But the thing that really stands out about Kaiser’s announcement is less about the retirement, and more about what he says about the challenges he faced as a creator of open-source software on a platform where his app was literally the only show in town:
If you aren’t paying for the software, then please don’t be a jerk. There is a human at the other end of those complaints and unless you have a support contract, that person owes you exactly nothing. Whining is exhausting to read and “doesn’t work” reports are unavoidably depressing, disparaging or jokey comments are unkind, and making reports nastier or more insistent doesn’t make your request more important. This is true whether or not your request is reasonable or achievable, but it’s certainly more so when it isn’t.
As kindly as I can put it, not all bug reports are welcome. Many are legitimately helpful and improve the quality of the browser, and I did appreciate the majority of the reports I got, but even helpful bug reports objectively mean more work for me though it was work I usually didn’t mind doing. Unfortunately, the ones that are unhelpful are at best annoying (and at worst incredibly frustrating) because they mean unhappy people with problems that may never be solvable.
This is what is particularly interesting about Kaiser’s comments: Because of what he was producing, he effectively became one of the most important people in the vintage Mac scene almost by default, because he was producing software that anyone who was at all serious about continuing to use their vintage computers probably needed. And this, of course, creates pressure. Sure, others likely helped him, but he was the person out front and it’s not like he was making millions of dollars by continuing to program a browser that has basically no modern commercial use case.
And that puts undue pressure on the one guy who is pushing this specific platform forward on what is arguably its most important tool. (On top of all of this Kaiser, a medical doctor and infectious diseases expert, has had an immeasurably difficult job over the last year as the public health officer for an entire county during a pandemic, a position he was recently removed from
after gaining a reputation of being ahead of the curve on things like requiring mask-wearing. Kaiser, who briefly hinted at this in his TenFourFox post, literally was the person who called off Coachella