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How Should Companies Grant Recognition To Developers? 107

Ken Broadfoot asks: "I work for a major computer chip manufacturer and we are recieving input (patches and code) for some new Linux device drivers (network cards). How would you, as an open source developer, like recognition for the valuable work you are doing? My suggestion to the Powers That Be was to offer credit on the web, some network interface cards, and perhaps a credit file along with the source code for the driver, however there may be other ways to thank developers that we haven't thought of, and were looking for readers thoughts on the matter." It's always nice to see large corporations willing to take the time to thank individuals for making their products better.
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Corporations Offering Thanks To Open Source Developers?

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  • would be nice for some of the more nerdy open-source developers stock in a windowless room :-)
  • by hirschma ( 187820 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @10:59AM (#1413636)
    Give 'em hardware - the latest stuff, put them on hardware beta tests, etc. Don't worry if they'll agree upfront to do anything with it - my guess is that if they've done it before, they'll do it again. Low risk, high reward investment.
  • Hire the damned developers. What's so difficult about that?

    Dancin Santa
  • I think that the NICs and credits should suffice. Alternatively you could offer them employment...
  • How about "paying it forward" by releasing some of your own code open source? Further the movement.

    I know that doesn't give credit to individuals, but it does credit the open-source movement.

  • What about a share or two of your companies stock? It is a great way to get someone interested in your stock (helps the company) and also gives the developer more reason ($$$) to develope for you.
  • The best way was already suggested in the article: give them more nics. But hey, why stop there? Hire them (perhaps on a part time basis) to write drivers for you. Even if you have to put them under an NDA for the specs to your cards, which seems unlikely as they've already made drivers, you'll get high-performance drivers in return and the Linux community might buy your cards before someone else's if they've got a Tux on the box.

    (Of course, this assume that your company is named 3com... :D)
  • by OlympicSponsor ( 236309 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:01AM (#1413642)
    If only there were some kind of symbolic object the corporation could give the developer to indicate their appreciation. But not some dead trophy-style object--something dynamic and useful. Something where they could keep the value even if they lost the physical medium (via the use of trades, say). In fact, we could expand this usage from corp to developer until everyone could trade these objects to each other in exchange for goods and services. But what'll we call it?
    MailOne []
  • by ( 142825 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:01AM (#1413643) Homepage
    Putting names in the about box is nice.

    There are some problems with that.....
    1. If someone is not happy with the tech support weenie (meaning their response is format and re-install), they get your name from the about box and call you.
    2. If you leave the company and the product turns to garbage, do you want your name associated with it?

  • I'm not very recognition-driven. If I were to choose my ideal method of reward, I'd have to go with a cut of every unit sold.

    While this maybe doesn't translate so well to a Linux device driver that people download for free, the company could arrange a kickback^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H small payment for every unit shipped pre-installed on a Linux box.

    Egads... Next I'll be suggesting that Intel transform itself into a sort of tech developers' co-op and relocate to Cambridge or something...

    - B

  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:03AM (#1413645) Homepage Journal
    You could bring a couple of these developers in, turn a camera on, and ask just why they decided to contribute to the project. Voila! Instant promotional material for your product, your company, and your relationship with the open source community. Give them a reasonable fee for the promotional spot, and make a donation to a charity of their choosing in their name to boot.
  • by bmongar ( 230600 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:03AM (#1413646)

    A company actually wants to give credit for work they could have for free. Cool. I would say definately add some extra credits in the source code that they contributed. The cards are a great idea, above and beyond expectations. Also a credits page on the website is good. What else could work you ask? If they are repeated contributors you may want to contract with them for upcoming products.

  • Well that would be good...

    Or how about naming the device after some geek who sent in the patch that fixed the eternal bug

    The Intel AC10/100 NIC or the Al Viro/3D accelorator!!!!!!!
  • by abelsson ( 21706 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:04AM (#1413648) Homepage
    Why not ask 'em? Say something along the lines of "You're really helping the company with your work. We really like it. Is there anything we can do for you?"


  • Yes, give people credit, but not necessarily with money or gifts, give them public recognition. Movies do it with line credits and special thanks sections. I know that as a developer I really feel good when a solid app goes out the door and my name is on it, even if it's just buried under the "About" box.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just like with space exploration, the first one to find the new object (or create in this case) can name it. So we could have network interface cards with 'Smithson' chips on it, discovered by Bob Smithson.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    at least that motivate me to stop wasting time on Slashdot and start coding!
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:06AM (#1413652)
    How would you, as an open source developer, like recognition for the valuable work you are doing?

