Feeling of Entitlement in Free and Open-Source Software
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It is a sad fact that in our modern, consumerism-orientedy society, more and more people nurture a feeling of entitlement. This pervasive negative attitude is especially obvious in Free Open Source communities.
There are three basic ways to contribute to Free/Libre software:
- You can contribute with your skills.
- You can contribute with your time.
- You can contribute with your money.
One may consider that contributing one's skills and contributing one's time amount to the same thing. To a large extent, it is true: it takes time to contribute one's skills. However, many users may consider themselves as having no relevant skills ("I am not a developer!"), and use it as an excuse for not contributing at all. But, as discussed in the article "Hierarchy of contribution in Open Source", there are many ways to contribute and total beginners have much more to contribute than is generally understood. If a project is healthily organized around a wiki and an issue tracker, then there should be ample opportunities for even the least skilled user to contribute something useful. It really depends on whether they have the time, or are willing to donate some of their time to the project, regardless of skill level.
It is perfectly ok not to contribute at all. Free, Open Source software is so pervasive, that All of us use many of them without ever contributing (How much have you ever contributed to the Linux Kernel?? (No, I am not talking to you, Linus!). While it's physically impossible to contribute to all the projects we make use of, it'd be nice if everybody selected a small handful of project to contribute at least a little something to...
It is perfectly ok, expected even, to file bug reports or feature requests in the issue tracker. It should be all the more appreciated if the bug report is well detailed, documented, and formatted according to the specified guidelines.
The problem comes when the user feels entitled and displays impatience, anger even, when their requests for support are not answered, the bugs that bother them not fixed promptly enough, if at all, or display self-righteous regrets when a project is not maintained to the level they'd expect, with sometimes veiled or explicit criticism aimed at the official maintainer. This type of behaviour is especially unacceptable coming from people who have never contributed neither skills, nor time, nor money to the project.