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Is WordPress A Thankless Community?

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July 10th, 2009
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WordPress Plugins

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Many of the plugin authors I have spoken with throughout the community tell me that very rarely do they ever get a donation let alone a Thank You for releasing their work to the public. Based on the plugin authors feedback, end users demand more features, demand better support, and in the end, have this feeling of entitlement even if the plugin is available without a price tag. The reality is, that for a freely available plugin, you’re not entitled to anything. I don’t know about you, but I certainly would not like to be part of a community that is known as thankless.

Before I list a few ways of curbing this attitude, I must say that not EVERYONE in the community acts in the ways I described above. I know many of us have donated to plugin authors, have written reviews of plugins to give them exposure, have said thank you, etc. This post is not geared towards you but towards those who seemingly want to have their cake and eat it too.

Saying Thanks – I believe saying thank you is underrated these days. Saying thanks can go a long way in making a plugin author feel good about themselves for their contribution to the community.

Donate – It’s pretty clear to me by now through asking plugin authors and other posts on the subject that there is no way to pay the bills through donations alone. However, donations are often seen as one part of the income generating strategy so whatever comes through is seen as a benefit. I’ve donated over $100.00 so far in my time spent with WordPress which I know is small compared to what these plugins have enabled my sites to achieve but I’m astonished at the amount of people who have not donated any cash at all.

Exposure – What plugin author does not like exposure? This can be done any number of ways such as a written review, a podcast dedicated to plugins, links to new plugin releases as WeblogToolsCollection.com is known for and overall, just spreading the word about the plugins you enjoy using.

Contribute Back – To support a plugin authors initial contribution to the community, we as end users can return the favor by beta testing new versions, submitting bug reports, helping out with translations, and helping to provide support.

Wrapping Up:

At this stage of the game, I think it’s unfair to provide a blanket statement covering the entire WordPress community as thankless. However, I know many plugin authors who are holding back from releasing their work to the community because they know they will be inundated with support, demands, etc, all for no price.

I think we sometimes have to sit back and remember that WordPress is a piece of great software but it doesn’t have every feature under the sun, that is where plugins come in. These plugins are generally patches, feature enhancements, or ways of providing functionality that are better than the core offering. Plugins are one of the thriving aspects of WordPress that bring people to the platform because if you can’t do something with WordPress, there is at least 1-3 plugins that will. I would really hate to see plugin authors jump ship from the platform simply because of the way the community treats them.

The WordPress platform and its end users have nothing to gain from having this happen so please, lets all do our part to show plugin authors the same love we show for WordPress.

*note* If you know of any other ways to help the situation, I’m all ears.

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Comments

  1. Rhett Soveran (9 comments.) says:

    You know, I never would want to think I was entitled and am very grateful for the plugin authors that work so hard, but I have never actually said it to them. Thank you for this reminder. I think I shall have to create a list and email them all.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      If you say thanks to them, let me know how it turns out. I bet most of them will be grateful.

      • Banago (84 comments.) says:

        Yes, plugin and theme developers are doing a great job. This is a chance to thank them all openly. I will do it again and again anytime I am given the chance.

        • S.K (15 comments.) says:

          Yes. You have opened my eyes!

          I have never thanked the good folks whose plugins and themes I have been merrily using.

          How ungrateful I had been!

          I’ll write a couple of posts about them as indicated by you and register my thanks on their web sites too.

          Regards

          S.K

    • Shammah (1 comments.) says:

      I am very new to all of this, and my thanks can’t be put into words – yet I agree, a simple thank you is the least all of us can do, for all of the attributes and plugins that have been made available for our use. I THANK EVERYONE, whether or not I’ve accessed your product, I do thank you for me and for everyone! Don’t stop sharing and maybe “we’ll start caring,” and showing that we do. APPLAUSE!!

  2. Anthony Luth says:

    I think there are those within the community who are relatively responsible with promoting plugins within the wordpress irc as well as the forums, but as a whole, many people do suffer from that “entitlement” issue in thinking that its simple and cheap to develop these. The authors spend much time and energy in developing them and should be rewarded for their efforts. Do the right thing, blog it, word of mouth it, or donate a few bucks here and there. Its not hard to do and it’ll make things within the community a lot better!

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      That word entitlement is the one word I’ve seen creeping up more and more which provoked me into writing this post. Once we all start feeling entitled, then there is a big problem.

  3. Tim Schmoyer (2 comments.) says:

    I give away a lot of free materials on my site (not related to WP) and never receive a donation. Once in a while I get a “thank you” but that’s it. There definitely seems to be a sense of entitlement. People take-take-take, but rarely give back or share with others in the same way. I’m thinking about moving away from making everything free and charging a couple dollars, but my tension is that I benefit so much from the open source community. My site wouldn’t even exist in the first place if it wasn’t for tools like WordPress and Audacity.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Sorry to hear that. Have you tried to add additional perks to those who donate? Maybe provide them a link to a free additional product for their donation?

      • Tim Schmoyer (2 comments.) says:

        No, not yet, but I’m thinking about providing a resource for those who donate any amount. I’ll let them pay whatever they think it’s worth to them. Not sure how it’ll work out, but it’s worth a shot.

    • Otto (215 comments.) says:

      I get a fair number of $5 donations now and then. Once or twice a month. Sometimes people toss me $20 or $30. Not much, but enough to pay for hosting. More than I expect, honestly.

      Mostly I think it works because my donation box says “Buy Otto a Beer!” on it. ;)

      • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

        Just out of curiosity, have you ever bought a beer with that donation money? :)

        • Otto (215 comments.) says:

          Well, it all goes into the general fund, but in the sense that I went and had a beer with the money in the fund, then yes. My beer consumption is definitely higher than the donation amount. ;)

          I’ve been considering taking requests for specific beers, and then writing reviews of the resulting beer tasting experience. :D

          • Lisa says:

            On one of my sites, I use a “send me some chocolate” donation button. Since my visitors are mostly female, this works like a charm.

          • Banago (84 comments.) says:

            Very nice tick – thanks for sharing it.

      • Babs (37 comments.) says:

        Mostly I think it works because my donation box says “Buy Otto a Beer!” on it. ;)

        I’ve actually been toying with this idea for both my personal and writing blogs — replacing “beer” with “Mountain Dew”, however. :) I also like your “Get Otto a Gift”.

        The only thing keeping me from doing it is Adsense. Even with Ohz’ Who Sees Ads I feel like I’d be asking too much from my readers if I also included a donation area.

  4. Kevin Paquet of Pinoy Teens (10 comments.) says:

    Hearing all these donate here, thank there, Commercial GPL and stuff goes beyond my imagination already and I suppose to see something common to the Add-On and Customizations of Joomla anytime soon, where almost everything NICE is PAID (in a sense of Commercial GPL where you need to buy it before you can use it)

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I don’t know. One reason I hated the Joomla community was exactly as you described, EVERYTHING cool cost money. If that happens in the WordPress community I don’t know what will happen.

      • Kevin Paquet of Pinoy Teens (10 comments.) says:

        And the way plugin authors and theme authors are taking on the WordPress Community and their Plugin and Theme developments, that is where we are heading to, but like one of the commentors has mentioned way below us here, they might have missed the Open Source philosophy where at the first place, you don’t develop and release plugins for fame and money but to contribute to the project and like some have also pointed out, without this WordPress project, they would have never existed (the authors and plugin writers would never had this much fame) like most of them have.

        About donating cash, it’s hard to do for people (or lets say teenagers like me) to donate cash every now and then to the plugin authors, think about all the people who use WordPress(.Org) because it’s free, it ain’t be WordPress without its plugins and ain’t be free when you have to pay for them (to grab a commercial GPL) license of them.

        • EdZee (2 comments.) says:

          Let me add that making donation is literally not possible for newbie who has not yet earn enough to pay for even the hosting of their site. But not saying thank you to those helping them improve their craft has no excuse. Making the donation later is the better way of expressing one’s gratitude to those who helped him.

  5. M Realty says:

    Im very grateful to the entire WordPress open source community. Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating a really amazing system that has revolutionized the way that I work with websites and completely changed my views on blogging and cms systems.

    You rock.

    -Tyler

  6. Jared Spurbeck (2 comments.) says:

    You know …

    It’s easy for us to criticize “ungrateful” users, here. But how much is their “ingratitude” affected by the system itself? Are we making it easy for them to express their gratitude? Are we even telling them how or why?

    Maybe the problem isn’t ungrateful users so much as the fact that the WordPress plugin repository is set up like Download.com, when it needs to be Flickr or DeviantArt.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I hadn’t given that much thought but I think you might be on to something. Care to elaborate any more on examples or ideas? Maybe in a blog post or something?

      • Drewfus (2 comments.) says:

        I had this same thought. When someone hands you something, it’s easy to say “thank you” – but it’s hard to thank the person who picked the apple you picked up at the store. That said, I appreciate this post, and when I’m done reading comments, I’m going to thank the theme and plugin developers both.

        • Drewfus (2 comments.) says:

          I’ve done this now for every plugin or theme who had any sort of feedback function on their site.

    • Matt (1 comments.) says:

      My thoughts exactly, Jared (minus the great idea about Flickr/DeviantArt). I think that this is a structural problem and that WordPress itself should do more to rectify it.

    • Barry (33 comments.) says:

      I agree entirely with this, and if anything things are heading in the wrong direction.

      Back in the days :) a plugin author would write a nice post on their blog with download links for a new plugin, pimp it around to a few news sites (this one being one of the “must do” ones) and traffic would come in, users would download the plugin and write nice comments on the post. The increased traffic to a site, sometimes meant the author could put some adverts up and bring in a little bit of income (though my traffic never reached those lofty heights).

      Now it seems that WordPress.org is moving the plugin away from the author. I can search for a plugin, download it, rate it and post to a wordpress.org support forum about it without ever visiting the plugin authors site or even caring who wrote it and why.

      With the integration of the plugin search and install in the WordPress backend, I now don’t even have to go to the plugin repository. I am one step further removed from the plugin author.

      I feel that WordPress.org are treating plugin authors with a lot of disrespect and treating their work as a commodity to be taken and distributed. There only reward, a small link to the “authors site” tucked away in a corner.

      Of course there is going to be a lack of “thanks” or donations when the person downloading and using the plugin doesn’t even know who you are or where you “live” online. In contrast, when you visit someones site, download a plugin and maybe hang around and read some of their writing or other work, you get a feeling of “knowing” them, and are much more likely to be civil in your contact with them in future.

      Now, I don’t know how to resolve this, but I do like the references to flickr and deviantart. We need to remember that the plugin is the authors work, not wordpress.orgs, GPL or not.

      BTW, I know there will probably be responses of “don’t use the repository then”. I don’t, I stopped updating all of my plugins that did get added, and stopped adding new ones.

      • EMG says:

        This is a really important thought you’ve brought up about how WP.org seems to be moving plugins further and further away from the authors.

        I attended WordCamp this summer and during one of the seminars/Q and A sessions, the topic of theme and plugin repository came up as did questions on how exactly to make it all work.