    Credit in the code is worth more than credit on a web page. That just needs a one liner - what, who, email, date. (That line will probably already be in the patch) Hardware is good - especially new hardware that nobody has yet. A 'come see me at XXX trade show, I'll buy you a beer' is worth more than you can imagine. Best of all has nothing to do with giving credit - just make sure the full specs of the hardware are published on the web. Thats the best thanks of all.

  • by Groovy Aardvark ( 100433 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:07AM (#1413653) Homepage
    Have the CEO call them personally and sing the GPL license's text to the "We Will Rock You" melody.
  • by drenehtsral ( 29789 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:07AM (#1413654) Homepage
    I think that you've already taken the biggest step: Acknowledging that open source developers are making useful and valuable contributions. For the most part, open source developers (or at least all the ones i know) are always happy to work/play (often it's the same) in an environment of good will and openness. I think that is the most important thing. For instance, if a hardware company doesn't produce a linux driver for their XYZ widget, it would be nice if they made hardware specs and possibly the code for their windows driver available so that people could work with it, and soon enough the XYZ widget would be supported under linux and BeOS and probably some other OSs nobody's ever even heard of...
  • That is a kick ass idea. If you give a geek hardware they will do something with it tha is for sure. Lot's of people are saying hire them. Sure you might send them an offer but in this economy almost everybody with any talent is employed and making good money. I know I would really like the free hardware thing.
  • by Jezz ( 267249 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:10AM (#1413656)
    Seems very logical. Give them the hardware and all the documentation let them do with it what they will.

    Also; publish the documentation online somewhere so others can port things to your hardware and make sure people can find it. This will help the open source community a great deal. Maybe host the source code on your web site and let one of them manage it for you. This will help them and you.

    Nice effort! (Who is it you work for?)
  • The best way a company can reward open source developers on a project is to allow them to keep
    working on them or other projects. Convince upper-brass to release more information ethier openly or with reasonable NDA's (ones that allow production of open source drivers and allow developers to work reasonable non-competitive jobs). Example Linus doesn't have a IA64 box because he works for transmeta. Give the people reasonable access to information no matter what there background.
  • by drivers ( 45076 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:14AM (#1413658)
    Call their parents and tell them "I am calling from [a large computer hardware company], and just wanted to tell you what a helpful and intelligent programmer your [son/daughter] is. Don't be too concerned if they'd rather play on the computer than watch TV like everyone else."

    I think I'm just kidding, but you never know.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If a developer makes a useful contribution such as a fixed or improved driver, hand them some free hardware. Maybe a prerelease of the next generation of spiffier, more expensive hardware...along with a programming manual. Lots of us do this as a labor of love. Getting free hardware _and_ specs out of a vendor is..well, it's a good feeling _and_ you get a new toy.
  • Some things that have worked for me in the past, in varying degrees:
    • Hearing the president of the company mention me, by name, during his state-of-the-company speech.
    • Letting me get published. Many companies don't the engineers do things like this, but it's a great way to be recognized in your industry.
    • Letting me speak at conferences. Another big recognition factor.
    • Letting my name show up in the press. The most hated PHB in my company right now is the guy who, while he was here, instituted the "My name and my name only shows up in the press releases" rule. He once even referred to me as "The Wiz" in an interview rather than say my name. UG.
    • Random bonuses. It's always nice to just get a big wad of cash, especially when it's not on a fixed company schedule. It says "You're so appreciated that we're breaking the rules."
    • On that same note, anything that feels like "Well yes, we have rules, but we're breaking them for you."
    Things that don't work:
    • Embarrassing displays. At the christmas party don't have an awards ceremony and make your best engineers stand up in front of all their coworkers. No better way to say "Hey, you people sitting down, you're not doing a very good job!" It was one thing for the president to mention my name -- most of the hundreds of people listening probably don't even know me -- but if he'd called me up on stage or something that would have sucked.
    • Anything that blatantly mucks with team morale. While walking over to a team outing and crossing the street, a VP once yelled "Ok, everybody form a circle around Duane in case a car comes!" That's charming -- telling people that they have value as human shields. Not too funny. I don't know if any of the other guys cared, but it made me feel lousy.
    • Non-perk perks. "Have a PalmV with Omnisky!" doesn't really work if it's just a loaner, and worse if you have to sign up for the service yourself and then request a reimbursement check every month.
  • For the work that I do the manufacturers have given credit on their web pages, provided links to the web site and provided new hardware to test the drivers on.

    We don't do the work to get recognition, but it is nice when we do, especially when we get a "good work, keep it up" message.

