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Open Source Software

The Role of Freeloaders In Open Source Communities 120

dp619 writes "The Outercurve Foundation has published a defense of freeloaders as part of a blog series on how businesses can participate in open source. '...in the end, it's all about freeloaders, but from the perspective that you want as many as possible. That means you're "doing it right" in developing a broad base of users by making their experience easy, making it easy for them to contribute, and ultimately to create an ecosystem that continues to sustain itself. Freeloaders are essential to the growth and success of every FOSS project.'"
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The Role of Freeloaders In Open Source Communities

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  • Freeloaders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aXis100 ( 690904 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @04:17AM (#45962735)

    Otherwise known as regular users???

  • Not freeloaders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @04:19AM (#45962741) Homepage

    They aren't "freeloaders". They're called "users". Without them, there's no point to creating software except for stuff you personally need. And there's more stuff you need than you have the time or the skill to create, so you will be one of those users a lot more often than you're a contributor. Users aren't a problem, they're the reason software exists in the first place.

  • Re:Freeloaders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dimko ( 1166489 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @04:24AM (#45962761)
    Yeah, that's what assholes call us. If you don't like your user base - just don't open source your code, thank you very much,
  • Re:Freeloaders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:08AM (#45962925)

    There are two kinds of them : the one who complains for any reason and often doesn't even know why, wasting coders' time, and the one who sends logically articulated problem reports (not necessarily in a bug tracker), helping coders to improve their software.

    Three kinds - the I expect the most common user is probably one who doesn't report anything but just uses the features that work.

  • Re:Not freeloaders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bug1 ( 96678 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @05:36AM (#45963015)

    Users are freeloaders if they are ideologically opposed to contributing or participating in the community.

    If people dont contribute because they dont know how, but would like to, then that fine, maybe one day they will be able to. Nothing to lose, everythign to gain by havign them around.

    If people (or more likely corporations) are ideologically opposed to contributing back to the communtiy because they dont want to mix "their valuable IP" with the communities IP then are a dead weight to us. We would be much better off pushing them to use inferior proprietary software so their competitors who arent so short sighted can win.

    [end rant]

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:47AM (#45963299)
    For every piece of open source software, 99.99% of the people who use it are end users who will never, ever look at the source code and who will never, ever contribute to it. Even active open source developers will never, ever contribute to most of the open source software out there.

    So if you remove all the "freeloaders", most of the purpose of the software is gone. In the official GPL rationale, the whole purpose of the GPL is to make sure that the "freeloaders" cannot only use the software, but are free to modify it - without contributing anything. (Not that I agree with the rationale, because the percentage of end users who can actually take advantage of these rights is minuscule).
  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @07:21AM (#45963449) Homepage Journal
    I bitterly regret my outburst of Making You Think.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @07:34AM (#45963511)

    Count me in! I am a freeloader, but willing to help. When do I start? I volunteer to: Put the permanent status bar back in FireFox so I don't need an extension. Get rid of Gnome 3 entirely. Revert the GIMP's atrocious Save As.../Export As... abomination. Oh, right, these projects are closed cluster****s, and don't want me to help. Sorry, I'll go back to being a freeloader now.

  • Re:Not freeloaders (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @07:40AM (#45963541)

    Not really, assuming this reluctance to contribute back doesn't extend to bug reports.

    Just using the software and reporting bugs is valuable.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @08:30AM (#45963747) Homepage

    Simply using a Linux-based router makes you a "freeloader" of hundreds (if not thousands) of FOSS projects you've never even heard of.

    Statistically, even people like Linus are "freeloaders".

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:37AM (#45964829) Homepage
    Everyone of us is a freeloader. We use an alphabet we didn't invent, we use a language we didn't invent, we live in towns we didn't build, we live in states we didn't found, we are entitled rights we didn't fight for, we follow ethical principles we didn't think of ourselves etc.pp..

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming