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The Role of Freeloaders In Open Source Communities

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the arm-extended-palm-splayed-upward dept.

Open Source 120

dp619 writes "The Outercurve Foundation has published a defense of freeloaders as part of a blog series on how businesses can participate in open source. '...in the end, it's all about freeloaders, but from the perspective that you want as many as possible. That means you're "doing it right" in developing a broad base of users by making their experience easy, making it easy for them to contribute, and ultimately to create an ecosystem that continues to sustain itself. Freeloaders are essential to the growth and success of every FOSS project.'"

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better euphemism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962713)

Freeloader!? We much prefer to be called a mitigating load suppressor.

Freeloaders (5, Insightful)

aXis100 (690904) | about 7 months ago | (#45962735)

Otherwise known as regular users???

Re:Freeloaders (5, Insightful)

dimko (1166489) | about 7 months ago | (#45962761)

Yeah, that's what assholes call us. If you don't like your user base - just don't open source your code, thank you very much,

Re:Freeloaders (0)

ccguy (1116865) | about 7 months ago | (#45963025)

Why? The reason to open source is (usually) to get more developers involved.

Re:Freeloaders (4, Informative)

dimko (1166489) | about 7 months ago | (#45963061)

Who, happen to be who? That's right, users(consumers)! :* At the end of the day, open source was made to attract people who can improve code, and in order for i to happend, they need to use code in the first place! Oh, and btw, you are also wong about developers. I am no developer, but I submit bugs to Firefox, etc, so I am part of development progress. I suggest ideas too! So define freeloader. User != freeloader. If I sugget someoen OSS, am I still freeloader? I do marketing for developer too?

Re:Freeloaders (3, Funny)

ccguy (1116865) | about 7 months ago | (#45963123)

Who, happen to be who? That's right, users(consumers)! :* At the end of the day, open source was made to attract people who can improve code, and in order for i to happend, they need to use code in the first place! Oh, and btw, you are also wong about developers. I am no developer, but I submit bugs to Firefox, etc, so I am part of development progress. I suggest ideas too! So define freeloader. User != freeloader. If I sugget someoen OSS, am I still freeloader? I do marketing for developer too?

I think the first thing you need to do is chill, then install a spell checker :-)

Re:Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963551)

I think you need to stop trolling, and use your brain, and stop harassing other people.

Re:Freeloaders (2)

uncqual (836337) | about 7 months ago | (#45965079)

Perhaps he had trouble finding an open source spell checker he could freeload off of without contributing in some way (and, seriously, would you want him contributing to the dictionary component of a spell checker anyway given your view of his unassisted spelling skills?).

Re:Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45965267)

Your comment has no content whatsoever. How do your foreign language skills compare to his, in case he isn't a native English speaker?

Re:Freeloaders (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 7 months ago | (#45963369)

"At the end of the day, open source was made to attract people who can improve code,"

actually 'free software' and 'open software' are two heads of the same dragon. and while an online community with much transparency has been spawned it was not the 'goal' of the developers. free software proponents are looking for a dragon that provides protection of their and their userbases needs from big everything, they don't want laws passed to require binary blobs to use a computer etc. open software typically means that this head of the dragon offers little protection from commercial exploitation and usually uses licenses that are non-free eg are not protected from reuse by closed software places. to confuse the issue people talk liberty and beer and which is free and for what reason. but no people looking for 'free' software do so with the intention of never losing the right to code their own application, their own way on their own hardware. free software is way more important to linux and the rest of the world than anything i can think of. it should be a basic human right to write software on computers. and that is what free software is all about.

Re: Freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963929)

Freeloader is in fact a very precisely defined term in economics. You may prefer the term "free rider", but it is simply someone who enjoys the benefits of an activity without paying for it. It's not inherently pejorative, it's a technical term. So yes, to an economist, most users of free and open source software are freeloaders.

Re:GNU Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45966085)

Only applies to GNU it would seem, not BSD...

Re:Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45966265)

Every single open-source maintainer I've ever corresponded with refutes your argument. They don't care a whit whether anyone uses their code. All they want is developers. They do not care whether the developers use the code, and they don't care about users at all.

At which point it's nothing more than wanking.

Re:Freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45966367)

Consider me the counter to your "every", then. I don't maintain anything big or fancy, but I don't want any developers committing to my project that don't use it. I've used software written by people who didn't use that software. It sucked, it was obvious why it sucked, and I don't want my project to end up like that.

Re:Freeloaders (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 7 months ago | (#45967059)

At the very least, people who use the product are advertising the product, even if just to their coworkers.