  • Wow, you know, I totally missed the part that said "open source developers", I thought you were talking about people that worked for you. So, most of my comments don't really apply. Sorry about that!!
  • I guess you've already ruled out the obvious.

    Oh well, too bad.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is scientific (psychological) evidence that proves: if you reward someone for doing something that they do for free, there is a good chance that they will stop doing it if you stop rewarding them.

    (off the top of my head, some details are fuzzy) A priest at an inner city church was having trouble in his neighborhood with graphitti. His solution was to call together a group of the 'best-known' graphitti artists in town and pay them to do a mural.

    they did . . . he recieved some major flak from the community but continued on with his plan. He wound up paying for a small handfull of other murals, the kids were starting to really enjoy this job (BTW i might also embellish a little)

    finally, the kids came back and asked for money to do another mural, the priest told them that the money was all gone, he could no longer afford to pay them to do their graphitti.

    the kids, to get even with the priest, stopped doing the graphitti (which of course was his goal in the first place)

    at the same time there is evidence that if you pay someone a meere pittance, ($1 vs. $20) they will find an intrinsic motivation to do perform a task.

    a study found that if someone was given a mind-numbing task to perform for an hour, they would be more likely to give a positive evaluation of the task if they are paid $1 at the end of it vs. $20

    what does this mean? (and now for the unpopular opinion) DON'T REWARD THE COMMUNITY AT ALL . . . but if you must, make sure the "recognition" is more a 'pat on the back' or a cheap, crappy, low-level gifts etc... if you "pay" people too much to do this stuff, you're likely to extinguish the behavior or be stuck paying these people

    just so you know that there's SOME validity to ny little stories, I've got an undergraduate degree in psychology from Carleton University (Ottawa) the annecdotes are ones that i remember off the top of my head from classes

    and i'm NOT an anonymous coward ... i just don't have my password at home
    - Sheik Yerboutii

  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:24AM (#1413665) Homepage Journal
    Heh.. I don't think they'd have any monetary value, really.. If I were to receive, say a nicely lithographed Intel stock cert, it would go in a frame. Serve as a reminder saying 'Hey, people really appreciated me fixing that timeout problem on the new Intel Pro II 10/100. That feels good.'

    Plus it would have great geek value. "Hey, Jim. Why do you have a single share of IBM stock hanging in your cube?" "Fixed a really gnarly bug in the virtual network drivers for the 390."
  • Most manufacturers don't even take the first step to help developers, which is document their hardware. That way, the developers can achieve their primary goal, which is to get hardware working with their system.

    Secondary to that, I and other developers would feel rewarded if the company's policies were in general supportive of free software - for example, their patent policy - do they use patents abusively? Are they willing to blanket-license their patents for use in GPL code? That's more important than my personal credit.

    Regarding personal credit, most developers are satisfied to have their name attached to code where the other developers can see it. A "credits" file is nice, and it makes sense for large projects like the Linux kernel where there would otherwise be a different name every two lines of code. For smaller projects, it's nice to have a credits file on your web site and distributed with your software in its documentation directory, but it's optional.

    If your developer liason is able to seed effective developers with new hardware versions, they'll appreciate that and you will get more help for your efforts.



  • If a company wishes to encourage certain behaviour which is beneficial to its business activities, there are a number of things they can do (including non-monetary rewards). Take a look at how some of the more innovative companies operate and feel free to toss in your ideas.

    - (Wall Street bonus pool) announce that a certain percentage of sales will go into a bonus pool which would be divied up to customers (and internal staff) that contributed good suggestions (sorta the hi-tech equivalent of cereal prize-draws)

    - (philosopher in residence/patronage) announce that the best person has been selected to serve as some honorary role in independent committee/oversight e.g. Stallman or Bruce Perens

    - (MLM) offer freebies like tickets to a MICE (meeting/incentive/convention/exhibition) the company sponsors or open tour of their labs to meet the principles. Good for identifying good techies with potential on reducing recruitment costs (see those OpenSource projects can come in useful afterall)

    - (SGI) offer to sponsor OpenSource projects that puts the client in charge. If motivating geeks is akin to herding cats, the smart money goes to whoever provides the best catnip.

    - offer to fund downstream activities or co-marketing strategies (e.g. VTK and add-on modules) or even provide small research funds to help them along. This requires some degree of trust which may not always be available in PHB managers.

    - include their names prominently in internal newsletters or external reports (peer recognition). This is based on the observation that in today's celebrity driven world, fame is harder to achieve than money.

