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Open Source Software

The Role of Freeloaders In Open Source Communities 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the arm-extended-palm-splayed-upward dept.
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. ' 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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The Role of Freeloaders In Open Source Communities

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  • Freeloaders (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jalet (36114) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @04:31AM (#45962791) Homepage

    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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:56AM (#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".
  • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:13AM (#45963157) Journal

    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.

  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:49AM (#45963315) Homepage Journal
    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:Freeloaders (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:51AM (#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 [] 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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:58AM (#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.

  • Re:Freeloaders (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:56PM (#45969915)

    This whole thing started decades ago when wide access to computing in universities was relatively new. Everyone was inventing the wheel all over again. People figured out a more efficient way of getting the computer to do division and then would share the code with other professors and students. Some students would write better libraries than the ones that came with the computer, or would augment the libraries, some groups would even take it on themselves to write their own operating system that was more suited to their needs (ie, ITSS).

    But it was all sort of a group experience rather than a competitive one. If there was competition it would have occured with their research and not with the computing that was assisting their research. So this early computing mindset just grew and evolved until it was considered natural to share software. There was no reason to hold back. Even when networking grew and Usenet was popular across a very large number of universities and companies and organizations across the world the sharing of software was the norm.

    People started adding licenses and stuff but they were generally ad-hoc things with little meaning, some of which were just plain goofy or tongue in cheek. It really only changed significantly with Unipress Emacs demanding that Stallman cease distributing his modifications to what was previously publicly available software. So he started creating a more standard license so that he and other programmers would not be burned again. Later on "open source" was adopted as a term because newcomers to computing (individuals and corporations) were misinterpreting the "free" part in various ways.

    The only primary directive in that history is the desire to share software and have access to the source code.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman