Linked by Eugenia Loli on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:07 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source To make it clear: I am not against Open Source Software, in fact, I am for it. But I am increasingly frustrated with Open Source software written by hobbyists; hobbyists who write a specific application or library because they need a specific function out of their applications, for their own needs and only their own needs. Here's what happened: UPDATE: Some explanation here. Make sure you read it first.
Order by: Score:
Well
by tbscope on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:21 UTC

Well...

They do it for free, in their free time.
You can't expect miracles, especially when there are not enough people to fulfill those requests.

Quote:
"A feature will be implemented if and only if there is a developer who wants to implement it" (e.g. if the developer actually has such a need himself).

Here you assume that the developer needs to have a need himself to implement it.
I don't think that's true. He does need to have to time to do so though. And I can imagine that with all the other bug reports, that some features will have to wait till these developers get the time to implement them, or wait for new developers who do have that need.

My opinion though.

Good points...
by ntl on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:23 UTC

I think the FOSS community has gotten a huge flux of *just users* in the last 3 years, and not as many developers to cope.

We need more users to become developers.

hobbyOS then?
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:25 UTC

The article was right on the part of software being a tool. It's just means to an end.
What about then those hobbyOS?

What did you expect?
by TLy on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:25 UTC

Freedom to use software. Freedom to look at the source code. Freedom to not listen to other people's ideas/suggestion and write code they way you want.

Well, to the developers, OSS is already a success. They already won. Because they themselves are using their own software.

Agreed
by Andrew Z on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:28 UTC

Fundamental projects such as Gnome should be responsive to the needs of the community.

For example, businesses users probably want easy network-wide user policy management. For example, how do I set change the HTTP proxy settings for all my systems at once? Nautilus and Konqueror don't manage ACL permissions because, I imagine, most developers are in home/SO setting where this is not necessary. (Note: ACL management is both old and highly voted on the KDE Bugzilla.) Gnome 2.10 has impressive new features, but many are suited for home users (such as the multimedia).

OpenOffice.org for Linux doesn't warn a user if another user is editing the same file, but it does on Windows. (This is what I read. We are rolling out the Linux desktops soon.)

I suggest a project for identifying the needs of business users using OSS, prioritizing the needs, and getting them taken care of.

In any case, OSS is always my first choice. I'm confident these problems will be addressed, but sooner is better than later.

Great editorial
by ralph on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:28 UTC

Although I don't agree with everything, I agree with the main points, especially concerning Gnome. However I think one should stress that this problem doesn't exist with all OSS, at least not as much as it obviously exists with Gnome.

I don't want to start a flamewar here, but in my experience the attitude of the KDE devs towards their users is much more open. In fact, this is one of the major advantages of KDE for me (although I'm using Gnome right now, go figure).

Case in point, simply removing menu editing wouldn't have happened had the devs asked the users, I'm pretty sure, but they simply decided that this wasn't an important feature and people could do without it, at least for half a year. Frankly, though I can imagine the KDE devs doing a lot of stupid things, this would clearly be beyond them.

No one owes you anything
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:28 UTC

it's open source. don't like it? change it yourself.
closed source: don't like it? tough poop.
either case, your personal tweaks will be ignored until they reach mass appeal.

you want changes to gnome and lack the programming skills? then pay someone to do it. with open source you can actually contact the programmers and i'd bet there'd be many who would contract to do exactly what you want to do.

otherwise what's your point? that life's not fair? hey, newsflash! nobody owes you anything.

and how about accepting the reality that you can't change anyone else, you can only change yourself.

and lastly, when you're got no stroke, you've gotta learn to lump it.

Assumption
by Mongrol on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:30 UTC

"A feature will be implemented if and only if there is a developer who wants to implement it" (e.g. if the developer actually has such a need himself).

Obviously I haven`t been following the thread on the mailing lists but that line really does look like an assumption. A developer doesn't have to have a "need" for a feature himself to want to implement it. The quote above doesn't imply that in the slightest. It clearly says a developer has to "want" to implement it. Not need.

Not just OSS
by Dude on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:30 UTC

Although this is certainly a problem in the OSS community, I see a lack of concern for the user to be endemic to software development as a whole. There are plenty of commercial developers that, somewhere along the way, forgot they were developing for people, not features. Perhaps it's a little unfair to point the finger just at OSS. Besides, if anything, I think OSS has made remarkable strides in the past few years. It's come a long way from the "hack it yourself"/RTFM philosophy it once peddled. I'm not saying this attitude doesn't exist, but that it's certainly not the norm anymore. Usability is fast becoming the latest (and hopefully longest-lived) craze in OSS.

Also, the article really only focused on Gnome, so the title is somewhat misleading. You yourself even said that many of the projects on GnomeFiles.org constantly solicit user feedback. Don't attack all of OSS for the failings of one (albeit rather major) product.

I think Gnome's philosophy has its good side and its bad side. You just saw the bad side. Ease of use for Jane Professional trumps feature requests from Joe Sixpack. The good side is that this singularity of focus has led to a simple, easy-to-use desktop with its trademark KISS perspective.

I like Gnome, but I agree with you that ignoring their userbase will ultimately get them screwed. I'd estimate that most of their users (by a vast margin) are desktop-wielding Joe Sixpacks and not Jane Professionals.

So...
by Roberto Alsina on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:31 UTC

...basically, your point is that developers should do what you ask them to do, to make you happy?

You say, "what reason would I have to use open source software?". Well, that's not for us to answer, is it? You have to do it. Either you have a reason, and you use it, or you don't have a reason, and you don't.

If you have a reason, you can try to push the software environment towards your own needs. However, just like in real life, some ways to push work, some ways to push get you a fist in the nose.

Keep in mind the following:

what reason do developers have to give a damn if you use their software or not? And remember that you are not betting much, compared to them.

You are betting nothing, pretty much. You decide not to use free software. You use something else. Since you decided to switch based on your own reasons, that should make you happier. So what's your loss?

The developers, on the other hand, are betting hundreds or thousands of hours of work, a strain in their personal life, and probably lots of money (lost income).

So, just like you have all the right to write an article complaining about deaf developers, developers have, in spades! the right to be deaf.

Name what you can't do...
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:31 UTC

I've been using GNU/Linux & otehr opensource products for years now in a support and adminning prof. environment. Using it longer to play with GIMP & other fun stuff. I've yet to run across a situation where I couldn't fined the proper tool.

More often, I find that when I don't immediately see a solution, I can find a tool (google's great) to fit my needs from another project.

I'd like the author to explain how & how much he supports this movement.......

needs
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:32 UTC

Konqueror don't manage ACL permissions because, I imagine, most developers are in home/SO setting where this is not necessary.
----------

many of the developers are working in major companies not homes and that includes Novell, mandrake, Linspire etc. ACL is not implemented in KDE because it tends to be specific to certain operating systems like Linux and cannot be implemented easily in a way that allows KDE to mantain OS neutrality and allows it to be ported to other OS like freebsd, solaris and what not

"
OpenOffice.org for Linux doesn't warn a user if another user is editing the same file, but it does on Windows. (This is what I read. We are rolling out the Linux desktops soon.) "

This is not true. Linux systems usually run with people having their own unique identities and they are typically not shared in the file level. colloboration features exist with OO.o for more fine grained locking

Re: Eugina....
by d on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:32 UTC

You don't have $200 a day, but you could start a fund raiser for your idea to be added. If truly, MILLIONS of people want a feature, ask them all to chip in $1 each. $1,000,000 would certainly pay for any damn feature as it could fund many full-time experienced developers for a year or years.


Despite what you've heard, money makes the world go around. It is a great convincer and incentive to produce needed work.

If you were getting a house built for free by Jimmy Carter's organization, but you absolutely, really and truly wanted a tiled inground pool in your yard, you can't expect the organization of VOLUNTEERS to build it for YOU. They will do what they believe is needed and whatever else might interest them. If you want the pool, either A) go to pool college and add it to your house project, B) save up some money and find a pool developer to make it for you, or C) get a bunch of people together who want pools and start a fundraiser to get a community pool built.

This is the way of the world Eugina. The first US highways were paid for by proceeds from national lotteries. If it worked in the 1780's, it sure works now. Start up a 50-50 raffle and give a cut for the developers or something similar.

I think it's strange to find people upset that even though they use free open source software they expect to be waited on.

Your ideas are suggestions. Put money behind them and all of a sudden they carry much more weight as you are now a stakeholder in the project.

This is not a troll of anykind, just a statement of the obvious with some realisitc suggestions for solving your problem.

If you like, organizations such as Rentacoder.com are setup for this very job. Try em out?

Success
by Andrew Z on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:34 UTC

Success for open source is several things. As someone mentioned, it's freedom and that the develepers use their own software. This is great for volunteer developers.

Another measure of success is meeting the needs of a wide range of audiences and, consequently, wide-scale adoption. This is an appropriate goal for OSS businesses (say, Mandrakesoft) and organizations.

Re:
by Artem on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:35 UTC

"But I am increasingly frustrated with Open Source software written by hobbyists; hobbyists who write a specific application or library because they need a specific function out of their applications, for their own needs and only their own needs."

Eugenia, I don't see how you this situation can be changed. How can you blame developers for making software for fun? FLOSS is mostly about projects, not products, it's more like like art than like business. If your hobby is, say, songwriting, do you really care what other people say about your songs if goes against what you feel is right? Such is the nature of this kind of software -- live with it. With proprietary software, the developer gets satisfaction through money; with FLOSS, the developer gets satisfaction through the process of shaping his creation the way he/she sees fit and with the pace he/she deems necessary. By hypotetically depriving the FLOSS developer of this right, you remove the very incentive to write software.

I must have missed something
by MDK on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:36 UTC

Seeing as how he used Gnome as an example and even cited Novell's indifference. How is this an OSS issue and not purely a corporate issue? AFAIK, Microsoft doesn't simply put features into Windows just because somebody sends them an email.

Ask Microsoft or Apple for changes & see how far you get
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:36 UTC

NOWHERE. They will laugh in your face. But most likely they will never even hear what you have to say since there is no way to contact them other than some feedback@ bitbucket which gets flushed every night

Face it
by MDK on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:37 UTC

Love it or hate it, Gnome is just another corporate product now.

Naive
by Dumbkiwi on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:42 UTC

The person who wrote this article seems to be naive. It's a very simple fact that, if a developer does not "want" to implement something, they won't. I doubt the Gnome devs were saying anything more or less. A different, and more important question is what "motivates" a developer to "want" to impliment a feature. There are several such motivating factors. I develop a very small open source project, but which has users in the 10's of thousands. Initially I started it to scratch an itch. Both in terms of a programme that I'd use, and also to learn some programming skills (where before I had none). The programme became popular. Initially I added features to it that I wanted. However, of late I've been implimenting features that users are calling for. The programme had enough features to satisfy my needs about a year ago.

So what motivates me now? To be honest I'm not sure. Often it's the challenge of implimenting a feature, and successfully doing it in a way that I think is optimal. Sometimes it's the pressure of users, all wanting something, and making them happy. One thing that really de-motivates me is people demanding features without offering to help in there implimentation, or a decent suggestion about how it might be acheived. I don't know what motivates the gnome developers. However, I doubt personal need is particularly high on the agenda. I doubt developers involved in projects of that magnitude and maturity have many itches left to scratch. I am picking it's the challenge of implimenting tricky stuff, and kudos that motivates them now.

So to cut a long story short, I think the premise of this article (that developers only do what they personally need) is wrong. I also don't think that this article has any useful suggestions on how to fix the underlying problem, which is that developers who aren't paid won't do anything that they don't want. However, GPL software has an in-built mechanism to deal with that. If you want a feature so bad, and no-one else will impliment it, then you can do it yourself, or pay someone to do it for you. That's what forking is all about. Often times, people will take my code, add features to it. If those features are any good, I'll roll that back into the main code, and release it. Hey presto, feature implimented that I didn't "want" to do.

I do think that this issue is going to become a greater source of friction as linux gets more popular on the desktop. It will take a while for those used to the proprietary model to get used to an open model, and how things work. However, I think the problem being referred to is solved by the fact that the code is open. If a feature is not implimented, and you don't mind paying for software, then pay someone to impliment it. If you can't, you have to motivate someone to do it. Get them excited about it, challenge them.

oh dear
by joeyjoejoe on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:44 UTC

i completely agree with this and it's the reason why linux has been so slow to be adopted in the linux community. also the replies i've seen to this article are the reason why it more than likely never will be. the open source community is to elitist to care about the needs of others, and yet they still complain at the fact the microsoft is a market leader in just about everything they do.

RE:oh dear
by joeyjoejoe on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:45 UTC

eh, hmmm....linux community, um yeah, i meant desktop community, market, err, whatever you want to call it

Misunderstanding Open Source
by testTheWest on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:46 UTC

I see Open Source as a big knowledge repository, but in general not as something that has to do with business. There are a lot of small applications dedicated to very special needs and in my oppinion that'S the heart of Open Source.
You are not entitled to criticize some OSS hobby developer in this way, because you make the wrong assumptions; that the developer want's to satisfy somebodies needs. His or her work is based uppon some other OSS stuff so maybe he want's to give back some knowledge. That's all. See it as an art, not as a commercial endeavour.

So don't use it
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:47 UTC

If you don't find the OSS platforms good enough, theres Windows XP, MacOS X and Solaris, along with all the 3rd party applications and investment in those platforms just waiting for you.

Nobody promised you a rose garden, and if you find GNOME doesn't work for you, then dump it. Its just a DE, and a pretty average DE at the moment.

I switched from GNOME to KDE on my machines at work because KDE let me remotely edit files over sftp, something gedit simply won't do - I didn't feel the need to rant about it, I just did it.


The GNOME devs are quite aware of the exodus of 'power users' from the platform, and also quite aware of the influx of new users, especially in the corporate arena due to wide distro-level standardisation on GNOME - There is no grand plan to screw over the loyal followers, the project simply evolves due to the influence of the developers running the project.

If you feel the time is right to join the GNOME project and concentrate on devloping a prototype environment that reflects what is important to you and like-minded others, then perhaps you need to assemble a team of developers and take a leadership role here - I mean, I've followed OSNews for a while, and I mostly agree with the things you have to say however I think you're preaching to the choir here, and ultimately you're wasting your breath.

Unfortunately, i'd guess that you think you don't have the time, and you could count on one hand the number of people on OSNews preapred to actually contribute to something like this.

And if that is the case, then the sad truth is that you're pretty much totally irrelevant to the Free Software/Open Source community anyway - It's not about what you take from the community, it's what you give. Youre just fuelling the flames that already burn so brightly on this site.

I understand your dissatisfaction with GNOME, but without new contributors, the project will simply continue to evolve as a slower pace than we would all like.

So contribute, or deal with the half-assed nature of things - It's that simple



v heh
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:47 UTC
Re: oh dear
by ralph on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:48 UTC

"the open source community is to elitist to care about the needs of others, and yet they still complain at the fact the microsoft is a market leader in just about everything they do."

This is simply not true. While I agree that there are more than enough of the people you describe (and you are right, you just have to read some of the responses), this kind of attitude certainly isn't symptomatic for the whole OS community, or even just the majority.

@Eugenia
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:50 UTC

Eugenia, welcome in real GNOME live. That was the same stuff I went through in the past years and what I wanted to make people understand which you regulary accused me as 'Troll'. Now it looks like you finally got confronted with the same painful situation that I and many many others were in. Hope you take a lesson out of it.

Btw: This is not meant as attack or something (even knowing how fast something might thrill you up) it was just a normal comment since I am not the kind of person attacking people.

Management pains
by Viciu on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:53 UTC

IMO Eugenia points some important issues. It is not easy to write software for some other users, when You are not well motivated. In closed software $$$ is magic making "world go around". In hobbylike OSSes there has to be other magic ;-)) As long as project leader has ability to motivate developers (at least to motivate himself ;-)) ) to do boring stuff, project will go forward and will gain users. In other cases project will be something never finished in every bit.... I mean something usable, but with lot of small iritating issues...

For sure it is fine when users can send own patches, but regarding todays software complexity I dont think it will succed. At least in projects oriented to the mass users (mythical "avareage users"). In narrow environments (such science) where average user is not so average ;-) "you need it, do it yourself" approach may (but not always) will work.

it's free
by bob on Thu 10th Mar 2005 19:55 UTC

Look at it this way, you save lots of money getting tons of features for free, why not find someone willing to do it and pay them or use something else. It happens everywhere. I stopped using outlook express, which I was happy with at the time, because I wanted a newsreader to handle binaries. I kept it for a while, for email only, before dumping it completely. I dumped ie for phoenix(now firefox) a few years because I wanted tabs & a couple of other features. It's just the way it goes.

Every bit of software is going to have missing features, none of them are perfect. On a different subject, and a much smaller scale, I wanted RSS feeds for websites that didn't offer them. I asked the site owners, no response. I chanced upon some info on how to write a script parse the news pages of these sites and make them. It was in perl, and I don't know perl, but I learned enough to the job. I passed my scripts on to the site owners to use, for free, no response. I'm not bothered though, because I got what I wanted.

If you can't do it yourself & can't pay anyone, befriend people who can do it, persuade them of the usefulness and they can do it for you for free. There's no harm in that.

An extra note, is that there are 3rd party gnome addons that are only made part of the desktop AFTER they've been made. It's usefulness was proven, and then it got included.

Re: So
by Lars on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:01 UTC

A typical sentiment: So, just like you have all the right to write an article complaining about deaf developers, developers have, in spades! the right to be deaf.

Unfortunately its too much a blanket statement. It's all good and nice as long as you tinker away on you own pet project, and just happen to host it on Sourceforge.

But once you get into a project which is actually used, in particular a fundamental project like Gnome, it is no longer your project alone - it is also the user's ones.

After all, the users have spent time and effort to download your software, install it, configure it, suffer through the inevitable bugs - all the while trusting you to develop it in a sensible way.

I know, it's a big strike to a developer's "I am God" ego, but it bears saying again: by accepting external users (real users, who just want to get something done), you give up part of your ownership. Don't like that? Then don't make your software available.

It's a situation I am in myself: my project is used in a couple of places, so I have always walk the line between stuff I want to implement, and stuff I need to implement. Sometimes it's frustrating - but on the other hand: what good is software which isn't used?

Show 'em the money
by Lumbergh on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:03 UTC

Seriously, why would an unpaid developer implement something that joe-random user wants when it's the developer doing all the work.

There's absolutely no incentive.

True...in theory
by benn on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:04 UTC

You got the answer: it will get done if someone wants to do it. You say this is not right.

Here's my question: what would be a better system? Software's features will always be determined, in the end, by developers.

Take the Linux kernel. Not everyone agress with choices Linus makes, but he's in control. Not everyone agrees about choices made in the development of Debian. Same with blackbox. Same with Macromedia Dreamweaver. Same with Windows.

Features are by definition decided upon by developers, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

It's possible that a particular development team is not being "generous" in it design choices or in community inclusion. The truth is that there is always another choice to make or a fork to do, etc. Don't say that this is unrealistic or that I'm putting the onus on the user. I'm saying that the responsability for the success or failure of projects is squarely on the shoulders of the users in the OSS world. If GNOME's behaviour is truly unacceptable, then where is the alternative? Oh, wait, there ARE alternatives.

I'd suggest making informed decisions about the software you use. Possibly stay away from software you see as being developed by hobbyists. I would never discourage these people, though, because they are a critical part of the community.

As for pitying people who politicize software...I wouldn't waste the energy, Eugenia. Invalidating something that someone has chosen to take a stand for is only disempowering to YOU, not them.

Opinions are like a**holes: everyone's got one, and they all stink...unlike, a**holes, though, everyone thinks their opinion is TRUE.

Yes, yes
by allanon on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:08 UTC

It is true that we have no right to expect anything from someone who is giving something away for free. But do you remember "Hey kids! Gnome foundations need your support! Give us your money now, please"? Then they suddenly place themselves in a bit different position. Also, when you see that you should address the check to the "GNOME Foundation c/o Novell, Inc, 8 Cambridge Center" etc., you start to wonder what the hell is going on. We are donating to a multinational corporation? Then maybe they SHOULD start listening to their users.

Thing is....
by Morty on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:09 UTC

This time Eugenia makes it rather plain there are some things she don't get. The "it" being the difference between most of OSS and commercial software. She agrees with the commercial entities like RH and Novels should be controlled by their marketing departments, but demands the other OSS developers to follow the same kind of controll. And then completely ignores the fact that OSS don't have those functions.

A feedback system like Apple's are a good idea, if you have a department to go trough and filter the entries, then rework them into design documents before turning them over to the developers(Probably running them trough marketing first). Who is going to do this in OSS, the developers?

As for bugzilla, try to spend some time in the hell that is whislist before you judge. If only power users use bugzilla, they sure make many clueless wishes. The questions you'll rise most often are what, how and why? What is it the reporter actually want, lots of wishes are really hard to understand the meaning of. How is the wish meant to work and why would somebody want to do that. Is questions the developers have to answer before trying to implement it. If not, they tend to ignore the wishes, rather than sending a reply that may offend the reporter.

Re: So (@LARS)
by Roberto Alsina on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:12 UTC

" But once you get into a project which is actually used, in particular a fundamental project like Gnome, it is no longer your project alone - it is also the user's ones.

After all, the users have spent time and effort to download your software, install it, configure it, suffer through the inevitable bugs - all the while trusting you to develop it in a sensible way. "

Nope. You are comparing a couple hours of effort (the user's) with months or years (the developer's). Proposing that just because you download something you have a measurable controlling right on its steering is laughable.

You have leverage. But it's tiny. Almost invisibly so. Unless a couple hundreds push together (or thousands, or dozens, depending on how much you have to lift), you ain't gonna move the project.

And... GNOME is a large project. It has a ton of inertia. One user is not going to move it. One developer can. He can use his code to do it.

How much $$$ have you donated?
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:13 UTC

If you want more people working on a software package, you need to donate to help the possibility that your issue will be addressed sooner, not later.

Otherwise you have no right to complain.

@Eugenia
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:13 UTC

It's not like GNOME didn't had enough developers. There used to be plenty of people who wanted to help the Desktop to become more successful and more usable. Exactly the problems that Eugenia described within the first 2-3 paragraphs are the reason why those developers got scared away. How much offensive stuff, how much bad politics, how much 'demonstrating' powers, how much plain ignorance, how much insulting people. I think Eugenia finally seem to understand the politics around GNOME now and I am quite sure she even know more than she wanted to write here. At least this part has been made clear now - which I am finally thankful for. GNOME as Desktop certainly has potential to become something really cool. But simply contributing code, fixing bugs, writing patches doesn't solve the problem if you hit the ignorant maintainer/developer kind of person. All best contributions are worth nothing if the problem as a whole isn't seen.

Re: Thing is....
by ralph on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:16 UTC

Thing is, you don't get it. The Gnome devs made it quite clear that they don't care about their users.

As a contrast, take a look at this:
http://quality.kde.org/

They encorage people, even and especially people who can't program, to participate.

See the difference?
And your point was?

Meh
by Fred on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:19 UTC

Eugenia, you can make suggestions, not demands...unless you put your money where your mouth is. The group of people you're pissing off right now is the volunteer developers who do their best to fill the gaps which are left by the big guns in the corporate world. I do think they deserve a little more credit for their work than you give them by this mindless complaint.

Like we say; Pay me and I'll implement whatever you want, and even handhold you into using it. If not, you're just there for the free ride.

feedback
by AdamW on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:19 UTC

One specific point. Apple (and Microsoft) have a nice simple feedback form. Well, whoopy doo. And did you try testing it, Eugenia? Did you research what actually *happens* when you fill it in? Where your message goes? Who reads it? If it ever goes within 50 feet of anyone who writes actual MacOS X code? If you didn't, then for all you know, it all gets dumped straight down the trash as soon as you fill it in. A form means nothing. What happens to what's written on it is what matters, so please reassure us that you actually made an effort to find this out.

If you file a bug on a piece of OSS software you might get a message saying it's not going to be fixed or it was too vague or it's not a priority or asking you to be clearer. Same goes for a mailing list. But in general at least you *get* a reply, it's not automatic, and on most projects it actually comes from someone who's *writing the damn code*. I like that a lot better than a fuzzy feedback form which falls into a black box about which I know nothing at all.

Corporate influence
by Ikshaar on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:19 UTC

"The GNOME devs are quite aware of the exodus of 'power users' from the platform, and also quite aware of the influx of new users, especially in the corporate arena due to wide distro-level standardisation on GNOME - There is no grand plan to screw over the loyal followers, the project simply evolves due to the influence of the developers running the project. "

In response to "Anonymous"... you really think that including Evolution monster in Gnome was not a push by corporate distributor !!! For sure it was not a request by Joe user.

I agree devs do it for free so they can choose to do only that they want.. but still, I agree with Eugenia, in the end, that mean the failure of the larger project to reach higher ground....

ikshaar:
by AdamW on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:24 UTC

"In response to "Anonymous"... you really think that including Evolution monster in Gnome was not a push by corporate distributor !!! For sure it was not a request by Joe user."

Why not? I like Evolution. KMail is a central part of KDE. Outlook is a central part of many people's Windows lives. Evolution does a job damn well and its inclusion in GNOME has had a clear effect - see all the integration work that's happening lately, connecting it to beagle, gaim and other areas of the desktop. I think this is a very good thing indeed and would be much harder if Evolution were not part of GNOME.

v Ignorning suggestions is a filter against the braindead
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:25 UTC
Eugenia makes some good points
by Walt H on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:25 UTC

I don't always agree with everything Eugenia says, but I think she is onto something here. If I read the editorial correctly, she is primarily talking about projects and developers that openly aspire to large numbers of users. (Does anyone deny that Gnome, KDE, Open Office and the like want lots of people to use their applications?)

In those instances (again, I'm not and I don't think Eugenia is talking about people who write applications primarily for their own use), it seems to me that the developers have a responsibility to at least respond when users make a well-reasoned request or ask politely about the possibility of implementing a change or feature.

Personally, I'd like to see more basic desktop applications (GUI rather than command line) that do not require Gnome or KDE libraries. I don't run either DE on my older, slower laptop and cannot see the need or sense in devoting large chunks of my hard drive to the libraries. Besides, I found that apps seemed to take forever to load, not to mention the boot time for the machine itself.

Ideally, there might also be a single web resource that would either house these applications or at least point to where to find them. (I might even be able to work on something like that if others could point me to some starting points.) But as long as developers insist on tying their applications into Gnome or KDE (at first glance, this seems like Microsoft-ish behavior), I think they and the DE developers themselves do have an obliigation and a responsibility to listen and respond to their users. Besides, it's just good manners.

walt_huntsman [at] myrealbox [dot] com

The problem with the arguments put forth in this tidbit is that the author fails to recognize the motivation factor, and yet it toushes the edges of it in the very first paragraph.

In the case of Open Source developer's they are motivated by needs and wants. This means that the code they write is to address the things the motivated the effort. That's the carrot if you will.

In commercial software, that motivation is the money that is inherent in the sale of a product, which in turn trickles down to the developer's that are motivated by the paycheck.

In his example of RedHat and Novell, he acknowledges where the motivation comes from. Further he acknowledges that the core devs work on what they want because it's what motivates them.