If I install MyNewDB, and explain to my coworkers or other IT people I know why it is so much better than MyOldDB, then I am contributing by spreading the word about how great MyNewDB is.

Re:Freeloaders (4, Interesting)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 months ago | (#45963105)

Not usually. A lot of open source (licensed as BSD or variations thereof) is about creating software that will get used EVERYWHERE, and discouraging competing projects that do the same task. The devs don't want more devs involved (if they did they should be using the GPL instead), what they want is to make it so that their software is basically the one and only correct way to do something, ie their vision is it. So they give their code away without any requirement to give back from anybody, or any requirement to improve it, etc. The reasoning is basically that if it's available and anybody can take it and rebrand it and sell it etc, then companies will do the math and won't build their own. So the BSD software "wins".

Re:Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963155)

Think about this but is has pervaded science and engineering. SAS SPSSS.

Re:Freeloaders (3, Informative)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#45965809)

Not usually. A lot of open source (licensed as BSD or variations thereof) is about creating software that will get used EVERYWHERE, and discouraging competing projects that do the same task. The devs don't want more devs involved (if they did they should be using the GPL instead), what they want is to make it so that their software is basically the one and only correct way to do something, ie their vision is it. So they give their code away without any requirement to give back from anybody, or any requirement to improve it, etc. The reasoning is basically that if it's available and anybody can take it and rebrand it and sell it etc, then companies will do the math and won't build their own. So the BSD software "wins".

It doesn't actually happen that way. The original project or code isn't used everywhere, just parts of it. It's not the BSD software that wins, it is the product that it is used in that wins. Apple's OS X is a prime example of this. FreeBSD and NetBSD didn't discourage competing projects by letting Apple use it, nor is everybody using the *BSDs (most OS X users don't even know about or care about the roots of their OS). Likewise, Linux being based on GPL doesn't seem to hamper Android being used everywhere.

In the end, there are many reasons why somebody might release under a particular type of license. Global domination, probably isn't the driving factor, though.

Re:Freeloaders (1)

mdielmann (514750) | about 7 months ago | (#45966301)

Think about this. This is what you want when you are building a standard. Think the TCP/IP stack. One of the consequences of this behaviour is that people can use these open standards in just about any environment, including Windows. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Re:Freeloaders (2)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 7 months ago | (#45963173)

Actually, the primary directive behind open source is peer review, which in turn produces better code. There will always be freeloaders, however these folks provide ideas for innovation and interoperability through feedback. Like it or not, freeloaders are a valued part of the open source community, Unix and TCP was hacked together a very long time ago because someone shared their source for peer review and interoperability, and discovered innovation.

Re:Freeloaders (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963323)

Actually, the primary directive behind open source is peer review, which in turn produces better code.

There is no such thing as a primary directive behind open source. Everyone who decides to release their source code does so for different reasons. Do not try to second guess what the intent of the license is.
Likewise, never assume that a "loophole" in a license is a bug or a flaw, most likely it is intentional and probably the reason to why the author chose that license over the million other licenses out there.
Also, respect the Beerware-license [wikipedia.org] it isn't a joke. Some people just value drinking beer with a stranger more than a small monetary compensation.

  * "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):
  * wrote this file. As long as you retain this notice you
  * can do whatever you want with this stuff. If we meet some day, and you think
  * this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return Poul-Henning Kamp
 

Re:Freeloaders (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963309)

I wonder how far any open source project would get, if the only people who could use it were the people who were developing it... no matter how free it was made.

At the end of the day, developers develop for users (yes, sometimes they also develop utilities for themselves... but mainly they develop solutions for other people to use).

Imagine if Linux could only be used on the computers of the people who are developing it... or Apache could only host sites that host Apache builds... etc.

Our users are what give our efforts legitimacy... when a million people have downloaded and use my software widget, it validates it value to them... which in turn gives my efforts a value. My widget's popularity attracts the interest of other developers who may recognise the same or further value that can be leveraged by adding their ideas and efforts. And so it goes on and on.

Re:Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45964217)

No, and I don't know who gave you that +1. Yay for slashdot going down the drain? People do it because they want their stuff's usefulness to be maximized. It's really quite as simple as that. The only person looking to herd developers in forcefully is rms.

Re:Freeloaders (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 7 months ago | (#45964711)

Developers tend to be attracted to interesting projects with a good user base. The more users you have, the more developers you attract.

Re:Freeloaders (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 7 months ago | (#45965327)

Why? The reason to open source is (usually) to get more developers involved.

