Give a Little

If you’re building commercial solutions around open source projects, good for you. As long as you are respecting the licenses of those projects I have absolutely nothing against you. In fact, well done for working to create a sustainable business around projects that provide end users with core freedoms.

However, here’s the point many of the people before you have missed; give a little.

Give a little back to the core of the project. It’s the single most important thing you can do to help the project continue to move forward and for your business around that project to stay relevant.

Giving back is easy and you don’t have to be a programmer. Small actions like reporting bugs, updating documentation, and answering questions in the forums go a long way towards helping out the community and pushing the project in the right direction. If you are a programmer, consider writing patches for the project to fix those outstanding bugs you’ve been side-stepping and working around for so long.

Your image will do nothing but benefit from this, it shows the community that you’re in it because you love the project. It shows that you want to see the project continue to develop and get better and better. Most importantly it shows you’re not just in it to make a buck or two then move on to the next project when there’s nothing more to gain. Intrinsic interest speaks volumes.

A lot of companies on the web subscribe to a program called 1% for the planet. Let’s put a spin on that and start something called “1% for the project”. Instead of money, it would be 1% of your time per year spent towards helping the project that your company is built around. That’s two hours per month helping ensure your business continues to support a thriving open source project.

Hit the “Reply” link at the top right of this post to leave your comments.

41 thoughts on “Give a Little

  1. As someone using BuddyPress on a commercial project I know what you mean. I hope to release some free themes we have developed soon.

    I have found that even writing blog posts about tips and techniques helps other users considerably! I hope to contribute more in the future.

    • Writing about the project to help others is also a great way to give back. Consider adding some of the content (or links to it) to the project documentation also.

  2. The success of BuddyPress rests with the contributions of developers. That is how WordPress, with it’s countless themes and plugins, has been made big today. BuddyPress *will* be to social networks what WordPress is to blogs. But only if we give.

    If you can’t give code or documentation, give time. Speak at local tech meetups or Refresh/WordCamp gatherings. Get other people interested in it. Everyone wins.

  3. I’m not a developer but I do give back by promoting open source projects :) BuddyPress included (and I write about them on my blog!)

  4. I like the idea of quantifying it… I’m going to start using this idea (1% = 2 hours per month) when talking to users, potential contributors and volunteers, starting this weekend at WordCamp Seattle.

  5. You mean like putting together and giving away free admin manuals, sponsoring plugin competitions, holding platform specific competitions for WPMU and Buddypress to encourage plugin development, hosting and giving away free plugins? Supporting new (and not so new) users in the MU forums? Things like that? Does that count as giving a little back?

    • That’s true – I try to do the same in the WordPress.com Forums from Brazil and Portugal, and often consulted your answers in English forum.
      So, thank you!

  6. Well put Andy. I know I’ve personally learned a lot from Andy and everyone else in the WordPress community, and for every 1% I try to put back into it, I still feel like I get 10% back somehow.

    So… Tomorrows pint is dedicated both to the volunteer developers and the WordPress community as a whole for being a really fun and exciting project to contribute to.

    Cheers everyone!

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  9. Good statement buddy! I’m starting my first real BuddyPress based project on Monday, and will register on bp-dev and try to take part in making BuddyPress even better in the future.

  10. I think it’s a good idea. I even think it would be great to extend the idea financially as well, which is how 1% for the planet works. For example, on commercial projects, I’d love to see consultants give 1% of their project fees back to the plugin/theme authors who helped make their WordPress project a success. Ultimately, better plugins would come out of it, and future WordPress projects for that consultant would benefit.

    But time is definitely something most people have, and it’s great to have the community encourage that as a contribution.

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  12. I am with you on this.

    Also if you work for an institution that benefits from using open source projects spend 1% of your time persuading them that they have a “Corporate Open Source Responsibility” and that publicly adopting an institutional “1% for the project” would up their pavey cred no end!

  13. Andy, et. al,

    Thanks a lot for all your hard work on BuddyPress. We’re going to be building our new site using your system, and I couldn’t be more excited to get it up and running. We’ll be promoting BP where we can along the way — great work so far.

  14. The fact that you aren’t asking for money but time speaks in volumes. I was looking for a WP plugin to give an upcoming site that I will be creating, some social features, BuddyPress does that and beyond!!! It seems very powerful. I am not a coder, but I’d definitely donate, I’ll pass the word around though.

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  16. Hi Andy!

    I’m coming in way way late to the game, but your post comes to me at a timely point in my life where I have been feeling a bit let down about my own progress in my work. Simply put, your post gives me a bit of a breath of fresh air because of a change of perspective.

    I have used WordPress for years now – both .com and self-installed .org – and being no programmer (I can do XHTML and CSS just fine though, but I’m no rockstar with that, either!) I have felt kind of lost in trying to figure out how I could be a part of the bigger picture and contribute to a project and cause that I have loved so dearly and utilized so freely.

    But in reading your post, I have seen that I HAVE given back to the community – by giving back my time in various WP-related forums where I can and am able to and by spreading word of WordPress to whomever I can and wherever I can.

    … I’d still love to do more, though, and sometimes I really wish I were given more inclination towards technical skillsets rather than ‘interacting with people’ skillsets.

    ‘Physical’ contributions like code contributions and bug fixes/patches sometimes seem to be more viable ways to contribute than immaterial ways, like answering questions in the forums.

    But anyways, thanks for the post!

  17. @andy

    i’m trying more and more to do my 1%+ in the bp forums and report bugs and requests back to devs.

    even trying to teach myself some php to get to know how you guys do the amazing things you do.

    thanks for your hard work,
    ~kyle~
    @thecorkboard

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