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Old 05-04-2019, 08:38 PM
nightshadea is online now
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If you use something for free do you/should you get to criticize/complain about its faults?


in this thread https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...0#post21624880 the op was upset that an update had messed up things in his version firefox which is a free apparently open source web browser


And near the current last page, a couple of others of the board took him to task pretty much saying you can't complain about using anything that free

Now personally I think that idea is well bunk to say politely


what says the dope?

Last edited by nightshadea; 05-04-2019 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 05-04-2019, 10:33 PM
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People can criticize anything they like. Free or not. But if that criticism is robust in nature and the product is free then the natural response is to point out it's free. It's not even a case of "beggars can't be choosers". Choose another free software product.

What I personally found odd was the idea put forward that it was a deliberate act. That never crossed my mind. Firefox is not a money making venture. They're on our side. I just assumed it was a programing error and verfied it with a quick search.

Maybe I mistook the op's position but: Firefox, you piece of shit!!! FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!! came off as over the top and misinformed. It wan't the end of the world but honestly it was easily identified as a programming issue and help was on the way. I too was set upon by ads from this very forum but my computer didn't burst into flames.

If free software caused someone's computer to burst into flames I could see the outrage. A minor bug that lets ads in doesn't seem to rise to the level of the angst. I think it OK to point that out so we can all step off the ledge of despair and focus on more important things in life. Otherwise we'll have people going crazy because McDonalds ran out of fries.
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Old 05-04-2019, 10:57 PM
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“This Koolaid tastes funny.”

“Perhaps, but it’s free,” replies Jim Jones. “Now drink up.”
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:31 AM
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Nothing is free or very long. If it costs nothing and someone likes to use it rest assured it will be monetized somehow soon.

Honestly, bitching just gives companies offering free services at one time useful feedback.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
People can criticize anything they like. Free or not. But if that criticism is robust in nature and the product is free then the natural response is to point out it's free. It's not even a case of "beggars can't be choosers". Choose another free software product.

What I personally found odd was the idea put forward that it was a deliberate act. That never crossed my mind. Firefox is not a money making venture. They're on our side. I just assumed it was a programing error and verfied it with a quick search.

Maybe I mistook the op's position but: Firefox, you piece of shit!!! FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!! came off as over the top and misinformed. It wan't the end of the world but honestly it was easily identified as a programming issue and help was on the way. I too was set upon by ads from this very forum but my computer didn't burst into flames.

If free software caused someone's computer to burst into flames I could sow, I see the outrage. A minor bug that lets ads in doesn't seem to rise to the level of the angst. I think it OK to point that out so we can all step off the ledge of despair and focus on more important things in life. Otherwise we'll have people going crazy because McDonalds ran out of fries.
Right. It's one thing to go to a free picnic and say after "wow. I can't believe they didn't have ANY non-pork meat products. You'd think they'd be sensitive to the fact that lots of people don't eat pork for all kinds of reasons" vs "Holy Fucking Shit what kind of psycho, Jew-hating Nazis are they? Fucking fucking assholes. Trying to poison me and starve me and enjoying seeing me suffer because they fucking hate me". I might well agree with the first comment and feel like the second was an overreaction. If the second person heard me say that, they would probably extrapolate that I meant you can't ever complain about a gift, but that's not what I meant at all.
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:02 PM
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Nothing is free or very long. If it costs nothing and someone likes to use it rest assured it will be monetized somehow soon.
Mozilla and Firefox have existed as a nonprofit / open source project in one form or another for 21 years now. I'm sure they'll monetize it one of these days.

Quote:
Honestly, bitching just gives companies offering free services at one time useful feedback.
Alternatively, histrionic criticism of the developers who accidentally introduce a minor problem (that they quickly fix) could lead some of them to go find a more lucrative product to work on.

The continued vitality of Open Source utilities like Firefox is increasingly important to maintaining the security an vitality of the Web as the platforms and services become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a handful of major companies. If you decide to fly off the handle and tell the Firefox devs to eat shit because of an accidental minor inconvenience, your alternative is to trust Google, trust Microsoft, trust Apple, or trust the investment consortium from China that currently owns Opera.

Or I guess you could fork it an go build your own browser.
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:06 PM
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Carry this illogical meme to its logical conclusion:

If I'm allowed to criticize what I pay for, but not what is free; then what about that which pays me? I certainly wouldn't be "allowed" to criticize my employer, if the meme were sound.

A pizza shop sometimes has a 2-for-1 promotion, so we take an extra pizza home. "No complaints, please. It was free!"
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:25 PM
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Well, there is you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

This can go both ways. In general, I would say you should give free stuff the benefit of the doubt. But if it is really bad, yes, you can & should speak up.
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:36 PM
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I think it's reasonable to apply lower standards for free things compared to their paid counterparts but lower doesn't mean zero. The very act of offering a product to people implies some basic quality threshold even if it is for free.

I have been a Firefox user for 15 years and I was also irritated by their recent problems. I think it's perfectly legitimate to criticize them. In the case of browsers their competitors are also free anyway. Obviously it's better if the criticism is proportional and reasonable rather than hyperbolic.
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:05 PM
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Well, there is you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.
I wonder if Odysseus was familiar with that phrase.
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:11 PM
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I wonder if Odysseus was familiar with that phrase.

Snicker.
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:20 PM
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Well, there is you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.
Doesn't mean you're not allowed to complain if it turns out to be lame.
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:26 PM
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Doesn't mean you're not allowed to complain if it turns out to be lame.
I'm struggling a bit with the metaphor. Bad teeth reduce calcium intake, leading to osteoporosis?
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:30 PM
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Of course you can criticize or complain about something you got for free.

However, some complaints about free stuff betray a sense of entitlement, or ingratitude, or unrealistic expectations.
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:35 PM
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We all breathe the air, which is free; but it has qualities which we can certainly complain about if necessary.
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Old 05-05-2019, 03:38 PM
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Tanstaafl. Nothing is free. At the very least, you are paying in time and effort and opportunity cost. If someone gave me a 'free' program and claimed I could do X with it and I spent a week trying to get it to do 'X' only to find out that it was fundamentally broken and would 't work, you bet your ass I'd complain about it.

Offering something for 'free' does not absolve you from the pain or loss in time or opportunity it might cause to the people who use it. It also doesn't absolve you from legal liability should you misrepresent what it does, or if it hurts someone due to your negligence.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:32 AM
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I'm struggling a bit with the metaphor. Bad teeth reduce calcium intake, leading to osteoporosis?
The original metaphor is about the age of horses, which can be told from their teeth. If someone gives you a horse you're supposed to say "thank you" without checking whether it's old. But that's about one of multiple things which make a horse valuable: if the horse you've been given is lame (that is, if it simply can't be used for anything other than horse meat), that's still a lousy "gift".
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Last edited by Nava; 05-06-2019 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:07 AM
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Nothing is free.

Let's say someone gives you a gift: A raggedy, musty, damp wash cloth. Perhaps the polite thing to do would be to just throw it away and never speak of it ever again, but would it be bad to tell someone, "This is a bizarre and totally useless Mother's Day gift"? I don't think so. Nor do I think it would be the worse thing in the world for this thought to be tactfully communicated to the giver so that they can do better next time.
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:10 PM
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Critics


There are people who are paid to criticize things they get for free. These people are called critics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anton Ego, from Ratatouille
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 05-06-2019 at 03:11 PM. Reason: sig
  #20  
Old 05-06-2019, 04:45 PM
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I get my air for free, but I certainly bitch about it when we have an ozone advisory that makes it tough to breathe, or there's enough pollen and mold spores to inflame my allergies.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:21 PM
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More evidence for why this is a completely stupid question occurred this afternoon. Yahoo email was down for several hours in numerous major areas around the world today, from late afternoon EDT until early evening. Yahoo email is mostly a free service, but many ISPs outsource to it, so it might be considered an added-value service with no specific or even real value attached to it, since you can always get it (or Gmail) for free, and it all uses the same infrastructure.

