> For now, Nicolò, Henry, and Jùnliàng will all be paid a temporary rate of $6,000 per month. This doesn't solve the problem,
I used to donate to Babel, before they made it apparent they are just interested in funneling the money to one developer. 11K per month?! That is absolutely bananas and same reaction I had the last time this came up, but this time I cannot do anything as a reaction as I've already pulled my funding.
But my guess is that a lot of people feel the same way, as the donations seems to be going down. 11K per month could pay for many developers if you hire people outside of Sillicon Valley, which since you're doing open source, you should really really consider.
Open source is not "VC fueled develoment" and I don't think we should go that way either. Make your operation nimble and survive on little, otherwise you'll soon disappear. Optimize for sustainability, not for paying the one of the highest salary in the world (minus SV bubble of course).
It's not wonder Babel is going the way it's going, as the economy you've setup for yourself is nowhere near sustainable.
My point is without high pay a whole class of very good engineers is unavailable to you.
Giving the benefit of the doubt and saying that any engineer here will be half the value of one from SV (which, I don't agree with at all), I'd argue that you'd still be better off paying two senior engineers at the particular level I am familiar with to build your product.
> My point is without high pay a whole class of very good engineers is unavailable to you.
I think depending on the model, the same argument can be made for FAANG and / or other VC money fueled companies. There are some talented, principled engineers that refuse to work for non-fundamented businesses, and perhaps only aiming for the 150k+ people will render a whole class of very good engineers unavailable to you.
I am from germany, and the avg. salary for a decent senior dev here would be between 60 and 80k€ depending on the town you are living in.
Babel is a very complicated piece of software. Even as a senior dev I wouln't feel comfortable to lead-maintain it.
You wouldn't find more than a couple of ppl. in Germany who have the skillset and mental strength to maintain a project like that. And those few people would easily be making 150-250k€ as freelance consultants.
I think that 11k$ for maintaining one of the most important OSS projects in the webdev world is more than fair.
I'm consistently astounded that my friend who lives in France is only making what she makes given her level of schooling and skill.
That doesn't detract from your point though. Only the hassle of hiring outside of the US may be a blocker there as well.
Compering this objectively ain't easy.
Some Europeans. AFAIK all the Nordic countries are similar in discussing salaries as pre-tax. Dunno for sure how it's done around the Mediterranean, but I wouldn't jump to the assumption that it's net-in-the-hand there either. Could well be that this "European norm" is just a German and perhaps French (and apparently Belgian?) thing.
The concerns about the project not making efficient use of the donations it recieves seem spot on.
I was responding to that poster's general comment about hiring quality engineers.
I don't know what is the situation in your location, but in one country which fits your description it is customary to talk about the _net_ salary, i.e. after all national and local taxes; in the US, the UK and in many other places the salary is always discussed on pre-tax bases.
To make things worse, in that particular country even the official figure - the one that is put on a contract - is not what the company is actually paying (for) you, as there are some taxes that are added _on top_ of that figure, effectively making them taxes for taxes. :/
Here in France and I think in most western Europe 65K received by the employee will correspond to ~130K shelled out by the company, the rest going out into taxes on the employer side and taxes on the employee side, so it's basically the same.
I suppose every country is different but at least here in Sweden you would have to incorporate as a business and tax the money as one, you can be a sole proprietor but then the tax situation is usually even worse. And I’ve not even covered for things like vacation and sick days here. There’s quite a difference between what income you get into the business and what you can expect as a salary.
I'm not saying that good software engineers are a commodity, only that SF/NY salaries are too high compared to the rest of the world.
Engineers with 1-2 years of experience in SV can make more than most seniors with 20+ years in Europe. Would you say that's because all these junior engineers in SV are worth more to a company than seniors in Europe?
$132,000 is almost double my salary is the UK. They could easily get 2 full time UK devs for that, or even more in many EU countries with lower cost of living
I see jobs all around me every week that go to the $150k-160k range. If I decided to take a Google or Amazon job I could easily break $200k, maybe more (including stock grants).
Developers in the US get paid more because demand has actually pushed our wages up to closer to what they're actually worth to an employer.
I've read estimates that a strong software engineer can add $500k-$1M of value per year to a company. You want a strong software engineer in charge of Babel, right?
I want Babel to continue to exist, even if it steered by an engineer who is not "the best in the world", if we take your assertion at face value (higher salary = better engineer).
Since we're taking Silicon Valley metrics seriously, I will posit that there is a least 1 Eastern European engineer who's better (based on HackerRank/leetcode/CodeJam stats), and is willing to accept a lower salary. So Babel might be better served recruiting there.
