I'm the main author of a multiplatform free software/open source GUI program. Although the program gets thousands of direct downloads per month, I have no idea of the number of people regularly using it. It is also included in some Unix distributions and download sites making the counting harder. It would be interesting for me to know
- How many people use it? Should I bother continuing development?
- Which features of the program (dialogs, import filters, etc) do people most use? This would focus development.
I'm considering some form of anonymous feedback (with the user opting-in), where the program sends monthly reports of the time since installation (whole months), the number of times each dialog is used, number of files opened, the version number and platform. The user would be asked the first time this is sent and there would be an option to disable it. I think I would only do this after the first week of usage, to exclude one-off users.
Is doing this a good and ethical idea? I'm in the EU, so it's possible that data protection laws may apply.