[nSLUG] Lock the door...

Aaron Spanik a.spanik at ns.sympatico.ca
Wed Jan 7 01:53:36 AST 2009

On Tue, 06 Jan 2009 09:31:01 -0400
David Potter <dlpotter at eastlink.ca> wrote:

> those damn users want more (functionality) !
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/cups-pdf/+bug/158406

I found the most entertaining part of this was that here was the Ubuntu
people being taken to task for the "lack of desired functionality" in a
piece of software they didn't write.  A piece of software that, upon
inspection of its home site, was clearly written by someone for a
specific purpose and, judging by the fact that development has ended,
meets that purpose sufficiently that the author no longer works on it.
Either that or the author no longer has use for it.  But he was kind
enough to contribute what he wrote to other people.

I hate the attitude of entitlement that is pervading the open-source
community.  It appears to boil down to, "The software isn't complete
until it does what I want it to do the way I want it to and as fast as
I want it to, but I am not going to contribute anything to it other
than this snarky 'bug report' describing exactly what I think is wrong
with it.  Now fix it."

The covenant of open source is, "here's the source, do what you like
with it, but share your changes back with everyone else," not, "here's
the software, tell us what's wrong with it and we'll fix it; we are
here to serve."  I know it's not nearly so cut and dried with large
projects with development teams and charters and such, but this is
clearly not such a case.

I've watched again and again as folks tromp onto a mailing list for a
great piece of software like Postfix or FreeRADIUS and demand that the
software be changed to suit their needs.  And nine times out of ten
it's because they didn't read the documentation or don't actually
understand the software or that what they're trying to do is
categorically wrong.  And nobody ever seems to get that the time taken
to vent a spleen repeatedly and heatedly on a mailing list could be
better spent actually reading the documentation, exploring the code, or
contributing to the project in a concrete manner.  Or even looking for

"But I'm not a coder," they cry.  There are other ways to contribute
(and I don't mean paying for it).

"But I don't have time," they moan.  Sympathy factor nil.  Most folks
writing open-source projects do so in their spare time, which they
don't usually have much of either.

"But this will make the software better; this is how it should be," they
claim.  Occasionally this works out for someone, but 99% of the time
there's a reason, often already discussed to death, why they're wrong
about that, too.

I'm ranting again, aren't I...whups.

Wietse Venema of Postfix fame and Alan deKok of FreeRADIUS fame are
often accused of having "bad attitudes" and being rude.  But subscribe
to either of those mailing lists and marvel at the things you see come
up again and again, day after day and week after week.  I would
completely lose my mind trying to deal with that.  And even sadder is
that equally as infrequently do you see a message saying, "Thanks for
all your hard work on a great piece of software."


Aaron Spanik
a.spanik at ns.sympatico.ca

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