John James Jacoby Launches Indiegogo Campaign to Fund BuddyPress, bbPress, and GlotPress Development

John James Jacoby launched an Indiegogo campaign today with the goal of raising $50,000 to fund six months of full-time work on WordPress’ three sister projects: BuddyPress, bbPress, and GlotPress. While WordPress core has many contributors who are sponsored by companies, the sister projects have yet to receive this kind of investment from the community.

Jacoby is a longtime WordPress developer/contributor and the project lead on BuddyPress and bbPress. WordPress depends heavily on the continued maintenance and improvement of the sister projects and he believes that they can benefit from having a dedicated developer.

BuddyPress is the plugin that powers the 16 million WordPress.org profiles, activity stream, and badge system. The WordPress.org support forums, along with the thousands of plugin and theme support forums, are all powered by bbPress. GlotPress is a BackPress-powered application that enabled WordPress, BuddyPress, and bbPress to be translated into different languages. Improvements to GlotPress are critical for WordPress’ global mission to democratize publishing.

WordPress is more community than software, yet the software that powers the community has nobody working on it full time,” Jacoby said. “I want to change this.”

The campaign came about after developer Jenny Wong made the suggestion during events surrounding WordCamp San Francisco. Wong has been instrumental in organizing community contribution days and has a passion for bringing people together. “I think a lot more would be done if there are dedicated people all over the community,” she said.

Jacoby had considered the idea before but didn’t think there would be enough people interested in supporting it. With the suggestion and support from Wong and others at WCSF, he decided to give it a try. “BuddyPress, bbPress, and GlotPress came up so frequently, and I was pulled into so many discussions. I felt happy for how important those projects are to everyone, and sad that I haven’t found a way to truly dedicate myself to them,” Jacoby told the Tavern.

“Near the end of the first day of the contributor summit, I was more emotional about it than I expected to be, and had a hard time translating that into words. Thankfully, Jen Mylo (who has always been super supportive to me) summed it up really nicely, and Jenny Wong followed up with the idea of raising money via Indiegogo.”

Jacoby’s aim is to work on the projects “while remaining an independent and impartial entity with a dedicated period of distraction-free time.” Specifically, he plans to target the following items:

  • Query and caching performance improvements to both BuddyPress and bbPress (to help them power the almost 20 million user profiles and the immense amount of activity going into them from all of the support forums)
  • Media and Attachment support in BuddyPress
  • Per-forum moderation in bbPress to help with plugin and theme moderation on WordPress.org.

Progress on the sister projects has been slow, since current contributions are all volunteer-driven from folks who have other obligations. Jacoby was originally reluctant to attempt a fundraising campaign but recognizes the necessity of having the money available for distraction-free work. If the goal is not met, he will prorate the funds and will work in a dedicated capacity on the projects for as long as the funds allow.

Within the first few hours of launching the campaign, Jacoby has already surpassed 20% of the goal. Check out the video and donate to the campaign if you want to support a talented developer in giving WordPress’ sister projects a chance to thrive.

42 Comments


  1. Initially the monthly expenses were laid out, then later removed. I for one love the transparency, and would like to see them added back.

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    1. I love the transparency, too, and greatly appreciate it when I see it. I waffled on this, big time.

      I chose to remove it after receiving feedback that including the raw numbers could be easily misinterpreted and/or misunderstood.

      I struggled with verbiage, placement, tone… basically all of it. I do want to (and will) be transparent, while still minimizing personal risk for myself and my family.

      If anyone does request the raw data, I see no reason not to provide it to them. But, posting it publicly and embossing it permanently into the campaign is likely an error with difficult to predict consequences.

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      1. That’s probably a fair prediction to make, and can totally understand that. At any rate, wishing you luck!

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  2. This is an awesome idea, these sister projects need some love, good luck JJJ!

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  3. $50,000 / 6 = $8,333.33

    I find that number extreme funny, weird, etc…how does $50,000 for 6 months get justified?

    $8,333.33 a month? Even if that’s all you do. I honestly can’t see justification.

