Subject: Re: the economics of software support (slightly off-topic)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 2000/11/28
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Seth Gordon <>
| The standard response from the FS/OS camp is "well, how much support
| do you get for the closed-source software that you pay for, anyway?"

  Well, this is a staggeringly unintelligent response, so if somebody
  actually says this, or it's even "standard", just ignore the idiots.

| Technically competent end-users who have wandered through the
| tech-support maze at [insert name of any big software vendor here]
| will tend to answer "virtually none".

  You missed the point, dude.  Somebody has a legal responsibility when
  you have paid for support.  This isn't about getting answers, this is
  about who is legally responsible for answering.  _Huge_ difference!
  This point is routinely missed by people who do not have and do not
  rely on any legal responsibilities.  For all this talk about building
  communities and societies, I find very little realization of what such
  complex structures need among people who do not have to back their
  claims with money, which is nothing more than the fruits of one's past
  success.  People bet their spare time, not their lives, on software
  they give away.  It is a luxury, not a necessity.  Now, I'm all for
  being rich enough that luxury is possible, such as art is, but we are
  not at the point where software artists are recognized as such, in
  fact everyone wants to come look at the artwork, but not pay for it.
  The really, really sad part is that even while we have a whole range
  of software paid for out of people's donated time, it still can't be
  sold at the normal, healthy profit margins that supports future work --
  they all require _more_ donations all the time.

  I have argued elsewhere that I consider source access invaluable to a
  programmer's education, just like any other practitioner must have
  access to prior art, but this is not an argument for it being free.
  Quite the contrary.  We pay our educators in _every_ other field but
  computer science.  Here it is supposedly up to the _educators_ to make
  sure that the next generation of programmers aren't illiterate and
  dangerous, not up to the practitioner to get a good education.  Our
  society has yet to recognize the cost of bad code and bad programmers,
  the way it recognized the cost of bad legal advice, bad medical advice,
  bad housing construction, bad food processing, bad farming, etc, etc.
  Free software and open source are _not_ helping -- they are instead
  free-riders on the ability of some software companies to disclaim all
  kinds of warranties for their shoddy products.

  How do we solve the societal need to educate future generations through
  exposure to real and living source code with the need to make sure that
  the work people do in software construction and engineering is properly
  rewarded?  I don't know, but I do believe that the more people argue
  for free, unrestricted, and uncompensated access to other people's work
  and source code, the further we will be from a long-term solution.

  Solution to U.S. Presidential Election Crisis 2000:
    Let Texas secede from the Union and elect George W. Bush their
    very first President.  All parties, states would rejoice.