        I think one of the problems right now is that WP has grown so big and so fast that it’s – in some ways – outgrew its original structuring. If I remember right, there is talk about redoing the plugins and themes repositories; perhaps there is hope yet?

      • Donncha O Caoimh (8 comments.) says:

        Ironically, I once got an email from someone who said the plugin link on the Plugins page (on your own site) should point at the WordPress.org plugin page rather than the page on my own site.

        Perhaps users like the familiarity of the WordPress.org website, but I agree. It’d be great for authors to get more exposure. Someone else emailed me 2 weeks ago asking if I liked WP Super Cache and if I found it hard to install…

  7. Mark says:

    Exactly the same could be said for forum volunteers – those that provide help for pretty much everything that gets thrown their way. I’m sure theme authors could say similar.

    This not saying ‘Thanks’ – because you can’t have a Donate link in a forum sig – applies everywhere. It is not just coders.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      You’re right, the same could be said for alot of things and people but the problem I noticed the most dealt with plugins so I decided to concentrate on that aspect of the post.

  8. DazzlinDonna (8 comments.) says:

    I agree with you…partially. Yes, I’ve donated to several plugin authors, some more than once. Yes, I’ve thanked a few, publicly and privately. Yes, I’ve promoted a few via blog posts, tweets, etc. So, I obviously agree that thanking plugin authors is a great thing. And yes, I agree that anyone who demands more and more from authors for a free product should reconsider their thoughtlessness in doing so. Still, I’d hate to lump every WP user who doesn’t thank plugin authors into the same category. Although I sincerely appreciate authors’ efforts, no one forced them to create the plugins or offer them up for free. No one should EXPECT thanks for something that they freely gave. And no user should be ridiculed for not doing so in the normal course of events. But yes, if users are being demanding, and not giving thanks in return, then that’s worth complaining about. And yes, it’s always a good thing to remind everyone that thanking plugin authors (and theme authors) for their hard work is a kindness we should all try to remember to do. Being grateful; being thankful; being kind – all these are things we should try to remember every day.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Points well taken, especially the bit about

      No one should EXPECT thanks for something that they freely gave. And no user should be ridiculed for not doing so in the normal course of events.

      That statement walks a fine line with this post. On one hand, need to remind people why saying thanks is a good thing but on the other, you can’t ridicule those who don’t. Actually, that sort of throws my entire post out the window lol.

    • Jarrett (1 comments.) says:

      Donna has hit upon the vast majority of points that I had too after reading this post. I always try to link back to theme/plug-in homepages if I can, mention it in a post, and/or use word of mouth.

      I am a relatively new blogger when it comes to WP (used another platform for years) and love it. I wanted to “give back” to WP too in way of a donation, but unfortunately, to find such info, I had to do some unnecessary digging:

      - Navigate to wordpress.org
      - Click “About”
      - Click “Contact” on the left-hand navi-bar
      - Under the “Helping out” header, click “Contributing to WordPress”
      - On the table of contents, click “Donating Money” (or scroll to the bottom of the page)

      Now to me, a link to the “How to contribute” or “Support WP” on the homepage of WP would have been much easier. At least put the same type of link on the download page as that page generates a large amount of traffic (i.e. eyeballs).

      Is this the norm? No, not usually, but it is fairly common on many plug-in and theme sites. As it has been echoed elsewhere here by others, by making it easier for users to make return contact and show support, that is one *huge* step in bridging the gap between hard-working, generous developers and appreciative users.

      Oh, and to show my support, I have a link to WP on my own “about” page and recommend WP to anyone interested in blogging on a solid platform. :-)

  9. Erik (1 comments.) says:

    I honestly think this a phenomenon that shows itself regularly in various online communities and in society in general.

    In a number of online communities I’ve been a part of, whether it be WordPress or MMOs, I’ve noticed that when that community is at its embryonic stages there is a pretty altruistic attitude that people take towards the community. They have an interest to make the community great, they have skills and resources to make that happen, and they contribute to further that goal. Particularly with something like WordPress at its earliest stages, the community was likely composed of people were programmers who understood what was required to make it work and make it better. Knowing what goes into the platform, they’re most likely to appreciate the effort and provide positive feedback and some thanks to those that make it happen.

    As the community grows and becomes more “mainstream,” people who don’t understand everything that goes into making the platform work become more prevalant. They see it as something that has always been free and the plugins have always been there free. They don’t understand what went into making it happen, and don’t appreciate the hard work that goes into making good plugins. Therefore, they’re less likely to give back to those that have given to them.

    I will admit that while I do understand the hard work that goes into making WordPress and WP plugins, I haven’t done enough to give back. This post has given me the little kick in the seat to try to do something. B/c I’m half broke and getting married in two months, I have no pennies to spare, but I can’t definitely some positive press on my blog for the plugins I use and like.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Great points Erik. WordPress definitely seems to be at that stage where plenty of newer users have no idea what has gone into the platform/community before they arrived so their take on everything is different than lets say someone who’s been around for 2 or 3 years. There does seem to be this cycle where in the beginning, it’s all about growing, expanding, and everyone having this good feeling of making the product/service better. But then, it reaches a point where users take it for granted and end up in the boat we’re in now.

      Giving back and contributing does not require the use of money. Just publishing a list of plugins you use with links to their sites is a pretty good start.

  10. FlashLight says:

    I do find some of the plugins I use extremely helpful, enhancing service or even providing unique service. I do intend to give back to developers but for the moment, I have to bear other considerations. I am not making any money yet, is one. The other is that sometimes I get all excited about a plugin, but in use I get some undesired feature and have to install another to see if it is more satisfactory, carrying out a task in a way consistent with my needs and my requirements.

    I am all out on giving back to those who create the tools we use, as I am all out for rewarding financially those who write the books we read, the songs we listen to, the movies that marked our lives. It takes a lot of work (not to mention imagination) to create anything, and for people to keep on creating, enriching our lives and world, definitely some form of reward must be given.

    Perhaps with time people will pick up on this, maybe not so much because they’ll be nice guys and/or cool, but because they are realistic and know from their own experience that everybody has a mortgage to pay.

    I am thinking. Why don’t we put a “thank-you” or “credits” static page listing the plugins we use? Or maybe at the end of the “About” page?

    If my site picks up, I definitely intend to go back and generously donate to the people who created the plugins I find so useful.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Great series of points.

      Perhaps with time people will pick up on this, maybe not so much because they’ll be nice guys and/or cool, but because they are realistic and know from their own experience that everybody has a mortgage to pay.

      I couldn’t see any downfall if this were to happen in society in general.

      • FlashLight says:

        Allow me to suggest that if and when the particular quote you chose becomes a standard of society, that will mark the moment we become a Type I civilization ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHbnM_42mQE ). Most of the world’s religions and also atheistic commentators of all kinds have been announcing a phase transition in human society. So many in the Internet worship Ayn Rand that it is surprising how anyone can fail this insight.

        • FlashLight says:

          My previous comment may seem wacky. It is.

          From the discussion going on, different motivations exist for different people. If you like someone’s African Safari photos, maybe you’ll find several. Some will be artistic, others will not. But if you think someone’s photos have a quintessence of beauty you can’t quite put your finger on, wouldn’t you pay a few bucks for that particular photographer to keep on traveling and delivering to you visual awe, every time?

          As I stated, “for people to keep on creating, enriching our lives and world, definitely some form of reward must be given.”

          If you’re lucky and your day job allows you the privilege of creating something you will distribute for free (in an academic community, for instance), these may seem like petty squabbles. Think again, you’re getting peer recognition. If you are not, betcha you’ll want to work some place else.

          Of course, the voluntary work in the Internet, from the FSF to the occasional Wikipedia contributor, is highly commendable. But, to do it on a regular basis, a wage will have to be coming from somewhere. No one will starve, or stop paying utility bills, because there’s a plugin the community needs.

          There are cultures and periods in History, where the truly creative were social pariahs, living in misery or with relative scorn, compared to the importance of the works they left behind.

          Perhaps we should change that, and take it as mandatory, essential for society, to give recognition where recognition is due.

          I’m through with this discussion. Debating an issue to death does not necessarily pile up to further light. If you see my point.

        • FlashLight says:

          Please let me clarify my bit of thinking. For WP (or any other watering hole) to be a vigorous community it is of primary importance that everything or almost everything is free. Free knowledge, free tools, guarantee affordable opportunity for everyone.

          If people start requesting pay beforehand, you’ll start having trade secrets, information or tools that keep someone ahead of the curve. That’s win-lose thinking. I only win if someone loses, or is prevented from winning.

          We should strive, every time, for win-win. If I use a service that is extremely useful to me, I will not be a blood sucking vampire. I will go back, give recognition, promotion, money, or give back with my own service.

          We will be giving back to each other. That’s what I call win-win. And again, I stress, not necessarily because we are nice guys, but better, because we are realistic.

          Who would want to live in a win-lose world, when one can live in a win-win world. The former are the true petty squabblers.

          • Barry (33 comments.) says:

            But that only works when everyone is a giver. They don’t have to give on the same level, but when it is seen that everyone in the community is giving to the community, then your comment is true.

            When, however, there are far fewer givers than takers, and the takers take the givers for granted, then you will find that the givers stop giving or go to another platform where there are more of them.

          • FlashLight says:

            Thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree with you. You probably heard about “meme” theory. Those who give innovation to society, are those moving us all forward. A lot of people simply pick up the innovation and use it. Given that innovation implies investment in risk taking, time, effort, money, it would seem it is better to be a no-investment needed, no-risk taking imitator. Simply pick up the ideas or work of someone else.

            Would you be surprised to notice that when in one community imitation becomes prevalent over innovation, that community becomes stagnant or even retrograde?

            There have been periods in History and communities where the innovator is actually able to reap rewards from his work. Think industrial revolution, think Silicon Valley in the 80′s.

            If we are going through a technological and social revolution whose consequences is too soon to ascertain, it is not because of those who will charge for every inch. It is because of those who see beyond the next hill, and will share miles, so that others will walk them.

            I say that in every community there will be takers and there will be givers. What ultimately happens, if the community is successful in some endeavor, depends on how much reward givers get.

            I’m not a historian or sociologist, but it seems to me this applies to every period or culture I can think of right now. Whether that is positive and going up; or negative, when coming down.

            Thinking about communities we may want to belong to, let us always have the freedom to choose.

  11. Otto (215 comments.) says:

    I’ve gotten lots of thank yous for the various plugins and articles I’ve written. The key is to leave comments open so that people can respond to you.

    Many plugins I’ve seen don’t have comments enabled, they only provide support forums, most of which require registration. Look, if I’m going to tell you thanks, then making me go out of my way to do it is very difficult. If you want feedback, make it *easy*.

    Forums are great if I want to have a conversation. But if I just want to drop a comment, then leave an easy way for me to do that.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      But most of the comment forms I’ve seen are plum filled with support requests and I can imagine using that as an area of support is a nightmare leading to the use of a forum and closing down the comments. But I see where you’re coming from with going out of the way to say thanks.

