SourceForge has forged a name for itself as the one-stop shop for downloading open source software. Now it looks like it is heading to mega-market status, adding services to its suite, with the recent Beta launch of Source.Forge.net Marketplace.
The site provides users with a searchable list of Open Source services either related or unrelated to a specific project. Users need to register with SourceForge.net to then be able to buy services. Payment can be made via PayPal, Credit card, cash or cheque. Sellers can be rated by purchasers, and this rating will then be displayed on the seller's profile.
Listing a service is free, but SourceForge charges a percentage commission, based on the price of the service. This ranges incrementally from 12.5 per cent on a purchase under $US20, to 7.75 per cent on anything over $US500.
As the site is still in Beta, SourceForge is only accepting a limited amount of sellers who need to contact the company with an expression of interest before being listed.
There are currently 203 service providers listed that are associated with a project and 424 services that are unassociated with a project. Listed providers associated with a project include Openbravo, DotNetNuke and Firebird. General services listed include SugarCRM Development and Customization, Magnolia CMS implementation enhancement and support, and India based Application Software Design & Engineering.
Open source consultant and developer Jeff Waugh thinks that SourceForge has done a few good things with its marketplace, but it falls short of getting the Open Source clearinghouse model down pat.
"While SourceForge.net has a head start thanks to its well-known brand, it's early days in this market, and there are a lot of competitors and models in action already," he said, via e-mail.
Waugh believes there were a few factors holding the site back.
"It suffers from a look'n'feel originally designed for developers working on Open Source projects. Decision makers won't enjoy this as much as they do Amazon or eBay."
Waugh pointed out that a lot of major Open Source projects are not hosted on SourceForge at all.
"While the SF.net marketplace does let providers advertise services for non-SF.net-hosted projects, it remains to be seen if this will work, most of all because they're so hard to find!"
Waugh said that although there appears to be a fairly good range of service skills and price points to choose from, the rating system they use means that the first round of buyers are going to have to test the water for themselves.
"While they've done well with uptake on that front, they have a chicken-and-egg issue with their reputation system -- to bootstrap the trust metric system, users will have to start buying from service providers before any reputation differentiation exists," he said.
The site could also be better if the support profiles were improved, he said.
"They need a lot of work. It's still unclear what you're buying and for how much. There appears to be no fixed definition or structure for what 'cost' means, and no relationship to 'contract duration'. This makes it very hard to quickly comprehend the capability and/or model of support providers. I imagine this is why the marketplace is labelled a 'beta' feature."
SourceForge declined to comment on the service, as it is still in early days of Beta.