It’s Thanksgiving, and it’s also time for year-end giving. As the New York Times reminds us: “Remember the Neediest!”
When I sit down in late-December and write checks—and use PayPal!—for my favorite nonprofits, I will remember.
But as I’ve decided this year, I’ll also make sure to support and thank the authors of the open source products I use in my work. I plan to make this a tradition parallel to my charitable giving.
I’ll mostly be donating to WordPress plugin authors. A large majority of these plugins are free and made on the developer’s personal time yet together have saved me hundreds of hours. I’ve built my business using these plugins, and I want to help support the developers and encourage them to maintain the plugin.
Even if you only own one site (in WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or any other open source system), take a look at your Plugins, Add-Ons, Extensions, or thing-a-ma-jigs and imagine what your site would be without them. (Try the same with your browser extensions. I’ll be donating to a few of those as well.)
I haven’t settled on how much I’ll give. I might give based on how I often I use that plugin. I might give the same amount to each. I might follow the popular request to “Buy Me a Beer” (or coffee). I’ll probably just do what feels right for each by asking myself “How much would I be willing to pay for this if it weren’t free?”
There are other ways to give back too:
- Write an email thanking the plugin developer.
- Upgrade to the paid version of the plugin or buy a premium add-on.
- Help with support in the plugin forum.
- Submit a patch to a plugin.
I’ve done these things as well, but money talks. In this case, it says “Thank you!”