Articles / Category Reviews

Category Reviews

One of the problems with a software index like freshmeat's projects database is that people who wander into a category for the first time have difficulty determining which of the listed projects best suit their needs, which are ready for use, and which are in the early stages of development. They resort to downloading deadends and waste a lot of time before they find what they need, or they just give up. Today, we're starting a new series of articles that hopes to counter this problem with insights from people who are knowledgeable about specific types of software.

These will be reviews not of individual applications, but of types of applications. We want to offer information on the history of the given type of software, which apps are the old favorites, which are under the most active development, how all the pieces fit together, etc., so that people know how to get started with the topic at hand.

Imagine that you're looking at "Internet :: Log Analysis" for the first time, and everything looks equally good (or bad) to you, or that a friend stopped you in the hallway and said "I just started using Linux and know nothing about Unix word processors. What do I need to know?" These are the sorts of problems we hope to alleviate with a little helpful advice from experts.

Our first review is on the topic of financial software, and is by Christopher Browne, the man whose name pops up when you type "Linux finance" into Google's search box. After today, anyone who finds her way to one of our financial categories will find a link to his review and your comments on it. I hope you'll find this helpful.

There are 298 categories to go, so I'll welcome your help in finding qualified people to review them. Start at http://freshmeat.net/browse/, see if anyone leaps to mind as the obvious person to do a review, and let me know.

Thanks, and enjoy.

Recent comments

13 Aug 2001 18:33 Avatar jeffcovey

Re: Reviewer criteria?

> Other than someone who 'leaps to mind', what other criteria are you
> looking for in a reviewer?
%
> Are active developers in a category welcomed to review their own
> category? It would seem logical that they would know their area
> best, but does that have too much potential for bias?

I'd prefer someone who doesn't have ties to one of the projects in the
review, but wouldn't turn down a good review from someone if he made
his association clear and was fair to the other projects.


Where possible, I'd like to find the person who is "obviously" the one
to review a given topic. For example, I've asked Grant Taylor of <a
href="http://www.linuxprinting.org/">linuxprinting.org to write a
review of printing software and Dave Phillips to write sound and music
reviews because <a
href="http://www.bright.net/~dlphilp/linuxsound/">his site is the
de facto authority on Unix audio applications.


> Does the review merely have to be well written and informative to be
> considered?

That sounds good. :)


> Have you considered some sort of &quot;Freshmeat's choice&quot;
> labels for apps that are 'best of class'? Or is that a headache you
> want to avoid altogether.

I don't think we want to get into voicing our personal opinions, but
thanks for checking. :) It's better to let the readers do the voting.


> BTW: the popularity and ratings are excellent additions.

Glad you like them; thanks, scoop! :)

13 Aug 2001 11:15 Avatar prescience

Reviewer criteria?
Other than someone who 'leaps to mind', what other criteria are you looking for in a reviewer?

Are active developers in a category welcomed to review their own category? It would seem logical that they would know their area best, but does that have too much potential for bias?

Does the review merely have to be well written and informative to be considered?

Have you considered some sort of &quot;Freshmeat's choice&quot; labels for apps that are 'best of class'? Or is that a headache you want to avoid altogether.

BTW: the popularity and ratings are excellent additions. I hope the reviews take off as well. I've always wanted a quick way to find the 2 or 3 'best of class' apps.

06 Aug 2001 18:12 Avatar jeffcovey

Re: Multiple catagory trees might help
I may not understand what you're trying to do. Here's what I'm
picturing:


You want an email client, so you search for "mail client" in the
projects database and get 168 matches. You want one that licensed
under the GPL, so you click "[filter]" next to "License :: OSI
Approved :: GNU General Public License (GPL)" on one of the matches.
That brings the matches down to 24. (A sign people haven't properly
categorized their apps; grrrr.) You want one for the console, so you
add a filter for "Environment :: Console (Text Based) :: Curses",
which gives you two matches. Yay! You found mutt. :)


Of course, this is dependent on people having their projects properly
categorized. We can't do anything about that except encourage them to
do it, which we will be doing shortly.


Is that not what you were looking for? How is your idea different?


Thanks,

Jeff

06 Aug 2001 17:56 Avatar jeffcovey

Re: Another solution

> Can you add a section to the reviews shoing what version of the
> software package was reviewed, and what version is current (and a
> link to the changelog?)


A link is made to each project's page on freshmeat, so you can go
there to see what's happened since the review was written. I assume
people will add comments to the bottom if they think what's said in
the review is wrong or outdated. :)

06 Aug 2001 17:28 Avatar lutris

Re: Multiple catagory trees might help
How? The closest I can find to do that for a given search is either to browse through the trove for a particular catagory and then run a search from there (admittedly quite usefull, but not what I was thinking of, and sometimes you loose thigs that are missing a given keyword in their descriptions), or otherwise modify your my Freshmeat settings each time you are trying to search to filter for a specific search (and even then the filters in my are somewhat course; good for filtering the new items page, not so great for a specific search)


I may be missing something, but I had a fairly thourough search of the trove browing pages. It's not obvious how to do this w/o entering a lot of things into the search box. (What I was thinking of would be used to filter results, which would hopefully make using the search box unnecessary in many cases)

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