Open source lovers, it's time to make your voice heard! Vote in the SourceForce.net 2008 Community Choice Awards for your favorite open source projects -- and not just on SourceForge.net, either. The products in the running this year are some of the best and brightest of open source's luminaries, but there's a great many unexpected treasures in there, too. For perspective and insight, I chatted up SourceForge.net's community manager, Ross Turk.
Many big open source packages were in the running, to probably nobody's surprise: OpenOffice.org was one of the biggest and most deserving, but so was PortableApps (a personal favorite of mine), Drupal, and the unpack-and-run software stack XAMPP.
One of the biggest changes this year, according to Ross, was opening up the nomination process to include projects that aren't hosted on SourceForge alone. This yielded up more than a few surprises -- for instance, the Linux kernel itself appeared in the running -- so I wondered if this had significantly changed the constitution of the projects nominated.
Ross didn't think so: "Most of the projects on SourceForge are application-space projects, and a lot of the external projects that were nominated this year were also application-space projects, things that live above the system infrastructure. I was thinking it was totally possible that the Linux kernel might win every category (!), but as it turns out, the voting more reflects the demographic of the SourceForge audience at this point." On the whole, he was elated with the project list that they ended up with, and was pleased they didn't have a redux of some of the gotchas from last year (as when eMule was nominated for Best New Project!).
Some of the categories themselves are a sly jab in the ribs to the community, such as "Most Likely To Be Accused of Patent Violation" or "Most Likely To Get Users Sued". But after I stopped laughing, I realized there was indeed a serious undertone to these choices; people don't want to feel like they're going to get harassed just for downloading or running a program. Ross agreed: "Nothing speaks louder than sarcasm, and that was kind of the point. We're all thinking about [these issues], so we might as well have a little fun with it." Even programs like the simple but impossibly useful 7-ZIP, one of last year's winners, are in the running for that sort of recognition.
A number of categories also didn't make it into the running due to being nixed by Legal, which I can only speculate about. But some of the less-controversial unused categories, like Most Collaborative Project (e.g., something with a seriously kick-butt plug-in API) or Best User Support, sounded intriguing. Maybe next year.
So go and vote! Both the superstars of open source and hidden gems are in the running, and they deserve all the recognition they can get. My usual method has been word of mouth, but the CCA complements that handily.