Right now, my friend JJJ is running an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money to let him work for six months on WordPress ‘stuff.’ Specially bbPress, BuddyPress, and GlotPress. I’ve donated to his campaign and it marks the fifth Open Source project I’ve donated in this manner.
I used IndieGoGo myself in 2012 to raise $1300 to go to WordCamp San Francisco. That adventure ended with me quitting my job on the airplane home to go work doing WordPress for DreamHost. I regret none of it. I know that these things can be successful, but when you’re funding a straight forward goal like mine, it’s a lot easier to see ‘value’ than it is for something like what JJJ is doing.
I feel that way a lot when people ask me why they should buy the ebooks here, which are (naturally) free elsewhere. Mostly free.
Chris Lema astutely pointed out that You are the only one who can determine value, and he’s very right. What is worth $100 to me (getting a trailer hitch added to my car) may only be worth $20 to you because you have the tools and ability to do most of the work yourself. For me, paying for someone to move all my boxes is worth it. Paying them to pack my boxes? No thanks.
So what’s the value on helping people in Open Source? You get better Open Source! But this comes at a risk I’m aware of. I’ve funded a product that folded in under two years. I’ve funded development on a plugin that’s pretty much stalled. I’ve funded something that turned out to be a scam. And I’ve funded a movie, an album, a move to another city that only lasted a month, other people going to WordCamps, and a hundred other things. Because I know there’s a possibility this money isn’t going to help anything, and that I may never see a return on my investment…
Except that isn’t right. When I donate to people who develop in open source, I’m living up to the ideal I claim. I step up and put my money where my mouth is when I say that one of the wonderful things in open source is that we all work together to make beautiful things that make the world a little better.
Because I have faith in the people I donate to, I continue to donate.
Sometimes my faith will be abused, and when it is, I don’t help that person anymore. But more often than not, my faith is rewarded. Maybe not in money but in the weird, esoteric value of pushing a community forward.
No matter if your magazine failed, your ad system turned out to be stupid, or you just couldn’t sustain the service that expanded beyond your dream? Hey, it happens. But you did something others didn’t, you tried, and you showed us what could be. The reward may be intangible, but it’s worth the risk for me.
Why buy my ebooks? Because it’s a way to say thank you and have a copy of the things most important to get you started doing a thing. You can learn how to handle Multisite, you can learn how to make your own bookstore, you can lean … just about anything. But like any WordPress ebook, you have the information you need right there without having to go hunt it all down.
I packed your boxes for you.
Speaking of JJJ, you can donate to his campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/buddypress-bbpress-glotpress-development. If you use bbPress or BuddyPress and it helps you make your life easier, you should toss him $10. That’s two coffees (or one if you like Venti Egg Nog Lattes).