Expectations Of Services Provided For Free

It continuously amazes me… the number of people who expect something done for free and want it done now. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if it is a consequence of the internet era as I struggle to come up with non-internet based examples.

What started me on this rant was a comment I saw in the while investigating whether a new episode of an anime series I am watching was released by the fansub group yet. It had been a while since the last release, so I looked at the comments of the previous episode to see if there were any clues to when more releases would be made (I know for a fact the next two have been translated). To paraphrase one comment: “Why are you so slow… maybe you should find something else to sub? There’s already quality subs out there that are getting released at a stable pace, so why bother?“. My initial thought was that the poster put the solution to their “problem” right in their comment. Now consider that this is a one-woman subbing group (well, there is a timer and a quality checker for this series) and she has just had final exams and a fairly serious illness according to her Twitter posts. I bet that if you were not thinking “wanker” before, you are now. This behaviour is not just restricted to this particular subbing group; I have noticed similar posts in the comments section for almost all series I am currently watching.

I see similar things all the time in the Arch Linux forums and bugtracker and even my email inbox. I can guarantee that every time there is a kernel release, there will be a post asking when it will be packaged within a day. What I am finding amusing is that 1/3 of the first page I get with the “Show new posts” link is threads asking for help with issues caused by the 2.6.30 release. But it is sad that the overlap of the users demanding the release and those complaining about it afterwards is not as big as it is in my dream world. Although, going back through old posts, there was definitely some overlap when KDE-4.x was released.

I had plenty of emails telling me of the immediate need to update ruby to the 1.9 branch. In the end I gave in and pushed the release to [testing], breaking gvim in the process. I got no angry emails about breaking gvim, which leads me to conclude gvim users > ruby users or (more likely) [testing] users > ruby users, on some scale where being greater than is a good thing. Those in the overlap of those groups are questionable… Similarly, I have had a number of emails telling me that python-3.0 is out and it is a “production release” (to somewhat laughably quote one user). That means that Arch is not keeping to its rolling release mantra and the python package needs updated. NOW! I used to reply with an email asking for patches for every package in our repos so they would either run with python-3.0 or would use python-2.x when the main binary was located at /usr/bin/python2. I never got a response.

Now I just add people who complain to a filter list so I will never see another email from them. This makes me immensely satisfied.

9 thoughts on “Expectations Of Services Provided For Free

  1. You ignore users?!? How could you? You’re taking away their Internet given right to unreasonably request anything and everything! How dare you be so insensitive!

  2. Hear hear!

    What’s the anime series? I wanna watch! I wanna watch!

    Why are you so slow at posting on your blog? Don’t you care about your readership!?

    • You probably don’t want to watch that particular anime (DB Kai) unless, like me, you feel nostalgia towards it…

  3. On another level, i was dissapointed when you updated the toolchain to use GCC-4.4 far too soon IMO.
    Arch is the only distribution using it, besides the insanely bleedin edge recently released Fedora.
    I dont know the reason you did that. AFAICT there was no reason to hurry. We would still be OK with GCC-4.3.3.
    The impact of your decision is already obvious with libsqlclients on the readline rebuild.
    That decision mostly impacts you, the people building many packages, and i want to wish you luck with the libjpeg rebuilds.

  4. Nicely done Allan. Ignoring is the key.

    In my view, the open source system tells me one thing. “I shall not complain, because if I really need something I can do it by my self” and probably give it back to the community.

    Establishing a connection, also, with anime series, I have to say I miss a lot the good humour of the dattebayo fansubs team (which abandoned my favorite anime show) when dealing with angry people who want their free episode right now and in a record breaking quality.

    I just can’t stand this kind of demand in the free and open sourced community…

  5. Good post. Although I’m not into anime, the rest of the post resonates well with what I’ve seen out there. The Arch users, although still not up there with some other distros, have become a lot less willing to fix/experiement/patch things. When I first started it was definitely a “do it yourself” distro, and some -Syu upgrades would give you headaches. We have the whole [core] signoff procedure now, which has greatly reduced the pain of system upgrades, and yet we still have users that will never be satisified.

    Sending their emails straight to the trash seems pretty reasonable to me.

  6. Pingback: Archlinux – libjpeg error | О Линуксе и не только

  7. RE: Arch Linux packages.

    For every one person who complains there are probably 10 people who appreciate what the devs and TUs do who remain silent. As a lurker on the Arch mailing lists I see how much work goes into keeping the packages up to date especially the big ones like readline and libjpeg. Thanks.