But that's very narrowminded thinking. Think of it more like this:
For every 100 users, one might be a developer and for every 100 developers
one might contribute back so by increasing the total user base you do eventually
get more developers not to mention that the larger the user base the larger the
word of mouth and the more likely the developers you want hear about you.
Likewise if the freeloader is your current employer, when you move to a new company
which software will you recommend to your new employer who might not be a freeloader.

Re:Freeloaders (3, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | about 7 months ago | (#45963081)

The very topic is a BSD license vs GPL trolling deathmatch. Almost as if it were designed that way.

If the enemies of openness have developed this level of subtlety then they deserve recognition for their brilliance. It is a far cry from "Project Mojave" levels of stupid. Their products still suck, but at least they are learning to push the right buttons.

After fifteen years, an opnion (3, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 months ago | (#45963315)

Not only do the various licensing schemes for code, from open to proprietary, reflect the spectrum of human motives for coding (duh),
the sum is greater than the parts.
That is, we're better off with choices amongst the groupings of ScrewYou, BSD and GPL offerings in every category.
Licenses are merely another dimension of competition, and we see that played out in lower costs and improved capability.
Our chief challenge is to avoid implementing Big Brother HAL Skynet.

Re:After fifteen years, an opnion (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 7 months ago | (#45963373)

Dude, I love you but it might be time to talk to the doctor about your meds. You are going disjointed again.

Re:After fifteen years, an opnion (3, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 months ago | (#45963449)

I bitterly regret my outburst of Making You Think.

Re:After fifteen years, an opnion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45965115)

Shut the fuck up you filthy mexican sack of shit.

Re:Freeloaders (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about 7 months ago | (#45963289)

Yes.. that is right.

developers do not care about users. They are just a statistic that is needed to get to the very small percentage users that manage to report a good reproducable error report, create some overrated documentation.

And the stats are pretty accurate: for every 100 binary download there 1 one source download in my expierence. after that i am not sure who of those 1 percenta actually compile and look at the source.

Re:Freeloaders (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963353)

Otherwise known as regular users???

That used to be the difference between Linux and BSD. For some of the BSD crowd users were free-loaders and newbies were a useless annoyance. I still remember some BSD guy describing how it worked on the BSD forums. According to him newbies were first kindly instructed to p*** off and then screamed at if they didn't leave. The Linux people seemed to rate users/free-loaders as a measure of the success of FOSS and if you went to a forum and asked stupid newbie questions you would either be quietly ignored or, surprisingly often, somebody more knowledgeable would actually take pity on you and post an answer. For me Linux was the way to go because of the cooperative spirit of the Linux community. Learning Linux wasn't easy but least you usually didn't get yelled and screamed at.

I'm a FOSS developer (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 months ago | (#45963747)

Simply using a Linux-based router makes you a "freeloader" of hundreds (if not thousands) of FOSS projects you've never even heard of.

Statistically, even people like Linus are "freeloaders".

Re:I'm a FOSS developer (3, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 7 months ago | (#45964829)

Everyone of us is a freeloader. We use an alphabet we didn't invent, we use a language we didn't invent, we live in towns we didn't build, we live in states we didn't found, we are entitled rights we didn't fight for, we follow ethical principles we didn't think of ourselves etc.pp..

Re:I'm a FOSS developer (2)

Medievalist (16032) | about 7 months ago | (#45966081)

Everyone of us is a freeloader. We use an alphabet we didn't invent, we use a language we didn't invent, we live in towns we didn't build, we live in states we didn't found, we are entitled rights we didn't fight for, we follow ethical principles we didn't think of ourselves etc.pp..

You sound like some kind of OBAMA BIN BIDEN supporter - or worse yet, a HILLARY supporter - with your "we built it together" and "people working together can enrich us all" and "it takes a village" socialist political agenda. Why do you hate America? I bet you're a terrorist. Only a terrorist would use facts like you do. Patriots have ideology and don't need your terrorist facts [youtube.com] .

Re: Freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45964143)

To an economist, yes. This is an economic article, written by an economist. About economics. And to an economist, there is a technical term for someone who benefits from a service or product without paying. And that term is "freeloader".

Re:Freeloaders (1)

Mr. Droopy Drawers (215436) | about 7 months ago | (#45964347)

Agreed. Seems the author is confused between users and Freeloader, in the traditional sense. The Freeloaders are those that incorporate their code into their product and offer that for sale and don't contribute back to the open-source community.

In a certain product for sale, I know of just under 50 open source components (not including core linux) included. All the licenses are complied with. But, few get patches submitted upstream. Some bug reports though.

