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Increasingly mercenary and unaltrustic global culture

by Hawke published Mar 10, 2022 11:03 AM, last modified Mar 10, 2022 11:03 AM
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:


5-6 years ago we "only" had maybe 1 or 2 people per interview day (typically between 4 to 8 interviews per interview day) no-show to a confirmed interview (we go through a triple confirmation process), but most of them 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 1-2 per month.

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

Now, 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!

We're an international virtual company, so these have almost always been online.

We also speak to local business owners with non-virtual setups, that have been booking up to 20 confirmed interviews in a day, and only have 2-5 people actually show up!

We were trying to address this issue by sweetening the opportunities with extrinsic enhancements (higher pay, more benefits, more time off, etc.), but found it had the opposite desired effect, this lead to more insincere people only interested in those options, not actually motivated and excited about our organization and the job itself.

So, interestingly, significantly reducing the extrinsic offerings (lower the pay, lower the benefits, etc.), and focusing on the intrinsic offerings (the work itself, the good we do for others) is helping to weed out the insincere mercenary (and perhaps correspondingly inconsiderate?) types, and improving 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. 


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.

In our case, we're not making promises trying to "lure talent" with big material extrinsic rewards.

Instead we are getting the truly great people that, if they could afford to do so, are so passionate and motivated they would do what we do for free.

In fact, we have a 100% volunteer-run charitable non-profit that helps create the workforce we really need, since we are building this industry from the ground up.

The really engaged volunteers after a while become candidates to be hired over the various for-profit organizations.

Then 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.

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 since roughly 2010 are only use them to get noticed.  They'll create project to get hired and then abandon them, or they'll crank out a (what they call) 1.0 (I would call alpha or beta 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 version in the opensource option, pushing toward the paid version.

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

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