I bought a weekly round for my friends
Given our community is a little... let's say cautious I feel the need to open with a disclaimer. I am in no way affiliated with Gittip, in the past, present and the foreseeable future. In fact I looked at their bugtracker for the first time this morning and am appalled that a site in production for 2 years can have so many outstanding basic conceptual issues.
In any case this entry is about the underlying idea, so if you can manage to not get distracted by a shoddy implementation - read on (NSFW language as always :)
It started yesterday when I looked here and asked Y U NO WANT BEER?!. While twitter did not manage to spark a conversation, IRC did (and boy, was that some conversation :) The chatter quickly evolved, climaxed and (painfully predictably) broke away for good. And also predictably it boiled down to a split into several distinct camps
- Some genuinely believe it is not worth bothering with chump change, since "we lack the hipsters in our community" and without them any kind of funding drive will not have an impact
- Some feel uncomfortable seeing their avatar among the current highest donors/receivers (after you look at the current top receivers you either instantly understand what the problem is, or you don't - there is no easy way to explain it)
- Some genuinely believe they rather get patches as opposed to chump change
I say FUCK THAT. And instead of explaining how and why you should do something you are not currently doing, I will instead explain why I am currently pledging $50 (possibly more in the future) per week, and distribute them among folks of my choosing.
First of all: it is easy for me to do so (and yes, this part is important). Connect my twitter / github / bitbucket / whathaveyou account, connect a credit card: done.
With that out of the way - let's take a simple example - Pumpkin Perl and the current Pumpkin (or Pumpking depends on what you like). At the time of writing Perl is #3 on the metacpan leaderboard, with 168 "backers". If these 168 decide to give our pumpkin $5/week each - that's roughly $3500 per month for him right there.
THIS JUST IN, BREAKING NEWS: chump-change adds up.
Now, am I confident he will use the cash to further my interests (that is keep Pumpkin Perl sane) in the foreseeable future? Yes, I am pretty confident, given track record and all that. But the more important question is - does it matter if he actually does? Not in the slightest. I am not sharing some chump-change with expectations of extra commitments and future results.
I am virtually buying my fellow colleagues a beer for EXCELLENT OUTSTANDING WORK *ALREADY COMPLETED*
What I particularly like about Gittip is that it does not require any extra effort to keep doing what I decided to do. Yes, I could go broke by oversharing my extensive wealth, but so could anyone with a non-dumb phone and an appetite for extra game content. At least I'd know there is an actual person (that I might even like) on the other end ;)
Will I feel cheated and sad if none of this goes anywhere? If the virtual beers do not motivate anyone, and if the Perl-portion of the Gittip community remains unseen and insignificant? Not really. $50 is the cost of a decent-but-not-spectacular dinner for two where I live. If this is cash that ended up being thrown away - shrug, it could have been a shitty dinner anyhow. And if I *do* feel bad about it - this means I am a petty shithead and I deserve to feel like that anyway :)
So to recap:
- It is easy
- It doesn't cost me much of anything
- It can make a real tangible difference on the other end
- It sends a clear continuous "Thank you!" message
- Makes Perl as a whole look good, without compromise of my values
- No hipsters required (though of course welcome)
What's not to like?