FYI Open Source is Free

February 3, 2016

We’ve all been there. You have a project you are working on and you need to add a custom piece that requires more intricacy. First you think about programming it in, but then you weigh that against searching and using something that someone else has already put in the time to create.
Whether it is JS library, PHP code snippet, or WordPress plugin there are thousands to choose from on the inter-webs. The tricky part comes with integrating it into you code or setup. With WordPress it’s as easy as clicking and installing while with code snippets and libraries there is a lot more understanding involved.
You get your script copy and paste it into your application and then BOOM, it isn’t working, or it breaks something else.
“We’ll what the heck, why didn’t this person that I grabbed some code off of the free inter-webs give me detailed instructions as to how to implement their open source code and make it work for my specific use case!!!”
That’s the quick reaction. Sure pounce on the developer and yell at them (in your owe head or through the anonymity of the keyboard) and blame them for the shortcomings and errors.
It’s the easy thing to do, but stop and think for a minute, you are using something they created free of charge, maybe in a use case they never even considered. The better thing to do would be to try and troubleshoot the issue yourself. Learn a bit more about it. See if you can figure out the troublesome piece and then submit that to the developer for when they have time to work on it. That way they are a little bit further along in the process and can roll out a new update that fixes the issue. Or, if possible, forgo it and contribute yourself!
Help is always appreciated, even when it is off base or misguided. Sometimes the off-base suggestions can spark something new altogether.
Remember a developer of something open source doesn’t owe you anything. They spent their own time, many times in addition to a day job, to create something they thought other people would benefit in using.
Also,  it’s a jungle out there so remember to treat people how you would in real life, with politeness and understanding.  

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