Does the community need this kind of freeloader? I think so. But, there should be some community responsibility to contribute financially if you're not contributing code.

Re:Freeloaders (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#45964365)

That was kind of my thinking.

If the ethos of open source software is "free software for the masses", WTF are you doing calling the people you want to be using your software 'freeloaders'?

If you're doing it right, you have a very large base of people who just want it to go and not know or care anything about code, a smaller base of people actively coding and enhancing, and a few people who occasionally find and fix an issue.

If free software/open source is going to start acting like these people are freeloaders, then they've missed the entire point.

You'll never get the Year of the Linux Desktop (or whatever) without a vast number of people who aren't contributing back to it -- and that's kind of the goal, isn't it?

Re:Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45966563)

No, I think they were referring to Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical.

Re:Freeloaders (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 7 months ago | (#45967401)

That's the point of the headline, summary, and article so you're triply redundant.
The audience of the article is business. Those that might release code as open, or might use open source. Most have at least one senior member that either doesn't get why releasing code is good, or using someone else's code is good. They will buy Unix instead of running linux.
Or if they release code, they expect code to be contributed back. Sometimes, like when no one cares to fix it, there is no code to give back.
Your post, and the dozen like it, are what happens when you preach to the choir and the choir preaches back. Understand the audience of any communication and there is knowledge to be gained. Not many articles are written for Slashdot readers, so you have to either be part of the intended audience, or put yourself in their shoes.

Not freeloaders (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 7 months ago | (#45962741)

They aren't "freeloaders". They're called "users". Without them, there's no point to creating software except for stuff you personally need. And there's more stuff you need than you have the time or the skill to create, so you will be one of those users a lot more often than you're a contributor. Users aren't a problem, they're the reason software exists in the first place.

Re:Not freeloaders (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962753)

In an ideal world, everyone who used software would be capable of modifying it. Improving software, and customizing it for one's own needs, would be a routine part of its use. Just because the paradigm has a sharp division between "users" and "programmers" does not mean that is the only way, or the best way, software can work.

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 7 months ago | (#45962827)

You probably are using a nuclear reactor (no, it's not in your back yard, but you're nonetheless using it by receiving the electric energy it produces). Do you know how to repair a nuclear reactor? Should you have to?

Re:Not freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962887)

I think it would be a good idea if nuclear reactors were "open source" (drawings. documentation, control software). More people could learn about them and problems would likely be spotted easier. The case of not being able to repair one has to do with the danger of handling fuel. It's probably a good thing that is regulated. But I don't understand your point. It has nothing to do with "should you have to?" and everything to do with "could you do it if you wanted to?".

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962937)

You know the meaning of "capable"? Just because I can buy a scalpel and a get a detailed description of what a surgeon does does not mean that I'm capable of doing surgery.

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

piripiri (1476949) | about 7 months ago | (#45964485)

No, but other people might.

Re:Not freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45967323)

Yes, we call them surgeons.

Re:Not freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962895)

True, and software that is user-extensible tends to be the most popular, whether you're talking about Emacs or MS Excel or Mozilla Firefox. Very often the divide between programmers/users is artificially imposed by the design of the software: one shouldn't need to be a master C++ engineer to accomplish what you need to do. This is one thing both Unix (shell) and Microsoft got right: providing friendly interfaces to various internals.

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

syockit (1480393) | about 7 months ago | (#45963033)

You have a very interesting definition of "most popular".

MS Excel is indeed popular, but I think it's rather due to its level of polishedness rather than customizability. (Unless you consider cell formulas as customizability as well)

Re:Not freeloaders (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963099)

Excel comes with it's own IDE and a huge portion of the world runs on top of it, you ignoramus.

Re:Not freeloaders (1, Informative)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | about 7 months ago | (#45963149)

The ability for pretty much anybody to learn Excel, to interface it with a database (with, admittedly, a little help from their local friendly IT guy), to build An entire damned RPG inside a spreadsheet [arstechnica.com] is a pretty good case for defining the most popular, user extensible, spreadsheeting application on the market as Microsoft's Excel. There are a number of reasons Microsoft is big in corporate - Excel is right up there with Active Directory and the OS GUI.

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962985)

You could probably rephrase that as in an ideal world everybody should be capable of doing everything. But our world isn't ideal and specialization is the one thing that has made humanity go forward with extreme speed in the last centuries.

In a world where the ability to grasp abstract concepts, logic is something not everyone is comfortable with and the skill of expressing yourself well in artificial languages is rare, software engineering is not something for everyone.

So even if you dream of such an ideal world, we don't live in one and we will never live in one. Is it worth discussing of a hypothetical case instead of focusing on what is real?

