In this time of giving thanks, why not include those who maintain the projects you use? I’ve written about finding who those people are in GitHub projects, but in this post I’d like to discuss how to thank them.
Giving someone a genuine "thank you" is hard. It can be awkward and make you feel vulnerable—but done right, a heartfelt thank-you can be truly meaningful. Here’s a simple, helpful script you can use on social media or in person:
It’s that easy.
Of course, there are other ways to say thank you. Here are a few options.
If you know the email address of the person you want to thank, send them a Happiness Packet. Launched in early 2016 by Sasha Romijn and Mikey Ariel, the platform has sent hundreds of packets to developers around the world.
A great benefit of the Happiness Packet platform is the Happiness Archive, where thank-you messages are posted anonymously and publicly (as long as both the sender and recipient agree). Reading through the archive shows just how much work goes into open source contributions—and it just might help you find the words to thank someone in your life.
In a similar vein, SayThanks.io, by Kenneth Reitz, lets you send a thank-you note to someone using their GitHub username. By going to https://saythanks.io/to/glasnt, for example, you could send me a nice message thanking me for writing for opensource.com for the past three years.
SayThanks offers an Inbox feature (in contrast, Happiness Packets sends packets to recipients' email); simply sign into SayThanks using their GitHub OAuth integration and see all your messages in one place.
I know, Christmas isn’t until next month—even for Australians—but if you are able, sending a donation (with an attached a thank-you note) to a project you enjoy can mean a great deal to maintainers. While this post isn’t about funding open source (which your business definitely should do), if you personally use a project that has a donation button, sending a few dollars and a thank-you message will really lift the spirits of maintainers who work hard for the joy of open source.
Donate your time
If you are unable to donate financially, or you want your thanks to provide a more lasting impact, consider donating your time by helping with a project. “Thank you, how can I help?” is a strong message, and many single-maintainer projects can benefit greatly from something as simple as a second pair of eyes reviewing a project.
Your contribution doesn't need to involve code; there are many other things that every open source project needs, from bug triage to code review to documentation. If there is a particular project you admire, show your appreciation by helping make it better.