The solution, is to offer that carrot. Rather than complain, he should commit a motivating factor. In other words, he needs to feed the business side of the Open Source community. Provide an incentive, a motivation, a bounty on the feature changes that are needed, or hire one of those Open Source Developer's to make and contribute the needed changes back into the community, thus providing the motivation where there was none.

Look closely at how the bounty system has worked in OSS over the past couple of years. If there is motivation, it will get done, if there isn't, it will not.

btw
by AdamW on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:28 UTC

Please stop referring to the author as 'he'. Eugenia wrote it. She's female.

v Why doesn't the world do it my way?
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:29 UTC
So Eugenia refuses to use GNOME?
by J. M. on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:31 UTC

There are some good points in the article - open-source developers should listen to their users because no one would use the software otherwise. Because the open-source developers are users themselves - they use other open-source software which they depend on. So that's the only way the whole open-source world can work.

However - Eugenia says:

1. The GNOME developers don't listen to their users.
2. She refuses to use software made by people who don't listen to their users.

So, a logical conclusion:

3. Eugenia doesn't use GNOME.

Right? Let's be honest.

v RE: btw
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:31 UTC
RE: So Eugenia refuses to use GNOME?
by Eugenia on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:32 UTC

I moved back to WindowMaker, yes. At least I don't expect anything more from it, because it is not a prominent environment and I know it's a much smaller project with fewer responsibilities.

Must Learn to Type
by Dru on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:35 UTC

Sorry /s/he/she in my previous post

Another interpretation
by nob ody on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:39 UTC

Free Software was meant to be open to anyone who wanted to develop it. FreeBSD uses its own free license, and they say this a little differently: if you want it in, write the code and submit it.

There is nothing stopping anyone from getting together and paying a developer to write up a bunch of code for wanted features. Because of the GPL, if this is released and works well, it will probably go back into the main tree at some point. If it does not, you can start your own distribution.

If you don't like it, don't use it.
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:41 UTC

There's plenty of choices out there. Use KDE or Windows or MAC. Wouldn't it be easier to switch instead of beating your head against a wall.

why did you write the editorial?
by rmg on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:42 UTC

So if you don't think the developers should write what they want and instead write what "the people" want, how does that apply to your own article? You wrote an editorial that says editorial style software writing it wrong.

You are of course entitled your own opinion, but so are the developers. Their opinions just happen to be executable.

RE:Another interpretation
by Viciu on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:43 UTC

If it does not, you can start your own distribution.

You CAN NOT start new fork for almost each software You want to use ;-)))

so annoying
by daniel on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:44 UTC

Man, I didn't even get to read the whole article, but why is it that you have to mention gnome-files in every article you write? Also it seems every time some developer doesn't do something the way you want it, you write an article and have to tell everyone that they have a problem and make them as bas as you can. This is not the first time I noticed that as well.

"... And I want Open Source to succeed.", oh, how sweet of you, you're so selfless.

Yeah, I guess this article will probably go to the other "moderated down" article of other annoyed people... but whatever...

Re: OSS Software, Deaf Developers & Unsatisfied Users
by David on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:47 UTC

I totally sympathise Eugenia, but it is difficult to impose on developers who are giving up their free time to develop software. If there isn't a developer there to do it then there isn't much you can do. Software development is very developer centric because, when it comes down to it, they are the people who do the work. The developers are users in open source projects - that's part of the point.

I would love users to be able to provide a nice simple form of feedback, but unfortunately that kind of feedback has to be useful. Most of the time users give examples of things that are just too general to get to a solution, and sometimes you just get people who like to complain on IRC, mailing lists just for the sake of it. Because of that the vast majority of that traffic just goes ignored. The world isn't candy-coated unfortunately.

On the other hand, open source projects like Gnome have now become so large that a selfish attitude towards this sort of thing can't really go on if they are to go where people want them to go. Developers working on open source projects are often only too happy to take credit when non-technical, ordinary computer users out there use their software seriously but many seemingly won't take any sort of criticism. That goes with the territory of a certain amount of success I'm afraid.

If people really want open source software to get out there, then this is something that will need to be addressed. How? At the moment, I haven't got a clue. That's just the way things are.

This article = rant
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:47 UTC

Based on the subject I thought this was going to be about OSS and disabilities. After reading it I now know that it is just a rant by someone who thinks to much of themselves.

The Tao of Support
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:49 UTC

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You do not matter.

Companies pay developers to do what someone thinks will make the company more money. Developers who don't get paid do what they feel like.

If you want some particular feature, try talking to developers and see if they agree that it would be a good idea. If it's worth doing, you should be willing to contribute something, even if it's only finding the right people and convincing them your idea is worth their time.

Making demands of people who work for free or expecting companies to do things they're not paid for is a good way to alienate everyone who can make your idea a reality.

I agree with many of the observations made. They are valid and true. However, the form in which they were presented is likely to be a big turnoff to those who could fix the problems. Identifying a problem is easy. Finding a productive way to work towards a solution is the hard part.

You're beating a dead horse.
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 20:50 UTC

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.
[ Mohandas Gandhi ]

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind band won't change the subject.
[ Winston Churchill ]

isnt this more of a distro issue?
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:00 UTC

an opensource contributer has no obligation to anyone but himself, unless he is being paid for his work. distro developers however are paid to work on stuff they may not nessicerily want to.

this is the way opensource software development works, there needs to be some motivation to do something you dont want to. if a bug is annoying a developer, chances are it will be fixed long before one that doesnt even show up on his distro/hardware. why would it work any other way?

imho, e is a beautiful system in some ways, and archaic as hell in others (opinion, please no flames). should i mail up rasterman and tell him that he needs to take the focus off graphic subsystems and work on making it more usable? of course not. what right would i have? now, if i emailed him, and said i would fund e development to make it more usable, that would be a different story. he may still say no, but at least im not trying to act like his boss, without giving him a salary.

more and more money is getting made off of linux, but when it comes to who is whose responsability, stuff starts getting circular. if an end user wants a feature implemented, he should go through his distro. that distro than works it out with the developers if needed, or makes a vendor specific patch (as they are so fond of doing), after which the maintainers can roll it back into the trunk if they choose to do so.

this system would be closer to the way things are done in the commercial software world. if you have a request, you send off an email to the apropriate contact. they have a moentary interest in pleasing their users, so if enough people want it chances are itll be included. if that missing feature is enough to get users to stop using the product, they will be out of a job and they know it. same with distros. not the same with maintainers.

maybe its just me, but there seems to be this real big misconception that oss developers owe their users something. they spend their free time to develop software that they then give away. for some reason, people think that by using a product for free, they have a say in how it is made. it really doesnt work that way, and if it did there would be a hell of alot less developers working on free software.

The article is offensive and insulting.
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:01 UTC

Berating gnome for not following a standard you try to impose on them is demeaning. How would you like to live up to someone else's whimsical demands? You gladly do unto other what you would never allow to be done unto you.

Re: The article is offensive and insulting ...
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:03 UTC

... no it's not. It exactly describes the situation correctly. And be happy she hadn't had written more.

small addition
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:05 UTC

if the user is a contributer, things are different. if the user has filled out bug reports, tested development versions, contributed art, documentation, or some other use of his/her time to the project, the developers do have an ethical responsability to listen to them. forgot to mention that....

Agreed.
by Thom Holwerda on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:07 UTC

Impressive editorial Eugenia, and I must say I agree.

Someone already mentioned it; but the removal of the menu editor in Gnome is definitely a perfect example of how the developers decide for themselves what's good; and they don't really care what the users might think.

Of course they do it in their free time; but that isn't a reason to say "screw my users". If your piece of software becomes as important as Gnome is, then you have a responsibility resting on your shoulders. If you cannot cope with this responsibilty-- then leave the project, make way for someone who can. By being a part of a project so big and extensive as Gnome you automatically inherit this responsibility; not only millions of ordinary users depend on you, but also big corporations deploying Red Hat and Novell Linux Desktop. If they (those oh-so-important companies running Linux/Gnome) see a lack of interest from the developers to fulfill their wishes-- then say bye-bye customers.

It feels like if the OSS community (well, parts of it) cannot cope with the growing demand of OSS. OSS has gained a foothold in the corporate, and, to a lesser extent, SOHO environment-- this means OSS now serves customers, and you cannot simply ignore those because you don't agree with them. They'd go back to Windows, or whatever.

"hobbyists who write a specific application or library because they need a specific function out of their applications, for their own needs and only their own needs"

I say: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth...

@eugenia
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:11 UTC

oh, and to prove a point...

i am not a subscriber of osnews, and i have a browser which blocks all ads. you have not received a cent for the amount of dedication you have put into this site, that i benefit from on a daily basis. however, i demand that you implement a thread based comment system, and an edit button. if you dont, i will declaire how much you disregard your users as loud as possible to whoever will listen. i will stop going there, and do my best to encourage others to do the same.

re: Another interpretation.
by CBrachyrhynchos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:14 UTC

There is nothing stopping anyone from getting together and paying a developer to write up a bunch of code for wanted features. Because of the GPL, if this is released and works well, it will probably go back into the main tree at some point. If it does not, you can start your own distribution.

You mean, aside from the almost complete lack of a mechanism for doing so, the prohibitive costs for users, and the relatively small pool of developers fluent with the internal workings of a program to make effective modifications?

You can't have it both ways. You can't on the one hand say that users should contract developers to add the features they want to FOSS, and then complain when users do the cost/benefit analysis and turn to proprietary solutions.

There is a serious problem here when the rhetoric talks about community and world liberation, but that community only includes the needs of active developers.

re: mattb
by Ophidian on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:16 UTC

amen

this "editorial" is nothing but a hypocritical whine fest.

@eugenia

OSS developers owe you NOTHING unless you are paying them. not paying them? go write your own. dont like what they do? find a replacement.

the only elitist attitude i see is yours thinking you are owed something. this is the overall problem with society today, too many people think they are owed something and arent willing to work for anything.

Quite the hateful flogging of gnome.
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:17 UTC

Such an awful, black-hearted, contemptible attack may be a pleasure to write, but it sickens me to read it.

PLONK! I'll never visit this website again.

@thom
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:19 UTC

Of course they do it in their free time; but that isn't a reason to say "screw my users". If your piece of software becomes as important as Gnome is, then you have a responsibility resting on your shoulders. If you cannot cope with this responsibilty-- then leave the project, make way for someone who can. By being a part of a project so big and extensive as Gnome you automatically inherit this responsibility; not only millions of ordinary users depend on you, but also big corporations deploying Red Hat and Novell Linux Desktop. If they (those oh-so-important companies running Linux/Gnome) see a lack of interest from the developers to fulfill their wishes-- then say bye-bye customers.

they are not customers. red hat has customers, gnome has users. that kind of sense of responsability isnt manditory for any contributer, neither is it manditory for commercial software developers. if it is there, in both cases your users will love you for it. in the vast majority of cases, developers work for a paycheck, or to do something fun. if a user wants their wishes fullfilled, and they are something quite boring to do, AND the user is unwilling to pay for it, then why in the world would it get done?



It feels like if the OSS community (well, parts of it) cannot cope with the growing demand of OSS. OSS has gained a foothold in the corporate, and, to a lesser extent, SOHO environment-- this means OSS now serves customers, and you cannot simply ignore those because you don't agree with them. They'd go back to Windows, or whatever.


actually, it feels like the massive migration of windows users we've seen over the last few years are extremely self-centered and greedy. if the only reason you can come up with as a motivation for taking on the responsability of a paying job, just without the pay, is altruism, then you are living in a dream world. there are people like that who do exist, but they are few and far between, and tend to get taken advantage of by the rest of the world pretty much constantly.

Re: @eugenia
by leo on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:23 UTC

Well said mattb.

I have invested time in reading OSNews, and used my bandwidth on downloading the site, should I therefore have any amount of control over it? Hell no, my time invested is dwarfed by the time Eugenia has spent on it, so I'm quite content to let her decide what the site is like. Eugenia, I would expect you to understand this concept, which is why this incredibly arrogant article surprised me.

I don't understand this entitlement that people have. If OSS software is useful for you, great. If it isn't, improve it. If you don't want to improve it, pay for the alternative.
That kind of freedom is what OSS is all about. It is certainly not about forcing volunteers to do your bidding.

You are only entitled to something if you paid for it, or if you signed a contract saying you would get it. I'm pretty sure you have done neither of those things.

NASTY Article
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:24 UTC

This isn't an editorial, it's antagonism and provocation.

Can't we all just get along?

I Completely Agree
by Dr.BooBooGone on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:28 UTC

I have been moderated out of this comment section for making the same statements this author has made.

OSS is a hobby-hack. It is a symphony of amateur programming. The developers are driven by the "coolness" factor. Yeah, it would be cool if... (fill in the blank). Commercial software developers are motivated by money. And customers have money, hence you better listen to them. This also explains why Linux really hasn't made a dent in Microsoft's market share. Even with all the problems and bad press MS gets, their software is just flat better. They run circles around Linux. And Linux always seems to be playing catch-up to MS.

Linux has the potential to be an awesome OS. But with no motivating factors behind it; it is doomed...

@Ophidian
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:28 UTC

> OSS developers owe you NOTHING unless you are paying them.

If you pay them, then how much do you think one must pay ? If the amount you need to pay for it is getting bigger than how commercial producs such as QNX, Windows or MacOSX costs then what benefits do you have from all this movement ?

> This is the overall problem with society today, too many
> people think they are owed something and arent willing to
> work for anything.

The problem here is not Eugenia, the problem here is the organization called GNOME who promises a lot to their users but don't keep what they promise, who reject others to participate and help and who behave selfish at some point. GNOME is not a closed source company or something its an open organisation of volunteer people and thus these people need to learn to work with others and even accept criticism and other stuff from them.

No they don't owe Eugenia anything, but they do huge marketing crap around GNOME and raise the impression in peoples head that GNOME is something important, something big, something with commercial backing (which is just pure BS). And commercial backing means that there is interest to offer a product to people they can use and get their work done. A product that works and feels correctly. Eugenia wanted to help with that project because of her constructive and good comments she gave (as well as plenty of people before her before they resigned, as well as plenty of people who actually wrote productive code and resigned due to same experiences they made).

So if GNOME is not able to deal with these things then they should STEP back from promoting and marketing GNOME as the Desktop solution, because there are others already who can do this much better.

It's the difference between FREE and NOT FREE
by bigleaf on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:31 UTC

Developers always like to do some "challenging" things such like OS kernel. If the thing is not that _fun_, they may not willing to develope it. On the contrary, for business, no matter the thing is _fun_ or _not_, developer must work on it, because customer need it and developer need $. That's the difference.

...
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:34 UTC

Find a solution to fix the problem. OSNews should have it's own programmers that can add their own features to GNOME.

re: mattb
by CBrachyrhynchos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:35 UTC

Well, while I can agree that the editorial can be written better. I didn't see that the complaint was at all about features that have not been implemented. Instead, I see the complaint was about a perceived lack of interest in user feedback. And really I think there is a valid complaint here that I think will really harm FOSS in the long run, and is at the core of a lot of frequent complaints about FOSS software.

One related problem is that you don't get usability, (however you wish to define it) from a developer-centered design process. You get it from user-centered design processes. This means not just knowing yourself as a designer, it means knowing the people who use your software, and the people you want to use your software.

Second, there seems to be a strong desire for broader adoption of FOSS software. However, adoption of FOSS software is not going to happen if it does not meet the needs of the people who will use this software.

Really how much trouble would it be to say, "that's a good idea, but we don't have the resources to implement that at this time."

(And yes, before anyone asks. I have volunteered chunks of my time doing needs and task analysis for FOSS projects.)

....
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:35 UTC

You don't have to pay certain people to write code. Many people already have jobs and they write code as a hobby.

@Anonymous Coward (Use a name, you loser)
by Fred on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:42 UTC

[quote]
> OSS developers owe you NOTHING unless you are paying them.

If you pay them, then how much do you think one must pay ? If the amount you need to pay for it is getting bigger than how commercial producs such as QNX, Windows or MacOSX costs then what benefits do you have from all this movement ?
[/quote]

Where is it cast in stone that the services and products coming from the OSS community has to be free or cheaper than their commercial counterparts? Exactly, nowhere. What you get from paying for a feature is the feature you want, how you want it. What you pay for with commercial software is features that you may not need but get anyway just because the developer decided you need them...with no way in hell to change that unless you have an enterprise contract and a TAM with the good will to help you out. In short; unless you're an enterprise with deep pockets and a motivation to pay for features you want you're screwed. With OSS you're just screwed a little less because of the freedom OSS software provides to those who are willing to pull up their sleeves and dig into the dirt. Most people won't though, and that's ok. But that doesn't mean it gives anyone the right to be nasty and put demands on those who do.

RE:@Ophidian
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:49 UTC

If you pay them, then how much do you think one must pay ? If the amount you need to pay for it is getting bigger than how commercial producs such as QNX, Windows or MacOSX costs then what benefits do you have from all this movement ?

do you think if you asked microsoft for a feature that didnt interest them, they would just implement it? do you have any clue how much it would cost you to make it worth their while? the only reason you have any voice at all is that you payed for your liscence, and that voice is quite, quite small.

> This is the overall problem with society today, too many
> people think they are owed something and arent willing to
> work for anything.

The problem here is not Eugenia, the problem here is the organization called GNOME who promises a lot to their users but don't keep what they promise, who reject others to participate and help and who behave selfish at some point. GNOME is not a closed source company or something its an open organisation of volunteer people and thus these people need to learn to work with others and even accept criticism and other stuff from them.


you are totally correct. anyone who has contributed in some way should have a voice, just like anyone who bought xp. if demanded a better menu editor from ms, because you paid for xp home, they will probably do some polite equivilent of laughing in your face. i think eugenia is owed a level of respect by the gnome guys for the substancial effort she has put into promoting gnome. and guess what? she was heard. there was discourse. the developers just didnt agree, which they have the right to do.(personally, i think an end user feedback system is a great idea, but im not going to fly off the handle because they dont agree.)

No they don't owe Eugenia anything, but they do huge marketing crap around GNOME and raise the impression in peoples head that GNOME is something important, something big, something with commercial backing (which is just pure BS). And commercial backing means that there is interest to offer a product to people they can use and get their work done. A product that works and feels correctly. Eugenia wanted to help with that project because of her constructive and good comments she gave (as well as plenty of people before her before they resigned, as well as plenty of people who actually wrote productive code and resigned due to same experiences they made).

yes, and they listened. if i were to make the same request, i seriously doubt i would have gotten the response she did. and if corporate sponsorship is the reason that gnome must agree with user suggestions, then talk to the corporations giving them the money.

So if GNOME is not able to deal with these things then they should STEP back from promoting and marketing GNOME as the Desktop solution, because there are others already who can do this much better.


gnome can promote and market themselves however they like, if they piss off their users too much, then those users will leave (as eugenia has).

keep in mind though, the xfree86 guys seem to be going on without the massive support they once had, as has window maker, as has fluxbox, as has slack, etc...

Not just FOSS... look at java
by Eric Warnke on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:50 UTC

Sun's responce to users and developers votes appear to be to let all but most of the crash the systems features sit undeveloped until they become obsolete and then mark the bug/feature as closed... and I wish I were kidding.

Gnome is my default desktop because it's so clean and fairl consistant. They are working on many aspects to bring the development to a new level of scalibility and stability.

If you want a feature then you either a) develop it yourself b) make a case for another developer to make it within or outside the gnome team/framework.

@mattb
by CBrachyrhynchos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 21:59 UTC

they are not customers. red hat has customers, gnome has users. that kind of sense of responsability isnt manditory for any contributer, neither is it manditory for commercial software developers.

I think the big difference here is that I don't see that as a good thing. If you are not engaged in user-centered design, then you are developing crap that should not be published beyond a particular niche purpose.

Thankfully however, there are developers who give a darn.

if it is there, in both cases your users will love you for it. in the vast majority of cases, developers work for a paycheck, or to do something fun. if a user wants their wishes fullfilled, and they are something quite boring to do, AND the user is unwilling to pay for it, then why in the world would it get done?

I see it as going both ways. FOSS projects do make requests of their users in the form of word of mouth promotion, advocacy, use, peer support and feedback. Now, if a project expresses that my needs and concerns are irrelevant, why should I use that project's software, encourage its adoption and deployment, or spend my time and energy providing peer support for it?

@leo:
It's not about forcing anyone to do anything. It's about encouraging good design practices (grounded in the needs and desires of the people who will use your software) rather than bad design practices (grounded in the immediate desires of the designers.)

How software companies work.
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:00 UTC

There isn't a software company in existence that really listens to their customers. None. I've worked on a multi-million dollar ERP/MRP package that blew off the customer more flagrantly than gnome could ever dream of. In fact this ERP company (which shall remain nameless, due to lawsuit potential) used the lack of features to force the customers to order custom programming services.

I've saw this first hand as a programmer when I went along as the technical adivsor on sales calls. We had a slew of undocumented options the salesmen used to hike the price of the software. The salesmen would play the game of saying what a difficult task the request was and that it would take a long time to do and cost $X additional, while all along we already had 99% of it written. The amount of $X was determined by the gullibility of the customer. Even on installs of as little as 100 users, it wasn't unusal to hike the price $100K. The sales commission was heavily dependent on these types of sales. Our top sales guys made millions a year, yes, millions.

Now gnome can't pull these kind of tricks because their software is free. To look a gift horse in the mouth and complain it isn't perfect, well, it's simply a theatre of the absurd moment. Samuel Beckett, eat your heart out.

Do it yourself?
by Darko on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:01 UTC

Some of you say that is perfectly okay for developers to do only the things THEY like... Okay, what about bugs? Do you really think that developers like fixing bugs?

No, they are doing it because otherwise people would stop using their (buggy) software.

And I think if developers want users to use their software, they should CARE about them...

Sweet angel. :-)
by Dewd on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:02 UTC

Microsoft is bloat-ware and deaf. Where is the VB7 that people ask? Where is the linker for DotNet?

OSS has a bit of everything. Has KDE (bloat), GNOME (Slim, few features), etc. OSS has good listeners and proposers (like Eugenia).

Needless to say, I prefer OSS any day.

v LMAO
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:03 UTC
As others have pointed out
by Kar120c on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:07 UTC

What do you expect if you're not putting any money into the pot. If I asked you to modify your story by adding an extra three pages making comparisons on subjects you have no interest in, would you do it? Would I be justified in demanding that OSNews have a section with detailed biographies of the movers and shakers in the OS community? How do you think I'd look if after doing so I started telling everybody how much you suck because you don't listen to user feedback. Heck, there's been enough serious suggestions in the past regarding how OSNews is run that weren't implemented. Does that mean you're "deaf to the desires of your readers".

@CBrachyrhynchos
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:09 UTC

yeah. the overall beef that she has i have no problem with. i think gnome could benefit from more user feedback. i also think one of the major strengths of gnome is that they do not cave to the demands of its userbase, and that is a very large reason that it is so useable (im sure i dont have to explain my reasoning, we beat that topic to death in the usability article comments)

regardless, her overall attitude is that the gnome developers are failing in their responsability to their users. i am saying that they dont have a responsability to users who dont contribute to them. havoc made the suggestion that if the user wants to be heard, he at least do some work in making his suggestion in a format appropriate to a developer. that takes some work, analysts do that in the commercial world, and it would definately be helpful to have users submitting specs rather then just ideas. however, she seems to think that a user of the works of volunteer developers have the right to influence the project. while i think that it would be nice, kind, beneficial to all involved, and in a general sense, a real good idea, i vehamently disagree with the idea that they are not doing their job by not listening to her. how can you not do your job if it isnt a job?

gnome has no more responsability to its non contributing users then windowmaker.

As an OSS developer
by Erik on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:14 UTC

As an OSS developer, I find the "obligation attitude" very frustrating. While I agree in principle (that large projects like Gnome should respond to their users), that's a decision to be made by the Gnome developers. They wrote it, they offered it. The gift to the users is really the license. It allows you to see, change, and distribute the changes to their creation. If 20 people, or 200, or 2000 people want to get together to write software for themselves, that they find useful, and in addition, share that work with the outside world, that's just wonderful. If they have users outside of themselves, and they find it useful, even better. If those users make improvements, bug reports, and so on, even better (though they are under no obligation whatsoever to do so). If the users provide feedback, and the developers respond to that feedback, and make a better project together, that's the best yet. But the problem is the sense of obligation. No one is obligated to write anything in the first place. I am not obligated to "make open source succeed". It reminds me of the attitude that charities have -- they ramp up their efforts to collect donations to those who have already donated. There is almost a sense of obligation -- if you've given me a gift once, you are obligated to give me more in the future. Actually, no. No, I'm not.

While every open source developer I know really:

#1: wants users, and
#2: wants those users to be happy, and
#3: is interested in general in responding to feedback.

I've also noticed that there is a growing sense of irritation with the sense of obligaton that's built up. Strangely, it often seems stronger when directed toward someone giving their work as a gift than it would be towards a corporation that you've paid and do have a reasonable expectation to be responsive. I believe this is because open source developers have historically been more responsive.

So I ask you: Please don't lose sight of the fact that open source is a gift, and, if you want something done, you have many, many options, not just one. They are:

#1: Fix it yourself. This is part of the gift! And yet it gets a response, when suggested, as if it's some kind of insult! With proprietary software, this isn't an option. Yes, I realize not everyone can. But you have more options...
#2: Ask the developer to fix it. He or she might not, having chosen to do something else with their own time instead, possibly fixing something else in the open source world (another gift!), developing something new (possibly another gift!), spending time with their children and loved ones, or going to the beach. What do you do with your free time? Do you spend a very big chunk of it giving something to others (even if that something also gives you pleasure in doing it)? (in the case of Eugenia, the answer is yes, referring to www.osnews.com). This is fine, next option:
#3: Ask another open source developer to fix it. This works rather well and I use it all the time, especially on the same project. I just say, "hey, I noticed that you have a lot of experience in area (x) and I don't, and I'm working in another area, but I'm being blocked by problem (y). Can you help me fix it? Or, can you fix it?" You'd be amazed. Works just as well for users. It does not have to be the same developer who wrote it in the first place (basically, that's most of the point of open source in the first place). It really doesn't even have to be the same project, but a related one. The worst case scenario is a "no".
#4: Pay someone, or offer a bounty.
#5: Bring it to the attention of a company that has a stake in the success of the project, such as RedHat, for Gnome. They may care, they may not. They might fix it. They might not.

I want OSS to succeed as well, but I don't consider the overall success of open source to be my personal responsibility.

re: mattb
by CBrachyrhynchos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:18 UTC

do you think if you asked microsoft for a feature that didnt interest them, they would just implement it?

Actually, one of the things that Microsoft did in order to catch up with Apple in terms of interface design was spend a heck of a lot of time and money adopting user-centered design processes. So by all means, what interests Microsoft in terms of interface design is what interests a million people sitting in cubicles, classrooms, and home offices. Microsoft design is not based around what an individual designer thinks is "fun" but on a ton of market research interviewing dozens of stakeholders, most of whom think a "compiler" is a feature on a copy machine.

And I didn't get the message that gnome was bad because a feature was not added right away. The message I got was that gnome might be bad because she was told only developers matter.