    It should be noted that many OpenSource projects are merely concentrations of dedicated users. Enlightened alpha-architects (e.g. Perl community) that aim to empower the end-user create a win-win situation for everyone provided they don't attempt to be greedy and screw the staff/users over because the prime users are just as clueful (if not smarter) than the original programmers.

  • by knurr ( 161310 )
    I would like a small grant for my education, metions of a website so that possible employers could veiw it as a refrence. Thats all
  • There is..

    grep -cir [your name] /usr/src/linux/*
  • If the work preformed justifies the reward the following are so simple but nice ways to do it.
    1. Write a letter of commendation praising the excellent work done.Here's the trick don't use a form letter take the time to write one and actually sign it.
    2. Have the the big wig boss make a personal apperance and thank the individual personally in a public forum. Nothing was a bigger head rush than the CEO of a major stock firm personally telling me he had heard about the work I had done and very pleased with the results at a major shindig. I was also told my contract would be renewed with an increase.
    3. Money, This is always well received and fits all sizes. Stock options are ok but the consultant may also recognize that the company is going down the drain no matter how nice his work is and stock options may be worthless next week. Also Gift certificates work if cash is to avant guard. Be classy with them, a nice resturant, Theater,ect.
    4. Referals, In a highly competive industry this may seem way out, but there are plenty of other businesses that work with other businesses in a symbitoc manner. The ISP buys there equipment from a supplier, Tell the supplier hey I have a great person doing some work for me, I think he can do great work for you.
    5. Hey about a nice break from work,I live in Florida did a job and as a bonus got four one day passes to Disney. It wasn't a trip to Tahiti but cool just the same.

    It is well and good that you want praise well done work never forger when doing that to add the personal touch of telling someone " You did a good job,and we appreciate that."
  • The best way for large corporations to thank free

    software developers is probably money. Think of

    it as patronage for the arts.

  • My suggestion to the Powers That Be was to offer credit on the web, some network interface cards, and perhaps a credit file along with the source code for the driver

    Doing that is like publishing a list of which engineers other companies should try to hire away and which to avoid, eventually leaving the company with a bunch of Ernies.

  • by goliard ( 46585 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @11:38AM (#1413673)

    In addition to many of the things already suggested, my recommendation is: recommendations.

    When one of those coders needs a new job or is applying to a school, they should be able to get a letter of recommendation from a contact they worked with in your corp, or be able to list that contact as a professional reference.

    Since they might not even think to ask (since you are neither employer nor teacher), take the initiative of offering this service to them.

    And if the coder says "Gee, thanks, but I don't plan on needing any recommendations in the next 6mos", say "OK, we'll write something up, for you to hold on to for when you do need it."

    Telling someone you think he's a great coder is nice. Telling potential employers/professors he's a great coder, now that's worth something!

  • I think this is great! I hope your company impliments recognition on website, and maybe in the future, give complimentory hardware to the top opensource performers (in regards to your stuff). Maybe provide an opensource mailing list where these people can ask your engineers questions/find specs for stuff they are working on. If your hardware is worth purchasing, I am confident that this "good will" would provide you with valuable input AND improve sales.
  • There's nothing more frustrating than trying to code for a piece of hardware that lacks documentation, especially if it's for a non-technical reason (like nondisclosure paranoia).

    These people wouldn't be volunteering patches if they didn't enjoy working with the stuff, and you could make it even more interesting by going out of your way to provide docs, specs, and development support. That's a good way to make sure that freelance developers stay loyal AND that your products are among the best supported.

    Some companies are already good about this, more of them aren't.

    Little-known but somewhat related fact: the Linux drivers for many 3Com cards are inferior to the Windows drivers, because 3Com declined to provide specifications for the "Parallel Tasking" feature of the cards. Open source drivers are forced to bypass this feature, resulting in lower performance.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'd rather have nics than money. I hate when the value of my contribution is measured in money. Honestly, you'd think we transformed into a capitalist society while I was napping.
  • The easiest way to get drivers for the latest greatest piece of hardware is just buying 2 of it and sending one to your favorite hacker.
  • Ahhh... but money is not the only intermediate. Surely a "reputation" can be just as handy. Take Linus for example. Do you think he'd ever have trouble finding a job? Funding for a project? Help with a project?

    Probably not.

    The nice thing about not using the government's intermediate for barter is that they don't charge you for using it.
  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Thursday December 28, 2000 @12:05PM (#1413679) Homepage
    I'll second what Bruce said. You want to reward the activity, not necessarily the people. So make it even easier the next time. Commit to sending some of those extremely valuable and rare pre-production prototypes to free software developers (presumably but not necessarily the same people who helped you this time). Put your hardware documentation up on the web in a .PDF file.