      • Otto (215 comments.) says:

        True, which is why I’d suggest having both. The problem, of course, is making sure different things go to the proper place. Haven’t worked that one out yet. Perhaps some form of comments integration with bbPress might work? Dunno.

        • Carson (46 comments.) says:

          Perhaps we need another plug-in; a simple thank-you counter. It could just provide a thank-you button and a thank-you tally on the plug-in author’s site: 329 thank-yous received so far.

    • Ryan (55 comments.) says:

      I got around that by not requiring users to register before posting on my forum. About half of my support forum posts are from guests.

      And before you ask, no, I don’t get any spam from allowing guest users. I have that well sorted.

      Personally I prefer not to get basic thank you messages though. There rapidly becomes too many to read and I don’t have time to reply to all of them. Most people say thanks before posting a question though.

  12. roslan (1 comments.) says:

    your article wakes me up! i never bother to donate for all this while but i may think again after this. maybe i’ll start with WordPress Automatic Plugin..hmmm

  13. Sara says:

    I have been such a beneficiary of how amazing the community is and how wonderful so many of the plugin authors are. I do try to communicate my thankfulness but sometimes, I am sure, I forget in the frenzy of 2 am downloads of multiple plugins to try to fix up a website I’m working on.

    I would suggest that plugin authors take some steps that I hope are simple, to make it easier for those of us who WANT to be thankful, to share our love!

    1. include an “info.txt” file with your plugin that includes boilerplate instructions on how to install the plugin, and ALSO your web address and email address and encouragement to be in touch to send you a thank-you note.

    2. keep a standing page/URL on your website, one for each of your plugins, that has the latest version (or information about the latest version and how to get it if you store it at another repository), and again, PROMINENT links to your email address or feedback form, and a request for users to be in touch for thanks.

    3. If you have a “suggested donation” amount, put a paypal link on your plugins page! If you will do customization work on your plugins for pay, write that out and include some kind of pay-scale information and make it easy for me to get in touch with you.

    4. look, if your plugin doesn’t work, or doesn’t work as advertised, then constructive criticism from users is warranted. Don’t hide behind the “free” designation as an excuse for releasing incomplete or non-functioning versions of your plugins. As a dedicated, thoughtful user who sends constructive feedback to plugin creators, I find it really creepy on the very rare occasion when I get a condescending message in reply telling me that I should be grateful for some free, lame plugin and not ask for more. I would stress that this kind of reaction is very much the exception, not the rule, but it really shouldn’t happen at all.

    And please, all you amazing plugin producers out there — THANK YOU!!!!

    • Barry says:

      Not wanting to sound critical or anything, honest it’s not my intention :)

      1. They usually already do, it’s readme.txt. If the plugin is on the wordpress.org site then it HAS to be there for there system to work. Also there is usually a link to the authors email address and website on the plugins page of your site. This is part of the metadata in the header of the plugins php file.

      2. I’ve yet to come across a plugin that doesn’t have this, but sometimes it isn’t an obvious thing to find when coming from wordpress.org

      3. Agree

      4. Agree as well, but on the other side, can I suggest that before sending a message or comment with “suggestions” and feedback, have a look at the other comments on the post or see if there is a more recent post about that plugin.

      It may already have been found and dealt with and maybe you are the 20th person to email the same problem when the plugin author has already posted the solution in at least 4 places on the site including the page the visitor is on (yes I speak from experience here, and it gets tired after a while) :) I’d rather get email, than not, but please don’t be offended if I send you a link to another post on my site rather than write it all again…

  14. Chris Bryant (12 comments.) says:

    This is a great post, and good point. I’ve thanked several plugin (and theme, for that matter) authors, but never donated (yet).
    I do *always* click on interesting looking ads on authors websites (and look around the sites that come up- so the advertiser gets their money’s worth). Not a big thing, but…

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I think too many people are focusing on the monetary aspect of this post. There are plenty of other ways to be thankful and to show it .

  15. Venkat (2 comments.) says:

    I think this post is well motivated, and has sincere intentions, but you are possibly misframing the issue. A “free” (as in both speech and beer) economy does not equal a gift economy, and one should not expect transaction norms to be based on a culture of gratitude and charity. That is no way to grow a healthy ecosystem. “Real” economies (and “free” can be real economics) are more robust and scalable than gift economies IMO.

    My team and I are soon going to release a very cool WP plugin (free, and almost certainly GPL), and while we would love appreciation, we have built “free” into the business model of what we are up to, and it is a technology strategy, not altruism. Hopefully good-citizen/open/sociable ethical business behavior, but still BUSINESS behavior.

    I suspect most good plugin writers are like us, and don’t view themselves as charity givers. They probably either have some sort of freemium or plugin+consulting business model, OR are doing it to develop a technical reputation. These motivations I trust and respect. Motivations that are purely charity-based, I wouldn’t trust, because they aren’t sustainable in the long-term.

    So… I’ve only once made a donation, and I’ve never “thanked” a plugin author because I’ve never perceived WP as a charity/gift ecosystem, but a business-like “free” ecosystem, in the sense of Chris Anderson’s ideas. I’ve also paid where I see value… Chris Pearson’s thesis theme is worth paying for, and I paid.

    If you really want to do this gift framing, why don’t you flip it around and ask plugin authors to thank the bloggers who use their code, on their blogs, where they give THEIR work away for free, thereby promoting the plugin author’s coding skills? On my blog, I enjoy appreciation for the quality of my writing, but have no expectations that people will appreciate the mere act of my writing for free. I also have the ‘buy me a beer’ plugin (that’s the one for which I made a donation… :)). I have tried to frame the beer plugin on my blog as “pay if you want to encourage me to write more like this” but have tried to avoid the connotation of “donation.” I am not blogging for my supper.

    But thanks for raising an important discussion thread. I think it is great that the community introspects about this stuff on occasion.

    • Barry says:

      “A “free” (as in both speech and beer) economy does not equal a gift economy”

      I disagree here, whilst the plugin author have other reasons for releasing his / her plugin, the free (as in beer) version is very much a gift to the WordPress “community” and should be treated as such, otherwise I would argue that the “community” aspect doesn’t really exist.

    • donnacha | WordSkill (12 comments.) says:

      Venkat, brilliant comment, I completely agree, this focus on “tipping” is a distraction and distorts how a GPL-based market should operate.

      It is very simple: if a plugin author wants to sell his plugin, he should sell it, but he cannot expect to get the same publicity and reach that a free release would bring, he cannot expect to build the same reputation as fast. He must devote more time to publicity, protecting against piracy, handling payments issue and he is also legally obliged, through the act of selling, to properly support his customers.

      He also cannot use existing GPL’d code, so, presumably, there would also be more work involved – a key tenant of the GPL is that programmers should not waste time re-inventing the wheel.

      I have zero problem with any theme or plugin author selling their work if they believe that the overall gain will exceed what they would gain by releasing it for free. I would also be quite happy to pay if the product is good and the price is right. Never forget, however, that the whole point of the GPL is that it releases coders from all the hassles that accompany selling something and, more importantly, allow us all to stand on the shoulders of giants, to all share from a growing corpus of creativity.

      That is the deal, we are all free to choose, if you want to take advantage of the streamlined free market but also whine about ungrateful users you have completely missed the point.

  16. Cody Redmon (1 comments.) says:

    Great post, I think it was definitely needed to bring attention to those who invest their time and energy for the the benefit of others. I have to admit that I typically only thank folks for their work once I have a question that initiates contact…but this is has been an eye-opener and will change my approach. “Thank first, ask later!” :-)

  17. Shaun (3 comments.) says:

    If you expect money in return, then sell it. Otherwise, there’s really no point in expecting money back.

    If you aren’t making money, don’t blame the community — blame your monetization strategy, if anything. Basing your income strategy on people giving donations is a horrible way to pay the bills. ::shrug::

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      I don’t think a thank you or a donation has much to do with income. It has to do with appreciation and a little incentive/inspiration to continue to give to the community.

      • EMG says:

        I completely agree. The idea of open source is to share and share alike and where it’s awesome that we can get things for free, there’s also the whole bit regarding ‘give back to the community’, too.

        Open source isn’t just about take, take, take. It’s also about giving back, too.

        With that thought, I believe that most people who are saying that donations are a poor way to pay bills (and I actually agree, but that’s beside the point) are also the same ones who don’t understand the true spirit of open source.

        They are also the same ones who beg me for free help, but won’t lift a finger themselves to help back.

  18. John Turner (1 comments.) says:

    For my plugins and theme, I receive mostly support request. I do get some thank you’s and I have received 1 donation for $10.

    Me personally, I have given money, and my product , though not released yet , I plan to give money to people who’s work I use.

    Most people do not understand who is behind these plugins or how long it takes to develop them.

    I think WP.org should have GPL, premium plugin page as well. Though the thing that makes wordpress so cool, is the free stuff.

  19. Fabi says:

    What if all (free) plugin authors charged $.99 cents per download? Wouldn’t that be a good idea?

    • Iamvoldemort says:

      There is too many buggy plug-ins out there I would NEVER pay unless I know they work for me, and right now maybe 1 out of 10 plugs work for me.

      • Fabi says:

        I hear ya. I was thinking about the iPhone App store. So what if each plugin offered a free trial? Would you go for that?

        • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

          That can’t be done with WordPress plugins, or any other PHP code if you don’t use code encyption and that I think goes against GPL license.

          • Fabi says:

            Milan, funny you mention the GPL license. I’ve been reading about it the last couple of days and I still don’t understand what it means. Anyway, that’s too bad…I’d like to see plugin developers (I’m not one) make money directly off their plugin work -aside from any freelance clients that might come from it.

            I like it better when everyone makes money.

  20. Lisa says:

    I use WP on four different sites, two of which generate income. I try to remember to donate to the plugin developers each time I do major site updates. (Major being installing a new version of WP, or overhauling the theme, both of which make me look at my plugins lists and evaluate whether I’m still using what’s there—a good nudge to click on developer links and send money.)

  21. Mike (3 comments.) says:

    When I find a plugin that does everything I want it to do I will always donate. I have high standards and if they’re met then the plugin developer certainly deserves a reward.

    If its close, or I don’t get support with my usually very detailed questions (I figure the more detail the easier/quicker it is to help) then I won’t donate and I’d rather do the work myself.

  22. Schmitty says:

    I’m new to wordpress, just got my first site up and running. This is a very interesting subject that I’ve already read much about. BTW, I didn’t pick wordpress because it’s free, but rather because of its ease of setup and use, management features, dashboard, and extensibility via plugins.

    GPL arguments aside, I’d be happy to pay for plugins, but there is a big IF in that equation – am I going to get something that is well coded, won’t break other plugins (or wordpress), has a support forum, clear documentation, an author who hasn’t dropped off the face of the earth, etc.?

    To get my first site up, I had to purchase two premium themes and test literally dozens of plugins in order to find some combination of things that do what I want and seem to work together, and it’s been incredibly frustrating at times. You never know what you will get with a particular plugin, and I’d say that if you start browsing at wordpress.org for plugins, 80% or more of what you might look at suffers from the issues I mentioned above. So I’m really reluctant to pay anything to those plugin authors, at least upfront.

