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The cost of brain picking

Posted on | April 7, 2008 | Comments Off

I’ve been conversing with someone who was interested in one of the free software projects that I’m managing.

I spent no less than 15 hours explaining (in detail) what we’re planning, how its structured and how he could adopt it for his business. I also mentioned that the next release was 3 months away.

The person elected to do it on his own, then started asking for recommendations on the proper building blocks to use. When I pointed at my consulting fee, the person got very, very quiet. I have not heard from the person since.

Lesson learned, don’t get your brain picked for free :) Free software developers are NOT free information centers. Don’t give away what most people charge $50 – $80 an hour to do. Let the leech wait for the next release then ask questions on a public list. Unless, of course you want to donate your personal time, which is great. Just know the difference. Helping somehost.com boost revenue for free is quite a bit different than helping John Q Public understand how to use his free operating system.

Fortunately, I have a steady gig. For those who don’t, why would they buy the cow when they can get the milk for free? :) Just because the software is free doesn’t mean that the developers are.

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