Number Of Downloads, A Stupid Metric

Some of the software companies that adopt open source as a marketing strategy advertise that they have so and so number of downloads. A great example of that is Compiere boasting about 1.3 million downloads at present for example. My question is how many of these downloads are

* specific to each release?
* downloaded by competitors?
* downloaded by developers who are just curious?
* potential customers downloading to evaluate but never proceed beyond that first installation and playing around, if they manage to get to that stage?
* it’s easy to manipulate Alexa traffic range very easily by installing the Alexa Toolbar and reloading a website a few times a day from multiple computers (different ips). So, what makes someone not do the same with a bot and increase the download count on sourceforge.net?

Well, I am not accusing any specific company or community about any malpractice, but number of downloads doesn’t really tell anything about a software product. But I guess, any stupid metric becomes a sensible metric on a relative scale. I for one, won’t bet on the number of downloads to decide if I should invest in a specific software.

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