Ohloh: Social Networking For Open Source - InformationWeek

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3/25/2008
09:53 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Ohloh: Social Networking For Open Source

Social networks are all the rage right now, so what's one more to add to the fun?  How about a brand-new social networking site devoted to connecting users and creators of open source?  Enter Ohloh.

Social networks are all the rage right now, so what's one more to add to the fun?  How about a brand-new social networking site devoted to connecting users and creators of open source?  Enter Ohloh.

Ohloh is relatively new -- it launched early last year or so -- but sports a polished Web 2.0 interface and some features that promise to make it more than just a curiosity.  After you create an account and log in, you can create what's called a "stack" -- a list of software that you associate with your profile that you have worked on, have proficiency in, have experience with, or just an affinity for.  Once you've put together a stack, the system makes suggestions for other stacks based on what other people are using.

My own stack includes Firefox, MySQL, Ubuntu, OpenOffice.org, and Movable Type, along with some other projects that I'm a fan of: Paint .NET, Blender, Wireshark, Inkscape, and a few others. 

If a particular project isn't listed yet, you can add it, and also supply tags, licensing information, links, project RSS feeds, and ratings and reviews feedback about existing projects.  One particularly nice feature is an "Analysis Summary" of a given project -- what's good, bad, and ugly about it.  Firefox, for instance, has the following breakdown:

(I've replaced the icons they use; go click on the Firefox page to see what I mean.)

Another nifty feature is a project cost estimator, which does a rough calculation of how many people it would take to write the total number of lines of code in the project with an average salary of X dollars a year.  (I suspect this is included more for fun than anything else, but it's still neat)

If you like the work someone else has done, either as a coder or an analyst for existing projects, you can give them "kudos".  A user's "KudoRank", which can range from 1 to 10, is influenced by this and other factors -- for instance, if you give kudos too freely to others, your own rank will be diluted (a way to prevent stacking the deck, I suspect).

So far my favorite thing about this site is that it's a fun way to stumble across open source projects, and developers, that you might not otherwise have heard about.  Given the sheer proliferation of such things, I'm all for any new way to discover hidden open source gems -- or creators -- that haven't been waved under my nose yet.

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