    That being said, once my site is up, and I have a group of plugins that have been proven to be stable, I will make a point to go around and give them all at least a dollar or two and a note of thanks. If there was some qualification for plugins\authors that could let me know up front that they would meet the criteria I already mentioned, I’d have no problem paying something up front, and the iPhone app store might be a pretty good model. $1 for decent basic plugins up to $5 for really complicated ones?

  23. Laura Roberts (2 comments.) says:

    I would agree with Venkat that this climate of “charity” does everyone a disservice. If plugin creators want to be paid for their work, they should charge money for the product, period. If they’re going to bitch about “ungrateful” users (i.e. the users who refuse to be guilted into a donation!), they should quit complaining and just charge a fee.

    Frankly, I would rather pay a small fee than be constantly assailed with “donate!” buttons that attempt to make me feel guilty for taking advantage of a freebie. Why would anyone offer something for free if they wanted to be paid for it? It just doesn’t make sense. And if the product is good enough that I would want to use it, then charge me for the privilege, or make both a free version to try and a pay version with more options.

    If the fee is purposely kept small (say $10 or less), this encourages people to try new plugins and other software, despite the associated cost and potential for malware. After all, we are all using third-party software here, and who knows whether the creator’s intentions are good?

    • Dan Cole (5 comments.) says:

      If developers felt they needed to get paid, they would charge people for their plugins. We’re not really asking, expecting, or demanding money, but rather wishing we got a little respect, or kindness for our charity to the WordPress community, instead of being called the B word (that’s directed directly at you), getting 100% hate mail (for charity work), or getting completely ignored. Also, are plugins in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory giving you malware? (I don’t think so… we don’t even get the benefit of the doubt.)

      Your not taking advantage of a freebie, your taking advantage of developers charity to the community and then flaming us like we scammed you or took advantage of a situation. I would say that every plugin in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory was made as a gift to the community as a thank you to the developers of WordPress. Yet there isn’t much karma going to WordPress developers or plugin developers, but rather a lot of unkind criticism.

      • Laura Roberts (2 comments.) says:

        Excuse me, but I never called anyone a bitch; I used the term “bitching” as in “complaining,” and certainly wasn’t directing it at anyone specific, so I’d like an apology for your turning it around on me, Dan. That’s totally uncalled for.

        As for respect, if you’re going around calling your clients and/or potential customers “bitches,” as you are doing right now on a public forum, this indicates to me a total lack of respect for others. Why should we, in turn, give respect someone who treats others so poorly?

        If this is a post solely about items found on the WordPress site, fine, my comment about malware is probably unfounded, as I presume there is some level of admin that is monitoring plugins there. However, elsewhere on the ‘net, it’s buyer (or sharer) beware, don’t you think?

        • Dan Cole (5 comments.) says:

          I would hope you didn’t read my comment as an aggressive, obnoxious, or otherwise, because I wrote it in a very relaxed and calm way and didn’t intend it to be offensive or pushy. I may have twisted your words a little, but if complainers are complaining, what would that imply you called plugin developers? I was hoping this post and the following comments would be a light hearted discussion, rather than something taken too serious.

          I’m also not calling anyone or there actions by some absence name and even refraining from using that word. I’m solely noting the intentions and desires of developers, but also what we receive regularly, not that that should imply product users are complainers or anything hateful. I’d like to see each part of the community feel like they are wanted and contribute something worth noting.

          I should make a note that any of my comments should be read in a low energy, mono-toned voice. I try my best to mix up my wording, so it doesn’t come off as strong.

      • EMG says:

        I completely and absolutely agree with this sentiment and I speak from both a theme designer’s (or slaughterer, depending ;D) and ‘normal’ user’s point of view.

        There ARE some people out there who really should just make people pay for their service and just ‘shut up’ with the whining (because their original intent was to eventually make money), but MOST of the devs or super WP-savvy people that I have run into who do development for WP – either plugins or themes – are NOT those sorts of people.

        They give back to the WP community – posting both questions and support and offering free services/products and using free services and products and even volunteer time at WordCamp.

        These same people break their backs to try and please their userbase because they LIKE giving to the community (open source anybody?) and I don’t think anyone – least of all people who don’t give back to the community – has any right to say that their frustrations over a total lack of respect for them and their work is something they should shut up about.

        Not everyone who provides their services for free are looking for recognition or are interested in guilt tripping people as a passive aggressive way to generate income.

        On the other hand, they HAVE put a lot of time and work into these projects they offer up to the public for free and to hear people do nothing but complain about it, demand more features, AND use it anyways and complain some more is…

        What does THAT say about the community?

        Open source is take AND give, mind. And it starts with giving FIRST.

    • Carson (46 comments.) says:

      I agree with you, Laura. This browbeating of people for not paying, in dollars or appreciation, for “free” software is absurd. I despise a donation business model. In my town people wash cars in shopping center parking lots for donations. I never let them wash my car because I don’t know how much they really expect. But I know they do expect something.

      The GPL approach is just another business model. Some succeed with it (Linus Torvalds, Matt Mullenweg,…) and some don’t. I suspect that the complaints we’re hearing are from those who didn’t.

    • donnacha | WordSkill (12 comments.) says:

      Laura, I totally agree.

  24. Terry (2 comments.) says:

    Jeff, thank you for the reminder. I am guilty of not saying thank you and of not donating. If most people are like me, I had no idea what the heck I was taking on when I thought is was a “good idea” to start using WordPress to build some websites. The deeper I got the more I realized that I had no damn clue what I was doing much less how the heck to do it.

    It has always been with the best intentions to revenue share with developers of the plugins and themes that I use, but to date there is on revenue to share.

    Saying thank you is entirely another issue. It seems that showing my gratitude has not been a priority even though developers of plugins and themes are a remarkable group of people whose love for coding, ingenuity and time is shared most generously.

    It seems that today’s “freemium” business model lacks the business systems and structures to convert “free giveaways” into paying clients and customers. I struggle with this as does every business owner today.

    Thanks again for the reminder to show my gratitude and my resolve to have my projects generate revenue so I can reward those who make my sites possible.

    -terry

    • Fabi says:

      Terry, I agree with you. This “freemium” business model can be tricky.

      • Terry (2 comments.) says:

        I personally like the “pay for support” model used @ http://themehybrid.com – it’s a simple model…

        Here’s my theme. It’s your for free. If you want me support, it’s a modest amount for a one year membership. Why it worked for me is the quality of his “free stuff” was excellent and I figured that it was worth paying the bucks for his expertise.

        This is the same for the premium membership at http://premium.wpmudev.org – it’s a pricy membership, but for me pays for itself in support and time savings.

        • EMG says:

          Additionally, Tadlock’s an awesome guy who posts some really useful stuff on his blog and has generally been rather easy to get in touch with. :)

          Sorry, couldn’t resist as I’ve used Hybrid myself and have gotten excellent support for it.

  25. Consumer Joe (1 comments.) says:

    Great Topic. I have given quite a few small donations but even that I think is not enough sometimes. I think there should be a plugin marketplace “Hey Envanto” for the authors to be able to sell maybe upgraded versions or something.

    I don;t understand all of the licensing but if theme creators are making the themes and using plugins to make them , then selling the themes, you would think plugin creators could do the Same.

  26. Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

    I appreciate when people leave thank you comments on my blogs for the plugins I made (all are free for now). But as the donations go, in the last year I have received several donations only. I still provide day to day support via the forum, twitter and through the website comments. I have published more than 20 tutorials and posts on various topics.

    But still I must say that my free plugins are the main reason I have so much freelance WordPress work. I created a lot of plugins for various websites for many clients. And, due to amount of actual paid work I have to do, I don’t always have time to solve individual problems for each plugin user.

    So, I started providing premium support for my plugins for customizations that some users need. There are a lot of users that need things to be different, and they are ready to pay for such customizations. And the plugin author is the best one for the job of customizing own plugin.

    • David McDougal (2 comments.) says:

      Milan,

      Nice site, and nice write-ups. Never seen your site, or used your plugins. I am scouring your site though and like the writeups. Curious on the benchmarking.

    • donnacha | WordSkill (12 comments.) says:

      Milan is an extraordinary developer, I am continually impressed by the hard work and attention to detail that he pours into his GD Star Rating plugin. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, go take a look at the site for that plugin, it is an inspiring project: http://www.gdstarrating.com/

      So many plugin authors talk about what they plan to do but fail to deliver. Milan has the rarest of gifts: focus. If I needed to some paid WordPress development done, he is the first person I would approach [i]purely because his Open Source work has proved his ability, focus and integrity[/i]. As he says here himself, the reputation earned by his free work is now generating paid work.

      I also agree that plugin authors should charge for customizations, just as they would charge for any other freelance work, that is just common sense. My instinct is that if a plugin author makes it clear that he charges $X amount for custom work, a widely used plugin will generate quite a bit of paid work for him. The mistake that many plugin authors make is that they don’t make it clear that they are available for paid custom work and at exactly what price – you should not be shy to state exactly what you charge because it sets expectations, it reminds people that your time is valuable and, the truth is, it wouldn’t occur to most people that they CAN buy your services, or that it is available at a reasonable price. Most people are terrified to ask how much, they have little experience in buying coding services and expect to get ripped off.

      • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

        Thanks man!

        Developing free plugins for the WordPress community is the best way to learn about WordPress. Sure, in the beginning you will need to invest a lot of time without any paid work, but taking such development seriously, even if it is for free will pay off eventually. Working as a developer won’t get you overnight success.

        • donnacha | WordSkill (12 comments.) says:

          Yes, I think the problem is that some people expect to make money from the very beginning, they do not have the patience or vision to see that it is a craft, not a get-rich-quick stream.

          Releasing Open Source plugins to the massive, vibrant and growing WordPress community has to be one of the fastest ways to establish your reputation. Once you build your reputation, money follows, as you have discovered.

          Begging for tips and berating users when you don’t get enough of them is a distraction, it misses the whole point and, I believe, misses the real opportunity, the chance to focus on building reputation.

  27. David McDougal (2 comments.) says:

    I am not a plugin developer, but I find it annoying when you release something to the public and people do not really care, but are pissed when you remove it. I noticed this when I wrote a very long detailed training session for SEO and released it free. Then people started using it all over the place, and so I pulled it and started getting flame emails.

    I personally have supported a number of plugin developers. You all rock, and I wish that I had the skills that you do. If we do not support the developers, then they will do like I did and make it a pay to get environment and that is not how great progress is made.

    I know that I will continue to support theme, and plugin developers. Keep up the great work, and I hope that the attitude of people switches from leeches to contributors. If you like something show it. Heck, even if you gave the developer $1.00 it shows you cared enough to say thanks, and encourages them to keep development going.

    • Carson (46 comments.) says:

      “…they will do like I did and make it a pay to get environment and that is not how great progress is made.”

