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Gittip, Year Two (medium.com)
263 points by tshepang on June 4, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 211 comments

I feel an emotional attachment towards Gittip. Here's my story:

This is my GitHub profile https://github.com/HashNuke and this is my Gittip profile https://www.gittip.com/HashNuke/

I've been writing opensource software full-time for the past few months. A few weeks ago, I checked my Gittip profile out of curiosity. I found out someone was anonymously giving me $0.5/wk, for the last 4 weeks. I had $2 as my balance. I was in tears when I saw that. I felt that mattered. Someone cared about my work.

I'm excited that in a few weeks it can pay for the domain name for my next opensource project.

Thanks to Chad, the Gittip team and the community. I hope Gittip works out well for them financially to sustain themselves and do more.

That is super awesome and encouraging to read. Thanks SingAlong/HashNuke! Keep up the good work! :D

And maybe a story for homepage? ;)

It's surely more engaging than a list of new users (which, honestly, I don't care and don't think anyone cares outside 'getting on HN front page got him X sign ups').

Although... I am quite curious how this post will affect your metrics e.g. a month down the line ;)

And, yes, please, change your name. I found it misleading (I thought it's something like dogecoin tips on reddit, just for github) and hard to remember for people who don't know git.

Other that that, you're awesome! Keep it going :)

Thanks for the feedback! The reason we have leaderboards on the homepage in the first place is to quickly answer the question, "Is anyone actually making a living here?" I looked at Flattr and could not for the life of me answer that question. Now that the matter is established, I agree that it's time to change the homepage. I've added a +1 for you to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074.

Re: Stories, see http://tomslee.net/2014/01/airbnb-stories.html for a counterargument.

In other news, HashNuke rocks! :D

It seems to me that Gittip is making the same mistake that Gnu/FSF have made: the most effective change comes one step at a time. Ostensibly, the primary goal of Gittip is to create an economy of Open Source work. But instead of focusing on this goal, they are also (from the article):

* running a non-traditional "open" company

* shunning investors not willing to work with an "open" company

* only doing "open" interviews

Stallman deserves much credit for starting the FSF movement, but there's a reason that Linux has succeeded where Hurd has barely even shown its face. Linus has always been a pragmatist. In the end, we have a world where software development is much more "Open" today than it was 30 years ago, but who deserves more of the credit? Stallman the zealot? or Linus the pragmatist?

I love Gittip's primary mission, but I hate that they'd rather see this primary mission fail than compromise on any of a list of additional secondary goals. Regardless, I think that 5-10 years from making a decent living doing open source work will be far more feasible than it is today, but who will make that happen? Gittip? or Kickstarter/IndieGoGo/Crowdtilt/Patreon/Bountysource?

The thing is that it's crucial for us to have people like RMS. Even if their main projects aren't as successful as their pragmatic "competition", the society as a whole benefits from them being a hard-core idealists. They're the ones who keep reminding us about the values we otherwise would have forgotten (or at least we wouldn't have thought about them as much).

I've had a similar discussion with my wife just last night. She's a landscape architect and deals a lot with people who's purpose in life is to save existing trees and plant new ones. She complained that they're so over the top in their actions that they're often doing more harm than good (to the cause). It's similar in other niches - animal rights activists do some nasty things to fur coat owners, etc.

I believe that these traits (a strong belief in something and overzealous approach) are most often inseparable. We can either have these people care a lot and spread the word by doing things the way we don't agree with or don't have anybody who gives a shit.

I don't agree with Stallman on many issues and I'm eternally grateful to him for what he's done. I don't agree with tree huggers because they make other people laugh at the whole thing. But I'm grateful, because without them nobody would care. Same with animal rights fighters, same with GitTip folks.

Thank you, Chad Whitacre, the World is a tiny bit better because of you.


You, too!

> but who deserves more of the credit? Stallman the zealot? or Linus the pragmatist?

I would argue that it needed both. If Linus would have had to start by writing a C compiler or the basic set of unix utilities that Linux could be built with/on top of the project would likely not have succeeded in the way it did.

Remember that we also had Bill and Lynne Jolitz' 386BSD at that time and if Linux would not have taken much of the energy out of the *BSD ecosystem we'd likely be using that on most of our servers now.

The timing was right, Linus is a nice guy, penguins are cute, history is the way it is, so I won't make any attempts to revise it. But let's not overdo it either.

There's an argument that the reason Linux beat 386BSD is the pragmatic decision to make it easy to run a dual-boot system on a single-disk PC.

> there's a reason that Linux has succeeded

I think you mean GNU/Linux? ;)

You are asserting that the real goal of Gittip is to create a new economy, but that's not Chad's goal. You say that this makes him like Stallman, but it also makes him like Linus.

Linus has made it clear that his primary goal isn't to extract revenue, and in many ways he doesn't care much about traditional success metrics. Instead he wants to maximize values like "fun". Chad wants to maximize other values, like "generosity". Is it up to us to say that's wrong?