@CBrachyrhynchos(again)
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:25 UTC

I think the big difference here is that I don't see that as a good thing. If you are not engaged in user-centered design, then you are developing crap that should not be published beyond a particular niche purpose.

opensource software has alwas been by and for developers, and they will alwas see themselves as the primary target audience. thats why you need the commercial aspects, to address the needs that arnt really that apparent to the people actually doing the work. i would go so far as to say unless there is a usability experts interest in a project, chances are it will be less usable then a commercial alternative. looking at the world of floss, i would say that the current state of free uis support that belief. i dont really like that too much, which is a part of the reason im doing the learning i am doing. but it is the way it is, and stuff just wouldnt work as well any other way.


I see it as going both ways. FOSS projects do make requests of their users in the form of word of mouth promotion, advocacy, use, peer support and feedback. Now, if a project expresses that my needs and concerns are irrelevant, why should I use that project's software, encourage its adoption and deployment, or spend my time and energy providing peer support for it?


i would say its a tradeoff, peer support and word of mouth to the free use of a product. i can definately see where you are comming from, but i think it isnt realistic. when i interact with people in the world, the most i can possibly demand is to be treated fairly and courteousy. if i were to demand kindness and understanding as well, i would be constantly disappointed.

welcome to floss disillusionment. there is a system, it works, but it isnt perfect, and it isnt motived by altruism.

RE: How software companies work.
by Anonymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:26 UTC

Your comment is all too true. It doesn't just apply to software, it also applies to websites.

This article, for example, is not just an article, it's a revenue source. The money comes from the hits to the advertisers, even when someone blocks the advert, it still counts as a visit and generates money. There's always some independent counter, like bilbo.counted.com - or something like that, and this keeps independent pageview counts which the website can use to negotiate higher rates because of the number of visitors.

So if on first look you read the article and you say, "what an f-ing moron," you are actually more likely to be wrong. The article was probably written deliberately to provoke and increase the website traffic. And when you find yourself saying, "nobody could be this stupid," you're probably right, it's just a vehicle to get more hits. The author has duplicitous aims: provoking anger raises the traffic. Look at the classical professional trolls: enderlee and dvorak - do you think they really belive the garbage they write?

So the 2nd question you should ask is, "am I the idiot here?"

OSS developers as saints
by Erik on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:29 UTC

I just wanted to add, on the project I work on, I've seen situations where a mouthy user pops onto a chat channel (or on the dev list!) and insults the developers, swears at them, denigrates their work (with no clue, of course, as to the whys or what's going on). And often, these people are HELPED! The questions they ask (and the questions they don't ask) are politely answered, the reasoning behind development decisions are carefully explained, and the bugs they report (if real) are often fixed!!! Some of the people, particularly the developers, I've met in the OSS world are living, breathing saints (me defnitely not included) and a large part of what keeps me into it is just the joy of working with people like this. I've seen them weather insults and abuse that would get Ghandi throwing punches, and turn the situation around like some kind zen master. It's beautiful, and I see it all the time.

Imagine that someone is building a free house for anyone who wanted it. They are strong willed and have a fairly strong vision of a house. They want you to see it as it comes into being. The house wasn't really for you per se, but for whoever might find it useful. Now imagine going into it, before it's finished, complaining about every single thing and demanding changes! And improvements! But mostly, demanding that everything be done YOUR WAY from now on! And complaining when the builders take a rare day off or make the slightest error!

It's utterly absurd.

Erik

RE: How software companies work.
by Jon on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:31 UTC

>The article was probably written deliberately
>to provoke and increase the website traffic.

We all know Eugenia is not getting paid at osnews, and so I am pretty sure she wrote the editorial just because she wanted to get public over the situation and make more people aware of it and possibly solve it.

Re: Roberto
by Lars on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:34 UTC

Nope. You are comparing a couple hours of effort (the user's) with months or years (the developer's). Proposing that just because you download something you have a measurable controlling right on its steering is laughable.

Laugh as much as you want - but that is how users think (and rightly so if they really rely on the software to Do Their Work) and no number of "but it's a gift" temper tantrums is going to change that.

And after all, nobody forces the developers to write code. If they don't like taking the users into account, they can always move on, making place for somebody who does.

@erik
by mattb on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:35 UTC

thank you, you basically said what i have been trying to, just alot more clearly.

i remember awhile back, i was wondering why people found oss developers to be so ill tempered. i have found them to be remarkably helpful in the past, so i started looking at it more closely.

while i would say "Hey guys, big fan of your distro. i just installed a new ati card, and now x is completely borked. i think it has to do with this, that and the other, but im not sure because the documentation is pretty sparse in that area. anyone have any ideas, or at the least point me in the right direction? tia", there are alot of people who say "i just installed a new video card, and now my computer wont start", then get uppity when noone leaps to their rescue.

there is a big attitude problem with users nowadays, and i think that alot of the problems with developers can be directly linked to that. while many have gotten far too surly for their own good, or the good of their project, i can understand how they got to be that way.

Re: Lars
by Roberto Alsina on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:39 UTC

well, they may rely on the software. I don't see how that makes any difference at all.

Sure, they have a vested INTEREST on the sofware doing what they need.

But it is *their* interest, not the developers. If you want the other guy to do something, make it interesting for him, not for you.

Sometimes I wonder if some of the posters have ever had to work with a human being in their lifes. Or even convince a kid to drink his soup.

Frankly
by Chris on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:46 UTC

It's probably a good thing many of the feature requests are ignored, and here is why:
1.) If everyone makes them, devs will spend all their time reading and sorting them.
2.) Most people don't know what they want. This isn't an elitist attitude, it's realism. As most word users what they want and they'll say: "To write my document with ease." What do they want to accomplish that? "Um."
3.) Most developers aren't there coding what they want into Gnome. Have you noticed all the system administration tools that are being put in lately? Do you really think most programmers care about gui admin tools; I only care for things like wireless cards. Generally, linux developers have no trouble adminning linux systems with bare gnu utilities and vi.
4.) Good features are more important than features. A lot more important.


Now maybe Gnome is especially bad. But they have many many many times more users than developers, and they get a lot of guff for half the features they introduce (see: spacial). Maybe if people spent less time arguing and insulting and posting complaints; and wrote more "thank you and oh by the way" letters! I'm sure you'd get back a "you're welcome, and put this requiest in bugzilla."

My $.02 * inflation.

Bounties.
by Quag7 on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:46 UTC

Along the lines of something two folks suggested in this discussion, I wanted to ask if anyone knows of a generalized bounty project for major open source software packages.

It would be an interesting idea to have, say, a singular site dedicated to nominating feature enhancements for major open source projects like KDE, X, whatever. And then users could make donations (think microdonations) to the proposals. The most popular proposals would accumulate the largest amount of bounty money. As the pot grew, I guarantee developers would come out of the woodwork to implement these if there was some cash to be made.

The Gnome menu editor which so many users want - (somewhat ironically I must add, I have no use for - I use Gnome but use a taskbar which works fine for me) is possibly a good example, especially if we go back a year or more ago (when it was unclear when and if there would ever be one). This seems like a really common desire on the part of Gnome users. If 1000 Gnome users donated a measly $5 to a bounty, I can guarantee there'd probably be a menu editor (I am not a developer but this sounds like a pretty simple project relative to others, to develop) by now. There are probably like 10,000 high school age hackers right now who have learned C from books and examples, who would step right up to the task for that kind of money -- not to mention the unemployed, underemployed, or weekend warriors.

It adds a financial incentive to develop open source software around the features most people need (many of which are boring, but essential) while still enabling the more whimsical developers working on whimsical features to go forward, still jittering happily on whatever kind of weird quantum energy it is that drives developers to build and build like The Doozers they are, with no financial incentive.

I could never see this kind of thing driving the main thrust of open source / free software development, but it certainly could patch up a lot of perceived weaknesses out there. And it might even be the Slack (in the Subgenius sense of the word, not laziness sense of the word) that unwillingly unemployed, skilled developers deserve.

Just a thought. If something like this exists now it needs far more publicity; it would be great if a significant minority of people got used to throwing 5 or 10 bucks at a project they use for free.

As for the article, I can see this from both sides, because I am a fairly frequently irritated USER of free software, but I am not a developer. There are certain very basic things that I think need fixing and should be implemented and which are hurting adoption (For some reason I've never much cared about how many people adopt the things I like, but clearly a lot of people do care about this. But then again, look at what happened to punk when everyone adopted it as their own. I don't mean the scene; I mean the music itself; but I digress).

But I am not a developer, and I think that if I were I would be annoyed at the suggestion that I owe anyone anything. I used to have my own BBS back in the 80s and 90s which was free. I had a few users try to demand things from me, and I remember not only did the audacity of making a demand for a free service strike me as somewhat void of legitimacy (or laughable), but it made me actively hostile in return - spiteful even.

I have noticed a similar attitude among at least some developers, especially those who have been around for a long time.

How do we address these two mutually opposing forces?

Cold hard cash. Mad ducats and bling fo tha Gs - er, the Ds - is what I'm saying.

Because some of this crap needs fixing from the standpoint of anyone who is interested in quality and usability. No two ways around it.

But someone's got to do it, and step up for a reason. If people can be convinced to clean portapotties for a buck, they can certainly be convinced to make a menu editor.

Some people think that money only corrupts but in a way it also keeps people honest, exchanging value for value. And I'm going to stop here before I sound like a certain author.

insulting article
by JD on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:46 UTC

The way I see OSS is that it's a gift and if you find it useful then good, otherwise don't complain. I always had positive OSS/commercial feedback and even if I didn't no big deal as I will go somewhere else. If I can't then that's life. I think gnome is doing extraordinary well and I know there must have been some really boring parts to work on in there. I don't like how eugenia complained because I think it's a bit insulting and childish. Even if you're paying for the features you can't always get them because of logic in the system. It might even brake old features you like. That's something that you realize when you write software.

@mattb
by CBrachyrhynchos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:50 UTC

yeah. the overall beef that she has i have no problem with. i think gnome could benefit from more user feedback. i also think one of the major strengths of gnome is that they do not cave to the demands of its userbase, and that is a very large reason that it is so useable (im sure i dont have to explain my reasoning, we beat that topic to death in the usability article comments)

Well, I would argue that you are wrong now for the reasons you are partially right then. Contributors have a vested interest in making a project work. They have a classic commitment bias and are the last people you should trust in regards to usability.

regardless, her overall attitude is that the gnome developers are failing in their responsability to their users. i am saying that they dont have a responsability to users who dont contribute to them.

As a designer and researcher, I think this is advocating basic malpractice.

Desingers have an obligation to every single person who uses their design. Does this mean that everybody's personal itch gets scratched? Of course not. But designing only for the clique of people who helped you build your design is a certain shortcut to bad design.

A war story from the front. I worked on a resource for high school teachers that would let teachers view video of each other's classroom. We built it and we brought in our first half-dozen contributors for advice and usability testing. We implemented their advice and thought we were doing really good. After all, we had a user-centered design. We actually asked teachers if they liked it and they said "yes."

Two years later, the only people really using the system were a handful of early adopters and a gaggle of education students forced to use it. What was our mistake? Basing our perception of what thousands of high school teachers wanted, needed and were willing to use on our contributors.

@Erik:

I think that actually what is being requested here is not that much. I am more than happy to hear, "That is a good idea, but I don't have the resources to deal with that at the moment." I'm even ok with hearing, "I've considered it but I don't think it would be compatible with the goals of the project."

#1 is not available to most people.
#2 is understandable.
#3, #4, #5 are problematic because for many projects there are very few tools for enabling this sort of practice.

Home and business
by Whocares on Thu 10th Mar 2005 22:50 UTC

Eugenia, I think you are pointing to the wrong people. The things you ask for are completely reasonable. But hobbists are not the right people to ask for in such a big project. Corporations supporting GNOME must care for completeness. "Boring" features and documentation are what should be covered by companies. If they aren't listening, then their marketing departments are doing a very bad work. You say "That's OK. Understandable". No, it's not.

v God you suck
by QuantumG on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:07 UTC
re:
by CBrachyrhynchos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:12 UTC

@mattb: i would say its a tradeoff, peer support and word of mouth to the free use of a product. i can definately see where you are comming from, but i think it isnt realistic. when i interact with people in the world, the most i can possibly demand is to be treated fairly and courteousy. if i were to demand kindness and understanding as well, i would be constantly disappointed.

What's not realistic. The principle that designers should design for all the people who will use their designs? Or the principle that users will vote with their feet when faced with designs that are not responsive to their needs?

@Erik:
Imagine that someone is building a free house for anyone who wanted it. They are strong willed and have a fairly strong vision of a house. They want you to see it as it comes into being. The house wasn't really for you per se, but for whoever might find it useful. Now imagine going into it, before it's finished, complaining about every single thing and demanding changes! And improvements! But mostly, demanding that everything be done YOUR WAY from now on! And complaining when the builders take a rare day off or make the slightest error!

Some lessons from architecture:
1: the people who will live in the house (or reasonable proxies) should be included in the design process before the first pound of concrete gets laid.
2: if you design a house with a toilet in the living room, you shouldn't complain when nobody buys it.

by . on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:16 UTC

I get disgusted when Eugenia compares hobbyists to professional programmers working for Apple and Microsoft. Do you need a freaking Ph.D in Nuclear Science to figure out they are not obligated to the same terms of contract?

Re:re: Roberto
by Viro on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:20 UTC

And after all, nobody forces the developers to write code. If they don't like taking the users into account, they can always move on, making place for somebody who does.

Umm.... nobody is forcing the users to use the said software. If you don't like it for whatever reason, the developers aren't obliged to cater to each of your whims and fancies.

Most OSS projects are hobbies. These developers aren't being paid for their work and many of them write software to serve a need. Their need. Look at how most software projects start. Developer needs a tool, can't find suitable tool on market, developer writes tool and releases it as open sourced software.

It's amazing the amount of arrogance some users have, to think that the world owes them a living and must listen to their every whimper. This editorial is shocking in itself. As others have pointed out, it's highly hypocritical of Eugenia to be telling others that this is her site and she can run it anyway she wants (*hint* Look at some moderated comments on articles) and here she is, doing the exact same thing to OSS developers and actually *expecting* them to conform to her wishes.

Eugenia, I know that this is your site and you can publish anything you want, but this is an all time low.

RE: CBrachyrhynchos
by drynwhyl on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:31 UTC

>2: if you design a house with a toilet in the living room, you shouldn't complain when nobody buys it.

Nobody will buy it, but there will always be enough people to use it anyway, and be thankful for that.

@drynwhyl
by Jon on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:33 UTC

That's just not good enough.

There you go again.
by Chum on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:33 UTC

I think you've uncritically accepted the canard that consumers 'demand' products and that is what gets produced.
Little could be further from the truth in any system of production.
If a producer is corporate, such as a typical industrial company, a product is produced and then a marketing scheme is developed to sell it.
If a producer is individual, such as the 'hobbyists' you are once again pillorying, he or she produces for his or her own use and then someone else MAY find the product of use and it MAY become popular.

In neither of these cases is the consumer consulted about what to produce - nor she the consumer ever been so treated.
If you don't like this state of affairs, the only remedy is to enter the production system yourself.

@Dr.BooBooGone
by A nun, he moos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:34 UTC

I have been moderated out of this comment section for making the same statements this author has made.

I'm sorry, but you didn't make the same statement as Eugenia.

Basically, what you're saying is that "OSS is a hobby-hack." What Eugenia said is that she is increasingly frustrated by the refusal of some OSS developers to listen to their user's demand. That's completely different.

That you would claim to be agreeing with the author to then launch into an inflammatory anti-Linux tirade is probably the reason why you got modded down.

This also explains why Linux really hasn't made a dent in Microsoft's market share.

In the desktop, it has made a dent, albeit a small one (dents are by definition small). In server space, the competition is much tighter.

Even with all the problems and bad press MS gets, their software is just flat better.

Just because the market share is bigger doesn't mean the software is better.

They run circles around Linux.

Konqueror is a better browser than explorer.
Mplayer is a better media player than WMPlayer.
Evolution and Kmail are better mail programs than Outlook Express.
Gimp is better than MS Paint (remember, you specifically talked about Microsoft apps).

And Linux always seems to be playing catch-up to MS.

Sure. Hey, have you heard about that Windows LiveCD-R that lets you record your files as separate tracks when you log out?

Oh yeah, that's right, that's Puppy Linux. My mistake.

pshhh
by me on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:36 UTC

yea, because RedHat and SUSE have absolutely no interest to listen to their users when working on OSS projects

@ Viro
by yannick on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:40 UTC

"As others have pointed out, it's highly hypocritical of Eugenia to be telling others that this is her site and she can run it anyway she wants (*hint* Look at some moderated comments on articles) and here she is, doing the exact same thing to OSS developers and actually *expecting* them to conform to her wishes."

First, anyone posting in the OS forums or commenting on an article here is subkect to the OS forums rules. Comments aren't moderated down just as a result of some sort of dictatorship on the part of Eugenia.

Second, I didn't get from the editorial that she expected the GNOME developers to "conform to her wishes". She just expected to be taken in consideration, which is perfectly natural and understandable.

Finally, the claims that GNOME (or KDE or Linux) are hobby projects are RIDICULOUS.

@Vrio
by CBrachyrhynchos on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:47 UTC

Well, I think the saying that applies here is "talking the talk but not walking the walk," especially if you throw around phrases like "enabling software freedom for everyone," and "an intuitive and attractive desktop for end-users" on your about page.

If you are explicitly marketing your software as a tool that everyone can use, then you should have a design process that includes users from a wide variety of demographic groups.

@Chum:
If a producer is corporate, such as a typical industrial company, a product is produced and then a marketing scheme is developed to sell it.

Complete and total twaddle. Production lines are expensive. Design is expensive. Market research is relatively cheap. Very few people are going to invest millions of dollars in a production line for a product that has not been sketched, seen by several focus groups, prototyped, seen by several more focus groups, taste tested and mother approved. Only then do you dip into your cash reserves or take out the loan to make your product in large quantities.

Here we go again..
by Ano Nymous on Thu 10th Mar 2005 23:48 UTC

What is it with people? Is OSS somehow a holy entity that can not, MUST NOT be critized? I've said it before and I'll say it again; most OSS is just a pile of useless crap! The people producing that crap would do well to listen to the feedback they receive.

IF you are coding just for your own fun and purposes, fine, do whatever you wish. However, IF you wish people to actually use your software you better listen to them. Or else you won't have those users. I have understood that Gnome is trying to be one of the big contenders in DE arena.

"If you want a feature and can't do it yourself pay someone to code it for you". Yeah, right. Professional programmers are expensive. If I like your suggestion I'll code it for free. If not.. pay me 100 EUR/hour and I might consider implementing the feature for you. Doesn't sound such a good idea anymore, does it?

BTW, in professional/commercial software development a code monkey pretty much never designs the software, especially not the GUI or interaction, which as it happens, are the worst parts of most OSS. Just as an example, bugzilla is a great tool.. except everytime I have to use it my eyes bleed and head explodes because of its' horrible UI, and I'm not the only one.

It's funny how many people at our office do NOT use gnome or kde, but WindowMaker or some other simple windowmanager in addition to xterm and commandline tools. And no, I don't use them because I want to, but because there is really no alternative when you just want to get the job done.

v re: Here we go again..
by Dewd on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:01 UTC
My god.
by leo on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:07 UTC

Would it be nice if all OSS devs listened to their users and implemented everything they wanted? Yes.
If a developer doesn't want to code something, should they have to, on a users request? No!

The argument that "Gnome is claiming to have good software therefore they have to pay attention to my nagging" is so bogus. The Gnome people say their DE is good because in their opinion, it is good. They didn't trick you into using it, they didn't make any grand promises that it would solve all your problems, or that it would have features that you like.

Like others have said, OSS developers are often saint like in their patience, it's far more often that the users are incredibly annoying, arrogant pricks. Read any mailing list, you'll see far more abusive users than anyone else.

I belong to the OpenCV mailing list (image processing library) and I'm always amazed at how many people lack the basic communication skills to ask a question, and yet expect people to hand them answers on a silver platter. Too often you will see posts like:

I want to use opencv but it wont work. and I also want to use my webcam with it. someone help me. PLEASE. VERY URGENT

So who the hell wants to answer to users like that?

Wow. What a temper tantrum. You gave the grossest misrepresenation of what happened possible. You didn't just go in to the mailing list and give feedback - something very easy to do; you've had the privilege of dropping feed back to actual developers, which you cannot claim is possible with MS or Apple. No, you ran in and said you wanted a to create a poll that would be _officially sanctioned/sponsored_ by GNOME that would be used to gather feature requests. Sorry, but no developer is going to develop according to a poll. And it is absurd to throw a fit like this because they didn't want to sponsor your awful idea. I've been an avid reader for a long time, but I'm not returning here again.

RE: Bounties.
by clausi on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:11 UTC

Quag7 wrote: Along the lines of something two folks suggested in this discussion, I wanted to ask if anyone knows of a generalized bounty project for major open source software packages.

This is on my mind since the bounties from Novell started. There is no page like that right now, but there has been several; most of them during the dotcom boom.

I'm right now trying to write a paper about an implementation, but that's not as easy as it seems at first sight - at least, it's not when you think of currency exchange, taxes, responsibilities, clear descriptions, how to make sure patches get upstream, etc.

However, the discussion here and several others in the recent past make me believe this is to only way to go when Open Source should reach more users. It won't have an immediate impact but it might be a nice addition to the current model.

@Brad
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:15 UTC

Thanks for the perspective.

more flies with honey
by Magic8 on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:18 UTC

Roberto Alsina, well said.

It is one thing to encourage and support, it is quite another to complain. It is disheartening to see people use the term "user" in a way that seems to distant themselves from "developer" and other contributors. It makes it sound like users are not in the community of OSS or perhaps are in a different community. Nothing could be further from the truth because despite one's technical capabilities, OSS is about inclusion. A user need not be a developer to make a significant contribution to the software and the community. From answering user queries, donating money, creating awareness drives, writing documentation, hosting mirrors, writing research papers... there are plenty of meaningful ways to help. The point is that the state of the software is really an expression on the state of the evolution of the community.

In the example given, Gnome is still not fully mature. No problem because the community is getting stronger as this is evidenced in the fact that Gnome *is* maturing; it's just "not there" yet. Relying on just the developers to fix all the woes is a mistake. Go out there and make some positive contributions in any way you can. As the community expands, so will the developer base.

Perhaps the price of free software is a little bit of patience?

Come on
by Victor on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:24 UTC

Come on, this is not a Gnome or even OSS-specific thing. Try asking Microsoft to put tabs in IE. Many users want that. Do they do it? Nope.

Gnome is not a simple application. Asking for features usually works great with "simple" applications (that's why you see developers on GnomeFiles very receptive - they aren't writting big stuff like Gnome). It's just different.

Victor.

Hmmm
by gnome_fan on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:29 UTC

Not really much point posting the 112th comment, but anyway:

There is a valid point hidden in the article, but it would have been much more effective if it wasn't phrased in such an inflammatory manner. All that's going to do is piss off the people you're trying to convince.

I'm an OSS developer: I run a small but reasonably popular project for PalmOS. I get feature requests all the time, and I like to try to fulfill them. The problem, however, is motivation. If I'm motivated to add a feature, I work 10 times as fast as if I'm not. If I'm not motivated, I get distracted, I find other things to do; Slashdot and OSnews, for example.

The sources of motivation for implementing a feature are generally, in order of motivatability:

1) I need the feature myself
2) It's a cool feature that's interesting to develop
3) Loads of people request it

For example, I get requests for HiRes+ (320x480 pixel) support all the time, and I'm slowly working on it. As I don't own a 320x480 pixel Palm device, my motivation for it is very low and I keep getting distracted by other more interesting things. It's not that I hate users or am deaf, it's just that it takes forever to get something done when you're not being paid for it and have no real other motivation.

It's just basic human nature. What the author of the article is asking is for FOSS projects to 'professionalise': to override their own motivations and wants with those of their users for the good of the project. While the developers may, deep down, want this, it's very hard to do.

I work on my project because I enjoy it and I enjoy providing something useful to other people. I've worked on it so much at times I've become so tired I did't even notice CVS check-in errors or compilation failures. If somebody kept writing to my mailing list saying "implement this feature *now*!", I would have every right to tell them to get lost.

That said, if you set up a project to achieve a certain aim, it is best to do in as professional a way as possible, which means sometimes giving your users' views more importance than your own.

Anyway, I have to go work on HiRes+ support.

RE: Ralph
by Cosmo on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:37 UTC

The Gnome devs made it quite clear that they don't care about their users.

Where did they make this clear? I'm really curious.

What can you do?
by Shikki on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:41 UTC

1. Feedback is one thing, development is another. The feedback gets to Gnome, and perhaps they hear it. But developing the requested stuff is another matter altogether.

and

2. The most important drive behind the hobby is personal pleasure of development. Which stems from fulfilling a personal need or implementing an attractive idea. Forcing devs to implement something, even if the users scream for it, will simply not work. It kills all the joy and in the hobby-centered development model this would be fatal, stopping development dead in its tracks. I'd rather have some Gnome than no Gnome.

@OSnews feature request
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:45 UTC

You forget something. While I do see your point in your statement you should know this. We can easily live without OSNews.com. But it's hard living without a usable Desktop on the Open Source architecture (be it Linux, BSD, whatever). While there are alternative such as KDE and even Window Managers, GNOME on the otherhand is quite dominant with self marketing and thus has a big influence in the overall development process of even non GNOME related things. 3rd party developers adopting GNOME components for their Tools and so on.

Music, anyone?
by Thom Holwerda on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:46 UTC

This whole thing reminds me of the quarrel between Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Neil made a song (name slipped my mind) critizising the south. Then, Lynyrd Skynyrd retalliated with "Sweet Home Alabama" ("well I heard mr. Young sing about her/well i heard ol' Neil put her down/but I hope Neil Young will remember/A southern man don't need him around anyhow"), a song about how good the south was, totally ignoring the drawbacks.

Eugenia: Neil Young wrote about the drawbacks of the south, but didn't pay enough attention to the good parts;

Gnome/OSS community: Lynyrd Skynyrd did the opposite.

Both sides should learn to accept that the world isn't perfect. Deal with it, folks.

Apple's feedback page...
by PB on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:48 UTC

Eugenia,

You mentioned Apple's feedback page. Well, I went there a while ago and even promised them to go buy an iPod if only it bothered to play more music formats, in particular Ogg Vorbis. So did I get a response? Or did Apple run off and integrate Ogg Vorbis in their more recent players? Well, no, and no. A complete black hole. I have no idea whether anyone ever cared to look at what comes in there. I really don't think that Apple designs its feature sets or user interfaces based on random people's input! (Possibly they sift through it, throw away everything they don't like, and pick out some fresh ideas that might exist once in a while, but it's certainly no voting system!)

At least with open source stuff it's pretty likely that a developer who insn't interesting in what you propose will tell you so. (Although I do agree that bugzilla reports just left dangling are a problem, and I don't really know how to fix it nicely.)

v Open-source in general suck big
by Joe User on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:49 UTC
Re: What can you do?
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 00:51 UTC

> I'd rather have some Gnome than no Gnome.

Your statement is correct but is lacking behind if you view it from a different point. GNOME spent a lot of time into marketing and telling everyone and everything how great they are, that they have a lot of corporate backing, that they are the only true corporate desktop and stuff like that.

