Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


You are here: Home / Increasingly mercenary and unaltrustic global culture

Increasingly mercenary and unaltrustic global culture

by Hawke published Mar 10, 2022 11:05 AM, last modified Oct 10, 2023 12:34 PM
There has been a very disturbing increasing trend in the past 10 years in the volunteer, paid, and opensource sectors: severe mercenary and inconsiderate behaviors.

This started with a thread in Linkedin:

This is regarding multiple companies in both the non-profit, for-profit, and open source arenas across a wide range of market verticals.

This starts with general hiring, volunteering, and work-ethic high-level market trend observations, and then illustrates connections with potentially similar changes in the open source communities increasingly sabotaging the benefits of opensource software.

Increasing Lack of Work Ethic Across the Global Volunteer and Paid Work Forces

5-6 years ago we "only" had maybe 1 or 2 people per interview day no-show to a confirmed interview (typically between 4 to 8 interviews scheduled per interview day), we go through a triple confirmation process. Most of those that did miss their confirmed interview would follow up with apologies and wanting to reschedule.

We made note of their flakiness, but continued the process with them.

We might get someone no-showing and "ghosting" maybe once or twice per month.

However, each year in the past 5 years we've seen this steadily worsening.

Now, as of 2022, even after triple-confirming the appointment with them, on a good day, only HALF of the people bother to show up for the interview, and almost none of the ones that no-showed will follow up or respond to our follow up about the missed appointment!

Of the several companies I'm responsible for, some of them are international virtual companies, so these interviews and jobs have almost always been online.

We also speak to local businesses owners in multiple countries, especially the US, with non-virtual setups. These companies have seen a rise in issues with potential employees booking up to 20 confirmed interviews in a day, and only have 1-5 candidates actually show up!

We have tried to address this issue by sweetening the opportunities with extrinsic enhancements (higher pay, more benefits, more time off, etc.), in some cases offering more than double the market pay (normally $24 an hour, but we offered over $50/hr, or from market of $60/hr to over $120/hr), but found it had the opposite desired effect, this lead to more insincere and unreliable people only interested in those extrinsic options, and they were not actually motivated and excited about our organizations or the job itself, and were ironically much lower quality candidates in their actual work experience, background, relevance to the position, etc.
So, interestingly, we found that significantly reducing the extrinsic offerings (lower the pay, lower the benefits, etc.), and focusing on the intrinsic offerings (the work itself, the impact of the good our programs do for others) is a better predictor at helping to weed out the insincere mercenaries (and perhaps correspondingly most inconsiderate people most likely to ghost?) types. This helped for a little while to improve the percentage of those personally excited to explicitly for us as a global leader in our industry, who also correspondingly seem to be much more polite, considerate, and better communicators.

The ghosting is still bad, but it is half what it had become, and as we work on the position marketing language more, it keeps improving. This has made it so that we can lower our overall costs for the new employees, and after they finish their probationary period, we can reward them with lots of great increases in pay and benefits, but weed out the mercenaries. 

####### OCTOBER 2023 UPDATE #########

October 2023 update: This is having diminishing effects. The flakiness and ghosting percentage is continuing to increase to even higher number than 2022. We've gone from single digits flakes/ghosts per month, to more than 50% per week in 2022, to more than 50% in a day in 2023!

For some particular urgent roles, that normally only pay between $21 to $30/hr, we offered over quadruple the pay, over $80/hr trying to fill multiple slots, and never received any quality candidates, and the few that even bothered to apply never showed up for their interviews, in-person or online.

#### END October 2023 UPDATE #######

Basically we are increasingly finding that a reverse bait-and-switch is helping significantly.

In a typical bait-and-switch (and I've been at the unpleasant receiving end in my career more than once alas), much was promised up front: remote work, added benefits, extra time off, increased pay, advancements, flexible schedule, etc., but then as time progressed the hours increased, and most of the other promises were the inverse of the promise. It wouldn't be long before I found a position elsewhere in those few cases.

We have never performed the bait and switch, we never promise what we can't deliver. We are extremely open and honest about our circumstances, limitations, and offerings.

In our case, we're not making promises trying to "lure talent" with big material extrinsic reward, instead we are finding that we get far better quality candidates, the truly great people that, if they can afford to do so, that are so passionate and motivated they would do what we do for free.

In fact, at one of the organizations I founded and run, we have a 100% volunteer-run across 6 continents charitable non-profit, that helps create the workforce we really need at some of the other companies, since we are building some of the industries from the ground up.

The really engaged volunteers after a while (typically 1-3 years of 4-6 hours per week as unpaid volunteers) become candidates to be hired over the various for-profit organizations.

After being hired, when they've proven themselves over the 90-180 day probationary period, we reward them further through actions not empty promises.

These truly motivated and excited people are the ones we really want of course.

Increasingly Seeing This More Mercenary Attitude and Lack of Work Ethic Increasingly Infecting and Ruining The Open Source Movement

As a side note, this increase in mercenary attitude has also unfortunately increasingly "infected" the opensource community in the past 10 years (I've been involved with opensource for over 40 years).

Most folks in the opensource community used to see it as a side thing with many benefits, but also altruistically motivated, and with longitudinal understanding of the greater benefit to all.

Now it seems the vast majority of newer opensource project developers increasingly since roughly 2010, are only use them to get noticed. They are creating a flurry of dead-end and Fremium poor-quality products to try to lure people and companies in.

They'll create project to get hired and then immediately abandon them, or they'll crank out a (what they call) 1.0 (I would call alpha or beta quality at best) product, "free and open" to the public, but then make 2.0 onward all SaaS/PaaS, etc. or only offer a heavily feature disabled versions as the opensource / community option, pushing toward the paid version.

See this illustrated with larger projects too like Odoo and Plone:

Odoo (Previous OpenERP):


This is destroying not only the soul of opensource, but it is increasingly destroying the practical benefits to people and companies worldwide, and is basically opensource suicide if the trend doesn't turn around.

We are increasingly regressing back to the horrible times of the 1970s and 1980s as far as software and hardware.

We are definitely living in "interesting" times. :-)