Sourceforge: a Taxonomy of Sourceforge’s Stakeholders

Having a seat on the Sourceforge advisory board, lately I have been thinking about who are the stakeholders of world’s most famous open source repository, and how Sourceforge might travel to accommodate their changing needs.

Stakeholders' taxonomyA possible taxonomy by recursion sees recursion

Searching for Sourceforge on Google the first three different results summarize different aspects of how people look at it (bold emphasis is mine):

The world’s largest development and download repository of Open Source code and applications
(source: sourceforge.net).

A media, services and e-commerce network that provides and promotes Open Source software downloads, development, discussion and news. (source: sourceforge Inc., NASDAQ LNUX).

SourceForge.net is a source code repository and acts as a centralized location for software developers to control and manage open source software development. SourceForge.net is operated by Sourceforge, Inc. (formerly VA Software) and runs a version of the SourceForge software, forked from the last open-source version available. As of August 2008, SourceForge.net hosts more than 180,000 projects and more than 1.9 million registered users, although it does contain many dormant or single-user projects
(source: wikipedia).

Some stakeholders’ point of views in regards to what Sourceforge is are implicitly represented by those definitions, a taxonomization of all Sourceforge’s stakeholders is probably needed to better define how better support all of them.

Let’s start from the developers.

There are three different subcategories of developers interested in Sourceforge: newbies, experienced and professionals.

Newbies can’t access any resource to easily jump start a development project. SF.net is definitely not aimed at them.

Experienced developers’ needs are well matched by SF.net, offering them an integrated web platform to build software, centralizing development management for no cost and helping project visibility.

Professionals, people making a living of it, needing to accurately track donwloads or willing to have full control of their repositories, today can’t easily migrate their projects in and out of SF.net, and they often choose to run their own forge.

But if it is true that they don’t need a software development platform, many of them are happy with an high ranked page referring to their project. Guerilla marketing‘s fans maybe also interested in selling services through the SF marketplace, but the presence of competitors at (less than) a click away could be a problem.

Peer-to-peer network users.

All they need is an easy access to downloading their favorite file-sharing tool. Even if they can hardly seen as part of the SF developers community, since they pay little (if any) interest in free software, they are a very significant part of the whole users base.

Public and Private Organizations.

Organizations using SF facilities to build communities, are open and interested to a wide collaboration, probably going beyond the peer production of code, maybe willing to find an answer to the open source conundrum. Public administrations willing to share open source code are likely interested in sharing also solutions and experiences.

End users.

End users look for software to fulfill their idiosyncratic needs. Often their ability to conduct an effective software selection process is little, as is scarce the probability to find a solution to their unique problems in few clicks.

Next I will cover the competitive landscape and opportunities in front of Sourceforge.

Technorati Tags: commercial open source, long tail, sourceforge, open source mediation, open source marketplace, commons peer production

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