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Open-Source Motivations – What’s Yours?

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December 2nd, 2010
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WordPress Discussions

Alex King who’s been a fantastic member of the WordPress community since the creation of the project has published what I consider a fascinating post on his blog regarding his open-source motivations. The post contains his answers to questions provided by David Hobson who is currently performing research into the business/financial models as well as the motivations for open-source projects.

There are a number of things that come up during the article that are worthy of discussion.

I used to get about $100-200/month in the way of donations through my website. Unfortunately due to changes in the way plugins are presented on WordPress.org that has dried up to about $5/month.

While that quote may look like Alex King is looking to rake in some money via donations, the truth is, the Plugin pages have been redesigned and the donation link is now housed within the FYI box with a tiny blue link. If I remember correctly, the donation link used to be in a more visual location to the point where you couldn’t miss it. So I think Alex is on to something here.

Some plugin developers feel as though they have been screwed over thanks to this change and rightfully so but I have to question why it really bothers them. If those plugin developers were counting on those donations as a means of making a living, then there expectations were already off base. If you want to make a living, you better charge for support or for access to your plugin via an API key. If we eliminate that reason, what reason is left to be so upset at the redesign? Something else to keep in mind is that WordPress.org is not responsible for ensuring the success of your business, whatever that business may be. That’s up to you.

WordPress best practices evolve with each release, and plugins written properly just a few short years ago are badly outdated as a result. We’ve invested a significant about of money in this effort, and I honestly don’t expect to receive anything back from it.

Alex said a word that I think is at the crux of the situation most of the time and that is, EXPECTATION. If the expectation is to be a millionaire thanks to donations, you’re going to be disappointed and think the WordPress community sucks at giving. However, if you have the expectation that your plugin solves a problem that many other users are having and you’ll get nothing in return, well that’s a much better starting point.

David asked Alex a very interesting question that presented an equally interesting answer. David asked Alex if the thanks and appreciation go anywhere near compensating the constant e-mail asking for support? What inspires his desire to give without return?

I actually feel strongly that the current situation is unsustainable. Unless the WordPress community at large starts to better recognize and reward the developers that create the tools that they use and rely on, the developers won’t/can’t continue to provide as they have.

In talking with other plugin developers, it seems fairly universal that the reward for a successful plugin is a deluge of support email that includes the worst kind of sense of entitlement, rudeness and ignorance. The community as a whole seems to expect to be able to pay nothing, yet received expert and individual help and support for free.

Well, we have ThanksGiving where often times, fans of WordPress and the plugins they use are given thanks in a blog post with links and sometimes donations. January 28th is thank a plugin developer day although there was a lack of a blog post about it in 2010. Then there is the donation to your favorite plugin developer day (March 1st.) Last but not least, plugin authors received some cash during the run of Donate Friday that I participated in for a few weeks. All of these efforts with the exception of Matt declaring a new holiday were community driven.

I take a bit of personal issue with the fact that I participated in those programs voluntarily but I still have to somehow recognize and reward those developers. There are a large handful of developers where the best reward they could have is seeing users happily solving their problems with code they wrote. Sometimes, I wonder if plugin developers would be happy if I gave them my first-born or would they then request the second child as well? I completely understand that saying thank you does not pay the bills but come on! What do you want from me!?

I do agree with Alex regarding his sentiments on the deluge of support emails, the rudeness of people coupled with ignorance. What Alex mentioned 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 plugin authors, not much has changed since then.

I think the mentality that everything that is built on or around WordPress should be free because WordPress is free will quickly erode, especially since more and more commercial plugins are being created. My hope is that at some point, users can understand that support as well as upgrades are two of the most valuable assets to a plugin and that sometimes, they are most certainly worth paying for. I remember Matt being quoted as saying “The best things in life are free“. I have a hard time going along with that as some of the best things in my life I have ended up paying for, without regret.

