I enjoy contributing to open, free projects like Wikipedia, Stack Exchange, and open source software development. I'm curious if there is a word for people who make a hobby of participating in such free and open projects that offer no payment or reward for contribution, except for reputation, satisfaction, or personal amusement.

The word "altruist" is the first that comes to mind, but it is a much broader term, and there are cases where it doesn't seem to be a perfect fit. For example, if you're answering this question, you are helping me and potentially others, but you may be motivated by reputation or fun, as opposed to merely a desire to give something away for free.

I'm not necessarily looking for a commonly used word, I'm more curious if there is a term out there for people who find enjoyment or satisfaction in participating in free communities.

I'm especially interested in a word that implies participation in open communities for enjoyment or as a hobby, as opposed to "charity," "reputation," or "ego."

  • 1
    There are various words related to the kind motivation behind it. The one thing they all have in common is not doing it for money (non-professional). Words like amateur cover that.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 7, 2017 at 1:27
  • Is there a word for people who make a hobby of doing unpaid work for others' benefit? At least in North American English, they have "sucker".
    – lly
    Apr 7, 2017 at 1:28
  • 3
    Traditionally the term would be "hacker", but that sense of that word got lost 40-odd years ago.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 7, 2017 at 1:29
  • ..Open sourcer? Apr 7, 2017 at 1:54
  • "devotee", enthusiast, contributor, donor, volunteer.. gotta mash em together .... devoteer?
    – Tom22
    Apr 7, 2017 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


Contributor is commonly used by Wikipedia and FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) projects


  1. a person who contributes money, assistance, etc.
  2. a person who contributes an article, story, etc., to a newspaper, magazine, or the like.

The Wikipedia community is the community of contributors to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Individual contributors are known as "Wikipedians".

The aim of the Harmony project is to develop templates of Contributor License Agreements for use by Free and open source software (FOSS) projects.

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