We're more than a thousand miles as the crow flies or 20 hours of driving away from Silicon Valley.
More to the point: If the rest of the team is in US time zones, coordinating with an Eastern European developer is much harder. It means someone has to stay up really late or get up really early, and typically you still don't get much overlap.
Granted if such a brilliant developer who needed very little input from the rest of the team were to apply, they'd do well to hire them. But as the other comment mentions, how do you find such a developer on demand?
Cost of living is one input into cost of labor, but far from the only one. E.g. Canadian salaries are much lower for programmers than American ones, looking at comparably expensive areas.
A huge part of the reason Silicon Valley coders are expensive is that the ecosystem there has made for phenomenally successful tech companies. They have both the money and the motive to engage in a bidding war for talented developers.
Alternative narrative: All the companies want to be located in Silicon Valley but no developers actually want to live there. So you have to pay ridiculously high salaries for people to even consider living there.
Now, given the cost of housing in the Bay Area, having to pay ridiculously high salaries for people to afford living there...
Which, yes, is a bit circular. The tech boom (plus dumb zoning choices, and also California's property tax laws) has resulted in that vast increase in housing costs, as too many people try to cram into the available housing stock. Note news stories about rent plummeting in SF as people went remote for COVID.
But taking a cynical angle like yours, you could apply that reasoning to any big city in any country: why do they have to pay more? Well, obviously because people hate Tokyo/Paris/NYC/Milan/London/etc.
1. You are really bad at salary negotiation.
2. You would be willing to take an enormous (> 50%) salary hit to work on Babel compared to what you could get in industry.
3. You are insufficiently skilled to lead a project like Babel.
This is based on the conjecture that a suitable lead for Babel should have no problem finding a FAANG job and doing a quick search for average FAANG salaries in the UK.
I believe Detroit automakers used to account for 90% (I may be off by +/- 10%) of global car sales coming out of WW2.
By the 2000s Japan, Germany, and others had eaten away half of that share in the US market, and an even higher percentage in global markets.
Silicon Valley has had a many decades head start in Tech just as Detroit did in Automotive (let's say 1900s-1960s for autos and 1970s-2020s for Tech). To think global competition won't eventually start eating away at this dominance is foolish, especially given the profits at stake.
however, it may be orthogonal to the question of whether or not other parts of the US, and more broadly, other parts of the world, can be where that continuing development happens. regardless of which of those two paths turns out to be the future, there's still the question of what SV's role will be.
$130k is the kind of money a reasonably experienced developer can get in southern New Hampshire, or Ohio, or Arkansas.
You know not all developers live in Silicon Valley, right? And London is just as expensive, why aren't the salaries the same there?
Bizarre post. Why would you brag about being underpaid?
130k base salary is comparable to a new grad or mid level SWE in the bay.
Yes, but in EU a common problem is, good developers are not worth more because the companies are unable to make use of IT to justify a higher price. It's a bunch of ossified tech laggers, not tech leaders, that employs developers in much of the EU. They only need 2nd rate people to handle what US tech puts on the market.
If that's true, then you should probably have a word with your employer. Typical dev pay is 80k (~$120k) or twice as that if contracted.
Everything from the price of broadband, pint of milk, loaf of bread, healthcare, car costs, etc etc contributes to someones buying power vs their salary
Just my 3 cents.
A lot of people write comments such as yours. 11000USD/mth is a very decent salary if you are an employee. What most regular employees completely discount when doing back of the envelope calculations about the salary of other people are the amount of additional contributions that are made by your employer that regular employees might never see, but that are paid for you all the same.
Here is the math for me as a freelancer in Germany, with a similar salary as the one you are claiming is outrageous.
I bill roughly the equivalent per month from Berlin in Germany. I am not sure where the Babel developers are based, so their circumstances might differ, but all the same, here goes:
Of the 9000EUR (11000USD in EUR) I have to pay:
- 19% VAT = 1750
- 950/mth in health insurance
- Put aside 1000/mth for retirement (which is less than I previously had from my employer)
- Set aside money for vacation (as a regular employee in Germany I would have 30 days paid vacation, as a freelancer I had to set aside roughly 600/mth to compensate for this)
- Set aside money in case I get sick (as a regular employee I still get my salary when I am sick, as a freelancer I get paid from day 45). I set aside roughly 450/mth for this.
- Then there are miscellaneous freelancer related expenses and having to buy hardware (which your employer would cover too). Let's make that 300/mth.
- Then there's income taxes on the rest. This differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but let's make it an even 30% (which is below what I pay).
This leaves me with 3950 before taxes, or 2765 after taxes...