Also, Gittip has a model of self-funding. Even funding a team of people with different talents. Linux doesn't; it's organized around a code repo, and depends on enthusiasts and enlightened corporations to keep contributions flowing. If you're a marketer or designer who wants to contribute to Linux, you're going to have a lot more trouble. You only think of Linux's model as pragmatic because it's been around for so long, and you've gotten used to the deficiencies.

And when it comes to openness, in big open source projects like the Linux kernel, it's considered rude to have any significant discussions off the mailing lists. I think Chad's insistence on making everything public just updates the principle to modern tools like video chats. I used to work for the Wikimedia Foundation, and we did similar things, so the community could act as a watchdog. Our "full disclosure agreements" were difficult for partners sometimes, but they didn't preclude alliances with Apple or Facebook, or donations from Google.

Now, from where I sit, Chad might have taken the openness tactic a little too far. Some discretion is appropriate, especially when people are just starting to form a relationship. And contributors need privacy. To their credit, the Gittip community is currently reconsidering some of the rules around openness, and Chad has been admirably open to that -- another way in which he's not a Stallman.

Hadn't heard of Wikimedia's FDAs, sounds awesome! Do you have a link for more info?

After I made this comment this I realized that the best thing might be to connect you with the people who do bizdev at the WMF. ;) I've already sent them an email, I'll be in touch soon.

Also, the 'full disclosure agreement' is just an inside joke. But, a real-world example. Facebook was creating topic pages, and they wanted to seed them with Wikipedia content. While our bizdev person was arranging that, they refused to sign NDAs. So every time they visited Facebook, the people at FB erased every whiteboard they might see coming or going.

I think that might give you a good indication of what you're up against when it comes to openness and corporate partnerships, but also some hope that other arrangements are still possible.

I don't think any of these are problems.

When I want to start using a system like this, as I'm sure everyone does, I spend a little bit of time reading the about pages and working out if this is a company whose values align with my own.

I was very excited about Flattr, but then I read the small print and decided that they weren't for me.

When I found gittip, I read the details and thought all of the aspects are laudable. I gittip an extremely small amount, but will continue to do so and will gradually increase it as I become aware of more projects that deserve my support on it.

The vision to create a new kind of "open" company is interesting in itself and is directly related to many of the reasons that I feel motivated to use the service.

> Ostensibly, the primary goal of Gittip is to create an economy of Open Source work

Which is why it will never work

I have a few criticisms of Gittip, with the caveat that I'm largely criticizing you for not being something else that I want, rather than for not doing a good job at the thing that you're currently doing.

1) Is there some sort of legal reason that Gittip doesn't want to manage all of my non-profit giving?

2) What's with the focus on programming? The programming community is tiny, and will be better off piggybacking on the larger culture rather than trying to create one of our own. Why not focus on supporting free culture writ large, like musicians, writers, artists, and charities?

3) The reason my own donation is shitty is because I have to figure out who to donate to and how to donate to them, and then I end up having to maintain as many channels for cash as I have things to donate to. Can't you just offer me curated funds where percentages of my monthly tithe go to a range of things that are often supported together, and you guys just keep it updated?

4) The greatest sin that gittip commits in my opinion is not being donator focused. It seems to be a platform for people to get money donated to them, rather than a platform to manage my donations, as a person who has money.

OK: I hope this isn't too incoherent, because I'm a bit busy; my bottom line is that I want to donate $10K - $20K a year, like many people I'm sure, and if you can help me with that problem, that's where success lies. Right now, it seems like you primarily help marginal people receive money instead of helping me give it.

I want to give to 100 software projects that I know about, and 200 that I don't. I want to give to 10 charities that I know about, and 20 that I don't. I want to give to them whether or not they're aware of gittip. I don't want to be Joan Kroc giving all of her money to NPR because she didn't know of the myriad of other companies that make up public radio. I don't want to spend more than an hour a year on it. Can you help me?

Thanks for the great feedback! :-)

1) No.

2) Historical accident.

3) Sounds like a +1 for https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1493?

4) I see Gittip as a marketplace that has to support both sides more or less equally.

You are a generous person! I hope we can help you! :-)

https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1493 is exactly what I was talking about:)

edit: The Neo4j solution is really an ideal solution for automating some of this stuff. I beg you not to dismiss it out of hand because of lack of familiarity...

Something like a donation dashboard might solve your problem? They could let the donor set an optional maximum monthly contribution. Of that maximum contribution, the donor could set how much of it goes to each tip. The giving page seems like a good place to put such a thing.

As for tipping a charitable organisation that might not be on gittip, perhaps setting up proxy accounts where the monthly tip is donated by gittip would work. Of course, this would be susceptible to a social engineering attack where a scammer could fraudulently claim to represent the organisation and ask for control of the account.

I've added a +1 for you to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1493.

When we first launched we were opt-out, which turned out to be a big no-no. Backstory: https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/28.

I think the trouble with the Gittip site is that I have learned more about Gittip outside of the site through articles, testimonials, and mentions, than through the site itself.