In Closing:

Alex King doesn’t know the answer to the problem of rude, ignorant, just plain obnoxious people and I don’t either. Considering the vast user base that encompasses WordPress, is that particular problem even solvable? Should everyone that uses WordPress or any one of the plugins available for it be forced to go through some sort of ethics or politeness training? I bet many would love to see that idea come to fruition but it’s a pipe dream. I just don’t see how Matt Mullenweg or any other individual could solve this problem. Hell, I don’t even think the WordPress community itself can 100% solve the problem.

As I mentioned, Alex’s post provides a lot to chew on. In the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the questions and perplexing problems that were brought up throughout the post. I’m also interested in hearing from individuals that would like to explain what their motivations are for contributing to something like WordPress or open-source in general.

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46
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Comments

  1. David Artiss (7 comments.) says:

    I’ve created a good WordPress plugins (look for those by user dartiss!) and I’ve always done it for the satisfaction rather than any monetary reason.

    Which is a good job, as I’ve probably had over the last couple of years about $20 in donations. That would have been double but twice people have donated and then, at a later, time withdrawn the donation stating that they never meant to.

    I make more money from advertising on my site – unfortunately, although the donation link is now not so obvious, where’s the link to the authors page gone?

    I provide really good support – just look at the customer quotes on the “about” page of my site, yet often receive rude and, yes, ignorant comments and mails from people.

    I do wonder sometimes why I do it.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Have you ever been able to turn those rude emails or impolite people into paying clients? For every bad email that comes through, is that pushing you closer to your breaking point of just stopping development?

      • David Artiss (7 comments.) says:

        I’ve always tried, but have found that those who are rude will often not respond, even if I’ve gone out of my way still to assist.

        Only once has has one turned into an argument (via email) when I pointed out who rude he was being (whilst telling him I’d fixed his problem)!

        • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

          Out of curiosity, are you afraid to ignore those people? Practicing the golden rule of treat others the way you want to be treated. They treat you like crap so you crap on them.

          Or are you afraid of the PR backlash that could happen as a result?

          • David Artiss (7 comments.) says:

            Neither.

            Whether email or online comments, it’s hard to judge the true intent of someone. More than once on a forum a genuine comment of mine has been misinterpreted to be rude and/or threatening. That’s the nature of the quickly composed written word in comparison to face-to-face communication.

            I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. Besides, and as you say, maybe they can be “turned around”!

      • Ryan (55 comments.) says:

        I’ve turned quite a few rude emails into clients. It usually involves bending over backwards to help them though.

    • gestroud says:

      Good question. Why did WordPress remove the link to plugin developers’ sites, but leave the links for theme developers?

      • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

        I’m trying to find it but there was a pretty big thread on the WP Dev prologue site by Otto explaining the changes and where the author link went to.

        • Otto (215 comments.) says:

          Note: Plugin directory has been undergoing minor changes, but it is now undergoing a major overhaul. This will take a fair while to complete, but the redesign has begun. We have somebody who is fully dedicated to creating a new design (not me).

      • Otto (215 comments.) says:

        Because, as a plugin developer, you have the ability to put any links you want right into the main body of the plugin text. Those links will get read more and are more prominent. Put any links you like there.

        • gestroud says:

          I wish more plugin devs would take advantage of that. Seems like very few of them do. It’d be nice to be able to visit the the devs’ sites to possibly see the plugins in action and read any relevant comments about the plugin. But it still doesn’t really answer why the links were removed.

        • roy says:

          I don’t think this is a valid argument Otto, the theme developers can include a link in their templates too.

          I think it’s not very smart remove that links from the wp plugin repository.

          There is some hide politics of wordpress.org on this?

          • Otto (215 comments.) says:

            No, theme developers don’t have anything in their themes that gets auto-added to their entry in the theme directory. There is no equivalent of the readme.txt for themes.

            If you want links on your plugin page, then add them there yourself. Simple. Easy. No politics involved.

  2. Ipstenu (31 comments.) says:

    My name is on both Open Source and closed source proprietary software. For the most part, I write the closed source stuff because I’m hired to do so, and I write open source because it solves a problem I’m having, and I like to give back to the people who helped me earlier.

