GitHub has launched GitHub Sponsors, which lets you fund the development of open source software. As GitHub is the biggest repository for open source projects, this is big news for developers dedicated to creating and maintaining open source software.
Fund Open Source Software Using GitHub Sponsors
GitHub describes GitHub Sponsors as “a new way to financially support the developers who build the open source software you use every day.” The idea is to let everyone who uses open source software—which is everyone—contribute to its development.
In the post on the GitHub Blog announcing the new initiative, GitHub explains its reasoning that “Funding individuals helps them keep doing important work, expands opportunities to participate, and gives developers the recognition they deserve.”
There’s a new way to contribute to open source: GitHub Sponsors ?
— GitHub (@github) May 23, 2019
GitHub Sponsors is currently limited to “a small number of sponsored developers”. However, “anyone who contributes to an open source project is eligible to become a sponsored developer in the future.” You can join the waitlist at GitHub Sponsors.
While the number of developers is limited at the moment, any GitHub user can sponsor one of the developers in the program. Just head to their profile or hover over their username to do so. For the first 12 months GitHub will cover the payment processing fees.
The Pros and Cons of Funding Open Source Software
GitHub Sponsors is likely to split opinion. On the one hand it could encourage more developers to make their projects open source, which is good news. One the other hand, it could influence the types of projects developers work on, which would be bad news.
We need to hope that adding money to GitHub doesn’t ruin everything. Especially when Microsoft now owns GitHub, for better or worse. Still, if GitHub Sponsors does have a negative effect on the community there are plenty of GitHub alternatives around.