From: Daniel Ames <amesd...@isu.edu> Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss]
Open Source Lurkers To: "OSGeo Discussions"
<email@example.com> Date: Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 10:24 AM
Landon, et al.
I'm aware of this phenomenon in the MapWindow community as well. It
is particularly prominent with non-English speaking folks who, for
a number of reasons (mostly described by Bill below) don't feel
comfortable joining the conversation and openly participating in
I think there is another clear reason for this behavior... they
sometimes just don't know that they are welcome/invited. This might
be more of a pronounced problem for those of us developing
specifically for Windows because Windows users have historically
been told that they are not allowed to participate.
However it's also a phenomenon of GIS in general. When was the last
time that the major GIS software vendor asked it's customers to
actively join in writing documentation, answering forum questions
and - heaven forbid - fixing bugs.
So how do you fix this. Well all I can think is to continually
invite invite invite. Everytime someone posts a forum question,
give an answer and then invite them to answer other people's
questions. When people ask for bug fixes, invite them to fix a big
- or to hire someone to do it. Any time you get a personal
communication, invite them to do something on the project.
This has helped a lot with our project, and I think we've landed
some awesome project participants (some of whom are likely reading
this now!) by letting them know how much we need them, and inviting
them over and over to participate.
That's my suggestion anyway,
On Sat, Aug 22, 2009 at 4:53 AM, Bill Thoen <bth...@gisnet.com>
I've been a moderator for a commercial desktop mapping forum for
more than 10 years and this behavior is quite common. I think it
has more to do with how people adapt to a social network than it
has to do with anything unique in the Open Source world. Like Chris
mentioned, the majority of subscribers prefer to lurk below the
public visibility horizon in a way that resembles an iceberg where
only the tip remains above the waterline while the majority of its
bulk lurks below.
People lurk for many of the reasons you suggest, but I think the
most common one is that they don't feel expert enough to contribute
anything useful to a thread, and the risk of saying something
"stoopid" --in public... and worse, thus revealing to their
GIS/mapping peers the depth of their ignorance-- is just too
embarrassing to contemplate. Especially when compared with the
perceived safety of remaining anonymous in the shadows where they
can drink in new knowledge like free beer while also being
entertained by the interplay of the forum's regularly featured
fools and sages.
If we assume that Maslow was right about what motivates people
(self-interest) then lurking in an open source community and not
participating is exactly the wrong thing to do. If your business
depends on some FOSS tool, then it's in your self-interest to
expand the environment in which it operates as much as possible.
Because if what you sell depends on tools like OpenJUMP, you want
OpenJUMP well supported with a lively user group, a good supply of
free data, technologically competitive, and actively being
developed. This is the key to making money out of bits instead of
atoms. If you sell services, give away the software and the
infrastructure of the environment it runs in. This expands the
market for your services and since the tools are free, the more
people who download them the bigger your market share gets. If you
sell software, give away services that leverage it. But if you lurk
and don't contribute to its development or the development of the
environment in which it operates, then you're sort of stepping on
your own air hose.
- Bill Thoen
Landon Blake wrote:
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 their customers.
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
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?
*Information provided via electronic media is not guaranteed
against defects including translation and transmission errors. If
the reader is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
information in error, please notify the sender immediately.
Discuss mailing list
Discuss mailing list
-- Daniel P. Ames, Ph.D. PE Associate Professor, Geosciences Idaho
State University - Idaho Falls amesd...@isu.edu
-----Inline Attachment Follows-----
_______________________________________________ Discuss mailing