The Ten Commandments of Open Source

Update: To be fair, a great deal of inspiration for this post came from Ed “Funkatron” Finkler and his session at phpWorks 2008 Picachu pitch-at-ya peek-at-you lightning talk called “Users are Assholes” and later by Matthew Weier O’Phinney’s lightning talk called “How to get kicked off my Project.” Thanks for the fodder guys!

On all sides of software development, there are annoyances. Some of them go beyond annoyances and into pet peeves. Some of them go beyond pet peeves and incite open war within projects and communities. After witnessing a number of these rants – from developers and non-developers – and even sharing a few myself, I thought maybe I could make the situation better.

Therefore, I present here for comment:

The Ten Commandments of Open Source Software.

0. Thou shalt not ask questions without basic research including documentation and the Google.

I. Thou shalt realize that most developers work on passion and freetime. Thou are not paying them.

II. Thou shalt not criticize code and architectures before seeking understanding.

III. Thou shalt not use the phrase “this should be simple” unless thou has confirmed it as such.

IV. Thou shalt apply patches and updates in a timely manner. Further, thou shalt have a vague idea of when the next release is due-eth.

V. Honor thy developers and designers.

VI. Thou shalt include specific error messages and screenshots when thou hast problems. Thou stating “thy software sucks” is not helpful and angers the Funkatron.

VII. Thou shalt not murder.*

VIII. Thou shalt not copy without respecting both the license and the terms within.

IX. Thou shalt not covet the features and functionality in thy neighbor’s software.

Did I miss any?

* No, I’m not kidding.