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Sustainability

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Kitze Medium

GitHub stars won’t pay your rent

Kitze shared this somewhat controversial story of Sizzy — from struggling open source project to successful product launch and charging money. It’s important to hear more stories like this because not all of the roads of open source are paved with gold. Honestly, it felt kind of shitty to delete the repository and unpin the project from my profile. I hated the feeling but I had to shrug it off. I had to convince myself that I’m not doing anything wrong. The app was serving a lot of people for 2.5 years, and I rarely got any contributions. It was time to get real and think about what matters. Oh, here we go… I’m gonna mention the M word and lose a ton of readers at this point. Money. Money matters. Kitze also made an appearance on JS Party #72: LIVE from React Amsterdam.

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Manuel Bieh DEV.to

I will now charge my clients a fee to support open source projects

Manuel Bieh: As an independent Freelance Developer I was wondering how I can support the Open Source community… so I had this idea: starting with my next project I will ask my clients for an hourly rate that is 1 Euro higher than I originally negotiated or I would usually charge. I will take that money (up to ~160 Euros per month) and support those projects on Open Collective that I’m basing my work upon in my client’s project. I like the spirit of what Manuel is doing here, but I’d suggest a slightly different tactic: raise your rate by N euros/hr (where N is at least 10) and give that to open source maintainers whose software you use on the client’s behalf. No need to complicate the client relationship with additional line items or things to explain. Besides, you’re probably under charging as is. Most of us are…

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Ned Batchelder nedbatchelder.com

The 'why' and 'how' of corporations and open source

Ned Batchelder: if you want someone to do something, you have to give them a compelling reason to do it, and you have to make it as easy as possible for them to do it. That is, you need to have good answers to Why? and How? Let’s look at the Why and How model as it applies to corporations funding open source. They don’t do it because the answers to Why and How are really bad right now. I interviewed Ned for an upcoming maintainer-focused series of The Changelog. He’s been in the game a long time and has a lot of interesting things to say.

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André Staltz staltz.com

Software below the poverty line

André Staltz collected data from OpenCollective and GitHub so he could get some numbers behind his questions around the sustainability of donations in open source. The results I found were shocking: there were two clearly sustainable open source projects, but the majority (more than 80%) of projects that we usually consider sustainable are actually receiving income below industry standards or even below the poverty threshold. Read his full piece to learn about his collection methodology and read his full analysis of the findings.

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Nadia Eghbal nadiaeghbal.com

The Twitch argument for GitHub Sponsors

Nadia Eghbal thinks GitHub Sponsors might be more like Twitch than it is like Patreon. Twitch streamers and, similarly I think, GitHub open source developers, benefit from an additional set of motivations, which is, “I want to watch and learn from you”. A graphic artist or a blogger who’s funded on Patreon doesn’t quite have that same relationship to their audience. In those cases, I think their output – the artifacts they create – takes center stage. She also thinks this dynamic might indicate that individual sponsorships will succeed despite enterprises being “where the money’s at”. I don’t know how this all will play out, but I do know it’ll be interesting!

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Owen Williams char.gd

GitHub's new features show it's finally listening to developers

The news about GitHub Sponsor is making the rounds. This post from Owen Williams highlights how GitHub is listening and putting their money where their mouth is, for the good of all of us. GitHub, it seems, is thriving again. It just showed the fruits of that labor, and what it looks like when a company is participating in the discussion in the open, listening to the developers that know it best. At an event called GitHub Satellite, the company unveiled the biggest set of new features in memory, all designed to address glaring problems the platform has faced for years. They’re designed to help make GitHub a better place to work, and contribute to the open source community as a whole.

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GitHub Icon GitHub

Sponsor your favorite open source contributors directly on GitHub

HUGE news coming from GitHub today: We’re thrilled to announce the beta of GitHub Sponsors, a new way to financially support the developers who build the open source software you use every day. Open source developers build tools for the rest of us. GitHub Sponsors is a new tool to help them succeed, too. 100% of sponsorship money goes to the developers and they’re even matching contributions up to $5k during a developer’s first year! Also, the whole thing is tightly integrated in to GitHub itself: Open source projects can also express their funding models directly from their repositories. When .github/FUNDING.yml is added to a project’s master branch, a new “Sponsor” button will appear at the top of the repository. Clicking the button opens a natively rendered view of the funding models listed in that file. There’s lots to digest here, but at first glance this looks like an amazing addition to the open source ecosystem. 🎉

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Alanna Irving medium.com

Babel’s rise to financial sustainability

Check out this interview from Alanna Irving (Open Source Collective Executive Director) with Henry Zhu sharing the backstory of what went well for Babel to reach financial sustainability. Our ultimate goal was to help the project thrive. My personal goal was to help fund Logan, given he was working on his own time, and I figured that if I ever quit my job I might get funded someday too (which has now happened). I knew we would need some momentum and time for that to be possible, so we decided to make a start. When we first started the Babel Collective, we weren’t even bringing in $1k/month. Slowly we built up to $4k/month, which is when I left my job to focus on Babel. Recently our budget looks a lot bigger thanks to a $100,000 grant from Handshake, which we split out as $10k/month. Once that’s over, the total will be around $20k/month. Also, check out Alanna’s book — Better Work Together