      I strongly disagree with you. The exact opposite is true. Being able to produce something of value that someone else is willing to compensate you for is how great progress is made. Don’t confuse business with charity. It’s great that some are willing to donate their work and/or wealth to others; this is charity. It’s also great that some are producing goods or services that others are willing to pay for; this is business. It’s a bit silly to offer something for no cost and then complain that you’re not getting paid. If someone is not benefiting from their GPL/open-source endeavors it’s probably because their work is not that good.

      • Barry (33 comments.) says:

        This isn’t about expecting compensation. It’s about saying thanks, and I disagree that it’s charity, I would consider it a gift. A gift of a programmers time and skill solve a problem that a lot of people have i common.

        If those providing the gifts don’t feel appreciated for doing so, they are very quickly going to stop, and then who is going to complain that there aren’t as many plugins available for the platform?

        • Carson (46 comments.) says:

          This discussion IS about expecting compensation (donations) AND saying thanks. Read the comments.

          I don’t think that a plug-in author who has had hundreds of downloads is going to get discouraged just because no one has said thank-you. In fact, I think that author might consider hundreds of pithy thank-you notes a nuisance.

  28. Glenn Ansley (2 comments.) says:

    WordPress is not a thankless community. My plugin posts (10 on my website) are all stacked full of compliments and thank-yous. WordPress is a user driven community. My drive to contribute does not come from monetary gain. It comes from the thrill of contributing and the challenge of contributing well.

    I can see where the error in thought comes from though: It would be easy to consider my clients ungrateful and even worthless if they didn’t pay me for my work. I must always remember who I am coding for on each project: Is this for the community, or for a client?

    As a plugin developer, I stand by the clients that use my plugins. They are very appreciative. I offer it to them free and I don’t think twice when they take it for free.

    If you want to pay me to extend a plugin or create a new one, I will most certainly put on my business hat and start negotiating… but at that point I am interacting with you in a business deal rather than ‘contributing to the community’.

    As a WP plugin dev, I do two things: I contribute to a thankful community as I have time and I do business with a paying client when they come around… but I have different expectations for each type of interaction.

    • Kerry Webster (12 comments.) says:

      @Glenn – exactly my sentiments. I create plugins for a) myself and b) my paying clients. If I release a plugin to the community, I am not expecting anything from the community. If I get a thank you or a nice comment it brings a sense of satisfaction but I don’t create based on the comments of a GPL community. I will in fact try to fix a bug or issue with my plugin based on feedback whether done in a nice tone or an aggressive tone. If the issue is valid it is fixed. If it is just a blowhard, who cares. They have the issue. I believe all-in-all the community is thankful. The community wants quality work and the community deserves it. Not everyone has the same skillset. That is the beauty of GPL. Take the bad code and make it good. If you don’t code, ask nicely for a fix. If it doesn’t come hire a developer.

    • Carson (46 comments.) says:

      Well said, Glenn.

  29. Brett (1 comments.) says:

    I have always donated at least $5 to the really useful plugins and have always visted there websites and if they have comments I most likely do thank them, people have the mentality that it’s there right to use someones hard work and not be grateful don’t have any idea what it takes to upkeep a plugin and seem to be interested in there own gain.

    Thank YOU! for bringing this to peoples attention.

    Which reminds me I have to say thank you the people who make the theme I am using at the moment until I get time to make a new one.

  30. maui (1 comments.) says:

    Wow. I was expecting to read this article and find a twist to the title, but no.
    I guess I have always been extremely appreciative of the blugins, themes and support that I receive from WordPress, WP plugin authors and fellow WordPress users. Without them the benefits of WP and web development (in my world) would shatter.

    I always donate and give thanks to plugin authors who save me time and deliver great work. When I don’t is when I find flaws or the plugin just wasn’t right for what I needed.

    I think the point is that most WP users have no clue to the amount of work and skill that goes into development.

    To all you guys out there that do this work for such small returns, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  31. Miroslav Glavic (27 comments.) says:

    I have said thanks to authors of themes/pluings

    Just because someone DOESN’T donate to the authors, doesn’t mean they are not thankful.

    Anyways, there are two kind of plugin/themes authors: (A) They do it for the money (B) They do it for the passion/love of WordPress.

    I will now e-mail the authors of the new plugins and thank them.

  32. Chris (1 comments.) says:

    I think a lot of the plug-in developers could start charging for their work, just like shareware used to work. The plug-in would work for 7 or 14 days and after that, pay $5 or $10 to use the plug-in for as long as the developer wishes to maintain it. I think it’s great everything having to do with WordPress is free right now, but everyone needs to make money and most of us are willing to pay a fair fee for a good piece of software.

  33. Watch ABDC (1 comments.) says:

    This happens with anything provided for free. People always want it better and faster and they want you to fix every little problem they have with something.

  34. Venkat (2 comments.) says:

    Related thought:

    This problem itself seems like it is ripe for solution via plugin :)

    Anybody up for writing a plugin that pulls a list of active plugins and their home links (presumably containing their donate buttons) and shows them on a special page titled “Technical Credits” or something?

    I can think of a bunch of other ideas…but I’d have to get pub releases to talk about them :)

  35. Steupz (2 comments.) says:

    Nice article.
    I haven’t donated, primarily because living abroad, I reside on a country that did not have access to Paypal. But I recently discovered this is no longer the case and I have signed up to Paypal.

    I will surely now donate to two or three plugin authors.

  36. zac (1 comments.) says:

    I love wordpress, thanks to all its authors! woo!

  37. Carlos Correza says:

    I’m quite thankful for wordpress itself and the few plugins I use. I do try to run my installation as lean as possible so I really only rely on use akismet and xml sitemaps. I m thankful for both of those.

    As for the community being thankless, I’d have to say that the community, if you can still call it that, has to a large degree been weakened by some “premium’ or commercially supported theme developers. Its hard to be really thankful when the most prominent figures in a given community are essentially privateers. There are a select handful of such people who have given something back to the WP community so I can’t begrudge them making a profit from their code, but there comes a certain price point at which I have a hard time justifying paid accessories to a free platform. I’m not a professional blogger. I do it because I enjoy it. I don’t earn enough ad-revenue to even pay for my own hosting. I like money. Hell I love money, but blogging should be enjoyable.

    I understand good code and SEO, but I also understand the simple fun of sharing ideas and experiences with others. Thats why I blog and I’m generally thankful to people who help make that a more enjoyable experience.

    I remember just a few years ago that literally everyone and his brother was making a wordpress theme. Some of these themes were absolutely horrid when you consider the quality of the code, but people were having fun and expressing themselves. Maybe this community still exists, but I can’t see it anymore. Now the community I see (thanks mostly to twitter) is a groups of people arguing about GPL as it applies to their code. I’m not thankful for that. It totally ruins the wordpress experience for me.

    I don’t really enjoy blogs about SEO. I do enjoy seeing photos from someone’s African safari. I don’t see a lot of people arguing over ASO (African Safari optimization). Thank you to people who make free plug-ins to display photo albums. Boo to people who criticize family photo albums for not having good SEO.

    When somebody solved a problem I had; with a clever bit of code, I was thankful. I would at least comment on their site or exchange email.
    So… not to sound ungrateful or invoke the ire of some people I respect,
    I’ll thank some people here.

    Thanks to Darren Hoyt for teaching me how to use template tags to build a ‘magazine’ style layout with mimbo.

    Thanks to Chris Pearson for teaching me to save customizations outside the core theme so they are not lost during an upgrade with Cutline.

    Thank you Binary Moon. Thank you Binary Bonzai.

    Thank to Matt and everyone who develops wordpress.

    • gestroud (2 comments.) says:

      “I don’t really enjoy blogs about SEO. I do enjoy seeing photos from someone’s African safari. I don’t see a lot of people arguing over ASO (African Safari optimization).”

      Amen

  38. Derek (3 comments.) says:

    The topic of this post is one of the main reasons why I have not released any new themes in quite some time. I enjoy sharing / helping the community, but the number of individuals emailing in for support or customizations that they feel they deserve or should have been baked in from the beginning is too much. I understand these individuals only make up a small percentage of a very large community, but their words are the most difficult to look past. Even worst are the responses I have received after replying to a customization request with a link to a tutorial or how-to. Why do you think you deserve fee-free customizations when you’re not even willing to try it out yourself first?

    My view of "premium" release type work has completely changed b/c of this.

  39. Ryan Rampersad (9 comments.) says:

    I didn’t read all of the comments but I remember “Thank a Plugin Developer Day” and I went through my list of plugins and thanked everyone who had a contact form/email address that was reasonably easy to find.
    I really do think saying “Thanks” is great, I can’t donate right now but I will blog about plugins and I will say “thank you” in the very least.

  40. Bob says:

    I think this is a two way street that seems to have been missed.

    The vast majority of WordPress plugins are released as Open Source – all those in the plugin directory on wordpress.org are. It would seem that these plugin developers have missed the boat on the Open Source philosophy. You don’t release your software as Open Source because you want glory, or because you’re looking for cash. You release it as Open Source because you believe software should be free and unencumbered.

    I find it odd that people think they can release something, and in doing so, encourage people to use it, without having people want it to work right. When you put out a plugin, you should expect that if it crashes or otherwise breaks someone’s site, you’re going to hear about it. You put it out there, knowing that people who can’t code were going to use it, and you told them it was safe to use.

    Licenses, warranties, and notices you know nobody is ever going to read be damned, if you put it in the repo, you’re telling people it’s safe to use, and you should expect that when there’s a problem, they’re going to expect you to fix it. If you don’t want to support your plugin, don’t put it out there. Unsupported software is far worse than no software at all – software that doesn’t exist can’t break things and leave you in the lurch for fixing them.

    If your plugin actually does work, and works well, you’re going to get feature requests. Be flattered. That means someone likes your work enough to a) use it, and b) want it to work even better. If you can’t be bothered to add new features to a good plugin, turn it over to someone who will. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

    The real sense of entitlement here is from the developers, and it’s pandemic in software development. Being able to code doesn’t make you special. It doesn’t make you superior. And it most certainly doesn’t give you a license to act like a raging jackass to your users. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your plugin does – it isn’t needed. There are tens of thousands of other coders out there who can write the exact same thing – if you don’t, they will. Look at Mr. WordPress himself, Matt Mullenweg: Akismet is very popular, but if he pulls it tomorrow, the WordPress world will hardly be left at the mercy of spammers. There are a thousand other anti-spam plugins out there, and people will use them instead.

    More than a few developers are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to thanks or donations – they plaster their plugin pages with huge notices about how hard they work and how much they ought to be paid for it, with PayPal buttons that take up more space than the plugin’s settings. They also force promotion links into people’s pages, with no regard for the fact that someone worked very hard to create the aesthetically pleasing site that they just ruined with a gigantic unformatted ad for their plugin. Even worse are the ones with “YOU MAY NOT REMOVE THIS” notices – obviously they missed the part of Open Source licensing where people get to change your code. Attribution goes in the source, not on the main page.

    If you want to be paid for your plugins, then don’t Open Source them. Do like a lot of developers do and put a price tag on it – you’ll make something, at least until someone else comes along and releases one that does the same thing for free. Expect, however, that you’re going to get even more support requests – once someone’s coughed up $50 for a plugin that just broke their site, they’re going to want blood.

