I don't often use my blog to rant about things but I am proper pissed off today and I am going to vent my spleen on the topic of open source.
Why am I pissed off? Well apart from the fact that I have a serious health issue that my GP won't refer me to the relevant clinic due to our primary care trust not willing to pay for the treatment I am getting more and more annoyed with open source coding and the numpties that contact me constantly asking me to do their work for them for free.
Don't get me wrong. From a coders point of view it is great to be able to take code from a wide variety of sources and then use it for free or more often than not tweak it to accommodate the changes you require for your own system. I have no problem with that aspect of it whatsoever. If I didn't want people to use my code I wouldn't have put it online for everyone to download.
However my inbox is a testimony to the fact that there seems to be a lot of people out there who
a) can't code.
b) expect you to do all their work for them for free.
I am pretty sure there are people all across the world (cough India) that are basically making a living by using other peoples code and then getting people to fix, upgrade, tweak and build all their work for them for diddly squat. These people really tweak my nips!
If you can't code and have put a stupid $50 bid on Rentacoder.com to develop a whole website by next week and expect me to do all your work for you just because you found a piece of my code that does 90% of what you need and you require the other 10% doing for free then you can take a running jump.
People like you are the reason good coders work 50 hour weeks for tech companies and then spent all their free time trying to come up with something that might make some money if the world of programming actually behaved like any other kind of market place.
From the point of view of actually making real money I cannot think of a worse idea f0r anyone than open source coding. Off the top of my head I cannot think of any other business model that acts in a similar way and leaves the person who produced the goods with bog all and the customer with all their hearts desire at a cost of zilch!
Giving your code away for free in the hope that people either donate you some money, hire your services on unrelated matters or if you have created an application pay for value added services is akin to a builder spending months building a house, giving it away to the owner for free and then hoping that the new occupants either throw a few quid your way out the kindness of their heart or hire you to build them an extension.
What grates me the most however is the non coders who take all the hard work that you didn't have to make public and then expect you to either add in all the features that they require for free and then complain when you tell them that you can't help out due to pesky little problems such as having a full time job or wanting a life.
Personally I thought the whole idea of open source code was that you took the original code and made of it what you could. I only really got into PHP / MySQL within the last year and in that time I have made a number of sites and Wordpress plugins that are all well reviewed, have been downloaded tens of thousands of times yet have earned me less money from donations than any Saturday Mall Chugger would with their mouth glued shut.
The only reason I created my plugins in the first place was due to a lack of features in those that existed already.
I didn't hassle the developers of the plugins by email, twitter and message board asking them to do my work for me or expect them to add in my custom features for free like many people seem to. No I took their good ideas and made my own versions and then put them up online so others could do the same.
I can totally understand the fact that many people are not capable of developing their own code or taking other peoples code and tweaking it but it is really starting to grate me when I receive email after email asking when I am going to do X or Y and in a tone that seems to expect that I have nothing better to do than do all their work for them.
Having emails in broken English that say "I need your plugin to do BLAH and need it done by Monday very urgent please help!" is not the right way to go about getting things done.
I have even had people ask me how to steal my own code so they could leach my bandwidth by hosting it on their own site.
And worst of the whole lot is the two people now who have literally begged me for a feature to be implemented in one of my tools and then when I implemented it they don't even give even the most basic donation.
I mean if I have just spent 5+ hours adding in code that makes your life easier surely that is worth at least a score or a tenner. Even the nice bloke who donated me a solitary pound the other day ranks higher in my estimation than the scrotes who take the piss like that.
And before I get inundated with a load more emails promising me donations as soon as I just do X Y and Z I want to say NO NO NO. I've had it up to here with the whole shabang.
Server bills don't get paid by magic you know so the next version of any plugin releases are all going to be paid only. If people really want these features then they will be willing to pay, either that or learn how to code. It's not like there aren't enough Google 101 guide's on the web to get started with.