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Why I don’t support my OpenSource projects :

I believe strongly in supporting the products I make and sell. Strong support is a revenue generating feature as far as I am concerned, either through support licenses or because people, and developers and managers especially, will perceive good support as a value add to any product they use.

But I don’t offer support on my giveaway OpenSource projects these days beyond a cursory “I’ll fix it when I get to it” philosophy. What I realised a few years ago was that most of my time was being sucked up, for free, by individuals and companies requesting fixes to obscure bugs that affected one in five thousand developers (literally!) and features that would only be useful to a handful of people.

Yes, I admit it sucks when an obscure bug affects your day-to-day work and the developer won’t fix it, and even though the source code is available for the taking you don’t have time to fix it yourself.

Yes, I admit it sucks when a developer puts out a project and doesn’t update it for years and support for the latest model hardware falls behind.

I have over 20 OpenSource projects of various types I have personally developed over the years, which are now all hosted at http://code.otakunozoku.com/. I don’t directly offer support on any of them. If someone reports a bug or desires a particular feature, I’ll add it to the list of things to do. And that is about all I will do with someone’s urgent request.

I don’t prioritise any particular task based on a request or report. I have found that this is the only way to stay sane in a world where every person you interact with believes that your TO DO list should be publically accessible and writeable. The best productivity tool I have developed to date is the word “No.”

In each README of my projects there is now an explicit “No support provided” line that clearly sets the expectation for people who download the software or source code. I have interacted with a few people who still expect support, even demand it in a few cases, but generally I think it has had a net positive effect on people’s expectations.

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