    Can anyone give a break down?

    If someone came to me and told me to work on any of my sites/projects for THAT much a month…I’d give them exactly 25 seconds to justify it then kick them out of my office.

    However, good luck.

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    1. I think that depends on how you live and your current situation. We can get by comfortably on half of that. But we also have no debt and no car payments, no insurance, etc.

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    2. $50k for a half year. $100k a year. That’s not even close to unreasonable for a full time, specialist dev in any software field.

      Also he won’t get $50k. With the fees it’ll be closer to $45k, depending on how people pay. He picked flex funding, so it’ll be less. It’s been almost 3 years since I did my fundraiser, but I remember $475 turned into $265.11. PayPal fees will kill it down to $47k right away.

      So now that we’re talking $45k (aka $90k/year), you’re getting 100% JJJ for damn cheap, considering we’re not shelling out for insurance.

      Can we live on less? Sure. I bet JJJ can too. But I also see a $100k/year fee for a dev of his quality to be a fair deal.

      (Math brought to you by someone who despises money)

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    3. Even in Wisconsin, where cost of living is relatively low, $90,000 / year as a salary for a WordPress developer — especially with someone like JJJ’s experience — is a pretty good deal.

      I’m having trouble getting Indiegogo to allow me to contribute, but as soon as it does, I’ll be adding a small bit.

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  4. Best of luck with it :) – I’ll see what I can dig up funds wise. bbPress has been very good to me so feel I should contribute back :)

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  5. Considering that bbPress is one of the major tools that I use to run customer support for a rather large collection of plugins, helping hundreds of users every day, it would be silly for me not to contribute. JJJ has been the primary force behind a masterful plugin and helping him spend more time on it (and others) is nothing short of an investment right back into my business. If the funds raised through this campaign help him make even some minor improvements to bbPress, it will all be worth it for me and my business.

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  6. I must admit that I’m a little ignorant here so perhaps someone could help me out.

    If this is something that JJJ is truly passionate about wouldn’t it make sense for Automattic to provide the funding for this project?

    Sure they’d wouldn’t see immediate returns on their investment but perhaps they could start implementing some of the social features from bbPress / BuddyPress into WordPress.com sites.

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    1. Automattic has already put investments into those projects. They can’t fund everything although I’m sure they’d love to.

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  7. I’m kind of split between between crowdfunding for open source development. I don’t know JJJ personally, but I do know he is a huge contributor to the community and is the backbone between some of the most popular WordPress projects/plugins there is. I have, however seen other open source projects where, months after receiving crowdfunding, almost no commits/activity was done. I remember reading this post and it resinated with me by DHH (creator of ruby on rails): http://david.heinemeierhansson.com/2013/the-perils-of-mixing-open-source-and-money.html

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  8. Not meaning to theadjack. I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to pay/offer a stipend to key project contributors via the foundation. Guys like JJJ, Jaquith, Boone and others that are free nodes (not attached to a bankrolled company) really drive the projects but do so on thier own dime.

    Lots of questions and logistics to be answered around who/what would qualify for compensation. However with the sponsorship cash collected in bulk by the foundation for wordcamps, and the referral income earned from the .org hosting page, I would think there may be a couple hundred $k that could be allocated to supplement independent devs on 3-6 month project sprints.

    Also a dedicated fund could be setup just for this purpose that companies like Pagely, Lift, iThemes (that are established in the community but may not have the extra bodies to dedicate to core contribution) could donate into.

    Essentially a mechanism that encourages more independents to contribute without fear of dramatic income loss, and companies can back those efforts with cash when they don’t have man hours to spare.

    As long at the bookkeeping is transparent and there is some community oversight, seems like it could work.

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    1. This is a great idea, and could open up to other open-sourced plugins as a method of community investment.

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    2. agreed with Strebel, Pippin, Norcross, and Haskins.

      could be a fantastic way to keep these projects afloat and thriving.

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    3. You could donate to the foundation here http://wordpressfoundation.org/donate/ but where the money goes to isn’t really transparent. This was something I discussed with a few people in San Francisco and I would love to see a way to help out the free nodes. I’m now lucky to work at a company and I’m sure they are also willing to donate money.