Eugenia is right, if she complains. GNOME has taken a big burdon on their back with all this marketing and corporate talk and till now only delivered broken stuff or behave ignorant towards their users and other developers (Eugenia's comment is totally valid and I can confirm that this happened towards myself as well).

Now if they want to be a hobbiest product and the code because of fun, the entertainment, the joy, then please act as such and mark GNOME as a hobbiest project. Making it a corporate desktop, or even talking about corporate backup as well as making things sound more commercial than it really is will get us, the desktop movement, them and others no where.

The named keywords suggest that GNOME is a professional organisation, a professional desktop, driven by professionals - which is not the case. Therefore it would be just fair if GNOME will step back from all this corporate talk and continue focusing on important stuff, the joy, the fun, the hacking and leave all the corporate stuff towards those who have the balls to handle all this.

On freedom
by AQ on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:00 UTC

A user to FLOSS:

"Ok... We've accepted your freedom now. We were slaves to proprietary companies, but now we are owners of freedom... so where are our slaves?"

RE: Music, anyone
by Brett on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:09 UTC

The song was "Southern Man", and all Skynyrd said about ignorant yankees is that we don't need'em....oh, and quit whining about OSS - it is FREE, what the f&%$ do you expect.

Outstanding opinion piece
by Keith F. Kelly on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:22 UTC

Excellent article. Your points are all 100% correct and on-the-mark.

I've given up on almost all large-scale F/OSS software. When you've got that many people working on the same software, it seems that only a well-run business structure is capable of enforcing organization and consistency in the ways that are required to deliver good results at that scale.

In my experience, only very small "volunteer" development teams (5 people max) produce good results, and even then they are only sometimes concerned or aligned well with the desires of their users. The few success stories like this I can actually name are FileZilla, Ogg Vorbis, and a great little Windows media player called VUPlayer.

The *best* example of a software development team listening to its userbase that I've seen is SkyOS. The SkyOS project has proven that a small development team with the right work ethic and priorities can indeed deliver a quite complex and massive chunk of software. They have been making all the right moves and working on all the right stuff in the right priority order since day 1, and it's all because they actually bother to listen to user desires and ask the right questions. They even keep a poll on their web site's front page where visitors can vote for which ideas are good or not or which chunk of work should be prioritized next.

The SkyOS team has got it right. The only unfortunate thing is that SkyOS will be a closed-source commercial endeavor rather than free software. If only all the major F/OSS projects would run themselves the way the SkyOS team does, making "normal user" satisfaction the number one goal, the entire computing world would be better off.


The Essence of FOSS
by Richi on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:26 UTC

The essence of FOSS is that developers have the freedom to write what they want, when they want and how they want. The proper approach shouldn't be to try to coerce developers in the FOSS to do what you want. Notice the keyword above is "want". People have to make these developers want to code something. To motivate them to do it.

And people already have a step forward in that direction. Most people who engage in FOSS do so out of a sincere desire to help others. It becomes merely a process of making these people notice that need.

The difference between a software dev company and FOSS community is that there is abundantly more developers in the FOSS world.

Perhaps what people should do is create an online petition (similar to bounties) where people can simply ask that a feature be implemented in a clear and easy to navigate form.

I like developing elegant solutions to problems, mostly my own. But if I happen to come upon someone else's problem that I can do something about, I usually do my best to try to help. If one can introduce a site with a list of problems that's as easy to browse, I'd gladly spend some time looking there. If that system also happens to have a forum where potential developers can exchange ideas, you might just even form a small working group or task force. Throw in a couple of buzz emails once a week to people who subscribe to the thread and you've got yourself the start of a FOSS bazaar.

Free
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:27 UTC

Ah yes, "it's free", the time honoured classical excuse to suck.

Free is not an excuse to suck.

My favourite part of this article
by QuantumG on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:40 UTC

is where Eugenia says that she has heard that Novel, Red Hat, Suse, and every other commercial Linux distribution on this planet will happily accept her feature requests and do their best to add this to the product, but she chooses not to pay any of these companies for their services and expects those services for free from the contributors to the GNOME project. So I really have to ask you Eugenia, why the hell should they?

@Brad
by Jaramin on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:46 UTC

"No, you ran in and said you wanted a to create a poll that would be _officially sanctioned/sponsored_ by GNOME that would be used to gather feature requests. Sorry, but no developer is going to develop according to a poll."

That kind of poll would be a great idea. Where did you take that no developers would be interested? At least three types of developers could be interested:

1.Those who happen to find something they would just like to work on in the poll results.
2.Those who code for the "glory" of it, it would in fact be a good idea to have some sort of spotlight for these developers.
3.Those who have ethical interest in pushing OSS forward, as a duty.

Developers who don't find anything to their liking in the poll result can just ignore it. It doesn't hurt anyone. And if we find out that way that there really are no developers that fall into either category, that nothing gets done, then at least we can go look elsewhere and support something else instead and not foster false hopes.

Re: My favourite part of this article
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:49 UTC

@QuantumG

Maybe you gonna read her article again. It's not about services which you need to pay for from companies. It's about the piss poor community that GNOME is. Lack of support, lack of understanding, lack of help, lack of being part of it as a whole, lack of the needs for your help and your support. Eugenia was quite a valuable 'Friend' towards the GNOME people. She helped with nice feedbacks, regulary GNOME promotion for free on OSNews.com as well as trying to help GNOME with her best she had.

She doesn't complain about the companies, she complain how ignorant GNOME people are, that they care less for users wishes. What she raised here was not the regular complain about missing stuff. She complains about the core developers COMMINITY issue itself.

How can a person add wishes, describe their demands, their needs, their feelings and or become a valuable member of the GNOME community if the help is being kicked with feet ?

Forget "hobby" and "OSS-model"
by Victor on Fri 11th Mar 2005 01:58 UTC

Please, leave alone discussions about how "hobby development" or "oss development" is. Because this issue has nothing to do with either.

There's no development that works the way Eugenia wants - except when you're doing on-demand software. That is: you have a client, he wants you make software ABC, and you have to do exactly the way he wants. This is one thing. But Gnome is not that kind of software. Neither is Windows, MacOSX, etc, you name it.

Yes, there are OSS projects that work that way. Those are the small projects. Gnome is a desktop platform, it's not just some text editor or any other application. Gnome is not an application.

So to sum it up: what you want does not exist - be it in OSS or proprietary development, it doesn't exist.

Victor.


Editorial is only one person's point of view
by JohnJacobJingleheimerSchmitdt on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:05 UTC

For those just joining the discussion, you MUST read the whole thread, "roadmap status update/update request", Luis Villa, http://mail.gnome.org/archives/desktop-devel-list/2005-March/thread...

>How can a person add wishes, describe their demands, their needs, their feelings and or become a valuable member of the GNOME community if the help is being kicked with feet ?

They didn't tell her to STFU or to F off & die. They gave her reasons why her idea for an official poll would not work. They gave her reasonable suggestions on how & why feature requests may go unfulfilled. She rallied & reiterated her points but they did not fall on dead ears. Read through the mailing list and see it for yourself. She is just one person and is guaranteed to have her own opinion.

See also a coincidental GNOME dev blog, March 10 Jakub Steiner's blog on how to request features: http://jimmac.musichall.cz/weblog.php

Decentralize. Promote smaller projects, help develop them. That's what OSS is all about.

Re: My favourite part of this article
by Magic8 on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:08 UTC

A valuable member of the communuty ought not demand that volounteers be bound and subjected to an arbitrary poll where anyone can suggest anything. A lot of users have bad ideas just the same as developers. More exhange is probably needed so users would benefit in finding a leader who can organize them and coordinate their efforts. Someone who can understand their needs and present them in ways that are palatable to developers. Eugenia has poured cold water over the proceedings. Why? Are there not more constructive ways to achieve those aims? We need change on both sides. Obviously, having a productive and free desktop environment is not enough to satisfy users but they should at least become aware of the true nature of OSS development before they consider ill advised demands. Developers must realize that users aren't just stupid people who don't do anything to contribute. Rants like these don't foster that type of gap bridging in the least. Being critical is okay, but you have to posit reasonable and workable alternatives if you are going to be critical.

Re: Editorial is only one person's point of view
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:17 UTC

@JohnJacobJingleheimerSchmitdt

> They didn't tell her to STFU or to F off & die.

Actually they did. They only described and explained it differently. The same way they did with many others in the community.

> They gave her reasons why her idea for an official poll would not work.

Yeah the same 'talk it to death' conversation as usually as it's common within the past years within GNOME. Of course saying someone to shut the fuck up would be the straight way but instead doing so it's modern to talk someone to death with pointless and meaningless counterarguments. That's GNOME.

> They gave her reasonable suggestions on how & why feature requests may go unfulfilled.

You can certainly tell this to your MOM and put this kind of comments where the sun never shines. Really I've been too long involved into the GNOME politics to exactly know what's going on and how things are being said to get rid of 'unwanted' people.

> She rallied & reiterated her points but they did not fall on dead ears.

The usual way, if users comments are unwanted they fall on dead ears. The GNOME task force joins in and the person's valuable comments and feedback are being talked to death. Not enough about this furthermore jokes about that person is being made inside IRC channels only to entertain people and demonstrating how l33t they are.

> Read through the mailing list and see it for yourself.
> She is just one person and is guaranteed to have her
> own opinion.

You are wrong, she is NOT just one person, she is one person amongst dozens, hundrets if not more people who have been pulled away the same way like it happened to her. She was not the first and most likely won't be the last person who got treatened with disrespect.

v The silly thing is
by AQ on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:17 UTC
Re: Erik
by Piers on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:18 UTC

+1

Right on the money. Wait until the developers have implemented their goals and then offer feedback but critising them during development is stupid. Many people here are citing the lack of menu editing as an example of Gnome developers doing something for the worse. Yet as I understand it, the Gnome Menu system has gone through overhauls of which the previous menu editing program was no longer viable and a replacement one is in development of which will not be included until it is release ready. Are we so impatient that we want a f-ed up development release or can we wait for 2.12 to be released with the menu editor back in place fully functioning?

User feedback in the development process can be a double edged sword. Take the example of Il2, WW2 simulation software produced by Maddox Games. They had a very good community communication process going but the community ended turning a great in a limited way ground pounding flight simulator into a very mediocre jack of all trades simulator covering all of WW2. The community constantly bitched and whined about flight modelling and physics etc to the point that the base engine of the simulator could not take the changes being requested. Every time a new patch became available it drastically changed elements of all aircraft handeling and performance that turned the simulation into a joke.

Oleg and co at Maddox are creating a new simulation which will address the shortcommings of the original but it required a completely new simulation engine to do it and the community was to impatient for the new simulation. This has bogged down development of the new in preference of borked old.

Just and example of what can happen if you let the hord have too much influence on software development. I really like the KISS approach of Gnome and I see it developing very well. I think the editorial was wishful thinking at best and if you are really pissed with the way things are then contribute alternative code to the project. Something that is great about the FOSS development model. You can make a difference if you really want.

RE: The Essence of FOSS
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:28 UTC

The essence of FOSS is that developers have the freedom to write what they want, when they want and how they want. The proper approach shouldn't be to try to coerce developers in the FOSS to do what you want.

I have to completely agree with this view.

There is a difference between benefits for the person as a consumer as opposed to a producer. There is a potential embodied in the free software movement, to make possible an increased freedom as producer.

No amount of increase in the quality and quantity of consumption can increase the freedom of the producer who works for someone else's needs.

Of course, the current development of free-software is tightly bound with business as-usual. But I feel that free software (and the practically infite duplication of software made possible by the internet--which implies that price per unit should go to zero as quanitity increases, i.e. the supply curve downward sloping, and therefore equilibrium price for software should be very cheap. TV and radio are the same, but only commercial content is enjoyed...) presents interesting theoretical possibilities that are worth thinking about.

Re: Artem
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:29 UTC

Very well said ;)

I'm sorry *caring* is work
by QuantumG on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:33 UTC

If you want me or any other OSS developer to *care* about your wishes and desires for the software we hack on, feel free to offer us some money, otherwise STFU. Really, you get something for nothing and you're not happy, go and *pay* someone to *care* cause I don't.

The users importance
by Joe Klemmer on Fri 11th Mar 2005 02:53 UTC

It's really a fineline when you deal with user feedback. There's alwasy going to be some things that some users want that just can't be done. However, once a piece of software that anyone writes is used by anyone other then themselves the developer has an obligation to listen to their users feedback. OC, the developers have the right to ignore the users requests but they need to explain why they aren't going to do XYZ in their project. If they don't want to listen to the uses then they shouldn't have released the program at all (under any license).

The author has a point...
by rwong on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:13 UTC

Look at slackware. Patrick took the pain to make sure all the slackware packages work with the distro. It is stable and solid. Have you hear users complain about slackware.

I think(I could be wrong) the author of the article likes to see OSS like gnome to spread and have a wider user group to include non-programmers. Most people can click buttons and navigate through menu but not be able to customize it by doing custom coding.

How would you like to use a word processor DAILY that can spell check British English and not US English?

Is it too much to ask for an all rounded solid release of an OSS e.g. slackware?

@CBrachyrhynchos
by mattb on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:18 UTC

first off, the whole not listening if a user wants something you know will have bad effects thing wasnt the driving point of what i was saying, and we've already talked about this at great length like, two articles down, so pretty much anything i would have to say would be rehashing stuff ive already said.

anyways, user feedback is real important, but i think you missed my point. their primary target audience will alwas be themselves. consider this a fundamental weakness (or strength if you happen to be a developer) of opensource software. things dont work the same, by its very nature the developer has to have a personal desire to see something done for it to get done in the opensource world. that desire could be movtivated by pride, interest, need, the desire to see the product flourish, etc. theres alot of them, but the fact that its not money (for the most part) gives a far less then optimal situation from a design standpoint. it gives a spectacular situation from a technology point of view (developers alwas work best when we are having fun), but good design is going to take a back seat to things like features, and needless complexity will abound.

im of the opinion that for linux to become a truley usable system from the ground up, we would lose the things that make it great.

what i am saying is that it is a matter of respect. as a user, its not like you are doing the developers a favor by using their software. they are doing you a favor by giving their hard work to the common good. thats not to say they have a right to be arrogant pricks, but they definately have a right to say what they do with their free time. you can make any suggestions you like, but they do not have an obligation to you in any way.

Bravo!
by MHV on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:25 UTC

You go Eugenia! You're one of the few around here to stand above the tepid writing of the FLOSS newsnalists and care about the software AS IT STANDS, not just argue its potential pitfalls and greatness.

Listening to your user is an issue that reaches outside of the mere FLOSS world, but it is something that not even the hobbyist should avoid. As an amateur, one must either take the fully committed stance to one's software, or simply acknowledge humbly the lack of resources and avoid making bold claims as to the necessity of the software. For Christ's sake, the GNOME people are trying to make people swallow the superiority of a GUI coded in plain C...

That kind of editorial is the reason why I keep watching OSNews: I think you might have here a bone to gnaw to compensate for what you called the "Boring State" of today's OS. The challenge is maturity, and it is the one that many of our childish developpers fear to tackle.

Re: @CBrachyrhynchos
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:26 UTC

> but i think you missed my point. their primary target
> audience will alwas be themselves.

So why is it (GNOME) announced and sold as 'Corporate Desktop' then ? And why all this 'Marketing' crap around it ? If it's something for their own then the best thing for them would be to behave like the XFCE or KDE people by simply shutting the fuck up and doing their work without telling the world that they are the only ones, the best ones and the greatest ones. You know if you shout out too loud then people hear you and expect you to deliver what you promise or deliver what you made people expecting you to deliver.

@rwong
by mattb on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:27 UTC

actually, she was going for more of a "with great power, comes great responsability" type of thing.

all i hear from the writer is
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:29 UTC

wah wah wah! grow up and come back when you're ready to code or pay my living expenses.

Re: Bravo!
by . on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:29 UTC

GNOME's GUI is not developed in plain C. Educate yourself rather than look silly.

@Anonymous (IP: ---.dip.t-dialin.net)
by mattb on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:35 UTC

"KDE The Desktop Environment

...It is our hope that the combination UNIX/KDE will finally bring the same open, reliable, stable and monopoly free computing to the average computer user that scientist and computing professionals world-wide have enjoyed for years. "
(http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/)

big projects like to brag.

Pointing out the obvious
by bxb32001 on Fri 11th Mar 2005 03:35 UTC

Someone who devotes time and energy for free should have the choice on how to use THEIR time and energy, right? Good point a couple of posts back saying that it was a good thing they listened in the first place.

Don't like the response? Well, IT IS the truth, is it not? What response, I wonder, would be acceptable? It is simply the way it is for hobbyist developers who don't really owe anyone anything.

Let's put it this way ... I leave peanuts on my porch one day and the birds came and ate it. I do it again for a few more occasions and the birds come as expected. So what if I suddenly decided to stop? What if I decided to lessen the amount of peanuts? What if I change it to walnuts instead? Do the birds have a say?

Thing is, I don't owe anything to the birds so nothing really compels me to stop or keep on putting peanuts on the porch.

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 04:23 UTC

A leader would not just criticise, they would come up with a plan or proposal, and they would have business training and experience or else some specialized knowedge. Linus Torvalds did not have business experience, but he got down and dirty and became heavily involved as a leader.

There are possibilities in FOSS development methodology, where a leader who understood the culture, who understood software development, could lead a successful project and have a loyal following of dedicated and hard working people writing software together as a team. In the long term this could mean money, but I think that FOSS development has to start at the grass roots with the possiblility of success on the horizon. You have to earn success by being the best.

Users who feel entitled
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 04:41 UTC

We open-source programmers are coding out the goodness of our hearts, for the love of it. So we should drop what we're doing and listen to whiners who hate us so we can fulfill their needs? NO WAY! You are not entitled to any of my labor, we program for other programmers, not for the public. Any use you get from our software is incidental.

There's lots of corporate whining that if linux wants to play in the big leagues, it's going to have to accept commercialization. Over my dead body. If linux became part proprietary, I would stop coding for it today, this very instant, and so would most of my peers. If linux never got any corporate support that would be just fine with me, in fact I would prefer it that way. If companies want to play, they'll have to follow IBM's lead and offer something of value to the programmer community. This way EVERYONE BENEFITS. The alternative is no one benefits because everybody quits programming and some corporate monopoly expolits us all.

Users who whine and contribute nothing are just parasites who should shut up. We owe you nothing, and it doesn't matter what you want, and if you don't like it then don't use our software.

However if you have contructive suggestions, not demands, and want to be part of the community, then welcome, the more the merrier.

The whining "editorial" here reminds me of the microsoft FUD that is omnipresent. If fact it reminds me _exactly_ of it.

Open source as Wal-Mart
by Paul Gralitt on Fri 11th Mar 2005 04:50 UTC

Wal-Mart has some incredible bargains. Yet most of us do not do all of our shopping there, even if one of their stores is nearby. One reason is that Wal-Mart cherry picks its inventory, rather than providing comprehensive selection. And their merchandise is rather casually arranged, compared to most department stores. But when you do shop there, you realize it doesn't make sense to complain... the spotty selection and awful decor is part of the deal. If you're in a hurry and don't mind paying more for stuff, chances are you'll head to the mall instead.

This is analogous to the situation with FOSS. Sure, there are differences. No matter what software category you name, there's likely to be an open source project around somewhere. But if you're talking about projects that have been field-tested and approved by a critical mass of diverse customers, the FOSS inventory starts getting more sparse. The best FOSS projects seem to be those that scratched the itch(es) of talented developers; often they are system-level software and/or have a strong computer science or mathematical component and/or have resonance with the lifestyles of people in their twenties (games, audio, IM). Pieces that involve extensive end-user testing or copious amounts of painstaking grunt work, start looking like... well, Wal-Mart's clothing department.

That's one reason I think the proprietary software business will continue to thrive alongside FOSS.

Stallman _agrees_ with Eugenia, someway
by artime on Fri 11th Mar 2005 06:36 UTC

Linus et al. worked "just for fun", as well as the developers that said to Eugenia "that feature will be implemented only if a developer needs it".

Stallman has insisted that, having a complete "operating systems" as objective, work must be sometimes done in areas not interesting (he uses a "tar" example, even if there are several tar (e.g. star) besides the GNU tar).

So, if Eugenia wants a Free and excellent desktop environment, maybe she has to reconsider her "affiliation" with practical-oriented movements (Open Source) ;-)

Blah Blah
by distantvoices on Fri 11th Mar 2005 07:28 UTC

The last post on that thread on the gnome dev list --> pretty nice, pretty fine, good for him to tell others to reread again because of preassumed not understanding. Inpolite, immature lad this is.

I care shit, you read, shit, about what they *want* to implement and what *they* consider useful or useless. If I ever treat my own user community this way, I get kicked and lost of the project. *They* is members of the gnome dev list.

Some sentences about: this discussion doesn't belong to here - put it to the proper list and you can have a nice discussion. Oh Fine, and what, if I want to tlk to them? then they are pretty blind nerds only seeing their own way.

Oh, and by the way, a little more politeness instead of "You not start useless threads, you have a nasty behaviour" and sorta which I consider inappropriate and immature is demanded for. Even from the but so untouchable High Priests from the Gnome Dev List.

I am the user - I am the customer. Period. Whether someone does some program in his free time or not is beyond my interrest. If I politely ask the developer "Hi, isn't it possible to do xx in way yy?" or "Hi, couldn't you put a checkbox there for us?", I expect either a "Ok, I'll have a look at it." or a "Yes, why not" or a "No, because ..." instead of gruffy generalized bash off replies a la "the user knows nothing we care only about what we think"

See the point: it is the tone which makes the music. Some OSS developer clearly have to mature on that. The world doesn't consist of bits and bytes. It consists of people, trees, air and light and much more. Grow up, lads, and treat other people with RESPECT.

Thanks so very much!

ps @Eugenia: I fully understand you being so upset by this marcher en place and the disrespectfulness they show in that list.

The Free Society
by Brandybuck on Fri 11th Mar 2005 07:42 UTC

I'm a Free Software / Open Source developer. I've been in this community only a short time, relatively speaking, but I've made one very important observation during that time. Our communities (for there are many overlapping communities here) are based on the fundamental principle of volunteerism.

F.O.S.S. is a Free Market of software. The landscape is one of meritocratic anarchy. There is no government here. There is no state telling us what software we must use. There is no king telling developers what they must write. There are no policemen. No armies or navies. No customs inspectors or immigration agents. No tax collectors or regulators. All we have are volunteers.

If we want something then we must either do it ourselves or get someone else to do it for us. There are no other options, so stop looking for them. It may be harsh, but it is the reality we must live with.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 07:45 UTC

Eugenia is barking up the wrong tree, and the developers are correct, they do not owe her anything. This does not mean that she can't get what she wants to be implemented, but since when has getting anything that you want been easy. You need to have a strategy in order to get what you want and you have to form alliance with the right people. FOSS is not the type of organization that you can control by force, instead you have to have people help you, because they respect you.

The thing that holds back open source
by John Carroll on Fri 11th Mar 2005 07:47 UTC

...proprietary companies pay developers to think about other developers. Since open source relies on free donation, however, developers tend to be motivated by what interests THEMSELVES. That's what makes them interested in providing free work, or as Roberto Alsina says, "betting hundreds or thousands of hours of work, a strain in their personal life, and probably lots of money (lost income)" on donated product.

A waiter is likely to accomodate customers who want to customize everything they order because he's paid to be accomodating. Try doing the same thing to him in his home, though, and he's liable to boot you out the door.

I talk about that at length in this article: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-5209078.html

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 07:52 UTC

...and I should add that the respect that individuals have in the open source community is mostly given to people with technical knowledge, because this has translated to a form of power within the power core of this teams based organizational design. Now after saying that, everything is open and on the table, this is just my observation of the current model.

Incredible
by Rick Dekkard on Fri 11th Mar 2005 07:57 UTC

Since no link was shown to throw some context, I give you this:

http://mail.gnome.org/archives/desktop-devel-list/2005-March/msg001...

Think FOSS as a collectivity
by Finalzone on Fri 11th Mar 2005 07:59 UTC

I think Eugenia completely forgot that developers usually work as a team and the decision belong to the team, not an invidual. While she may have some points, she cannot impose a request to developers she didn't pay which will be very bad for herself. I have to agree that this editorial is a rant that reflects her frustration.

@mattb
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 08:13 UTC

what i am saying is that it is a matter of respect. as a user, its not like you are doing the developers a favor by using their software.

Actually, user-advocates do a heck of a lot for developers. It's user-advocates that burn the cds and introduce people to OpenOffice, Firefox, Mozilla and Linux. It's user-advocates who are the backbone of the peer-to-peer technical support networks that FOSS advocates point to as an alternative to the help desk or call center. It's user-advocates who press for FOSS adoption in their workplaces and schools. It's user-advocates who set up LUGs, conferences and seminars.

If it were not for user-advocates doing the marketing, training, advocacy and end-user support (sometimes paid, sometimes not). FOSS software would be an isolated private in-joke among among a tiny group.

they are doing you a favor by giving their hard work to the common good. thats not to say they have a right to be arrogant pricks, but they definately have a right to say what they do with their free time. you can make any suggestions you like, but they do not have an obligation to you in any way.

Well, let me be blunt about this.

If you want your design to be useful to someone other than yourself...

If you want your design to be meaningful to someone other than your self...

If you want to reduce the odds of spending years of your time producing something that is just plain crap...

...you have an obligation to actually sit down with your users frequently, and understand how they see your design.

You can't have it both ways. You can't claim to be writing software for anyone to use, and have a policy of just scratching your own itch. These two goals are mutually incompatible. Pick one or the other because you can't have both.

The other side of the equation is that user-advocates are not obligated to support or encourage the adoption of software that fails to meet their needs, or the needs of their peers. For example, in my own department, I can't recommend the adoption of OpenOffice.org because its bibliographic database has a number of issues that make it extremely difficult to use for preparing documents for publication. I've put in a fair amount of my own time and work on the bibliographic project, but until the recommendations of the bibliographic project turns into working software, I have to recommend either LaTeX or Word + Endnote.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 08:25 UTC

Don't worry, the GNOME developers do take user need into consideration. Corporations like IBM and SUNW, assist the development of GNOME so that it meets users needs. They can not be expected to recieve the call if it is not handled through the right channels.

Agreed
by Paulo Pinto on Fri 11th Mar 2005 08:26 UTC

Althought I used to be a huge GNOME fan, I tend to agree with you Eugenia. Last year I switched back to KDE because the open development community that attracted me in the GNOME 1.x days is no longer there.

It almost seems that it is now KDE that is more open to developers/users than GNOME. :

But going back to the point. I've been in the computer industry since the speccy days and I also don't care much about religion in computing. At the end of the day what matter s is the tool that gets the job done, wherever does it come from.

But I do embrace open source and favour it regarding other solutions.

But the point that you raise is true. No "normal" user will use the code, neither he/she will do anything that might require a bit more of computer knowledge.

Most people only use their PCs as if they were appliances,
so don't ask them to know that much about computing.

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 08:38 UTC

GNOME is a commercial application.

I agree.
by yerma on Fri 11th Mar 2005 08:59 UTC

I agree, and I also think that all other hobbyists need to start thinking about MY concerns. I mean really, I'm all that matters, right?

re: various
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 09:02 UTC

@bxb...: Someone who devotes time and energy for free should have the choice on how to use THEIR time and energy, right? Good point a couple of posts back saying that it was a good thing they listened in the first place.

