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Setting your OSS repo’s monetary policy

Specifying what contributions you’ll pay for and which you won’t helps avoid confusion & hurt feelings!

Kevin Owocki
Oct 10, 2018 · 3 min read

One of the externalities of creating a mesh network of paid contributors to open source software is the expectation of always getting paid. If you do some really great work on a Github repo, for the good of the project, and you see someone else get paid, but you did not get paid, you might be confused. 😕And rightfully so!

What’s your policy?

We think that is super important to set a clear policy for your repo and how you plan to use Gitcoin. We’ve seen the following monetary policies in practice.

  1. All contributions are paid, via a tip or bounty.
  2. Bounties are used to source new contributors, so new recruits are paid.
  3. Contributions are paid on an ad-hoc basis.
  4. Contributions are paid only in non-monetary tokens.

Communicate your policy

We recommend adding a blurb of text to your repo’s file to clarify your policy. Here is an example.

This repo uses Gitcoin to incentivize contributions from contributors all around the world.

We believe that properly incentivizing Open Source Software means providing funding to support contributors, but we also recognize the precedent that is set when contributors who have been contributing for intrinsic reasons begin to expect extrinsic rewards for their contributions.

Gitcoin has written about this, in the abstract, here. Tangibly, our monetary policy is:

Our mission is to “Grow Open Source”. Read More about our mission here.

We believe that contributors should contribute for intrinsic reasons first (see mission statement above), and we hereby provide notice that we will not be able to fund all contributions. We will not tip for every minor contribution, but are committed to recognizing all contributors.

Scope that is explicitly funded upfront will be posted to the Github Issue by @gitcoinbot, and will also be posted to the Gitcoin Issue Explorer.

Thanks for reading

I’m curious to hear how the above affects how contributors are motivated to work with your repo. If you have any feedback, Please reach out on twitter!

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To learn more about Gitcoin, click below. We welcome you on our journey to grow open source while changing the way we work.

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