Contribution 📈 - new challenges arise

The contributions in the webpack organizations increased a lot in the last time. This comes with new challenges.

Tobias Koppers
Jul 8, 2018 · 3 min read

We are currently paying every contributor an estimated $50/hour for contributing to any webpack project (when contributed at least 6 hours per month). This means with increasing contributions the cost will increase.

Sadly the sponsorships don’t increase in the same way. You may notice the problem from the graph, we are spending more money then we earn. This lead to the fact that we are not longer able to pay all contributors the full amount and were forced to pay out less (80%).

That’s a bit sad, but to solve this we either need to increase the income or decrease the contributions. Let’s hope the first one happens…

Anyway, as we only have a limited amount of money, let’s look into how we can spend it more effective.

We are currently value every contribution equally. Contributing to important bugfix that affects nearly every user is equal to implementing a feature in a plugin that is only used by 100 people.

This is subject to change. In future when want to value contributions to mission-critical things more than other things. Because it’s difficult to value every contribution individually, this will probably happen on repo level.

We will define Long and Short Term Goals and weight every repository according to these. This will hopefully have the following effects:

  • Contributors that just have fun coding for open source, will be more motivated to work on things that contribute to the goals. That will push the goals, which is a good thing.
  • Contributors that have personal or company interest in features/fixes for less popular packages get less money. We can use that money to fund people working on things that contribute to the goals.

Result: Contributors focusing on the goals will continue to receive the full amount.

On the flip side this will probably make some people sad. Maintainers of less popular repos in our organization are probably unhappy with this. They either have to switch contributing to some other repo, or will receive less money. I’m sorry… (It was not a easy decision.)

We will make sure that the goals and affected repos are known beforehand. So they can look into new challenges…

There will probably a “free” amount, so when investigating 80% of your webpack time to mission-critical repos, you can use the remaining time to work on less important things, while still receiving the full amount. This should make sure that less popular things still get important fixes.

Because I collected that data, here a little gem. A histogram of the accumulated amount of income or spend money over the size of the amount.

From the graph you can see how much large vs small sponsors/backers contribute to our income. About 20% of the total income is contributed by backers donating $100 or less per month. About 40% is contributed by sponsors paying about $9000/month (Hint: that’s trivago’s $10k/m sponsorship, the amount shown here is excluding payment fees).

And here the same graph like at the start of the post, but including the current balance

webpack is not backed by a single big company, unlike many other big Open Source products. The development is funded by donations and sponsorships. Please consider sponsoring if you depend on webpack… (Ask your boss!)

Special thanks to these sponsors: (Top 5)

  • Trivago (Hotel metasearch) donated a total of $140,000
  • ag-Grid (DataGrid) donated a total of $42,500
  • Segment (Data Infrastructure) donated a total of $24,000
  • Adobe (Software) donated a total of $12,000
  • Capital One (Bank) donated a total of $12,000
  • Full list

Tobias Koppers

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