The limits of the Open Source Software model — and a solution

CommentaryEugenia Loli-Queru, the editor in chief of OS News, released an interesting editorial on OSS Software, Deaf Developers and Unsatisfied Users that is sparking a number of reactions in the open-source software community.

This quote from the editorial summarizes her key critics:

“A feature will be implemented if and only if there is a developer who wants to implement it” (it was later mentioned in the discussion that this is if the developer actually has such a need himself for the feature).

(…) In our article yesterday about “The Ten Worst Engineering Pitfalls” by Keith F. Kelly, on the No2 spot you will find this: “2. Basing the design on your own motives rather than on users’ needs.”

This is nonsense.

Free software (open source) users (the hobbyist developers) are not necessarily the same people as free software (costless) users (the ‘customers’).

If a free software user needs a feature, he either does, or pays. Thus, if there is no real market and no need among free software (costless) users (the hobbyist developers), well… There are cheap coders.

Frankly, I’m quite amazed that open-source projects don’t use services such as these more often. Bugzilla could probably use more integration with these kinds services (say… as a web service). In addition to the “vote for this bug” feature, you could put an “add to the bounty” feature. That should solve most Gnome issues at blazing speed, with the proper integration. Moreover, Microsoft would likely have serious trouble competing with the model, and I might even give Linux another try and consider not calling it a sucky OS.