I am a user of LaTeX for about two years and I can see that almost every package which exists for TeX is free and these packages are maintained perfectly; packages are updated regularly and new packages or classes are developed when needed.

Why people do such volunteer work? How do they benefit from the time they spend on creating and maintaining things related to TeX, LaTeX and friends? Do they do these just to have fun, fill their leisure time and learn something during the time they do not work or does working on these help people to develop their own business and work?

I know that every person may have his own reason to work on open source/free softwares, but how should I answer this question and convince somebody asking such question and thinks that it is just waste of time spending time on something which has not any financial benefit?

I personally really love TeX and LaTeX and spend some of my time learning about it but once somebody asked similar question and I had no answer to him.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Enthusiastic Engineer, egreg, Sean Allred, Maarten Dhondt, user13907 Jul 6 '15 at 18:40

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Personally I simply have fun working with LaTeX, it's very rare that I can pull financial benefits from working with LaTeX. It's the same kind of altruism that you find in most open source projects. – Uwe Ziegenhagen Jul 4 '15 at 15:23
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    Do you really believe that it is a waste of time to spend time on something when you don't get money from it? What would you do if you had enough money so that you don't have to work? Sitting the whole day in some chamber and stare into space? – Ulrike Fischer Jul 4 '15 at 15:37
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    I was tricked in to it, how do I get out? – David Carlisle Jul 4 '15 at 15:45
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    OTOH, the main reason I have never written a sty file is so that I don't have to maintain it. – John Kormylo Jul 4 '15 at 16:17
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    Some do streetwork to help kids in strange situations. Some are coaching a swimming team. Some help out in the local community, a homeless shelter for example. Some do LaTeX support and dev. Some develop other free software. I think the world would be a real strange place if anybody would just do, what he is paid for. – Johannes_B Jul 4 '15 at 16:53

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