I’m now on patreon.
Hopefully this will provide enough funding that I can take better care of the open source projects that I look after. Since becoming a daddy it’s become hard to find the time to do free work on these projects even though I love working on them. Combine that with the ambition to create a startup which eats up the rest of my spare time and the result is that these projects that I love are getting stale.
As a contractor my time is available for purchase. Unlike in permanent employment I can vary the amount of paid client work I take on in a year, so if I get serious funding for the open source work I can legitimately scale back my normal client work to make time for it. I’m not looking for people to buy me a pint out of gratitude here (though I wouldn’t complain!), I’m looking for serious funding from people and organisations that benefit from all the hard work put in so that we can all benefit from further improvements to the great public codebase that is open source.
As an example, my ef-enum-lookup nuget package has had 18k downloads to date, and I suspect this is unlikely to be used in hobby projects given the nature of EF (entity framework, an object-relational-mapper from Microsoft). So a fair number of commercial operations are benefiting from the improvements to their database that this project brings. I’ve had several requests and even some pull requests for improvements and features that I would dearly like to add, and that these businesses would benefit from; if they pooled money via Patreon then it would actually be an economical way for them all to benefit from the improvements. For example I counted six different individuals expressing an interest in custom schema support. What if they or their companies all contributed?
If you want a project to not dissolve into a mess then even pull requests are not free. Although there is a probably-working improvement, it may not fit the style of the project, it may introduce other issues, it may be missing unit tests, it may be written by a less experienced programmer and need additional work and/or support.
I’ve had to choose monthly or per-feature on Patreon, and I’ve gone for monthly because there’s more to an open source project than just bug-fixes and features – you also have to package it, unit test it, host it, refactor it, document it, set up continuous deployment or whatever the flavour of the day is, and respond to people who are having issues or who have contributions to offer. It seems to be a better match to the nature of open source development to ask for ongoing support as once someone is using a project they are likely going to benefit from using it for some time, and even a new feature will have a long life providing value to users.
I haven’t picked a specific daily rate I’d work on this for yet, but I’d probably give some discount over my normal contract rates just because I think it’s worthwhile and I enjoy it.
Do you or your employer use any of my open source projects? Fund me to make them better! Head over to https://www.patreon.com/timabell with your boss’s credit card and then drop me a line to let me know what’s of interest to you.