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962995)

Exactly, there are limits to peoples abilities. Some are good at coding, some are good at using the program to do what it's supposed to do, and most people aren't good at those things because they have other things they have had to focus.

Re:Not freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962965)

Users aren't a problem,

...except when they're between keyboards and chairs.

--
PEBKAC.

Re:Not freeloaders (4, Insightful)

bug1 (96678) | about 7 months ago | (#45963015)

Users are freeloaders if they are ideologically opposed to contributing or participating in the community.

If people dont contribute because they dont know how, but would like to, then that fine, maybe one day they will be able to. Nothing to lose, everythign to gain by havign them around.

If people (or more likely corporations) are ideologically opposed to contributing back to the communtiy because they dont want to mix "their valuable IP" with the communities IP then are a dead weight to us. We would be much better off pushing them to use inferior proprietary software so their competitors who arent so short sighted can win.

[end rant]

Re:Not freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963119)

Don't open source if you don't want to deal with free loaders.

Then you can bitch and moan about pirates.

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 7 months ago | (#45963765)

Then you can bitch and moan about pirates.

Don't you mean bitch and moan about freeloaders?

Re:Not freeloaders (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963541)

Not really, assuming this reluctance to contribute back doesn't extend to bug reports.

Just using the software and reporting bugs is valuable.

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

bug1 (96678) | about 7 months ago | (#45963615)

Yea, thats a fair point. "freeloaders" do have a self interest to provide constructive criticism to their suppliers irrespective of the conditions under which where provided the goods.

Re:Not freeloaders (2)

mdielmann (514750) | about 7 months ago | (#45966357)

Likewise, developers benefit from the extended 'debug phase' such users can provide. And note that they might look like freeloaders to you, but you can't tell from their usage behaviour whether or not they're promoting your software when someone mentions a need that your product solves.

In other words, you're far better off to treat 'freeloaders' as valuable users than to treat them as a drain on your resources.

No, they're still bringing value to the project (2)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 months ago | (#45963699)

If people (or more likely corporations) are ideologically opposed to contributing back to the communtiy because they dont want to mix "their valuable IP" with the communities IP then are a dead weight to us.

And yet even there they are doing something good by using it. This is especially true of FOSS frameworks, libraries, etc. The more jobs that use them, the more value knowing the work becomes and that means you attract more potential contributors. Besides, at some point you run into situations like when Microsoft decided to add intellisense support to jQuery and build solid support into Visual Studio. Then a lot of these people suddenly stiffen up when a company with that clout decides to throw in some of its IP lot with the project.

Re:No, they're still bringing value to the project (1)

Iskender (1040286) | about 7 months ago | (#45963885)

If people (or more likely corporations) are ideologically opposed to contributing back to the communtiy because they dont want to mix "their valuable IP" with the communities IP then are a dead weight to us.

And yet even there they are doing something good by using it. This is especially true of FOSS frameworks, libraries, etc. The more jobs that use them, the more value knowing the work becomes and that means you attract more potential contributors. Besides, at some point you run into situations like when Microsoft decided to add intellisense support to jQuery and build solid support into Visual Studio. Then a lot of these people suddenly stiffen up when a company with that clout decides to throw in some of its IP lot with the project.

I agree 100%: just look at Photoshop. Imagine where it would be today had Adobe somehow managed to eliminate all piracy. The answer is, probably in pro use, like it is now. But normal people would have needed something else, and that would have been a competitor. It could even have meant normal people using GIMP more. Who knows, maybe it could have been a blessing for GIMP, leading to more contributors, more pro-level features...

A big userbase makes software stronger. Who cares if some user has the wrong ideology, if he's using your software? Only those who break the license are a problem.

Re:No, they're still bringing value to the project (1)

bug1 (96678) | about 7 months ago | (#45963925)

And yet even there they are doing something good by using it. This is especially true of FOSS frameworks, libraries, etc. The more jobs that use them, the more value knowing the work becomes and that means you attract more potential contributors.

A corporation uses free software and is committed to not contribute anything back (freeloading), yet one of their workers does so in their own time (contirbuting).

In that case the company has unknowingly contributed to free software in the way of promotional work, but that has to be weighed against the damage they do to free software by trying to prevent their workers contributing in the first place.

Re:Not freeloaders (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 7 months ago | (#45966071)

While I understand your distinction of freeloaders who are ideologically opposed to contributing, I would hesitate very much to push them to use their own proprietary software.

One of the many benefits of open source is that you can get common implementations, which makes interoperability so much better. It also means you do get newer and better products for society as they're not spending time rebuilding the wheel.

