Is it safe to give my addon to testers in alpha stage?

I’ve been working on an addon for a while now and after putting in a significant amount of my free time into it it’s finally reaching a stage where I can release an alpha version of it to some testers in order to get feedback. But I don’t have any friends or associates to test it for me so I will have to rely on strangers online to do that for me.

Now I’m wondering if that is a good idea because if I release it in this stage anyone could steal it and upload it (or a modified version of it) on addons.mozilla.org and claim it for themselves before I’ve had the chance to establish myself as the creator of it.

I was wondering what other addon developers do in order to both keep their addon open-source and accessible and at the same time make sure someone else won’t steal and take credit for it.

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Just my two cents, if it’s open source there’s always the chance that someone will steal it. Even if you didn’t publish the source code online, it’s not hard to get the source code from a browser add-on, even if it’s only published on the add-ons website.

I’m not sure if it’s the right option for you, but the add-on website does have the option to publish the add-on to the website but check it as experimental.

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Unless you specify a license that allows copying/modifying your code, people can’t simply steal your code and use it in their addon - legally.

The code you write and publish is your intellectual property (IP).

So I wouldn’t worry much. You as author with your repository history can easily prove the code is yours.

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Hey @pouriap and thanks for a great question.

@ComputerWhiz and @juraj.masiar already provided great answers and I want to share another point.

Yes, it’s true that there’s a chance that everything that is put out into the world, could be copied by somebody. There are some legal protections like copyright and trademark available to protect your work but it’s also a lot of extra work (and sometimes money, especially in case of trademarking) from the developer. And even then, someone could copy the idea and there’s nothing really protecting against that.

As an open source developer myself, I don’t worry about others copying or making changes to what I build – I actually encourage that through publishing with open source licensing because personally I believe that it’s better for the world if people build on top of each other’s ideas.

If we’re talking about credit for work (as in, social stuff and recognition), if you publish something as open source, you can always use that as a prove that you created it before someone else did.

The big reason why I think the risk is worth taking almost 100% of the time is that if you don’t put your work out there, you’ll miss out on a lot of feedback that helps you make the product better. If someone copies your original work, you’re still the one who knows more about your project and has the motivation and passion to build it forward and that’s momentum that is hard to keep up if just copying.

Building something in the open, sharing it with the world and getting those strangers to be your first users and testers is a great way to build connections and learn from actual users who want to use (and maybe even in the future, contribute to it) your extension.

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Thank you for your very thoughtful and thorough answer.
I’m marking it as solution because along with the other two answers already provided I suppose this thread pretty much sums of what can be said about the question.
Thank you all for your great help and advice.

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