The further consequences of free and cheap

The further consequences of free and cheap

I touched a little bit on this subject on the InWorldz blog in a post titled The hard thing about hosting things, but lately this has been coming up more and more, and I’m starting to get annoyed.

There are some very talented people in the OpenSim space. People with a wide range of skills from C++ development, C#, web development in PHP, node.js and other languages. The thing that all of them seem to have in common is that they have a passion for working on 3d software and simulations, but unfortunately we’ve found more and more that this passion and drive is being taken advantage of, and just like hosting prices in OpenSim, a lowest bidder mentality has emerged.

As a business owner and employee of small businesses, I learned a long time ago that when people don’t have to worry about paying their bills, they are more likely to be creative and solve problems in effective ways. They are loyal to your vision, and want to help see it through. They don’t have to seek out work elsewhere to make ends meet and they are appreciative of the sacrifices that you make for them.

Unfortunately the stories I’m hearing from people getting paid for OpenSim based work and from OpenSim grids paints a really disturbing picture of the way people are being used and led astray with promises.

The most recent I’ve heard is from an extremely talented software developer that is also serving as a systems administrator, a devops person, and someone that is constantly on call anytime something breaks. This person tells me that he calculated his effective hourly rate with this schedule and came up with a figure of $0.70/hr. $0.70/hr to be a software developer and systems administrator on call 24/7. No thanks, i’ll pass no matter what vague promises about the future you make to me.

Really? Is this the best that we can do? No wonder we have a hard time getting anything done and this space is considered a joke to many outsiders. I don’t think this particular joke is funny at all.

On a related note, I was just recently made aware of a comment that claimed an $800 bid to implement export, which requires BOTH viewer side and server side changes was “not great”. As if this bid to do custom software development on two separate platforms were easy and should pay minimum wage? What?

If you think paying $800 for software implementation is too much, maybe your business should be charging more to free up real money for the software development that it depends on. People’s time is not a charity to be exploited.

Software development charges from companies and independent contractors typically land in the $70 – $120/hr range. In my experience these are fair numbers, and when you pay a much much lower price to try to get the best deal, you end up getting what you pay for, and many times it’ll have to be completely redone later on. When you have to do something two and three times, the cheap rates end up not meaning very much.

So my final message is pretty simple. As we free up more cash to pay more people for their time, expect that the contractors you’re used to paying pennies to may end up finding their way over here. I won’t make any vague promises. I’ll ask them flat out what kind of compensation they think they need to complete a project and pay accordingly. I won’t put anyone on call 24/7 unless they’re being paid real wages. If they go over budget due to a bad estimate, we’ll work to make it right.

I actually like people. I want to see them succeed and be happy. Only when I see happy people working for us and alongside us do I know that we’ve truly succeeded.

One thought on “The further consequences of free and cheap

  1. Reblogged this on Living In Worldz and commented:
    This is a side of OpenSim not discussed as much, and although not directly related to just InWorldz, it is written by one of the founders and does discuss Mr. Daeschler ‘s thoughts on fair work pay in this field and it’s merits.

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