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elliottback
elliottback

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[Link] Why I Don't Write Useful Software Unless You Pay Me

As of yesterday, there were a grand total of three sponsors for this person's work. THREE. As of today, this number is now 14; however this is no excuse. This person should be funded in a level that is appropriate for how critical log4j2 is used in the ecosystem. There is no excuse for this. This person's spare time passion project is responsible for half of the internet working the way it should. Vulnerable companies to this issue included Apple, Google, my cell phone carrier and basically everyone that uses JavaEE in its default configuration.

"Open Source" is Broken

Discussion (1)

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Jay Jeckel

Firstly, it is strongly frowned upon around here to post part of an article and hide the rest behind a link, though at least you're up front about it in your titles. Instead, you should also post the entire article here and set the article's canonical url to the article on your site so that searches point there. That way the users here don't have to jump through a link and you aren't treating this community as an SEO farm.

Anyway, to your article. You are wrong. Open Source is not broken. It is working in accord with the principles of gratis, free as in beer, and libre, free as in freedom, exactly as intended.

There is this culture of taking from open source without giving anything back.

Yes, this is a problem, but it is a problem with the corporate world, not with the Open Source world. And what companies should give back is time and code improvements, not money. They should learn to be good members of our community, we shouldn't give up our principles to become a shadow of them.

Now let's turn our eyes to log4j2. This project is effectively in the standard library for Java users. This library is so ingrained into modern Java that you'd expect the developers of it would be well-funded and not need to focus on anything else but that library, right?

Why would I expect the devs of a Free and Open Source project to be well-funded? That is the greed of the corporate mindset talking, that making a thing should lead to money and that more people using said thing should lead to even more money.

The simple fact is, if a person is expecting to make money off Open Source, then they're doing it wrong. If a person wants to make money, then they can keep their code all rights reserved or use a restrictive license or charge for hands-on support or build projects for clients (open source or otherwise) or do a hundred other things, but they shouldn't expect to have their FOSS cake and eat it to.

Open Source is about ensuring freedom for users, not about ensuring profits for developers. It's about what we can give back to the community that has given so much to every one of us, not about what we can get for ourselves. It is about sharing, because Sharing is Caring and there are few communities in the world that exemplify that virtue to as high a level as the Open Source community.

That's why I make software how and where I do. Like, no offense, but I really do not want to go unpaid for my efforts.

Cool, then we can assume you don't use any Open Source software without paying the creators? And you of course have gone back and paid money to every Open Source contributor and project that directly or indirectly helped along your path to being a programmer, right? You haven't used open resources to become a programmer and now decided to not give back, right? Because if you did, I think there is a word for that...

The existing leech culture of "Open Source" being a pool of free labor makes it hard for me to want to have my side projects be actually useful like that unless you pay me.

It's a Free and Open Source culture, it is by definition and design a "pool of free labor". Lose the free as in beer attitude and the free as in freedom philosophy won't be far behind. That's the thing with bringing money into the equation, sooner or later it will dominate the entire landscape. Look no farther than the internet itself, what was once a wonder of a medium for the free and open exchange of information has turned into a nickle and dimeing hellscape of greed, from the biggest corporation to the smallest influencer everyone now treats the net as place to bang out a buck.

That aside, your suggestion amounts to turning the pool of free labor into a pool of cheap labor. Personally, if the choice is principled free agent of the FOSS world or cheap whore to the corporate world, I'm going to go with the former every time.

There is a friend of mine who has been thanklessly maintaining an online radio station stack for a long time. He has been abused by his users. Users will throw 5 bucks in the tip jar and then get very angry when he doesn't drop everything and fix their incredibly specific problems on a moment's notice.

Yea, funny how quickly things turn toxic once someone starts throwing money around. And you want more of that infecting the community.

TL;DR: If you want me to make you useful software, pay me. If you use software made by others in their spare time and find it useful, pay them. This should not be a controversial opinion. This should not be a new thing. This should already be the state of the world and it is amazingly horrible for us to have the people that make the things that make our software work at all starve and beg for donations.

That isn't a new thing and before Open Source that was the state of the software world; everything cost money so those with money held all the strings. And you know what? That strategy failed and our strategy of gratis libre won hands down while also flattening the field so the poorest coding kid living in Dirthole, Nowhere has access to the same software as billion dollar corporations.

If you don't want to play in the Open Source pool, fine, no one is forcing you to, but don't tell us our community is broken when the only problem we have is that, after thoroughly stomping their for-profit closed-source butts, the corporate world is now doing everything it can to buy into what we're (metaphorically) selling.