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SubjectSurvey results: "open source" vs "free software" vs alternatives

I conducted a survey of about a 100 US consumers, asking them which
term they prefer to describe FOSS. The results are quite interesting.

The respondents are not necessarily computer engineers, but rather a
representative sample of the general US consumer public. They were
given a predefined set of answer choices, which included the
well-established terms, as well as some new ones, that I haven't seen
used anywhere. They could choose multiple answers.

The clear winner is "open-source software" with 49% of respondents
selecting the term. It's followed by three new terms: "community-owned
software", "community-developed software" and "communal software",
obtaining 32%, 29% and 26% of votes respectively. They're then
followed by the neutral term "free and open-source software",
receiving 24% of the vote. This is followed by the new term
"commonhold software", receiving over 15% of the vote. The classic
term "free software" was selected by 9.6% of the respondents. It's
followed by the alternatives "software libre" and "freedom-respecting
software", each one receiving 7.7% of the vote. The least popular
choice was "free/libre software", selected only by 2.9% of the

Unsuprisingly, the term "open-source software" is preferred by the
public, although it's not clear if it's due to the attractiveness of
the term itself or due to the widespread usage of the term. The
greatest surprise is the high score of the new terms "community-owned
software", "community-developed software", "communal software" and, to
a lesser extent, "commonhold software". I wonder if they would score
higher if they were in widespread usage. The neutral term "free and
open-source software" is also acceptable to the public. The relatively
low score of the term "free software" may be a disappointment to some.
Its alternatives "software libre" and "freedom-respecting software"
scored only a little lower, which suggests they are reasonable
alternatives, but another survey on a larger sample may shed more
light on the acceptability of these terms to the public. The term
"free/libre software" is clearly disliked by the public.

Thoughts and comments?

The question asked to the respondents was:

> What term would you use for computer software that any user can freely modify and share with their friends? In other words, software controlled by the general public. You can select more than one answer - please pick all the answers you like.

The results are as follows:

Answer Choices Responses Percentage

open-source software 51 49.04%
community-owned software 33 31.73%
community-developed software 30 28.85%
communal software 27 25.96%
free and open-source software 25 24.04%
commonhold software 16 15.38%
free software 10 9.62%
software libre 8 7.69%
freedom-respecting software 8 7.69%
free/libre software 3 2.88%

Total Respondents: 104
Dated: November 2019

The survey panel of US consumers was provided by an independent contractor.

Full results:

Best regards,
Aleksander Korzynski

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