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Abusive user relationships in open source

I don’t think anybody can understate the value free and open source software has brought to the world at large, value which has largely been freely given with little expectation in return. The ubiquity of free and open source software seems to have fostered a sense of entitlement in the minds of some users. This presumption that free and open source software should do exactly what they expect it to do, and if not, that’s a problem that you the maintainer should address. I find this viewpoint to be not only incorrect, but abusive.

Today I stumbled into a ticket, wherein a user exclaimed, paraphrasing:

I love open source and I really like this tool, but the fact that this ticket is still open and not addressed makes it very hard for businesses to take open source software seriously.

This ticket isn’t asking for anything crazy, a number of proprietary tools already support this kind of functionality.

I must commend my colleague who handled this ticket very well and avoided what was my first gut reaction of “go fuck yourself.” The tone of the comment is one I frequently see from people who believe that they are entitled to something from the free and open source community. What makes this one particularly obnoxious to me is the passive aggressive tone, combined with the expectation that others should do some work for free.

For me, much of my free and open source work falls into one of two buckets:

  1. Passion-driven, I’m doing this for me. It’s not that I don’t care about people who might use it, but I don’t care that much about what those people might want.
  2. Work-driven, I’m contributing to this project because it directly relates to my professional work. This is usually the case when I’m making one-off pull requests to some upstream project.

At no point will I ever do what some random person on the internet asks me to, unless it fits into one of those two buckets. More generally speaking, if you want something done in a free and open source project you should either do it yourself, or pay somebody to implement what you want. Trying to shame others into doing your bidding is never appropriate.

We all have bills to pay,

fuck you, pay me