Recognition is the currency of the open source community. When somebody does something that helps you, the proper way of paying them for their time and effort is, quite simply, to thank them and let other people know that they helped you. This is why the most popular Creative Commons licenses include attribution. This is why even the most permissive open source licenses ask that attribution notices be kept and distributed with the code. And this is why members of the Ubuntu community is celebrating everybody else in the community in our first ever Community Appreciation Day.
I was a member of the Ubuntu community long before I became an employee of Canonical, and I’ll be getting much more community focused in my new role as Upstream Liason on the Community Team in January. Suffice it to say, I owe a lot of people thanks for their work, support and encouragement over the years. But Community Appreciation day isn’t about repaying old debts of gratitude, it’s about letting people know that their work doesn’t go unnoticed, that it does make a difference, and that people do appreciate it. Without that, it’s very easy for a community member to burn themselves out. So consider Community Appreciation day to be a day of investing your gratitude, because while it may just feel like you’re being thankful, you are in fact building up a fellow contributor.
I will be sharing my appreciation with people either privately, or in the medium where I usually interact with them, either mailing lists of IRC, because I feel that I should show my appreciation in the place where I received their contribution. But you should share your thanks in whatever manner you feel is most appropriate, and most sincere. Just make sure that you do.