[OSGeo-Discuss] Open Source Lurkers
lblake at ksninc.com
Fri Aug 21 11:55:30 PDT 2009
I would like to get some comments on a phenomenon I have discovered
among the OpenJUMP community. I know for sure of one (1) company that
maintains a separate fork of OpenJUMP, but which monitors our mailing
list and likely grabs patches form our source code repository. They
never participate in the forums or make known their use of OpenJUMP in
any other public manner.
I think there is at least one other company that does this.
I only learn of these companies when I am contacted by private e-mail to
work for them on OpenJUMP development, usually by some headhunter. I
actually did a little work for one of these companies (which was not a
great experience, but that is another story) and I was surprised at how
important OpenJUMP was to their operation. They even distributed it to
I couldn't for the life of me figure out why this company wouldn't take
a more active role in supporting the OpenJUMP community. I'm not
necessarily talking about money here, but about writing documentation,
contributing their own patches, or answering questions on the mailing
lists. Our community is very informal and open, and an organization
could likely have a large influence on the direction the program took
with an investment of some resources.
Is OpenJUMP the only community with these open source lurkers? How many
of these companies do you think there are? (I'm not talking about one
guy who downloads an open source app and uses it. I'm talking about
actual companies with more than one employee.)
Why don't they get more involved? Are they embarrassed? Do they not want
their competition to find out about the open source program they are
benefiting from? Are they violating the terms of the license and don't
want to get busted? Do they not understand that their involvement is a
key part of the program's survival?
This has become an important question for me recently as the active
development of OpenJUMP has slowed. We don't have any organizations
actively participating in development. (Well, maybe one or two, but they
have been quiet lately.) I'm the only one working on serious
improvements or changes, and not just bug fixes. I would really like to
reach out to these lurkers to get them more involved. Ultimately, the
survival of the project may depend on it.
What do you think? Send an e-mail to the project list with an invitation
to contact me privately about getting more involved? Are these lurkers
worth the time?
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