That doesn't sound so amazing anymore, does it?
Even if the Babel guys aren't working as freelancer but pay themselves through a company, the math works out roughly the same (at least from what I have seen in my own business over the last 9 years). The only difference is that the company needs the equivalent monthly budget instead of the individuals.
"950/mth in health insurance", wow....... not sure what an insurance you have, but you will probably get 1000 € if you accidentially have a small wound... for 1000 € a month you get the all inclusive package probably. I never heard of somebody that pays a private health insurance 1000€/mth.
sorry to say it, but your entitlement mentality is insane. I can tell you what, in germany with over 9000€ you start to be in the high class.
just some real numbers, not a developer but a normal muncipial employee (no civil servant) with an age of 35 years will make +-3500€ brutto, which is already way more than many people will do (more than 50%)
Am I missing something? That's €33,000 disposable cash per annum, right? That would actually be pretty damn amazing for plenty of people, including many here.
And let's just put aside the fact that much of what you've listed is not "taxes".
It's still an order of magnitude or two more than what other people in other parts of the world make, so the point about it being a sweet income remains valid but on a broader, societal level.
(Also, the health insurance is up in the "what? is that serious" league and the provisions for retirement and sick leave also too high to sound reasonable, but I won't question the OP's sincerity or financial choices.)
Even the reduced salary of $6,000 is still quite a lot if all you are going to do create a couple of small PRs per month: https://twitter.com/sebmck/status/1392053448892469250
No, it's not. I work from home, remotely from Europe and I get paid $17K per month writing some PHP and JS code.
I imagine writing Babel code isn't some trivial task that you can hire a junior dev to do.
There are many cities in the USA where $11k/month is not at all outrageous: Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, DC, NYC, etc.
Maybe not, but it is still a major PITA.
So why it is not ridiculous that I'm not working for twice that or more at some larger tech outfit?
Because one of the benefits of working in the open source domain is that the entire structure of the work is completely different. No marketing. No bullshit. No corporate structures to satisfy. I can't speak for anyone else (within OSS or not), but to me those benefits are worth at least $80k/yr, if not much more.
To be fair, perhaps my attitude would be different if I had not previously been involved in starting up a certain well known e-commerce company which, while not allowing me to never work again, let me get the financial aspects of life into pretty good shape.
But I think I know plenty of younger people who want to be in software and are willing to earn less in exchange for more interesting work, less bullshit, more freedom and maybe even a sense of purpose beyond "we're going to make boatloads of cash".
So, you know, thanks. You made the world a better place.
This blog post for me is evidence that we can make crowdfunded open source work, as long as the people receiving the money know how to effectively use it. The team handling the economy of Babel right now, does not, hence Babel is not sustainable.
But, if you'd make the salaries a bit more realistic, Babel would have money over each year. But that's based on them not giving themselves one of the highest salary in the world. Let's see what they'll do.
> Very competent people are expected to write widely used software for a salary that basically merely guarantees subsistence.
"merely guarantees subsistence", what the hell? Maybe if you live in SF, but any other place in the world, this kind of salary is not even what seniors pull in yearly. My own anecdote:
> Not only a decent living, but that's a very good salary in most places in the world. As an anecdote, I've always worked in private sector IT (as a developer and manager), have around 20 years of experience and worked in both small and big enterprises and startups, and I've never had that high salary. If you'd offer me that for working on open source full-time, I'd be surprised. My expectation would be that there is a ton of people willing to work for much less, so why Babel had to go with that person?
> My expectation would be that there is a ton of people willing to work for much less, so why Babel had to go with that person?
Are all those people capable of managing Babel?
I think the real question is: do you need top talent for important open source projects, or are average developers fine?
> $11k/mo is realistic. It's already a large pay cut.
Yes, sure, in Silicon Valley anything is possible but for the 99% rest of the world, 11K USD per month is ridiculously high and even people with decades of experience won't collect that unless there is a specific situation. It's definitely not normal outside of Silicon Valley companies.
> Are all those people capable of managing Babel?
Yes, I know of at least 10 JS developers with decades of experience who could handle maintaining Babel if it was up to them, and they don't earn close to 11K USD per month today. I'm sure they'd be happy to work on Open Source and effectively earning more, but many be happy just working on Open Source full time.
> It's definitely not normal outside of Silicon Valley companies
How many companies do you class as SV companies?
It seems like in the US in general there are salaries at that level and higher, not just SV.
I have also seen people talk about salaries in Europe at that level, though I suspect they are rarer than in the US.
An active tips in order to get to know these people in the future: attend developer events and mingle with people, build rapport and a network. If you're moderately social and generally a good person, you'll find yourself in their circles in no time.
