Over the last days, we heard a number of concerns around how our business practices affect the community sentiment. A few concerns were expressed by several developers, included the GIMP community, about confusing ads on SourceForge pages. Along with that, we also heard complaints about the DevShare program. We want you to be assured that we are always listening to you, learning from you, and taking action on your feedback.
1. About the Confusing Ads
We work with several different Ad Network partners like Google to show ads on our site, and from time to time, a few confusing ads show up. Just like all of you, we do not like these ads, and last month, we asked our Ad Network partners to remove over 200 deceptive ads; however, it’s an ongoing process and we need your help.
In order to eliminate these sometimes misleading ads from SourceForge pages, we’re asking you to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org providing the screenshot and, more importantly, the full link to the confusing ads [to copy it right click on the link, and choose “Copy Link Location” in FireFox; “Copy Shortcut” in Internet Explorer; “Copy Link” in Safari and “Copy Link Address” in Chrome].
We will make sure to review all such requests, and if we agree with you, take immediate action. Please help us to make SourceForge a better place. Your input is material to help mitigate this issue.
2. About Bundling Open Source with Additional Offers
In July 2013, we launched a pilot version of an opt-in revenue-sharing program called DevShare. DevShare is a partnership program offered to SourceForge developers to turn downloads into a source of revenue for them, by bundling their applications with third parties’ offers. This revenue will help these projects grow, help the developers keep contributing to the Open Source community, and help us keep offering free hosting, distribution, and other services.
Let’s start by providing some context around this issue first.
We started the DevShare program for two reasons:
- Some projects were already using the SourceForge infrastructure to deliver bundled offers to monetize their downloads, and most of them were complaining about the lack of control on the quality of the offers and user experience. In addition, many other open source projects expressed interest in monetizing their downloads by bundling relevant offers, but the lack of control with Installer Partners was a key concern for them.
- SourceForge also makes a small amount of revenue from this program to continue offer free hosting, distribution, support and ultimately to keep enhancing Allura, it’s fully open source platform now in incubation at Apache.
Therefore, we evaluated a few Installer Partners to help us address end-users’ complaints related to one or more of the following reasons:
a) opaque installation flows providing little or no choice about secondary offering installations;
b) undocumented and difficult to uninstall procedures for those secondary offerings;
c) secondary offerings that are not always safe, trusted and secure applications.
What DevShare Means to You
End-users are provided with a clear and transparent installer behavior, all programs are malware-free and clearly described. All uninstall procedures are extensively tested, so that if end-users install it by mistake they can easily remove it.
Developers aren’t just compensated in money, but they are in full control of both the installer behavior and what sort of secondary offerings will be presented to their users.
Where are We and Where are We Going
Currently in the Pilot phase, we only have 3 projects participating in the DevShare program all of which explicitly opted-in. This represents 3 out of 300,000+ projects in our entire catalog. This is a 100% opt-in program for the developer, and we want to reassure you that we will NEVER bundle offers with any project without the developers consent.
The DevShare program has been designed to be fully transparent. The installation flow has no deceptive steps, all offers are fully disclosed, and the clear option to completely decline the offer is always available. All uninstallation procedures are exhaustively documented, and all third party offers go through a comprehensive compliance process to make sure they are virus and malware free.
Having said that, we believe we should do more to make sure all our stakeholders are pleased with the program and how it works.
In the near future, we’ll share a blueprint of how we believe this program can be improved, and we’ll ask the community for feedback. We will not be accepting any new projects into this pilot until the community has vetted possible changes and improvements to the program.
You are welcome to join the conversation at the DevShare forum on SourceForge, your opinion rules.