I read David Jonathon's article Anybody Up To Writing Good Directory Software? the other day, which got me thinking about software directories in general. As David mentioned, many of the software directories one finds when doing a quick google search are free as in beer, not as in freedom. But what interests me is the software directories that already exist, providing a combination of both free as in beer software, and open source software. Sites such as Freeware Downloads and Shareware Download don't advertise themselves as providing free as in liberty software, but each of them have a good selection of open source software available... if you know where to look.
Naturally, when people are searching for software and stumble across a directory, they either know what they are looking for or they don't. By which I mean, if you want open source software, and you KNOW you want open source software, then you can find it easily - either on one of the free software focused sites, or one of the general freeware directories that provides all kinds of options. For those who don't really know what they are looking for and are willing to settle for the first and easiest peice of software that comes their way, open source probably isn't going to be an option they would consider. They want names they're familiar with, or, the first name on the page.
There are a couple of factors here. Education, for a start. We need to educate people who are looking for software about the differences between free as in beer and free as in liberty, and try and make it clear which one is the best option. Maybe this could be done by having software directories that offer open source explain the differences in their products? Obviously, free software is making a name for itself now in the world anyway, so the education of people is already starting to happen.
I think the point I'm really trying to make here is this. David, while I think it's an excellent idea to have some decent directory software created, particularly free software, people are still going to find freeware. That's just how it is. In order for a free software directory to have the wide reach that we would want from it, the education of people in the terminology needs to come first. Or else it's just another free software project that only the free software community know about.