In this week's episode of Adventures in Blockchain, Charles Max Wood interviews Eric Berry and Kevin Owocki, discussing open source sustainability using blockchain. Eric Berry is a panelist on Sustain Our Software podcast and runs Codefund. Kevin is the co-founder of Gitcoin. Our guests start by explaining what each of their companies does and how they help sustain open source.
Kevin explains that Gitcoin is a place you can get coin if you are a software engineer working in open source. Their mission is to support open source software. Kevin discusses how blockchain creates new hope for open source sustainability. One project Kevin introduces that helps move them towards their goal is called bounties. Bounties allow engineers to collect cryptocurrency for work they do in opensource.
Codefund is an ethical advertising platform that is specifically run to grow and sustain open source. Eric shares how they do this by inviting bloggers, application builders, and other maintainers, to put a small bit of code on their sites that specifically advertise what they are doing. This allows them to receive passive revenue constantly without having to spend time marketing.
Gitcoin and Codefund are related, Kevin and Eric share the story of how they started helping one another. When Kevin was building Gitcoin he met Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum and was invited to join ConsenSys. Using his work with ConsenSys as a stepping stone Gitcoin was able to level up. At this point, Eric reached out to Kevin because he was looking for a way to more easily distribute funds.
Next, the panel considers how sustaining open source is made easier through open source. In the blockchain ecosystem, there is a lot more liquidity and a lot less bureaucracy. Kevin explains that when people think of blockchain they only see bitcoin prices and miss all the potential that the blockchain has.
There are many problems paying people with “real” currency. For example, credit card companies take fees, transfer money across borders is difficult and worst of all there are knowledge workers that don’t have access to a stable financial system like in parts of Africa. By using the blockchain to pay these great developers can work for western companies and in open source.
Eric shares how he uses the blockchain to pay maintainers and advertisers. The inbound advertisers at Codefund are already using eth and dai, which is easily turned around to pay their publishers. Currently, it is not all done on the blockchain, Eric explains what it looks like paying everyone. Codefund's goal is to eventually be completely on the blockchain and to be constantly paying their maintainers.
Taxation is something discussed on this weeks Sustain Our Software, Eric brings it up in hopes of hearing Kevin’s take on taxation in the blockchain. Kevin explains that he wrote an EIP or Ethereum improvement proposal, block reward funding for open source maintainers. The blockchain has miners who receive coin for the work they do. Those miners use an algorithm to show proof of work. Open source maintainers do work for the blockchain as well and his proposal says that maintainers should receive coin for what they do for the blockchain. The problem that some have with this idea is that it is hard to prove the software they are writing will directly impact the blockchain or that it even got done.
The panel considers ways to prove the value created by maintainers and how paying maintainers show them they are valued. Burn out is a big obstacle for the maintainability of open source. Everyone has responsibilities, to family and other things and its a shame when those doing open source have to quit because they can’t meet those responsibilities. The panel discusses ways that we can help maintainers not burn out. They also talk briefly about entitlement in open source, Kevin introduces his no asshole policy.
Charles asks Kevin to explain how Gitcoin’s bounty network works. The architecture of Gitcoin’s bounty network uses the smart contract in Ethereum called standard bounties, which acts as an escrow function. When an issue is posted it goes into standard bounties which holds the eth. When someone starts the work they are put in contact with the funder and when they submit their work they get paid.
Kevin explains the rules of social etiquette in the network that keeps everyone happy. He shares some of their results and statistics and explains how disputes are handled. They will be launching a new service called Gitcoin grants, which uses CLR matching. Kevin also explains how they use monthly hackathons to help the open source community.
Eric takes a turn to explain what Codefund is doing to help in open source. They will be releasing a Codefund sponsorship service, this will help open source projects to find the right sponsors. He tried something similar in 2017 with some promising results but was shut down Github. Now that they have worked it out with Github they will be trying again. Charles having remembered their first attempt shares some of his feelings about Codesponsor and his excitement that they will be trying again.
To end the episode the panel reiterates how blockchain could change the financial world. Kevin compares it to how the internet changed the world, at first it was slow but it grew and changed. Charles compares it to the discovery and growth of the radio. The panel considers how the blockchain will evolve and what it could mean for the future of the world.
Charles Max Wood
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Charles Max Wood:
Sustain Web3 Conference in Boulder, Colorado, Feb 2020