Do you want my time for free?

Publishing open source software or articles for free is very giving. Not only does it give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside when someone appreciates what you release, but it can also have other indirect consequences that give you a happier life.

But when something is free – as in no cost – people will also often turn to a mindset where they don’t appreciate your effort, time or value as a human being. For some reason, some people forget all about being polite and demands that I give them professional support because they can’t read instructions, don’t know what they are doing, or just feel like their time is much more important than mine.

In one of my darker hours I was, as I too often do, going to release some steam and rant on Twitter. One tweet turned into a series of statements in 140 characters or less:

I know I published my work for free so you could use it, but what part of that made you expect me to debug your website for free?

If you send me a bug report, I might use my own leisure time to fix your issue for free. But you ask me to track down _your_ issue for free?

I appreciate bug reports. I don’t appreciate leeches. If you donate a nice sum to a charitable NPO as compensation, you’ve got my attention.

I’m not looking for profit for the things I publish for free, but I’m not looking for more work for nothing either.

Profit is not why I publish for free, but I have no need to be exploited. If I help you, what is it worth to you? What can you give back?

I actually didn’t publish any of these tweets. Instead, I remembered that I have my own blog where I can post whatever I like.

Writing this blog post/rant helped me get the frustration out of my system. Thinking of the kind comments and thank you notes I’ve received is also really, really uplifting. Thank you, everyone, who have left me a nice comment!

I also pledge to be better at thanking all the kind people who release useful and/or interesting things for free.

Thank you for your time!

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I love comments that bring new insights, shares ideas and experiences, and most of all: corrects my mistakes. For support questions, there are other fora, like Stack Overflow, Server Fault and the WordPress support forum.

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