    There’s a lot I could blah blah blah about whys and donations and what not, but here’s the real part that made me laugh. I make pay-for fixes for other people’s software in my day job, and the people I support are just as “rude, ignorant, just plain obnoxious” who feel that because they paid for something, it gives them the right to dictate how we develop.

    I think the issue isn’t Open Source or freemium, but with the massive sense of entitlement in general. Cause this problem happens everywhere.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I agree, the sense of entitlement extends well beyond Open-Source, it’s everywhere especially in the U.S. as people think they are entitled to so much stuff from the Government.

      God I hope this doesn’t turn political!

      • Ipstenu (31 comments.) says:

        Oh don’t get us started on ‘free speech’ ;)

        But seriously, it’s like someone calling up Ford and telling them ‘I paid for this car, and I love it, but what I really need is a boat. So fix that.’

        Ford’ll just look at you like you’ve lost your flippin’ mind. This happens DAILY to me. Even though I give people a very simple, 3 page doc, saying ‘This is what you get out of the box. This is what I will help you on. This is what I will NOT help you on, unless you pay . This is what you don’t get, no matter how much you scream.’ I’ll still get calls ‘I’m using foobar, and it’s great, but I need it to do xyzzy as well, even though your doc says you don’t do that.’

        *headdesk* Repeatedly.

        (The fact that people in my own company pay my department ‘fees’ to ‘hire’ my time makes me feel like I’m playing one of those achievement games.)

        I’ve made more friends and contacts from my open source work than money, which I find FAR more valuable. I mean, I get people offering to help me find jobs and putting in a good word for me because of my connections in the Open Source world. THAT is worth more to me than any one $5 donation.

  3. Matt (27 comments.) says:

    If you think plugin authors get rude emails, imagine proportionally what I get in my inbox because of WordPress itself. (Not to mention countless legal threats and sometimes lawsuits.)

    But… what are you going to do? You can’t control what people email you, you can only control your reaction to it.

    My life has become measurably happier since I started a blocklist. When I get a rude or abusive email, I don’t bother trying to respond anymore, I just put that email in a folder that permanently blocks that person from ever showing up in my inbox again. (Like a spam filter, but for specific addresses.) All done! If I replied it would have made me annoyed and them probably more angry.

    When I receive earnest or polite emails, I either forward them on or answer them myself. Most of these people are quite lost and probably don’t even realize my role in WordPress when emailing me. But the gratitude expressed and knowing I made the world just a little bit better for a little tiny moment is worth more than a few dollars worth of donations. In fact if I could pay to have that feeling I would.

    Now my inbox no longer has control over my mood.

    I love making software that’s widely used. I love having an impact on people’s lives. I love learning from users and iteration based on that feedback. Those things are so positive, why let anyone distract you?

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Thanks for weighing in Matt. One thing that puzzles me is why so many plugin authors actually spend their time even responding to jerks. Sure, the plugin author wants to be nice to everyone but what’s the point?

    • David Artiss (7 comments.) says:

      I agree Matt.

      The blocklist is a good idea, but I find that I don’t usually hear from them again after the initial contact – but, yes, if it became I problem I would.

      “But the gratitude expressed and knowing I made the world just a little bit better for a little tiny moment is worth more than a few dollars worth of donations.”

      That’s exactly WHY I do keep going!

    • Ipstenu (31 comments.) says:

      Very true. I’m a huge proponent of blocking the asshats.

    • Todd Lahman (4 comments.) says:

      WordPress needs to support commercial plugin development for the benefit of the WordPress community, as much as it does free plugin development. Scratch that, because WordPress supports donations less now to support free plugin development. Rather, WordPress should help developers distribute their plugins in a manner consistent with enables them to reliably continue development, so fewer plugins end up in the plugin graveyard.

