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Linux-Hater's Blog, Considered

Nov 17, 2008, 13:01 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eric Raymond)

"And then there's this: You don't pay me, so I don't care what you want. LHB is right; a lot of open source is developed by developers for developers and underweights - or completely fails to connect with - the needs of actual users. In fact, the situation is actually worse than LHB describes; his belief that “When you're small, you'll do a bunch of stuff to try to get more users.” is, generally, false. Small open-source projects aren't normally focused on getting more users at all; usually, they happen because some hacker thought a particular program would be fun or useful to write, and whatever number of users show up in his in-box is fine with him.

"It's no bad thing to have LHB remind us that inattention to end-users' needs is a serious problem; it's a point I've made in public more than once myself. Nor is he wrong to point out that formal project management can't actually solve this; the developers themselves have to care. I actually like his last line: "And besides, open source projects already have product management. It's called a bug tracker." Spoken in jest or snarkiness, perhaps, but they really do function that way.

"So, is there a solution? Interestingly, LHB is too smart to actually commit himself to the position that monetary incentives can make developers care; one suspects he’s been a programmer at a closed-source shop, and knows exactly how often the whole self-congratulatory apparat of paid managers and marketing departments produces botches just as awful, if not worse, than development-by-geeks-for-geeks."

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