Why I understand WordPress Developers that do Free Content
People that use free WordPress plugins tend to think that they can get a free web developer too.
About seven years ago I started blogging. I was using a self-hosted WordPress blog and as the site had grown, the need for using more and more plugins arose. Fortunately, WordPress has a large plugin database that is supported by enthusiastic developers.
What I did not know at the time is how much spare time these developers need to devote to their plugins.
However, a time came when I did not find a plugin that suited my needs and because I am a web developer, I decided to make one myself. I then published it to the official repository and other users started downloading it. At the time it did not seem such a big deal, but when the plugins popularity grew, more and more feature request were made and support threads also started multiplying by themselves. At that moment, those little free plugins almost became my full-time job.
The main problem with that is, that as a developer, you do not get paid. If someone is feeling generous enough, you can get a donation, but those donation links are so small, that no one can even see them if they don’t take a closer look. But that is not the main problem.
The problem is, that users themselves tend to think that this content, that they get for free, is done by people that are getting paid for their development time.
To make it clear, I did not start my WordPress development journey to make tons of money, I started it to possibly gain references from people. Usually when I got a new feature request, I implemented it very fast. But needless to say, I had no monetary gain from it. At this point I started to understand the headline. I have also posted some feature requests and bug reports to the plugins I use, but some of them never got answered or were just ignored. Either the author stopped managing them a long time ago or they just did not bother anymore, because maybe the same thing happened to them that happened to me, maybe they got too busy with their day jobs or wanted to spend more time with their families and didn’t have enough time to dedicate to their pet projects anymore.
Through my development time most people kindly asked for new features or submitted their problems and bugs in a nice way, but I have had my fair share of complaints too. I generally do not mind when it comes to adding features or solving bugs, but there is a tendency that if you do not help people with all their problems (including HTML customization or CSS) and remind them that this is a thing that web developers live on, you are immediately marked as a “money grabbing douchebag”. And I am surprised at that.
The mentoned situtation isn’t exclusively happening in WordPress’s world. If you take Github into consideration there is a bunch of open source projects that are being developed during the free time that developers have. I am not trying to say give us money, just trying to make a simple point:
Cherish the free time developers give out for their hobby projects and give back to the community — if you are a developer help an open source project, if you’re not, help projects by donating, especially if you are a company that uses them on a daily basis.