    I use plugins extensively, and I write them as well, both for myself and for my clientèle. I support my own plugins, both those that I write and those that I use – I don’t ask plugin authors for help, because I don’t expect to get it. If I can’t fix a plugin, I use a different one, or I write my own – I’m not going to spend a week going back and forth with some jackass who thinks he’s the Jesus Christ of PHP and that nobody else has a clue of what they’re doing. Perhaps if a few more people did the same, they’d learn to be happy someone is using their plugin rather than complaining that people expect them to work.

  41. Ted Szukalski (6 comments.) says:

    I use try before you buy principle. If a plugin works well and after a trial period I decide to keep it I do donate money.

    In some cases where a plugin had good idea but had some code I needed to improve I contributed that code back to the author.

    Plugin authors often come up with simple solutions which make our blogs sing. Big KUDOS to all of them.

    Well, almost.
    I have installed a plugin last week, which slowed down my WordPress a lot. I had a look “under the hood” only to discover this plugin emailed its author with information from my blog (in case of this plugin private information!). A lot more than “upgrade check” would require. I emailed the author – apparently that was “debug” code. Needless to say I will not use this plugin or any other plugin by that author.

    Pay your respects and dues but also be aware.

    • gestroud (2 comments.) says:

      Hopefully, that wasn’t a plugin that’s on the WordPress Plugin Repository.

  42. Aljiro (1 comments.) says:

    People should really start appreciating the authors.

    I personally thank the author of the plugins I really like. I hope you do too.

  43. Kerry Webster (12 comments.) says:

    One last thought on this topic. I have a download counter plugin on all of the theme and plugin download links on my site. When the counts start going up when I update or release a new plugin, that is all the thanks I need. Actually, I thank this site alot for that. I post the updates in the news section and I get alot of link response from their listing the components availability. Thankless community? I say no.

    THANK YOU WLTC!!!

  44. Chris MASSE (1 comments.) says:

    Hi,

    I wrote a reply:

    midasoracle.org/2009/07/10/wordpress-plugin-authors-should-not-ask-for-donations-but-sell-their-services-or-anything-else/

    Sorry for the long URL. :-D

    Chris Masse

    • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

      You are right. My GD Star Rating now has almost 100.000 downloads from WordPress.org, and as I said before, in the past year I got a lot of work based on my work with this (and other) plugins.

      It would be great to see some way for all plugin authors to benefit with help from WordPress.org. Recently we saw a commercial theme developers pag. Maybe this should be expanded to include plugins and offer development services. I am not sure how exactly, because there are a lot of active plugin developers, but maybe will someone else have some good idea.

      • Chris Masse (2 comments.) says:

        “It would be great to see some way for all plugin authors to benefit with help from WordPress.org.”

        I was thinking of a ad space for the plugin author business on the plugin page. After all, most people download the plugin from the WordPress plugin page, and don’t go seeing the plugin author website.

        Chris

        • Babs (37 comments.) says:

          I must be the odd duck because I love to visit the developers’ sites to see what other treats they might have.

  45. Neil Crump (1 comments.) says:

    Jeff – thanks for this post – it has prompted me to say thank you and has inspired a post on my own blog.

    Good call.

  46. Oren Yomtov (7 comments.) says:

    I have to agree with the “thank you” option.
    Even if it may seen to some of you that it’s a waste of time and plugins authors don’t care, they do.

    It really helps me keep developing plugins when I hear a thank you.

  47. Babs (37 comments.) says:

    I’m a piss poor webmistress. If I have extra cash I have no problem giving a donation. But for the most part my way of saying “thanks” is via promotion of the themes/plugins I use on my sites, giving them five stars at wordpress.org and recommending them to friends. If it’s something I really love (such as the “Hanging” theme I currently use on my personal blog or “Kaleidoscope”, which it replaced) its developer gets an email from me praising their work.

    You speak of the sense of entitlement that some users have. What about the developers? There are a couple of plugins that I refuse to use solely because their developers won’t support/improve them unless they receive donations.

    • Barry (33 comments.) says:

      That’s nice and all, but how many plugin authors religiously check the repository page to see how many stars they have? Hell, how many plugin authors know that their plugins are on there?

      • Oren Yomtov (7 comments.) says:

        Well everyone, because the author needs to ask wordpress to host his plugin, not the other way around.

        • Barry (33 comments.) says:

          Unless someone decides to add your plugin to the repository without asking you. They are GPL after all.

      • Babs (37 comments.) says:

        Well, given how many authors include “rate my plugin” among their preferred options to show appreciation, I’d say quite a few check their pages.

        And how would an author not know if their plugin is listed at the repository? Don’t they have to submit them?

        • Barry (33 comments.) says:

          If they are GPL then anyone can add the plugin to the repository, whether the plugin author wanted it there or not.

  48. zen (2 comments.) says:

    Great points.

    I’ve made 2 plugins for WP. Frankly, a “Thank You” means something to me but of course, less than donation. Donation always helps to keep free softwares alive.

    Anyway, I think soon I’ll make a post to thank all authors for the plugins I use and donate if I can afford.

    Nice post!

    • Carson (46 comments.) says:

      “Donation always helps to keep free softwares alive.”

      I’ll be kind and assume that statement was meant to be sarcastic.

  49. Gene (1 comments.) says:

    Hi Jeff,
    You make an extremely valid point. Plugin developers should be appreciated and valued.

    I had a thought. What if there were a “thank a developer” month. A $1 dontation is made to each theme or plugin developer for every plugin of theirs that we use on our site.

    $1 isn’t much but if most users contribute, it would be a nice gesture to show appreciation and I’m sure in some cases, the money would add up nicely.

    Your thoughts?
    Gene

    • Babs (37 comments.) says:

      I’d do it… so long as it occurred around tax season. That’s the only time I seem to have any extra cash. :D

  50. D Acree says:

    Is it possible that most of those who do not appreciate the work, just don’t understand the process? Let’s just call these ungrateful users clueless.

    I have been working with WP for less than 4 months and have already benefited greatly (yes, financially) from the work of dedicated plug-in developers. I donate. In fact, every time I think to myself, “Wow, what this thing does is so cool,” I jump back to the developer’s page and put in another $5.

    Encouragement is the mother of invention in this open source world. Instead of bitching about needing more functionality from a plug-in, why not hire the developer to do it for you and then make it available to the community? Feed innovation.

    If nothing else, be civil on the developer’s blog instead of ranting about it doesn’t work right in your environment. Be polite, be civil.

  51. blauereiter (1 comments.) says:

    Thank you for this very thoughtful post, its so true that many of us are taking for granted the services these plugin writers are doing for us, and I’ll be sure to remember the pointers you listed.

  52. Richard says:

    One thing I’ve noticed is that, although WordPress is open source and plugins and (most parts of) themes should be open source, the community doesn’t feel so much like an open source community. Symptoms of this are that plugin authors expect donations, and that plugin users very rarely contribute patches (changes) to improve plugins.

    I’m not sure why this is, but it’s quite noticeable when you compare it to communities such as Foswiki or MediaWiki, where a very wide range of people contribute both core code and plugins without any expectation of donations – just because they believe in open source.

    Perhaps that’s the real difference – WordPress people just want great code and plugins, and aren’t so into the open source ideals. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it might explain what’s going on.

    • Oren Yomtov (7 comments.) says:

      I think that the reason is that virtually any person can use and install wordpress. Because of that most of the community is just regular people and not coders.

    • quixote (1 comments.) says:

      I’m a wordpress user, and if my experience is typical, maybe that explains some of the attitude.

      I realize that the moderators at wordpress.org are not the fault of the plugin developers. But the trouble is that those guys (and I believe they are guys) poison the well for everyone. Somehow, someone needs to funnel it into their heads that rudeness wastes goodwill, volunteers, and money.

      Some examples:

      The first time I tried to get help on the forums at wordpress.org, one of the moderators told me to RTFM, only slightly more politely. (I had tried to RTM. That was obvious from my question.) That part wouldn’t have even annoyed me if this lordly mod could have been bothered to give me the link to the part of the FM that I hadn’t been able to find.

      Episode 2, about six months later, when I decided to give them another try. Mod said my post was in the wrong category, and deleted it. Did not tell me what the right category might be. Did not point me toward any possible answers. Nothing.

      Episode 3, a couple of days ago, which is two years after the previous: the forums are much more usable, but my and loads of other questions just sit there. There are no attempts at answers, or even commiseration. This is an improvement over my previous experience, but that’s not saying much.

      Result? I use wordpress because it’s a damn good piece of software — much improved by many excellent plugins! — but I’d switch in a heartbeat if there was something else with a more ubuntu-like community. I also don’t contribute, don’t report bugs, don’t answer questions, etc. (Although, I guess you could construe this comment as an attempt at feedback. ;) )

      On the other hand, I’ve contributed feedback and bug reports to OpenOffice (which also has snooty, but at least informative mods), and have spent hundreds of hours answering questions on the ubuntu forums.

  53. david (1 comments.) says:

    Thank you for this. I for one could not have provided the Shingirirai.org relief website without wordpress, the theme and the plugins. I have previous experience of being locked in with a commercial development provider and not a day goes by without my recognition of the value that the wordpress community provides. Appreciated, definitely and thanks once again for this reminder to look after what is here… if we all donated something, every time we used something it would make a difference.

  54. WordPress Max (1 comments.) says:

    I see this attitude a lot in the comments on my site. Although I don’t write plugins I do get some of the same sense of entitlement from some readers who complain that the free content on my site wasn’t exactly what they wanted.

    Then there are those that will actually send me all their login information and expect me to “fix” their WordPress blogs for free. The last one did say he would pay me a small fee if it took a lot of my time.

    Face it we are living in the era of this type of redistribution attitude and as long as the producers let them take they will continue to want and expect more.

  55. Kjetil (7 comments.) says:

    I’ve sent over $5-40 to several authors – first because I believe its fair, but later also because its rewarding:
    I get in touch with the authors. This is great: It is interesting, it often gives answers to my questions (support) and some times they’ve even adjusted/updated their plugins just for me (or I like to think of it that way).
    I could add in a lot more around this, but maybe the best is that some appreciation keeps the good work going on – and its nice getting a thanks back for my appreciation. That never fails.
    I could never keep our Italy site running without about 40 of you good guys, so keep up your good work!
    Kjetil

  56. Brent (1 comments.) says:

    Yea…

    I was wondering about this. I need to step up my game. I use a lot of plug ins and widgets, etc. and I have only donated a small amount. If we want to keep the spirit of free enterprise we ought to show some more support. Thanks for posting…

    Brent

  57. Brian Meagher (8 comments.) says:

    I think if ALL Plugin developers were to charge a MINIMUM of $1 per download (iTunes??), it would be a start.

    I usually look at the Downloads Per Day stats, and a minimal donation of $1 would be a great kick-start for these talented folks. And, at best, it would help the lazy folks like me, to cough up a buck. Jeeze! A Dollar!