Re:C or C++ or ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45966237)

Programming Language is important because there are better one to use to contribute!

beta testers (2)

RamiKro (3019255) | about 7 months ago | (#45963429)

"Freeloaders"? "Users"? Try unpaid beta testers.
.
.
.
Provided your business model is support and\or infrastructure of course...

Re: Not freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963953)

To an economist, by definition, they're mostly freeloaders. It's not an insult, it's a technical term. Would "free rider" make you feel better?

Re:Not freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45964023)

Some open source projects are hostile towards users who want to participate. This can be rude behaviour on a forum (such as calling most questions "stupid"), high barriers for entering the project (like being approved by all devs; etc.) without possibilities for simple contributions (not every power users needs commit rights); and so on.

In these projects there the user is damned if he does not contribute ("You're a freeloader!") and damned if he DOES contribute ("You're contributions are stupid"). So, before calling users freeloaders, some projects need to look hard in the mirror. Fortunately, these projects are a minority - most OSS projects are good, warm and nice :-)

Freeloaders (3, Interesting)

jalet (36114) | about 7 months ago | (#45962791)

There are two kinds of them : the one who complains for any reason and often doesn't even know why, wasting coders' time, and the one who sends logically articulated problem reports (not necessarily in a bug tracker), helping coders to improve their software.

Re:Freeloaders (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#45962925)

There are two kinds of them : the one who complains for any reason and often doesn't even know why, wasting coders' time, and the one who sends logically articulated problem reports (not necessarily in a bug tracker), helping coders to improve their software.

Three kinds - the I expect the most common user is probably one who doesn't report anything but just uses the features that work.

Re:Freeloaders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963041)

No, five kinds.

The MOST common user is the one that complains that the software does not work like some unspecified Windows application works, and is distressed because it's the one they're learned to use, by rote.

The last category, fortunately, is quite rare. It's the type of person who has heard about some bug, but either not heard or not interested in its details, but now wants the developers to devote all their time into investigating this, BEFORE the complaining user might run into it. Except that the reporter does not actually use the software themselves.

These are both best calmed down with gentle lies, then ignored forever. Any intelligent discussion is impossible; they just don't have the mental capacity.

Re:Freeloaders (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#45963065)

The last category, fortunately, is quite rare. It's the type of person who has heard about some bug, but either not heard or not interested in its details, but now wants the developers to devote all their time into investigating this, BEFORE the complaining user might run into it.

Yes - I've come across this .... I've heard that GIMP can't handle APNG files ... have you ever used APMG? .... No but .....

Re:Freeloaders (2)

shentino (1139071) | about 7 months ago | (#45963059)

In my opinion, diligent bug reporters aren't freeloaders. They are involuntary beta testers.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45962913)

if they are 'contributing' i don't think its fair to call them freeloaders

Implied corollary ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963019)

Freeloaders are then essential to the growth and success of every commercial closed source software project too. Because, if freeloaders are using FLOSS just like they use any closed, non-free software, then they provide essentially the same benefit to it if there is any.

However, commercial software has to walk the fine line or use some very selective enforcement to make freeloaders worthwhile to them. If there is none to actually pay the product, then the project dies anyway.

And thus here comes another implied corollary: FLOSS projects also dies if none supports it financially, and it will happen if all users are very satisfied with it and none needs anything mended. Good software just crystallizes as perfect gem frozen in time, and no life form thrives on it.

You believe in the Users? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963051)

Master Control Program's been snapping up all us Programs who believe.

outercurve ~ microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963055)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OuterCurve [wikipedia.org]

Read https://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/microsoft-codeplex-foundation [fsf.org]

Obviously one of their goals is to push "open source" at expense of free software.

"Freeloaders" might be useful but are they then freeloaders? The use might be publicity or bug reports, even code contributions. Of course they can also do harm but again the title might be misleading then. However, the goal of a free software project is not the large amount of its users but the unwavering freedom it gives its users. And even if your goal is to have the maximum amount of users, copyleft is the way as only it guarantees that your code will remain free (for the copyright term duration, which is quite a long time these days).

Freeloaders ... FYIGM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963103)

Fuck you, I got mine.

What's wrong, this is supposed to be the land of the free ...

the role of slashdot in mindphucking hypenosys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963139)

'everybody' must do it now? peddle deception for money & pretend that pretense is still good enough for us?

