Honest Software?

In the past, Mozilla has tried to make the concept of open source more understandable using the term “100% organic software” (although we don’t seem to have been using it recently). I just noticed that OpenOffice.org use “honest software“:

Honest software

OpenOffice.org 3 is developed using an open-software, “no secrets” approach. Anyone can look at the programs and suggest improvements, or fix bugs. Anyone can report problems or request enhancements, and anyone can see the response from other users or developers. The status of current and future releases is displayed on a public wiki, so you can decide if and when you want to upgrade to take advantage of new features. Anyone used to commercial software and its hyping and marketing speak will find OpenOffice.org 3 refreshingly different. Enjoy the benefits of open-source!

It’s an interesting take. But I think that, although “open source” has some disadvantages, they are negated by the fact that if you use that term, all the open source communities are then talking about and promoting the same thing. If everyone has a different way of trying to explain it better, we’ll just end up confusing people.

The same logic, of course, could have been applied to avoid the creation of the “open source” term altogether. Although that does have the advantage of being much more easily searchable-for on the web than “free software”, at least in English where “free” is ambiguous.

3 thoughts on “Honest Software?

  1. It’s a nice phrase, and it does a good job of conveying the key benefits compactly. I think it’s not an either-or: as far as I can see they’re using it as a headline, not as a replacement for the “open source” phrase. They close the paragraph with the “open source” phrase.

    Also, they’re talking about more than just open source – they’re describing a fully open process. Do we have a name for that yet?

  2. Good point, Gervase. I really like the way Open Office advertise the “openess”. However, it’s too geeky for general public audience. Why not to take the other approach, using the marketspeek, emphasizing COLLABORATION or COOPERATION, transparent development processes ensuring flawless and secure products.

  3. For me, ‘open’ or ‘free’ or ‘honest’ does not cut it. I’m only interested in community developed software. Community developed software is naturally open, typically honest, and usually free. But it’s also more. Community software engages developers and users in a common goal to make the Web better, not just cheaper.


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