Speaking of Matt Mullenweg (I’m catching up on his blog)… he has a great suggestion for how companies that benefit from WordPress can contribute to its longevity. He suggests:
I think a good rule of thumb that will scale with the community as it continues to grow is that organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with core — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress mission forward.
This is a great suggestion. We at Plain do some WordPress work. We also have a premium theme called Aspen. And our best-selling product, outside of Barley CMS, is our WordPress plugin Barley for WordPress. So, we definitely benefit from WordPress.
One way we try to give back, in addition to all of our code going out under the GPL, is to do “double donations”. I wrote about this on our company blog a few weeks go. We only recently started doing this. While we’ve always paid for any code we’ve used that people sold, we hadn’t always donated to those whose plugins have a donate link next to them. Shame on us.
Asking our clients to double the donation amount does — in our minds — two things; 1) it helps our client see the value in the “little bits” of code they gather to get their site to work. Some plugins are deceivingly simple yet they are incredibly valuable. That value is worth rewarding. 2) We hope it keeps the entire eco-system moving by allowing the developers some much needed time to support the plugins they put out there and perhaps make more useful bits of code.
Matt’s suggestion pushes the best and most needed resource into the eco-system; time. Ours pushes some cash into it. Both are good.
So let’s do both. Devote 5% of our workforce to helping the WordPress eco-system (for Plain, this would be measured in hours-per-week rather than number of employees) and have both the agency and the client donate for the code used when a developer or designer asks for donations. Oh, and this doesn’t need to be limited to WordPress.