So it was down for a few hours this afternoon. Yahoo email AIUI has a subscriber base of some 700 million users around the world. Should they be justified in complaining? Yes, they should. Should there be websites tracking outages and the volume of complaints, complete with realtime graphs? Yes, there should be, and there are.

When you provide an important service and build a public dependency on it, then regardless of whether or not you've found a way to monetize it in some indirect way, and irrespective of the fact that it's nominally free, you have a concomitant responsibility to support it.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:31 PM
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Tanstaafl. Nothing is free. At the very least, you are paying in time and effort and opportunity cost. If someone gave me a 'free' program and claimed I could do X with it and I spent a week trying to get it to do 'X' only to find out that it was fundamentally broken and would 't work, you bet your ass I'd complain about it.

Offering something for 'free' does not absolve you from the pain or loss in time or opportunity it might cause to the people who use it. It also doesn't absolve you from legal liability should you misrepresent what it does, or if it hurts someone due to your negligence.
Yes, and this, too.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:45 PM
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Carry this illogical meme to its logical conclusion:

If I'm allowed to criticize what I pay for, but not what is free; then what about that which pays me? I certainly wouldn't be "allowed" to criticize my employer, if the meme were sound.

A pizza shop sometimes has a 2-for-1 promotion, so we take an extra pizza home. "No complaints, please. It was free!"
There is nothing at all logical about either of those.

1) Your employer pays you but (theoretically) you provide an equivalent value in labor. It is a mutually agreed upon exchange.

2) The 2 for 1 pizza deal does not mean you got a "free" or "extra" pizza. It is a marketing gimmick. You don't think the owner is in the back crying at all of his money walking out the door do you?

Or did I miss a whoosh somewhere?
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:03 PM
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Free software waiver of liability


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It also doesn't absolve you from legal liability should you misrepresent what it does, or if it hurts someone due to your negligence.
I always wondered if those waivers of liability clauses in shrink-wrap license agreements are worth the bandwidth they are downloaded on. These usually accompany free software.

I see them as contracts of adhesion or possibly not a contract at all (the software is free). In which case who is liable if the nuclear reactor blows up? The programmer who gave out free software on the express condition that all liability is waived including merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose? The engineer who installed the software? The power plant's quality assurance team?

~Max
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Old 05-07-2019, 12:16 AM
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The original metaphor is about the age of horses, which can be told from their teeth. If someone gives you a horse you're supposed to say "thank you" without checking whether it's old. But that's about one of multiple things which make a horse valuable: if the horse you've been given is lame (that is, if it simply can't be used for anything other than horse meat), that's still a lousy "gift".
WHOA!!! I'll gladly take all your old horse meat.
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Old 05-07-2019, 12:27 AM
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I use the sidewalks freely. But if I slip on the ice and break my leg because they were not maintained properly, a lawsuit might be appropriate.
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Old 05-07-2019, 10:50 AM
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Taxpayer's expense is not free


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I use the sidewalks freely. But if I slip on the ice and break my leg because they were not maintained properly, a lawsuit might be appropriate.
I'm not sure if that counts. If the sidewalks are maintained at the taxpayer's expense, it's not actually free for you, the taxpayer.

Unless you do not pay taxes.

~Max
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:44 PM
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I get my air for free, but I certainly bitch about it when we have an ozone advisory that makes it tough to breathe, or there's enough pollen and mold spores to inflame my allergies.
I get free air for my tires at a local gas station run by a supermarket chain. It's free because the station wants my gas business. Since I depend on that air machine, when I pull up to it with a soft tire and find out it's broken with no explanation, I become a bit cross.

I don't believe in anything, nothing is free
They're feeding our people that Government cheese


- The Rainmakers
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:52 AM
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When I worked in real estate rentals, the worst people to work with were those on rent subsidy. Here they are, getting their rent paid by the government, and acting like they should be entitled to rent a condo that costs $3,000 a month.

