[mythtv-users] "get the sources and fix it yourself"

Scott Sharkey ssharkey at linuxunlimited.com
Fri Sep 28 13:22:15 UTC 2007

Bearcat M. Sandor wrote:
> On Thursday 27 September 2007 in an email titled "Re: [mythtv-users] "get the 
> sources and fix it yourself"" Jay R. Ashworth wrote:
>> Happily, Eric Raymond and Rick Moen have taken their valuable time to
>> explain this to you and everyone else at almost nauseating length:
>> 	http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
>> I commend it to the attention of everyone here *who did not pay a dime
>> for the thousands of dollars of software running their mythbox*.
>> Cheers,
>> -- jra
> That misses my point entirely. Actually, i agree with the ideals of almost 
> everything in that link which i have read over and over. It's full of great 
> advise. However i wish Ramond had never written it. It's unkind, snide, 
> sarcastic and if i showed one of my clients this, they'd go screaming back to 
> Windows
> My problem is that i feel i have to say to my clients "Look, please go to XYZ 
> place for help but be aware that there are assholes out there who will call 
> you stupid and tell you to RTFM, even if you have to say 'i don't remember 
> what the manual is, or "Step off. I just started using Linux yesterday. and i 
> just wanted help rather then search aimlessly through the tangle of google."
> Most people are not able to do some of the things in this smart-questions 
> document. I have clients who call me for Windows problems because they can't 
> figure out how to change the font size in their email or they don't realize 
> some other thing that we find trivial and can do in 2 seconds.  These are 
> average people who are smart in other areas, but my wife were i not around, 
> would never use Linux.  
> As far as your comment about the thousands of dollars worth of software, no 
> one is entitled to help, but does the fact that the help is free mean that a 
> slap in the face is acceptable along with it?

A big part of the problem is that many of these people come to these 
lists with an attitude of "I don't want to learn how it works, just tell 
me what I need, for free"...

Of course, most of the people who hang out on these lists have spent 
many of their free hours learning about the software in question.  It's 
extremely rude of these newbies to show up with an attitude of "I'm too 
lazy/can't be bothered to invest my own valuable time solving this 
problem, but I expect you to give up your hard-won expertise to solve my 
problem for me, free".   That may not actually be what they are 
thinking, but that is EXACTLY how they come across.

I suspect that they would have much better results if they said "I have 
a problem that I need fixed, and I will pay $25 for someone to take the 
time to look at it for me".  Since they are "your clients", I presume 
that you are charging them (somehow) for the help that you provide to 
them on Windows, so why do they expect that they should not be charged 
for someone else's time?  I'm NOT advocating that all help for open 
source software should be charged, but the attitude that they are "owed" 
help for nothing is a big problem.

I think a lot of the "rudeness" on the lists is a result of the attitude 
of the "enthusiast" vs the expectations of the "user"...  The enthusiast 
is willing to invest time and energy to learn the software, because it 
interests them.  The "user" just wants solutions to the problem he/she 
has, preferably "right now".

I always say that Open Source offers a unique opportunity.... you do not 
have to pay anyone anything at any time IF you are willing to invest 
your own time to become self-sufficient...

The key point being that Open Source is no different than commercial 

IF you are not willing to make that investment, you should respect that 
others have invested heavily, and be willing to offer compensation (not 
necessarily money, but something of value) to gain access to that 
expertise.  I advise all of my open source clients of this when I take 
them on.  I make it clear to them that my role is to provide them with 
that (paid) support until such time as they become sufficiently 
well-versed themselves, or forever if they choose not to learn the 
software.  And I bill for my time for any and all questions.


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