The cost of free PostgreSQL publicity

The software license PostgreSQL is released under makes it extremely
friendly to businesses who would like to use the database in commercial
products.  Partly as a result of this, a significant amount of
PostgreSQL development is donated by companies who sell products derived
from the database (even entire forks of
the source code
).  Normally this feedback loop works well:  companies
are able to take the free community PostgreSQL, sell it along with
services, customization, or add-ons, and some portion of those sales
ends up driving development that flows back improving PostgreSQL itself.

Because of this synergy, the PostgreSQL community tries to be friendly
to software and businesses built around the database, the entirety of
which is sometimes referred to as the “PostgreSQL ecosystem”.
Businesses who offer PostgreSQL related services are provided several
free venues for talking about their products, including:

  • E-mail promotion sent to the popular pgsql-announce mailing list
  • Mentions in the PostgreSQL Weekly News, which is syndicated to
    pgsql-announce and to Planet PostgreSQL.
  • Product and business news posted to the front of the site
  • Announcements of both events and training classes to the PostgreSQL site
  • Listing in the directories for Professional
    , Hosting, and the
    Software Catalogue
  • Syndication of your PostgreSQL related blog onto the Planet PostgreSQL blog aggregation site

As a community project, the work around keeping all this infrastructure
going is done by a group of volunteers, who are often themselves funded
by commercial companies.  In addition to things like keeping the servers running, each of these resources has a set of moderators who help decide
whether submitted content meets the requirements and standards for its
inclusion.  Moderation is a pretty thankless job where there’s little
positive feedback, just complaints if people don’t agree with you.
There are two main sides to how moderation is kept fair and even.

The policies are written down
and continuously improved so they are clear to submitters and
moderators.  News and
Events Approval Policy
covers the things that go onto the main page, as well as pgsql-announce.  Professional
Services and Hosting Services has its own slightly different policy.
And Planet PostgreSQL has its
own policy

The other side here is that the nature of the moderation work tends to
attract people who have interest in making sure it’s done fairly to
their own businesses.  Accordingly, the “voting” that may occur
around policy decisions (it’s rarely that formal) is done by a mixed group of people who want to
make sure the PostgreSQL community plays well with commercial
companies.  You’ll find myself and other members of 2ndQuadrant doing
moderation duties, Dave Page and other EnterpriseDB staff handling both
moderation and infrastructure duties, and a long list of similarly well
known PostgreSQL contributors–a set cutting across companies all over the
world.  And all people who are well aware it’s important to keep a
balance between the open-source community at the center of PostgreSQL
and its surrounding commercial ecosystem.

The end result is that when someone does something that’s against one of
the community policies, the normal reaction is agreement from all
involved about at least the general way to handle it.  Spammers and
similar plagues upon the world are banned outright.  Recognized
community contributors who have run afoul of one policy are normally
suspended from access to that resource for a period of time based on the
severity of their offense.  The exact response varies on a case by case
basis.  But you can be sure that the decisions are being made by a jury
of your peers:  contributors to the PostgreSQL community who also
understand the value of businesses to that community, and who are trying
to keep both sides of that relationship as positive as possible.

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