Is this a good thing when it means that important tasks never get done? Every volunteer organization that does something worth doing for the community has jobs that are less than fun and less than glamorous. Everybody wants to be the tour guide at the animal sanctuary but someone has to clean out the pens. Everybody wants to use the nifty power tools at a Habitat for Humanity site but there are quite a lot of less glamorous jobs that need to be done to complete the house. Everybody wants to code but TFM is usually saved to last.

Let's put it this way ... I leave peanuts on my porch one day and the birds came and ate it. I do it again for a few more occasions and the birds come as expected. So what if I suddenly decided to stop? What if I decided to lessen the amount of peanuts? What if I change it to walnuts instead? Do the birds have a say?

Let me put it this way. You volunteer to work at an animal shelter, and then suddenly decide to stop because while you really like playing fetch with the dogs, you can't stand to clean out the cages. Of course, since you volunteered your time you really don't have an obligation to the shelter. At the same time, nobody else has an obligation to think highly of your character.

@Brandybuck: I'm a Free Software / Open Source developer. I've been in this community only a short time, relatively speaking, but I've made one very important observation during that time. Our communities (for there are many overlapping communities here) are based on the fundamental principle of volunteerism.

Well actually what I'm seeing expressed here is not volunteerism. Volunteers work to fill a need in their community. Sometimes, that means volunteering for routine, booring, messy, stinky, manual and trivial work that wouldn't get done any other way.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 09:02 UTC

I just read the article. Okay, go through the proper channel, and SUNW or RH, or SUSE, should all have some sort of customer feedback loop, where the information gets back to the developers of GNOME when they hold their meeting. Maybe you can rally several other people to voice the problem as well, but do a better article, one that focuses specifically on the user problem that you want to be fixed.

I don't think that you are respecting the complexity of an open market. FOSS is a commercial venture, but it has a more decentralized OD. It is here for a reason. It is a successful business model.

Now get a damn spell checker for this web site or else all news web sites are stupid and I quit! I quit I tell you because you are not listening to my needs!

Is this really necessary?
by Abraxas on Fri 11th Mar 2005 09:05 UTC

Can we shut up about this already. If you don't like OSS then use something else. If you really want support and you really want something to change then open your wallet. I'm sick of so many people complaining that they can't get the perfect solution for themself because of some arrogant developers who won't code the features the users want on their own free time. It's been this way since the beginning. If you don't like it then change it yourself or pay someone to do it. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Automatic bug/feature reporting
by Claus Christensen on Fri 11th Mar 2005 09:18 UTC

Right! - it's too time consuming to write a bug report!

Why not facilitate us users with a simple desktop application, that collect everything needed for a bug report like logs, dumps etc.?

I think such application would help common users to submit a bug report or write a feature request.

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 09:23 UTC

One time I tried to call SUNW and all I got was some answering machine, and I yelled so bloody loud into the telephone that it must have scared the hell out of the person who had to listen to that blasphemy!

We all have our frustrations. I suggest that Eugenia write an article explaining her specific problem and well see if we can get the GNOME people to expedite the priority of this problem, if it really need a solution. I wouldn't mind yelling at some poor bastard at Rhat, but first, give me a reason.

@CBrachyrhynchos
by Lumbergh on Fri 11th Mar 2005 09:30 UTC

You can't have it both ways. You can't claim to be writing software for anyone to use, and have a policy of just scratching your own itch. These two goals are mutually incompatible. Pick one or the other because you can't have both.

Totally wrong. A developer will scratch an itch and hope that others find the itch that he scratched useful, but a developer is obviously not going to implement a feature that a user wants if he does not that find that feature useful - especially when this stuff is being done for free.

wish i had some points left for this article...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 09:42 UTC

-1 Flamebait

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:03 UTC

You got your file selector Eugenia, or did you forget that? So whatever the hell this menu editor thing is, go ahead and use the power of the press.


Of course people are only going to write stuff they're interested in. Boring stuff is for day jobs.
What did you expect?

Maybe you should try whinging louder and see if that helps.

Bounties
by Lumbergh on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:12 UTC

It's been talked about here lately. Someone could set up a bounty system where people can vote with their wallets. The money goes into an escrow until the feature is satisfactorially completed.

On another note, I'm not surprised that some people are "stunned" that there isn't an overwhelming level of altruism in the open source community. Hilarious

v ....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:15 UTC
....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:19 UTC

Bounties do work in the sense that you can target certain features that you want to be implemented. I'm not sure how long something like that could be sustained, especially if the developers were not paid their reward.

Motivation
by Spark on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:19 UTC

The main issue here is clearly motivation. A volunteer developer's work will directly depend on his/her motivation to do it. This means several things:
1) If the developer has no personal interest in a feature, then the motivation will be very low, this is just a fact. Usually this is not a problem, because someone else will have the motivation to help out. Collaboration, you know. But when it comes to issues very few people care about (or few developers), then volunteer development will be rather slow. Not bad, just slow. This can't be changed. If you don't know how hard it is to work productively on something in your freetime which you have no interest in, just try it yourself! It's always easier to talk about it.
2) Volunteer developers who code for the public do it for exactly one reason: Positive feedback. They don't do it to kill Microsoft, they do it to make people happy. If you provide crap feedback to the developer (and this involves non-constructive criticism), then you are doing your very best to hurt the project. Because the developer is more likely to say "fuck it, it's not worth it" than to bow down and become your personal work-slave.

De-motivating crap feedback is very common among OSS user communities, and I sincerely believe, that this is hurting open source development a lot more than developer attitude. Unfortunately, the dorks are outnumbering developers, and they will not stop to congratulate themselves, trying to put the blame on the latter.

And finally, before someone thinks I'm arguing against any kind of negative feedback: It's not that hard to provide motivating, constructive criticism. The unfortunate fact that most people suck at it is not an excuse for not even trying.

This is not about oligation
by ralph on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:25 UTC

To all those people dismissing the article because they think Eugenia held the opinion that OS developers somehow have the obligation to fullfill her every wish, read again, this is simply not the case, no matter how often you repeat it.

Now after reading the relevant mailing list thread I would readily agree that she overreacted, but I still think she points out a very interesting problem here.

Gnome is a big project and it has lots of users and like probably every project of this size the question is how to deal with user input, user wishes. No matter how often you insult Eugenia, this problem won't go away.

Now that of course doesn't mean that the devs have an obligation to fullfill every wish of every user, or that every wish makes sense, but still I think that trying to figure out a good way to let users interact with developers certainly should be worth the effort, especially in an open source project.

From following the Gnome development as a normal user and from reading various comments on the subject here I get the impression that Gnome at least hasn't figured out the best way to deal with it, but than again, I might of course be wrong about this. Anyway, I really can't see what should be wrong about discussing this issue and seek for a better solution.

And Reality Sets In
by Lumbergh on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:30 UTC

Look at what's happening to evolution. It's hanging just out of disrepair because it's a monster written in straight C. Look at FireFox and how they're having trouble getting developers.

It's hard to wrap your head around these mammoth code bases (no developer docs), and when you do the last thing you want (in your free time) is some "luser" to start griping about how things are "broken" because nifty feature X isn't implemented.

Too many people think it's a free lunch in the open source world.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:38 UTC

Maybe there is a problem with "the user feedback loop" but I'm not convinced yet. Let's see if we can get this one problem solved using the power of the press. Eugenia has to write a new article than.

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:44 UTC

...but don't fall for the idea that FOSS is not a business model, because that's how some vendors choose to discredit Linux, and distance themselves from it. We have to recognize FOSS as a business model and a modern organic teams based organization.

@Anonymous (IP: ---.cg.shawcable.net)
by Lumbergh on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:51 UTC

I'm not sure how long something like that could be sustained, especially if the developers were not paid their reward.

People pay up front, it gets put in an escrow account, if it gets done by certain date and is objectively judged to have fullfilled the feature request the developer gets the money. If not, then everybody gets their money back.

Don't ask me what it would take to set up said system.

@Eugenia, part one.
by karl on Fri 11th Mar 2005 10:56 UTC

Eugenia,


I read your article and the d-d-l mailing list archives which gave rise to your article.

I wish to repsond to what you wrote, to the responses you recieved in the mailing list and to the core critique which you presented to them.

I will structure my response to these accordingly:

1) Your side- what you say is often not as important as how you say it
2) Their side- community and 'execpetional users'.
3) Shortcommings of existing feedback meachnaims
4) Methods of integrating user feedback

Firstly, although I agree with much of what you wrote in your aticle and what you posted to the mailing lists, I must take issue with how you wrote what you wrote and how you conveyed the issue you are confronting.

It pains me greatly to see real issues not being taken seriously *as* issues and ideas not being weighed due to the way they are presented. I would personally love to see something constructive come out of what you wrote. But let me point out the following:

1) You resorted to one of the worst rhetorical techniques that exist in order to achieve something you want.

You engaged the use of a double standard as regards 'Open Source' and 'propietary' software. At once you appealed to the 'virtues' of 'Open Source', which you enumerated, and at the same time you compared this negatively to propietary development practices. The result of this kind of rhetoric is a feeling of disingenuity-not being honest. Although many, many folks engage in this kind of rhetoric many FLOSS developers will simply dismiss such because they are being held to a standard which does not recognize or honor what they are doing. If one praises the virtue of something and at the same time compares these virtues negatively against something else the praise sounds hollow-ie. not meant genuinely.

The virtues and vices of FLOSS are relative to one another exclusively, the virtues/vices of FLOSS stand in no direct relation to the virtues/vices of propietary software. If what you are praising of FLOSS as a virtue becomes a vice in a comparison with propietary software what excactly are you criticizing? BTW. The same applies in reverse. This rhetorical issue becomes far more significant when it treads on the identity question of FLOSS-and by confounding the two you are invariably treading on the issue of identity.

This will be taken by some as a direct attack against what they are doing,ie. who they are. Others will simply dismiss such as being irrelevant-because it's not really clear to whom you are responding- ie. who is that 'person' for whom a virtue of FLOSS is a vice in the context of propietary software development.

Their may be some developers who are at once pround of their participation in FLOSS development and are totally supportive of propietary software development-but I expect there are very few who actually feel this way. Such persons would be that 'person' to whom you wrote in your article and in your postings-the responses you recieved, your feeling of 'deaf ears', is mostly due to the fact that none of the participants of that dialogue felt spoken to, ie. 'are you takling to me?'.

Secondly, stating that 'you feel pity' for those who wish to 'politicize bits and bytes' is itself a very political statement. If you don't recognize the *difference*, which is *the* difference for someone you are disrespecting the person you are dealing with. That does not mean you must concur on that issue-but dismissing the issue means dismissing the person you are talking to. By engaging in the rhetorical double standard which you engaged in you are being very dismissive to those who you wish would listen to you. In essence what you are saying comes across like this:

'The raison d'etre of your enthusiastic participation in FLOSS development is irrelevant to me, why can't you be more like Microsoft or Apple developers'.

This is a proverbial slap in the face. And you will not get very far if you insist on repeatedly doing so.

In stating that politics is not an issue for you you are engaging in politics. You may believe that software would be better off if it was entirely apolitical-but most of those working on FLOSS software would not be working on FLOSS software if that was the case. In the absence of direct monetary motivation such identity issues become crucial-if one cannot pay the monthly mortgage from their work in FLOSS one must find a way of coping with the stress involved in software development-one way of coping with that stress is subsuming the stress involved as part of some grander scheme, ie. values.

If one feels good about the values of their work they are less likely to be defeated by the inevitable stress which accompanies software development. But it is not simply a 'feel good' measure-if you strip away such issues you are in fact stripping away the enthusiasm and willingness to deal with such situations. One may criticze FLOSS developers for such 'feel good' identity issues-but in doing so you are placing persons in a double bind, 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'-and this generally evokes a very standoffish attitutde.

I am not asking you to endorse the politics of FLOSS. But if you fail to recognize the *difference*, which is *the* difference, for many of the developers you are addressing, you are actively engaging in dismissive and disreprective behavior.

When one FLOSS developer (Havoc Pennington) talks to another FLOSS developer (Hubert Figuiere) about the advantages of some propietary software (Apple's Pages) in regards to some FLOSS software (OpenOffice/Abiword)-there is a mutual undertsanding and repsect at work, ie. both are fully cognizant of what FLOSS software entails-such discussions often serve the prupose of motivating each other to tackle difficult issues. But when you engage in the same kind of discussion, or anyone else who engages in the rhetorical double standard, the discussion turns out to be anything but motivational-because there is a percieved lack of respect, becuase that double standard is percieved as disingenous.

And don't get off on a 'percieved' vs. 'actual' tangent- neither you nor I nor anyone else can ever fully seperate and disentangle 'actual' and 'percieved' issues. In fact the only thing that can bridge this divide (the dichotomy of actual and percieved) is trust. I have focused here on what you wrote-not on the responses to what you wrote-so of course this is somewhat one sided- but this 'side' is your side-it is within the realm of things you are accountable for.

to be continued....

RE: This is not about oligation
by Spark on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:08 UTC

ralph, I don't think there is any big fundamental problem. GNOME has been one of the first OSS projects to totally focus on usability for everage people, instead of trying to please the wish of every single user. It should be obvious that this was a stunning success, not just because I personally enjoy using it ;) but also because GNOME has become a lot more popular lately. User requirements always have been the primary motivation for GNOME development, at least since around 2.0. The fact that developers don't regard web polls as representative of casual user needs doesn't change a thing about this. They DO listen to feedback. But sometimes the feedback of one average user can be more informative and valuable than the feedback of 100 geeks on a tech-oriented news site. That's all they are saying.

I think the only big mistake was, that this was communicated rather badly (maybe too honest) and many people thought that GNOME wouldn't care about them anymore. That's why it got such a huge backlash from the community, but it's really getting better lately. Maybe because people start to see that the result is actually good and usability favors everyone, not just novices. It still seems to be a problem for some people if their wishes aren't high priority, especially for people with large egos.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:08 UTC

Why doesn't OSnews improve it's professionalism and thereby create a stronger voice. The power of the press is significant but only if the reporting is thorough and complete. You should never publish an article making claims that are this wide in thesis and without enough evidence. Narrow your thesis, collect evidence and use it to support your argument. Do that on a regular bases, and you might be able to use OSnews as a platform.

Missing post
by YAAC on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:17 UTC

Make sure you read moderated down posts. There is a really good one in there from Mark.

@Eugenia, part two.
by karl on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:20 UTC

Eugenia, continued...

Now to the other 'side'. Some of the dev's on the mailing list out'ed themselves as real assholes. I can understand some of the reasoning behind their reactions but that does not mean that I agree with these reactions. Generally people make an ass of themselves when they feel particularly insecure. If there was no substance to what you wrote the reaction you recieved would have been unthinkable. It is abundanbtly obvious that some of the dev's are very insecure about the issues that you raised-they could not respond substantially to what you said and resorted to 'STFU go away' tactics. Such reactions are understandable and stupid at the same time. Stupid in the sense that such repsonses are totally and absolutely contraproductive.

Some of the dev's responded that the appropriate way to deal with feedback is already accounted for. Some simply pointed again to bugzilla-failing to recognize what you were criticizing. One even pointed to bug-buddy pointing out a feature which I had never encounted during the entire time which GNOME 2.x has existed-and I am certainly not alone in this. Some insisted that this was off-topic and not a proper subject for the d-d-l-but without pointing to the appropriate place, aside from one who mentioned the marketing list-which is utterly absurd.

Only a handful of those who responded to your posts responded in such a way which could be held conducive for a constructive discussion. I don't always succeed but I aim to not respond to things if I have nothing constructive to add-I don't like generating more heat than light. At the end of this whole debacle there was no progress at all made regarding some kind of remedia action-ie. establishing a new mailing list, wiki or something to facilitate the legitimate concerns which you, Eugenia, raised. It is unlikely in such situations that one quickly can find an easy solution-but the failure to respond constructively to your suggestion-at least agreeing to a possible place to hold such a discussion-is the minimum that needed to happen for you to feel that you are being paid attention to. And Eugenia you are not alone in your criticism of GNOME in this regard.

As in all cases it takes two to tango. In this case the dev's failed miserably-they failed to recognize the issue you raised *as* an issue, and they responded to your appeal against 'deaf ears' with ears stuffed with cotton or 'solutions are already in place'. In fact the only dev who generated more light than heat was Alan Cox-appropriately as he is not a 'core' GNOME developer. I do believe that some action should be taken on this issue and once that actoion is taken the dev's should be invited to participate. They may state that only will focus on personal things if it's not mandated by the company they work for- but if enough people express their interest in getting certain changes made they will not be able to ignore it- they will succumb to pressure to be the 'hero' of the dev community- rescuing the poor users ;) But only if they feel free in choosing to place themsevles under this pressure. I for one am convinced that there are sufficent dev's in GNOME that will respond to such positively as a positive challenge- and that is what this is all about...

Eugenia, you are in the inenviable position of having a 'loud mouth'. Firstly you have probably done more to draw people to an GNOME than any of the developers you have talked to. You are widely known thoughout the hobbiest computer scene. Your timely articles about ongoings in GNOME, your reviews of GNOME, your posting of articles about GNOME, have probably done more in raising awareness about GNOME than anything else in the internet today.

Undoubtedly many people who frequent OSNEWS were first
introduced to GNOME by things OSNEWS has posted about GNOME.
And nothing in the internet compares to gnomefiles-you have drawn more attention to more obscure projects than anything else around. The *problem* is you chose GNOME- they, the developers, did not choose you ;) . The mailing list archives illustrated a typical reaction- 'who is that Eugenia person anyway', 'where does she get off thinking she can just get her way'. He/She who speaks most loudly about something is usually the first person to get shot down by a hailstorm of arrows.

I would argue that they, the GNOME dev's, should listen to you, even when they don't want to. But I would also argue that you must learn to refrain from engaging in such rheotrical double standards. You are not 'merely' a GNOME user- and being treated that way is outright unjust. Actually, if you were willing to quit polemicizing stuff for the purpose of pure polemics, I would wish to see you attain the title of honorary GNOME developer. There is a fine line between polemics and sensationalism-and you walk a very narrow tightrope between the two. To a degree this tightrope walk is the success story of OSNEWS.

I know english is not your mother tongue-but I also know that you are more than sufficiently capable of reading between the lines-start paying more attention to what you are writing between the lines. In much the same way way that GNOME dev's have an increased accountability due to the widespread adoption of their software- you youself are subject to the same due to effects of your, via your internet presence, disproportionately large voice in raising awareness about GNOME. Just as it behooves the GNOME dev's to gracefully deal with your input and address the issues you raise- it behooves you to respect the *difference* which is *the* difference for many of these dev's and to refrain from rhetorical double standards.


Re: Spark (IP: ---.dip.t-dialin.net)
by ralph on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:23 UTC

I hope you are right. As I said, I'm in no real position to really confirm or disconfirm it, I do however get the impression that quite a lot of people wouldn't agree with you, which of course doesn't mean that you are wrong.

Anyway, I just found this nice little gem and I think this is a great idea by the gnome devs on tackling the very issue discussed here:

http://bugzilla.gnome.org/reports/keyword-search.cgi?keyword=gnome-...

Re: Spark (IP: ---.dip.t-dialin.net)
by Spark on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:28 UTC

Sure, things can always be improved and everyone is welcomed to discuss about it of course (on the appropriate lists, not desktop-devel ;) ). The gnome-love bug query is indeed very nice, although I don't really see the connection to this discussion.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:42 UTC

Lumbergh your suggestion regarding the bounties is a good one in the sense that you can use it to target specific features and that ordinary users could communicate their needs in this mannor.

I was kidding around when I made my previous comment regarding this issue.

Let's get back to the article though for a second. OSnews has to shape up and have higher standards of professionalism in their reporting. Eugenia, you need to focus on raising the quality of the presentation of your argument in articles like this one. Narrow your focus and support your thesis with multiple clear examples. Rely on pathos, ethos and logos forms of rhetoric to appeal to the audience. Be objective, do not make inflamitory statements.

@Eugenia
by elmo on Fri 11th Mar 2005 11:48 UTC

I suggest very urgently that you read this !!!
http://jimmac.musichall.cz/weblog.php/Design/Speccing
I found this much more constructive than you so called "editorial". It was offensive, badly written (f.e >> I personally find it "deteriorating" for any user to use Open Source software made from such 'lone' developers and not by a company which specifically asks for feature requests or does market research.<< What does this mean, hello ???) and more like the rant of a little child that does not get her way ... very much like my three year old daughter at time, who has to learn that she doesn't get what she wants every time she demands something.


>> To me, software is a tool, nothing more. I am as practical as it goes when it comes to computers. I don't idolize them and I don't have a political ideology about software or hardware (and in fact, I personally take pity to anyone who does -- there's more important things in this world than to be political over bits and bytes). <<

Well ... seeing that computers and information are such an integral part of everyday life and of the very fabric of our society, political and ethical consideration when it comes to the use of them should be part of the equation. Comments like this make me wonder ...

Hello all you wonderful entitled people. Please read comment #13 from "d" until you understand it.

the end.

@ Eugenia. part three.
by karl on Fri 11th Mar 2005 12:28 UTC

Eugenia, continued...

I, personally, am not a fan of the 'tipping-point' metaphor. But in this case I think it can, perhaps must, be argued that beyond a certain threshold of usage that developers become entagled in certain obligations which they did not wish upon themselves. That 'point' has already occured with GNOME.

This sense of 'obligation' has nothing to do with the oligations which companies hold to their customers. If we fail to distinguish these different senses of 'obligation' we will invariably engage in the rhetorical double standard I was talking about.

At this point there is probably a 70-30 split in terms of hobbiest-enthusiasts and the corporate users of GNOME software. I cannot state that I know this to be a fact-but I assume that it's not too far off.

Corporate users don't know what a GNOME is. The desktop is a window and everything they see is mysteriously all the same. Their problems are not specific to GNOME for they have no clue as to where the lines are between the OS, the desktop and applications are. They cannot constructively critique GNOME for they can't even identify it. Their feedback is crucial but difficult to apply-'why does the internet not open that file?' Repeated attempts to explain the differences is mostly futile- these people use GNOME for many hours per day and are depenedant in so many way on things which they cannot help but take for granted. The way they work will be dictated by the software they use in ways they simply cannot grasp- and even if they did grasp these things, such things should not be the focus of their attention- a good tool completely vanishes in the context of the work one is doing-a 'bug' is actually the point at which one is forced to focus on how the software works which invariably means a loss in productivity.

Three years ago the percentage of non-computer types using GNOME was utterly negligable-but at this point at least 500,000 people use GNOME daily in Spain alone. There is no mechanism in place for these people to provide meaningful feedback. Where Bugzilla is a nightmare for power-users it is completely beyond the comprehension of the corporate users. Personally I hate bugzilla-but I can and have used it before-but corporate users will never even hear or see the name except when bug-buddy pops up on their screen.

The only people, aside from the developers themselves, who can constructively critique GNOME are the hobbiest/ enthusiasts. And they encompasses much more than it did three or four years ago. The willingness and ability to use bugzilla is no longer even a measure of hobbiest-enthusiasts as it perhaps once was.

This sense of obligation has nothing to do with 'you must do this or else' -which was so apparent in your rheotrical double standard Eugenia. We in the FLOSS community have never been in the either-or situation where we had readily available propietary solutions to problems which we have with FLOSS software- the fact is that there is extremely little propietary software available for FLOSS platforms-and actually there is less available today than there was 5 years ago.

And even in situation where there is a propietary app. available there is no redressing the app. interaction problems which appropriately belong in the context of the desktop environment or even further down into questions of system constraints. As I read your article yesterday the phrase 'bait and switch' kept going through my mind- I doubt that is the right phrase to capture it-but I couldn't stop thinking about that phrase.

The correlate to this kind of obligation is the desire to be seen as a 'hero' in the eyes of the community. If all the dev's were ego-less we would have no way of convincing them to make changes-as normal human beings they are suscpetible to group pressure-and as normal human beings they are resentful when confronted with what they percieve as 'too much' or inappropriate pressure.

All of what happened in this context has been outrageously public and there is a fine line between publicly espousing desires for change and 'outing' people in the context of public 'face' interactions(saving face etc.). In much the same way as many of the dev's are condescending to users certain users will be condescending in dealing with dev's. Everything cut's both ways-there is no escaping it. And no the dev's don't have the absolute final word- *that* they are developing for GNOME has less to do with the qualities of GNOME's development than the fact that GNOME is widely used and popular(sexy). But one cannot constantly simply invoke this card, the proverbial trump, and expect willingness and constructive progress.

Linus Torvalds recently talked about the 'sucker kernel'. The brilliance in his insight was so comical that it was almost painful-one must almost blush. I really, really wish that the GNOME dev's could take the next step and recognize what Linus was talking about.

Dev's who insist that they are not under any obligations at all have their heads stuck in the sand. But users who claim a unilateral priviledge to the obligations of the developers are equally blind and arrogant. One of things which makes owning this sense of obligation so difficult is how powerless many of dev's feel- they cannot account for that which they do not write but are accountable for things beyond their control. I think any dev who is honest would have to admit how often they run up against really stupid things that they cannot effectively control. Even propietary dev's encounter this and the situation is magnified in FLOSS where there is a constant re-delegation of responsiblity, ie. an even more pronounced lack of control.

One does not have to be a control freak to get defeated by such situations- and the real claim of usability is the disappearance as such of the application in the context of it's usage- a practically insurmountable claim-each and everytime a dev runs up against something they cannot change that goal recedes into the horizon of unattainability.

I suspect that the reason that so many bugs in bugzilla are not resolved or marked 'won't fix' is due to the growing misuse of bugzilla. Bugzilla is being used more and more inappropriately-due to a lack of other mechanisms. Simply stating that one must use bugzilla in order to further ideas or changes leads to an inevitable misuse of bugzilla which further degrades it's value.

95% of the problems I have had with various software are simply not ammendable to bugzilla-because most of the problems I have, and I assume most are not unlike me, are not so specifically tied to one application or another but tied to the interaction of those applications within a desktop context. Filling in bugzilla bug means filing a bug in the half-dozen different bugzillas(gnome bugzilla, openoffice-ximian-bugzilla, mozilla-bugzilla) assuming that such exists whereas no such things exists for much of the software we use (mplayer, acroread, flash etc.) The likelihood that any given bug will attract the attention of those people whose input is necessary is akin to the likelihood of being struck by lightening-it does happen but excruciatingly rarely.

I undertsand that dev's want *a* place to which they need to go to get information about what's not working correctly. I also undertsand that the nightmare of bugzilla is acutally designed to faciliate re-producability of the bugs and is pivotal in providing the contextual information needed to resolve many of the issues. I also appreciate the ironic bug *as* feature humour abundant in the mailing lists and planet.gnome.org. But alternatives must be found for this issue if one does not wish to see further misuse and degradation of bugzilla- bugzilla is a tool which has certain uses for which it is the best thing available-it isnot a panacea to all problems which exist and all desires for change.

@Eugenia, part four.
by karl on Fri 11th Mar 2005 12:50 UTC

I do not know the answer as to how to best facilitate user feedback into the GNOME project.

it is however clear that:

1) the existing bugzilla facitilies are ill-suited to address these issues long term.