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Twitter Icon Twitter

Square is hiring 4 engineers + a designer to work full-time on Bitcoin Core

After announcing the program in a tweet, Jack Dorsey followed up with some details: This will be Square’s first open source initiative independent of our business objectives. These folks will focus entirely on what’s best for the crypto community and individual economic empowerment, not on Square’s commercial interests. All resulting work will be open and free. Followed by: Square has taken a lot from the open source community to get us here. We haven’t given enough back. This is a small way to give back, and one that’s aligned with our broader interests: a more accessible global financial system for the internet. Whether you’re a devout Bitcoin hodler or an avid nocoiner, you have to admit this a great way (the greatest?) for corporate entities to support the open source community. Full-time salaries. Not focused on commercial interests. Let’s hope it plays out that way! 🙏

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Havoc Pennington Tidelift

Open source has a working-for-free problem

Open source isn’t a charity case. We can’t expect to attract and retain level 10 players into a level 2 opportunity. So why are we treating open source maintainers and contributors like they owe us something and not finding ways to enable them to maximize the rewards they can get for playing the game? Let’s abandon the notion that open source is exclusively charity. In the software industry, we’re normalizing spec work in a way that the design industry successfully rallied against. The narrative around open source is that it’s completely OK—even an expectation—that we’re all doing this for fun and exposure; and that giant companies should get huge publicity credit for throwing peanuts-to-them donations at a small subset of open source projects. There’s nothing wrong with doing stuff for fun and exposure, or making donations, as an option. It becomes a problem when the free work is expected and the donations are seen as enough.

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Nadia Eghbal nadiaeghbal.com

Making money with licenses

Nadia Eghbal, on the role of licenses in open source funding: I’m skeptical that new licenses are the right approach on a systemic level, both in terms of feasibility, as well as where I think the world is going. I’ll tackle each of these concerns separately. I tend to agree with her take on the Right Way™️ to be thinking about it: I’m more interested in solutions that aim to capture value on the production, rather than consumption side. While everyone is focused on putting up tollbooths, opportunities to “price” maintainer attention, and access to maintainers, remain undervalued. There are issues with this as well. For one, buying access to maintainers is a proxy for buying influence over the project’s direction. This isn’t a guarantee, but it’s definitely a concern and could negatively impact other users. That being said, I think production-side monetization in the world of open source is a winning strategy over consumption-side monetization. What do you think?

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The Changelog The Changelog #338

Funding OSS with Mozilla Open Source Support awards

We’re talking with Mehan Jayasuriya program officer at Mozilla about MOSS — the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program which recognizes, celebrates, and supports open source projects. Earlier this year we caught the “MOSS 2018 Year in Review” blog post — this post highlighted many of their efforts in 2018 so we reached out to talk through the history, goals, and impact of this very generous project.

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Daniel Oberhaus motherboard.vice.com

The complicated economy of open source software

Daniel Oberhaus, writing for Vice Motherboard: Heartbleed wasn’t an isolated example of developer burnout and lack of funding, but an outgrowth of a systemic disease that had been festering in the open source software community for years. Identifying the symptoms and causes of this disease was the easy part; finding a cure is more difficult. It’s not enough to just throw more money at the open source community, however. Increased funding creates its own problems in terms of how that money is distributed and what the organizations supplying the funding demand in return. If you’re wondering how we got here in open source, this report is an excellent read on the subject.

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JavaScript eslint.org

Funding ESLint’s future

ESLint began as a side project 6 years ago and has grown into the most popular JavaScript linter in the world with over 6.5 million npm downloads every week. In short, we’ve realized that in order for ESLint to continue to grow and evolve, we need to get more organized and set up a way to fund ESLint’s development going forward. Today, we are happy to announce the ESLint Collective on Open Collective. Support ’em if you got ’em

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Brandon Gomez cnbc.com

The current business model of Patreon is not sustainable

Jack Conte, the founder of Patreon, said the following in a report from Brandon Gomez on cnbc.com regarding Patreon’s sustainability as it relates to their recent rapid growth: The reality is Patreon needs to build new businesses and new services and new revenue lines in order to build a sustainable business. This thread from Dan Olson on Twitter is worth reading. It started off with this Tweet: I don’t want to be doom and gloom, but Patreon is about to eat itself. Or, more specifically, the investors who demand geometric growth are about to demand Patreon eat itself. I take particular interest in their revenue which is estimated at $55M versus the $107M of venture capital raised and how that relates to sustainability and the choices founders make on their journey to succeed and/or survive.

