Ok, someone is making money with support.
Ok, someone is not contributing to OSS.
But wait – is offering support not exactly that? Contributing to OSS by doing the dirty work no one wants to do?
That’s why I do not agree entirely with the label “parasites”. It is not easy to offer support, IMHO it is a Job that no one likes to do. I don’t know if it is true for everyone – but I am very happy to be a developer and not to be a support guy.
It just happens that it is exactly this job is actually needed, and hence, can be monetized.
- Don’t tell me that those few developers really contributing to an OSS project have time to provide support as it is required today.
- Don’t tell me that somebody not contributing is not capable to offer support. If you really believe that, you don’t understand what it means to offer support.
- Don’t tell me that developers can offer better support.
So even if all OSS developers start working 24h a day (I am sure many already do) – would they be supply enough service to cover the demand? How many people do need support, now many contributors do we have?
I remember reading somewhere on a OSS page: “great support by the community”. What does this mean? Easy to tell: we can’t or we won’t offer support.
I believe that neither Spring nor any other OSS product would have come that far without the many consultants and supporters we have working very hard today. So someone is monetizing support? Fine! It will open the doors for enterprise OSS acceptance. Is someone offering training for OSS technologies? GREAT!
Does it feel like it is stealing work? No it is not.
Sure – we live in interesting times. Don’t have a working business plan for your successfull OSS product? I tell you what: go offer support for it. But be warned: it is hard work, it is mostly badly payed, it does not scale, and you will stop working with computers and start working with people.