The Sour Taste of Entitlement

I’m not comfortable with the main sentiment of the post.

I agree that expectation management is a big issue. E.g. in case of KDE a surprisingly small number of people are working on problems that otherwise require an army of full time engineers of the most valuable companies in the world. That has to be communicated.

Also that success is a poison in that regard. Let’s say someone buys a SteamDeck, checks out the plasma desktop and complains on reddit about things that aren’t to the user’s expectation. Shouldn’t that user be allowed to voice criticism the same way as a Windows device would evoke?

A lot of OSS software is “here, I wrote it for me, maybe it’s useful for you too, have it for free”. Fair enough. But we can’t therefore tether all OSS software to the notion of “free” and therefore void of any quality or criticism.

Pointing out people who feel “entitled” - and they surely exist - is appropriate, but it feels we are dodging the real issue by putting everybody in that same bucket. Otherwise the first big red banner on every OSS software project should be “this is a hobby, don’t rely anything remotely important on it”.

This is clearly not the case. There are underfunded projects who try to get more traction through their marketing, and corporate backed OSS projects with very high standards.

tl;dr It isn’t the user’s fault that they can’t distinguish between a four hours a month hobby and a multi-billion corporation backed OSS project. And connecting OSS and free with hobby is counterproductive.

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To me, KDE is like a buffet. Plasma is the roast meat carvery section. Dolphin is the salad bar. And konsole is the soda fountain.

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KDE contributors elected accessibility and sustainability as our common goals in the last goal election (KDE’s New Goals - Join the Kick Off Meeting | KDE.news). That’s not because KDE contributors have more disabilities than others or are more affected by the climate catastrophes than others. There are way better ways to act for one’s own benefit than contributing to such goals. If I was “mainly acting for my own benefit”, I certainly would not contribute to KDE long-term in my free time. There is more money to make elsewhere and I am not affected personally by most of the things I help with.

Fortunately, it takes more than this to become a “saint or saviour of the ‘poors’”, otherwise we would have trouble seeing the presentations at FLOSS conventions because of all those brightly glowing halos atop people’s heads in the room.

I mean, this is pretty close to the warning pretty much every KDE project contains because of the (L)GPL: “This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.” (The GNU General Public License v3.0 - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation)

I agree that it is not one user’s fault. It’s a general systemic issue that multi-billion dollar corporations advertise to get their product into people’s heads until these people think every product competing with the corporation must also be a big manipulative corporation. It is also the fault of the anti-consumer practices of those big companies that users think it is fair to attack the people providing the software. It is furthermore a systemic issue that so much in everyday life is about buying products or other monetary transactions that people can’t even fathom the concept that a product they are using could be provided to them as a gift and that they should act accordingly.

And lastly, many people might simply always act entitled and rude towards everyone because that’s what they’ve become in which case it might totally be their fault (or their background’s).

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Well, we can all be disabled at some time, you can’t rule that out. As for the climate change, I guess everyone is affected equally by this.

I’m not talking about money. In any case I wouldn’t want to be rich surrounded by poors. It would be to my best interest for everyone to be equally rich (and not equally poor) so I wouldn’t be afraid of thieves for example :wink:

I find this to be a really important observation.

Years ago I read a piece on how much of Microsoft’s Office revenue goes into marketing and how much into software development. I can’t find it anymore but it was something like 50% marketing and 2% development. Then look at the result and how bananas it is that someone would actually pay for M365 instead of just using (way better imho) LibreOffice for free.

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You can slap that same warranty on commercial software. Or you can have a very well founded LGPL software project. Or you can put a paid app in an app store (or shareware), that doesn’t mean you can quit your day job.

I don’t think it is helpful to associate OSS with underfunded and hobby, these are different dimension obfuscating the actual issue.

People who feel entitled also happily pay for commercial software and then moan about it. The difference is how you feel, because one activity may pay the bills - which makes it emotionally easier to ignore those people - while the other activity doesn’t.

People also say bad things about programming languages, which are more like abstract concepts than products. There is very little “warranty” or “payment” involved in this case.

So I think this is a general problem that people tend to treat something as a “gift” and act accordingly, only when handed face-to-face by a specific person. Receiving something for free and benefiting from it, from one (or a group of) “abstract” person, as in the case of a programming language, doesn’t trigger the “gift” reaction.

And I don’t think we can do much about this, other than accepting this is how the world is. You can do YouTube videos so people watching these would associate Felix with Dolphin, and refrain from saying bad things about Dolphin under these videos. But it won’t affect most Dolphin users who never see those videos.

This also brings the question that should a user treat various KDE components differently, if one is maintained by volunteers, and another is maintained by paid maintainers or sponsored? That’s why I don’t think it’s a good idea to bring commercial vs FOSS into this.

Well, there is pretty much no chance we will get to a world where everyone is equally rich and one wouldn’t need to be afraid of thieves in any of our lifetimes. If it was only about my own benefit, I would be way better off choosing the path that gets me the most money and moving into a neighborhood that has little crime, has a big gate, a security system, or even private guards. It makes way more sense for me to put as much money as I can to that end instead of trying to change the world through FLOSS contributions to such an extent that I wouldn’t have to worry about thieves anymore.

I agree that it can be difficult to be grateful for something received by an abstract group of people. Maybe talking about a “gift” reaction was a bit too strong of a wording by me. It would be perfectly sufficient if people generally wouldn’t be rude to people doing a good job for free. Criticism is perfectly fine.

I agree. This is mostly something we have to accept as we don’t have the means to change it fundamentally. We already show a dialog on first startup that tells users that KDE is made by volunteers. There is not much more we can do unless we want to spend a lot of time on hammering home the point. A blog like the one we are commenting helps a bit however. Same for any videos anyone does.

