Yoast, a company primarily known for its popular Yoast SEO plugin, announced a new program earlier this month called Yoast Care. The project aims to reward volunteers in the WordPress community. “Care” stands for “Community Appreciation REwards.”
Thousands of people contribute to WordPress. Some choose to contribute code. Others answer dozens of support questions every day in the forums. Many spend their free time actively running or helping with the various Make WordPress teams. Many people do it because they love WordPress or have found a home within the community, but not all of them get paid for their work toward the open-source platform.
Contributing untold hours is often a thankless job. The many millions of WordPress users will never know about the time and effort these volunteers pour into the project. They are in the trenches doing the work that keeps WordPress running. They don’t wear capes, but they are the unsung heroes of the community.
“We visit a lot of WordCamps and know a lot of people. We notice that some people have a hard time making a living from just their WordPress-work,” said Marieke van de Rakt, CEO of Yoast. “We wanted to do something for these people. We can’t hire them all.”
Yoast Care will grant $500 to around 50 volunteers each year. The company has already set aside $25,000 for the first year and has an open application process for nominating contributors.
“We’re aiming for people that do not get paid for their work on WordPress,” said van de Rakt, founder of Yoast Academy and CEO of Yoast. “It has to be a person that is active in a Make WordPress team.”
Some within the community have noted that Yoast is a for-profit company and that such programs are more about PR. At the heart of the discussion is whether the fund will obscure the longstanding issue of how to properly fund contributors to open-source projects ($500 only goes so far). Others have pointed out that the program is a step in the right direction and could push other companies to follow suit.
The fund could help those who need it most. It may help a volunteer replace their worn-out laptop, cover a freelancer during a low-income month, or boost someone in need of cash flow for their new WordPress project.
The application process is open for anyone to fill out, but applicants can’t throw their own names into the hat. The form for applying also asks for up to 3 references to confirm the nominee’s work. The team has already received many applications.
Taco Verdonscho is leading the Yoast Care project for the company’s community team. Such a program is no small task to run, and the rewards will be spread out through the year.
“It is a lot of work,” said van de Rakt. “They’ve really thought it through (what the demands are), so I think it’s rather easy to decide whether or not the application can be rewarded. But, still after that, we need to do an interview and make it happen financially. So there are a lot of people involved.”
Outside of a cash reward, Yoast will feature winners in a blog post that highlights his or her contributions to WordPress.
Yoast is not new to community outreach and funding those in need. Last year, the team launched the Yoast Diversity Fund. The program was created to help minorities and other underrepresented groups afford to speak at conferences. It covers travel, accommodations, childcare, and other costs. The Diversity Fund is still accepting applications.
Most within the inner WordPress community know at least one or two people who deserve some appreciation for all the work they do. If you know someone who fits this description, you can nominate them via the Yoast Care application page.