Here's a blog post that claims that what open source projects are missing is product management. If some product managers show up, then all will be good, since they will be able to take the list of things that users want and make developers work on them.
Specifically, he says:
Obviously, there is a huge gap between the expectations of the users and the developers. Who normally bridges that gap? Product Management.
If Pidgin had a Product Manager, they would have raised a flag on the change in functionality and would help the engineering team prioritize feature sets based on the needs of the target users. Unfortunately, most FOSS projects today don’t have Product Managers, and don’t have written personas or target users; they have developers working for themselves.
I propose that Product Management should take a more active role in FOSS, not telling the developers what users need, but teamingwith developers to identify the target audience and prioritize the users needs. If developers can donate their time working on these projects there is no reason Product Managers can’t do the same thing.
You know what the problem is though? The developers don't give a fuck about what the users want. I'd even wager to say that the larger a pure open source project gets, the more arrogant the developers become. When you're small, you'll do a bunch of stuff to try to get more users. When you're big, you know that users aren't going away just because you change some small shit.
How the hell would adding PM's to the mix fix anything? What PM's gonna be like, "oh I'm bored, and I see a bunch of developers who have no incentive to listen to me, so I'm going to tell them what to do." And besides, the developers will just respond with, "who the fuck are you?"
Society has solved this problem way way long ago. OSStards so easily forget about this. If you want Pidgin devs to give you your fricking resizable text input field, pay them to keep the feature. Or fork it and keep it yourself.
The role of product managers only shows up in a situation where developers need to listen to their users so that they can keep putting food on the table. In these situations, it's well recognized that devs need some herding, and left to their own devices, will work on useless shit that users don't want, which will hurt sales, which will hurt their own pay. Devs in such a situation will submit to (and even rely on) PM's because they see it is to their own benefit.
Take the cash out of the equation and what do you get? You get some douchebag with an incomplete, inprecise picture of what users want, telling devs that don't give a shit that they're doing stuff that users don't want. Why the fuck would anyone care? And besides, open source projects already have product management. It's called a bug tracker.