But $11K/month * 12 == $132K. To roughy back-of-napkin equalize for higher self-employment taxes, let's say that's equivalent to $100K salary if you were an ordinary employee. (I just made that up, I don't know how accurate it is).
$100K is still 84th percentile income for US, you are making more than 84% of people in the US. It's not "peanuts" or "subsistence".
($132K is 91st percentile income).
Is 85% of the USA living on subsistence peanuts, not even enough to survive? Possibly.
It’s not luxury yacht money, but calling it “peanuts” is ridiculous.
Where should I be looking for these jobs? I interview well, the problem is always getting into an interview. Most recent was an Erlang/C++ position on the east coast but they only want to offer $90k. The apparently pulled my resume only because of my Erlang experience.
In the blog post, they said they’re going to have each person make $6k per month (excluding benefits). Subtracting 30% for benefits, it works out to $50k a year base salary. For software developers in the US, that’s a pittance at any level.
No, OSS devs shouldn’t be forced to take that little to work on important projects like Babel. If we want talented devs working in a certain area, we need to make it financially attractive.
Isn't this a restatement of the problem? My (uninformed) impression is that there are structural issues that make it hard to effectively run crowdfunded open-source projects. As you say, the secret sauce appears to be a question of managing the organization.
Do you have any thoughts on how to reproducibly run such a projects?
I don’t think this is true. The mode works phenomenally well (eg, Apache, Linux, Postgres, etc).
But it doesn’t work for all projects and isn’t the same as commercial software. If I create a project with the goal to make lots of money, then I probably won’t succeed.
Conflating “doesn’t work for me” with “broken” is not using all the available evidence.
I don't know how you could possibly measure this except by years of training, which would put both doctors and lawyers ahead of software developers. But really, it's apples and oranges.
On the other hand, software design is probably the single best domain for humans to build new skills, with its fast feedback loop, transparency, ease of measuring results, and the fact that the whole system is more or less documented and obeys human intuitions.
1 cent a download = 117,000,000 cents = $1,170,000.
So the project is dying because they cannot get every downloader to pay 1 cent for every download.
Even at 1/10 cent it would still come to $117,000
This is how screwed up open source is.
An advanced technological industry which doesn't have infrastructure in place to collect fractions of cents per product delivery.
Why can't the software be downloaded using an API using a key you have to pay for or something?
To mitigate the risk of supply chain attacks, on the other hand...
It's hard for me to feel sympathetic for people who deliberately sign up for a model that encourages free-riding and then complain about it.
Earning money with "do whatever"-style licenses like BSD or MIT is bound to fail. Use GPL and sell commercial licenses on the side.
I can and do make the case for spending a lot of money on SaaS products and hiring people. But there is no way in the world I can stand in front of company leadership and ask for money to spend on something that I already get for free. I'd look out of touch with the realities of running a business and the request would be roundly shouted down.
If there's some value I can get then it's a much easier sell. For example, if there is a Babel job board then I can choose to use that over alternatives when I next hire. Jed Watson proposed https://budgetforopensource.org/, which puts this type of thing in the employee perk category so that I can justify it using hiring as a goal. These are things where I can make a business case for spending real dollars, rather than a philosophical argument.
Essentially what you're saying is that the realities of running a business is the equivalent of a millionaire going to the local soup kitchen/food bank and taking as much food as possible and then complaining about the food.
I agree, at minimum, the its free but seeking sponsorship model is making it hard.
Looking at their Sponsorship options on GitHub  I see there's a useful perk at the $2,000/month price point, a Support Tier.
It would be interesting to investigate offering "Paid support" for $50-100/month (something easier to put on a development team's corporate credit card), that gives you "priority" in response to GitHub Issues.
Something tangible that the company gets back.
$500/month means you're going to have to generate me an invoice and that invokes a whole bunch of corporate machinery that you don't want activated if you want a donation.
For IntelliJ; their other tools are $200 a year. And I suspect the average enterprise Java engineer has more discretionary spending than a random JS fullstack devsecops person.
Engineers get discretionary spending? I haven't ever had a dollar discretionary. My last job paid for an ergo mouse for me (Logitech Vertical) at hire time and I was so ecstatic at the park and got myself a jumbo mousepad to go with it.
Is there a norm I'm not aware of?
Everywhere I've worked in the US, I always had some level of discretionary spend--even as a lowly summer intern at a behemoth like IBM. It could be software; it could be books; it could be training; it could be computer hardware; it could be lab equipment; it could be groceries or office supplies.