2) neither polling nor bounties are a panacea to this issue-both have their places and may be valuable in certain contexts

3) bombarding the d-d-l mailing lists with user requests will only result in dev's moving elsewhere

4) there is nomailin list in existence which is the proper place for such

5) planet.gnome.org and the mailing list help the dev's to reach out to the public in the course of communicating with themselves-but that does not a community make.

6) bugzilla does have a feature for feature requests-but if only 10 people know of it's existence what good does it do?

7) even assuming a working solution for GNOME proper how do address the application interaction problems which span multiple projects and of course propietary software.

8) how many of these problems are due to the fact that software development may function well in an internet context but dealing with massive amounts of feedback and coordinating communication is more dependent upon physical presence and involvement of non-programmers in the core development.

9) the intangible obligation I spoke of is not going to decrease-it will only grow larger-and along with it the sense of frustration on the side of developers. Finding ways of dealing with this issue is critical to the success of the whole- the motivational needs of the developers are absolutely critical.

10) tying user feedback into the loop of motivational needs of the developers seems to be the best bet- but how should this work ?

I am not a fan of polls. Polls are more responsible for more BS we have to deal with in politics everyday-"there are lies and damned lies, statistics are damned lies"(Smauel Clemens, aka. Mark Twain) but there situations where such can be done appropriately- but it is a kind of social pressure trump card- how one applies such, how often, is crucial in not underming any potentital positive effects.

I am not a fan of bounties. Bounties can quickly pervert the entire atmostphere of FLOSS if we are not careful. Sometimes they make sense, and in some cases they are ideal. But bounties are not a panacea for user feedback- if FLOSS is utterly dependent upon Bounties FLOSS will fail.

Mailing lists are also of dubious utility. We cannot afford to ruin the publicly available mailing lists which have given us the gift of so much more transparency.

What to me is obvious is that there must be a multi-pronged approach. And each of the things mentioned here has a role-but only within a specific, as yet, undefined scope.

Now I just wish that some GNOME dev's would contribute something usefull to these issues.


Makes me appreciate OSS developers all the more
by Tom on Fri 11th Mar 2005 12:53 UTC

This editorial and the huge reponse show how difficult OSS developement is to pull off.

I say the developers which give me so much should first please themselves. If it takes me a few more years to get every bell and whistle I'll wait.

Kudos to the developers of OSS.

someona said it before
by Drazen Gemic on Fri 11th Mar 2005 12:58 UTC

The source is available. One can implement the feature by herself/himself or pay someone to do it for her/him.

DG

@Lundbergh
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 12:59 UTC

Totally wrong. A developer will scratch an itch and hope that others find the itch that he scratched useful, but a developer is obviously not going to implement a feature that a user wants if he does not that find that feature useful - especially when this stuff is being done for free.

Which is why there is so much software out there with no documentation, little documentation, the only documentation embedded in the config file, incomplete documentation or documentation written in jargon that is opaque to the user! After all, the developer knows how and why the software works!

S.O.S.
by Hegemony on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:13 UTC

Why are we pretending that closed source apps/OSes never freeze up, crash, kick you out of apps, etc? It seems to be a constant in this forum to complain about OSS (which is free)and not to complain about the issues of closed source app (which are not only not free, but generally overpriced)despite the fact that they have many of the same issues as OSS. And I'm not talking posted comments here, I'm talking a string of articles one after another, at least once a week..."Linux isn't ready for the desktop", "The flawed nature of OSS", etc. Meanwhile where are the articles criticizing and seriously evalutating closed source apps/methods. There are none. Instead of seriously evaluating the Windows security model, we get articles like "How to secure your windows desktop". Note the lack of a negative connotation here.

You say you want to see Open Source succeed, Eugenia? Bullshit. Maybe for a start you could try being non-biased for a change.

Eugenia is not alone
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:18 UTC
RE: someona said it before
by clausi on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:19 UTC

Drazen Gemic wrote: The source is available. One can implement the feature by herself/himself or pay someone to do it for her/him.

Both ways don't work: An additional feature might be worth a few dollars for a single user or enthusiast. Implementing it takes usually years to learn programming. Paying someone usually needs several hundred dollars.

OSS either needs a way for users to find a volonteer developer more easily (or the other way round) or a platform for users to aggregate their requests and their money.

RE: someona said it before
by angustia on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:24 UTC

through money is the only way to plain users to force a change on OSS?

someone knows about a user-funded OSS project? i know ther some exaples (Kon Colivas, Larry Wall...) but they're hobbyst programmers and their projects are not so related to their jobs...

i think there are many developers that are willing to make a project but they don't know what to do (they may want to make a cientific program but they don't know the formulas and methods...) and they end make Yet Another Clone of Existing Program.

excuse my english.

v RE:Editorial: OSS Software, Deaf Developers & Unsatisfied Users
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:26 UTC
v @Anonymous
by foljs on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:38 UTC
Responsible if you pay
by Ringheimsauto,Linux Audio user on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:40 UTC

One advantage of Free Software is clearly that if you need something implemented, you could hire and pay someone (usually the main devs of the app) to get what you want implemented.

When you then have the software you need, you have someone responsible to turn to if it doesn't work, and you could buy more features, either you alone or together with someone else. You also OWN the program yourself, you're not renting it, as it sort of works with proprietary software. If you want to fix it more you can fix it more.

This is some of the niceness of Free/Libre software as I see it. If no one pays you I guess you have no responsability to anyone, except if you want to be popular and get your software noticed.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:49 UTC

foljs,

I never read the "Cathedral and the Bazaar" thanks for the suggestion. I have heard of ESR, but who the hell are you to discredit him? How many books have you written and how many open source projects have you maintained?

Get a life!

@Lundbergh
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:52 UTC

It's hard to wrap your head around these mammoth code bases (no developer docs), and when you do the last thing you want (in your free time) is some "luser" to start griping about how things are "broken" because nifty feature X isn't implemented.

The irony of stating that everyone should be free to "scratch their own itch," while complaining about the lack of developer docs is quite interesting. Documentation is almost always about scratching someone else's itch rather than your own.

If you put your software up as an "alternative" to commercial software, then people are going to look at your software, compare the features, do a cost-benefit analysis and make a decision. Users have no obligation to adopt, support, or advertise software that does not meet their needs.





@CBrachyrhynchos
by foljs on Fri 11th Mar 2005 13:52 UTC

Totally wrong. A developer will scratch an itch and hope that others find the itch that he scratched useful, but a developer is obviously not going to implement a feature that a user wants if he does not that find that feature useful - especially when this stuff is being done for free.


Which is why there is so much software out there with no documentation, little documentation, the only documentation embedded in the config file, incomplete documentation or documentation written in jargon that is opaque to the user! After all, the developer knows how and why the software works!


Yes, that's exactly why, and that's the way they like it.

You have a problem? Go write the documentation yourself.

It was a favor that they even let you even DOWNLOAD the code
and use it for free PLUS they gave you the freedom to change it,
and now you are asking for documentation (or other features) too?

It's not something you deserve.

It's not something that obliges us open source developers.

It's just that we do what we like to do, and then we let our
code out there for others to use. UNDER NO f****n OBLIGATIONS.

Provided *AS f****n IS*.

You don't like it? It's YOUR problem.

I don't care. Don't use it. Don't promote it. Do whatever you please.
Go hang yourself.

There is no PLATFORM. If I say on my website that my project
is "Great for end users" that is just my opinion. I have no obligation
by neither moral nor law to listen to any of said end users, or
implement anything for them.

If I accept donations, I accept them for what is PROVIDED (remember:
AS IS). A Donation is very different from work comission, so don't
f*****n confuse the two.








Eugenia....
by Vecchio on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:14 UTC

Why the h*ll don't you fix your sorry excuse for a website then? I mean PEOPLE want it to work.. Like if you report a abuse you are sent back to page 1, not to the page where you were.... All the time someone ask you to fix something you either moderate them down or tell them to shut up... And you have the stomach to tell ppl how they should work? Omg, pathetic, so pathetic. Grow up....

The story told another way
by ac on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:21 UTC

At the Free GNOME restaurant:

Eugenia: Hey Chef GNOME! I like your food and I appreciate you letting me eat here for free. I think my free lunch would be better if the salad had truffle shavings on top.

Chef GNOME: I don't care for truffles on my salad and besides they are too expensive.

Eugenia: They grow for free under trees in the forest 20 miles away.

Chef GNOME: Why don't you go get them yourself and add them to the salad.

Eugenia: No - I don't know how to drive.

Chef GNOME: Draw me a detailed map of how to get there, and perhaps if I am interested I will drive there and get the truffles.

Eugenia: No - it's too difficult to draw a detailed map. If you won't go there on my description of the forest then you are arrogant and don't care about me.

Chef GNOME: ?????

@all
by vcv on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:22 UTC

The feeling I get from responses in this thread are that the OSS develops owe nothing to its users, and will develop as they see fit. Fair enough.

If this is true, STOP TRYING TO MIGRATE EVERYONE OVER TO FOSS SOFTWARE. It's quite clear that most FOSS software simply isn't ready for (and may never be?) your average user. So why keep promoting it? Why do people keep hoping that MS will ultimately fail and Linux be the major OS? Why do people keep saying "This is the year of the Linux Desktop"?

It's not ready. FOSS is designed for geeks, by geeks. Some people need to stop pretending it's a viable solution for all. It's a viable ALTERNATIVE for SOME.

@foljs
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:26 UTC

It was a favor that they even let you even DOWNLOAD the code and use it for free PLUS they gave you the freedom to change it, and now you are asking for documentation (or other features) too?

If you are going to do a half-assed job, you should do yourself a favor instead and keep it to yourself.

There is no PLATFORM. If I say on my website that my project is "Great for end users" that is just my opinion. I have no obligation by neither moral nor law to listen to any of said end users, or implement anything for them.

And nobody is under any obligation either to sing your hosanas and praises because you have a heart big enough to inflict your work on the rest of the world.

The solution is bounties.
by ulib on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:26 UTC

I agree with those who suggested bounties as the best possible way out of this empasse. If there's a bunch of users that require a new feature, just get together, put 1$ each and offer a bounty. I'm quite confident that some developer will do it, because of the money and also because people who put their money where their mouth is are usually very appreciated.

RE: @all
by Spark on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:29 UTC

Dude, we are talking about volunteer developers and what they do with their time, not "the Linux Desktop". Stop hyperventilating.

RE: @foljs
by Spark on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:33 UTC

If you are going to do a half-assed job, you should do yourself a favor instead and keep it to yourself.

Please think for a second. Consider what all the happy users would think about your suggestion. This is exactly the kind of attitude which kills developer motivation and productivity. Why don't you do us a favor and keep it to yourself.

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:34 UTC

Documentation was a priority of both GNOME and KDE projects and FOSS has been trying to find a solution for a long time because documentation is very important to both users and serious developers.

At any rate, this conversation is over. Eugenia did a poor job of aruing her position and she needs to raise the quality of her articles in oder for them to be effective and of any use what so ever to anyone. Everything else is off of the table, it's off topic. Write a clear article and support your thesis and be objective about it, or else STFU. That's the moral of the story.

@Spark
by vcv on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:43 UTC

Dude, we are talking about volunteer developers and what they do with their time, not "the Linux Desktop". Stop hyperventilating.

Oh, sorry. I forgot everytime I use caps to emphasize something, I start hyperventilating.

I understand that the developers do this work in their free time, and for that I commend them. HOWEVER... some people (I'm not even saying it's the same people, because it usually isn't) need to stop trying to push FOSS software so much. Recommend it for what it is, not for what it could be in the future, or what people wish it was.

Recommend it to those people who wish to try something else, and can understand what you get with FOSS software. Recommend it to those who may simply not have the money for commercial products.

I think a point Euginia is trying to make (along with others), is that some FOSS software is being pushed a lot lately, yet no one wants to take any responsibility for anything. All credit, no responsibility. I'm not saying they should have to, since afterall, they are doing it in their free time. But don't try to sell a product unless it's ready to take on the responsibility.

Please think for a second. Consider what all the happy users would think about your suggestion. This is exactly the kind of attitude which kills developer motivation and productivity. Why don't you do us a favor and keep it to yourself.

Are you saying there are a lot of users happy with a half-assed job?

...
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 14:50 UTC

No, he is not saying that anyone is happy with a half assed job. Only an arse hole is happy under those circumstances. That's what he is saying.

I don't think that you can really try to define the boundaries that FOSS advocates are allowed to use when they voice their opinions. The market is far to complex of an entity to constrain in any way what so ever. Linux is the result of not just one thing, and nobody will ever know when and where it all really started. It simply is what it is, and that must be constantly redefined in order to make progress.

@CBrachyrhynchos: your point being?
by bxb32001 on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:05 UTC

<quote>@CBrachyrhynchos. . . Is this a good thing when it means that important tasks never get done? Every volunteer organization that does something worth doing for the community has jobs that are less than fun and less than glamorous. Everybody wants to be the tour guide at the animal sanctuary but someone has to clean out the pens. Everybody wants to use the nifty power tools at a Habitat for Humanity site but there are quite a lot of less glamorous jobs that need to be done to complete the house. Everybody wants to code but TFM is usually saved to last.</quote>

Don't get lost in the analogy here. Who designates what's "important", hmmm? You? What do you mean to me? -- and that ladies and gents is the point. If I were selling you stuff, sure, but since the relationship here is that of commensalism, I determine what's important for me. Period.

<quote>@CBrachyrhynchos. . . Let me put it this way. You volunteer to work at an animal shelter, and then suddenly decide to stop because while you really like playing fetch with the dogs, you can't stand to clean out the cages. Of course, since you volunteered your time you really don't have an obligation to the shelter. At the same time, nobody else has an obligation to think highly of your character.</quote>

Huh? Your point? And how does it counter mine again? When you volunteer yourself to something then you, of course, make a commitment. Now, think of the actual context in which I applied my original response. Who is the hobbyist developer commited to? You? Well, the developer that started all of this said otherwise didn't he? So did many others.

Anyway, your point again?

@Anonymous
by vcv on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:06 UTC

I'll agree with that.

But there needs to be an effort to promote Linux and FOSS software properly.

Well...
by Francois Stiglitz on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:06 UTC

It's important to keep in mind that the developers who you are complaining about don't work for you. They don't work for anyone with regard to GNOME. They are volunteers, involved because they are interested in some aspect of the development.

What they are doing is NOT a job. The difference between a job and a hobby is that in job, you're willing to sacrifice your freedom to pick your projects for cash renumeration. Not so of a hobby.

I believe you got the response that is not only what you should have expected, but also the correct one. If someone cares enough, they have all the materials and can develop what they want on their own. If you want it bad enough, pay someone to do it for you. You certainly don't have any reason to walk up to an artist painting a landscape, ask him to paint your living room, and then get angry when he says he's not interested. That's silly.

Sure, what you ask might be of benefit to GNOME and ultimately a benefit to Linux or Linux companies in general, but that's not the concern of the people you chose to ask (and for those it might be, they will follow up with you). What I would have done is approached a vendor with very specific requests or rallied users to ask the vendors. The vendors WILL implement something nobody is interested in doing if they think it adds value that the can leverage.

At this point, I suspect the fact that the vendors are being asked for increasingly more KDE support is making them jaded about GNOME...

Welcome to the gnome diner
by AQ on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:09 UTC

I must say, without a doubt, Chef GNOME Rocks!!!

And about Eric Raymond... the guy is a Libertarian trying to dismiss the liberal strengths of the gpl, by supporting more "business friendly, ie proprietary friendly" licenses like the mozilla public license and others under the guise of open source. They would basically like to drag the gpl towards the bsd since gpl is the most popular. I don't agree with that philosophy, but it is just as politically motivated as any other, even though they try to hide that by not explicitly stating it, as the free software movement does.


@vcv

"It's not ready. FOSS is designed for geeks, by geeks. Some people need to stop pretending it's a viable solution for all. It's a viable ALTERNATIVE for SOME."

Right... freedom is only "a viable alternative for some".

Why do I get the feeling that you're one of those types that would give up your own freedom for the illusion of security?


And finally.... go go Chef Gnome!!!

.
by Spark on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:11 UTC

But don't try to sell a product unless it's ready to take on the responsibility.

But GNOME isn't the product that is sold. Red Hat, Novell Desktop, Java Desktop, etc are. They are ready to take on the responsibility, talk to them (of course you'll have to be a paying customer). People are working on free software for countless different reasons (even inside a single large project like GNOME) and you can't demand or even expect _anything_ from them. They are still doing a useful job, because the actual distributors can cherry pick the work that is well done, while leaving the "half assed jobs" alone. It is ridiculous to demand that developers should either become work slaves of the public or not do any work at all. Because then the vast majority would simply do nothing and nobody would benefit from this.


Are you saying there are a lot of users happy with a half-assed job?

If "half-assed" includes things like missing documentation, then yes, that's what I'm saying. Almost every project out there has a couple of happy users and it's ridiculous to argue, that anyone would benefit if it wouldn't have been released in the first place.

@Spark
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:16 UTC

Please think for a second. Consider what all the happy users would think about your suggestion. This is exactly the kind of attitude which kills developer motivation and productivity. Why don't you do us a favor and keep it to yourself.

Let me put it another way.

There are a heck of a lot of really great FOSS developers out there. They put out quality work that is responsive to the needs of their users. They take the time to provide documentation. They've actually thought through the best design that meets the needs of a certain spectrum of users. This is the software that I push to get installed at my workplace, that I recommend and distribute to my friends, that I make acknowledgements for in my publications, that I promote at meeting and conference, that I provide support for whenever I can. I'm am extremely thankful for the FOSS software that makes my work possible, and I bend over backwards to acknowledge those people and projects.

Now, perhaps I should be all politic and lovey-dovey and give out silver stars and say "good effort." On the other hand, as a designer, I'm feeling a bit reluctant to champion and defend mediocrity or incompetence. Instead, I'd rather champion and defend excellence.

@CBrachyrhynchos
by bxb32001 on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:22 UTC

<quote>If you are going to do a half-assed job, you should do yourself a favor instead and keep it to yourself. </quote>

Wait a sec, who was forced to use the software anyway? Did the developer force you to? Nah, he just laid it out there, free. So you grab the freebie, used it or consumed it, and now you have a say and that the developer should do as you wish?

Hmmm... everything alright up there? Screw fall off or something?

You would think Gnome would change with Novell support
by Harry Costa on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:34 UTC

Your angry rant was everything I wanted to say, but didn't. You would think that Novell's interest in Gnome would make them change. They've been soo far behind the curve in usability, sooo slow. Now I understand why, it's because they have no clue about how to achieve usability. Look how many usability studies they conducted: one, small. And what they really do is piggyback on Appple (long gone) GUI guidelines.
I mean, when will OSS developers realize there's more to writing code than just hacking C? For instance, imagine that I have a feedback form. What do I do with it? Well, I could conduct a text analysis, and extract statistically relevant number of desired features. But they don't even know what I am talking about. My guess is if one were to propose such stuff, they would reject it, because that's not hacking. I am a FLOSS-only power user/developer (my projects, not community, academic), but I understand there's a lot of stuff around developed by the industry that is way ahead of some FLOSS practices. FLOSS developers need to educate themselves more.
Gnome does not even have a system of syncing documentation with sources. I am sick to death of these OSS developers with *worst* software engineering practices.
The truth is, you need to set up a system that works. Linux kernel works, FreeBSD works, but take Debian: major flop in team engineering efforts, an eternal quagmire.
OTOH, I agree when somebody said userbase grew at fast speed, and we need more of them to be developers. But dream on...WHat we need is for OSS developers put their pride and prejudice aside and learn what are industry standards. People have been developing software for decades before Linux or Gnome, you know...serious software, stuff that runs airports, nuclear plants, etc...Think about that...

Bugs
by human on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:36 UTC

I have found that you need to build a bit of a relationship with OSS software developers before you can expect to be taken seriously.
If you use a piece of software a lot, understand it and submit bug reports,suggestions and help people out on the mailing lists, after a while people will value your input more.
If you just write a single post asking for stuff, then it will often be ignored, giving preference to the other 1000 people who also have needs, but participate in the community a little more.

@bxb...
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:42 UTC

Don't get lost in the analogy here. Who designates what's "important", hmmm? You? What do you mean to me? -- and that ladies and gents is the point. If I were selling you stuff, sure, but since the relationship here is that of commensalism, I determine what's important for me. Period.

Well, it depends. If you are working on a project that is creating "an intuitive and attractive desktop for end-users," an environment "that is easy for everyone to use" then what is "important" is defined by the needs of your target audience.

If you are writing software just for yourself, that is only going to be used by yourself. Then you are free to identify your own priorities. But you shouldn't pretend that your software has any real political viability, or life outside of your own needs and desires.

Huh? Your point? And how does it counter mine again? When you volunteer yourself to something then you, of course, make a commitment. Now, think of the actual context in which I applied my original response. Who is the hobbyist developer commited to? You? Well, the developer that started all of this said otherwise didn't he? So did many others.

The point is that you are free to design however you wish. If you design software that is by you and for you and only understandable by you. That is your wish.

On the other hand, the people who use your software also owe you nothing, neither gratitude nor respect if your software does not meet their needs.

some random observations
by Walt H on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:52 UTC

I've been reading this thread with both interest and a bit of exasperation.

First, I have no problem with those arguing against Eugenia's points if those arguments are thought through to some degree. I think those who respond simply to insult aren't really saying much for themselves. As for the person who actually wished violence against Eugenia, that person needs some serious therapy to deal with their misogynistic tendencies. And, if you are going to make such vile comments, have the guts to sign your name.

Second, I wish people would stop comparing OSS projects with Apple and Microsoft. Just because those two companies don't listen to their users (if that is, in fact, the case) doesn't mean OSS developers (at least on larger projects) shouldn't or can't. For as long as I've been using Linux I've heard that it isn't Microsoft or Apple. Yet in this important respect people seem to be saying it is. Personally, I see this as yet another area/opportunity where OSS can and should distinguish itself.

Before I am flamed, I am not saying that developers can or even should implement every user request for change. But I do think that larger projects (GNOME, KDE, OpenOffice, etc.) should try to implement an easier way for users to provide feedback. If nothing else, that might give them some additional insight to the features that the majority of users would like to see or the problems they might be having. Then, rather than responding to individual users, a more generalized response could be made on the project's website. This would at least let users know that they are being heard, even if nothing is or can be done at that point. STFU is simply not an acceptable response, not if you actually want other people to use your software.

I think a large number of OSS users want OSS to be taken seriously. The only way for that to happen is for more people to use it. One way to encourage that is to convince users that, unlike Microsoft and Apple, they will be and are being listened to. Just because the developers aren't professionals (in the sense of being paid for their work) doesn't mean they can't or shouldn't act professionally (something I think most do, although epsiodes like this can serve to lump all developers together and give the whole OSS movement a black eye).

Personally, I have no vested interest in this particular discussion. I don't use GNOME and don't plan to in the near future. However, if you are going to have a Contact link on your home page (as GNOME does) and that page is full of various links for support, it seems to me you would have some obligation to actually listen to what is said.

These are only the thoughts of a user who does not program or have time for that (having an eight-year old autistic son does tend to eat up a bit of your spare time).

RE: Direct comment link @bxb...
by elmo on Fri 11th Mar 2005 15:54 UTC

>>The point is that you are free to design however you wish. If you design software that is by you and for you and only understandable by you. That is your wish. <<

The point is that you are free to design however you wish - period. I am not obliged to design in any specific way if i give away my software for free. If you don't want to use it fine ... if you do fine. Even if i say and claim i want to create user friendly software and then in your eyes miss the mark and don't live up to my claims. I am not obliged to listen to any requests if i don't want to or if i can't because of my own resources. I might have missed the mark and you are free to tell me so, it does give you however not the right in any way to demand anything from me. To even suggest that as a user i have any 'right' that the software should have feature x, y, or z, in the light that the softwar is free is utterly ridiculous.


>> On the other hand, the people who use your software also owe you nothing, neither gratitude nor respect if your software does not meet their needs. <<

If the software does not meet their needs ... well why are they using it then. I have to weigh up why i use a certain software, what things are more valuable to me, i.e do i value my freedom, the fact that i do not have to pay for it, more than the fact that it might miss a certain feature. If i get sth. for free, i am also free to decide what i do with it, i.e either use it and then don't bitch about it (yes, make requests, or point things out) but at the end of the day the developers are not obliged to anything ... anyway it is not all that bad ... developers do actually listen and want to listen. In my mind Euginia has dumped on the whole Foss crowd just because she got a bad response on an e-mail list that was not designed for discussions like the one she started - big deal grow up and get over it.

@AQ
by vcv on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:00 UTC

Right... freedom is only "a viable alternative for some".

Why do I get the feeling that you're one of those types that would give up your own freedom for the illusion of security?


Wow, you missed my point really bad. My point is that it's NOT for everyone. It's an ALTERNATIVE that is suited towards certain people. I did not say FREEDOM is a viable alternative for some, and I cannot fathom how you assumed that.

As far as the security thing, you could not be more wrong. I don't want to turn this into a political thing, but I am a person who is against the PATRIOT Act, some of the things this administration is doing, and the war on Iraq. I've been called a hippy, commie, pinko, you name it. Please, never accuse me of willing to give up freedom for security.

That's not how it works
by dK on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:03 UTC

> If the Gnome devs completely cut off their users in such a
> way, I see no reason why anyone would would still want to
> run Gnome.

How do you go from "me" to "their users" (not one, all), "anyone", etc. ? If it's not fine for you, if you know features you asked will not be implemented, and it's not acceptable for you, just use another software. There are still lots of users who enjoy Gnome and who consider the problem you're talking about to be really minor.

In free software, upstream work mainly for themselves, and they're right. What you request is more your distro's responsibility.

@bxb...
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:05 UTC

Wait a sec, who was forced to use the software anyway? Did the developer force you to? Nah, he just laid it out there, free. So you grab the freebie, used it or consumed it, and now you have a say and that the developer should do as you wish?

Well. That depends on the developer's goals.

If the goal is to produce software that says "look at me, I'm l33t!", then it might be in the designer's best interest to blow everybody off.

If the goal is to produce good software that is only used by a small group of people, then I think the developer can benefit from listening to respectful and constuctive feedback from users. (And I've actually had good luck getting my itches scratched by providing constructive feedback to projects.)

But if the goal is to produce a viable alternative to proprietary software that will compete in certain markets (Gnome, KDE, mozilla, firefox, linux) then I think developers should pay attention to feedback about features, bugs and usability problems that may hinder adoption.

Does this mean "do as I wish?" Not really. I'm only requesting that if I bother to take my time making a sincere and constructive suggestion on how to make a given piece of software better, that I see some indication that the suggestion was considered.

@CBrachyrhynchos
by mattb on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:15 UTC

231 comments later, and we completely agree ;)

this is all i have been saying. i agree with you that to make good software for the majority of the users, a good feedback system is pretty vital. i have never had a problem with that, and think it would be a fantastic idea.

but when it comes to the reality of the situation, we are talking about the work of developers in their free time. if they do not agree that it is a good idea, thats their perogative, and noone has the right to say otherwise.

not only that, but her wording of her idea is enough to get any developers back up.

