In an insightful post, Paul Young calls into question the viability of open source's utility for average end-user applicationswhen not tempered by product management. It's a long, well-reasoned argument, one that I highly recommend everyone read.
In speaking about the Pidgin controversy, Young writes:
Obviously, there is a huge gap between the expectations of the users and the developers [on the Pidgin project]. 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.
The era of developers writing for other developers is largely over. Or, rather, it will continue but there's simply too much opportunity (read: money) involved in open source for projects to achieve significant success without a measure of product management thrown in. The itches that need open-source scratches won't tolerate a of-the-developer-by-the-developer-for-the-developer model any longer.