Ohloh is a neat service.  It does some basic statistical analysis of open source projects, and tries to come up with useful information.  But it sure comes up with some wacky statistics.


Take, for example, the Wizard project.  Now, this is something that I initially whipped up in two afternoons in September '05.  It's a small library - it's attracted six contributors since then, who've all made valuable contributions.  I tend to do work on it sporadically, for a couple days every 4-6 months.  At most I've put 2 weeks work into it.  With contributors, the pattern is that it's people who are using the library and want a feature that isn't there.  They implement it, and get on with doing what they wanted to use the library for, which is as it should be.  If somebody wanted to take on an ongoing role, that would be great, but I'm not holding my breath.


According to Ohloh, this weekend project represents (!)
  • 8 person-years of work
  • More than 1 million dollars of at something resembling my current salary (deliborate obfuscation) - but even more interestingly, only half that if you leave out the documentation :-)
Now, I look at my profile, and my work on NetBeans - I'll have been working on NetBeans for 10 years of my life in another month (eek!). What does Ohloh say about that?  I have
  • Made 3 (!!) commits since 1999
  • My primary language is HTML (!!!)
God help me if I were to apply for a job and someone actually believes that I all I managed to do in ten years was write 3 html pages!


Separately, I take issue with the notion that Decreasing year-over-year development activity deserves this http://www.ohloh.net/images/fact_warning.png warning icon - for example, it is displayed on Ohloh's page for my Color Chooser project.


I mean, think about it:  Especially with small projects (IMO in a perfect world, most library projects should be small and tackle one thing well), a positive goal is for the project to reach a steady state where it does not need a great deal of, or ideally any, maintenance.  If software rotted like fruit, there wouldn't be any progress in the software industry.  There is such a thing as a library that can be finished!


What was that quote about lies, damned lies and statistics?