"Anyways, I have an idea. What about if I write a php engine that lists the 50 or 100 more wanted feature requests as found in bugzilla (should take me 1-2 days to go through most of them), and then have people vote for them up to three options? This way we would have a poll that's more detailed than current poll engines could handle, and it would draw its options from bugzilla so they are not just irrelevant random stuff. The poll would be open for 1-2 weeks, and then devs could take a look. I could host the poll on osnews (on a special page, like gnome.osnews.com or something) or on gnome.org if the webmaster could give me access or takes care of the mysql admin part for me.

So, would this work for you? Would the gnome devs take under consideration the poll and implement the most-wanted features, or would I waste my time?"

that is design-by-focus group, and that is wrong, wrong, wrong. heres a good jef raskin quote (just guess who my favorite designer is? ;-) )

"But what if you say to me, "So what, I like it better my way even if it doesn't work as well." Then, if I give you preferences, I am abdicating my role as a responsible designer.

We don't have GOTOs in modern programming languages (should I put one back in so that you can write spaghetti code if you prefer it?). We design systems to not have security holes (well, we try), and we put in other limitations to keep the system working as the expert designers think it should. Interface design is no different."
(http://osopinion.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&...)

just because a user wants something doesnt mean its a good idea.

there is also this fantastic essay by paul graham about how that single fact is responsable for the low quality in north american products

"I think most Japanese executives would be horrified at the idea of making a bad car. Whereas American executives, in their hearts, still believe the most important thing about a car is the image it projects. Make a good car? What's "good?" It's so subjective. If you want to know how to design a car, ask a focus group.

Instead of relying on their own internal design compass (like Henry Ford did), American car companies try to make what marketing people think consumers want. But it isn't working. American cars continue to lose market share. And the reason is that the customer doesn't want what he thinks he wants."
(http://www.paulgraham.com/usa.html)

there are very compelling arguments why the customer isnt alwas right. being bound by an osnews poll on what they need to do next wouldnt be anywhere near the right way to do things.

what would be FAR better would be a means to facilitate dialgue between users and designers. a poll wouldnt do that, a poll would just give users the impression that they are now in control of the gnome project, and would piss them off more after they realise this isnt the case. what we need is the gnome-usability guys explaining why they made certain descisions in laymans terms. (there will alwas be those who reject the scientific method if it doesnt fit their perceptions, but they will never be happy anyways.) we need the planning comitees saying why feature x is more important then y. this stuff is non-existant in big projects, if it were there is no way the keramik theme could have made it to be the kde default, or the huge misconceptions about why nautilus is now spatial. the basic attitude ive seen on gnome-usability is "we hold these truths to be self-evident. if you cant understand thats your problem, not ours". considering how much power these guys have in the project, more discussion and education would go a LONG way to preventing tirades by pissed off users or developers (like this editorial).

my final point is that regardless of anything else, how in the world did this article help anything or anyone, other then give eugenia a chance to let off some steam? if this is what the "generic" gnome user does when they dont agree with her about something, then maybe it would be best to continue catering to the needs of themselves, contributers, and the corporations that fund them.

Free Software
by matlj on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:20 UTC

Eugenia, when will you stop calling "Free Software" Open Source ? Especially for projects like Gnome (where the G stands for GNU).

As for your "problem", I strongly disagree with you. If I was a develeper coding in my spare time, for sure I would code what *I* want. Free software is also about fun and love of programming, without having to care about market shares etc..

If you don't like the way the Gnome project is driven, do not use it ! There are plenty others desktop environements that may suit your needs better.

As for the bugzilla, are you aware that the Gnome desktop includes an excellent bug reporting tool called Bug Buddy ?

19% of GNOME patches don't get reviewed
by Harry Costa on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:21 UTC

Hey --
Here's to all GNOME enthusiasts who think the project is handling matters just fine, and especially to those who like to say to others to stop complaining and file patches through Bugzilla:

19% (!!!) of patches *don't even get reviewed!*
http://bugzilla.gnome.org/reports/patch-diligence-report.cgi

Is that serious or what ?!?!

@vcv
by AQ on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:30 UTC

Because GNU/Linux is a free (as in freedom) system, that gives people freedom, and the responsibilities of freedom. You are arguing that non free (as in freedom) systems have their place, because this free system hasn't found a way to keep people from being responsible for the freedom they are receiving.

Eugenia doesn't want to be resposible for proactively trying to change this herself, she wants others to be responsible for it while she dictates from the sidelines, but that isn't freedom, it is slavery. With freeedom, you take a proactive role for yourself.

Linux is ready for those who are ready not just to accept their freedom, but also be resposible for it.


And no offense about the politics, just that if you think that people can't be responsible for and to their freedom, then that is very similar to the position of a nefarious administration we all know very well. Maybe that's not how you feel, but I think that was how it was expressed.

@elmo
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:41 UTC

Even if i say and claim i want to create user friendly software and then in your eyes miss the mark and don't live up to my claims. I am not obliged to listen to any requests if i don't want to or if i can't because of my own resources. I might have missed the mark and you are free to tell me so, it does give you however not the right in any way to demand anything from me. To even suggest that as a user i have any 'right' that the software should have feature x, y, or z, in the light that the softwar is free is utterly ridiculous.

Well, you have missed the mark, in a big way.

There is talking the talk and walking the walk. If you want to talk the talk of user friendly software, you should walk the walk of a design process that makes friends with users and listens to what they have to say.

Note that key word, listen. We can't do everything users want. In my own designs I don't do everything that every user wants. Faced with competing needs and limited resources, everybody has to prioritize. And I certianly agree with tossing feedback that is antagonistic and not constructive into the rubbish bin. There is nothing wrong with saying, "I don't have the resources" or "That would be incompatible with the goals of the project" or "That is a low priority right now" or "We can't do that for political or administrative reasons."

It just occurs to me that what I'm talking about here is basic customer service. Good customer service is not about giving the user what they want, but about negotiating the interaction in such a way that when you don't give the user what they want, they at least feel like they were not talking to a brick wall.

In some cases, we are stuck using less than satisfactory software because there are no alternatives, because its the best of a bad bunch, or due to administrative problems. The fact that something is free does not mean that we should not help it get better.

v ITS FREE
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:43 UTC
@CBrachyrhynchos
by elmo on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:54 UTC

I agree with everything you say. I guess what gets me, particular in this editorial, is the audacity in the way things are demanded by the developers, as if they owe anything to me, well when it comes down to it they don't, i do not have any 'right' that sth. i want gets implemented nor does a user base who use the system but do not contribute themselves.
And as you said the keyword is to 'listent'. i was trying to say that actually i think developers on the whole within the gnome project are trying their best to do that (if you look over at the gnomedesktop site they are thinking of ways to make the whole process smoother, also read the mail of Seth Nickel in the moderated section, which kind of talks about the problem a bit). I mean what did Euginia trying to achieve with this editorial ... sorry but all she will do is piss off some developers, loose credibility herself (well she has certainly for me). Pointing out some shortcomings is one thing ... being dismissive of the work of others in a very arrogant manner is another.

Correction
by elmo on Fri 11th Mar 2005 16:55 UTC

>>audacity in the way things are demanded by the developers,<<

meant to say ... "audacity in the way things are demanded from the developers, ..." - Sorry

@mattb
by CBrachyrhynchos on Fri 11th Mar 2005 17:04 UTC

Well hrm. My brief dip into reading about Japanese management and design would suggest that Graham is really exaggerating the differences between Japanese and American design methodologies. The contrast between the enlightend craftsmen in a monistary vs. the American focus group is a bit too pat.

If what you say about gnome-usability is true, then I think there is a problem not just in that they don't communicate their decisions well, but that I don't think the state of HCI research supports a single cookie-cutter set of guidelines for all users, all contexts and all domains. The only true test of usability is empirical.

@CBrachyrhynchos
by foljs on Fri 11th Mar 2005 17:19 UTC

There is talking the talk and walking the walk. If you want to talk the talk of user friendly software, you should walk the walk of a design process that makes friends with users and listens to what they have to say.

Ideally, you probably should "walk the walk", as not to be inconsistent.

But there is NOTHING, no binding contract, no paycheck, nothing
that FORCES an open source programmer to "walk the walk".

He is inconsistent with his talks of "usabillity"? So be it. He doesn't care.

Even more, the claims are made by OTHER people than the developers,
like marketing drones for RedHat and SuSE, naive OSS supporters, non-
developer contributors to projects etc.

So, not only nothing forces the developer to "walk the walk", but
more often than not, they are not even those who "talked the talk".

Keep in mind that exaclty this holds true also for commercial software.
You give money to a company to acquire a SPECIFIC piece of software,
AS IS. This gives you no right to be heard by their developers or anything,
especially feature requests. As a matter of facts, under most EULAs, you
cannot even compain about bugs and deficiences in the implementation
you already bought, since you agreed that you bought it "AS IS".

Sure, some companies can listen to the requests their customers make, but
that is *not* because they have to, only because they believe they sell more
if they do. However, they could also not care, in some cases. For example,
they could not be motivated by money (even through they are a commercial
company) and prefer to deliver their product ideas uncompromised in any way, and if that means less sales, so be it.

Hence:

The only way to have a BINDING say on what is to be produced is to
contract the work yourself. Then the developers have a binding contract
to do the features that you made them sign to do.




I want it for free and I want it my way.
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 17:20 UTC

"For example, Apple has a very simple feedback page on their web site that doesn't require registering (as opposed to bugzilla which is very technical and requires extra thinking)"

Well Apple is a company with lots of people to sort out the mess that unregistered people who can't think a bit have submitted.

"I refuse to use that software, because I respect myself and my choices. I prefer to shed down the right money for the right commercial software (open or closed), than to use half-baked, half-implemented OSS software made by deaf developers"

Do it then. Noone is trying to stop you. Most of gnomedevs write Gnome in their free time, for fun or because they need it. They are nice enough to share it with the rest of the world but that doesn't mean they have an obligation to write features that they don't care about.

By the way some people don't care if everyone uses open source programs or not. I know i don't and i couldn't care less if someone thinks that some open source program/os is difficult to use or lacks features etc. If you don't care to read some documentation or help a bit even with bugzilla the project use Windows or get a Mac.

Arrogance
by aesiamun on Fri 11th Mar 2005 18:09 UTC

"A feature will be implemented if and only if there is a developer who wants to implement it" (e.g. if the developer actually has such a need himself).


I would love to see anyone force volunteer developers to do anything. To even mention that seems arrogant. You are not more important than these developers. You are not more important than their time. If you were sponsoring them, then you would have something to complain about.

But you aren't.

This article is really a bit of a slap in the face to devs
by anoncoward on Fri 11th Mar 2005 18:15 UTC

I'm involved in a collection of projects, some large, some small, and this article is a bit of a slap- not a good, "get off your ass" slap, a demoralizing slap by a user who expects people (specifically volunteers) to automatically do what the user demands/requests.
You state they respond to segfaults, yet are non-responsive to feature requests. Ever considered the possibility they're more interested in making the *existing* code work, rather then duct taping more features on?

You touch upon novell/rh, thing I don't get is why you aren't complaining to them (assuming you're a customer).

The devs are giving this stuff away, and you're slapping at them for not spending their time implementing what you specifically require. That's just wrong.

If you think they've gone and marketted themselves into a position where they must respond to user requests, fine, state it as such. Avoid the generalizations.

Most foss devs *do* implement feature requests, when it's sane to do so. I've seen way too many crazed feature requests that would require massive duct taping/kludging to pull, and only to satisfy a minor subset of the users... focusing on keeping the source stable, maintainable, and extensible, and trying to slot user requests in is how most projects operate (or should, imo).

Hello
by Utsav Pardasani on Fri 11th Mar 2005 18:16 UTC

TeeHee. Eugenia, you really know how to start a debate.

Anyhoo, my 0.02 cents (canadian) , I'm very satisfied with opensource tools. I find developers very responsive in how they answer questions etc.

That being said, alot of your suggestions and reccomendations have made gnome what is. I can't believe you'd be dissatisfied. In fact, GNOME developers have done alot to please the stuff you've posted here. It's done with alot of the complaints you've done on the website.

Yes there's a sudden co-orporate interest in GNOME, but we both know that they'll get bored soon!

completely misguided
by MarkTime on Fri 11th Mar 2005 18:18 UTC

what a waste of an editorial. Mixing in some good advice about computer design and trying to elevate that into some kind of mandate to enslave people (yes, forcing people to work for free is still slavery)....is beyond absurdity.

If you want a new feature, go write it Eugenia.

@CBrachyrhynchos
by Lumbergh on Fri 11th Mar 2005 18:33 UTC

Which is why there is so much software out there with no documentation, little documentation, the only documentation embedded in the config file, incomplete documentation or documentation written in jargon that is opaque to the user! After all, the developer knows how and why the software works!


That's orthogonal to the discussion of developers scratching an itch.

I should also add.
by Utsav on Fri 11th Mar 2005 18:55 UTC

I should also add that your comments and editorials on UI have done much for the desktop experience that everyone has today. I find it hard to believe that this is the same person speaking. What more could you want?

@Jesse S.A. Bridgewater
by Lumbergh on Fri 11th Mar 2005 19:16 UTC

MrBurns "excellleeeent point"

a few points
by Roy on Fri 11th Mar 2005 19:38 UTC

While paying attention to user feedback is obviously a good thing, I think this article ignores the fact that extracting useful information from user feedback is quite difficult. The signal-to-noise ratio of a Gnome feedback page would require multiple people whose sole job is to sift through the junk to find the occasional gem or it would become completely useless. Carefully read some of the posts to Slashdot and this site before assuming that a feedback page will be useful. While Havoc and Jimmac's suggestion reduces the amount of feedback, it at least does a decent job making sure that suggestions are well though out and thoroughly described. I'm not saying that a new method for getting user feedback isn't a good thing. I'm just saying that it is a lot harder than creating a feedback page.

"Designers are not users. Users are not designers."
This is a paraphrasing of a quote I heard a long time ago that rings true every time I read a debate KDE and/or Gnome. Designers should not be working in a vacuum. User testing and feedback are key parts in a good design. Users are great at telling you whether or not something works. However, users are terrible at telling you how something should work.

Corporate developers (Redhat and Novell) will develop what they feel will sell software/support. Expecting RedHat developers to put effort behind home desktop projects is silly. Luckily there is a lot of overlap between a good corporate desktop and a good home desktop.

Unpaid OSS developers will develop according to their motivations. Some will code up features that they need because they are motivated as a user. Some will write the stuff that they consider "fun" because they enjoy it. Some will be motivated by the greater good, but there is nothing wrong with either of the above motivations either.

RE: @Lumburgh
by aesiamun on Fri 11th Mar 2005 20:37 UTC

<quote>
The irony of stating that everyone should be free to "scratch their own itch," while complaining about the lack of developer docs is quite interesting. Documentation is almost always about scratching someone else's itch rather than your own.
</quote>

Here's the thing:

Firefox and the Mozilla project have been having some terrible issues with developers...and making this public and being an OSS project, is asking for help. In my eyes, the FireFox team needs developers.

Here's the hardpart. There is little to no documentation on how this works. There is scattered documentation on XUL, but not on xulrunner, no information on creating extensions, plugins, etc. If there is, I didn't find it easily.

If you want help, don't force your developers to search for the answers, publish them on your developer site. This is just as bad as Eugenia saying "you are a developer, i am your customer...do what i say" instead they are saying "i am a developer, you want to develop with me...find your own damned docs, specs and what not."

It's just as bad.

I would love to help the firefox project. I just don't have the desire to track down all the information on numerous sites in order to just learn how this project is designed. Xulrunner is a fascinating project, but there is NO documentation on it. Just a couple screenshots and how to build it.

How useful is that?

RE:OSS developers as saints
by Anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 21:16 UTC

You must live in some other world than me. I see stuff like this all the time:
http://strugglers.net/rants/Open%20Source:%20License%20...

@mattb
by Lumbergh on Fri 11th Mar 2005 21:18 UTC

We don't have GOTOs in modern programming languages (should I put one back in so that you can write spaghetti code if you prefer it?).

We do have gotos in modern languages and don't fall into an idiotic groupthink trap that gotos don't have their uses.

Knuth talked about the proper way to use gotos and its used effectively in the linux kernel as well as a lot of other software.

Hobbiest developers usually write what interests them, your right. however if you want a specific feature there is nothing stopping you from emplementing it, if you can't, pay someone to, there are a LOT of programmers out there in the news groups who will implement for you for a small fee. Remember it is free you don't pay for it, contribute and then your needs will be resolved ;)

only read the 3 words
by deb on Fri 11th Mar 2005 21:32 UTC

But they are right, most wishes and tips from users on the boards get ignored, why are they rejecting to make their stuff more intuitive, is it that hard to code a GUI for X Configuration.
Why is it that hard to copy all the nice OSX features.
Most coders are to conservative, that way they never get the market.

OSS development process
by neil on Fri 11th Mar 2005 21:34 UTC

There are a couple of things you need to be aware of, heh.

GNOME started out being written by hobbyists, for hobbyists, who wanted a windowing system built on x that was user friendly. To that end, the project was started and all the hobbyists that were interested in contributing, were given their chance to add what they thought should be in there.

Then (and now) they gave the result to the world. GNOME has and always will be developer driven, made by hobbyists, for hobbyists. The proper way to add a feature is to become a programmer and add it.

Usually, a developer has a great idea, works really hard on it when he can, or is willing to, commits it to cvs and ideally it gets added, in his spare time. No money is paid, and the developer asks for nothing more than for the feature to be included in the next release.

The notion that I or any other developer should care about the features that someone else wants, in software which I have added a feature to for free, is crazy.

Lets pretend for a moment, that we didn't spend 10-200k in college, and take 10 years to develop our skills and have full time jobs and families that also require our time.

Lets say the magic computer science professor zapped all of this knowledge into our heads, we have a free place to live, and don't do anything but write code when we feel like it.

Why should I care about what Joe Schmoe wants to add to GNOME if I don't want or need the feature? Is Joe going to pay me? Is Joe my friend, best pal or otherwise someone I want to do a favor for? What's in it for me? I have the copy of GNOME with my feature, I am satisfied. If I never got another version of GNOME, I'm tickled pink.

Does your mechanic add a turbo charger to your car, out of the kindness of his heart? I don't think so.

While I understand your frustration with something like this in software you pay for, GNOME owes you nothing. If you paid for Redhat or Debian or any other linux, and you feel like they are doing you wrong by not adding features you want, take it up with them. One of their paid developers may just add it for you and contribute it to GNOME.

I think the users need to find developers who share their views on features to be added, and have the time to do it, or pay a developer to add it through a distribution. It won't happen any other way.

The author of this article should know better. Can you add what I wrote to your article? Can ya please? It's a feature that I would really like to see added to this web page. And I don't want it in these comments, I want it in the body of the article. Can you please make that change?

How about a term paper, can you write one for me?

See how silly it is to expect a developer to expend creative energy on a feature he's not even interested in?

-neil

Re: Ironic stance given Eugenia's statements about OSNEWS
by CaptainPinko on Fri 11th Mar 2005 21:44 UTC

Good point! "To hoist an engineer on their own pittard is a fine art." I think that's a mangled Shakespeare quote. Hamlet?

RE:RE:OSS developers as saints
by jj on Fri 11th Mar 2005 21:50 UTC

You must live in some other world than me. I see stuff like this all the time:
http://strugglers.net/rants/Open%20Source:%20License%20.....


Interesting read. I agree, that dude was an a**hole. This guy went to him for help and he gets abused and treated like that just for earnestly asking? That also isn't the first time I have seen something like that. Even though it may seem like an isolated incident, it doesn't look good.

Considering Euginia's style is very self-important, then no one should be shocked by her article.

Criticism directed or in this case, thrown out in a self absorbing , me centric, only my interests matter type article is nothing more than an attempt to stir hot coals and create buzz for OSNews..

This stance certainly will not product any positive effect.

Who uses GNOME anyway?
by farlander on Fri 11th Mar 2005 22:44 UTC

Are there any sane people who still are using GNOME? I thought all of them have moved to KDE long time ago...

RE: Who uses GNOME anyway
by Bryant on Fri 11th Mar 2005 22:48 UTC

Despite all the technical advantages of KDE - minus some disadvantages such as including having to bring in the kitchen sink just to use a KDE app, KDE has one major disadvantage that cannot be resolved - the QT liicense.

All the major players are Gnome shops now. KDE screwed up many moons ago when they chose the toolkit.

...written by hobbyists, for hobbyists, .....
by mythought on Fri 11th Mar 2005 22:51 UTC

Why in the world do Gnome developers complain when Distro x does not include it?

> Why in the world do Gnome developers complain when Distro x does not include it?

GNOME developers don't. Some GNOME users do. But that's not a GNOME specific trait. KDE developers don't generally complain if a distribution doesn't include KDE, but some KDE users do.

Who uses GNOME anyway?
by Anil Wang on Fri 11th Mar 2005 23:01 UTC

> Are there any sane people who still are using GNOME?
> I thought all of them have moved to KDE long time ago...

Absolutely right!

We, the insane, absolutely love GNOME.;-)

Here's a picture of the former GNOME release engineer:
http://www.gnome.org/~jdub/images/jdub-tv.png

You have to be at least this insane to be a part of the GNOME community.

Sanity's overrated anyway....

quotingsomeoneelse
by quotinsomeoneelse on Fri 11th Mar 2005 23:18 UTC

From Slashdot (sql*kitten)
"The ideology that defines Free Software people in general is that you
make things easier for the developer, not the user. If the user doesn't
like it, they should do their own development (that's what the source is
for). If they don't want to do that, they can pay someone to do it for
them (even RMS has no problems with that, so long as the source is
available). If they don't want to code and they don't want to pay,
they're irrelevant and should shut up and be grateful for having any
software in the first place. Harsh, but that's the way it works in
practice."

v You whine to much...
by anonymous on Fri 11th Mar 2005 23:32 UTC
This is "News" ?
by Anonymous Coward on Fri 11th Mar 2005 23:51 UTC

GNOME started alienating all of its users when it adopted the one-size-fits-all mentality. This is hardly news. I loved using GNOME and was a huge advocate of it. Then I had to bite my tongue and realize that with the new direction, it had alienated me and I was forced to make The Switch.

Today GNOME is like looking at Mac OS X in a funhouse mirror.

just impressed!
by haakon on Fri 11th Mar 2005 23:54 UTC

In the cause of gnome, I've filed 2 (two) bug-reports or "feature requests" take it how you want.

number 1, "shift delete" in nautilus, should delete any file directly, like windows, not place it in the thrash. it got implemented in about 1 month.

2'nd. a lot of bookmarks on epiphany delayed opening new windows a whole lot. Implemented and fixed in about a week.

I'm totally put off how fast those humble requests got fixed. The key is to really file a bug report that is appealing to the developer, suggesting what may be the issue, and, most importanly, BE POLITE! programmers like this are people that is people like you and me, nobody wants to be shouted at. they want to know, as much as possible, about what may be the cause of the problem, so that they can fix it as fast as possible. I salute the great coders of gnome and other, they really care, if you really care to show them why it needs to be fixed/implemented.

Thanx for the great effort, all coders of gnome et al.! you rock!

I fully agree!!!
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:07 UTC

If they are doing something only for themselves it will be better to keep it private, there will always be the responsability TO GIVE feedback if they publish they work to be used by the general audience.

So, if they don't have the will or the time to listen to what others need they can only expect angry people to stop using they software, at the end it will be like keeping it private. So what's the point to release it then when they won't ever listen to their audiences?

I'm with you Eugenia!
by Lennart Fridén on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:17 UTC

No OSS software can be taken seriously as an alternative to commercial software if the project ignores its users.

If you want to put Linux on the desktop you'd better listen to Joe Average.

pony up some cash
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:20 UTC

I recall dealing with you once, you demanded that I changed something for you by the very next day. I'm sorry, I don't recall you ever getting close to my paypal site.

Deal with it or make the developer a real offer. I'm sorry we don't work for YOU Eugenia, though you may think that we do.

v waaaa! mommy, mommy, I want my feature!
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:20 UTC
uint MySubject
by Max Howell on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:25 UTC

It's true that there are many people who want to use OSS and don't care much else either way. These people don't really get satisfied by the current ways the big projects are developed, to a certain extent. The problem is, they all evolved from a scratching of an itch. People who joined since then have learnt to treat the projects like that.

But OTOH, you can't treat the current crop like they are projects that predominantly want to please users, because they just aren't. Sure it's a factor, but often the development is fuelled by different motivations.

Maybe OSS always will be.

v one of these days eugenia
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:26 UTC
Hmmm
by a Gnome User on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:31 UTC

IMHO the Author is:
a) completly free to implement whatever he thinks is important on _his_ time.
b) free to pay somebody to implement it for him if he is unable and/or unwilling to do it himself
c) is free to fork the project and manage it in a ?better? way
d) showing strange desires to tell other ppl. who devote _their_ time in programming a (IMHO) cool desktopenviroment what to do.
e) free to use another Desktopenviroment or OS
f) someone earning money by moaning around other ppls work, which is quite lame (IMO again)

btw. i like gnome the way it is so pls. keep up the good work!

Most F/OSS zealots dont have a clue about UAT
by Jojo teh Superfriend on Sat 12th Mar 2005 00:55 UTC

The code has to be technically correct, as for usability - that is soooo teh l4m3! They have NO IDEA that in a professional product end user testing to make sure the end user is happy is just as important as any other step - the end user is what the software is for. Of course the argument goes "the developers are the end users, anyone else is just tagging along" - in that case how about we cut the crap of "this is the year of Linux on the desktop" as the only target of F/OSS is developers.

If a user submits change requests, that is their contribution - USABILITY TESTING IS CRITICAL! A point that gets lost on the zealots who seem to think that commercial software is evil but if you use F/OSS then you shouldnt complain unless you are willing to code something. If I want a feature, I submit a request and the developers ignore my request but it is offered i a commercial packge I will use the commercial package. I am not going to hire a full time developer as that would cost my department far more

Of course the zealots will never learn, in ten years we will still be hearing "this is the year of Linux on the desktop" and "Linux has reached the critical turning point" as they JUST DONT GET IT!

this is the year of Linux on the desktop
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 01:17 UTC

Sorry, that was last year.

1996 was the year for Linux on my desktop.

User input == Good Thing
by Kevin Walzer on Sat 12th Mar 2005 01:21 UTC

I agree that developers have to design their projects as they see fit, but Eugenia has a point: there's not much point in developing software if you're the only one who's going to use it. For me, part of the fun of developing software is getting feedback, both good and bad. Feedback improves the product, both by pointing out bugs and also showing user assumptions that perhaps the developer hadn't considered.

I got a lot of insight into this with a program I released recently: see http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/25773 for the feedback thread. One user provided lengthy, and continued feedback on each iteration/release of the program. He not only pointed out bugs, but also compared the design of the program unfavorably to his preferred application that did the same thing mine did.

I didn't incorporate every one of his suggestions. I had my own reasons for designing my app the way I did (he wanted a multi-window, document-centric interface, while I put everything into a single paned window), and so I didn't move the design in the direction he wanted. As a result, he probably won't adopt my program. Fine. He has a FOSS tool he prefers, it's a good tool, it works for him.

