I bet you thought, based on the title, it was going to be about database queries. No, actually, this is a query – as in a question. I already have my own opinions on this one – – but I’m curious as to the perspectives of others out here. This question was actually from a reader of my book, WordPress For Dummies and the question raised because of a recommendation I had made in hiring outside developers to work on your blog. I believe it’s important to prioritize your needs, based on your skills and capabilities. If you’re spending more and more time trying to figure this stuff out – – and less and less time on you blog, building readership and providing great content.. maybe you need to consider a little outside help? Or, maybe you are just determined to figure it all out yourself, come hell or high water. Either way is a noble pursuit and will fill the needs of some, but not all of you.
The question becomes… when you hire a developer to provide programming or custom scripts or plugins for your blog – who does the final product belong to?
Hypothetical . . . I want my blog to make toast.. but not just toast – – perfectly browned and crisped toast to my exact liking. I want to be notified via email when the toast is done and provide me with an access key to the place I will go to pick up my toast. My access key is unique allows only me to pick up MY toast.. not anyone else’s toast. Subsequently – no one else will be able to pickup my toast either. Mmmmm… my perfectly browned blog toast.
(an aside – I must be on a bit of a toast kick this week – pardon the obsession, it will blow over soon enough).
The developer says “No problem – that is a CAN DO. It will take me X amount of time and will cost you X amount of money – once we have that sorted out, you’ll be well on your way to perfect blog toast, my friend”
You’ve paid the developer and he/she heads off to work on the perfect blog toast plugin. You’re very, very excited!! Why? Well, aside from the fact that your mouth is watering over that perfect blog toast and you can’t WAIT to sink your teeth into it!! Even more exciting than that is it was YOUR bright idea and NO ONE else in the blog world has it!! You’ll be unique! You’ll be envied! You will have the entire blogosphere staring at you and drooling over your blog toast from all corners of the world! If that’s not worth a DIGG, then I don’t know what is!
While the development is ongoing – you’re having a pretty difficult time not talking about it. But you don’t want to talk about it for fear that someone else will nab your idea, get it done faster and they will be enjoying YOUR blog toast…leaving you out in the cold – with no toast. So you struggle, but you keep your mouth shut and instead, spend your time writing draft posts about perfect blog toast – – the post that will catapult you to the top — making you the envy of all the blogosphere.. you and your toast!
You can hear the cheers now! You’re already counting your comment numbers flying into the hundreds .. if not thousands! You imagine yourself in the spotlight on TechCrunch and you have big dreams.. just you and your toast.
Finally the day comes that the developer has completed your toast project! You don’t know what is more exciting – – giving the toast a try? Or bragging about the toast to all your friends.. and the rest of the internet!! This is gonna be good! This is gonna take off! This is …. gonna be released?
WOA WOA – WAIT! Stop right THERE! Did you read that right? The developer is telling you of his plans to release the code so that the rest of the world can enjoy blog toast, too. Wha?????
Wait just one cotton pickin’ minute, man! That’s MY blog toast! It was MY idea – it’s something that makes my blog unique! No one else in the world has blog toast but me!! That’s why I paid YOU – – to take my bright idea and make it a reality. Blog Toast is mine, I say!! Not only did I pay you a damn good bit of money for that blog toast – – – but it is a concept that I thought up, something I’ve been banking on to make me stick out in an already saturated blogosphere!!! You simply cannot release it! If everyone makes a blog toast post – – I’ll be just like everyone else! Oh. The. Horror!
The developer tells you that he can, indeed, release the Blog Toast – and as a matter of fact, as soon as he’s done with these final few code tweaks — you’ll be seeing Blog Toast in a Plugin Repository near you. “It’s open source, man – – GPL’d – – share and share alike, you know dawg? What’s mine is yours.. what’s yours is mine . . we’re an open community of people who share code. Why should you be the only one with access to heavenly blog toast??” And the final answer that adds insult to your injured toast: “It’s a community thing.”
Suddenly… you find yourself looking at your countertop toaster with longing. You’ve just paid a good couple hundred dollars – – if no more – to have a talented code jockey take your bright ideas and bring them to life….but now it’s not yours. You’ve paid to have your idea released and spread out far and wide, reaching millions of people. Blog Toast can be a dream made reality for not just you – – but for everyone. Dang – it sounds like a beautiful world… but it’s my toast.
And now, my toast doesn’t seem so special anymore. It certainly isn’t going to bring me the fame and adoration I was hoping for.
And slowly…sadly… you resign yourself to the idea that you and your blog toast were not destined to walk this path together, rather; you’ll walk the path with millions of other blog toast lovers, worldwide…and somewhere in the middle – you and your toast will get lost, even though you really started it all.
My question for the readers – who does the toast belong to, in your opinion? Does the toast belong to the original guy who came to the table with a really super idea and is now.. over there in the corner, weeping. Or does the toast belong to the developer…who can take the bright idea and release it to the world and gain all sorts of accolades for creating some awesome blog toast – – the in links, alone, will bring much light to the developer.. while the original toast guy is rocking back and forth in the corner, grasping the old toaster from his counter…it will be days before he comes up with his next, great new idea to make his surge into the blogosphere.
Blog Toast: Does it belong to the developer? Does it belong to the client? Is there a middle ground somewhere in between?