Tuesday, September 14, 2004

That Damned Calendar: A Rant

What seems like forever ago, I made the mistake of mentioning in one or the other of the developerWorks forums that I had a way to create a pretty-looking categorized calendar on the web. I say "mistake" because the requests for the code have reached the level that they actually swamp out the spam in my inbox (proving once and for all that Domino, at least, is not dead yet). I've sent out demo databases in response, and they have helped a few people. Many, many more people have just turned around and outright demanded that I do the work it would take to integrate the calendar into their applications. For free, mind you.

When did that kind of behaviour become acceptable? I really hate to unfairly categorize these requests, but the vast majority have come from the same people and organisations that are trying to put me out of work by claiming to be able to do my job for less money. (I should point out here that I make a whole lot less than most Americans and Europeans in the Notes development game would make as the consequences of being Canadian, of how I got this job, and of the vagaries of corporate M&A.) Now, I've been beyond broke, and I can understand beggars, but I never imagined that I would regularly encounter the equivalent of streetcorner beggars who are fully employed and ask not for spare change, but for passers-by to go to the office and do their work for them, gratis, so that they can collect their salaries.

I'm quite well aware that there are a lot (and I do mean a lot) more people working in places like Bangalore and Mumbai than have ever requested code from me, but there still seems to be a disproportionate number of people from the major outsourcing centres who feel entitled to demand that I do their work for them. I'm not talking about "borrowing" code here — anyone who has embarked on a developer's career without peeking at other people's code can probably be fairly classified as an idiot. Nor am I talking about people who are merely trying to learn the sort of stuff you don't get in the "Introduction to Domino Designer" course; I generally have a high tolerance for newbies who actually seem to want to learn. I did, after all, offer the code base, and I have no problem working with people who have made an effort to understand what I've done and may have a lingering question or two. I'm just wondering what kind of cultural climate would persuade anyone, anywhere, to believe that it's perfectly okay to demand that I (or anyone else, for that matter) do work for free so that they can be paid for "work" they got by undercutting my wages.

A warning, then. When I post code here, I do so on the understanding that you (whoever you may be) will put at least as much effort into understanding and adapting the ideas as I did developing them. I am more than willing to discuss what I've done with other interested developers. I'll explain why I've done what I've done if it's not clear enough, and I am always ready to accept criticism and modifications from my readers. I will not, however, countenance demands for free development. Don't ask — I've a taste for a malenky bit of the horrorshow red krovvy these days, droogs, and I've a skorry britva.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You simply must accept the reality of your own greatness, and part of that acceptance is understanding those who would enhance their own existence by trying to emulate yours. When this fails, the demands begin. Its safe to simply ignore them. Like the Notes.Net posters who state the business problem, and then make no effort to resolve it on their own, its a simple matter to ignore and continue. Sort of like an "On Error Resume Next" error handler.

But don't overlook the possibility of earnings: if the demands persist, send a quote! Number of hours, and estimate of cost. That will send them packing, and help you keep your estimating skills sharp. You never know when one may bite, and send some business your way.