A recent Techcrunch article absolutely stunned me. The developers of Tweetdeck are doing something I find absolutely disgraceful: charging services to appear in their proprietary Twitter client, to the tune of $50,000 or so.
Charging for ad banner space is one thing. What Tweetdeck is doing is exactly a reason I use primarily free software (free as in freedom, as defined by the FSF and Richard Stallman): it is nothing short of an overt exploitation of the power a programmer has over the users. I would go as far as to say it is an implicit violation of the trust users (people like you) place in the people writing the software the users plan to use.
Worse, this is far, far more insidious than a breach of trust committed by a programmer writing a virus, worm, or trojan masquerading as a legitimate application. This is the programmer– or the programmer’s boss– playing deity here, deciding what services are included with a program on a basis most arbitrary to the users.
At the very least, I think honest developers adopting such a scheme should tell their users who paid to be included, and about how much. Ideally, they would make a full disclosure of those who did not meet the criteria for inclusion.
Just so we’re clear, in the case of Tweetdeck, I’m not holding my breath.