As an intern, I bought some of the first O'Reilly books (mostly about X11) at the Cucumber Book Shop in Bethesda, Maryland courtesy of IBM. As someone way more senior, I once put a T3 line card (about $15K at the time) on my credit card in order to break a budgetary logjam between two feuding departments (and made BOTH of them angry at me--it was beautiful).
Obviously, the more junior I was--the less the value of that spend was. And it went up as I became more senior. And I always had to provide receipts and maybe a bit of justification.
But I've always had some level of discretionary cash spending at even the crappiest companies I've worked for.
Just paid three days ago too.
You're right is very difficult. It feels like there needs to be a product version of these tools, I can definitely explain to my partners that we need this tool and it costs £xxx. But to explain that we should pay for free tools when we might be one of a very few that are is going to be a hard sell.
Publicly accusing Henry of not actually working on the project seems short sighted. Only looking at a one year slice of contribution rather than the lifetime of the project masks the full picture of Henry's contributions. Also in Henry's defense, the past year has been a terribly difficult one for most all of us to get through this pandemic.
Not a good look for you Sebastian. Feels like you are looking for a place to point blame and unfortunately decided to direct that blame in Henry's direction. Henry Zhu is a great developer and contributor. Really deserves better than this.
How much code does Torvalds write nowadays? Really not a lot. I guess he's useless eh? /s
(And yes, Torvalds works at a totally different scale. I'm simply arguing that the metric makes zero sense)
You must have never talked to someone who can't be reasoned with. It is best to do some of these things in public. The conception of libel that, say, the UK has is quaint and open to abuse. No such issue in the US.
I agree there's problems with looking at the proposed KPI but that does not mean it is pointless to speak up. For the vast majority of people you could ask about this, pulling that kind of money from a nonprofit is ridiculous.
>Babel used by millions, so why are we running out of money? Bluntly: Because funds were misallocated for years, and the project has been too slow to improve.
>The reason there's no money is because someone took a $130k annual salary and didn't actually work on the project.
- So donating money because of this post may not be a good idea
The original post on the babel website was written in response to him investigating the babel funding situation earlier this year, and so the babel team have made changes to make the situation fairer in their eyes. This apparently doesn't go far enough for Sebastian's tastes, so he has publicly called out by name one of the contributors who he feels doesn't do enough to justify their salary. The metric he uses for determining this is the number of github commits and comments that are shown on that person's profile. This is not a fair measure of someone's contribution to a project, and it's exactly the kind of behaviour that Sebastian would criticise if any other company was evaluating people in this way.
In the meantime, Sebastian has started another competing project, Rome Tools, which was recently VC funded.
The whole thing stinks. Will Rome Tools employees get called out and shamed in public if they don't have enough visibility on their github profile?
Yes, even when it's a publicly funded open-source dev-tool.
Just the usual immature behavior of super-genius developers who have no concept of professionalism since any company in the world will write them a yearly check of infinite money.
Edit: I reread this. Adding that no one is perfect, everyone slips up, loses perspective, pouts/whines, etc... We are all human and remember a single angry tweet thread does not define a person. Twitter is toxic signal-fest that brings out the worst in people right or wrong. Cheers!
- A joint decision was made how to split and pay maintainers.
- A disagreement about performance / results has come from that.
- Tweeting to rally the homies is immature (and quite embarrassing) way of solving a problem.
I am not saying funds could not be reallocated differently. I’m saying the people involved with this are acting unprofessional / like children.
Not saying I disagree, but, in your words, what's bad with taking it to Twitter?
It would have been better to see this discussion in a forum or mailing list or anywhere that is designed for an actual longform discussion. Even if in public longer more detailed discussions can capture the nuance.
Airing out on Twitter as a first response (not sure if that's what happened here) is a sign of immaturity and not what someone does if their goal is to fix the original concern. By airing it out on Twitter, you put the other person on the defensive and they're less inclined to actually help you to resolve the original complaint.
Airing it out on Twitter is an escalation, and a decent outlet for escalating issues that are systematic and/or can't be resolved through other communication channels.
No, this is after the issue has been corrected, which is even worse
> The whole thing stinks. Will Rome Tools employees get called out and shamed in public if they don't have enough visibility on their github profile?
I had no idea he had started a competing project. This really stinks, almost like he is sabotaging his competitor.
My eyebrows would be a little raised. Not that I would call them out in a tweet, but I would at least be curious where that guy is spending his time.
It is one thing to raise the issue in private with "Project A", another thing is to tweet this to thousands of followers. Especially after "Project A" already had resolved the issue on its own.
At that point, a huge amount of someone's time is spent managing bug tickets, attempting to isolate debug, etc.
Folks should just develop their own shims where necessary and TEST AGAINST VARIOUS BROWSERS.
Sure no one likes doing that, but it’s important to follow the fast-pace ECMAScript adoption.
I mean, how does that not just push all of this towards companies and open source solutions that provide access to old browsers and what not? I mean no matter what direction you push, it's going to be someone else's open source code that needs money.
And if that’s not good enough use something like TypeScript!
Maybe that's true for users in the western world. However, if you are in the asian market, there are popular browsers you've nerver heard of (some localized fork of chromium that's way behind). That is not to mention the poorer populace of the world still uses whatever that runs on WinXP or something, if they have Internet at all.
As software engineers it's not our job to use technology to dictate (control) how people access information, telling them to use newer browsers and newer hardware and what not, our job is to support as many people out there as we can.
In any case, for the plethora of down voters:
At some point next gen == current gen, and therefor given enough stability, Babel becomes obsolete.
Folks, donate to Mozilla instead they actually move things forward not backward.
edit: so... they don't have to pay him + they get the benefit
It's tough because I think the "optics of productivity" are somewhat important because money is involved. If I was concerned about things, I would have pinged someone in private months ago. Taking this to a public forum, leading with an accusation isn't the right thing to do regardless of how Babel.js was handling these things.
You are out of touch my friend.
I think you can cool it on the anger here too. It’s not helpful.
$130k for a senior developer in the United States is nothing. People at FANG are making 3-4x that annually.
Right, hence my out of touch comment. This just doubles down.
E5 engineers at FB are making an avg 200k base . That is not that far off what you would expect the difference to be between open source maintainer and senior engineer at Facebook.
That is not 3-4x. Even if you include stock, that will put the FB eng around 350k. You may have an argument for the 2-3x range but basically only at the very top level companies and senior roles, not mid level contributors. And by including stock or other forms of TC besides base, you begin inflating the impression of cash flow. Stock grants don’t land in your wallet like paychecks do. Your QoL or vested net worth will take time to be impacted. It’s not like all of a sudden you can now afford X% more in your daily life.
IMO HN likes to exaggerate compensation levels.
The accusations that this person is freeloading off of Babel donations seem absurd (especially when you consider who is making them). The babel maintainer could be coasting at a large engineering organization with a lot less responsibility is what I am getting at it. It's exactly what the creator did...
The accusations are unjust.
I was solely commenting on the SV compensation point, but yes, you’re totally right that he could be doing less work for significantly more money elsewhere. The accusations are unjust for sure. IMO less because of the salary numbers and more because commit count is simply not a good measure of employee performance.
I prefer to think that we are riding in a bubble that can pop any minute now. This line of thinking allows me to be more responsible with spending and save more for rainy days.
$130k is barely over the median pay for a Senior Software Engineer in the United States. A lot of the people stewarding and maintaining these projects are talented enough to be earning wages that are much further into the outliers (i.e. FANG compensation of 300-400k+/year).
That's all I'm saying. What's much more likely to be happening here is that the maintainer of Babel took a much harder job that cannot be summarized by output metrics like GitHub activity tracking.
Attacking him and essentially tossing around accusations of embezzlement when you've just received VC funding for a competitor is just wrong.
- premium support
- custom features / enterprise product offerings
- commercial licensing
- professional services/consultancy
An important difference is Rome Tools employees are being paid with VC money and not money from the community.
"Working on a project" doesn't only mean pushing commits. It also means deciding what to do, syncing with committees, running a team structure, thinking about how and where to get funding, and handling the mental pressure of "I'm responsible for this".
Evan's absolutely correct, there's a lot of 'invisible' community activity, but in my experience of OSS, it's typical to have a 'contribution' on GitHub every day, which is missing in the case of a Babel maintainer who's being paid $130k/y
Let's compare to the other maintainers: .
Contribution counts aren't and shouldn't be everything, but they speak on a macro-scale. It's not an unreasonable expectation to review a PR a day.
 https://github.com/yyx990803 (2,979 contributions)
 https://github.com/hzoo (771 contributions)
 https://github.com/existentialism (2,608 contributions)
 https://github.com/JLHwung (1,849 contributions)
 https://github.com/loganfsmyth (130 contributions)
 https://github.com/nicolo-ribaudo (2,329 contributions)
 https://github.com/xtuc (1,614 contributions)
Someone on vue core team (perhaps evan himself) said internal group co-ordination and management is handled by other team members, most prominent among them being Chris Fritz (before he stepped down) and Sarah Drasner.
This reduces managerial burden on Evan and gives him more energy & time to focus on technical challenges
While Henry is the senior most member in babel team, so most of the management work is on him. which eats his time a lot more.
I've worked with a lot of teams where no sort of solid leadership existed. Filling that gap is often difficult to justify because there's a tremendous amount of thought involved and it's a thankless task. Sure you can take the existing structure and direction and just plug away but ultimately, most efforts that do this fail. You need to look ahead and think about future adaptability if you want success. People often act like software development is as straightforward as data entry. You should have X entries per day. If you didn't add X entries then you must be slacking. Development requires not only technical prowess which is difficult to maintain in-and-of-itself but creativity, vision, and strategy. If you ignore the rest your project will fail or at least become an artifact of times past at some point.
I.e. we'd rather them take a late lunch or go home early than push a sub par PR nobody wants to criticise.
What about long running feature branches that get squashed before merging?
One can bring the messages up with these filters:
"from:@Henry before:2021-05-12 after:2020-05-11" and
"from:@nicolo-ribaudo before:2021-05-12 after:2020-05-11"
You can send PRs updating typos in documentation, or PRs affecting the core aspects of a project.
You can send 100 PRs full of tech debt or 1 that makes the thing run 100x faster.
PR counts suck as a way to measure work.
All this does is encourage bad behavior. Not squashing commits, throwing up tons of one line changes. Remember that contest Digital Ocean did for Hacktoberfest? Remember what a total shitshow they caused on Github? People were making egregious commits for a fucking t-shirt. Now imagine real money on the line.
2. He said lots of circumstantial things about the matter. Namely: 130K isn't high for NYC; he could have and probably had better offer easily; he didn't need to maintain Babel but did, etc. All these are good but didn't answer the direct question, is he worth 130K for his work in the project. Even with the understanding that lots of work is in private, his public contribution in recent years seems to be way too low to not make people raise eyebrows.
3. Also, it's funny he said "is 130k too much for someone to maintain Babel" to the creator, who probably earned way less for creating Babel from scratch.
That said, a statement from the current most active paid contributor to Babel is probably more convincing: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27116357
7 commits in a year: https://github.com/babel/babel/commits?author=hzoo&since=202...
$110k invoiced: https://opencollective.com/left_pad/transactions
Looking at https://github.com/babel/babel/graphs/contributors, github.com/nicolo-ribaudo has been, for about the last year, the most active contributor on Github, but as recently as March 2021 was only being allocated $24,000 (annualised) from the collective.
Another interesting thing I found digging around is that the creator of Babel (https://twitter.com/sebmck) is relegated to the very bottom of:
With a link to some odd throw-away Github account: https://github.com/kittens (edit: the link is fixed now, github.com/nicolo-ribaudo merged my PR almost immediately)
Having said that, the salary looks excessive and the commit history isn't a good look without clarification.
But assumptions aren't always the best guide to what is actually going on.
So, he fundraised money to have time to further fundraise, and he did it so well that they have to decrease his salary?
Sounds like he did not do so great job here either.
The original article notes that funding took a hit in 2020. 2020 was an unprecedented year for any number of reasons. To simply say someone did a poor job fundraising in a year beset by constant challenges everywhere lacks proper context.
That's not to say more could have been done; I don't feel, however, that I'm in a position to say. Making money on open source is a difficult enough prospect regardless how one does it without also considering other factors that increase that difficulty.
But what you wouldn't see are the hundreds of problems I debugged and analysed for other programmers , down to the level of "make this change on line 530".
So thanks for being that guy for a lot of other devs that learned from you.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a listserv, or an IRC channel, or a GitHub issue. But it does matter if the collaborations are invisible to the team and to others on the project.
It’s their project so they are welcome to organize as they wish, but for a healthy open source project, I think having some collaboration method where newcomers can understand all the meaningful and helpful discussions is a good thing.
If a super awesome person is doing 1:1 calls/DMs/Emails all the time, that’s going to be tough to maintain. Not to mention a pain for any work where it’s multiple people collaborating and coordinating a changes that impact each other.
However, by that measure the original creator should also be compensated for their past work, given that they wrote about an order of magnitude more code than the second most prolific contributor, at least in the main babel repository.
(I have no way to easily measure other equally important contributions, such as shepherding other contributors, dealing with issues and PRs, so I'm ignoring them.)
> I'm just going to be explicit. In 2020, Henry created 12
> issues, commented 25 times, and created 29 pull requests.
> This is across all Babel orgs.
It seems like a gravy train. Open-source contributors of other projects are currently carrying the torch of uncompensated work.
If they want to get paid, they need to think about how they currently fit into the ecosystem.