      A long time ago, in a software community not so far away, Bill Gates wrote a letter to the open source community, and the rest is history. Commercial development changed the world, and open source continued to change the world as well. Both can and should play together in the world of WordPress, but right now WordPress treats commercial plugins like a smoker that needs to stay on the outside looking in. Smoking might be bad for a person’s health, but a well-made commercial plugin can be a life saver when a free version isn’t available, or is no longer being developed.

    • gestroud says:

      I can vouch for that. Matt has personally emailed me on the few occasions that I had questions for him concerning WP.

  4. Eric (3 comments.) says:

    Most of my open-source projects started as private projects for my own site that I decided to drop into the community to help out someone else facing a similar issue. Development, for the most part, continues when I discover that I need/want a new feature. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered just how many people were using my systems (I had a development tool ship with a plug-in that pinged my website whenever it was installed … apparently I have a lot of users).

    But the occasional nasty support email is just frustrating. Or the rants on the WP.org forums about how feature X is missing or feature Y doesn’t work as expected and I must be a “crappy developer” because of it. Many times, people writing these messages feel entitled to software that “just works” and skip reading installation instructions, feature lists, or update warnings only to become frustrated when something that was supposed to break … breaks.

    In reality, this is partly our own fault. WordPress itself, in a majority of cases “just works.” Web hosts have one-click installs. We have one-click updates. We push security/maintenance updates immediately when we detect a problem (WP 3.0.2 came ~4 hours after the security hole was reported).

    So any expectation by end-users of a perfect plug-in comes from our reputation of working with a (near) perfect platform. It’s not a matter of the project being open source, it’s a matter of the project being high-profile.

    But my motivation in building plug-ins has always been and will continue to be to fix bugs, add features I think are missing, and make my own (and my clients’) sites work more effectively. I’ll give whatever code I can back to the community, but in the 3 years I’ve worked with WordPress I’ve received only $10 in community contributions. Any sense of financial ROI is completely outweighed by the fact that contributing to the development of WordPress just *feels good* at the end of the day.

  5. Ken (1 comments.) says:

    On thankfulness, Thanks from a developer who uses WordPress or it’s plugins could be in the form of patches or new plugins. Thanks from bloggers could be in the form of the publicity of a success on the platform. Any kind of member of the community can give back by simply being curious. I never feel obligated to give cash (I have very little), but I try to help in like kind.

  6. Otto (215 comments.) says:

    I get a *LOT* of support email for my plugins. Mostly for Simple Facebook Connect and Simple Twitter Connect. Despite all my best efforts, those plugins are not yet “Simple” enough. ;)

    And actually, I’d say that 85% of them are extremely over praiseworthy. They usually start by “Hey Otto, LOVE the plugins, they are awesome and you are awesome blah blah blah” which is fun to read and makes me feel better, but ultimately the user has a problem they need help with so I have to read through this stuff to get down to it.

    Honestly, most people are super-impressed that I respond at all. Apparently a lot of plugin devs have just gotten to the point of totally ignoring support emails.

    Because I do try to respond to everything, I get a lot of support emails. Probably around 30 a day that I see. So eventually I started sorting out the most common problems and created auto-responders for them. Now, if you happen to send me an email with certain keywords, you’ll get an automated response back with the solution. Looking through the archive, I see that this happens about 20 times a day. Normally I don’t see those, it’s automatic and archived. Most of those people don’t respond back, so I assume this tends to solve their problem. All of the auto-responses say “if this didn’t solve your problem, reply to this email and it will come through to me directly, without an automatic response”. I only get maybe 2 of those sort of replies a week.

    As for donations, I do get a fair amount of those. The amount varies from $50 to $200 a month. I don’t solicit money, and I always tell people who offer to pay me that I don’t take pay but I will try to help them for free as best I can. And then usually I see the biggest donations from people who have emailed me about a problem that I can help them with. It’s not uncommon for somebody to email me a problem, I email them the answer, and then they use the donation box (which says “Buy me a Beer”) to donate $20 or so. Most donations are $5, which is the default setting, but people very often type in amounts too. I don’t help people for the money though (which honestly doesn’t even come close to covering my beer costs ;) ), but because I can, and it’s fun, and I like doing it.

