> You're charging a lot to deal with it, which incentivizes clients to stop asking for it.
On the contrary, clients couldn't care less about how hard something is for us to do. Sure, if you're working for a creative agency and people are held back by the limitations of what they can accomplish when dealing with IE6 you'll notice a drop in morale, and in the quality of work that is produced, but ultimately the client does not care. Would you care if a plasterer said that plastering your ceiling would cost more because of the materials used? You'd still want it done, because the perceived value far outweighs the cost of doing the work.
Some of my employers' clients are large companies, with fairly large budgets and a good idea of what they want and what they need. As a result, despite charging a lot more for legacy browser development (easily over double, last time I checked) the client is fine with this. If the client believes they are earning £2k a month from IE6/7 users then charging £5k extra for a job that originally cost £2k isn't a problem for them.
> With the extra money you are charging, you can, if necessary, pay someone to fix bugs in jQuery that affect those clients' projects. You can contribute those patches back. Everyone wins.
Absolutely, and on occasion I've been lucky enough to contribute my findings from work to Stack Overflow, or directly to a broken open-source project. Hell, one of my best answers on Stack Overflow was as a result of fixing a problem at work that numerous others appear to have with a certain jQuery plugin.
However, this falls apart if you're working towards deadlines. The client often isn't going to wait very long for you to fix an issue in a product you use, and if they know that you're spending their time and money fixing a bug in a product you use the first thing they'll ask is "why don't you use something that works like [competitor]?". The reality of the situation is, like many others, when working towards a deadline with legacy browsers everything is a hack, and not a hack that we are necessarily proud of. I usually don't care what I publish, because work I'm proud of a few months ago looks inefficient or ugly to me now, and frankly I'm quite happy to have people criticise my code if they offer better solutions, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of people either won't publish their fixes, or would risk their jobs if they were found to be publishing code written on company time. I've worked for companies that would probably flip if they discovered that I had patched a plugin with code that I had written for one of the companies projects.
> I understand your emotional response to "losing" support for browsers, but this is not a story of open source failing you. You could have been paying for a proprietary library instead of using jQuery. jQuery has already saved you thousands by being free. You don't get to dictate the project's direction, but you have lots of savings ready to patch it as needed.
A developers emotions are different to the "emotions" of a company or a client. A developer is more likely to understand the rationale of this decision, whereas a company or a client won't care. All they want is a working product as quickly and as cheaply as possible.