Nov 03

OK, Open Source Project. Let Me Give You Money Already. Geez.

As much as I pride myself in writing solid copy for a blog post or company website, there’s no point if you don’t bother to reach out. It would be like cooking a good meal without inviting any guests.

One of my clients is a hosting company WebHostingBuzz. The guys at WebHostingBuzz have been doing hosting forever. It’s what they know. So unlike a lot of their sleazy competitors, they’d just assume not create fake hosting review sites to trick people into thinking they are good, or advertising unlimited bandwidth when the fine print says otherwise.

What was my proposal to reach out? Why, we would support open source projects by giving them a portion of any sale they refer to us. We track cookies for over a month, so as long as someone chooses WHB as their preferred host without deleting their cookies, they are golden. Easy way to make money, right? Everyone interested in an open source project needs a host.

Another one of my clients is NameCheap, the domain registrar. NameCheap seriously offers the best deal on the web in terms of domain registration. You get free WhoIs Guard and a free Comodo SSL for a year. I used them because most people don’t know that when you register a domain, your address is listed in the WhoIs directory, meaning any yokel can decide they are going to look up your site and figure out where you live. Whois Guard can protect against this, and I figured that with the SSL and a direct API, it was a great deal for ecommerce software companies especially.

So I’ve been contacting open source CMS projects and open source ecommerce projects to see if they would be interested in basically getting money just for putting these companies on their sites, like an ad. Of over a dozen companies I’ve called, I’ve had two express interest. These were also the only two (Magento, which is open source, and Shopify, which isn’t) that even bothered getting back to me.

What is the deal? Do these companies think money is evil or something? Why do open source projects not have a big freaking category that says “HOSTING” and possibly “DOMAINS” where they can get a portion of whatever business they send our way? I’m not trying to take away from the community whatsoever. I’m trying to pour money into it so the primary contributors could perhaps provide support, or help build the community by reaching out to developers. I’m trying to make it easy for people using open source to get services (hosting and domains) they need anyway. If they get complaints, take WHB and NameCheap off the list. It seems that everyone wins under this equation.

Am I not on this kumbaya bandwagon that says that any money poured into open source is bad? With exception of Automattic and WordPress (who also didn’t get back to me), why do most open source projects not partner with hosting companies and domain registrars? Is this because they are “projects” and not “companies”? Don’t they see that money will allow them to help market to a community and provide support? Who in this equation wouldn’t want this?

I want to support open source companies and their projects, not buy Google AdWords or set up craptastic fake review sites. Is there a secret knock and a handshake I don’t know? What am I missing something to make this work?

  • Carlie Fairchild

    I feel your pain.

    With many of these projects it’s a single person or two with day jobs, perhaps also going to school and in their spare time they rolled out an app to the open source community. My experience dealing with many of them has been that it just takes time to hear back from them. I’m trying to give some projects free press exposure in Linux Journal and even that can sometimes take many weeks to get a response to.

    So I guess all I can say is “it’s not just you”. :) They’re good people though for sure.

    Carlie Fairchilds last blog post..Voting Feels Good

  • Jason Rist

    I started to reply to this as a twitter reply.

    Have you tried giving them another incentive to work with you? How about offering them hosting? Maybe making sure that WebHostingBuzz can support a full install of each of – or any particular CMS that you’re courting?

    Another tack might be giving them a different type of monetary incentive. Maybe tell them some ideas of what they can do with the money.

    Hope this was helpful.

  • Michelle


    I’m sure WHB would offer an open source project hosting.

    All of the OS projects I’ve approached have one-click installs through WHB.

    I’d love to sponsor events, but you have to admit, from a sponsor’s perspective, an affiliate setup is more attractive.

    Am I assuming too much here in terms of open source projects understanding the value of funding?

  • Joey Parsons

    I think there are quite a few reasons why no one is responding:

    – Most open source projects are already receiving free hosting (and from various sources) and don’t want to promote only one–or any

    – Most open source projects aren’t in the business of making money. They’re about providing high-quality, community-driven software. However, if they do plan on making money, it’s most likely going to come from another revenue stream other than advertising.

    – It’s really hard (especially with “non-commercially-backed” open source projects) to get in touch with the right decision makers for things like this.