    And that’s what it comes down to really. I write plugins because I need them. I release plugins because I figure they might help somebody else. And I like to help others. Nothing more than that really. I probably could have made a living off it if I tried harder, but then that takes something fun I like to do in my spare time and turns it into work. I was never sure I wanted to do that.

    And then, of course, Matt hired me, so now I’m solving all sorts of different problems professionally anyway. Ah well. :)

    • Dre (1 comments.) says:

      Otto, I want to buy you beer for this comment :D

    • Brian Krogsgard (1 comments.) says:

      I can personally say that you’ve gone out of your way to answer questions of mine more than once… and I never actually asked you. I was quite surprised though… you just happened to stumble along, and that is awesome.

      None of you get enough credit. Free support is a double sided sword. It’s great for the end user, but not so good for longevity. I assume a lot of great contributors can’t sustain a commitment to free support in the long term because it can suck up so much time and end up falling by the wayside.

      Of course I feel like WordPress years are equivalent to dog years everything moves so darn fast.

  7. Dave Ross (csixty4) (1 comments.) says:

    I can’t add anything to the discussion, but I can certainly echo the comments above about support emails. I recently decided to stop offering personal support because there was just too much. In fact, I’m looking for freelancers and agencies to refer people to for (paid) support. Anyone who wants to be on my list please email Dave (at) davidmichaelross.com.

  8. Devin (2 comments.) says:

    There are a lot of side benefits to releasing themes and plugins that Alex didn’t touch on.

    I’d say the vast majority of comments and questions I get from users are positive. (190 comments on this theme I released): http://wptheming.com/2010/07/portfolio-theme/. Most start with “Thanks! I love your theme.”

    The questions users have tend to make me a better developer, and customization requests can turn into paid work. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to answer questions, but I think it’s a small payback for everyone who has helped me in the forums as I was learning.

    The majority of traffic to my site and incoming links comes from the free items I’ve released. If I was still freelancing, this would doubtless translate to better jobs and more clients. If my site had more ads, it could also translate to revenue.

    And all developers make mistakes. I’ve only learned PHP by reading other people’s themes, plugins and tutorials. By releasing something you get a lot of eyes on it to help you out. I’ve had much better developers than I update my code and e-mail it back to me, and even commit significant patches. This just happened two days ago with: http://wptheming.com/2010/11/t.....-panel-v2/ (read comments).

    I realize that my projects are small beans compared to many other free plugins/themes, and support requests go up as a project grows- but I wanted to throw my perspective out there. For me, it’s been an entirely positive experience.

  9. Edward Caissie (1 comments.) says:

    Although I have several plugins in Extend, the emails I receive for support are minimal; and every plugin I currently have in Extend was also written for a specific need I had then released to Extend as I too thought others might find them useful.

    I actually find most of the plugin ideas I am currently considering for development to be derived from issues and references I find within the WordPress community. If I am able to help sort out even one person’s issue then that is “payment” enough for me. If someone wants to “Buy me a coffee?” (as my donate button implies) then there’s more caffeine for the next round of coding … and everyone should know I appreciate a good cup of coffee :-D

  10. that girl again (41 comments.) says:

    Plugin developers just need to start charging for support. All of them. Not because it’s the only way of making money given wordpress.org’s restrictive practices, but because if you don’t value your own time, skills and effort you cannot expect anyone else to appreciate them. OK, people are going to be rude and ungrateful whatever you do, because that’s just how people are, but you can at least stop feeding their sense of entitlement.

    It’s lovely and altruistic to give away a plugin, but the community should learn that it’s unreasonable to demand free support on top of that. If you don’t have the time to field support requests or the inclination to turn them into your job, it is absolutely fine to ignore them. You made a free plugin, your job is done. Or do what wordpress itself did and set up forums so users can support each other without your intervention.

