The ease of supporting open source developers
By Anne-Mieke Bovelett on March 13, 2020
Status: Updated on July 13, 2023
Are you aware that supporting developers of open source software is important for YOUR future?
Writing a nice catchy intro for this article was actually pretty hard. Because I want to address so many things at once, whereas I also want to keep it plain and simple, without ending up in a geek speak filled rant.
I want to explain something about highly skilled open-source developers with a healthy conscience and a generous heart. I also want to make it clear there is an absolute difference between “free” and “made freely available”.
I want to talk about how so many of these skilled helpful developers are very modest, and often think “Aaah, it was not so difficult to make”. Or those who say “Meh, I needed this for my own projects anyway, and then decided to share it in the spirit of giving back to the open source community.”
Which is cool, when the balance is right. Until their plugin turns out to be very popular and in high demand of support, especially for the less tech savvy users. Or when they receive a lot of really useful feature requests and actually pay heed to those.
These are generous community minded people who:
- end up spending (valuable!) time to actually answer support questions;
- invest their time and talent to keep the plugins up to date, and compatible with new versions of the Open Source CMS they were intended for; and
- add new features which they could probably have created a paid “pro” version for, but choose not to. Simply because they are passionate about their work, and enjoy the challenge of extending their plugin and to think out of the box.
All of that in full knowledge that there’s no guarantee of any financial compensation for their time and effort. Time they could also have spent on working a commercial job.
Does your business depend on open source software?
Mine does. The majority of my websites is made using WordPress, and that is why I’m solely referring to WordPress plugins at the bottom of this page. But I can’t create a plugin, just like that, which does what I want or need. Even if my life depended on it. My business and therewith my life (well, my livelihood), and maybe yours too, does depend on the skills of those great men and women out there who so freely share their work. Freely. Free for you and me to use.
In case you haven’t noticed, many of these digital heroes who make their plugins freely available to you via the WordPress.org plugin pages, are in fact also volunteer contributors to the WordPress core itself!
Open Source software is not free
It costs skill, time and effort. And it keeps costing that when maintained, improved and kept up to date. So YOU too can continue to safely use it in your website. Just because it is open source, doesn’t mean it’s free. It’s made freely available to you, me, and anyone who wants make use of it. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here, this very smart girl named Danielle Thé explains open source in four minutes in this video on YouTube.
It’s so easy to show some appreciation!
- Give the app or plugin a good rating, and if possible, write a review. It helps to strengthen the good reputation of a developer, which may get him or her hired faster for commercial work.
- Help a developer by translating the plugin to your own language. More information on how that works, can be found here.
- Donate, donate, donate! If you make money and you installed that plugin on your site, or on the site of a paying customer, and you rely on that plugin to be kept up to date, donating helps. Even if it’s just one dollar or euro. It’s a sign of appreciation and that too is motivating. Often you’ll see a modest remark above a donation button like “Buy me a Coffee”. And besides, if many users donate a few bucks, the developer can afford to give maintenance and improvement priority over paid gigs which they may not even enjoy as much as working on their own plugin.
In case you think these developers already get a lot of donations…
I have to be blunt:
You’re wrong, period.
I’ve received emails of developers personally thanking me for my donation and telling me how rare donations are. Honestly, it breaks my heart. Especially knowing that their plugin has been downloaded thousands of times. WordPress actually lists how many times the plugin has been downloaded.
I literally lost sleep over this one:
“Of the five donations I received in the past two years, yours was the highest!”
Why that upsets me so much, you wonder? Well, his plugin has been downloaded more than 20.000 times. It adds an incredibly popular functionality to the premium version of one of the world’s most popular page builders. Which makes it safe to conclude that a lot of people actually use his plugin for commercial purposes, and make money with that.
The upsetting fact: my donation was not $150, $100 or even $50. It was $15. Because I too assumed that such an invaluable plugin would probably receive lots of donations already. But I wanted to buy the developer more than just one coffee.
Please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m aware that in some parts of the world $15 is huge. But I live and work in Germany, and I have customers all over the world. It’s not an “arm and a leg” for me.
Feeling generous? Here are the links to the donation pages of some of those very popular plugins!
I’d be surprised if you’re not using at least one of these in your WordPress website!
General WordPress Plugins
- Contactform 7 by Takayuki Miyoshi
- WP Accessibility by Joe Dolson
- Obfuscate Email by Scott Reilly
- Redirection by John Godley
- WPS Hide Login by WPServeur, Nicolas Kulka, and tabrisrp
- Code Snippets by Shea Bunge and Verdi Heinz
Elementor Specific plugins
- Ele Custom Skin by Dudaster
- Steroids for Elementor by OoohBoi
- Toolbar Extras by David Decker
- Polylang Connect for Elementor by David Decker
Do you know of a plugin that should be on this list?
Let me know! You can find the different ways to contact me, here. But before you do, please note that – with one exception – none of the plugins listed here offer a premium / pro version. Ele Custom Skin is that exception. For the simple reason that I know first hand that the developer will ALWAYS put essential features in the free version, without limitations.
The reason I have not included any other plugins that have a so called “premium” version, is because the makers of those have obviously successfully found ways to monetize their work through paid support. With that they are able to maintain, expand and support their work. Which is an admirable achievement.
Thank you for bearing with me, all the way to the end of this article!