February 10th, 2016

SourceForge Loses DevShare

Controversial monetization scheme DevShare gets the ax from SourceForge’s new owners.

Late Tuesday evening, SourceForge’s new owners announced that the controversial DevShare program has been ended as a “first order of business.” The announcement came in a blog post by Logan Abbott, a co-owner and the president of SourceForge Media. “As of last week, the DevShare program was completely eliminated,” he wrote.

DevShare was a monetization effort that was developed in-house at SourceForge in 2013 and implemented the same year. It worked by bundling third party proprietary software offers with Windows downloads, and generated controversy almost immediately as major free and open source software projects took exception to the practice and began moving away from the platform.

In November, 2013, FOSS’s flagship photo manipulation program, GIMP, made a major splash in tech media when it very publicly abandoned SourceForge, primarily over DevShare.

SourceForge, then owned by Dice Holdings, claimed that the program was primarily used as a way for projects to monitize themselves, and that DevShare bundles were never included with downloads unless the project had opted-in. However, the project never sat well with the FOSS public, and in the years since the number of FOSS projects utilizing the site has dwindled, along with the FOSS community’s perception of the site.

On January 28, the day that BIZX, SourceForge Media’s parent company, acquired SourceForge, along with Slashdot, from Dice Holdings, FOSS Force exchanged emails with Abbott, who said he was very aware of the code repository’s tarnished reputation and that mending the reputation would be job one. He spoke to that issue again in Tuesday’s announcement.

“We want to restore our reputation as a trusted home for open source software,” he wrote, “and this was a clear first step towards that. We’re more interested in doing the right thing than making extra short-term profit.”

While dropping DevShare was long overdue, it won’t be enough to turn SourceForge around. Although SourceForge was once the dominant repository for open source projects, under Dice Holdings the site saw little development and its technology fell behind as repositories such as GitHub came along offering a sleeker and more modern model. This leaves the new owners faced not only with the prospect of repairing the site’s reputation, but with a need to make drastic improvements to its infrastructure as well.

“As we move forward, we will be focusing on the needs of our developers and visitors by building out site features and establishing community trust,” Abbott said. “Eliminating the DevShare program was just the first step of many more to come.”

Time will tell.

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