Micro Payments, Flattr & Supporting Open Source Development


June 20, 2013

We're going to begin a small experiment in using Flattr to help support our work with the Drupal community. We've got a huge problem in the Drupal community in that we are either relying on volunteers to "scratch an itch" or on Drupal shops (or freelancers) like ourselves to fit it into one or more contracts to see that we have some way to pay for our time. 

When the itch is no longer scratchy, or we're just too busy with other work to consider taking on maintaining projects that we, as contributors, have started, then projects become stale and out of date. It's relatively easy to set up a new project, but maintaining it over the years can be very daunting. Even some of Drupal's most popular modules are lagging on certain aspects of their development because there isn't enough of an incentive for the developers to review and commit the patches.

I think that if the Drupal community had an easy means to be generous with each other and if we got in the habit of thanking people who have made our lives and projects easier we would be a much healthier community. We can't always go and buy our favourite developers a beer to thank them, but maybe if we could get into the habit of flattring those contributors that have made a difference to us, they'd be able to choose how they want to spend that recognition. 

Now, that might be in just thanking those around them who have improved their lives, but ultimately I'm hoping that there are people in the Drupal community who are able to generate some passive income through participation in open source communities, as Dries recently blogged about.

We need to be able to find more ways to support:

  • writing the critical documentation
  • submitting a patch
  • creating a kick ass new theme
  • maintaining existing modules
  • improving security & accessibility
  • folks who are taking leadership in the community
  • videos & podcasts that help keep us current
  • training materials to help bring on more contributors
  • so much other stuff we're only partly doing

I've been experimenting with this for the last 6 months, but am now going to sponsor contributions from the rest of my team. I'd like my team to be giving $20 worth of contributions to people or projects that inspire them every month. Hopefully other Drupal shops will get involved. If it's successful, I'm sure that we'll be able to make it easier to link in directly to a Drupal.org user accoung rather than simply using an associated Twitter account. 

Oh ya, worth mentioning that there's already a Flattr module out there and several Drupal.org users that are already using it and featuring it on their profile pages.

So, let's see if we can find new ways to be generous with each other and use that to support and expand our community! Oh ya, and if you appreciate this blog post or the work I've done, feel free to Flattr me.

Worth also looking at Clay Shirky's Designing for generosity:

I'm not sure what the right solution is, but we need to find more diverse ways to support development in the community.

Another interestng micropayment tool is Gittip which is also worth looking at.

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