Benjamin Geer on Fri, 19 May 2000 08:46:50 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> OFSS01: First Orbiten Free Software Survey]

On Thu, May 18, 2000 at 10:21:12AM -0700, Michael Goldhaber wrote:
> Are there openings for a more wide ranging, rather than technical,
> set of discussions re what a wider set of potential users would want
> open source code to be?

Most projects are receptive to suggestions from users.  A well-run
project will have at least one mailing list where you can discuss
ideas about new features.  Of course, the developers may not implement
your suggestions, even if they agree with them; there are usually many
more things to be done than there are people to do them.

There are quite a few open-source projects that aim to produce
software for the average user, and most of these try not simply to be
open-source clones of closed-source packages, but to take a new
approach.  KOffice ( is one example.  Your
input on such projects could well be very helpful.

It often helps to become a beta tester.  Every project needs people to
test the software, and developers are generally very grateful to those
who do so.  This may give your suggestions a bit more weight.

If you need a specific type of program, it's worth checking to see
whether something similar already exists; if so, it might be modified
to suit your needs.  CoSource ( is one way to
start such a project.

That said, I agree that there ought to be a forum where non-technical
users could discuss ideas for new types of software, or new approaches
to existing problems, with programmers who might be interested in
working on such projects.  Many projects start either to fill a
programmer's need, or to meet the programmer's conception of an
end-user's need.  I suspect that there might be a fair number of
programmers out there who would find it especially satisfying to work
on something that a significant number of people had already said they
wanted.  All you'd really need would be a mailing list (with archives)
and a web page.

Benjamin Geer

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