Activity graphs can be deceiving, it’s extremely easy to look busy. Actually drill down and you’ll notice a lot of the activity earlier in this year was just pull request approvals, without comment, mostly done after someone else had already approved.
According to the original tweets by @sebmck there were only 25 comments in PRs by said contributor in the last year, so even that didn't happen, apparently.
Few commits? Well, OK, lots of reviews and PR handling.
Not too much of that either? Ah, issue triage!
Oh, not that either. Well, they're the most senior dev. Strong technical direction and forward-thinking research! Maybe mailing lists instead of the issue tracker or wiki.
... but Babel's usefulness is at an all-time low as browsers adopt new features regularly, core-js now handles all the polyfills, and non-Babel transpilers and non-JS languages add all the interesting features and performance improvements?
Well, obviously advertising the project, helping with fundraising... for what's majority their own salary... Hrm. Mitchell Baker, is that you?
That's the problem with software, it's hard to measure productivity.
If what they said is true:
1) Management hired a developer
2) Paid him for years
3) Gained millions of users
4) Became bankrupt
5) Publicly named the developer as a slacker and the reason the business is failing.
More comments from the founder. Nowhere does he take any responsibility for this mess, just blame blame blame.
"The salary amount isn't unreasonable or excessive. It's the lack of material output that makes it unjustified."
- So, don't pay him for years while bankrupting your project?
"I'm being explicit now since vague tweeting allegations isn't productive."
- Explicitly tweeting allegations isn't productive either. It just makes you and your project look bad. There's no way I'm donating to you now.
"The reason there's no money is because someone took a $130k annual salary and didn't actually work on the project."
- And was allowed to do so for a long time. Also, that's only one part of the equation, was this developer also responsible for fundraising? Or other spending?
"I raised this in March when I looked into it and noticed that for the first two months of the year he had left only two brief comments and created no comments."
- You didn't notice your employees had shipped nothing for two months? Or you were OK with this at the time and are now retroactively blaming them?
Imagine if you had 3 employees and 2 of them were HR. That is not a good allocation of labor.
It does seem odd that so much of the work would go towards paying to keep looking for more money (fundraising for fundraising), but there are plenty of sales oriented organisations out there who don't make anything. It's just odd in this case that an OSS project seems to have gone on that direction.
I suspect nobody should be earning such a salary working on a project like that.
I sort of get the idea of spending your money trying to sale an existing product but it doesn't seem to have worked in this case. That doesn't mean allocating the money differently would have worked either (arguably it would have been better for current patrons though).
We can change the analogy to also look at how many pieces of furniture produced, or whatever, but it starts to just be a pointless tangent.
>I'm just going to be explicit. In 2020, Henry created 12 issues, commented 25 times, and created 29 pull requests. This is across all Babel orgs.
100k+ for a year of that sounds pretty cushy. he didn't say that he did "only" 1 or 2 PRs a week or something. where are these hyperbolic comments in response coming from? what other kind of work could have possibly been done in addition to this meager amount of code work to justify such a salary?
If anything, it's not fair at all for the other two who did the substantial work and only earn 2k per month.
(To be fair they have changed the distribution this year.)
"My job is to manage a team of employees who code." vs "my job is to manage a team of unpaid volunteers who code, while I earn a proper salary".
> In November 2019, after successfully paying Henry a salary for over a year, we expanded our goal to also support three additional maintainers: Jùnliàng, Kai, and Nicolò.
They started with one paid salary. Tried to expand that. Didn't get enough money to do so; now they're asking (fairly, IMO) for the community that treats them as critical infrastructure to pony up.
Maybe some donors will donate to other projects
So many other OSS projects barely getting even 100 USD a month and Babel is complaining they're unable to work with over 300k a year and a number of corporate sponsors which have been supporting the project for a long time.
And the nodejs ecosystem already seems like an outlier getting more funding than most other languages/systems/projects.
There probably is more, but not going to speculate.
For some reason I believe donating to The Blender Foundation actually pays for devs to work on blender (and I donate).
I have a friend working on an open source project. I know he works full time on it. I donated because I knew he was working full time and because I like the project and want to see it succeed.
I have no reason to believe sponsoring random npm package asking for funding does anything other then maybe make some person feel good that they decided to post some code on npm and/or github.
> - So donating money because of this post may not be a good idea
It's true. The fact that babel is not an excuse for a wrong or absent management. Given the amount of money disposable to the project through donations, it would perfectly make sense to "hire" a manager that will actually manage contributors, deliverables, timelines, ...
I can't seem to see this tweet any more. Did it get deleted?
Why not? Do we not want all babel mantainers to be paid atleast 130k?