Bold stance:

If you're running a successful business that's built on top of open-source software and you're neither contributing code to these projects nor donating money to them, you're not only a freeloader, you're actually harmful to the entire movement.

You should take an interest in the sustainability of these projects as they ensure the likelihood of your own success and future.

@fribbledom You know what needs to happen before that's common place, right?

Actually, I don't think AGPL would help here. This isn't about a company having specific changes that aren't contributed back, this is about one company trying to sell hosting for a product and another company undercutting their prices.
@gudenau @fribbledom

@awaspnest @be @fribbledom I was thinking make donating to these things tax deductible.


That's actually a possibility & reality in many parts of the world already. It is however way to cumbersome for most projects to set up such an entity (501c and the likes).

@awaspnest @be

@fribbledom @awaspnest @be You'd need to streamline it for established open source projects.

@gudenau @fribbledom We need a communist public license which closes all of the GPL’s capitalist loopholes?

Modifications which are distributed internally or externally need to be made public.

The project must be buildable by anyone. All tooling and dependencies to build the project must be made public, and the code must create reproducible builds in order to verify any binaries.

Personal and non-profit usage is allowed, but companies must return 5% of gross to the project or equal dev hours.


I prefer to handle such things by not doing business with such people. A clean solution albeit one that requires an effort on my part. So long as they are adhering to the rules of the licenses there isn't much else to do without going the authoritarian route.

@fribbledom Let's assume we're talking about a protocol here. In that case, using it is a good thing too. Participants make up the network. Providing a service, as a business, strengthens the network too (Metcalfe's law). If you agree with that, I'm curious where we differ on, say, Linux.

I concur! ☝️🙂

Rant follows:

People feel they deserve to get things for #free, get upset and give bad ratings to free #apps that have ads even when it's been disclosed beforehand that they're ad-supported or when there's a fee for premium/fancy features.

#Creators #developers deserve to get paid! They're entitled to make a living. Companies that give you #value deserve to make a profit so they can pay their #employees and stay in #business. 😠 #work #jobs #service

@evelynyap @fribbledom 🤔

Totally agree. Once you realize what effort it is to maintain open source projects, you get a total different view on it.

People devoting their spare time deserve some benefit, either in form of contributions or donations.

Companies just freeloading FLOSS is a nogo...

Apparently 99% of people don't even don't seem to know the slightest about this problem and happily pay shitloads of $€£¥ to companies.

@cybastl @evelynyap @fribbledom This precise problem is that I'm leaning towards starting a public interest company to support my #interpeerproject - on the one hand, the "public interest" part both allows for the collection of donations, and requires a charter to uphold. If that's phrased right, it's much like a non-profit.

On the other hand, it's a company - so you can act as a commercial provider towards other companies without raising eyebrows.

@cybastl @evelynyap @fribbledom And unlike the Mozilla Foundation/Corporation clusterfuck, you can't really use it to pay yourself massive salaries while firing half your staff.

@cybastl @evelynyap @fribbledom There is a school of thought of "don't spend money you don't have to" I've been put into a position to argue against...

The people offering their work to you gratis generally need the money more than some faceless conglomerate!

@fribbledom Why dont you change the licence to forbid commercial use?


I'd find that counter-productive as it would stifle innovation, experimentation, startups and new business ideas. I'm emphasizing on *successful* businesses here for a good reason.

If you'd have to pay $10k for a postgres license many of the things we enjoy online on a daily basis simply wouldn't exist today.

@fribbledom At least Riverbank Computing made the GPL work for them somewhat. I dont know how much they earn.

@nomian @fribbledom Selling $10 worth of t-shirts with your project's logo is "commercial use" just like making millions, and there's no obvious cutoff point.
"Non-commercial use only" is basically "don't use ever" for this reason.

@dmbaturin @fribbledom Fair point but I think that can be solved with a little more work.
@fribbledom i would say that it doesnt have to be exactly these projects. if work is based on five different projects and in two of them the business is an active contributer, id still say its fine.
but yeah, i do agree. especially with the added "successful business", so that people can start first and later have to start contributing, when the business is already running.

That's sorta the exact problem SSPL aims to solve, isn't it?

And (maybe a bolder stance) it solves too imo

I don't get why people hate it so much

What is says is that if your product essentially is a repackaged SSPL project, you must release all code related to your product, to such an extent that the user would be able to host it themselves

It's hilarious, really

@fribbledom I agree to a point but like right now. The covid crisis is hindering me and many small business owners to support what we use. Crude. I'm trying to make a point right now to a few of my fellow gamers. That linux is a good alternative to a mac of windowblows install. I allows believe giving back to what I use is a good thing. But right now no.

Fully agreed.

I lost (most of) my interest on a project where I was the (lead) developer/maintainer because of it.
Not only that, they just relayed all the problems they encountered and expected me to solve it for them. So I was their unpaid tech support.

@FreePietje @fribbledom i agree, but projects shouldn't blame others for their non-existent business/funding model. Just b/c it's FOSS doesn't mean you don't have to think about that. No, just sticking a donate button somewhere is not good enough.

@ITwrx @fribbledom
I disagree and this part says it succinctly:
"You should take an interest in the sustainability of these projects as they ensure the likelihood of your own success and future."

