A video documenting a simple problem has gone viral on Youtube. One step from a subway station is a tiny bit higher than others and people following the rhythm of the stairway often trip on it. Bad things Happen.
Good things happen, too, when ordinary folks, users, tell service providers what they think of the service. Sometimes one picture is worth a thousand words. Other times thousands of responses get the attention of people in a position to make the world a better place.
In software, the same principle applies. The people who make software are not perfect. They make mistakes. They misunderstand things. They get priorities wrong sometimes. They don’t know every situation in which software will be used.
In FLOSS there are often well-defined means of giving developers feedback. Sometimes e-mail works. Other times a bug-tracking system works. FLOSS also has a backup system for when feedback fails to get a better result, the fork. Since the code is open for examination and modification, it is feasible for a user or group of users to fix the problem or to improve the software. It is even possible to make informed decisions about starting from scratch to replace software. Choice is good.
FLOSS beats closed source software in many ways thanks to the openness of the source-code. Often there is no way to ensure feedback gets to the people in charge with non-free software. There are just too many layers involved. I remember the time I was working in a school and several times reported on paper a problem with the configuration for printing. My students, using GNU/Linux could print but no one else in the building who was a student could print. At first, I was told I used the wrong form. On the right form, nothing happened. Finally, I physically assaulted an IT person and demanded to know why the problem had not been fixed. “What problem?” was the reply. It turned out that my boss had rewritten my report. The secretary in the IT department also rewrote it. By the time the IT guys got it, the report was watered down to “Hello, World!” or something so generic no action need be taken. It took the IT guy seconds to allow students to print…
So, if you want your feedback to count, if you want to use software that increasingly works for you and not someone else, use FLOSS, the right way to do IT. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it works for you. Debian has a very effective bug-tracking system. Of course, there is a package for that and you can add it to any computer running Debian GNU/Linux. How’s that for openness? You are not restricted to using that package for reporting software bug either. You could use it to report on stairs, building maintenance, gardening chores, “Honey, Do” lists and so on.