The proxy debate over paid addons

By | October 17, 2013

I recently received a review of my ExQuilla addon for Thunderbird with the glowing report “It works well, I’ll give you that. No more, no less”. Should be 5 stars, right? No, the addon got 2.

This is the proxy battle over whether there should be paid addons in the Mozilla ecosystem, fought by trashing the ratings of paid addons. The reviewer gave me 2 stars because he believes “Please find purchasers from paid email software, not in an open source software.” He also complained about my response to an earlier reviewer who gave ExQuilla one star because, even though it “works great”, but “i’m really angry against Mozilla for not highlitning (sic) the paying extensions when you download it” (My earlier comment was: “It’s unfortunate that ExQuilla reviews are being used a a proxy for a debate about the philosophy of paid extensions. A better venue would be to send emails to amo-editors@mozilla.org”)

ExQuilla provides support to allow Thunderbird to work with Exchange server. Anyone using Exchange server and ExQuilla is already embedded in the paid software world.

So what do you think, Mozilla? Is it really such a sin to seek to earn some income?After all, I’ve spent years doing patches in Thunderbird without pay, and I have plenty of other free addons for Thunderbird. “I don’t believe we should subsidize businesses who want free software” was how Mitchell put the situation to me privately when Mozilla drastically reduced their support for Thunderbird, and I agree with that completely. Is it so terrible to ask users to pay for their software with cash instead of indirectly by selling their privacy (which is what most so-called “free” open source software apps do)?