One of the great things about WordPress is that there are thousands of free plugins. One of the downsides of WordPress for developers is that users expect amazing software for free. Of course this leads many to adopt a premium (paid) or freemium (paid extras) model.
What if there were a way to easily and automatically reward developers of free and open source WordPress plugins?
An optional plugin/service lets call it “Plugin Patron” that can be installed on a site. When opting to use it; you simply select how month you’d like to donate either on an annual or monthly basis. At the end of each period, it analyses your plugin usage and then splits your donation amount amongst the plugin authors.
For example lets say I decide I’d like to donate $5 a month to support the authors of plugins on my site. Over the month I used 10 plugins for the full duration of the month. Each plugin author is then allocated $0.50 as a donation. Individually it may not add up to much. But if 10,000 people were using this service and happy to spend $5 a month in the same situation, then an author could receive $5,000 a month.
Not every user may want to donate the same amount to every plugin author. Patrons could maintain a profile that opts out certain plugins, or boosts/lowers their donation percentage.
Also sending 1000 x $0.50 is generally going to be a lot more expensive in payments fees than sending a single $500 payment. This would seem to suggest that payments are sent to a service that distributes the funds for users. Longer term these funds could be distributed on the blockchain (think Bitcoin / Ethereum smart contracts). This would allow for complete transparency and accountability.
There is also the problem where a plugin author may not have provided valid donation information. You might attempt to contact them to register details. But if unreachable the funds could be donated to the WordPress foundation and other open source advocates.
On a large enough scale, this could encourage plugin authors to game the system and split their features over multiple plugins. Although hopefully user defined distribution percentages would negate this somewhat.
This idea was inspired by a recent post where a plugin author had given up development due to lack of funding and support. I’m not necessarily going to build out this idea further, so instead thought I would share it with the world for feedback and inspiration.
And if you’re thinking this sounds like an awesome idea you’d like to develop on, feel free to reach out or just straight up take it and run with it. I offer no guarantees or assurances that it would work out in practice but it could definitely be worth a try.
The open source software world has created an amazing force for good on the internet. Every now and then it is important to sit back appreciate what we take for granted. If we can find a way to create, optimise and automate positive feedback loops for these types of projects then we can push the developments further.
Thanks for your time 🙂