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      1. So lets not forget @JJJ though. His indegogo campaign can be the proof the concept. So everyone go donate.

        I was thinking about this on the drive this morning.

        Could setup a non profit corp, with an elected, representative, and rotating (think term limits) board of 5 (core committers get 1 seat, hosting industry gets 1 seat, theme/plugin industry gets 1 seat, and the remaining 2 are community seats).

        A very clear and community drafted corporate charter:
        – Set policies on project/grant submissions.
        – Grant award process (like maybe 30% needs to be earmarked for non-US based devs, max 3mo project cycles, and 1 award per dev per year),
        – distribution and use of funds (like admin costs can never exceed 5% or awards are cost of living adjusted pegged to the US median dev salary less 15%). This way no one is getting rich, but they are not starving either.
        – and fund raising requirements (like large cash donations can never exceed more than 60% of total funds.. so 40% of monies must be small donations, a donation from the WP foundation into this fund would count as small monies since it is aggregated?),
        – and finally setting the transparency flag on everything to true. Use github to publish all minutes and financial accounting for community review

        Is all the bureaucracy needed to make it work? No. but may be needed to make it fair and representative. Just a public mental exercise. Feel free to ignore.

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      2. Good idea Joshua.

        Maybe the WordPress Foundation is ideal for that? For the moment, it only deals with WordCamps.

        The big problem is how to split the little money across so many projects? Meritocracy barely applies here.

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      3. I think the tax laws may preclude the official foundation from doing this directly. I dont know though as it is sort of opaque.

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  9. BuddyPress and bbPress is for ‘everyone’, and this is a great way for ‘everyone’ to give something back! +1 to full-time JJJ for the next 6 months!

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  10. I can absolutely understand JJJ with his campaign: creating and maintaining something cool and useful in your free time then sharing it with others for FREE is really hard.

    The first time I developed a WordPress plugin (it took me long), I was rewarded with the feeling that I was able to create it. The second time I felt them same way, I was happy to see it working. But man can’t feed his family with only “happiness”, so after I learnt enough (well, it’s never enough :)) about WordPress, I started developing plugins and themes to others for money.

    And at some point I felt I have to give back something to the WordPress community and I developed a plugin that relates to my hobby, football (soccer). Yep, “Soccer Info” is a FREE plugin that can be downloaded from WordPress.org

    Trust me, it is hard to keep and maintain a FREE plugin and not just because you get few negative comments. Nope. The biggest problem and enemy is TIME. For example someone reports a bug and you know that you have to solve it because those people (the users) are counting on you, but you don’t really have time for that as you need to work on the projects that pay your bills and feed your family. It’s frustrating and there are times when you feel it would be better to abandon or remove the whole plugin.

    Or you try another solution “crowdfunding”, just like I am trying to do with my plugin at http://igg.me/at/soccer-info-2-0/x/9032264 (you may drop some bucks or share the link, thank you)
    and of course just like JJJ does with the plugins passionate about.

    I hope he will reach his goal and we (the BP, bbP and GP users) will see the next major versions soon.

    Good luck!

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  11. Altough there is all this controversy about money, it’s really great idea. BuddyPress, bbPress and Glot Press are understimated in having great ifluence on growing WordPress as a system, as a platform.

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  12. Worth every penny. Thanks JJJ for stepping out on this. It will be very good for our community.

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  13. He should do it for a year, not just 6 months, lets push, I already made my donation, and i hope he gets more money than the goal so he can work on it for a year..

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  14. Contributed, at least what I could. I hope more and more people do so too. As of this comment, BuddyPress has been downloaded 2.4 million times. BBPress 1.5 million times. Even if the majority of those downloads were experimental and just folks trying it out, it does mean that there are still a huge amount of people using it.

    This is a way for us BP users (and fans) to say thanks to one of the people who has made that 2.4 million download mark possible by his years of hard work on the plugin. Getting John in the position where he can work full time on it is important, and helpful to those of us who use and rely on the plugin for client projects, or just for fun communities we’ve spun up on a whim.

