Much ado about scripting, Linux & Eclipse: card subject to change

2009-05-28

Eclipse Community Survey: 4 More Insights

Ian blogged 6 insights from this year's Eclipse Community Survey; here are a few more to get us to a full Top Ten list.

  1. What is your primary operating system?

    Linux is certainly a strong player in both development (26%) and deployment (40%), beating Mac (7% and 3%) but losing to Windows (64% and 38%). More interesting to me is the fragmentation of Linux, showing that Ubuntu beats RHEL/Fedora by 10% in the desktop space (development), but loses in the server space (deployment).

  2. Where do you typically go to find Eclipse-related information?

    About 2/3rds said Google and/or the Eclipse home page, which suggests that the homepage has certainly improved - but a lot of people would rather just search. However, the survey didn't mention our finely crafted wiki.eclipse.org, or help.eclipse.org. Survey #FAIL.

  3. Are you or the organization you work for a member of the Eclipse Foundation?

    Five out of six respondents (83%) said No. So either we've done a terrible job of converting users into members, or people would rather give back in the form of testing, documentation, filing bugs, and writing articles. I suspect it's a little of both, but mostly the former.

    Kudos to the contributors, and shame on the corporate drones for not convincing their queen to send a little honey back to Eclipse.

  4. In the last year, how have you participated in the Eclipse community?

    While nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) said "I entered at least one bug into Bugzilla", more than 2/3rds said they "used Eclipse but didn't actively participate in the community." To me that's a clear sign we have more users than contributors. Is that because most Eclipse users are Windows folks who don't grok that Open Source works best when everyone sees themselves as part of the process, rather than just a consumer?

I've been reading More Joel On Software recently, thanks to winning a prize for bringing a bag purchased in Alaska to EclipseCon this past March. One article stands out from there in this context, Building Communities with Software, from March 2003. Here's an excerpt:

The social scientist Ray Oldenburg talks about how humans need a third place, besides work and home, to meet with friends, have a beer, discuss the events of the day, and enjoy some human interaction. Coffee shops, bars, hair salons, beer gardens, pool halls, clubs, and other hangouts are as vital as factories, schools and apartments ["The Great Good Place", 1989]. But capitalist society has been eroding those third places, and society is left impoverished.

...

So it's no surprise that so many programmers, desperate for a little human contact, flock to online communities - chat rooms, discussion forums, open source projects, and Ultima Online. In creating community software, we are, to some extent, trying to create a third place.

If you feel your third place is lacking, please consider contributing more to Eclipse, to Fedora or CentOS, to JBoss Tools, or whatever tickles your fancy. Just give something back. Your community will thank you, since, after all, "A rising tide lifts all boats."

UPDATE, 2009/05/30: Mike's right, calling our users "freeloaders" isn't fair. I just wish there was a more obvious way to convert users into contributors.

3 comments:

Mike Milinkovich said...

I personally hate the term "freeloader". They are users. And having lots and lots of users is a big part of Eclipse's success. We should be happy that so many people find value in the software we create.

Users create a funnel of potential contributors. There will always be many more users than contributors. It is inherent in the process.

However, we all should be thinking of ways to turn more users into contributors. What can we do as the Eclipse cognoscenti to lower the barriers to contribution? How can we be more welcoming? How can we educate users that their contributions are both valuable and valued?

Using pejorative labels like "freeloader" is not the way to motivate users to join our community.

AlBlue said...

The thing I took away was that whilst Ubuntu was the most popular Linux desktop, the second most popular Unix one was Mac OS X. And given that Mac OS X can only run (legally) on a subset of the available computers (whereas Linux can run on (pretty much) anything, it's interesting to note the growth.

Sadly, Eclipse on the Mac still has some way to go but hope springs eternal that it will improve in the end.

slgeorge said...

Nick,

I think the "fragmentation" of the Linux platform depends on where you're coming from. Red Hat has been the lead enterprise platform for a long time so it's not surprising that they show up in the lead.

I'm really pleased to see Ubuntu with such a strong showing on both the desktop and as a deployment platform. It shows that developers are appreciating the qualities of Ubuntu for both development and deployment. This also shows that the work we've been doing to make Ubuntu a good platform for Java server deployment is worth the effort!