But though I didn't change the *design* of my app to please him, I was grateful as hell for his bug reports and more specific interface gripes. I made a lot of small changes and improvements based on his input, stuff I never would have thought of on my own. If he hadn't taken the time to do that, I'd still be playing with a buggy, difficult-to-use version 0.1. Now, at version 0.4.1, it's a reasonably polished app that gets a consistent amount of downloads each time I release a point upgrade (>=250): that tells me that at least a few people find it useful. Without feedback, it would be less so.

Re-education Required?
by Futzpolitic on Sat 12th Mar 2005 01:25 UTC

I applaud Eugenia for having the guts to face down the FOSS zealots (and their creepy "FUD" rejection of any valid criticism of the Open Source model) on the issue of basic client service.

I don't give a damn that open source is developed by volunteers -- they offer it to the world as a replacement for commercial software and that has to entail some kind of agreement that they will offer what the world wants. If not, why should anyone care about what they do?

FOSS is truly the last gasp of Socialism in this world and, for good or ill, destined for the same fate.

@CBrachyrhynchos: Re: @bxb. . .
by bxb32001 on Sat 12th Mar 2005 01:43 UTC

Good points; I agree.

Users aren't always right
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 02:56 UTC

Sometimes users don't know what's good for them.

Re: Users aren't always right - Developers aren't either!
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 02:58 UTC

> Sometimes users don't know what's good for them.

Developers seem to not know this either.

http://www.osnews.com/editor.php?editors_id=1
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 03:28 UTC

Guess Eugenia should take a look at this page:

http://www.osnews.com/editor.php?editors_id=1

How don't care about visitors disliking your writing problems, definitely because you are doing it just for fun. I don't see much difference between that and OSS problems you mention. And in both cases it's something that can't be changed overnight.

take a cue from the army - when volunteering.
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 03:30 UTC

Sure everybody who volunteers their time is free to do whatever they please and not take orders - but now think of it from a point of joining the army - you volunteered to fight for the country (in this case FOSS) you better obey the rules or you're court martialed. I'm in full agreement with Eugenia on this topic.

Soldiers
by AQ on Sat 12th Mar 2005 04:01 UTC

Soildiers get paid and receive housing. They become property of the government and have no freedom. They are dictated to by "higher ups", including an elected freedom. And they sign up knowing all of this beforehand.

Free software has absolutely nothing to do with this, other than that you can go further through your personal actions to make it better based on the merit of your contributions.

Nobody signed theirself away to defend the interests of users.

Army = OSS development? Hellooooooo
by bxb32001 on Sat 12th Mar 2005 04:15 UTC

I don't think so. Made me laugh by the way, thanks.

Gnome, the evil OSS project?
by Sage Marigold on Sat 12th Mar 2005 05:04 UTC

Looking at the OS News thread and then seeing it's genesis in the gnome developers thread, where X barged in and demanded to be heard, it's hard not to believe that some have a little bit of Gnome envy.

X likes the community aspect of Gnome, but does not quite have the requisite skills to really be a part of the Gnome team. So, in lieu of that, and using a pulpit ( slashdot jr? ) ( which I enjoy a lot and is very informative in that it is visited by some very talented people who don't mind imparting their views ), there proceeded a duking it out with some very "high up " Gnome-ers, on Gnome's own turf.

Now, they obviously are aware of X, but at the same time, they generally cannot afford to cater to "thread stalkers"!

I give the Gnome-rs credit for being fairly polite and actually answering most of the comments. Try that at MSFT or AAPL! Although the products may differ, MSFT and AAPL are corporate to the tee. THe Gnome team is very accessible by any fair standards and were quite considerate given what was going on.

In the end: to have products like GNOME for free, is something unheard of even 10-15 yrs ago, and you gotta appreciate it...heck, you cannot even get a pack of gum for free at WAL-MART, and GNOME costs the casual user not a red penny, if they dont want to pay.

This is absurd.
by Phil Crissman on Sat 12th Mar 2005 07:01 UTC

I just today posted something on my site about the huge number of ways people can help with Gnome. They are actively encouraging people to solve bugs, and are even attempting to classify "easy" bugs to make it simpler for new developers to get involved. This editorial is nothing more than whining; nobody expects you to fix it yourself. You should also not expect busy people, many of whom are developing Gnome in their spare time, to put your personal pet peeve about the software on the top of their priority list just because you can go write an editorial about it.

You're right! Developers should listen to it's users.. but which developers? You think you'd pay US$ 30 / year for a desktop that'll listen to you right? Go help launch a site or a company accepting US$ 30 from you and many others to HELP the actual developers do what users want. You say the current developers have control? Hey! this whole OSS is mostly a meritocracy and whoever has the best skills or the most time to de more for the project eventually gets to lead..

Nat is always requesting a general bounty site.. maybe it's time to do it.. The point is clear: hobbyist want to have fun.. you'll have to pay someone to implement things you want if they don't care...

Many US$ 30 / year user could make a huge pot for a bounty site and quite possibly might help turn things the side you and possible many others want to...

The beauty of OSS
by Tamara Roberson on Sat 12th Mar 2005 09:24 UTC

The beauty of OSS is that you can easily change the code to make it work the way that you want. If you create a patch and a bug report on bugzilla then it's very likely someone with more authority will take a look at it. If you just complain about it, then nothing will get done. You need to be very specific about what you would like and don't be demanding or else people won't listen to you.

What is bad is when developers actually don't listen. Gaim used to be like that but I've heard that it got better. XFree86 got so disconnected from the user base and the majority of developers, that people forked it into X.org which has all but overthrown XFree86. With Muine, people have posted to the mailing list and bugzilla suggestions (with or without patches) and sometimes we apply them and sometimes we don't. But we've always been good about it and discussed the issue even if we are left at a disagreement.

OSS is by hackers for hackers. Yeah, there are people who sideline and don't hack but if you want to get stuff done then you will have to learn. If you have a patch, people are 10,000x more likely to notice. And if you don't get it applied to the code base, you can at least apply it to your own system and use the changes you made.

Be the change you want to see in the world!

I'm so glad I haven't seen a sexist comment about this (yet!). It's hard to be a girl hacker. People aren't usually openly sexist but I still get the comment in chatrooms/mailing lists of "Hey, wait. You're a *girl*?". It's sad sometimes. There are so many good geek girls around but when women like this just look like they are nagging and not making relative comments, then it looks bad for all of us and doesn't help the hacking community at all.

v Where's the pay?
by Craig on Sat 12th Mar 2005 09:39 UTC
You're absolutly right.
by Eyal B.S. on Sat 12th Mar 2005 10:05 UTC

If some app is opensource, so the app's developers should be listen to the users request.

I mean, what exactly gnome developer thinks? that the users are should be suffer?

Oh yeah, when a user reporting bug, gnome developer are very happy, they have free QA, but when the users request a feature they don't listening to them?
So what's the point?
*Do the users owe them anything?

If the community users, doing QA on gnome, finding bugs, and having hard time with that (using unstable app isn't fun), so why should the developers return a favor? and implement some of the features they've requested?
Sound to me as a better symbiosis.

An idea
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 10:34 UTC

What choice do us users have? Use a totally over-commercial monopoly like Microsoft, who are totally unreachable and out of touch with users? Or use code that's developed by some cool guys who are generous with their time and code, but don't have the motivation to do the really hard stuff - i.e. that attention to detail and the users' needs that hardly anyone does unless they're paid to?

Each has its problems. Windows XP is easier to use and better than my KDE destkop (or Gnome, whenever I give that a try) but I don't like the restrictions Microsoft places on users. This is IMHO of course and subject to another debate, but let's just say I think the open source desktops could be better.

So it's an imperfect world...

Still, maybe there is a way forward if users are unhappy with the open source offering, but not so unhappy as to go back to Microsoft.

How about having an Open Source Users Association? Each member pays a subscription, maybe something like $15-$100/year. All money (except maybe 5% admin if needed) goes to key open source projects based on merit and based on those projects agreeing to engage users more or implement this or that feature.

The users association members who pay most could vote more on what features to ask for.

Open source projects could obviously decline to accept the money and get involved, but chances are if the users association approaches this in a friendly and constructive way, then open source developers might finally be rewarded for doing all the grotty, hard jobs that are so essential to making a user-friendly application.

Because that's how I see it - making software good for the user is harder for the developer. We need a way to reward developers for stopping the 'cool' features occassionally and doing the boring stuff.

lol
by berkus on Sat 12th Mar 2005 10:36 UTC

its a first eugenia's post i fully agree with!
actually, having monetary motivation for developers could do the trick, but to me it should be something more than that

Project size / Responsiveness
by Andy on Sat 12th Mar 2005 10:41 UTC

I think you'll find that small projects tend to be much more responsive to user needs then large projects. To some extent I think this is simply because its easier to be responsive when you've got 100 users then when you have 100,000 users.

Ultimately, of course the only stuff that's going to get worked on is the stuff that developers decide to work on. That's a tautology and not useful. Some developers would indeed be more likely to work on something if they saw that a lot of people wanted it, I think. Not all of course, but there's no reason that everyone has to work that way.

Are you serious?!?
by Someone on Sat 12th Mar 2005 10:46 UTC

I think it's already been said in the comments but I can't help but add my voice to the choir: Open Source does not work the way you want it to. FOSS "hobby developers" work mainly for their own satisfaction. If they cannot see a need for others' suggestions there's really not much you can do about it except not use the tool. If you don't like Gnome, use KDE, XFCE or whatever. Or fix it yourself - you say you can't do that and you can't afford to pay someone to do it for you. Tough! Live with it!

I agree with you that there should be a dialogue and idea input to a project, but due to the nature of FOSS you cannot EXPECT anything. The point of FOSS is user involvement but users have to put something in, they must become more knowledgeable to add value.

If you want to fulfill your expectations, get ready to pay. If you don't care about the free speech aspect of open source I don't think you're in the right place.

No $300?
by Takis on Sat 12th Mar 2005 10:51 UTC

If you can't spend $300 for getting a needed feature implemented, you certainly can't spend more on getting a WinPC
full of software.


The point of OSS is that you _can_ add the feature yourself or ask someone to do it for you. If you can, good for you, if someone is kind enough to do it for you for free *be grateful*, otherwise pay someone.

Try getting your favorite feature into MS Visual Studio or any other closed source software package. Those companies will _truly_ ignore you. They might do market research to please to commonly asked features, but they certainly won't satisfy you specific needs.

OSS is by enthousiasts *for* enthousiasts. It's not a heap of programming slaves waiting to be commanded by demanding users.

The nice thing of OSS is that, if I write software to satisfy my needs, their might be other people who've got the same needs. And it will cost me little effort to just make it available. If they need different features, they can add them, and I can enjoy them as well.

RE: Deaf Developers
by Cam on Sat 12th Mar 2005 10:56 UTC

Developers aren't deaf - they just have to turn down your volume a little because there are so many clueless but loud opinions out there.

If you want your opinion to count you need to move beyond hot air and do something useful. If you can't make the effort then don't expect anyone else to take up your cause.

I like gnome because it resists lots of bells and whistles. Features come in when they fit. If you want a better chance of getting your tweaks and features in, look at KDE. I looked at KDE then chose Gnome.

-Cam

v Non hai capito un cazzo!
by Leonardo Dio Capra on Sat 12th Mar 2005 11:40 UTC
v Ora ho capito
by Leonardo Dio Capra on Sat 12th Mar 2005 11:54 UTC
unpaid volunteer work
by penquin wrangler on Sat 12th Mar 2005 12:24 UTC

well you seem to have some ideas about what a developer should be doing, so, as most of us see it, it is your responsibility to become that developer. You have an itch and the next step is to scratch it. That is how OSS works. Or if your pockets are deep, you can pay someone to scratch it for you. In the software libre world, you are free to modify the code, or not. You cannot expect a developer in this world to do it for you, you must do it yourself. So roll up your sleeves and fulfill your obligation for the free code you use. Or not. Your choice.

Yeah!
by ken on Sat 12th Mar 2005 13:47 UTC

Hey Eugenia, you go girl. I am with you. GNOME is depended on by too many users and organizations for developers to openly admit ignorance of user requests. I just wanted to post an echo of an earlier comment. I followed the link and found it disconcerting.

You must live in some other world than me. I see stuff like this all the time:
http://strugglers.net/rants/Open%20Source:%20License%20.....


Make waves, make changes.

RE: me
by ken on Sat 12th Mar 2005 13:53 UTC
Get off your High Horse
by Joe Ciancimino on Sat 12th Mar 2005 14:02 UTC

Instead of writing about and slamming the (we) hobbyists, try picking up a book on programming and adding to the source code! Open Source is Open Community. You want it to be better? The code is there in front of you, change it yourself or go back to Microsoft!

Re: This is absurd.
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 16:58 UTC

> I just today posted something on my site about the huge number of ways people can
> help with Gnome.

You can only help if the help is appreciated or wanted. If you as person are not wanted or your work is upsetting the maintainer then you are lost. You talk about help like it's a natural thing inside OSS to simply sit on your computer's keyboard and say 'oh, what a nice day, let me help a bit' and then once you sent your patch in you get a reply 'sorry, i dont want this crap to show up inside my code'. So before you help someone you usually get in touch with these people first and ask whether your ideas are worth something for them. That's exactly what Eugenia and many others did.

Re: Where's the pay?
by Anonymous on Sat 12th Mar 2005 17:01 UTC

> It's their project and they just release it to the general public under a free license.

Define 'their'. Their as in the thousands of people who contribute to it ? So theirs as in it's partially mine ? Who is 'their' ? Their as in 'it must be a paid GNOME developer to be able to take decisions, the board, the release team, the foundation' ?

Who and why develops open source?
by Ezequiel on Sat 12th Mar 2005 17:46 UTC

I guess there are some hundreds of comments saying that you do not understand open source.

Ok, here is one more.

Just ask yourself this question. Who and why develops open source?

There are as many reasons as developers. I would say that the main three are: they are getting paid for it, they want the feature/bugfix, or they want to help the project succeed.

The point is, you need to convince developers to do what you want. There are many ways, including using any of the three reasons above. But if you cannot, though time. You do not check the teeth of a gift horse.

Look up!
by Chicken Little on Sat 12th Mar 2005 18:22 UTC

The sky is falling...

Media loves by crying wolf. "Is OSS dead?", "Java: Is this the end?", "What's in your drinking water might be harming you!! Next at 11!" This isn't any different.

There are many peices of software in the world that I don't like. I dislike Quicken, QuickBooks, IE, GnomeToaster, GNUCash, that friggin wizard/cat/dog in MS Word! But I have choice. I choose to run Ubuntu. Hell last month I chose to run Gentoo. Three months ago I choose to run Fedora. Who knows - maybe next month I'll chose Windows XP (err, probably not).

I think if I get tired of GNOME tomorrow I'll run KDE. If KDE annoys me I'll use XFCE for a while.

I choose the software I use on my computer. Sometimes I think software pleases me enough to pay money for it (MoneyDance) and sometimes it doesn't (VMWare).

I hope you are as happy as I am with your choices.

you get what you pay for!
by E. on Sat 12th Mar 2005 20:16 UTC

If you are not happy with the way OSS is given to you for free - why don't you choose a selling company to give you support? Why don't you hire a smart OSS developer to implement the features you like to see / fix the bugs which annoy you?
Remember the sentence, that holds for several stories in life: You get what you pay for!

A GNOME User Responds
by Ben McKenzie on Sun 13th Mar 2005 00:31 UTC

I have to disagree with this article. The base assumptions made seem to be flawed in many respects.

1) What is a user? A user is someone who uses the software. However, grouping "users" into one class is actually damaging to FOSS. I'm a user. My friends are users. So tell me, if I want feature X, but they want feature Y, who's right? If feature X makes feature Y impossible, or vice versa, which feature is more important? If one of the features makes bugfixing, maintanance, and backwards compatibility impossible, does it matter if more people want it?

Case in point: Spatial Nautilus. I have always preferred spatial browsing. As such, when Nautilus went to spatial mode as default, I hopped with glee and danced a merry little jig. Other, more vocal, people, weren't happy. But both groups, those that preferred and those that did not, were "users." Eventually, a compromise was made, pulling the behavior out of the gconf files and into Nautilus itself.

I can almost guarantee that in the list of "15-20 features" that Eugenia has (I haven't managed to see them yet) I could find at least one that I don't agree with. Does that make it any less useful to her? No, it doesn't.

2) Havoc and the other GNOME developers are not evil scientists with a mind-control sattelite. This goes for any FOSS project manager. They cannot point to a developer and say, "Code this." This isn't a job. Said developer can simply walk away from the project and not come back.

A FOSS developer will pick up and prioritize what they code on, because they're first and foremost human beings. They, like everybody else on the planet, have finite time and resources. If one bug affects 500 users, and another affects 5,000, you can bet they'll work on the bug that affects 5,000 people sooner than the bug that affects 500.

Yet, when they do, those 500 people will band together and shout outloud how unfair it is. They'll circle the wagons and scream about how the developer doesn't listen to the "users."

Same goes for features. I'm sure that if you were to expand the wanted feature list to all the users of GNOME, you would be paralyzed with the inability to do anything.

A project maintainer MUST be able to ignore users. This is true whether it's FOSS, Microsoft, or Apple. You cannot please everybody all the time.

3) Being part of a community means being active. Is it really to much to ask that people write and spend time on a use case or at least present, in some coherent manner, why feature X is the greatest thing since sliced bread?

"Of course it is! Us users don't have the time/skills/resources!"

Again, not to stress the point too much, but there's a finite amount of resources for everybody involved. Whenever a developer is working on adding feature X, bugs A, B, and C aren't being coded on. Time spent on trying to design, implement, test, code, re-implement, tweak, and finalize a feature takes away from the total amount of resources that the GNOME Project as a whole.

And that's if the developer gets the design and intention of the feature right the first time. If a developer were to slave themselves to a vague feature suggested by a user, then it would be design, code, test, debug, re-design, code, test, debug... etc. until the user was completely satisfied. It's not efficient.

4) Going back to #1 & #3, a user that has no technical background cannot understand how easy/hard it would be to implement that nifty feature. If they're lucky, maybe it can be done with a few lines of code changes somewhere. If not, it could mean having to rewrite/create an entirely new library just to handle that one feature.

Elitist? Yes. It is. Not everybody has a technical background. Just like not everybody has a criminology degree, or a medical background. I, like everybody else, am not omnipotent, and at some point, I have to accept the fact that somebody out there is going to know more about me in a given subject.

The developers and contributors to the GNOME Project know the system inside and out. They work on it every day. They've spent time studying it. In the end, they're the only people who can say whether feature X can easily be implemented or not.

It's also because of this that voting for features is a great way to guarantee that the software will break or become an unimaginable mess. It's handy for feedback, but not for direction.

Feature X may be a great idea, and may be highest on the list. However, the users aren't going to be the ones that have to get their hands dirty to implement the feature and the bugs. Nor will everybody that votes on the feature know what it would entail, unless that was made explicit up front. Would people really want feature X if it meant that every coder on the project would have to stop what they're doing and work on that one feature?

In any case, at some point, a project has to stop listening to the users in order to get work done. The point at which this happens is when there's a few more magnitudes of users than developers, users in this case being people who simply make feature/bug requests. No project has the resources to please them all. This is true of both commercial and FOSS software.

Thank you for your time.

Live up to your own demands
by Harel on Sun 13th Mar 2005 02:29 UTC

>so if you have a problem with my spelling and grammar either:
>a) do not come back (spare us and save your time too)
>b) send me a proofread version of the article in question.

(http://www.osnews.com/editor.php?editors_id=1)

Eugenia,
The above is a quote of your own words.

One more thing.
You pity the people/developers who idolize software/computers, yet you have no problem using their software do you?

Spare us your hypocrisy

Heh
by Anonymous on Sun 13th Mar 2005 05:42 UTC

I almost shit myself laughing because of how retarded this article sounds. You and I do have something in common, though--we're both trolls. ;)

compromises
by Omega on Sun 13th Mar 2005 09:09 UTC

Eugenia, if there is something you need, just develop it yoursefl. It's what makes Open Source so special.

Oh you do not have the skills? Then go to your local store and buy Windows if what you want is in there.

What? you do not want to pay for functionalities you want anyway ??

Stop acting like a 4-year old girl and stop whining !

Pay for what you want: learn and spend time doing it, or spit the cash!

Not limited to GNOME
by jcook on Sun 13th Mar 2005 13:04 UTC

I have found the notions listed in this artical are not limited to GNOME.

I have been an avid user of KDE for years now.

In the last few years I have submitted a decent amount of wishlist items on bugs.kde.org. I have found developers are not interested in features they do not understand, and have no interest in trying to understand.

I was one of those users that abandoned the GNOME project just before the 1.4 days. KDE appear to be going down a similar path. That of not listening to 'real' users of they're systems. The most common dismissal responce is the usuall 'submit a patch'.

If KDE keep it up (just like gnome did years ago), I guess we will be finding ourselves cheering a new underdog.

Final thoughts:
What application on kde/gnome is as good as windows media player? If you do not use WMP 10 to play media files then do not pretent to have a clue.

Im leaving kmail for mozilla-firebird, as the moz developers obviously understand how a 'real' user wants to interact with the email client.

No, no, no.
by Gilbert Fernandes on Sun 13th Mar 2005 13:10 UTC

I am really surprised to see such a bad article from you, Eugenia. If you want something, you either do it yourself or talk about it to developers but don't expect them to work for free for you : they do it for themselves first and because they want some stuff to be available.

As a developer, seeing someone come and talk about your project, telling you how you should do things but not doing anything by himself but expecting you'll do anything they want "because they want it" is just plain stupid. Because you want something does not entitle you to talk in anyone's name but yours and if you want something, do it yourself or don't complain.

This motto is especially remembered to people when they come near some opens source projects like openbsd. We keep seeing people with no programming knowledge, no security knowledge come to mailing lists and explain everyone how things should work and that everyone should spend their time doing things "the right way". Of course, those people won't do it themselves, of course.

We're not slaves. We do things for improvements and do it because we are looking for them. If you talk nicely with a developer, he/she might work upon the idea if the idea looks good but don't expect it. If you really want something, start working and make it happen.

I hope I don't feel rude. English is not my native tongue and sometimes I don't express myself as I think I am ;)

Idiocy
by Brother Dysk on Sun 13th Mar 2005 13:25 UTC

I'm sorry to sound rude, but the parent artcile is sheer idiocy. We should be grateful to the GNOME developers that they are releasing their hard work to us for free (as in beer) and better yet, under a free (as in speech) license. Even if they were just developing it for their own use (which I HIGHLY doubt) there is no reason for them not to do public releases or run a bugzilla (which is mainly intended for bugs, hence the name) just because they won't implement a few features YOU want. We are getting something (and a wonderful something at that) for nothing at all, and you complain? On what grounds, because you want FOSS to succeed, as you say? In that case, contribute! If you want it to succeed, then add in the "missing" features yourself, or pay someone to do it, but don't whinge and moan, and expect other people to work to implement something you want, just because you feel you need it, and can't be bothered to implement it yourself.

We're getting the whole of GNOME, which is the sum of many hundreds of thousands of hours of work, all in all, for nothing. What're you complaining about?

Thought for Developers
by Midnight Brewer on Mon 14th Mar 2005 13:40 UTC

One effect of OSS, intended or not, is that it serves to present a facet of yourself as a developer to the world, and even more importantly, potential employee/co-worker. Wouldn't it be a shame if your professional reputation was hurt because you acted like a total ass in the OSS community? Whenever you participate in the internet community (and OSS projects are part of that), you are stepping out of the comfort of your own home into a public place.

Like it or not, people are judging you and weighing you by what you say and how you treat people, and if you treat them as if you basically don't give a damn about them...well. You never know who you might be insulting, and how many personal opportunities might go wasted as a result.

So many stating the obvious here
by Kimmo Sundqvist on Mon 14th Mar 2005 15:07 UTC

Some Anonymous coward wrote:
> Berating gnome for not following a standard you try to
> impose on them is demeaning. How would you like to live
> up to someone else's whimsical demands?

Who are you to call those demands "whimsical"? Always when this subject is discussed, there are a dozen wiseguy smartypants repeating the obvious with an attitude: That the developers "owe you nothing" and "you can do it yourself, the source is open" and "who are you to say that".

The point is, I am the king of Nepal to say that, if what I am saying is correct and would be a better solution and would - as an idea - lead to better software. If, OTOH, what I am saying is unspecific, unrealistic and unfair, then I am nobody to say anything.

The community is about ideas. With Microsoft and the like, good ideas fail and profitable (marketable) ideas succeed. Many people are attracted to OSS because it has the promise to make good ideas succeed - instead of the profitable and marketable.

Two kinds of people repeat the same thing over and over again. One half has the nosy attitude of "how nobody owes you anything" and the other half understands and shares the frustration that good ideas are not driving out the bad ideas. I think (or at least I hope) that the hobby OSS developers are in it for the ideas.

They do not have a monopoly on ideas, and I think they want to make better and better ideas come true. And if thousand users would want to ask the OSS developer to "polish that little bit there", I'm 99% sure that the OSS developer also wants it done, because sometimes he too thinks it is a good idea.

http://quality.kde.org/ is, I think, after my first glance, a marketplace, a factory, of practical ideas about KDE.

I have noticed a positively annoying trend anoung open source people to just re-create what other people have done.
Why would I want another seperate wordprocessor and spreadsheet and photo tool and graphing tool????

1)It can be an all-in-one where you can switch tools "0n the fly" as you work. Just let me specify the page size, label,etc.

2) Long ago, Apple Hypercard for the Mac did entirely away with the need for "Save" or "Auto-Save". Why is it still there? I don't care which hard drive it is saved to, just that it is one one that I can access. I would like to back-up the day's work to CD or Floppy Disc though.

3)Gnome and KDE both suffer from the "Click on the Picture"
and "Folder" idea--it's not always the best way to work!

Those are my thoughts....

Bugzilla
by Michael A. Peters on Tue 15th Mar 2005 02:30 UTC

In your article -

b. Normal users don't use bugzilla. Only power users & developers do. Besides, no one likes spending time to register.

What exactly are you expecting?
Yes - normal users use Bugzilla all the time - and guess what sweetie - bugzilla has an RFE (Request For Feature) marker you can note on your bug.

There has to be a way to track the issue, Bugzilla (or other systems) is the way that is done - plenty of "normal" users use Bugzilla when they have a bug or RFE - it's the way developers know what needs to be worked on.

I'm sorry, but if you aren't willing to use the chanels put forth for you to use, then it sounds like you want someone to wipe your derrier for you. That is something open source is not willing to do. I don't blame them.


I learned on MSWindows and am trying to move to Debian and all OSS. I don't want to use MS products because of their monopoly bullying. It is often frustrating because a lack of features and sometimes an attempt by developers to build a project anyway but the way MS did it. MS has 240 engineers working on usability. Sometimes they happen on the easiest way to do something. OSS developers should not reject the natural or easy way to do something just to be different.

At other times it makes no difference initially, but MS sets a standard that most people are familiar with. Once people get used to menus with "File" on the left and "Help" on the right, it makes little sense to do just the opposite out of dislike for MS. Change for a good reason is beneficial. Change just to be different makes people endure a relearning curve or stay with what is familiar to them.

Flexible software is good if the options don't add instability. Some people seem to be just against user choice.

Jim Fuqua