I scratched my itch. Here's how. (3, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about 7 months ago | (#45963157)

The publication of source code in the free software movement is not about receiving benefit in return directly. It's about helping others avoid the effort of solving the same problem. The goal is not fame, fortune, or accolades - just that it would be a waste for others to spend time re-solving the same problem when they could be about something more useful.

The notion of a freeloader is ridiculous. Let me give an example from the current real world. India just became Polio free. That means that you and your children are less likely to become victims of the Polio virus from that region. You are freeloading on their efforts to remove that virus from the world. You benefit from the effort of millions of impoverished women who carted their children to a medical center and stood half a day in the hot sun waiting to receive the vaccine for them and their families. You are a freeloader on the efforts of a woman who in her life could only hope to make a dollar a day and the stakes are the life and death of your children, their lack of exposure to one of the worst scourges Man has ever known. Did you give to polio relief efforts? Did you go and find them, and educate them about why they needed to suffer so much to get the vaccine? No.

In India and other parts of the world the last efforts to rid ourselves of this vile threat are opposed by armed men. Many have already lost their lives to innoculate children. If you would not be a freeloader carried on the back of the least woman in India then get busy earning your benefit. Put your money where your mouth is, or go to Pakistan and start giving shots to the children who might carry the disease that could disable your grandchildren if you don't act. Report back with your findings.

Aka users (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#45963225)

In open source communities the freeloaders are users.

Re:Aka users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45964169)

That explains a lot about the RTFM type of abuse and unfriendly user interface.

Freeloading (2)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#45963233)

Why is this specific to open-source?

Most of the software I use is freeware, actually, or not open-source. The fact is that I help those projects whenever I am able because I feel a "debt" to them that does not always have a direct monetary value (but I have donated to, and bought from, such projects because I want to support them).

The rule is simple: Help me, and I'll help you. It doesn't matter about being open-source - as such - if your software/service is useful and free, I will help you out. I will refer users to it (which could generate you ad revenue). I will send in helpful suggestions. I will even take off some of your support burden by helping your own users in your own forums (or even settings up my own for them!).

And it doesn't matter about your source code - nice as that is. I've even done this for major commercial companies selling educational software, for instance.

Help me, I'll help you.
Stiff me, and I'll only use you if I absolutely have to.

99.99% are freeloaders (4, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 7 months ago | (#45963299)

For every piece of open source software, 99.99% of the people who use it are end users who will never, ever look at the source code and who will never, ever contribute to it. Even active open source developers will never, ever contribute to most of the open source software out there.

So if you remove all the "freeloaders", most of the purpose of the software is gone. In the official GPL rationale, the whole purpose of the GPL is to make sure that the "freeloaders" cannot only use the software, but are free to modify it - without contributing anything. (Not that I agree with the rationale, because the percentage of end users who can actually take advantage of these rights is minuscule).

WMD based crown royal freeland freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963523)

talk about sucking US dry they (murderously) stole (this) land from the natives & rent it back to US proud (fake) heritage semi-chosens. all results are still motive based. watch the movie; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqUvhDG7x2E

Re:99.99% are freeloaders (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 months ago | (#45963951)

So if you remove all the "freeloaders", most of the purpose of the software is gone. In the official GPL rationale, the whole purpose of the GPL is to make sure that the "freeloaders" cannot only use the software, but are free to modify it - without contributing anything. (Not that I agree with the rationale, because the percentage of end users who can actually take advantage of these rights is minuscule).

Most people aren't auto mechanics either, but using third party repair shops and aftermarket parts is common. Everybody who's used a patched/forked version that the "main" project didn't like - anyone using x.org instead of xfree86 for example - has had benefit of the distribution right, which wouldn't exist without the modification right. I agree that without the distribution right your personal right to dig into the software and patch it is almost meaningless, but so is the distribution right without the ability to modify it - it'll just be mirrors. If you don't look at those two in context, you're missing the whole point.

Freeloader here - willing to help! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45963511)

Count me in! I am a freeloader, but willing to help. When do I start? I volunteer to: Put the permanent status bar back in FireFox so I don't need an extension. Get rid of Gnome 3 entirely. Revert the GIMP's atrocious Save As.../Export As... abomination. Oh, right, these projects are closed cluster****s, and don't want me to help. Sorry, I'll go back to being a freeloader now.

Re: Freeloader here - willing to help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45964041)

And good riddance.

Re:Freeloader here - willing to help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45964099)

The things you mentioned might be hard to get through anyway as they are not bug fixes or new features but you are trying to cram in your own design choices.

