Sponsor me on GitHub?

Monday 7 October 2019

tl;dr: You can sponsor me on GitHub, but I’m not sure why you would.

In May, GitHub launched GitHub Sponsors, a feature on their site for people to support each other financially. It’s still in beta, but now I’m in the program, so you can sponsor me if you want.

I’m very interested in the question of how the creators of open source software can benefit more from what they create, considering how much value others get from it.

To be honest, I’m not sure GitHub Sponsors is going to make a big difference. It’s another form of what I’ve called an internet tip jar: it focuses on one person giving another person money. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for enabling interpersonal connections of all sorts. But I don’t think that will scale to improve the situation meaningfully.

I think a significant shift will only come with a change in how businesses give back to open source, since they are the major beneficiaries. See my post about Tidelift and “Corporations and open source, why and how” for more about this.

I’m participating in GitHub Sponsors because I want to try every possible avenue. Since it’s on GitHub, it will get more attention than most tip jars, so maybe it will work out differently. Participating is a good way for me to understand it.

GitHub lets me define tiers of sponsorship, with different incentives, similar to Kickstarter. I don’t know what will motivate people, and I don’t have existing incentives at my fingertips to offer, so I’ve just created three generic tiers ($3, $10, $30 per month). If GitHub Sponsors appeals to you, let me know what I could do with a tier that might attract other people.

The question mark in the title is not because I’m making a request of you. It’s because I’m uncertain whether and why people will become sponsors through GitHub Sponsors. We’ll see what happens.


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