Note: I'm using the term »Software« for plugins & themes.

Sadly we've lots of Qs like this one which ask for support for commercial »Software«. Most paid »Software« has support included or at a low per month rate.

Out FAQs currently don't deny the support for such »Software«. IMHO that's not ok. If someone is developing »Software« and making her/his daily live from it and invests lots of time to keep the »Software« living, then they should've the chance. @Wyck summed it up pretty well.

I know, that some/most of this »Software« is Open Source, but without a public source, we're unable to help and from a moral point of view I'm not able to help too.

I'd go even one step further: We should state in our FAQ, that we're allowed to report every user to the »Software« author (as long as we got some sort of contact data). 1)

I want WPSE to be a source for Open Source »Software«, but I also want it to respect the work and live of other plugin authors.

EDIT:

Another BIG issue for supporting such Qs also is that the source in most cases isn't available publicly. So how would we offer support for something where we don't know what happens under the hood?

This edit is only here as it seemed to be not've been written clear enough in the ↑ paragraph.

Your thoughts?

1) That's my personal opinion and should've maybe been part of an answer. I don't want finger pointing discussions, so I striked it out.

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how can you be sure it's stolen? –  Bainternet Apr 19 '12 at 18:57
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Voted to reopen. The supposedly exact-duplicate question involves non-GPL products. This question, while related, involves support/product moochers for any code (GPL or otherwise), and should perhaps be allowed to be discussed on its own merits. Or else: the scope of the referenced question needs to be expanded to include Kaiser's issue. –  Chip Bennett Apr 19 '12 at 19:04
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As for "how can you be sure it's stolen"" - that's usually easy enough to spot. The replies/mannerisms of the OP are usually a dead giveaway - or if not, their reply to "did you use the developer's support offerings?" gives it away. –  Chip Bennett Apr 19 '12 at 19:05
    
I think in current form this question is "what about now?" - nothing meaningfully different from issues raised by earlier question. Changing FAQ is for after issue itself get sufficient support (which is from my opinion and checking for perspective in mod room is unlikely). –  Rarst Apr 19 '12 at 19:20
    
@Rarst Please read about dublicates ;) –  kaiser Apr 19 '12 at 19:29
    
@kaiser when our meta will be size of SO then you can make that argument :) As for me we don't have near enough activity to fracture that little between similar questions. –  Rarst Apr 19 '12 at 19:32
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You cannot steal GPL code anyway, right? –  toscho Apr 19 '12 at 20:09
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Contact details of users are only available to moderators, and moderators have to accept a moderator agreement that explicitly disallows sharing that information. Sharing that information would also likely violate the SE privacy policy. That information is private for a reason, violating the trust of the users in this way seems like a very bad idea. –  Mad Scientist Apr 19 '12 at 20:34
    
@Fabian I'm not asking for contact details being publicly available. I even removed this part, to not get more confusion into this discussion. –  kaiser Apr 20 '12 at 1:23
    
Any chance you could change the scope/title of this question to omit "stolen/not-paid"? I would prefer to see a more comprehensive discussion about supporting commercial products in general, but I think it may not warrant an entirely separate question. –  Chip Bennett Apr 20 '12 at 15:45
    
@ChipBennett omitting that would mean that I change the whole content (or delete half of it). IMHO we can have both discussions in here. If you think otherwise: Feel free to edit the Q yourself. –  kaiser Apr 20 '12 at 16:06
    
@kaiser reading the question, the only change I see necessary would be to remove "stolen/not-paid" from the question title. The whole of your question content applies with or without that qualifier, IMHO, and wouldn't need to be changed. –  Chip Bennett Apr 20 '12 at 16:39
    
@ChipBennet »I want WPSE to be a source for Open Source »Software«, but I also want it to respect the work and live of other plugin authors.« –  kaiser Apr 20 '12 at 18:18
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5 Answers

As long as the asker doesn't say the software is stolen we follow in dubio pro reo. Nobody has to answer.

If a questions requires a look at the source code, and the code is not available the question will be closed as too localized.

Everything is either already covered by the existing rules or not coverable. No need to act.

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Most paid »Software« has support included or at a low per month rate.

Yes, but we can't guarantee the quality or timeliness of such support. Allowing questions about paid products on the site makes the body of content we curate that much richer for users.

You also have to consider the case of a developer buying a premium plugin and using it in a client site - 100% within their rights, but the client won't have access to the support forums because they're not the original customer.

Out FAQs currently don't deny the support for such »Software«. IMHO that's not ok.

This is an opinion I wholeheartedly disagree with for the reasons above and a whole slew of others.