Re:Freeloader here - willing to help! (1)

mdielmann (514750) | about 7 months ago | (#45966451)

But let's be honest - Firefox has about a million config options hidden somewhere where it doesn't impact the UI in any meaningful way. And if a feature is restored, most of the code required to make it happen is already written. Presuming the code removed is of a reasonable size, adding it in is insignificant in the overall scheme of things. So why isn't it there?

Re:Freeloader here - willing to help! (1)

dargaud (518470) | about 7 months ago | (#45966763)

Revert the GIMP's atrocious Save As.../Export As... abomination.

I converted my family to Linux with little effort, but going from Paint Shop Pro to Gimp was the most painful. It takes a long time to have even a basic grasp of any graphics program; that's expected and OK. But when they did this modification, I wept. Try to explain to a bunch of 70 year old that, no they can't open a jpg, modify it and save anymore. They now open it, modify it, save, no, there's no save option. Why? OK, let's 'save as'. Well, even if I change the extension to jpg as I dutifully learned, it still refuses to save. Leave. OK, there's an export option. Let's do that. It's the wrong extension. Oh, and also the wrong directory. OK, now it's done, let's close the image. Why does it say "your image is not saved" ?!? Go ahead GIMP devels, explain your fucking rationale to a bunch of 70 year old. Or anybody for that matter.

Re:Freeloader here - willing to help! (1)

darnkitten (1533263) | about 7 months ago | (#45968303)

Put the permanent status bar back in FireFox so I don't need an extension

Have you tried Pale Moon? [palemoon.org] - It's a Windows-optimized version of Firefox (no version for Linux, more's the pity). The developer has reverted many of the "features" of Firefox's Australis, including the statusbar, and the community is fairly responsive and active. The developer even seems to hang around the forums occasionally. I expect, as the Firefox developers seem determined to turn Firefox into something that is Not-firefox, it will eventually become a fork when the codebases diverge too much.

Revert the GIMP's atrocious Save As.../Export As... abomination

I agree, though Iwouldn't quite call it an "abomination;" I see what they are trying to do. Unfortunately, it
a) feels like an "MS defaulting to DOCX in order to force people to use their new version" stunt;
b) turns off the "average user," who may not know the difference between save and export, and don't care; and
c) makes it harder for me to recommend it to new users, hand them a copy and expect them to "just use it."
It's true, unfortunately, that the GIMP team won't listen to constructive criticism.

As for Gnome, I switched to KDE after Gnome 3 and Unity and haven't gone back.

Looking back, I've jumped ship with Windows Firefox and with Gnome and I've stopped evangelizing the GIMP after unwelcome changes made all of them them harder to use. I love F/LOSS, but sometimes it's hard to participate when you know you're going to be ignored.

This article is very helpful. Thanks for sharing (1)

cedarhillbilly (940464) | about 7 months ago | (#45963585)

Maybe this will help people distinguish between participation in an organization (personal) and participation in a network or movement (virtual).

Solution to Freeloaders (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 months ago | (#45963731)

There's an obvious solution to stop people using your software without contributing (a.k.a. "freeloaders")... make your software crap.

A hypothetically perfect software would have only freeloaders and no developers, because none would be needed, because nothing could be improved.

Free as in... (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 7 months ago | (#45964233)

Free, as in jury duty, apparently.

Re:Free as in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45968431)

nullification is your friend.

The point (2)

PGC (880972) | about 7 months ago | (#45964509)

Isn't the whole point of creating software, so that it will be used ?

If the users contribute back, that's nice, but it's still an extra.

Of course, companies incorporating software into their products without adhering to the licenses is a whole other discussion, but I don't think that is what is being referred to as a 'Freeloader' here.

You mean feeloaders of free software? (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about 7 months ago | (#45965279)

If you provide free software, you should, you know, expect people to use it for free.

Of course, you might have users pay to use your open source software, but then they wouldn't be freeloaders, would they?

first pos5t!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45965747)

sorely diminished. JavLa IRC client Bottoms butt. Wipe the resignation

Patron, not freeloader (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#45965985)

The Free Dictionary defines a freeloader as "a person who habitually depends on the charity of others for food, shelter, etc." While there are many users of open source software, are they actually freeloaders? Do they actually depend on the charity of the developers? The definition implies that the freeloader gets something for nothing. But, if you submit bug reports, are you still a freeloader? If you participate in online forums, are you still a freeloader? If you promote the software in question to others, are you still a freeloader?

Put differently, just because open source software can very often be had without monetary cost, doesn't being an active member of the community count for something? Surely we aren't saying that everybody who isn't an actual developer is a freeloader?

When one checks a book out from the public library, they are a called a patron, not a freeloader. Maybe we should call those who support open source projects the same thing.

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