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Moral obligations of Free Software authors? (complete.org)
21 points by alexkay on Apr 20, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments

I find "That is a wonderful idea. You can either clone the repository and make it yourself or, in the alternative, pay my consulting rate and I'll do it for you." solves 99% of my problems with the OSS entitlement mentality.

Free == Freedom to walk away from maintaining the damn thing. If other people can't be bothered to contribute, that's tough. A few dollars in the tip jar hardly counts, given what most coders could charge for their time and expertise.

I've given up writing free software since too many people want a free ride. Even after telling them "I have no interest in helping you fix your Linux installation on the way to making the software work", or "It wasn't designed to run with sqlite, only MySQL, and I have no time to change that", people keep keep keep coming back and demanding more time. "Which part of 'no' did you not understand?"

If an ecosystem doesn't develop around your software, if you have no other maintainers, and if you have a life, you should probably just leave it.


E.g. The ludicrous bashing of Gruber for not maintaining Markdown for the purposes of StackOverflow by Atwood.


eh, if the users don't want to maintain it, and they don't want to pay you to maintain it, it won't get maintained. The same is true (only moreso) for commercial software.

It's an interesting question. Probably falls under the "teach a man to fish..." adage nicely. If you provide a functional tool that has reached the goals you set for it where's the obligation? Exotic features that are outside of your goals simply do not benefit your interests in the project. Someone has to make it worth your time and effort to continue otherwise you've provided a good platform that seems to be well documented and capable of being taken over by another interested party. If that never happens then you're probably right that the project is finished. Maybe find similar active projects to steer your users towards.

I'd say the most important moral obligation of a free software author is to not waste people's time. The primary way to not waste people's time is to be accurate about claims you make regarding your software.

For instance, if your site says that your software does X, and points to a "Howto do X" document you wrote--and that document is actually for an earlier version of the software and fundamentally won't work with the current version, and it won't be apparent that its fundamentally broken until after I've spend several hours going through the tricky steps of the Howto document--then you have wasted my time.

I think this is pretty simple. Either they pay, or you have no obligation.

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