I was just reading this inspiring article called Five things Free Software taught me. One of the things that stuck with me is the idea that knowledge tends to spread, beyond any obstacle.
So instead of working to prevent this spread, why not encourage it? Why not get the ideas, capabilities, and functionality of any given piece of software out to as many people as possible and kindle the flame? There are many ways to make money, so why choose a method that requires investing just as much time and effort into making software that lots of people want to use as trying to prevent the usage of said software? It sounds counterintuitive and/or just plain stupid on paper, but is generally seen as the traditional and conservative way to do it. Physical products must be treated differently than knowledge.
In the WordPress world, people are constantly trying to find new business models that make sense in the context of GPL software. An interesting approach is the recently launched WP Questions site. Here’s how it works:
You ask a support question related to WordPress and put a price tag on it. Whoever answers your question gets that amount of money from you. Note that anyone can see the questions and the answers to them.*
What you’re paying for is not the knowledge itself – you could get that free of charge, by asking in the WordPress.org support forums. But by asking on WP Questions, you have a higher chance of getting a timely answer from one or more knowledgeable people, whereas in the WP.org forums your question could simply be overlooked or be given a half-baked answer.
I really think this could work. With the ever-growing user base of WordPress, a need for reliable, high-quality support is starting to appear. See WP Help Center for instance.
So what do you think? Will WP Questions still be here next year?
- …at least until an answer is approved. There’s a search field, but it would be nice if the site had a public archive of questions answered in the past.