    • Pritam @ Specky Geek (3 comments.) says:

      The worst part is people often ask silly questions. They don’t try to apply their own brains. Hey! There’s an email address. Let’s use it. Bam!

  11. mccormicky (5 comments.) says:

    Rudeness, ignorance and a general feeling of entitlement from the plugin/ WordPress user base? Shocking but not surprising.

    Plugin authors might offer their work out of an Open Source spirit and likewise help people for free and maybe often thanklessly but they are better people than their user base.

    Those rude users are not operating out of an Open Source spirit,
    have nothing to give of equal intellectual value in return and if they feel entitled enough to demand help as if the author owed them something they aren’t likely to donate to the author. It wouldn’t even occur to them to do so because in their minds the author owes them something,free help, more free plugins, not the other way around.

  12. Stephanie Leary (1 comments.) says:

    Of COURSE I didn’t get into plugin development to make money. Anyone who wants to make money off a plugin should go commercial with it; expecting donations is a losing game. I wrote my plugins in the first place because I encountered problems that I needed to solve, and I know that if I have a problem, someone else does too. I’d love to help out that unknown person. I hate watching people reinvent the wheel. I’m thrilled when I get a comment from someone whose life is a little easier because of something I wrote. I was certainly not counting on donations to make a living! (I’d be homeless.) In fact, I never expected to get any donations at all, and I was shocked when I got my first one.

    Instead, for me, the donations went a long way to offset the frustration of dealing with the rude and the entitled. You’ll never see those people by looking at my plugins’ comment threads, though. The people who post there are the ones who are doing it right. By and large, they are courteous, well-informed, and very appreciative. It’s the ones who don’t use the comment threads who drive me crazy. Some of them are so persistent that I can’t ignore them. They use the contact form on my website to contact me personally rather than using the comment threads or the support forum. They friend me on Facebook (which I reserve for people I actually know). They @-reply me on Twitter. They will keep contacting me by whatever means possible until they get some kind of response. (To be clear, I don’t actually mind being contacted by any of those methods, as long as the person isn’t abusive.) Plus, as David Artiss pointed out upthread, you can’t always tell right away who’s really an asshat and who’s just someone with poor social or writing skills. I’ve gone into more than one support discussion thinking I was dealing with an asshat, only to find that the person turned polite and provided helpful debugging info once they’d vented their initial frustration… and hey, I can sympathize with that. Sometimes, all you really need is for someone to acknowledge that there’s a problem and that someone is working on it.

    That’s exactly what’s happened with the plugin pages on wordpress.org. The changes to the plugin page design that were made over the summer irritated me for several reasons, all of which have been discussed (by others) more than once on the WP development blog, in IRC, and (IIRC) on the wp-hackers list. The donation link is actually the least of my concerns, since it’s still there, while the plugin and author home page links were removed. Yes, as Otto points out, we can put links anywhere in the readme file. But WHY? We had a standardized system that worked well. Why turn it into a free-for-all, where the users have to look under each tab to find out whether the links are there at all? I wouldn’t go looking hither and yon, if I were a user unfamiliar with the old plugin page format. Furthermore, I wouldn’t click a “donate” link without knowing more about the plugin author — and I think that’s why we’ve seen the donations fall off.

    I’ve heard from users that they have harder time with the new page format. Savvy users investigate a plugin author before installing things, and it’s much harder to do that now that the links have been removed and our real names have been replaced by usernames. I used to distinguish plugins by author all the time (“look for the Google XML Sitemap plugin by Arne Brachhold, as opposed to the 17 others”) but that has become more difficult, since the author names we see in our lists of installed plugins don’t match the usernames shown in the directory.

    The redesign did bring us a lot of good things along with the bad! I love the way clicking the “broken” button now takes you to a new support post, and the new email subscription options are great. What’s maddening is that the plugin developers have been pointing out the problems with the new design since it went live — politely, in the right places — and until yesterday, when Alex posted his donation stats — an easily quantifiable result of the changes — there was no indication that anyone involved with wordpress.org cared one way or the other.

