Should open source organisations hire professionals?

Following the comments here I’m opening this dedicated thread in order to discuss about something mentioned by Dashamir: does it make sense for FLOSS organizations like FLOSSK to hire people? Personally I’m not sure about what the right course of action would be in this case and I’m interested to read your thoughts on this. There are some pros and cons in relation to this topic:

Pros: unfortunately in many cases you need financial transactions to do certain things. A good example is OSCAL in Tirana and SFK in Prishtina. These are conferences that can be organised with 0 financial transactions, but if you want to have equipment like a LED screen, some refreshments, infrastructure (like chairs in some cases) etc you will most likely not avoid the need of financial transactions.

Cons In many cases when there is money involved people get influenced and act not based on the interest of the community/group/team/collective, but focus their efforts in the direction that might bring personal financial gains directly or indirectly.
I’ve seen this happening in local communities (the GR community for example is quite divided in small and different groups, which in my opinion has a negative impact for the greater cause of spreading FLOSS in society) and I’m more convinced by the day that unfortunately when there is money involved in one way or another the community gets influenced.

Having said this, I think it’s complicated :slight_smile: because organizations like FLOSSK need to have budgets to do what they do and people that manage things maybe need to be paid, but we need to understand that there is a risk of the community being influenced negatively. In the words of the famous band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0kcet4aPpQ.

R.S

1 Like

Maybe this question is a bit too general and it should be decided on a case by case bases.
About FLOSSK, my impression is that it is a non-profit organization, based on voluntarism (voluntary contributions of its members).
But maybe I am wrong. Where can I see the status (and/or other defining documents) of FLOSSK?
If it is based on voluntarism, it does not make sense (in my opinion) to pay some contributors and not pay others.

We have discussed this issue somewhat when we decided to go the route of hiring FLOSSK employee nr. 1 two years go. There are always administrative tasks that hackers don’t want to do, and in a small community like ours there’s not that many people to choose from. Second, lack of self responsibility with regard to hackerspace was creating some liability for us so we needed growup up people to be around and take care of bills etc.

@arianit thanks for sharing your experience and insights.

In an ideal world, I would wish for all (or most of) the members to be grownup people and experienced professionals, who have a regular and well paid job, and contribute to the community in their spare time for fun and personal satisfaction. Contribution is not just by donating money, but also (and, in my opinion, primarily) by sharing knowledge and skills, helping each-other, trying to create a nice, friendly and enjoyable environment for everyone, etc.

But of course we don’t live in an ideal world (or maybe I am a bit utopian), so things might not be perfect, as we wish. If we are a bit opportunistic, then we should try whatever works best. If hiring people for doing a responsible job works better, why not. After all, it doesn’t matter whether the cat is yellow or black, as long as it catches mice.

I am just not convinced that hiring people would yield better results, but I don’t have any facts, or stats, or supporting evidence that this is the case. You have much more experience than me, you have tried all the ways, so you should be able to tell better than me what works and what does not. So, do whatever you think is best for the community, but also keep us informed, if you find it reasonable, about what is going on.

When you’re not dealing with a lot of money, first you need to hire someone that in general knows some things about financial reporting.
As for not acting in the interests of the community, that can be countered by having transparency regarding financial transactions. Also, you can enshrine that aspect in the charter of the NGO. Then when you notice negative influences on the community, you change the people involved, since they’re not acting as per the charter.