»Coordinating low-cost usability testing in independent free & open source software projects« thesis

In 2011 I wrote a thesis on »Coordinating low-cost usability testing in independent free & open source software projects«. Since it covers more than that, I renamed it to »Usability in Free Software« and it’s also available since then at:


Since I want to keep the document reasonably up to date and helpful, I was wondering if anyone of you has any feedback or if it has been useful for you. :slight_smile:

cc @belenbarrospena @jdittrich @victoria-bondarchuk @incabell @evalica @simonv3

(It’s licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike and the source is at https://github.com/jancborchardt/jancborchardt.github.com/blob/master/usability-in-free-software.html)


Is there anything particular you assume to be in need of a review or update?

First it would be good to know if it is in fact more universally applicable than to the projects I was working on: Nextcloud (formerly ownCloud) and Diaspora.

And then also, if people have additions to it from their own experience.

This is a good point – I would find it more accessible with examples. Considering it has been a thesis (and examples is something academia often frowns upon) it is understandable, but it might a great addition, in particular, if you worked in these projects with these methods. So if there would be e.g a “Improving ownclouds preview function with 3 volunteers” or so, it would be great (also since I know most of the described methods, but find that the tricky parts are in the details)

Sorry to revive an old thread. Looking through it, I wonder if it would be useful to suggest organizing a SpinachCon as an event / mini event at a corresponding / related free software conference. E.g. we used to do them at LibrePlanet, eg

@mairin yeah, we actually want to organize a booth at FOSDEM https://github.com/opensourcedesign/events/issues/52 – and quick usability reviews like that could be part of the booth.

And as we are all a collective – anyone is welcome to organize a SpinachCon like that, we can tweet about it, put it on the events list, the Open Source Design name can be used for it etc. :slight_smile: