Sourceforge: About fulfilling Developers’ and Organizations’ needs
Yesterday I walked through Sourceforge end-users’ needs, trying to figure out how Sourceforge might travel to accommodate their needs. Today we’ll look at what organizations and developers might want, keeping a closer eye on competitors’ offering and how to possibly stay ahead of them.
Portrait of a software developer by zakq100
Let’s start from local and central public administrations. Forges like the European Open Source Observatory and Repository cost a lot of money, helping IDABC and other national or regional organizations to allocate their resources to better help dissemination of practices in using open source software. To enter this market Sourceforge should likely spend some effort to provide users with projects migration tools and also to be compliant with European interoperability standards. Public administrations might well be interested in reaching Sourceforge’s audience, targeting local SMEs and PAs through specific newsletters, taking advantage of Krugle to search code, or more advanced features like a method to rate developers and contributors, etc. I think in this area Sourceforge could really make a difference. Competitors like Collabnet probably simply can’t reach 30 million of users a month, and are probably more focused on the enterprise market. All in all Sourceforge could even provide public administrations with a free service, retaining the possibility to sell advertisements or sponsorship to local IT vendors.
Fixing the “open source mediation conundrum” – namely the fact that any given customer has a component distribution that falls everywhere on the long tail – is more of an opportunity than a challenge to Sourceforge. Stormy Peters rightly says that developers involved with open source projects in the long tail are reachable by forums and email. That is just how OpenLogic maintains relationships with developers on 400 projects. Other organizations, either IT consumers or producers (system integrators included) might need help with that. Sourceforge could commercialize value added mediation services for projects not covered by OpenLogic, whose support probably doesn’t scale beyond a few hundred components, as Domic Sartorio said. Similar speculations stand for stacks not supported by SpikeSource, though. Sourceforge in order to answer the open source mediation conundrum should stretch its ears, going beyond making audience and eventually enabling users/customers collaboration through its community. Moving from group forming networks aimed at distribute software (one-to-many communications) and enabling intra-project transactions among peers to fostering inter-projects communications, creating affiliation, is a strategic decision. Exploiting the power of networks to this extent, forming and fostering inter-projects collaborations, could allow Sourceforge to compete also with organizations like the Collaborative Software Initiative.
Launching a “Geek for hire” program would be a great thing. Starting by asking developers to opt in to the service, collaborating locally with employment service providers like Manpower, and finally taking advantage of the deep knowledge about Sourceforge users’ skills. Sourceforge today has access to likely the largest global network of talent, and could deliver a pretty unique permanent or temporary recruitment service. Ohloh is already providing information about Sourceforge’s developers, and it is time to offer similar or better services. Now.