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chromatic (983)

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Journal of chromatic (983)

Tuesday October 30, 2007
01:09 PM

On Gratitude

[ #34789 ]

I find it the height of arrogance to ask someone to do more work without offering him something in return.

Please change your free service, J. B. Rainsberger

I wonder if that rule applies to free software (Perl 6, Parrot, CPAN modules) as well.

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  • You have an extra comma in your hyperlink. Could you please rewrite it? :)

  • This guy's rant strikes me as pretty obnoxious.

    We don't know what the content of the emails in question was. It may very well have been, "Hi, I really enjoy reading your feed, it's full of really interesting stuff, but I tend to find that I skip everything classified X. Would it be possible for you to make two feeds, one for X and one for Y? I think other people would benefit from this."

    There is absolutely nothing arrogant about that email. The recipient is free to ignore it, to do what the sender asked
    • That's very true. "Please" offered in all sincerity goes a long way toward meliorating my desire to help people.

    • rjbs, I hope you don't mind my providing some context, because I don't think it's necessarily obnoxious to stand up for one's friend.

      I interpreted what Reg wrote as saying he was upset by receiving these requests, although I never confirmed that with him. He did say he was thinking of giving away less free stuff, so that was a pretty big clue. His follow-up, calling my remarks "refreshingly frank" further hinted to me that he saw me standing up for him, rather than overblowing the situation.

      I mention th

      • I judge from chromatic's response that he believes I'm hung up on money.

        Not one bit! I'm hung up on people who complain about release dates of free software they haven't even contributed gratitude toward. I can't remember you ever being in that category, so as far as I can remember you're a decent human being who wrote something I thought I could twist toward my nefarious purposes.

        • Aha! I understand better. Thanks, and oops. I read irony, but you were tenting your fingers.
      • I think it's arrogant to ask for more free stuff without offering something in return. To claim there is "absolutely nothing" arrogant about it seems to be a difficult position to defend. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I could have done a better job editing my comments, but the sentiment remains. To expect more free stuff from someone who already gives you a lot of really good free stuff is, well, not cool.

        I just think you're conflating two things that I think are distinct: asking for something and expecting something. I don't mind getting requests for free somethings, as long as they are not so frequent as to constitute a denial of service attack on my day. I just mind it when they have an implicit expectation that they will be granted. Those kinds of requests I expect only from my wife and employer.

  • A handful of times a year someone asks me for a new feature in one of my modules. About a third of the time I say "no, I think that's a bad idea, because [blah blah blah]". Another third of the time I say "no, I think that functionality would be better put in a subclass or a wrapper, here's the API you should use to talk to my code - and if my docs are unclear please let me know so I can fix that bug". And about a third of the time I say "great idea, here it is, please test". There's only something wron
    • ...And about a third of the time I say "great idea, here it is, please test". There's only something wrong with asking for something for free when you won't take no for an answer.

      Exactly. I think a lack of willingness to delete or ignore the stuff you don't want to read is pretty much the same as not taking no for an answer.

      How would you feel if someone asked you to remove a bunch of superfluous features from your module? (Your module is probably really good, so pretend you have superfluous features.)

      • If I agree that the feature is superfluous, then I might document it as being deprecated, make it spit out a warning (which can be turned off) and eventually remove the feature a few years down the line. In fact I'm about to do that with Number::Phone. But first I need to be convinced that it's superfluous. But merely saying that the feature can be implemented by the user with such-and-such a combination of calls to my other functions isn't enough to convince me. I need to be convinced that the feature
        • Thanks, but I didn't ask you what you would do; I asked you how it would make you feel. I can infer something from your response, but I'd rather not do that.
  • I think it absolutely applies to free software. If I want a new feature, I ask what I can do to help. It could be money, feedback, test cases, patches, pairing. There are a number things I can and do offer. Mostly, though, when a free software project releases new code, I just say "Thank you" in some way.
    • Mostly, though, when a free software project releases new code, I just say "Thank you" in some way.

      That's almost always more than sufficient. Certainly a sincere "thank you" motivates me as much as anything does.