Giving something back

Are you a fairly skilled web developer? Get enough money to make ends meet, maybe have some benefits kicked in too? You’re content with life in general and is a nice person?

You know what? I think it’s time for you to give something back.

Let me take two persons as an example; both of whom I am very proud and glad that I’ve befriended and had the pleasure to meet in real life. Allow me to tell you why I have the deepest respect for them:

Nathan Smith
Nathan is often doing charity work just for the sake of helping out and sharing his knowledge. Why? Because he simply wants to give something back!
Carl Camera
Carl, in his spare time, develops the Vine Type content management software, which is free for personal or non-profit use. If you want the Vine Type Pro Edition, Carl gives half of the proceeds from Vine Type Pro to charity. Why? Because he is a very nice man full of empathy!

What I do

It is always hard to find how one can find the most optimal way to give something back. When I started with web developing, I learned how to do it properly from reading the, already then, countless resources online and from meeting other web developers willing to share their knowledge.

What I will say now is genuinely meant to be humble, and if it isn’t perceived so, it is because I lack the necessary communicative skills to present it properly. Anyway, here goes: I have now, humbly, reached a certain skill level but have also gotten somewhat of a reputation (a tiny one) on the Internet for interface web development. Therefore I try and use it to spread the word to people about proper web developing and to help them make their job as good as possible. I share code I write with people so it can either make them learn something, or simply save them the development time which they can instead put into something else.

I also organize Geek Meet together with some friends to let web developers meet and share knowledge and watch presentations from experienced web developers: all for free.

You can do it too

What I ask of you is to find a way to give something back too; how small doesn’t matter, everything you can do is significant. Do charity work, give some money to people in need, blog and share your knowledge, help new web developers to learn their trade.

Any small contribution you can do will make this a better world.


  • I already do non-commercial web based work, one for a local charity and another for a local community town festival that is run by a group of volunteers.

  • Great timing, I couldn't agree more, and may I plug my contribution (links and donations gratefully accepted): Help Nikita

    Now all I need is a bit more money and these 'benefits' your talking about… what am I missing??? πŸ˜€

  • CK says:

    You've hit on something i've been pondering for some time. I work in social services in the UK and we have to use a variety of systems for different things. If we ever need to source information from the police, probations, etc, then it's a complete chore as no databases are connected.

    A single, universal system would be hugely beneficial, but there's no investment due to the sheer scale and costs involved.

    I feel that open source devs, such as those on Sourceforge, could make a huge difference if they applied their skills and expertise for free.



  • Chris says:

    Mmh, I am not sure… I do not like when people work for free when there are so many unemployed.

    Also the charity business has been on for decades and there are more and more problems. I would not like the charity actions to be taken as a pretext for not doing anything really big on a large scale, which is the case I think now.

    But it is a difficult matter because being good cannot be criticized obviously. It's just that we must be cautious.

    Also I do not like the American way of showing how good you are. I prefer when people do not say anything about that.

    But I agree with you Robert that there are things we can do for free, be it for people around us or for causes you think right.

  • Nathan Smith says:

    Robert: Thanks for the kind words.

    Chris: I agree with you, in that I don't like the typical American attitude of "Ooh, look at all these nice things I'm doing!" Hopefully that is not how my site comes across. Rather, I simply let churches / non-profit organizations know that I exist, etc. That's why my prices aren't listed anywhere, because web projects are usually so subjective and can vary widely in their scope.

    I realized early on that I wouldn't have enough time to do sites for everyone who asked, so that was part of the reason we started People can go there to learn more, ask questions on the forum, as well as find freelancers to hire, or if they are freelancers, offer their services. That of course is nothing new, but we also don't charge anything, nor ask for donations. I feel this helps to keep the motive purely driven, rather than money becoming the focus.

    Anyway, I'm rambling. I just wanted to clarify where I'm coming from, and make sure I'm not perceived as one of those people who does stuff simply for the recognition and the pats on the back. I really do want to see others learn and do more.

    "Give a man a fish, and he will only eat for a day…

    Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime."

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Robert W, Steve,

    Good work!


    I hope you get as much help from web developers as possible.


    Just like Nathan says, I think and hope neither I or anyone mentioned do it for recognition, but just with the mindset to help out. Then what to do to help out is entirely up to each and everyone and what they believe in.


    No problem, I think you deserve them. πŸ™‚

  • CK says:

    Rob: CK, I hope you get as much help from web developers as possible.

    It seems quite unlikely. There's currently an overhaul of but a part of the National Health Service's systems which is now a good few million over budget and two years (iirc) behind schedule. I'm a bit of a right-winger, but there's a big problem with contracting out to the lowest bidder.

    My thought is to see freelance devs joining together to create something in their own time, liasing with public services. It would likely take just as long, but without the fees.

    I don't know, i'm just bitter, tired nearing the end of a long day, and going majorly off-topic in the process!

  • Carl Camera says:


    Thank you for bringing up this topic today. I am honored to be mentiioned along with Nathan who has given back so much to the web designer community, including me.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with your point that how you give back is up to you so do what you like! For some, it's online help, for some it's community involvement, for others it may be volunteering. There are so many less fortunate than ourselves that it's not difficult to find ways to use our talents to benefit others.

    Finally to Chris or anyone who may have negative feelings that I mention my product's beneficiaries, I apologize for any perceived self-promotion. I only ask that my shortcomings not be extended to an entire culture. It dishonors the enormous number of Americans who silently give their time, talent, and money to those in need.

  • Rowan Lewis says:

    I'm writing an open source content management system, redesigning a website for another open source project, helping out in CSS support channels on IRC, moderating a community which talks about community software, …

  • karmatosed says:

    Totally agree with the senitment in this. I do charity work along with paid work – make sure have one project going on at least while doing work ones. It's something I've kept rolling from the start and always gives me pleasure in doing. Open source is also something at the heart of my devleopment soul – without it so many great things wouldn't have gotten off the block.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    I'm sorry to hear that. I've sent you an e-mail with someone in the UK who might help you out, or get you in touch with other people who possibly can.


    Don't mention it. πŸ™‚

    Rowan, karmatosed,

    Great! πŸ™‚

  • The way I found out to return something to the society was by means of organizing a conference about the role of technology in our societies, its organized by a small group of volunteers and we just run sucessfully our first edition of SHiFT – Social and Human Ideas For Technology.

    I guess that being a webdeveloper just gives you a whole lot of ways of actually returning some value to your community, we just need to find which ones suits better with our obligations and work life.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Very good initiative! πŸ™‚

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