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Ask HN: 1 minute Survey About Open Source Software in Your Products
44 points by bretthardin on Sept 16, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments
Hey Guys,

If you are a developer can you help us by taking this survey. We are attempting to get some metrics around open source adoption in commercial products.

Survey Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PT56NHC


If you really want people to do this, why do you make them copy and paste the URL into their browser? Why don't you provide a clickable link?

Here, I'll do it for you: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PT56NHC

... and now that I've gone to take the survey, I can't finish it because there is no suitable answer for question 6. Another of the questions I had trouble understanding the distinction between "None" and "0" as answers.

So I gave up.

Good surveys are really quite hard to design, and bad surveys are pretty near useless. It's pretty clear you're asking how much people will pay for something you're thinking of producing, so I suggest you think a lot harder about how you're going to get that information. I'll be very surprised if this survey gives you anything reliable.

This is really good advice and I hope the survey creator takes it. For question six specifically there's a big difference between "I only use free tools" and "I'm not interested in paying for the service described."

I was under the impression that you can't have a clickable link in a post submission (or maybe a specific type of submission).

You have to rely on someone posting a reply with a clickable link (most Show HN:'s have this format).


To the OP, I took the survey. All the best.

Thanks for taking the survey.

I have never seen a surveymonkey URL used politely. Confirmation bias, sure, but Craigslist is quite the petri dish on this topic.

Bad surveys are often worse than useless because you leave thinking you learned something when all you got was garbage data.

Thanks for the advice. I didn't know I could post a clickable link into the original post. Thanks for the advice.

You can't put a clickable link in the submission, but you can either:

1. submit the URL itself with a brief description, then post a comment giving further information; or,

2. having submitted your "Ask HN" as you have, then post a comment with a clickable link.

Option 1 also doesn't carry the ranking penalty of a URL-less submission.

It's good etiquette to post the results page with the poll so that it benefits the entire community, not just yourself.

Yup. That is the plan. Once we collect the data, I will post the results.

I marked "I only use free tools", but what I really wanted was an option like "This isn't worth paying for".

We do pay for tools we find useful.

I thought the same, so I selected less than $10/month.

Consider making all questions optional and you'll get more people answering.

A metacomment related to question 6: Ubuntu tells us exactly how many packages need to be updated, and the update is as simple as executing a single command. The problem is ensuring that functionality is not broken by things like API or subtle behavior changes. This means that updates end up happening infrequently since they need to be regression tested on a development server before being pushed to production.

If a product could solve that problem (classifying updates and performing code analysis to determine if something could break) it would definitely be worth paying for.

Note also that you're asking the wrong people, and it's going to be hard to ask the right people with an Internet post. The best candidates for this tool are busy founders/CTOs/sysadmins/engineers who don't have time to manage their updates, much less take surveys on Hacker News.

I bailed at question #5: "How many open source packages that you build your product on are currently out of date?"

It's just too vague and it implies that I'm lazy/behind. Let's say I'm using jQuery 1.x, for example, because when I was building/testing last, that was the most stable version. Today jQuery has probably 20 more "updates" since I rolled mine into production - the version number has incremented 20 times - but it doesn't mean I'm "out of date", does it? I don't believe that I have to update my use everytime jQuery goes from 1.34 to 1.35 to 1.36 all the way to 1.99.

So "out of date" is a bit problematic for me in that I don't feel the need to test/use every incremental update.

I agree that Question #6, the keystone, is poorly designed.

It should also include the option "I don't know, depends on how useful it is".

I just chose a random answer since that option wasn't there (and the question was required).

That is a good point. Thanks. I wil implement that answer in future surveys.

i clicked on the "only free tools", but this is an interesting idea. how are you planning to implement it? a tool that scans our git, hg, svn and cvs repos and tells us what we have would be quite interesting (although there's the obvious hurdle of trusting third party code enough to ever run it).

i work for a small consultancy that builds bespoke solutions using open source code - we have loads of projects, some ancient (cvs!), and i am sure no-one has a clue what versions of what we used when (sure, it's documented for the client, but we don't have our own central list). now perhaps we should be better organised, but i suspect many other companies are in a similar position.

but if we were going to pay for this, how would it help us make money? is the idea that we can approach ex-clients and scare them with lists of security holes? or are they the target clients - perhaps they should be running this code to audit their systems? and that sounds so useful i am surprised that nothing like this already exists...?

Same objection to question 6 that other people have mentioned: I wouldn't pay for a service that tells me about open source software updates (because I keep up with them myself already as part of my usual process of staying informed), but that doesn't mean I don't pay for services in general.

Only 6 questions, I've seen much worse surveys ;-)

Wanted to keep it short for the HN crowd. :)

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