Open source users aren’t your average beta testers

Scoble just lost all his calendar events to a Mobile Me bug. He points out that:

Apple’s secrecy keeps them from properly testing out their apps with
tons of users, the way other companies do who aren’t so worried about

When people talk about open source software, they talk about the advantage of lots of testers. For example, Marten Mickos always talks about how he has two types of users with MySQL, those with lots of time and little money and those with lots of money and little time.

What I think doesn’t get enough attention is the fact that these "free users" aren’t your average user. They are usually very technical, very passionate, very active users. People that will help make sure you have the information to fix the problems they find. And if you label it a beta (as perhaps Apple should have done with Mobile Me), they know how to take appropriate precautions so that when terrible things happen, it doesn’t wipe out their data. Free and open source software developers can use and test your software in ways that the average user can’t or isn’t interested in doing.

5 Replies to “Open source users aren’t your average beta testers”

  1. You and Scoble have excellent points to make here. Well said.
    It is still difficult to translate these kinds of advantages into a case for adoption of open source tools in organizations where somewhat rigid and circumscribed compliance testing still rules the official “acceptance process”.
    I think some good ol’ marketing language that melts the hearts of hidebound “IT Managers” is whats required. The same way not “wearing a suit” was Apple’s badge of legitimacy in the “switch” campaign, there’s got to be some easy to grok hook for open source.

  2. then why does Apple release highly-polished software while the free software community only ships buggy, unpolished software?

  3. Could you reverse the order in which the “Posted by:” arrives?
    Right now I read it as Graham Todd has posted “then why does Apple…” but it’s really triton… consider this a bugreport.

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