    Additionally, a prominent link such as “If You Think This Plugin is Worth More Than $1… Click Here” might foster a greater number of contributions to said author.

    Brian

    • donnacha | WordSkill (12 comments.) says:

      Yeah, a dollar – that’s a days pay for some people in this world.

      One of the key points of the Open Source movement, and it is something that is a risk of being lost in this mad rush towards commercializing the WordPress eco-system, we are meant to be working together to lift up all humanity, not just privileged Westerners.

      IF A PLUGIN IS WORTH A DOLLAR, surely we should be sending hundreds to the folks who contributed to the WordPress core?

      … but they would laugh, possibly even be insulted, because their efforts are about something much bigger than grubbing a few lousy tips.

      Thank plugin authors, link to them, credit them, try to be helpful on their forums, install WordPress for a neighbor. If they request donations, sure, buy them a beer, but don’t forget that this project used to be about something higher, and certainly don’t criticize other users who either cannot or don’t want to donate.

      • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

        Well said man. I think that captures the essence of the entire post

      • Barry (33 comments.) says:

        I don’t like donations per se. Never really have, it always seemed like begging to me, so I’ve never really put a donation button on my site(I had a buy me a coffee a few years ago, it stayed on for 2 days) or any of the plugins I’ve developed (except one which was developed to specifically to raise money for charity – it never got any though).

        But a “thanks thats saved me a lot of work”, or a “cool have a look at how I’m using your code on my site” cheers me up no end and makes me feel like all the hard work that went into developing and testing the code was worth it.

        Receiving no comments at all, even though I can see the download count going up, makes me wonder if it’s working on others sites, or if it’s actually useful to people. If I don’t get any feedback, good or bad, then I’m less inclined to spend any time updating or improving it as its worth (in my eyes) is diminished. I’ll move on to something else instead.

  58. LaVonne (1 comments.) says:

    Oh, wow, I feel so guilty. I’ve donated a few times, but only a few. And I never take the time to say thank you. That’s all going to change now. Thanks for the kick in the butt. :)

  59. chrys (1 comments.) says:

    Don’t use plug ins very often other than “theme switcher” Used to make it a point to thank people for themes, haven’t lately?! Hmmm

    Than again, I always leave the “credits” in the footer or whereever the developer wants it to be. Noticed some people not even doing that much.

    I also feel that it is not the developer’s task to “hold our hands” while we stumble through their generous donation to the internet world. People need to take the time to solve their own understanding of these gifts – they have already had 80% of the problem solved for them.

    People don’t want to express thanks until they have the “gift” up and running some place. Then, unless the source code shows the givers link – we all get lazy and neglectful. Maybe if the “powers that be” would put a rating click after each new “gift” – at least we could click a scale and so admiration level could be known and counted?

    Comment areas are all different and located differently. Someone expecting “free handouts” is also likely to be someone too lazy to make much of a “thank you” effort.

    IF someone wants help other than the obvious or an actual error in the offering itself – Developers should charge for this time or state up-front that they do not have the time to handle inquiries.

    Guess I should use plug-ins more often along with the wonderful themes I’ve been lifting for nearly four years now!

    THANKS DEVELOPERS FOR BEING THERE!!! May your generous offerings create “paying” business for you.

  60. gestroud (2 comments.) says:

    Whenever a new plugin or theme comes out, I usually visit the author’s site to see the plugin/theme in action. If I like it or find it potentially useful, I usually click on one of the site’s Google ads, if ad are displayed and of interest after my download is finished. I know it’s not much, but it is a gesture.

    • Raj (2 comments.) says:

      That’s downright unethical. It’s robbing the advertiser to pay the developer (read rob peter and pay paul).

  61. Iulian (1 comments.) says:

    I’m using around 20 WordPress plugins which are great, gets the job done very well. I guess we’re kinda’ taking these awesome plugins for granted. It’s a bit weird situation since most of the WordPress blogs don’t generate any income, they don’t feel like donating, supporting WordPress plugins authors, even though the fact that a blog doesn’t generate an income doesn’t mean a plugin doesn’t do its job. This article really made me think about it. I’ll try now to donate and show gratitude to the WordPress plugins authors.

  62. EMG says:

    Money is tight for a lot of us lately, but there ARE other ways to ‘give back to the people who have helped and continue to help WordPress be all that it is lately.

    Like you said, a heartfelt, “Thank you!” can go a long long way, but so can spending some time each day in the WordPress.com or WordPress.org Support Forums (or in other support forums) providing support to other WP users.

    Also, if you want to show support to a specific dev or specific devs, but don’t have much in the way of funds, go and add a text-widget block to your WP site or three and post a shoutout to the lucky dev(s) who helped make your WP possible.

    For myself as I typically utilize only a few custom plugins (I’m not much of a complicated user I guess?) and have little to no difficulty with theming, I don’t really have a huge list of specific people to thank for specifically helping me, but even so, I DO say thank you by volunteering time in the Support forums, dropping donations into the accounts of devs whose services I have found use for, writing comments of encouragement and thank yous, and doing link backs.

    Which reminds me: Another way to say thank you besides putting a shoutout in the sidebar is to write a post dedicated to the theme designer or plugin developer or whoever and give them a link.

    Also, if themes and plugins (like my secure php contact form plugin) come with link-backs to the developers, PLEASE LEAVE THEM IN! In fact, I would encourage you to bold the link, add a little banner, and make sure people can see it.

  63. Harald Walker (1 comments.) says:

    I think it is like that everywhere (including the offline world). Most people only consume, don’t share, don’t contribute and don’t even say ‘thank you’ or give a little contribution. It has been like that as long as I remember and only got worse since the internet became mainstream. Doesn’t seem to be different in the WordPress world.

  64. Developerholicde (1 comments.) says:

    I’m kind of guilty with this. I have never donated on any WP plugin that I used :(

  65. Jef (1 comments.) says:

    You hit a nerve with that post huh? That’s a lot of comments. However, I think you did wake up some people so lets see what happens.

  66. Rob (1 comments.) says:

    How about a “WordPress Donations Day” where we all donate to our plugin authors!

  67. Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

    Awesome comments all the way around. It definitely looks like this is an issue the community of end users and developers take to heart and that is a good thing. The problem I see is that too many people in the comments here focused on the monetary aspects of the entire issue and that is not the point I was trying to make. It’s not about the money or about a bunch of developers complaining that they are not getting any donations. It’s about respecting and embracing those who give. I think I should write a follow up post as there are a number of comments I’d like to put in the limelight that I think capture the essence of what I was trying to get across.

    • Patrick (11 comments.) says:

      Jeff,

      This was a very thought-inspiring post, but I must point out that some of the comments from the plugin/theme developers themselves say nothing about how many times they’ve been thanked, but focus solely on how much income they’ve derived from their “free” plugin.

      So it’s not just the end users who are capable of focusing only on the greenbax. If the money issue wasn’t important to them, they wouldn’t mention cash at all.

      To be honest, I’ve never donated a single buck to any developer at all. Part of that is an old-fashioned fear of exactly what kind of money transfer arrangement is there; I’m still not tech-savvy enough, in this day and age, to trust even Paypal 100%, particularly when I’m on the website of someone who’s apparently ultra tech-savvy.

      Beyond that, in this economy, I don’t have a lot of extra cash to be handing out. There was quite a bit of soul-searching on my part just over renewing my web domain.

      And one of WordPress’s selling points is that it’s free to begin with: we pay for our domain, and we looked for something that wouldn’t cost us any more than that. We were setting ourselves up right from the start to hunt down things that don’t cost us one red cent.

      You’re quite right that thank you’s are free, and I intend to go into my blog’s dashboard and track down who wrote what and at least offer those. I’m glad you made me think about that part.

      But as disheartening as it may be to developers who offer something for free and find that people are taking it for free, it’s disheartening to end users to read a developer say that since people took what they offered for free actually FOR FREE, they’re not interested in making anything free again. Some of us are left to wonder what they honestly expected. Ours is, unfortunately, a thankless society as a whole. I’m not excusing that, but it shouldn’t really be a surprise, should it?

      Spend a day in retail answering phones: even the slightest complaint gets an angry phone call. The only acknowledgment good service ever gets is when the same customer keeps shopping there.

      Maybe this, to a bigger extent than a buck donation here or a thank you there, is something a developer should be considering: how many end users who actually downloaded their product actually was pleased enough with it and found it compatible with their theme and their blog’s style to KEEP using it? That ought to say something, too.

      • Jeff says:

        To be honest, I’ve never donated a single buck to any developer at all. Part of that is an old-fashioned fear of exactly what kind of money transfer arrangement is there; I’m still not tech-savvy enough, in this day and age, to trust even Paypal 100%, particularly when I’m on the website of someone who’s apparently ultra tech-savvy.

        Are you friggin’ serious?!?

        If you seriously are that paranoid, then I suggest you turn off your computer, unplug it from the wall, disconnect your internet, and throw your PC in the garbage!

        I hate to sound obnoxious, but if you can’t even trust PayPal (which by the way, is by far the SAFEST payment system on the internet) then why are you even on the internet?

        I mean, if you can’t trust a site which is encrypted out the yin-yang, then your measly internet connection should scare the living daylights out of you!

        Watch out… Mr. Hacker is gonna steal your identity!

  68. Shabu Anower (2 comments.) says:

    Jeff, it’s not just plugins, many theme provider have the same issue. People asking only for support but they never donate a single bucks.

    I’ve released a premium theme as free in February 2008, I thought I’ll get a good amount of donations. After one and half year of release date, donation amount is so far $40 USD! While download count is 24528 and increasing everyday!

    But I’m pretty sure that, If I sell it then I could make $2000+ from my theme.

    Now I lost my interest on releasing free theme.

    BTW, I’ve donated some bucks for my favorite plugins, not huge but I did :)

  69. Donna Barstow (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve started 3 blogs on WordPress, and even though I hack and change stuff everywhere on each blog, on the very first Hello World post for my latest I gave thanks to the designer, Dansette!

    I agree so much – even though half the time I’m p-od at no responses on the Forum, the coders and developers who put all these fun things together deserve total thanks.

    Good post.

  70. Shane - Inspiring Your Success (1 comments.) says:

    I have realised today that I rarely say thank you for wordpress stuff. So thank you for writing this and I shall make sure to thank all the people that have contributed to how my blogs are made.

  71. Michael (1 comments.) says:

    Great post, and a great reminder that we should all find ways to contribute, even a little.

  72. ravi (1 comments.) says:

    eye opener. thanks. will convey my thanks and
    start donating

  73. Rhonda Johnson (1 comments.) says:

    I realize that I’m jumping into the conversation late in the game but I’ve been pondering this very subject for a while. I bought my very first domain name a year ago and I researched blog platforms and settled on WordPress because of its community. I love the WordPress Community. I love plug-in developers and theme developers and all the people who make WordPress what it is and I am not thankless.