    That should be step #0, even before you think about rewarding the current effort. If you think that what happened now was good, then Make Sure It Happens Again. Even better, make a big stink about it. Tell everyone "Hey, we worked with free software developers [insert names here], and we got these drivers for it."

    Because there's still a lot of advocacy needed. For example, I bought an IOMagic digital camera. Serial port interface. No hardware documentation, though.
  • there may be other ways to thank developers that we haven't thought of

    Bill Gates thought of many thousands of really great ways to thank his developers year after year.

    Nevermind easter eggs and trinkets. Give me a cut of the gross.

  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @12:06PM (#1413681)
    Absolutely! Give away some of the cards that you want drivers for to the people who have shown te ability to do the job. I can't think of a better way for both parties to get something they want. If you have one or two key people who are really helping, consider hiring them. Keep the contract open source friendly. They agree to work for you writing drivers for your hardware, but the drivers themselves remain open source. Such things have happened before. The amount of the incentive depends on the amount of work and its value.
  • Yeh, D00D, ping me. I've got one of those new Anonymous Coward NICs in my box.
  • by brokeninside ( 34168 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @12:08PM (#1413683)
    a study found that if someone was given a mind-numbing task to perform for an hour, they would be more likely to give a positive evaluation of the task if they are paid $1 at the end of it vs. $20

    You are not remembering significant details of this study. Volunteers were drafted for an "exciting and interesting" study. The volunteers were told by the subjects just before them about how interesting the study was. The subjects were then giving a boring and repetitive task to do. After rating the task on how interesting it was, the subjects were either given $1 or $20 to hang around to tell the next subject how interesting the task was.

    In follow up interviews, the people that were paid $1 rated the boring and repetitive task as being more interesting than they did in their original evaluations.

    Dissonance theory explains the behavior because the people that were paid $20 felt justified in lying about how interesting the task was because they were paid quite well to lie. The people that were paid only $1 did not have a good justification for lying, so their brain went into revision mode to overcome cognitive dissonance. These people remembered the task as being more interesting because they didn't want to think of themselves as liars.

    Therefore, companies that have boring open source projects to work on, should give minimal rewards to open source hackers to recruit other hackers by telling them how interesting the boring coding is. ;^O

    have a day,


    1. Make sure you spell their name correctly in any publication.
    2. Never publish their email address in an unmangled form.
  • Uh I wonder how anti patent some of you would be if you could get an upfront cash award + royalties.
  • -developers love cookies.
    -I wrote some Perl script once and someone could maintain it after I wrote it and they gave me a cookie.
    -It was a Chips Ahoy! Possibly a Famous Amos.

    mmmm cookie

  • your being paid to do that right? So that's your job. If you just walked into a company and did that for free they would want to give you some reconization for it because they aren't paying you
  • I just got the best idea for giving credit to a coder where credit is not traditionally given. Create a 2x2 pixel magic dot, hide it somewhere incredibly obscure in the application, and allow the user to use this dot in conjunction with 2 other items to enter a secret "room" or area in the program that credits said coder.

    I have this sinking feeling it would be considered cool for years to come....

  • Have a star [] named after them. That way they can look up and say, see that one's from IBM, that one from Intel....
  • It's better to reward the whole community, besides the person who wrote the thing. After all, the community raised these kids.

    So, fdisk the NT machine and install a free OS on it, and put a sticker that says, "thanks to xyz..."

    Or just throw 100 bucks at GNU with a thank you note.
  • (1) Beer.
    (2) Stock in MSFT.
  • Were it the Pentium 4, I think it would be called the "Alan Smithee []"...

    (end comment) */ }

  • Beer. Offer to buy the developer(s) beer. Maybe root beer for the less than drinking age people.

    I used to have a .sig...
    Where did I leave it?
  • Impliment a company policy that states that they will continue to provide open source drivers for all their hardware in the future. I think most developers would appreciate this and it would prove to those on the project that their contributions were more than just the one driver they were working one. They'll know they've helped the open source community as a whole.

    Oh yeah, give them coffee too. I hear they like that


  • Free hardware, although it is nice, if you consider the time needed to get said card working, you are paying a $$$ per hour rate approaching $0 an hour.

    Most of the people doing 'the opensource thing' are in it to scratch thier own itch. Mostly it is to have it work for themselves. Sometimes it is giving credit.

    If they ask for hardware, and have done something for you in the past, give them more hardware so these past workers can be your future workers. Stroke thier ego with a credit or 2 in a file. Such gestures can only effect your bottom line in a positive manner.

