I'm very familiar with the world of free Internet.
Let's rewind to when I moved to Columbus nearly six years ago. Homesick and without Internet at home, I almost immediately went to a Wi-Fi hangout after work every night. Some sessions were pleasant and uninterrupted. Others involved random conversations with strangers.
But in both cases, I always bought something from the venue kind enough to give me Internet access.
(OK, with one exception: One Black Friday, I was writing a story on deadline and didn't have time to wait in an extremely long Starbucks line. I used the store's Internet without buying coffee and that night haunts me to this day.)
Check out this study examining various behaviors that "cafe squatters" exhibit. An excerpt:
Territorial behaviors are common throughout public spaces, but the researchers found them especially prevalent in these situations. When one of these types encounters another, there can be conflict as they try to work out who gets to sit, who must move and so on.
Please share your stories of annoying and/or endearing Wi-Fi hotspot behavior.