Interesting thread, and I too feel an opinionated ramble starting.
Earlier on there were questions of why more people don’t adopt FOSS applications vs. commercial ones. I think Linux users are about 1.5% of computer users? So for people like me, using Windows at work, family using Windows at home, ultra busy and interested in learning lots of things more important than a new operating system (e.g . tried Mint on an old laptop, it installed dt 2.4 when 3.0 was out…if you want a later version you manually tarball this, terminal that, Giddyup to github blah blah…sorry, nope, no time…plus I LIKE windows - there, I admitted it! Been using it since 2.0 and it came on 2 3.5” floppy disks ). I tend to think the problem is not just about darktable, its about FOSS in general.
I think the general population just doesn’t think FOSS is “quality” software or “friendly” software. Just look at the Adobe complainers on dpreview.com and when myself and other here say “try darktable” the response is usually “too complicated, can’t be good, nah…but that $300 package looks interesting and it supports one-click sky replacement, blah blah”. I don’t think I’m alone when I say getting involved in FOSS-world is intimidating…its a whole new language, you don’t feel too welcome as a windows/mac user (its easy to creep away to the bigger crowds hanging over in Capture One or Adobe corners). Plus, weird things happen to the uninitiated – e.g. RawTherapee gets high praise then suddenly someone makes ART (Alternate RawTherapee) and us FOSS noobs can’t quite understand why or who to follow.
Then there is marketing, and the bazillions of content on youtube for Adobe is part of mass marketing. For every 1 dt user there must be at least 1000 LR users…so new photographers will join, even pirate, to be part of that larger group because people often have a crowd mentality. I think Aurelian is correct when he said “what we write on the website “darktable is made by photographers for photographers” is wrong. darktable is used mostly by engineers.” I think that is very true and applies to most of the FOSS/Linux world, and the question on computer knowledge kind of proves it – most people are in the the first two choices, but most FOSS/darktable users would be in the other choices. I’m afraid many feel the FOSS world is mainly computer nerds and that’s a very hard impression to correct. So it does clash with the photographic artists (most average snapshooters think they are the next Ansel Adams) who want “hip/cool/art” and not “computer nerdy”.
So ultimately, what is the critical problem to solve and what are the critical goal(s) to achieve? Is the goal to get more darktable users? Is it a threshold or diversity of users? Is it the best made photo processing software on the planet? What is this project aiming for? How will success be measured?
Are there any lessons from the most successful FOSS programs (e.g. OpenOffice/LibreOffice; the Document Foundation etc) that need to be thought about to guide darktable into the future?
Final note: please don’t take my comments on FOSS/Linux world in general as bashing the darktable contributors on pixls.us – this is a very warming and welcoming group and I do appreciate the support.