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Incentivizing Open Source Authors

Jun 7, 2016

As developers, Open Source Software (OSS) is foundational to what we do every day. We all have different reasons for contributing, but the reasons we don’t are typically universal. Burn out, lack of resources, lack of appreciation, lack of desire. Naturally, we tend to accomplish a task when the incentive outweighs the resources needed to accomplish that task. With OSS, the incentive almost always approaches zero as the project matures.

At the beginning of March I released React.js Program — “a linear approach to learning the React.js ecosystem”. With a sizable amount of Luck|Blessings|Privilege, React.js Program has established itself as a pretty great way to learn React and to date has over 25,000 students. It’s been an amazing ride thus far and one that I hope to continue to grow and learn from. However, one thing has been clear to me since the day I launched — React.js Program would not be possible if it weren’t for the individuals who sacrificed their time and energy for the sake of open source.

I’m of the opinion that if you’re profiting off of an open source ecosystem, you should give back in any way you can. Whether that’s contributing with code, money, or a simple thank you — it all goes back to increasing incentives for OSS authors.

With that said, I’ve committed $4,500 over the next three months to have React.js Program be the main sponsor of React Boilerplate. Max and the other contributors have done an amazing job with this project and are experimenting with a new, financially incentivized approach to open source. My hope is that this sponsorship will kick off a new wave of support for open source projects from companies who profit off of OSS and who also have MUCH deeper pockets than I do.