The payment amount must be greater than zero

Derek Atkins warlord at MIT.EDU
Mon Aug 20 15:25:01 EDT 2007

Graham Leggett <minfrin at> writes:

> Nigel Titley wrote:
>> He does have a point though. Feature enhancements take time. None of
>> us have enough time.
> Neither do the people who need the features, which is why the very
> first step is to ensure that no time is wasted - by asking the list
> whether there is a well understood reason for something being as it
> is, and whether there is a recommended approach to fix it.

It's attitudes like this that make me wonder why I'm in the free
software business at all.  People have such an entitlement complex.
They feel that if they can point out a flaw or suggest a feature that
they've done there bit and that's it.  I'm afraid to say that that's
not right.

Look at it from my side.  I spent two years of my life working
effectively full time on GnuCash for no pay at all.  I was laid off,
started a consulting business, and decided that I wanted something
open source to manage the finances for my business.  So I wrote the
business features.  Go look at the -devel archives for many of my
original discussions on the design, back in .. 2001?

So now here we are, in 2007.  I've got a full time job that wants
all of my attention but I still try to spend SOME time on GnuCash.
Mostly I've relegated myself to email and small bug fixes and
system adminitration and high-level architecture, because I just dont
have the time to devote to it anymore.  And then someone comes up
and points out how rotten a job I did and why couldn't I do it another
way and blah blah blah.

> There seems to be a perception that every new question on the list is
> inherently a request for the core developers to do work - this is not
> the case. The information that core developers give out ultimately
> expands the core development team, and benefits the project as a
> whole.

Well, it is.  It takes non-zero time to read these emails, to research
the responses, and to write the response.  I spend a lot of time
doing that every day; time that I'd rather spend doing other things
but if I don't nobody else will.

In THIS particular case, I answered the first question, and apparently
my answer wasn't detailed enough for them.  They suggested a fix, and
I pointed out why the suggested fix wouldn't work, and again my answer
wasn't detailed enough for them.  They kept asking for more and more
details about why the system works the way it does.  The answer is
"because that's the way it's designed/implemented".  But even THAT
wasn't good enough for them.  So yes, I repeated my mantra, "send in a
patch".  I use that all the time, moreso here than on the -user list.

Do I expect everyone on the -devel list to write code?  Hell no!
We've got not only developers, but also testers and documentors..
Lots of non-coders.  That's fine.  This list is also good/useful to
discuss how features should work.  That's fine, too.

So...  Is this feature "broken"?  Arguably, sure, but for the sake of
this conversation let's say "yes".  Did I make a mistake in my
original design and implementation?  Again, argubly -- the system has
worked quite fine for me for 6 years, and for most everyone else too,
but again let's assume "yes".  Well, fine.  I admit my mistake.  But
now what?  Hounding me and saying what a horrible job I did an "oh my
god your code doesn't work for ME!"  is not a way to convince me to
fix your problem.  So yes, I asked for a patch.

I don't think that's at all unreasonable.  From where I sit they kept
asking more and more probing questions about how it works.  To me that
says "hey, this person wants to know how it works so they can fix it!"
That's what open source is all about, right?  You find a problem, you
go fix it, and you share your fix with the world.

At least that's how it's supposed to work.  This is open source.

I've jokingly said in the past that maybe I should charge people
for my GnuCash tech support.  Maybe I should actually follow through
on that?

> Regards,
> Graham


       Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
       Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
       URL:    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
       warlord at MIT.EDU                        PGP key available

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