If someone is developing »Software« and making her/his daily live from it and invests lots of time to keep the »Software« living, then they should've the chance. I know, that some/most of this »Software« is Open Source, but without a public source, we're unable to help and from a moral point of view I'm not able to help too.

You're merging two concepts here - public software that's GPL with publicly accessible source code, and projects to which we don't have source access. A plugin that's free and in the repo/on GitHub is easy to debug. Core is even easier. We all have the source. I agree with you there.

But just because we can't easily find the source doesn't mean we should reject the question. If it's about Cart66, Genesis, Thesis, or some other premium product, a question is a question ... and the right answer could be to close the question as too localized and move on. But that's a decision that should be made when we come to it.

I'd go even one step further: We should state in our FAQ, that we're allowed to report every user to the »Software« author (as long as we got some sort of contact data).

Let me state this very clearly: No.

We are not a community of tattle tales. This is far outside the scope of any question and answer site.

I want WPSE to be a source for Open Source »Software«, but I also want it to respect the work and live of other plugin authors.

What about proprietary systems? Just because you use WordPress doesn't mean you have to release the code of your finished client site to anyone but the client. It can essentially be closed-source, and I would still welcome questions about your code on this site.

Just remember that the content of this site is licensed, so any code you post here can be re-used ... but placing an open source filter or requirement on the site? No.

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I am going to repeat my point from answer to earlier question - we are not entitled to pry where, how and why person got software that question is about.

You can make your opinion about it and refuse to answer accordingly. However there is a huge distance between personal sense of morals and rules whole community is forced to abide by.

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Every time I see a commercial product question I want it removed. The whole idea of commercial GPL revolves around support.

A. You paid for support, so go to their support forum.

B. If their support is poor or doesn't exist it's no excuse to dump it into our laps. This should be discouraged, I certainly don't want to help a company that charges people and doesn't support them.

C. Grey line issues, some companies offer free plugins but with pay modules OR they offer support based on a timed/ticket fee. So are we supposed to make up for what the end user should be doing and paying for support, I think not.

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Thanks. Maybe it would've been better if you would have written this Q. –  kaiser Apr 20 '12 at 1:27
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+1. I would prefer our FAQ explicitly exclude commercial products. Answering support questions for commercial products makes us unpaid support-employees-by-proxy for the commercial product developer, who gets paid to develop and support the product. –  Chip Bennett Apr 20 '12 at 1:43
    
You are arguing that we should help keep lock users in because of GPL. See the contradiction? –  Rarst Apr 20 '12 at 8:39
    
@Rarst I really don't have any idea what you mean by that comment... –  Chip Bennett Apr 20 '12 at 13:11
    
@Chip that was to original answer, which stipulates that "commercial GPL" users somehow deserve to be denied same benefits of this site any other person has access to –  Rarst Apr 20 '12 at 13:38
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@Rarst: what "benefits"? The commercial nature of these products changes things entirely, because developer and customer have entered into a contractual relationship for mutual gain. By WPSE providing support for commercial products, either the developer gets to reap the financial gain of that contractual relationship without fulfilling his obligation to provide support, or else the customer gets to reap the benefit of support provided through the contractual relationship without actually paying for it. The only losers are the WPSE volunteers who are not privy to the contract. –  Chip Bennett Apr 20 '12 at 13:49
    
Yes, and we are all getting ripped off by Automattic for contributing to WordPress ecosystem so that they can benefit and make cash on wp.com. –  Rarst Apr 20 '12 at 14:02
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Good point. If you'll notice: questions specific to wordpress.com are explicitly declared out of scope for WPSE. Why should we not treat any other commercial service or product similarly? –  Chip Bennett Apr 20 '12 at 14:04
    
They are off-topic because wp.com is hosted in flavor, not because it is commercial in flavor. –  Rarst Apr 20 '12 at 14:05
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I do not believe the hosted-vs-commercial distinction you claim is reflected in the FAQ. Thought experiment: would questions in the context of a hosted service that allows for greater customization (Plugin installation, Theme installation/modification) not be in scope here? Should questions specific to Genesis Theme be considered in scope here? –  Chip Bennett Apr 20 '12 at 14:36
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I have to agree with this with the exception in cases where,

  • support is either no longer available for a once premium product or
  • where the author has abandoned support/ignoring users.

In which case its often fairly easy to verify.

Although the code may be open source, it may otherwise not be possible for us to obtain, since we'd have to pay for it, therefore it may not be possible to provide an answer.

There are GPL related concerns/debates that could be injected into this conversation that could by way of technicality make it "ok" - depending which side of the fence you sit on - however I think from a moral standpoint your position is just and this type of moral view is what protects the livelihoods of those who choose to make a living from the WordPress platform.

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