One couple who claimed to be living in their car and looking for something that would take their rental assistance refused a place because they didn't like the area. Or, as they actual exchange went:

Where's it located?
On (name of street)
I'm not living there.
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Old 05-09-2019, 12:14 PM
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One couple who claimed to be living in their car [...said:]

"... I'm not living there."
Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me.

~Max
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Old 05-10-2019, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitnam View Post
Nothing is free or very long. If it costs nothing and someone likes to use it rest assured it will be monetized somehow soon.
Mozilla and Firefox have existed as a nonprofit / open source project in one form or another for 21 years now. I'm sure they'll monetize it one of these days.
FYI, Mozilla gets money from Google (as the default search option) and from ads on the search results page. The Mozilla Foundation had net income of about $90 million in 2017.
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:33 PM
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FYI, Mozilla gets money from Google (as the default search option) and from ads on the search results page. The Mozilla Foundation had net income of about $90 million in 2017.
the revenue you're referring to is for the Mozilla Corporation which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation.
From Wiki:
The Mozilla Foundation will ultimately control the activities of the Mozilla Corporation and will retain its 100 percent ownership of the new subsidiary. Any profits made by the Mozilla Corporation will be invested back into the Mozilla project. There will be no shareholders, no stock options will be issued and no dividends will be paid.
  #33  
Old 05-13-2019, 08:45 PM
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I just wanted to point out that some clarity is required on the way some posters talk about "not for profit" organizations. They suggest that since Firefox is a "not for profit", we shouldn't criticize their work. This implies they're a bunch of volunteers or low paid workers doing their best.

All the term "not for profit" means is that they don't declare a profit at the the end of the year. Any surplus money (i.e.: profit) must be either invested back into the business or paid out to the employees (or senior managers) usually as a year-end bonus.

My wife is an accountant who's audited many "not for profits" that solicite donations from the public for various causes. While some employees were working at them out of passion for the cause, most were very well paid. Some senior executives were making literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year plus large year end bonuses based on surplus income. Meanwhile, most of the public who donated money believed they were supporting charities of some kind, they were not. Not for profits are full-on businesses.

As Dewey points out - Firefox has lots of revenue, they just don't declare a profit. I'm not Firefox or Mozilla expert but from everything I've read they have large teams of people who are very well paid.

Bottom line: there valid arguments to be made for when someone should or shouldn't criticize something they get for free, however simply because the organization supplying is a "not for profit" is not one of them.

Differences between a not for profit and a charity in Canada:
https://turbotax.intuit.ca/tips/diff...donations-5351
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:01 AM
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Not quite the same thing as the OP, but I've noticed a pattern doing work for clients on things that are largely intangible.

There's a corollary to the expression "You get what you pay for", in that people will assume your work is worth whatever they pay for it.

When we'd do a project and charge $50,000 for it, the clients would keep revisions reasonable and professional, never add on other items (not without us then revising the cost estimate), and were typically quite happy with the results.

When we'd do something for free for them as a favor, that same client would criticize every last point, demand sweeping changes even to things they'd previously requested, ask for new things that would have added huge costs ("why can't you shoot new video content for this web page?"), and would barely even say thank you for it afterwards.

Like the Joker said, "if you're good at something, never do it for free." What he failed to add was "because if you do, nobody will ever appreciate it."
  #35  
Old 05-14-2019, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Nothing is free.

Let's say someone gives you a gift: A raggedy, musty, damp wash cloth. Perhaps the polite thing to do would be to just throw it away and never speak of it ever again, but would it be bad to tell someone, "This is a bizarre and totally useless Mother's Day gift"? I don't think so. Nor do I think it would be the worse thing in the world for this thought to be tactfully communicated to the giver so that they can do better next time.
I think it's a bit much to compare a free browser that worked perfectly for years and happens to have had a major snag recently to a moldy cloth.
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