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Software Ethics

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I'm raising a new thread about software ethics.

I'm raising a broad-based discussion question.

The vendors of several popular organizers uses the same wordprocessor library, same scheduler library -
and used in different fashion in their organizers.

One thing i noticed was the sheer amount of bugs those libraries had and yet, the wordprocessor library vendor, and the scheduler library vendor managed to get away totally blameless - their customer's customers (i.e., the software vendors) get the blame instead.

many of the issues reported (by the end-users of these organizers) were attributed to bugs and defects in the (library), and no fault of the (organizer-vendor).

for the record, many years ago, I confronted the word-processor library vendor and walked away, losing a few thousand dollars., and same with the scheduler vendor.

why did I walk away and lose all the money?

the EULA on the Word-Processing Library states that the Word-processor library is without warranty and that it was without fitness for any purpose. any claim in court would be thrown out, and those vendors would tell me repeatedly that I would not get back my money at all. my emails are often ignored.

nearly all EULA found on software now have the above clauses.

today, I look at the software market and shudder. unless things change, either by law-enforcement (in the form of IT malpractice lawsuits) or increasing professional status of the IT industry, three things will happen:

a) people who write software will be tempted to sell "hypeware", "false promises" and "software full of bugs" to recover costs as quickly as possible,

b) it will become more and more difficult to earn a living selling software.

c) there will be another IT "black hole" where investments don't match the revenue coming in.

- An average software developer makes approx US$120,000 per year. How many copies of US$29.95 organizers do you have to sell to support a development team?

- Why is that nobody has taken "class action" lawsuit against certain vendors?

- Why do people resign themselves to posting on this forum to complain... why not file an "IT malpractice" lawsuit instead?

Maybe the first thing to do, is regulate IT the same as being lawyers and doctors. Doctors are regulated by medical council or medical supervisory board. Lawyers have bar associations or law societies.

The very sad thing about software market is as every year pass by, I see more and more software created with false and misleading advertising. RAD means Rapid Application Decline, and QA is no longer followed.

Perhaps the only way to force higher standards is to start writing laws, to force IT vendors to honor their claims, and force punitive damages when they don't.

Let me mention another thing which i think is going to hurt software quality.

Every day we are seeing more and more the push towards advertisement-based software.

This is the Google effect -- everything becomes "free" with advertisements.

It's strange that there is almost universal horror at the idea of "adware" on your desktop, but no one seems to mind much that the entire web is becoming adware, and as applications move more to the web, adware is becoming the norm not the exception.

I think one of the consquences of the googleification (adwareification) of sofware is that something profound changes in terms of the motivations and incentives for software developers.

It seems to me that the incentives shift much more to attracting eyeballs and new visitors, rather than providing a sustained quality product.  Sure, products will still need to be good and get a good reputation to compete, but i think we are very much likely to see much more of a focus towards attracting new visitors rather than keeping happy "customers".  And companies won't have a paying userbase to answer to -- they can always just say "hey it's free (and beta), what do you want from us?! stop complaining and watch some more ads."

I really can't say i like the direction that google/adware is taking us.. I hope there is still room for other kinds of software that people are willing to pay to support, so it won't be dependent on advertising, but i fear it's going to be an uphill battle.

I think the software vendors purchasing the licenses should vote with their money. Tell the library vendor to take a flying leap and spread the word that the library sucks. Put it up on a blog page. I used product XYZ and it sucked. The supported sucked. The developer was a jerk. So, Intarwebz, what do you recommend. Please leave a comment or a link to your own blog posting about what you use and why.

We don't need regulation. We don't need courts. We don't need "Certified Engineers" making software. We don't need lawyers drafting EULAs. We need people voting with the most powerful weapons in the know universe, money and word of mouth.


a) glad to see you returned to health.
b) I feel your frustration. type results are worthless, because I have absolutely no clue about the reviewers experience with the domain, whether they have a grudge or a competing product, etc. But I will trust the reviews of my peers or peers of peers and so forth. Teen Warez Wannabe can tell me a product sux or rocks and I don't give a damn. However, I will trust others on this forum that have proven themselves reliable and intelligent. I will trust the likes of a Paul Graham, Jeff Atwood, or Jon Udell. And there are many levels in between.

Software ethics are no different than ethics in any other profession. Many people don't have them.

Could it be, the reason that lawsuits aren't filed are the same reasons why the offenders in this thread are referred to as "the vendor" rather than actually identified? I assume the reason is because no one needs a libel lawsuit tacked to their ass ;) I'm not trying to step on toes.

Regardless, this is why I have recommended this site to so very many people (I should follow up to see if any of them have actually come had a look) - I am no coder but a lot of you are, and I can see from the product available here, some damn good ones too!

For me, a positive comment at DC is pure gold.

Also, I'm slowly but surely replacing as much of my programs with open source stuff because frankly if it is crap, it's not at all painful to trash it.  After 20+ years in end user support, I have absolutely no faith in most commercial software producers - they *always* lie or mislead and many have followed MSloth's pattern of regular releases of old crap software with a new skin badly pasted over the top. Add onto that a big dose of feeping creaturism and some over pricing and you have the state of commecial software programming.

This is a very interesting discussion and raises issues that end-users seldom consider. I guess it all comes down to transparency - 99.99% of the unwashed ma end-users, myself included, are not aware that software developers buy off the shelf (so to speak) software components to incorporate into their own applications. If end-users were more aware of this, they might be more understanding and perhaps even assist the developer in pushing the supplier for a fix (rather than berating the developer).


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