    But, consider making your drivers under a license that is useable by EVERYONE. I note how you mention Linux, and ignored BSD. By slapping a GPL license on your code, or some other license not compatibile with BSD, you lock out the BSD users, forcing someone to re-write the driver so it *IS* compatible with BSD licencing. If you are worried about your competition 'taking' your driver code, guess what....the GPL or any other license does not STOP someone from 'taking' your ideas as expressed in code. So why not make sure your code works with the 20% of the open source OS market you otherwise ignore if you don't license your code under a BSD compatible license.

  • How about it show your initials after the user destroys all his cities without firing a shot?
  • God forbid they would thank the hard-working folks who _ACTUALLY_ run the service. Thanks Eddie, the about box in Beta8 was everything you said it would be! :-)

  • I always tell people "get 100Mbps ethernet now, because you won't want to have to replace it later," but does anyone listen? No....
    Genius dies of the same blow that destroys liberty.
  • Are you sure you want your name on products you don't control? The headlines: "Today, thousands of Martin CPUs were racalled after a problem was discovered. Apparently, someone forgot to upload the whole floating-point division table..."
    Genius dies of the same blow that destroys liberty.
  • Most credit goes "unwritten" and hence can be withdrawn at any time -- especially if the manager on the project moves on to another company. Having a sequence of credit memos in your file; ones which you can take with you on job interviews both internally and externally is an execelent compensation since it enables you to work on more projects which personally interest you.
    If you are interviewing which would you rather have, someone with 10 signed memos of recommendation from various managers or someone with a long resume listing phone numbers of managers who have moved on....
  • If you leave the company and the product turns to garbage, do you want your name associated with it?

    So choose the name that'll go in the credits.

    Harlan Ellison has a long history of using the pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird" when he feels that a studio has taken his magnificent script and turned it into dreck, as a way of letting people know that he wants to dissociate himself from the project.

    If this happened to you, you could have the company credit you as

  • by haid ( 252211 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @01:57PM (#1413702)
    In the early days of Java, Sun used to give out a T-shirt with their mascot "Duke" holding up a surf board with a spider on it, as thanks for finding a confirmed bug in Java. Within Sun, a big status thing used to be those leather jackets with the Java logo (which can be bought for some $200 to $300) Put your logo on something that looks professional, and make it exclusive. Bingo, it gives thanks, and maximally targets an advertisement for the Tech crowd!
  • since money is out of the question, I think real estate is the next logical answer, then we could move on to jewlery. Good quality stuff, not cheap swamp land or glass that looks like diamonds.

    Or, the company could hold a pep rally, shave the programmers initials in everyone's heads, or tatoos, some people would prefer a tatoo. Let it be their choice, after all, we're not picky.

  • either give them updated versions of the hardware that they code for now (as and when it's available) or completly differnent stuff. This way, the coders think that they're getting something for nothing off of a cool manufacturer - but they'll have to keep the drivers maintained so that they're functional with the new hardware.
    everyone benefits.
  • But could we include the developers, the support staff, the production line workers, the people who box and ship, the sales people, the store help, where john q. public goes to get his new system? It takes a knowledgable staff to house the whole computer industry. Granted some of them don't know any thing about anything, so they get paid on what they know. Ultimately, I think the growth in the computer field should be extended to all parties who helped bring it there and will help to continue it's growth in the futrure.

    I have worked in customer service for a dot com company. When people call, they automatically think that you're going to spit out a magic answer to all of the problems they have right there on the phone. Some times it's possible. Some times it's just not feasable in a few minutes on the phone. So immediately it becomes your fault. Every thing is your problem now, not the consumers, so what do they do? Crouch themselves right over the top of you and let go of a few personal issues on you. Is it fair? Hell no. Is it fair when a programmer gets shat upon by a project leader? Hell no. Are we expected to take it? Why, of course. That's the nature of the company mindset. Sit down, shut up, do your work, you get paid and that's why they pay you. Any thing outside of that and they act like you just asked if you could put it in their wife while they are away on the next business trip.

    I realize that developers are who have brought us where we are. Every one who has worked in the computer industry has helped it get to where it is. People should be rewarded with what ever they see fit. Don't just hit them with one option. Let them choose from a list of kickbacks that the company is willing to dish out for added interest in the company and it's growth through development.

  • What about a version-level credits file with no email adresses listed? That sorta eliminates both problems, and can be helpful in showing who the guys that introduce misfeatures are. Whoops, there goes that idea...

