Perspective

Support open source software as a GitHub sponsor

Martin Fenner
August 12, 2021 2 min read https://doi.org/10.53731/r8n4c91-97aq74v-ag6v9

Two years ago GitHub introduced the ability to sponsor an open source contributor – person or organization. They handle (and pay for) the payment logistics for a one-time or regular contribution. A blog post from June 2019 describes the thinking of the GiHub Sponsors team that went into this service, and the practicalities of using the service are documented here.

In my last blog post I talked about a similar concept, supporting this blog via a one-time donation or small monthly contribution. Similar to GitHub sponsors this is also a small voluntary contribution rather than a required payment, and it depends on a backend service that can handle small contributions of just a few dollars/euros.

Readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of dog food (the saying not the food). In this case it means that Front Matter should become a GitHub sponsor for open source software it depends on. As a small startup you have to start somewhere, and the pick for the first organization to support was an easy one: Citation Style Language (CSL). For practical reasons Front Matter sponsors Rintze Zelle, one of the main contributors to CSL:

Front Matter GitHub sponsoring

The reason I picked CSL is that I never seen an open source project contributing to scholarly infrastructure so much with so little resources. CSL is everywhere (see the list of software products using CSL here), and has been for many years. And there is no big organization standing behind CSL that pays a salary that allows one or more developers to work on CSL, a common pattern with important open source software. So a big thank you to Bruce D'Arcus, Simon Kornblith, Frank Bennett, Rintze Zelle, Sebastian Karcher, Sylvester Keil, Johannes Krtek, Liam Magee, Charles Parnot, Carles Pina, Andrea Rossato, Dan Stillman, and Philipp Zumstein, to name just a few of the many contributors to CSL. You can thank them yourself in the CSL discussion forum, but if your own software depends on CSL, please consider GitHub sponsorship.

GitHub sponsors and donations and memberships for the Front Matter blog are of course flavors of crowdfunding, which has an interesting history and many success stories you can learn from, and mistakes to avoid.

Copyright © 2021 Martin Fenner. Distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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