Over the years, crowdfunding has earned a great deal of credibility, and as a result has experienced a tremendous increase in popularity. Today crowdfunding is a viable funding option for filling the financial void for many startups, campaigns, individual projects, and more. We’ve even started to see this method being used to help develop and improve open-source software. Crowdfunding open-source software is a still a fairly new concept. How much potential and lasting power can it actually have?
The Power of CrowdFunding
In the past, asking for money seemed socially uncouth and taboo, but today’s society has thoroughly embraced it as a legitimate form of funding. With sites like gofundme, patreon, and indiegogo, just to name a few, crowdfunding is now easier and more popular than ever. I’m sure you’ve heard of the crowdfunding project launched on Kickstarter for making potato salad. This project has funded more than $50,000 from roughly 6500 backers backers. While this project example is rather unorthodox, it’s still a very strong illustration of just how powerful crowdfunding can be. It shows that by simply reaching out to a community and asking for help, it is possible to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for your project. Who needs venture funding when you can crowdfund?
Growing Popularity of Open Source
The concept of open source denotes something that can be freely modified, used, and redistributed.This concept is all too familiar to the WordPress community, and more recently is beginning to see wide-spread adoption. The open-source secret formula is a great way to cultivate community participation and provide a channel to give back or help.
A recent article by Fast Company shed light on an interesting relationship between open source and crowdfunding. The article featured a company called Bountysource, which quite simply is a website for crowdfunding “bounties” on open-source developments. Basically, with Bountysource, backers can help improve open-source projects by monetary donations to particular projects. The open-source projects will list their objective fundraising goal, the improvements they plan to make, and why they are fundraising. This enables the backers to see exactly what they’re giving to. The funds that are raised pay bounties used to fix particular bugs, or to help improve the software. Bountysource has undergone a series of changes since it first launched roughly ten years ago. In 2012, Bountysource relaunched as a website focused on providing crowdfunding bounties for open-source software development that has gained much popularity over the years. I believe that only recently—within the past few years—has society accepted the concept of crowdfunding to the point where ‘crowdfunding bounties’ is a viable (and socially acceptable) option. Similarly, the widespread adoption of the open-source model has also experienced a recent spike in popularity. In fact, maybe the two were destined for one another.
The Perfect Compatibility
The concept of community is central to both crowdfunding and open source, making their similarities strikingly obvious. But, whether or not crowdfunding can actual enhance the potential of the open-source model is debatable. Though crowdfunding “bounties” could stimulate participation in open-source projects, the relationship could become clouded. It’s possible that people would then expect compensation for their contribution to a given project, thus hindering the power of open source. On the other hand, this relationship may be exactly the duo that we need as we progress into the future development of open-source software.
What do you think about the relationship between crowdfunding and open source? Do you think this is something that we’re going to start to see more of?
Emma Zwirko is a social media manager at WP Engine. She hails from the East Coast of the US and enjoys video games, frozen pizza, and cat GIFs. You can follow Emma on Twitter @WPE_Emma.