About widi.berlios.de -> the authors respond

Gregorio Robles grex at scouts-es.org
Thu Jul 12 22:14:32 UTC 2001


	I've been posted your recent messages about Widi and BerliOS and I want
to clarify some things. I think I'm the right person to do this as:

	1. I'm part of the Widi research group
	2. I do my diploma thesis at BerliOS.

	I say this in advance to avoid any confusion that may come. I've
nothing to hide. I'm not a spy. I'm just a student who loves free

	I want to split the two things, because the relation between Widi and
BerliOS is only _personal_, not scientifical. If you keep on reading
you'll understand.

	This mail is about Widi

		and why it is also important for the FSF Europe. It is. Sure!

	* Widi is a study made by a research group at the Technical University
of Berlin. It is part of a research that takes place at the "Informatik
und Gesellschaft" (Computer Science and Society) Department headed by
Prof.Dr.iur.Lutterbeck at the Computer Science Faculty of that

	see this homepage for further details: http://ig.cs.tu-berlin.de

	* Widi is hosted at BerliOS, because BerliOS has a SourceForge clone
with all the services we required for our study: cvs, mailing lists, web
space, an URL and a database. But the study Widi is part of is itself
__independent__ from BerliOS.

	* Widi's budget is 0. We didn't get money from the German government
nor we were sponsored by anybody. (that is the reason why we chose the
BerliOS SourceForge clone... because its services are for free).

	* Widi and all the tools used in this study are free software:
		* Widi was developed by us and is GPL: http://widi.berlios.de/html
		* CODD was started by Vipul Ved Prakash and we have restarted this
project to enhance this tool. It's GPL & Artistic:

	* We will give out at the end of our study the Widi database so that
other scientific research groups can obtain further and better results

	* The final paper will be released next month under the GFDL

	----> In short: We study free software developers by using free
software tools. If you notice we are not doing it, please tell us...
because that is our _primary aim_.

> Maybe I'm suspicious by nature, but why should we spend our time
> to send personal information to those people? 

The required data in our survey is non-personal and nothing has to be
filled out if one doesn't want to. We kindly ask you to only fill that
what you want.

> Who are they?

	We are a research group at the TU-Berlin. We are four persons: Ingo
Tretkowski, Niels Weber, Hendrik Scheider and me. The first three are
German. I'm Spanish. If it does matter you (I don't know really why)
none of the other three have any relationship with BerliOS and are like
me students of the Computer Science Faculty at the TU-Berlin.

> What is their aim in this move?

	I send you a copy of our press release :-)

"There is plenty of literature dealing with the process of developing
Open Source and its economical significance. And there are also piles of
text about the tools that are used in or for Open Source... but, what do
we know about all those committed developers? About where they come
from, what project they work for, what they know...?

To cut it short, among all speculations there is little to no empirical
data. That's why a research group at the Technical University of Berlin
has started Widi (Who Is Doing It?), a
questionaire aimed at the strong community of Open Source and Free
Software developers to tell something about their social, cultural and
professional environment. This data will complete automatic examination
of gigs of source code by means of freely available tools the research
group is refining.

Although Widi is basically a scientific research, politicans got
interested in the last weeks. The intermediate results have already been
used at a German congress session to fight against software patents in
Europe. A good knowledge about what Open Source/free software is and who
is behind it, may encourage Governments to change their opinion on this
topic and to support Open Source/free software."

> And independently of whether their are friends or foes, I doubt they
> will get a statistically meaningful data set given how little spread
> the infromation about the poll is. So why should we care?

The data are statistically meaningful. You can see the Widi results
on-line at the Widi homepage. We have more results from other sources
that will be published next month.

The point is that our results show that free software development is
done by well prepaired, young people that mostly like their job and
speak several languages. The results are also evident: the free software
movement has a lot of developers in Europe (more than 50%).

I'm not a politician and I do know few about politics. But I hope _you_
(Free Software Foundation Europe) will take our work and our results and
will make politicians care about free software in Europe! I know you'll
do it. :-)

> It's *not* a rethorical question; if there are reasons why we should
> care, I think we should. But by now, I don't see any.

	I hope you've changed your mind. I'm open to your questions if I didn't
answer all of them. :-)


  		Gregorio Robles
		grex at cs.tu-berlin.de

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