Sunday, March 3, 2013

Battered Volunteer Syndrome

I am borrowing the turn of phrase from a poster in the GPU grid forum, because it seems aptly appropriate about what I want to talk about today.  I am amazed at how many people on project forums like to complain about everything that is going wrong at these various projects. Now for one I am known to be a rather laid back person ( passionate yes, but laid back more or less), as such I do not tend to get angy until it is really warranted.

I am not calling out all complaints on forums, as system crashes, and faulty work units should be called out in the right area's so the scientists and programmers can fix the issues.  A bit more on the questionable side seem to come with GPU crunching, in the sense that a very well programmed GPU task will be using everything on the GPU that it possibly can, so when running such a task, it may render your PC unusable from a normal user experience side of things.  While I can see how that can be frustrating, I believe that is why BOINC has options to disable either CPU, GPU or both when you decide to use the PC.

But I have seen some rather outlandish complaints issued against a variety of different projects.  People being completely irate because a project has unexpected down time, often waving around statements like "it would be unacceptable for ATT to go down for this long."  I honestly really need to laugh at that, because guess what you are not paying these projects unless you regularly donate to the projects you support.  As such these projects are almost all on a fairly shoe string budget, and on a shoe string budget one of the first things you cut out is as many redundancies as you can, which means when things crash there's not a backup server just waiting to get put in the game.

Then fewer and far between but almost insanely out of left field are crunchers ( usually with already some substantial amount of credits, so its not like they have only been doing it for a few days), making posts telling the projects that they should be paid for their efforts.  Yes we are doing the science for the projects, but we volunteer to do that work.  Unless the definition has changed since I first learned that word, it means we help with no real expectation for a reward, except maybe emotional, and an atta boy or two.  I fully understand the machinery we buy, and the electricity to run it, not to mention the internet service to keep it connected are all expensive, but if you can not afford the extra bump in electricity, then you likely have bigger financial issues you need to deal with and should not be crunching ( and you definitely should not be buying top of the line machines).

Sorry if this is a wake u call to anyone, but I feel this had to be said.   We are volunteers, our goal should be to help the projects, because we believe in the projects, not to seek some sort of reward.

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