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Duane O'Brien fosdem.org

Sustaining FOSS projects by democratizing the sponsorship process

I wish I was there to see Duane O’Brien talk through this in person. This talk at FOSDEM examines how he got executive buy in at Indeed for their internal FOSS Sustainability Fund, how the fund was set up, how they encouraged participation, and what the impact has been so far. Within a given company, there are typically only a few people involved in deciding which FOSS projects and initiatives to support financially. This year we [at Indeed] changed all that and democratize the decision making process. We set up an internal FOSS Sustainability Fund, and invited everyone to participate in the process.

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Eric Berry blog.codefund.app

Introducing CodeFund Jobs

You may remember Eric Berry from Founders Talk #56 where he and Adam went deep on his mission to fund open source through ethical advertising. What makes CodeFund Jobs unique from other developer-focused job boards? It integrates with CodeFund’s ad platform to help reach both active and passive job seekers. Whether you’re on the hunt (or not), we’d love you to check out what Eric is up to. 💯

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Adam Stacoviak changelog.com/posts

The founders of Octobox are "walking a tightrope" as they move towards sustainability

Building an open source business is hard. Octobox co-founders Andrew Nesbitt and Benjamin Nickolls know this all too well. They’re walking a preverbal “tightrope” with the introduction of new pricing in order to move towards sustainability. By all accounts, Octobox is a success. It’s a thriving open source project that’s being adopted by the software community using GitHub. It has a growing community of maintainers and contributors. Organizations like Shopify run company-wide instances for their own use. Octobox is also run as a SaaS that hosts more than 11k users. But there’s one tiny little problem…Octobox is not sustainable (yet).

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Away from Keyboard Away from Keyboard #11

Adam Clark wants to be independently wealthy

Adam Clark and I met back in 2013. We started a podcasting company together (which we both left), he shut down his consulting business to move to California and work for Apple, and now he’s back in Tennessee. Last year he launched a new business, Podcast Royale, a company he says will afford him more freedom to do whatever he wants to do. He talks to me about growing up in a cult, losing his father, marriage, and how being a parent gives him a purpose in life.

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BAT basicattentiontoken.org

Brave's new BAT tipping banner for creators

Good news! The new Brave tipping banner is now available with the latest desktop browser update. This new banner makes the experience of tipping your favorite Brave-verified publishers and creators easy and on brand. Even better, it never bugs your audience and is only shown when they want to initiate a BAT tip. If you podcast, blog, vlog, write tutorials, give talks, etc. then you should setup Brave Payments on your site and let your audience tip you with their attention! We’re doing it.

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Away from Keyboard Away from Keyboard #10

Maria Boland Ploessl found her home in technology

In our last episode of the year, I talk with Maria Boland Ploessl. Maria’s path to technology has been interesting to say the least. A Saint Paul native, she studied Spanish and Latin American studies in college. In 2016, after living in a few different cities (even a year-long stint in Brazil), she moved back to Minnesota. Now, she’s the Executive Director of Minnestar, a non-profit organization with the aim of supporting and growing Minnesota’s tech community. Maria talks to me about what Minnestar does, the work they’re doing to bring more people of underrepresented groups into tech, married life and how she’s grown from it, and parenthood.

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Adam Jacob Medium

We need sustainable free and open source communities

Adam Jacob (co-founder and creator of Chef) tldr’d his ideas to create sustainable free and open source communities by saying, “we should stop focusing on how to protect the revenue models of open source companies, and instead focus on how to create sustainable communities.” He says this will lead to better software, and that it’s also better for business. In addition to this post, Adam also wrote a short book. When I say “Sustainable Open Source Community”, I mean the following: A unified body of individuals, scattered throughout a larger society, who work in support of the creation, evolution, use, and extension of free and open source software; while ensuring its longevity through meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the community of the future to meet its own needs.

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.NET github.com

It is expected that all developers become a Patron to use Fody

Here’s an interesting twist on open source funding: require all users to back the project on Open Collective, but only enforce that rule via social pressure. In other words, use an honesty policy: It is an honesty system with no code or legal enforcement. When raising an issue or a pull request, the user may be checked to ensure they are a patron, and that issue/PR may be closed without further examination. If a individual or organization has no interest in the long term sustainability of Fody, then they are legally free to ignore the honesty system. The software is MIT-licensed, so all of those liberal rules apply, but don’t expect to get your PR merged or your issue taken seriously unless you’re a patron. You must be a Patron to be a user of Fody. Contributing Pull Requests does not cancel this out. It may seem unfair to expect people both contribute PRs and also financially back this project. However it is important to remember the effort in reviewing and merging a PR is often similar to that of creating the PR. Also the project maintainers are committing to support that added code (feature or bug fix) for the life of the project. The project currently has 4 organizations and 10 individuals supporting it. What do you think those numbers will look like in 6 months or a year?

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