Hopeless situation

This post (via the Tao of Mac) by an end-user trying the GIMP is very sad on multiple levels.

I’m not even sure where to begin. I guess a little bit of background information is needed here, and if you don’t have it you might be confused by the GIMP. This nice person obviously does not have it: he talks about a marketing department, about product managers, etc, as if the GIMP Project had these things.

The GIMP is the end result of the collaboration of hundreds of developers, that provided their work and effort FOR FREE, in the hope of providing useful software. At least one of the comments is true (since he’s using the Vox blog platform there’s no way of leaving comments or anything like that, which is a shame and feels like a definite step backwards): the GIMP was not meant for end-users. At least at first. On the way, people started to think, “hey, we have this really useful software, that gets the job done for free, maybe it could be used by more people than just us!” They began to publicize it, and tried to improve it so to make it more usable. But there was no marketing department, no “top-down” approach. The whole thing grew organically. Of course it’s gonna have flaws and quality issues.

So now people see the GIMP, don’t understand the context and complain that it’s crap and looks bad and that it buries them under lots of technical jargon they know nothing about. Well, dear user, don’t just stand here and complain, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! It’s a collaboration effort! (You can say I’m getting excited with all the caps and exclamation marks) Even if the tone of your comments is disparaging for the thousands of people that worked on this piece of software for free – and didn’t get anything in return, not even thanks – this is the kind of feedback that could really improve everybody else’s experience. It’s possible! You can do it!

Just try to understand the Free Software philosophy a little bit. The goal of the GIMP and other similar projects is to provide a nice user experience. It’s just not there yet. You can help. If you think the GIMP can be improved, this is your chance to do something about it.

Of course, maybe you can’t be bothered. Maybe you want your software to “just work”. That’s ok. Just remember that lots of parts in Mac OS X and Windows (on what level this is not known) do actually come from Free Software developers, and that you’re benefitting from their work every time you use your computer. They didn’t get paid for this, they didn’t even want to. They did it out of sheer altruism. At least don’t insult them. Please.

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