I must admit, I am a positive feedback junkie. Whenever I am working on something complex or time-consuming, the only way for me to keep going is to find ways to reward myself with any form of recognition of the work. I need to know that whatever I am building is exciting to at least one more person. Otherwise, negative emotions or apathy will eventually overtake.
In the context of building open source, the absolute best positive feedback is active contributors. This means people use your work, people care about it enough to spend their own time on it. There’s no doubt about that. However, I found that while this works really well for smaller projects (immediate, attainable goals), it’s much harder to get this really going for projects that are larger and much more exploratory in their nature at the early stage.
To give you an example, I recently developed a few simple libraries that simplify using GraphQL in Java and getting active contributors and a new maintainer was a very smooth experience. On the other hand, the main open source project I am working on right now (PumpkinDB), while it has attracted a few contributors, given the scope of our goals, it needs to grow much larger.
In the meantime, I needed to keep this positive reinforcement coming in, so, as an experiment, I organized an ongoing fundraiser for the project. And just within the first few days, somebody I didn’t know became a sponsor. The feeling was beyond amazing. Even though the amount of money was rather inconsequential for the project (as in “wouldn’t ensure the sustainability of the project development” ), the excitement that came from this validation was off the charts. Not to mention the new connection!
A few weeks later, I stumbled upon Nadia Eghbal’s post where she was offering a few $5,000 grants, with no strings attached. Since then, I was obsessed with this idea. The basic idea is beautiful in its simplicity (simplified & paraphrased):
You have a project that you really care about, but funding isn’t readily available for it. If I really like your project, I will give you US$5,000 to pursue it. No strings attached.
The moment I finished reading her post, I knew I wanted to do something very, very similar. I know I can invest $5,000 into my own project, but the idea of being able to give the power of scarcely available validation to somebody else is overwhelmingly more exciting. Thank you, Nadia.
So, here it is: I am offering a $5,000 grant to one project of my choice. No strings attached.
The amount of money I am giving away is not inconsequential for me. So why am I doing this?
It’s a little bit of a mix. Part curiosity — I really want to get out of my own bubble and see what’s important for others. Part learning new things and meeting new people.
But most importantly, I want to give the power of positive feedback that comes in a strong form, because words are cheap. I realize $5,000 is not a whole lot, either — but if I find a project that I can give that amount of money for nothing in return — this will be the strongest validation one can get early on. That is exciting.
Cutting to the chase, you can apply here. Please note that applications are due by June 1, 2017 12am PST and I am expecting to make a decision on which project to fund during the month of June (2–4 weeks) and be ready to send the first instalment some time around July 1, 2017
To see FAQ or ask a question, please visit the original grant announcement.