Hey, let’s take part! It’s all for free!

Let's say, I have apples. A lot of apples. And I want to have a pear. What would I do? I would look out for someone who has a lot of pears and then trade an apple for a pear. This concept works fine, as long as the opposite is actually interested in my apples. But what if the my trading partner is actually looking for bananas? This makes the situation a bit more complex.

The solution to this would be, that you introduce some kind of "medium" that just bears value but other than that, there is nothing more to it. We've done it, we call it "money".

Now I am a strong believer in the idea, that the world and society would fall to pieces, if it would consist of takers only. People, that would only take and never return anything back. Ideally, everything anybody takes, has to be given back in one way or the other. Not necessarily in the same form to the same person - but maybe in a completely different manner to separate individual.

I think, this idea should make sense to everyone.

Now, software is a special case. Software can be multiplied an infinite amount of times. This phenomena is relatively new. Before the "digitalization", copying was always associated with physical resources, work effort and a loss of quality. Today, it's a matter of a mouse click. Microsoft Corporation exploited this transition at it's peak and thus made it's owners to the richest people on earth.

Soon after, free software movements started to claim that knowledge and thus software has to be freely accessible for everyone, especially because it can be copied so easily.

But just because it's called Free Software and it can be copied with one single mouse click, this doesn't mean you can get it for free. Richard Stallman always emphasized: "Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'".

However - and this is the important point in my opinion - paying for software does not necessarily mean returning money in exchange. In fact, returning money is probably the least wanted. The free software development community is in such a demand, I am sure, they will appreciate you contributing apples. Localization for example, helping out programming, help on the documentation. Even help promoting software, writing/blogging about it, organizing workshops and events or yet creating your own free software project and releasing it to the public. This is the concept of taking and giving. Surely, not everybody is lucky enough to be endued with the abilities required to contribute apples. And sometimes, they don't want apples but bananas. That doesn't matter at all. In this case, you can always buy something from the Amazon Wishlist, invest in merchandising or donate. It is important to me, that the concept of "taking and giving" doesn't get lost in this world of seemingly "Free" Software!

Here are just a few options to give something back:
Wikipedia or donate
Mozilla/Firefox or donate
Apache Webserver or donate
OpenOffice.org or donate
and many, many more ...

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