    Worth every penny and best of luck to John on the campaign!

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  15. Wherer do I start with the issue of bbPress and the features that it needs to be at some respectable level to other forum software. I understand that the software is meant to be a simple design but not a skeleton. The layout of bbPress is terible compared to a SMF, vbulletin “Insert any forum software made in the past five years” and it requires major coding changes and extra plugins to get it up to scratch up a forum software level for 2014. SMF suffers from this issue too being too basic.

    I love the idea of bbPress being attached to WordPress but I’m expecting more than just Query and caching performance improvements. It needs a facelift badly as many of my members at my web site and many people deem it as a ugly looking software and one that requires too much coding to get to a level and even that makes like plastic surgery gone wrong. The reason why I’m pretty strong in my words is that bbPress has been like this for many many years. Some even believe the software is dead…. and I don’t blame them. It looks like that at times.

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    1. I can’t tell if you are trolling or serious.

      vBulletin etc. need a massive overhaul to match the simplicity of bbPress, not the other way around.

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    2. Gee, sounds like you’re really passionate about someone putting a decent amount of time and effort into bbPress! I guess you’ll definitely be supporting JJJ’s campaign ;)

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      1. That’s one thing I hear and the othwr one “But this is done all for free” Lame excuses. Look bbPress needs to pulled into the modern age and in its current state its pretty old and pretty ugly.

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    3. I completely agree with you on the “design” aspect of bbPress. I would’ve tried to use a little more tact in my comment though. But, it’s not just bbPress; it’s pretty much all forum software.

      This may or may not be a reflection of bbPress. The one major thing it lacks, to me, is a strong theme developer community. I see many themes these days claiming bbPress support, but they don’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of design.

      If I were JJJ, I’d probably spend a little of the dough on hiring an awesome designer (someone like Tung Do) to come in and make an awesomely-designed theme for bbPress. It doesn’t have to be the default. It just needs to be something that showcases the software.

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  16. In my mind there are some questions about the amount, not strictly on ‘how much is JJJ’s time really worth’ but what will be end result of it after he is done. Believe it or not I love bbPress and BP A LOT (and WP itself even more) but from a stand point of a regular users who would sign up on forums and communities christicehurst is more right than many of ‘us’ are willing to admit. I have been doing forum type sites (using vBulletin, Invision and MyBB mostly) for 10 years plus and users are not in it for simplicity or similar things we attach to bbPress.

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  17. Considering the fact that many WordPress users are throwing down hundreds of dollars at a time for alternate plugins due to the bbPress and BuddyPress projects being (in the words of users) sluggish and hard to customize, I think this is a great way to go about enhancing a free project. I say this knowing of at least four other projects where developers could be contributing to these great projects and the community rather than offering very restricted free versions of plugins that still don’t provide all of the functionality of what these projects offer overall. And those alternatives are really not much more than a baiting system hosted on a free platform to get free advertisement and new paying customers.

    I know a lot of people that would love to stick with BuddyPress if it was more efficient. I will definitely pass the word along to those I deal with.

    To see anyone complain that bbPress isn’t comparable with projects that cost $99.00 per year to have the functionality being talked about is a little bit outrageous IMO. But, that’s just my opinion.

    Having purchased alternatives and been involved with some of the alternative projects myself, and returned to using at least bbPress, I have to say, this is very good news. What better person to have focused on these projects than JJJ who knows the software in and out and loves what he does and has provided his skills for the love of it for so long. Why not contribute a little cash to support development.

    You have my support FWIW.

    To those who question the amount, I would ask how much is the software worth to you? Has it enhanced your own projects? When people purchase the “Pro” versions of plugins I see advertised on WordPress.org, I don’t see anyone questioning the “amount” the developer is receiving. We aren’t being asked for $50,000.00. In fact, given the amount of time and effort and love already invested by JJJ into these projects, I am quite sure the amount doesn’t touch what his time has been worth. Consider it a little payback with forward rewards.

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