Gittip + GitHub For Project Royalties
Gittip (an awesome project) has potential beyond its intent. I want to discuss one such possible project: taking revenue made by commercial open-source GitHub projects and divvying it by percentage-contribution amongst its committers. Aka, royalties. The idea is to encourage profitable software to go open-source, and to pay contributors to those projects via royalties, using Gittip as the payment platform. I've built an HTML prototype for the project, follow along here.
First, you have an open-source project that makes money (or has potential). Examples are:
* Investment Funding (eg, Meteor)
* KickStarter Campaign (Light Table)
* Purchasable Product (Textmate)
* Freemium Service (HabitRPG)
* More Examples
GitHubRoyalties (or "GHR", to be renamed) would collect the revenue - eg, interfacing with Kickstarter - and use Gittip to distribute these funds each week based on project-contribution. Whatever revenue the project made that week is divvied by % cumulative contribution of the committers. This will vary over time, and sometimes be zero. However, for every week the project makes money - the revenue is divvied by percentage, so it acts more as royalties (or stock) than an hourly rate.
To determine contribution percentages, GHR would track:
* Issue queue participation.
* Commit statistics (eg, lines added & removed a la the "Contributors" graph)
* This would benefit coders, designers, legal specialists (LICENSE), writers (README, gh-pages, documentation), etc.
However, all commits aren't created equally. To mitigate the varying difficulties of commits, GHR users rate the difficulty of file-type contributions. For example, 10 lines of C++ takes more time than 10 lines of README.md. These "difficulty ratings" are globally normalized and become more accurate over time, and when combined with overall commit statistics will produce an accurate % contribution.
For contributions not made on GitHub (eg, KickStarter Campaign Writing), users can manually submit hours. Those hours must be approved by the project maintainer, and task-hour pairings become normalized over time similar to "difficulty ratings" to produce more accurate results (with the side benefit of providing a task estimations table for future use).
With GHR, projects with good profit potential wouldn't have to hit the gauntlet with fundraising. Instead, you create a project, throw it on HN to gain some interest, and start coding. If the project has legs, a team will develop organically around it because they see the money potential. It can create dynamic, auto-pilot, micro-companies; and better incentivize contribution to open source. It also enables coders to invest with their commits.
I'd love to hear your thoughts - does this sound viable? What pitfalls do you see? I'd be honored to pilot my own HabitRPG if enough interest is rallied.