteer for this organization, I am currently creating a
database-driven (OO-Perl, cgi, mySQL) web app with secure authentication and
encryption.  I'm doing a beautiful job modularizing it (in case a future
officer needs it adapted to an evil database), validating all the input, and
making 2 different authentication categories:  one with read-only
privileges, and the other with read/write privileges to the database.  It is
a very smart web app taking many kinds of long-term needs into

I'm working on the beta now.  I'm currently between jobs so I have the time
to do this.

That's free software.  When it is done I will have almost worked myself out
of a volunteer position at my organization because the other officers will
be able to do almost everything they need me to do without my personal
intervention.  Then I will also have some non-organization things I
can/could do with the code:

Market myself to future employers:
1.  Use it as a demo (with sample data) to impress future employers.

2.  Offer the code for free to other organizations for their membership - of
course every organization has some specialized membership needs.... so they
could modify the code themselves or:

Market my coding services to other organizations:
3.  I could make my coding skills available for a fee to those who want to
use the app for their own organization but want some modifications and would
rather have me do them (after all, I wrote the original app).

Subject myself to the scorn, ridicule (and hopefully suggestions) from
better coders:
4.  Gotta do this - sometimes it is the only way to learn the next level of

I think that is the usual model - free software forces one to become a
better coder, and is one of the best ways to market your skills.

Meryll Larkin

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