Challenge: Monetary compensation for free software development

Had a discussion with @aschrijver in Matrix DMs about ways to monetarily compensate free software developers. This post summarizes our discussion:

Bounty system

Funds received from grants divided into bounties for separate tasks. Contributions towards completing the task receive bounties.


  1. Work and rewards are quantified.
  2. Bounty amounts can be discussed and assigned, leading to fewer conflicts.


  1. Non-bounty tasks are not compensated. Chores like refactoring often fall into this category.
  2. Resembles Gig Economy. Not sustainable.

Solution(my 2c)

Ideally free software projects of reasonable scale would have enough funds to pay its developers’ salaries.

For example, does this to some extent, they mentioned in a meeting(notes yet to be published) that they have enough revenue to pay 1.5 developer salaries.

However, not all free software projects have a stable source of revenue. Hostea is one such project with negative revenue/balance:

Hostea’s approach

@dachary and I are involved in creating a complete software forge ecosystem based on Gitea with dedicated managed hosting. While @dachary isn’t paid for his work, Easter-eggs pays for mine(publishing contract approval is WIP).

At Hostea, we log the amount of work we do in the hopes that when the project finds funding, we would be paid for our work. Our hourly rates were both self-proposed and agreed upon by both of us without contention.

It is entirely possible that the project won’t receive any funding ever but we both find this a reasonable compromise.

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