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You Pay (Or Maybe You Don’t)

Publish date: Author: Heydon

Sometimes people get things spectacularly wrong. So wrong, in fact, that you might suspect they are lying, or someone has been lying to them. On more than one occasion, I’ve been told the political and economic theory of Socialism would insist I worked for free. I’ve had people identify me as a socialist, or leftist, and demand that—in accordance with my political stance—I should give them my books, designs, and other wares for no money whatsoever.

Suffice it to say that Socialism (wherever it is not being deliberately misrepresented) is interested in disseminating rights, protections, and fair compensation for the world’s workers and makers. Instead, it is Capitalism that tries to pay you as little as possible. The less you give for the value you take from the worker, the more excess money (read: capital) you can accumulate.

I hope that clears that up.

Some people can afford to work for nothing: people who have already accumulated lots of capital, for example, or are subsidized by their families. For them, “exposure” alone may be enough motivation. But it’s important they do charge for their work anyway. Why? Because the more people work for free, the less perceived value the work has, and the more likely those who can’t afford to work for fuck all will not be able to secure the money they need to live.

Always charge. If not for yourself, then for the next person.

Andy and I have put a lot of work and thought into Every Layout. We want it to be the best resource it can be. Naturally, we would like to be paid for the value we are giving you. However, we know that not everyone can afford the things they’d like to have. We’re trying to address this in two ways:

  1. A large selection of free content, including all of the “rudiment” articles that cover the basics of (our take on) contemporary CSS
  2. An honor system, wherein you can claim to be eligible for the full Every Layout for free

What makes you eligible for (2)? If you are currently out of work, you are a full-time student or under 19 years old, you are trying to get your first job as a web developer or designer, or you are an unpaid volunteer for a charitable organization not involved in proselytism: consider yourself a match. Also, if you are the sole person of your ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation at your company or in your local developer community: we will gift Every Layout to you. If you have a disability that makes accessing equivalent resources difficult, you can have this resource for free. We are trying to make it as accessible as possible.

However: If you are a paying student (including a student or former student of a code bootcamp) the teaching establishment in question should be paying for its teaching materials. If your teacher sends you here for a free copy, let us know. We are happy to finance individuals, but not businesses. We will offer them a bulk license at a discount, so you can get your free Every Layout through them.

It would be logistically and ethically implausible for us to vet, or otherwise judge, if you deserve to have Every Layout without a charge. If you believe you fit into the criteria above, let us know. That’s the honor part.

Are we suckers? Perhaps, to some. But while you alone decide if you qualify, we decide if you disqualify. That is, if we see you saying or sharing racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, or fascist sentiments, or you’re caught engaging in what we consider, in any way, punching down, you get fuck all for free from us.

Venn diagram. On the left: rich. On the right: Dick face. At the intersection: Good luck

We figure the kind of people who want our product, and can comfortably afford it, but resent the idea of subsidizing those who can’t afford it, will more than likely disqualify themselves in one way or another. It’s not watertight, but that’s how it’s going to work. Thank you for reading.

Sign up

If you think you qualify for the Honour System, head over to and fill out the application form. We carefully consider each application, so would love to hear from you.

If you find yourself wrestling with CSS layout, it’s likely you’re making decisions for browsers they should be making themselves. Through a series of simple, composable layouts, Every Layout will teach you how to better harness the built-in algorithms that power browsers and CSS.

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