    < tofuhead >

  • Didn't AOL have some problems last year with giving "gifts of appreciation" to volunteers? I would shy away from any kind of direct payment to the developers for this reason.

    If your company really wants to give a gift to reward development of open-source software, how about opening some of the specs and documenting the hardware/software developed in-house for the open source community at large to enjoy.

  • That reminds me of Donald Knuth's $2.56 checks, another great idea.
  • Hardware? Written recognition? Warm fuzzies?

    Nah. This stuff might sound good to somebody still living at home, but I work for money because I have bills to pay. When I am doing good stuff at work, it is in order to get paid more. I do free stuff at home at night.
  • On a related not, speaking of keeping a contract open source friendly, this is an initiative started by the System Administrators Guild of Australia [] (of which I am a member). The Open Source Developer's Agreement [] "provides suggested variation to employment contracts that would allow employees to develop Open Source software without encumbrance from their employer, where there is no conflict of interest." (from the FAQ).
  • technos wrote:

    >"Hey, people really appreciated me fixing that
    >timeout problem on the new Intel Pro II 10/100."

    You did? Cool! Where can I get it? :-)
  • printf("Props to: %s\n%s\n%s", Joe Blow #1, Joe Blow #2, Joe Blow #3);
  • If my memory from the early DOS & Windows days is correct, your suggestion is actually why developers started seeing their names REMOVED from the software they created.

    For example, J. Random Hacker writes some slick code that goes into a package, that gathers a lot of attention. Because his name is in the software, his company's competitors chase after him, promising him two, three times his salary, months of vacation every year, any perks he wants to mention, all of that jazz.

    Not that I remember it ever happening, but many companies were afraid that it might, & kept their developers' names OFF of the packages. And only the folks who are into geek trivial pursuit could name the actual programmers who worked on Word 1.x, WordPefect 4.x, Lotus 123, dBase III, PC Tools, & other packages of that era.

    That was one reason that many of these packages had Easter Eggs in them: pride of accomplishment is a human trait, & these folks wanted some kind of credit for what they had made.

    The PTB need to realise that they need to show off their skilled coders & developers, not hide them in a back room & lock the door when people come by to admire their work, all the while muttering, ``Skilled programmers? We don't have any. Never seen any. Go away. Go hire some away from Microsoft."

  • Lots of beer and vodka

  • Dude, either (0) learn to read for content or (1) to pay attention to which post you Reply. Your post might have made some sense if the practice you criticized had actually been suggested in the post you replied to. Duh.

  • Imagine if the checkout girl at the supermarket or the guy that changes your oil at jiffy-lube started to demand 'recognition' or 'kudos' in addition to a totally reasonable paycheck ?

    They are not there to gain recognition, they are there to perform a job for which they are adequately compensated. I do not have the processing power in my brain to 'recognize' everyone however deserving.

    My conclusion, pay them more, and pay them more again everything else is just so much hot air and to be blunt, bullsh*t.

  • If they're nearby (which is far from guaranteed) then invite them to your Christmas party (or other such event). Obviously that's hard for people in other countries, (or even states) but free food and alcohol does wonders for me :)


  • If it is a driver for a card, certainly a copy of the nic, or what ever.

    If it is a printer, or something similar a bit more expensive, a discount or rebate coupon at their favorite geekstore or supplier. This would have to be known in advance.

    In a game, a copy of the Game at least, along with maybe putting a developers face on one of the NPCs, or whatever as appropriate.

    gee, I wonder if anyone has put BGs face on an NPC in some shooter?

  • My thoughts go back to those atom scale guitars that were in the news a few months back. You want to impress geeks? Etch their names, as small as possible, on to the edge of the chips themselves. Granted, with production costs, silicon real estate is at a premium but the whole point's to make it as small as possible.

    Imagine the geek kudos of being able to say, "I've got my name written on a chip and karma whored my way to a five on slashdot!"

    And the rest of us could just lie, "It's teeny, tiny, but it is my name. Honest!"

  • Recognition is reward in itself.

    After that, anything which helps to build a relationship between the developer and the company is a particularly good idea, as it is not only red-letter recognition, but it increases the likelyhood the programmer will do more work. Giving them new hardware & specs for more drivers is a clever idea. But I think all these things should be quite plainly gratis--you should go to some lengths to avoid giving the impression that you now expect something of the programmer, because that would destroy the hobby value. Hire her/him, or support him/her as a hobbyist (recognition, specs, source [w/liberal nda, if neccessary], hardware beta), but don't try to mix the two.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is an underwhelming desire by certain companies to leave developers anonymous. I think this is a disservice to the developer, other developers, other companies, and the company itself.