    I’m delighted that a new design is in the works. But, like my plugin users, I wanted to know that someone was listening and working on the problems.

  13. Pritam @ Specky Geek (3 comments.) says:

    I think WordPress themes and plug-ins repositories need to consider the fact that no one can keep working on a project and answering numerous emails without expecting something in return. Some crappy sites will upload a make-shift theme or plug-in for free backlinks, but for a better product you need something more.
    Nothing can ever be free. If I work on a project for 5 consecutive days, how do I meet my expenses for those 5 days. Any project consumes time and time is money.

  14. Rich Pedley (2 comments.) says:

    My plugin started because someone needed it and he is still using the pre version 1 of it as well. I turned it into a full plugin and eventually hosted it on WordPress.org . Donations have and always will be a nice bonus. I never set out to make money from it. The changes to the plugins pages haven’t really affected me, I saw a down turn in them long before that happened – and I wonder if that isn’t the case for many of us.

    I don’t even get regular donations, mainly 5 or 10 dollars here and there – even had someone who donated $1. But at the other end of the scale I had someone donate a considerable sum, out of the blue completely unexpected. I thought it too much and had to ask him if he hadn’t made a mistake!

    I pride myself with the fact that a query rarely goes unanswered, my support is and will remain free for the core plugin. I probably get less emails because I answer forum queries as quickly as possible. I do not ever want to go down the paid for support route – because then I would not have a choice but to support things. As it stands I can leave things if I so want. I’m slowly gathering a user base that is helping with answering things as well now.

    What I have started to do is charge for small customisations, which seems to work for me.

    I have noticed an increasing trend that messages start with the ‘hey your plugin is fantastic, now this small issue I have…’. It makes me smile as it feels like they are buttering me up so that I’ll solve their problem. Most of the so called support questions aren’t even bugs, I see more and more ‘how can I achieve’ type requests. (yeah my documentation skills are lacking).

    • David Artiss (7 comments.) says:

      I totally agree with everything you’ve just said Rich!

      However, rather than ‘how can I achieve’ requests, most of mine are correcting the users mis-interpretation of my instructions and implementing things wrong as a result. I would suspect my own ability to write instructions, if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re all unique queries with issues in different plugins and with different parts of them.

      My favourite request, though, was from a user who’d made major changes to my plugin code and then found it didn’t work and wanted me to fix it! Needless to say, I told him I wouldn’t support it!

  15. Paul Gibbs (1 comments.) says:

    My motivation is to make people happy. In making other people happy, I make myself happy.

    • Lav (1 comments.) says:

      I absolutely agree with you, Paul. That’s my intrinsic motivation in doing many sorts of things including completing projects, writing and getting published someday. Good to see you putting that so clear and simple. I appreciate and share your views.

  16. Phil Kennard (1 comments.) says:

    It’d be nice to be able to visit the the devs’ sites to possibly see the plugins in action and read any relevant comments about the plugin.But I would really want to ask that why should the link for plugin were removed for the developer’s site but leave for theme developers?



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  1. [...] thoughts and comments below.UPDATE: There has been a lot of discussion on this topic including a great post by Jeff Chandler 5 Responses » Luke December 2, 2010 • 1:09 am Great contribution to the debate [...]

  2. [...] Open Source software, starting with Alex King's blog post and followed up by many others including Weblog Tools Collection. I disagree wholeheartedly with some of Alex's statements. Chris Olbekson did a post I agree with [...]

  3. [...] Source software, starting with Alex King’s blog post and followed up by many others including Weblog Tools Collection. I disagree wholeheartedly with some of Alex’s statements. Chris Olbekson did a post I agree [...]

  4. [...] past week, several people related to the WordPress project have been discussing their motivations for working with free and [...]

  5. [...] don’t want or need gratitude. I want an understanding that using something I created does not give you a right to my [...]

  6. [...] Open-Source Motivations – What’s Yours?
    [...]

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