Weekly Company Fee for Contributions

I just saw a great initiative that I simply had to share.

Full disclosure, never met the guy nor seen the site that launched this one, but here it is the idea. Alex Pott signed up for weekly contributions for Drupal. I found that through a tweet by Robert Douglass, a great team Drupal guy:

You know, the contributing discussions around the WordPress core are quite popular and even intense at times, particularly due to several reasons:

  • it requires a significant amount of time to get into the project history and infrastructure
  • it takes a while to to get a patch or a solution reviewed and eventually accepted by the core ninjas
  • it is time consuming to be active contributor. Like, really consuming.

A few companies in the market pay people to contribute part-time or full time to employees or consultants in order to give back to the community. I know that SiteGround for example are quite active, working on their managed WordPress environment, sponsoring WordCamps and meetups (our 10th anniversary meetup was fully sponsored by them with more than 100+ attendees, bbq, beer and cakes available for everyone) and also contributing code back to the community.

How about all the other engineers, designers, writers, translators and others who would like to contribute, but can’t spend too many hours as bills are waiting at the door at the beginning of the month?

That idea of companies sponsoring experts on a weekly basis is brilliant. You know why?

  1. There are hundreds of companies doing WordPress full-time and getting paid thanks to the platform
  2. There are companies getting their sites built by agencies for a lot less than the market standards thanks to the platform

Just as many of us try to donate to Open Source projects, help with code or documentation (or support), trying to keep the project up for as long as possible and be grateful to their labor that is saving time and getting paychecks, companies should be initiative and run similar programs. It’s clear that most agencies (the small ones especially) can’t pay a full-time expert to contribute back, but good karma would definitely allow them to dedicate 100 or 200 bucks a month to sponsor a contributor, right?

It doesn’t hurt the budget as much if you do your living with WordPress and it allows for several companies to team up and “hire” part-time or full-time people to give back to awesome projects such as WordPress.

13 thoughts on “Weekly Company Fee for Contributions

  1. Very interesting idea, Mario!

    I know there are a number of companies who donate some of their employees’ time for contributing back to WordPress core: 10up, DreamHost, Envato, to name a few.

    I love the idea of companies who couldn’t afford someone full-time putting money into a pot that went to pay someone for time contributing.

  2. Hey Japh,

    Thanks for your comments! I also joined the WordPress group.

    I think that if Gittip becomes a bit more popular among the WordPress community, this would be a good chance to get smaller agencies involved in contributing by donating funds to contributors. I don’t have any real stats, but probably 60-70-80% of the businesses running with WordPress are small agencies with 2-3 people working together, and it makes sense not to be able to hire a full-time contributor. On the other hand, earning few salaries a month from a small agency would make it possible to donate back without having to take a huge step and hiring a non-affordable resource. 🙂

    1. Agreed, it’s a great way for lots of small contributions to add up to something big.

      Although, another alternative for a small agency would be to simply donate a couple of hours per week of an employee’s time. This has the added advantage of “having a man on the inside”, where the agency gains expertise and knows more intimately what’s coming in core. Helen Hou-Sandi mentioned this in her talk at WCSF 2013 too.

      1. As a small agency owner myself (and having worked in small companies before) I know how hard is it to maintain a regular income, workflow and manage to deal with ensuring payments for full-time work. In my experience, unless you’re a high-class top-notch consulting agency with some long history already, you need to work your ass off to keep up with the pace 🙂

        Besides, small agencies that are able to manage with these issues tend to grow to larger agencies which is getting out of that scope above as well.

    1. Hey Ronen,

      Thanks for joining the discussion. I never really planned to limit all that to core – you can see my post uses phrases such as “give back to the community” and also covers aspects like documentation, support and general code.

      Both theme and plugin authors should be rewarded as well for what they do, just as people from the UX, polyglots and other groups working more “behind the scenes” at times (they are normally just not in the “rockstar” lists but often just as valuable).

  3. I agree. This is a fantastic idea, and I’d love to see more companies doing it.

    I wrote about how we did this at my company here:

    https://blog.engineyard.com/2014/gittip-open-source-grant

    Summary is: we have a pot of money that we allocated at the start of the year, and employees are able to specify tips within the limits of that pot.

    As I say in my post: “We want to give the members of our team individual choice and power over who gets what funding. Instead of going through a complex approvals process for large grants, the Gittip model allows our team to distribute smaller grants with greater flexibility. We put the trust and power in the hands of our team, and they directly reward the people who inspire them.”

Your thoughts?