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Tim Ward writes "Twice in the last few weeks I've come across open source projects where the software download is, as expected, free of charge, but no documentation is available. In both cases these appears to mean "no documentation has ever been written, but you can hire us to give you technical support".
In other words, as the companies can't make money charging for the software, they make money instead charging for support. Which sounds fair enough but... these are "pre-sales enquiries" we're talking about where I'm trying to learn enough about the product to evaluate whether it has some chance of doing the job I need done or not.
Nobody in the commerial world charges you for pre-sales support at this level! — sure, if you want the vendor to scope out and design a system for you you pay for that, but that's not what I'm talking about — you don't pay for information at the level of basic product brochures and specifications!!
No problem, you might say, just download the software and try it out. Er, yes, and that costs how much, exactly, at my charge-out rate, reverse engineering some undocumented downloaded software to try to work out whether or not it will do what my client needs done? I don't think so.
I'm afraid that I'm much more likely to say to my client: "There's this commercial product, which in my professional judgement will do the job, and it will cost you $x, or there's this open source product, but I'm afraid that I haven't a clue whether it will do the job, and it will cost money to find out, and there isn't any documentation so any time we have a basic simple question about the product it will cost more money. Which would you like me to buy for you?"
You can guess the answer. "I'll have something that works that costs $x, please, not something that may or may not work and isn't documented and I don't have a clue how much it will cost me".
So my Ask Slashdot question is:
How come these open source vendors have managed to come up with such a broken business model? Aren't they even trying to compete?" top
Tim Ward writes "These days a defence against: being found with child porn on your computer; having your PC enrolled into a botnet and conducting illegal operations against other netizens; your PC being turned into a distribution hub for stolen content of any kind;... is to say "nothing to do with me, mate, my computer must of got infected with something, not my fault".
Now, once upon a time it was acceptable to deny responsibility for motor accidents in a similar fashion: "sorry mate, not my fault I killed your child, I was drunk at the time, so not responsible for my actions, so I should be let off". (Younger readers may not remember that mindset, unless they live in the one or two parts of the world where fashions haven't caught up; or maybe if you substitute "rape" for "motoring accident" of course.)
So, my question: How long will it be before people do feel responsible, or are held responsible, for the harm their computers do due to not being looked after properly??" top
Tim Ward writes "We are forever reading surveys — there's another one out somewhere today[#] — purporting to tell us how many hours or minutes per day what types of people in which countries spend doing various online activities, such as "email" and "surfing", or sometimes simply "being on line".
But what validity can any of this data possibly have? I know that some of it comes from asking people questions like "how much time do you spend on line", which I personally would be completely unable to answer — I've got always-on broadband, and I'm quite often sitting at the computer, and sometimes I'm doing things that are "on line" and sometimes I'm doing things that aren't "on line" and sometimes I'm doing both at once. Or, I'm nowhere near the computer, but it's nonetheless busy doing something "on line" for me. How am I supposed to say how much time I spend "on line"?
These surveys are all nonsense, aren't they? People don't really base spending decisions on this data, do they?
[#] Sorry, no URL, I've forgotten where I saw it. But there'll be another one along tomorrow, and you all know what I'm talking about."