I am/was fine with people using it without paying me and quite a few contributed back with (very) good PRs/MRs.
What was demotivating, was other people making money of my (considerable) work, dumping all their shit on me to solve and not once offering sth (f.e. money) in return.
That's just leeching.

@FreePietje @fribbledom That's the real problem: people trying to get more than they are paying for. When do people stop being the you want to help, and start being the professional you want to bill.
It's reasonable to reply to these people "thanks for your offer to look into this problem, when will you deliver the fix?"
@FreePietje @fribbledom Commercial suppliers face the same problem: Once a employer of mine discovered, almost all helpdesk calls were from a very limited number of customers. Those customers didn't read their manuals(and didn't instruct their personell, they were companies themselves.)

@fribbledom it could also be simply free advertising when they advocate how great the software they use is?

@Wetrix @fribbledom “You’ll get paid in exposure. I have lots of friends and social media account...”

@Wetrix @fribbledom Yeah, which is why unbranded stuff or exclusivity costs more.

However, I have yet to find a place which takes exposure in lieu of cash.

Bottom line: Pay me. My time has value.

@fribbledom i like the practice of 'Bread Labour' in general. Applied to software works for me.

@fribbledom The point of open source is that anyone is allowed to use it for any purpose without moral or legal obligations. It's great when users contribute code or money, but it's perfectly fine for them not to do so too. Shaming people by calling them freeloaders is what's harmful as it pushes them away from open source and into the welcoming arms of commercial software vendors.

@mansr @fribbledom This isn't about users but about businesses that take advantage of open source without giving back. Look at how Amazon undermines once successful open source business models by making these products available through AWS.

@mansr @fribbledom People sure. Companies no. Especially companies which have the means to contribute. Shame them as much as possible.

@jollyrogue @fribbledom All companies, or just companies you don't like? Should, say, a restaurant not be allowed to host their website using open source software?

@mansr @fribbledom Companies. No qualifiers.

The restaurant is probably paying for hosting, web design, and other software, so they’re doing their part as a consumer. Now, if the people/companies providing the services the restaurant use are doing their part is the question.

@fribbledom Hadn't noticed before but self-destructive freeloading is a strangely common thing.
I suppose a lot of it is powered by the "I'm sure somebody else will/can pay for it" mindset. But one would hope people running businesses would understand that relying on "somebody else" like that is an unnecessary risk.

@Asimech @fribbledom I made this exact argument at a software company about not relying on third-party software because it leaves the company vulnerable to the third-parties’ whimes.

It bit them a couple of times, but they never did anything about it.

@jollyrogue @fribbledom To paraphrase a better writer than me:
"Humans have the rare ability to learn from mistakes.
And a common habit of never doing so."

Not that I don't get the desire to not do everything in-house but you need to be pessimistic about the 3rd party's priorities aligning with yours. And also watchful for vendor lock-in.

@Asimech @fribbledom No doubt. I get reselling stuff or being a VAR, but companies need to make sure they control their own destiny.

It’s one thing when you’re the consumer, and it’s something else when you’re the producer selling a product to people.

@fribbledom Is this about Elasticsearch? I wouldn’t cry for them. They’re doing really well, and it was only a matter of time before they turned the screws to lock it down. Amazon is a convenient excuse and heel.

Moreover, I would add to not rely on company backed OSS products because you’re going to get screwed once it’s reached critical mass. The company is going to want to monetize the project, and it’s downhill from there.

Remember when Nessus was an FOSS vulnerability scanner?

@fribbledom Also people shouldn’t give companies free work. Just say no to corporate backed FOSS projects. They don’t care.

@fribbledom Freeloading does exist, but it's not what most people think it is. People think that using Free Software is enough, but I say no.

You must be demanding and expect that software to be maintained to your expectation and satisfaction; that is where the abuse is.

Expecting compilings for your OS or specific bugs to be prioritised or features not removed without contributing, without paying for the work to be done.

What we could do with is a standard "certification of software futures"

Oh, is it so? Have you ever made free software yourself ?


I don't know, you could check my profile.

Hint: chances are you've just used some of it to post this reply.

Well I am just wondering why you have such a strange opinion about this. I have always been happy if my software got recognized at all. And if i could contribute to a working business which can feed peoples living that would be the greatest thing. I would maybe criticize them for lot of things, but never ever call them freeloaders. We are all sitting on the shoulders of gigants. Dont forget that.

You are right. I have indeed come over #gamut . Hm. Sorry for offending you. I really could have checked before.

@fribbledom An an employee of a business that is guilty of this sort of harmful freeloading to an astonishing degree, I concur emphatically.

Let me just add that, at least in the case of my employer, they are also hurting themselves, because by not participating they are often way out of the loop and off-base when it comes to anticipating technological developments, and hurting their customers by delivering inferior product.

Even worse: This is all biomedical informatics software, so there is collateral literal hurt to literal people somewhere down the line in all of this.

@fribbledom now the question is what is the threshold there. If you are a money-strung startup and not contributing, you are still a freeloader and that’s probably ok. When should you start contributing? When you get to the first revenue? When you get to the break even? When you stop scaling and hiring and start making profit?

This is not all black and white.

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