To me it is not about whether one person is paid or not, it is whether the complaining user specifically has any right to complain. If a user gave me 1000€ to maintain Dolphin, I think they would to some extent be entitled to complain to me when I make a stupid mistake. However, I received a total of 12€ in general donations for my KDE work. (I received a bit more in total but those were bound to specific feature/bug work.) Therefore, most users are not entitled to complain to me personally in the slightest.

(Of course, friendly constructive criticism is always welcome, but users are not entitled that I would read those either. If anything, other contributors I share responsibility on projects with are entitled that I do my share of the work that I said I would take some responsibility for. This is however mostly about staying true to my word in general.)

Well, I’m not quitting in chasing that goal, even if it doesn’t seem possible to you. :slight_smile:

So essentially you would put yourself in a prison giving up part of your freedom and privacy, just because you were afraid to live a free life and enjoy your riches. Nah! not for me!

By all means, go ahead. I never even implied that it was a bad idea to chase such a goal.

I didn’t say that either. I said it is unlikely this would happen within our lifetime.

I think you missed the part where I said “if it was only about my own benefit”, which is the notion I challenged from the very beginning of this discussion. And indeed this then wouldn’t be about putting myself in a prison but about using force to deter everyone else from limiting my freedom or privacy. “If it was only about my own benefit”, I wouldn’t consider time spent on improving free software for everyone a “free life and enjoy[ing] my riches” either.

It’s important to be grateful for free things

But feedback to the people providing the free things is also very helpful to make a better product. There’s a thin line between helpful feedback or constructive criticism, and “entitled criticism” unfortunately.

I am a programmer in my full time job, and I consider myself very good at programming. I always wanted to contribute code to open source, but it requires a lot of time and effort to read, understand the current codebase, picking a bug to pick, hunting it down, fixing it, testing it… And while I enjoy doing this, I simply don’t have the time and focus to do it outside of work. And so the best thing I can do is provide feedback in the form of bug reports or feature requests for improvements. I hope this isn’t interpreted as entitlement.

That shouldn’t be an issue. Just try fixing something that affects you or implement some new feature that you would like to have. As a start just try to figure our were you would do the changes. It’s easier than it seems: you just search for a string that you see in the UI, and follow the code from there.

Try it! Honestly: if there’s a bug that affects you or any new feature that you would like to have, just try figuring out where you would do the change. I believe it would be rewarding procedure and you might reconsider contributing :slight_smile:

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I’d say you already do more than most. Bug reports are essential to keep things rolling since we have so many different combinations of settings and other things.

And I was also in same boat before, but I still managed to fix small bugs every now and then. Like said, give it a try! If you spot a bug, you can try to fix it, but if it takes too much time, you could reply to bug report what you have already tried and what you didn’t. That will definitely help the next person working on the bug!

Sometimes bug fixes are really simple too. I recently saw a bug where the ) was placed in wrong place… And the fix was literally moving it to it’s correct place. :joy: It was very deceptive and hard to find bug though.

But no I don’t think youre entitled at all. IMO anyone who creates (good) bug reports is doing a lot more than those who just complain.

Can I offer a slightly different perspective.

Perhaps its not so much a sense of entitlement as a failure of communication.
We live in times of the “social media engineered communication”. This has resulted in almost anonymous individual isolation.
(its not only the enshittening of the web, it is the enshittening of personal communication)
The end result is very terse replies (mobile phones and texts almost require short answers) and this has actually resulted in even terse oral communication in even social situations. We no longer feel we have to be kind and considerate in answers.

If we were to stand face to face and ask/request/suggest then we (well most people :slightly_smiling_face:) read and respond to body language.

That is missing in emails, blogs and forums.

I think we have people who want help, those who genuinely want to help, those who just want to have a say, those who have nothing to say but insist on saying it, those who seem to get pleasure from being almost condescending and some “almost trolls” who push the limits of the rules.

We all have different motivations.

There seems also to be a weeding out of courtesy and respect, probably not deliberately but more likely habit.
People seem to be much more selfish (childish?) as a result.

I stand in awe of those who develop mostly free software in their own time and for no or little financial return.

One question that is NEVER asked is
should the developers have ALL the say on direction, timing or adding some extra service or function?.

With even a little thought the answer is of course they should.

It may benefit them to collaborate with other developers and even users but an underlying premise should be they do the work, they make the decisions.

Perhaps that message should be reinforced by a banner at the logon page about the difference between request and demand.

Perhaps even develop a standard paragraph to answer these almost obnoxious posts/requests.

For all you developers and helpers, my personal thanks.

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I rarely see “entitlement” in the form of “demand”. Most of the time they are in the form of “harsh/impolite criticism” like:

“The developers of Z must be out of their mind to not do W.”
“How could the developers of Z release this mess?”
“Are the developers of Z idiots?”

Clearly they do recognize that the developers do, and probably should “have ALL the say” of the software, in the same sense that they the users do have the ability to say anything about the software, in any form. And developers can do nothing about what they say, as much as they can do nothing about where the software is going.

They probably do recognize that saying things this way is not going to improve the software. They probably don’t care about improving the software, anyway. They just make comments about “a piece of crappy stuff” they are not going to use again, and IMHO they have every right to do so.

So I doubt either the original blog or the message you suggested would have any positive impact for FOSS.

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I agree people have the right to say whatever they like. I consider myself “people”.

I agree they have the right, but whether they should is an entirely different matter. That is where personal judgement comes in.

We treat your friends/family/acquaintances with mostly a certain amount of courtesy and in return we expect the same to some extent.

Should we then treat others (in forums) with less just because we are “semi” anonymous?