Raw thoughts from Alex Dong

Understanding Open source

I have started doing some research on how open source communities are governed. My goal is to use today’s open source projects as a way to figure out how to run a community when the only force that put people together is love and interest.  I’ll publish my notes and whatever interests me along the way here.

This is an excellent short piece on why open source’s “success” is not what a “marketer” would expect.

With the opensource system, if you find any deficiency in the project, the onus is on you to redress that deficiency. Opensource projects provide you with the means and mechanism to not only remove inadequecies in any part of the project but also to improve the project. Without this positive feedback loop an opensource project dies. Opensource doesnt improve by advocacy, mindshare, or by having 10 million users, it improves by the participation and contribution from the user community.

What that boils down to is, if you see something wrong and do nothing about it, the opensource system hasnt failed you, you have failed the opensource system.

So if I am missing a needed feature in a project and I do nothing about it, it is my own fault for not getting off my lazy arse and taking advantage of the participation opensource allows. One of the things that really annoys me is the continual slagging of some of the other opensource projects that get more media time. It is ok slagging a proprietary product as often you have no other way of getting your neck into the user-development feedback loop. But slagging an opensource project is ignorant. The whole mechanism exists to empower the user. If there is something that would cause that person to slag a project then it means enough to them to do something about it. In simpler words, fix it! :)

As a rule marketers count bodies lol. With a proprietary product, if I like it, the only way I am allowed to participate in it’s improvement is by buying it. The more I buy, the more likely it is to be successful and provide me with something stable and persistent in the future to develop and deploy with. The more users that buy the proprietary product, add to that companies ability to improve that product. This includes not only the cost of the development but all the other stuff that goes along with it, like profit, marketing etc. So my buying dollars dont directly go to the improvement of that product, even so lots of users is good for a proprietary products future.