We keep hearing about the ungrateful job of OSS maintainers and the arrogant users with a huge sense of entitlement demanding slave work for free.
While I do sympathise with this sentiment, there are 2 cases from my recent past that I may have been one of the jerks. Yet, when I look back, I can't see what I would have done differently, other than not engage with this product.
In these cases, what could I have done to avoid or de-escalate the conflicts? Is there a better way to think about the mind (and schedule) of a project maintainer to help my approaches be received more favorably?
A company is providing a hosted version of their static analysis tool gratis for OSS. The documentation is scarce and the instructions are not working for my project. I spend a few evenings trying things and finally send to the support email address a detailed summary of the problem and what I have done so far, plus link to live project, asking for help. I don't get any response.
Few weeks later, I post the question on Stack Overflow. A developer from the said company replies within a day or two, and after few days of back and forth, we resolve the issue. Turns out there were a number of undocumented "known issues" (a.k.a. "you are doing it wrong") and a few easy changes that would have prevented my problem.
I summarize the conversation and recap the factors that led me astray, suggesting that they get fixed or featured prominently in the docs. Around this time a person who is actually working on the OSS Support for the said product joins the conversation, rejects all feedback and starts behaving indignantly after I make a note that they are late to the party and haven't contributed much to the solution.
Then we exchange a few comments on how I am not the only user and I can't expect special attention, while I counter with "I am the only user that has documented in public the root cause of the problem and the solution" (I saw a number of people on SO had the same problem, but there was only one half-assed solution, with major hole in it.)
In the end, all parties go away disgusted. I only wanted to be helpful -- what went wrong here?
Another company, another tool, integrating with a build tool I use. All of a sudden integration breaks because of a third party thing. I fix it by doing it right and submit them a snippet for including in the readme. They demand that I actually do the change and do a pull request. I do. They request I fix my readme pull request. I see no value in this back and forth and close the pull request.
Same company, few months later - I find a trivial bug. File an issue with line-number and description of the fix. They suggest a pull request. I counter that for such a trivial change I don't see the point and I am not going to spend time on it. They downvote the comment (assume they are offended), but fix the bug (yay!).
So, what would you think is the right course of action in these 2 situations? I want to make the world a better place, I am prepared to do some work, but I appreciate appreciation and don't like wasting my time.