PostNuke needs PostNuke usersThe gist may be the difference between a need and an asset, or possibly between users and contributors. Maybe I'm being picky here, but I'll stand by my words that a software project does not need users. Usually "a project needs users" is stated like a self-explaining mantra, which to me it is not. Let me elaborate: I am a user, like most of us here, to any number of OS projects. Not a single one of them needs me. And how should they ? To most of them I do not contribute, and they don't know that I'm out there using their software. If I emigrate to a lone beach after having written these lines and never again touch a keyboard for the rest of my natural life it will not make the slightest difference to them. And heaven forbid it should!
Treat users like your greatest asset and they will turn around and become your greatest asset.
By contributing, as in "giving useful and usable feedback" I may turn into an asset for a project. Even a single accurate description of a bug will help. By contributing more I get more valuable for a project. I may become a developer on a project by contributing code, design, whatever. And I can still be replaced. If the project is interesting enough it will be carried through.If I don't report that bug, someone else will.
I'll go one step further: I may start a project, or make a unique contribution, something only I could have done. If I'm any good that contribution will still exist and be usable when I leave the project. The fact that individuals can be replaced is in my opinion one of the biggest assets of open source.
To return to my original point: Most users of software are not assets for the project or the team that produced it. They are just consumers, and thus are not needed at all. This is true for most of us, for most of the software we use. Some users will turn into assets - or let themselves be turned - and if you want to argue that then we need them, so be it. I rest my case. :-)
And as an afterthought...the yet-to-be-named ProjectX will be open to a community again. Of course.
A second afterthought on re-reading this...maybe I missed your point completely and the need for users is derived from some measure of success, or satisfaction in having done something that a lot of people make use of. This is a legitimate motivation, but it is not mine. If you draw motivation from a userbase in any way at all the argument put forth above becomes invalid for you and the need for users self-evident indeed.