The open source community's goals are in general not altruistic, or at least not necessarily so. We have a classic multiperson prisoners' dilemma here (it is a dominant strategy, or nearly so, for everyone to free ride) with substantial beneficial externalities to choosing the dominated strategy. These beneficial externalities are especially strong because of the network effects.
It started off, as most threads do, as a fair innocuous question; I was doing some research for a book I'm working on (more on that soon…) and needed to know about one aspect of Perl 6 regular expression syntax.
Yesterday, Oxford played host to the Colorectal Cancer Roadshow.