A developer over at Microsoft Developer Network is ranting about the Many-Eyeballs principle often attributed to FOSS projects, basically claiming that is does not work. I would agree with him if he wasn't making generalizations. It is very likely, that most of the users of FOSS don't care about the code that powers their applications, neither do developers from unrelated projects.

Tasty (Chocolate) Eyeballs Photo by SifterBut here is the flaw in his argumentation: People are free to decide IF they join the development effort and contribute their two eyeballs to a project or not. And if they join, chances are higher that they will actually find something bogus (maybe it's just because they experienced some errors as a user) while with closed source they can only report problems, not directly contributing to resolve them.

Another flaw: The author indirectly assumes that people developing FOSS are doing this entirely on a whim of one moment. He misses that a whole industry is employing people to develop, maintain and improve various FOSS projects. One of  these improvements those employees are going after is in the fields of code quality and security, in no way different than Microsoft or any other closed source company does.

So both approaches would be equal, wouldn't there be the option for people from outside the project to take a look at the code. If nobody takes this option: Fine, nothing gained. But if only one person takes the opportunity, out of a whim, to skim through only a particular part of the open source code, the FOSS project is one point ahead of any closed source one.

FOSS is not so much about methods and bureaucracy  but about opportunities and it's up to anyone for them self if they take them or not. For me that's the most important thing why I prefer open source over closed source at any time. Plus, I'm getting paid for contributing to FOSS :-)