New Open Source Directory

Woke up to interesting news today: GigaOm launched a new open source directory called OStatic.

I took a look around the site and found it interesting. It’s definitely a great initial launch for a website – very polished for a 1.0 release. Congrats!

While they are appear to be a mix of a blog and a directory, there’s some obvious feature overlap with Ohloh. They provide a directory of projects and let the community edit the tags, licences, etc… Unlike Ohloh, they don’t do any metrics and don’t provide any visibility into the people building (or using, really) the software.

Here’s are some of their feature that stood out for me:

  1. Alternatives: They let users provide recommendations for every project. So on the ‘Vim’ project you could add ‘Emacs’ as a viable alternative.

  2. Proprietary Software: They also list ‘closed’-source software on their site. This has a benefit of letting people discover discover open source alternatives while browsing a proprietary-sourced project page.

  3. Categorization: They have a classification for their software (beyond tags), which lets you find related software fairly easily.

  4. Questions: You can ask specific questions about projects. For example, on Vim, you might ask: “Will this edit a 1GB file?”. The community can provide answers to these questions, a little like ‘Yahoo Answers’.

I might have missed something but that’s my quick take. Oh – one last thing, they seemed to have populated their directory with existing data from Wikipedia, FlossMole, etc… The upside is that they claim to have over 100k projects. The downside is that the data is somewhat suspect.

Personally, I like the first 3 features. I think the ‘Questions’ feature is a tricky one to pull off. It tends to duplicate the purpose of the actual projects’ own forums. If you have anything deeper than a superficial question, I suspect you’ll be better served asking it in the actual projects’ forum.

I am excited to see more players in this space. It’s interesting to analyze similarities and differences and, in the end, nothing focuses the mind like a little competition.

I’m curious to get your opinions on their service. Do you think Ohloh could benefit from implementing anything similar? Or rather, perhaps you think there are features Ohloh should not emulate?

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