Open Source and user’s feed back

You would think that Open Source projects would excel in several areas, including listening to user’s feedback…
Not really true overall, but big projects with large customers base usually good in implementing feature requests.

Unfortunately, there is one exception from this rule – Pidgin Purple (formerly GAIM).

I’m still on last beta version of GAIM and was looking into upgrading to the most recent version of Pidgin, hoping it will bring enhanced stability and new features. Since I usually use applications in their portable incarnations (from PortableApps for example), I couldn’t test Pidgin before – there was no portable package for it and I did not have time to make one myself.
Just today I found some unofficial packages on PortableApps forum and decided to give Pidgin a try.
To my biggest surprise, I found one missing feature – there are no protocol-specific icons in the buddy list anymore…
You can see what protocol contact is by holding mouse over it – tool tip will have protocol icon, but you are out of lack if you just glance over contact list…

Hoping that I’m missing something, I checked all possible options – nothing. Finally, when to their bug tracker to find some interesting and worrisome discussions..

Judge for yourself. There is a very long discussion in ticket 414. Ticket itself is closed with status “wontfix”.
And the most interesting is this paragraph (left by user “elb”, someone from Pidgin team, I presume):

Adding a “me too” to this ticket is NOT USEFUL. If you do not have a solid use case that is NOT discussed above or on the thread on this topic on devel@pidgin.im, save your time and ours by not replying. If you DO have new information, please send it to devel@pidgin.im, do not comment on this bug.

Ok, you do not want me to even vote on this feature? You are not allowing me to even comment about it on your public site?
Why then, in another (although, duplicate) ticket 1863, the same user comments this:

There is no indication that there are “thousands upon thousands” of users “just like you”; there have been a dozen or so users requesting protocol icons in the buddy list, compared to the *millions* of Pidgin users out there.

Well, I find this quite arrogant. And this is really disturbing to hear such things from advanced, long standing Open Source project…

I will probably pass on migrating to Pidgin this time. Wonder how many others will do the same. Oh, sure, I understand that it is possible to create plug-in to make protocol-specific icons come back, but WHY? Why would this standard feature in current GAIM or any other multi-protocol client should magically disappear from project?

There is an explanation on why this step was taken in Pidgin Design Guidelines. But I don’t buy it – that “uniformity” is good in theory (or can simplify life of the developer), but in practice… In practice you should care of your customer base need or want, and let them raise their voice, and listen to it!

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