    I have spent the last year learning about WP and figuring out exactly how I want to use it. In the course of a year I have probably downloaded and tried at least a hundred different plug-ins. Honestly, most of those that I have downloaded were not what I expected or needed or I couldn’t get them to work and occasionally I have been turned off by the authors whining about having to work for free so I just dropped them. I have read other comments here by people saying something similar to my experience. If I haven’t said thank you to the authors of plug-ins I’ve tried maybe it’s too soon to know if I’m thankful yet. I haven’t started making money yet.

    I’m still in the trial and error stage of blog development. It may be another year before I have figured out what combination of theme and plug-ins will work for me but once I have that figured out it would be nice to have some means to revenue share with the theme and plug-in developers that I do use. The whole donation thing turns me off. I like the idea of revenue sharing of what I actually do make.

    In the course of searching for a plug-in for another purpose recently, I stumbled on this plug-in, http://www.maiq.info/work/word.....e-sharing/, which, if I understand the concept correctly, allows a site with multiple authors to have multiple different Adsense tracking codes so that each author gets part of the revenue. If someone would develop a plug-in that would allow me to share a certain percentage of my ad space with the plug-in and theme developers that help make my blog(s) successful, I would totally do it.

    I would like to be able to decide on a case by case basis whether to include a plug-in or theme developer (bloggers too if I ever get successful enough to invite other bloggers) and a way to rank them so that a plug-in that makes a huge improvement can actually be weighted to receive more of my ad space. It would also be nice if those included could have the option to include their own ad instead of Adsense or Google or whatever. Flexibility would be a big plus.

    I know that I would be thrilled to share my ad space with those that help my blog become successful by use of their themes, plug-ins etc. In the mean time, thank you to all of the wonderful developers out there that make WordPress the incredible tool that it is!

  74. denzel chia (7 comments.) says:

    I have had users asking for a plugin modification, so that they can use for their commercial sites. Some promised a small donation after completion, but i have received none.

    There was once I received a comment saying that my plugin looks cheesy. I felt very sad and insulted, but can only delete the comment and ban his IP.

    Fortunately, there are some genuine thank yous and I appreciate it very much.

    Anyway I am putting up my donation link again. :)

  75. Brian Meagher (8 comments.) says:

    How much of One Dollar does PayPal keep?
    I’d like the recipient to get the full Dollar.

    • Raj (1 comments.) says:

      PayPal keeps nothing, the developer gets the entire $1.

      • Josh (4 comments.) says:

        Unfortunately, you’re mistaken.

        I’ve had donations of $1 where paypal took a fee of $.32

  76. wondering out loud says:

    You know there is nothing to complain about here. If you’re a community you are a community but if you want to make money you create value through scarcity via putting a price on your product. The web is a money dud and for most people it’s not worth the time and effort we put into it. That is part of the territory.

    If you’re going to give money to people give it to a charity not to people who offer freebies and complain about it being free.

    Developers here is some advice, develop a paid product, charge a buck, charge 10 bucks, start a business but without money you will eventually find that you run out of food and shelter so really complaining about not making money off of your hobby or complaining that strangers don’t hunt you down to thank you for your work is pretty rich, how many people thank you for doing your job everyday?

    Nice article, nice sentiment but really it’s a non-issue. Free is free and the day you track down the guy who put together your computer desk at the factory and thank him for busting his ass all day for a low wage I’ll be impressed. :-)

    • Raj (2 comments.) says:

      WordPress plugins cannot be made paid. Plugins are derived software. Under wordpress’ license you cannot sell them.

      • Josh (4 comments.) says:

        Actually plugins can be sold. There are only certain portions that have to be covered under the GPL that WP uses.

        Many plugins are sold around the web already.

  77. Josh (4 comments.) says:

    I’ve written a plugin that’s become *somewhat* popular and I see plenty of thanks in the form of “hey thanks dude”… I don’t see much monetary compensation for my efforts, in fact, I would estimate that I have made roughly $.01 cent for each download of the plugin.

    I’m not entirely in it for the money, otherwise I wouldn’t be developing for an opensource project.

    On the flip side however, I’ve seen my fair share of downright hateful remarks/comments/emails regarding my plugin as well… It seems as though there’s never a shortage of rude people who love to do nothing more than bash your work if it’s not absolutely perfect.

    Plugins, themes, hell, even wordpress itself is bound to have bugs… Yet there are always going to be people who show little or no respect for the fact that you’re doing your best to make sure that your project works for everyone.

    I get around 200 emails/comments per week asking for help, and out of those 200 I may get thanked 95 times.

    I wouldn’t say WP is a thankless community, but rather, one that some of it’s users might need to take a few lessons in common courtesy.

  78. David says:

    I’d suggest including a thank you and / or a donate button on the official plugin pages @ wp.org

  79. Vladimir (2 comments.) says:

    There is other side of the problem. In some cases pursuit of plugin developers for the donation and advertisement income takes aggressive form, e.g. All In One SEO Options page design. It moves GPL and free declared plugin software into adware category. I prefer to use the alternative desicion (thanks the authours that real alternative still exists) then use such plugins.

  80. Will (1 comments.) says:

    “I don’t know about you, but I certainly would not like to be part of a community that is known as thankless.”

    Oddly, some people do, which explains the existence of the Debian community :) I always try to thank plugin authors when I get the chance. I’ve donated in the past, but I regret that I haven’t donated more.

  81. redmounts says:

    yeah, I agree it’s sort of a thankless community. But I also think it’s due to the nature of WordPress.org site:
    you don’t connect with each other over there, just access, download what you’re looking for and that’s it. IMO, WP forum (where a lot of people get informed about plugins and widgets) needs more moderators, in order to make one feel “part of” something. A lot of questions submitted by newbies just die in silence for years there. It if funny see that WordPress team does wonderful things to people building their own sites but their very one lacks a lot of these “wonderful things”. Make WP users feel they owe something to WP and I am sure people will start donating, and saying “thanks”.

  82. kwatog (1 comments.) says:

    Though it is true that a simple Thank You will go a long way, I also believe that it is not enough. So I guess a post and/or link for the plugin is a good and welcome added gesture. That’s what I also try to do ’cause I’m too broke to donate. :)

    Actually, I made a couple of plugins for my own sites but never released them as I know that I cannot provide support. Besides, I found plugins with similar functionality to some of my own plugins in wordpress plugin directory.

  83. Ed Cantarella (3 comments.) says:

    I think some of the “entitlement” issue goes both ways – some plug-in developers make a fee-bee, then a premium version. hey suck you into the premium, then will not even address small quirks or obvious tweaks that need to be made. I recently offered to PAY a small developer of a relatively good plugin to make a small tweak for me. Couldn’t even get them to take the bait.

    Many code away in oblivion. mny create some really bad code. I’ve always been a bit sceptical of open-source payment methodology. Only in programs, platforms and plugins that are extremely highly supported can charge for extensions and upgrades. Like any other business it takes marketshare to generate the money to keep marketshare. The Woo Commerce guys have the get paid part down pat. LOL!


Tweetbacks

  1. wptavern (wptavern) (1 comments.) says:

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  2. conorpegypt (Conorp) (1 comments.) says:

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  4. wpmuguru (Ron R) (1 comments.) says:

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  6. webthreads (Web Threads) (1 comments.) says:

    RT @andrea_r: .. RT @wptavern: Is WordPress A Thankless Community? – http://tinyurl.com/mulmg2 (common issue in many open source apps, sad)

  7. boonebgorges (Boone B. Gorges) (1 comments.) says:

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  8. Is WordPress A Thankless Community? | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/mulmg2 (via @wptavern)

  9. MatthewShepherd (MatthewShepherd) (1 comments.) says:

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  10. mkgold (Matt Gold) (1 comments.) says:

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] influence me putting this together. Will be interesting to see what conversation comes out of it. http://weblogtoolscollection.com/arc…ess-community/ WPTavern Twitter Account | Personal Blog | WordPress Weekly [...]

  2. [...] *anything* else. Written by Chris F. Masse on July 10, 2009 — Leave a Comment “Is WordPress A Thankless Community?“ – That’s a question asked by Jeff [...]

  3. [...] service? What really makes these guys sit and write poetry that many of us usurp with undue negligence? At first I thought it was just the fame and maybe tons of money. As my association with the world [...]

  4. [...] I read an interesting post today about WordPress plugin users being ungrateful. [...]

  5. [...] via Is WordPress A Thankless Community? | Weblog Tools Collection. [...]

  6. [...] This post about how there seems to be a lack of appreciation of open-source projects caught my eye. It’s a very interesting article full of equally interesting comments. [...]

  7. [...] I encourage others to do the same, even if it’s just a little- donate, say thank you, or contribute your own code. Is WordPress A Thankless Community? [...]

  8. [...] via Is WordPress A Thankless Community? | Weblog Tools Collection. [...]

  9. [...] Is WordPress A Thankless Community? | Weblog Tools Collection [...]

  10. [...] se sice v komunit? WordPressu moc ned?kuje, ale co se nakonec d?lo, i m? docela p?ekvapilo. Poukážu zde alespo? na komentá?e, které [...]

  11. [...] us to build their blogs or complete websites on this platform. Although, as Jeff pointed out that many developers feel the pain of not getting the appreciation for the plugins they provide to the community for free and even [...]

  12. [...] us to build their blogs or complete websites on this platform. Although, as Jeff pointed out that many developers feel the pain of not getting the appreciation for the plugins they provide to the community for free and even [...]

  13. [...] the Weblogtoolscollection.com site there’s an interesting post talking about something that should concern members of (or those considering becoming members of) [...]

  14. [...] gerade nocheinmal über das Thema bei Frank (gabs vor ein paar Tagen u.a. schon in Englisch: “Is WordPress a Thankless Community“) gestolpert bin, blogge ich nun doch [...]

  15. [...] few weeks ago I read with interest the post “Is WordPress A Thankless Community?” and my immediate reaction was “probably so, but no more than any other.” Then I [...]

  16. [...] it such a great tool for all of us.  There has been discussion over the years of ways in which we can express appreciation to the developers who freely offer up their code to the world to use (and all the hours put into [...]

  17. [...] want money for your work, then put a price tag on it. Unfortunately, I brought this issue up on a post I wrote for WeblogToolsCollection.com and most of the discussion surrounded the topic of money which was not the point of the article. [...]

  18. [...] Donate Friday Those of you who use twitter have heard of #followfriday. Donate Friday takes the idea and applies it to WordPress plugin authors and theme developres. Every Friday, pick up a WordPress contributor you love, and support him by donating (even a small amount of money!). Then tweet about it with the hashtag #donatefriday! As simple as that, so that it cannot be said anymore that WordPress community is thankless! [...]

  19. [...] in early July, I asked the question is WordPress a thankless community? Not surprisingly, this post struck a chord with both developers and end users. The point of the [...]

  20. [...] was inspired by this article to write a series of “gratitude posts” for WordPress plugins. In case you didn’t know, [...]

  21. [...] ago, I read a disturbing post called Is WordPress a Thankless Community?. The point is that we benefit a lot from free software but don’t contribute back in any way. [...]

  22. [...] was pretty much the basis behind one of the most popular posts written for WLTC asking whether WordPress Was A Thankless Community? What a great discussion that was had in the comments! Unfortunately, from my talks with various [...]

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