The debate on open outsourcing points to critical issues in the spread of a knowledge economy or elements of it. Open code software is considered a way to foster intelligent, innovative and consumer-friendly use of Information and Communications Technology by doing away with big license fees and allowing tailor-made solutions by tweaking existing products. But there are challenges that arise from these same qualitites: poor standards and documentation, feature creep, complexities in licensing specific solutions. There is also a perception that open source isn't economically viable and is essentially a feel-good volunteer movement effected by people with time and money to spend. Open outsourcing addresses these technical and socioeconomic problems by allowing a vast bank of programmers from around the world, some with few resources but with skill to provide specific, directed solutions to companies using open source software. Programmers are remunerated, companies can use open source more productively, and the software is constantly reviewed.
Benefits of open outsourcing
Open outsourcing is especially beneficial on the user end for companies and individuals who have no technical expertise but need a certain solution or application to promote or make their business more efficient. They can't afford an IT department or even a specialist full-time, so freelance programmers, who could be based anywhere, can work on a contract basis to provide the solutions the company needs. Freelance programmers could have a broad base of experience to draw on, and perhaps even a readymade solution developed previously, or a bug fix used elsewhere. This benefits both the customer and the code, because directed custom-made development helps determine the current state of the software. There is no need for expensive and time-consuming documentation processes each time around, because the programmer can determine functionality by studying the code or is already experienced with it.
The single largest problem with open outsourcing is the tangle of licensing issues and legislation if the solutions being developed are for resale, or part of products that are themselves licensed or proprietary.
Outsourcing elicits strong opinions, but open outsourcing is a remarkable example of how programmers from third world countries, for example, can contribute to R&D in developed countries' knowledge economy, while all consumers, especially small or non-technical ones or again, those from developing countries, can have cheap access to custom-made solutions that improve their business, contributing to the economy at large.