I can't believe I'm looping all the way back around to "permissive open source is actually good and we should actually be MORE AGGRESSIVE about it, to continue undercutting corporate products"

but here we are

maybe trying to jam capitalist concerns ("how do we pay for all this labor?") is always just going to be incoherent vs reality.

Maybe the focus needs to be "what are we doing for the commons which gives _us_ stuff for free?" and stop worrying about whether we're "paid fairly"?


Contributing to the commons, a commons where others contribute for our benefit as well, is not the same as plain old labor. I'm starting to feel like trying to apply the "labor" lens to open source development is itself a problem that's pulling us in the wrong direction.

I also think there's some important nuance here re: no, I don't owe free labor to companies in the form of free support or more "active" work that doesn't directly benefit the commons. The commons is simply available, as-is, with no warranty, etc etc. We need to internalize that.

re: "devs gotta eat"


That's what regular jobs (in our current system) are for. What I'm trying to say with this whole thread is that it's _incoherent_ to try and jam the job system into the open source system.

(the other point I'm making is that doing-things-for-free that big-corps-do-for-profit is good, because it undercuts the corps and grows the commons)

Hmmm. I kinda wonder if why stuff like Github Sponsors feels so different from Patreon. Patreon feels very _transactional_, but all my patrons on GH Sponsors are just like "I just want to send a tip your way keep doing your thing you don't owe us anything"???

Anyway if you got to the end of this and you like the software I write/maintain and the tweets I spit out, github.com/sponsors/zkat is right there. I'm trying to get to 100 sponsors!

@zkat (anecdote: as a patreon subscriber i consider it exactly as a way to help give someone a little bit of money on a regular basis for no specific return other than their continuing to do cool stuff. i usually subscribe at a $3-$5 level. maybe i'm doing patreon wrong? :D)

@brion my experience in the _art_ side of Patreon, as someone who's a patron for a bunch of artists, is that they tend to treat patronage as way more transactional. I'm not sure if this is artists doing it because they think it's what they're supposed to do, or if that's what artists' patrons actually expect. But I see a lot of posts apologizing for low productivity, pausing Patreons to "take a break" etc, whereas this is unheard of in the open source side of things

@zkat *nod* I have seen that on the art side yeah, I see what you mean now

@zkat Patreon being designed for “support me/us and get things” be it virtual or physical things will always lead it to feel that way tbh. The fact they have to charge VAT/GST often highlights that. GH Sponsors was never intended for that sort of mechanism so feels different. Is others like that too where they haven’t built it around the give/get model.

@zkat I think patreon tries too much to push the reward system, I know there is few jurisdiction where donations should be tied to rewards but I feel like this ought to change, at least for the digital world where having some data behind doors often just doesn't makes sense.

@zkat Also, you don't work for big corps and therefore don't owe them features or bug fixes.

@jautero right! You do things at your own pace, etc. They can pay you if they want specific work, as long as the work goes back to the commons :)

@zkat (That's the "NO WARRANTY" part) If they decide to use your logging library (for example) and end up shipping huge security hole to their customer, that's their problem.

Well, in practice, that's what most open-source developers end up doing anyway: Working regular jobs and putting their FLOSS ventures to the side.

The economic problem that FLOSS is facing is that a lot of those ventures end up being really important but the developers can't dedicate full-time labor to it because they can't afford to do so.

This is also an issue for artists, like game developers, who can't dedicate themselves to their craft because it's so hard to pull together funding.

@zkat agreed but I don't think it fits the model of a commons either. Those have shared consumable (depletable) resources that need a governance system with powers of enforcement to manage the consumption and restocking of.

I think it's somewhere in between the creation of public art and the exchange of ideas through scientific journals. And a bit of mutual aid or community infrastructure building.

It's kinda its own thing.

@zkat Jamming the job system into the open source system already happened; Google "gives away" Chromium source because this affords them control over web standards and things, Oracle with Java and so on.

There are some open source projects, like the one we're communicating with now, that capital hasn't found a way to enclose yet, but it would be foolish to expect this to continue if we don't somehow force it to. The AGPL will help for a little while, probably, but we need labor power if we're going to put a stop to that in the long term...

@zkat I agree with everything you said, and I ask this candidly, because I really do not know: how do we fix the immediate problem of people spending most of their time to maintain infrastructures that holds entire software ecosystems together? To me, "pay them" seems like a good solution for those people, at least in the short term.

@xiroux They _could_ pay them. Or they could fork it and contribute. I'm a big proponent of corporations giving up as much IP as possible to the commons :)

@zkat Yeah, I think I agree with you (maybe not the forking part, corporations would end up controlling those projects they fork). But I see that as a long-term vision. Do you think that will also work for the short term?

@xiroux I think in the short term, what we're doing is less problematic than we think

@xiroux because the rest of us have a lot of software available, for free, and corporations are having to come up with alternative business models because open source keeps undercutting them :3

@zkat I don't think capitalism will run out of ideas on alternative business models, honestly.

@xiroux that's a separate problem. But we can keep growing the commons either way because it benefits us all :)

@zkat That is true. Although I'm not sure it will fix the problem of people working without getting anything to survive in a capitalist world.

@xiroux the point I'm making is more "trying to use open source to access capitalism is the problem".

Sponsorship is great! But I feel like making open source transactional kinda defeats the purpose.

@zkat But you don't access capitalism, that's the problem I see. You're already there and you need to survive. Anyway, I don't want to keep polluting your mentions with unsolicited opinions, sorry about that! I think we agree in many parts, though :)

@xiroux Right. I'm saying that "survival" should be "get a regular job. Maybe get your boss to let you work on open source to sap corporations", not "try to make the commons profitable"

The latter has big cryptocurrency/web3 smell. I don't _want_ the commons to become transactional. I want it to be a shared, mutual commons.

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