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Isn’t open source code just great? It gave us all of these Linux distros and great Linux apps, Apache, Python, and the list goes on. If you’re a coder, this movement is very easy to contribute to. But what if you don’t code and still want to pitch in and show your support? We’ve previously discussed eight ways to support open-source projects 8 Ways To Help Open-Source Projects If You're Not A Coder 8 Ways To Help Open-Source Projects If You're Not A Coder We’ve covered why it’s important to contribute to open-source projects, but what if you’re not a coder? You don't have to learn how to program to help your favorite open-source projects. Many non-programmers volunteer some... Read More besides coding, and today I’d like to expand on the first: Donating real, hard-earned cash to support the developers you love, using the online service Gittip.

First Things First: Gittip Is About People, Not Projects

Here is the most important part of the Gittip homepage:


The reason it’s so important is that it gives the gist of the service without having to explain too much: The Top Receivers table is full of people. Not projects — you won’t see anyone donating to the Drupal project, but you will see Alex Pott, one of the project’s key maintainers, personally getting over $450 in weekly donations for his work.

This is a really key distinction to make, and is one of the things that makes Gittip so unique. Open source is usually about the code, the commits, the tools, the projects. But this is one website that revolves strictly around the people who make that code work, allowing you to reward them individually for their hard work. This sort of individual recognition is not something you would often find in the open source world, and I feel it is invaluable.

Gittip does support the notion of teams, which can effectively be used for supporting projects. Still, the site itself heavily emphasizes individual contributors, and I hope that trend continues.

So Who Should You Give To?

Now’s the fun part: Figuring out who is worthy of your patronage; finding great people to donate to. Assuming you already have a field of interest, you can start with Gittip’s own Communities page:


This is effectively a directory of active Gittip members, sorted by area of interest or activity. If the list seems a tad smallish to you, that’s because it only features communities with over 150 members. There are also 637 “communities in formation” which you may join, but may not browse.

I’m into Python these days, so let’s look at the Python community homepage:


So we basically get the same layout as the Gittip homepage, only now everyone on the page has something to do with Python. Joining the community takes one click. Sadly, there is no way to list all of the members in the community: You only get the newest members, top givers, and top receivers. So while all of the pages you’ll see on the page do have something to do with Python (or whichever community you selected), the page does not show all members who have something to do with it.

Still, this is one way to select someone to donate to, because the list of twelve “top receivers” in your community is already pre-filtered: They use Gittip, contribute in an area you care about, and are significant enough to get some traction on Gittip. You can also see exactly how much each of them makes on Gittip every week, making it clear they’re not exactly raking in millions from the platform. Perhaps you’re going to want to give to someone who only gets $30 per week over someone who’s already getting $400 – so that’s one more thing to consider. Find someone who seems interesting, and click their avatar. You’ll get a simple profile page:


This particular page is for Jedez, AKA Jannis Leidel, and what you see above is a partial screenshot. Further down the page there’s a section showing Connected Accounts, leading to the developer’s accounts on Twitter, Github, and more. You can now click through to the developers Github page and see exactly what they’re up to: Which projects they’ve been committing to, how much, and more. You’re basically leveraging the open source model to clearly see whether or not this developer merits your support — not just based on words or promises for a great future product (a-la Kickstarter), but based on their actual sustained output over the years.

What if the person you want to support isn’t currently on Gittip? In that case, you can use the textbox on the Gittip homepage to specify their Github, Bitbucket, or Twitter username:


They will have to accept the donation, a procedure which is beyond this post’s scope, but it is important to note that you are not limited to developers already using Gittip.

A Great Way To Support Open Source Developers

From what I’ve seen, people don’t usually get into open source development trying to make buckets of cash. Still, it is very nice to get a tangible exchange for all of the hours and days of hard work you’ve put in creating something and giving it away to the world for free. Gittip is a lovely way to express your gratitude, and I only hope to see it grow and become more widely adopted over time.

Image Credits: money box Via Shutterstock

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  1. Joel L
    November 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    This is a really cool concept, though as others have said there are some kinks with it. I'd be interested to see if open source software starts to take on a proprietary philosophy - or even a freelancer philosophy - if Gittip were to explode in popularity.

  2. Cayden
    November 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    While it's certainly great to be giving to developers directly, for large project teams, I'd rather donate to the project instead. It just feels wrong to be only crediting 1 single guy. While if i try to give everyone, that is just too little money going around lol.

  3. aaa
    November 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    If several programmers work on the project through years and only one of them, the most recognizable face and leader recieve donation then what do you think happens after some time?

    • Erez Z
      November 3, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Open-source has long been a meritocracy. Those developers most able to make the biggest contributions to a project, usually gain prominence. That's just how it works. You can always opt to donate to a smaller developer who happens to reflect your priorities in their work (i.e, patches the bugs you're most annoyed with, etc.).

  4. Juan D
    November 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    one can always do its share of helping, by donating, i am one of the people who presses the donate button and goes thru with it. and by promoting open source to other people