    Underlying theme: when a company doesn't recognize the efforts of an individual, ANYONE can take credit for the actions. I cannot count the times that slugs claimed they did the work when they weren't even capable. [But the company's neutral endorsement policy confirmed they were 'on' the project.] As a consequence, an amazing number of resumes are 'factually-challenged.'

    Credit where credit is EARNED!
  • A nice new bleeding edge computer, then another one to play with when I break, er, "improve" the first one. A fat connection to the internet backbone. The power to instantly order the execution of any server admin who has givin me problems. Making a hunting season just for script kiddies. A statue in my honor. The heads of all who oppose me on a platter. Dropping AOL into a big black hole, and then tossing the RIAA and MPAA after them. Outlawing pop music. A 40" monitor. A few words crediting me, such as "Dasunt is your god, worship him!" Public taunting of all who says Emacs is better then Vi! Making Linus Torvalds my pet coding monkey. Improving the drainage in the basement so that my pet coding monkeys don't get wet and catch a fatal disease. Designing a virus in my name that instantly kills anyone who types "First post" or any misspelling thereof. A hard disk drive measured in terabytes, whole numbers, with at least 2 digits. A small monetary contribution to my wealth that's about the size of a modest European nation's GNP. The space shuttle and a chauffer. Making Bill Gates the sole member of next season's Survivor, and forgetting to take him off the island after the show's over. Accurate ballot counting machines for Florida. Throwing all Cuban refugees back into the ocean, and adding any annoying relatives. Officially declaring Wisconsin hell. A fiber optic cable jacked directly into my brain. Last, but not least, a spell checker in slashcode. :)

    No, don't mark this as flamebait, its humor! Well, 'cept for the part about Emacs. Just Kidding! Honest! Can't you take some good nature teasing?
  • I did read it.

    You said -- in essense -- give the guys some credit, like a recommendation.

    I said -- in essense -- the corporations won't do this because they don't want anyone to know who their most valuable programmers are.

    Who's not reading whom?

  • And the funniest part, which still kills me when I think about it, is no matter how much I make per hour. I get more excited over dinky free hardware than I do a paycheck that could have purchased many times over what was given to me in hardware.
  • Eeeew, i know a lot of CEOs that i *really* don't want to hear singing... ;)

  • Doing that is like publishing a list of which engineers other companies should try to hire away and which to avoid, eventually leaving the company with a bunch of Ernies.

    Remember, these are open source developers who do not actually work for the company. The credits file would most likely be something like: "XYZ Corp would like to thank the following people for their invaluable contribution to this driver: ..."

    If this then gets used by a third company who is willing to hire you on the basis of your conribution so be it. If they are going to value you more than your current employer why shouldn't they try to head hunt you.

    You only get left with a company full of 'Ernies' if you do not value your good staff. The only companies I have worked at that were full of 'Ernies' deserved to be.

  • Wow, you know, I totally missed the part that said "open source developers".

    It looks like the moderators did too.... ;-)
  • Not that I remember it ever happening, but many companies were afraid that it might, & kept their developers' names OFF of the packages. And only the folks who are into geek trivial pursuit could name the actual programmers who worked on Word 1.x, WordPefect 4.x, Lotus 123, dBase III, PC Tools, & other packages of that era.

    That may well be when you are putting your own employees in the credits, but the suggestion is to put open source developers who do not work for your company in the credits. There is no comeback for the company if they mention 3 or 4 people outside their company who helped improve the product.

  • sing the GPL license's text to the "We Will Rock You" melody.

    How utterly bizarre... just as I finished reading that sentence, "We Will Rock You" started blaring out of a colleague's laptop (he was listening to an internet radio station). Freaky...

  • Surely I'm not the first, but I'll add to the masses: give them the latest hardware and they'll write device drivers for it.
    1. Have an Acknowledgement page on your company web site, where you list the name of the contributors and explain what they have achieved.
    2. Give the freedom to each contributor to include on the page a comment on the job they did, or are currently doing, or whatever.
  • by Servo ( 9177 )
    Dunno about AOL, but I know EverQuest had this problem, where the company demanded they volunteer lots of time, and then quit giving them free accounts and such.
  • I know that what would make me the happiest is if the company would keep the driver in the open source world. Also, if the company would throw a few more man-hours into helping open source projects, that would be nice, too.
  • I have no idea what Linus' visa status actually is, and I suspect he's already a US permanent resident, but if he wasn't he could easily qualify for permanent residence as an "alien of exceptional merit and ability". He doesn't have to rely on Transmeta for work permits.

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