I almost wish that some of the stories of the people who both give to and receive from Gittip had more of a center stage so that I could send someone to Gittip without having to do all the explanations myself. It would be way better for them to be able to explore that meaning for themselves which would allow them to figure out if they would like to be a giver, or a receiver, or both.

All of these are really good points. I might try to hack something that answers points 3 and 4 together sometime soon.

Let me preface this by saying: I want Gittip to succeed. I really want them to succeed. I would love to be able to spend my time getting paid by a community to develop open source software. However... those growth curves look linear, if not sigmoid. More importantly:

>The Gittip team receives $20,339 per year (averaging the past ten weeks). There are 39 people splitting that money.

$500 per person per year? That's not within two orders of magnitude of sustainability.[1] In addition, even the greatest collector of revenue on Gittip can't make a decent living from it. $40k per year is quite close to minimum wage in California.

I truly wish it were otherwise, but this post makes me seriously worry about the future of Gittip. Apparently, they did not make something people want.

1. I realize that only a few people are full-time on Gittip, but that's still a huge red flag. Unless the author is being extremely generous with his profit sharing, those numbers are inexcusable.

> $40k per year is quite close to minimum wage in California.

This didn't sound right, so I checked it for you:

Full-time minimum wage in California is officially about to increase to $14k.

Based on a 30-hour work week (ref: wikipedia definition of full-time) at $9ph (as of July 1, 2014).

Yeah, the U.S. median for singles is $30,880 (as I mention in the post). I don't know what percentile $41,500 is, but it's well above minimum wage.

Our curve was exponential throughout 2013 and into 2014. We doubled three times, about every four or five months. We started to flatten out the past few months as we try to gather a full-time team. Because here's the thing: any other company that doubled three times in a year would go withdraw $2M from the angel network ATM and just flat-out hire a team. We've got a company structure and culture that most angels aren't ready for. E.g.:


I call this "double-bootstrapping" in the post.

Here's how the team splits the money: https://www.gittip.com/Gittip/members/

Curves can also look like that if we look at them at the wrong scale, so maybe it's too soon to jump to conclusions.

There are more questions to ask: how many people have heard about gittip? If they're not donating yet, would they reconsider if they read this post ("social confirmation")? How about if you served them other specific calls to action? How many more haven't heard of gittip yet? Are those two orders of magnitude in there?

> $40k per year is quite close to minimum wage in California.

Exactly. In California. If you want to live off of what is basically donations for community work, you might want to relocate to a much cheaper place. Eastern Europe or South-East Asia are nice places to live on a tighter budget.

I donate a small amount every week myself, though I find it hard to make a bigger commitment to it.

Living in cheap places is fun when you're young, but eventually you take on more responsibilities and your body fails you. Are eastern europe and southeast asia known for their health care? Are dentists cheap there? Most importantly, are they good places to raise a family?

I can totally get behind you when it comes to arbitraging cost of living, but not everyone can do that. At best, one could live in an inexpensive part of the US. Still, when it comes to children, school systems and health care are a concern.

The problem with Gittip is that anyone who wants to contribute to open source projects has to sacrifice dearly. If you're good enough to collect $40k/year off Gittip, you're probably good enough to collect 10x as much from Google[1]. If you want to provide for your family, the choice is a no-brainer.

1. After stock options, bonuses, etc.

Edit: I have no idea why this is at -2. Is there some disconnect between my line of thought and everyone else's?

Many of the eastern European countries have probably quite equivalent standards of treatment and facilities for lower price tag than in California. I know quite well some people from Estonia, Poland, Latvia and Czech republic and none have really complained about their childhood, healthcare etc.

Obviously the atmosphere must have been quite different during the communist regime in the 1980s but nowadays things are different on many levels. But if I had children, I wouldn't hesitate to take my family with me to those countries if there was an interesting opportunity on hand.

Hi. I'm currently in Romania, and even though I manage to stay afloat here quite nicely I'd hate to have a family here with kids growing up in this environment. Poland is doing ok and improving steadily, the Czech republic is also quite manageable. But compared to say France, Belgium, the UK, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands there is still a significant difference.


For instance, infrastructure here is lacking (but internet is quite good), roads are bad, traffic is insanely dangerous, I'm positively terrified of getting into a road accident here. Medical services exist but it's cash up-front or you're in trouble. Older folks are living terrible lives (little or no social net, so tons of beggars on the streets). I would never want to live here with a family, and friends of mine that emigrated here with their kids from Canada have already packed up and left again, their explicitly stated reason is they don't want their children to grow up here. Romania is a beautiful country, it has tons of potential, I know a large number of really nice people here but there is much work to be done and a long way to go to put an end to all the corruption, to fix the terrible state things are in and to get good healthcare.


Poland has done very well, in the last two decades the changes have been enormous. Proximity to Germany has definitely helped the Poles, America has also invested quite a bit of money there. And of course they have helped themselves, they collectively worked very hard to get out of the rut they were in at the end of the 80's. Infrastructure is improving, every time I visit I see new stretches of highway that come online, cities are slowly being cleaned up, there is more or less continuous progress. Healthcare is not super good but it will do. Raising children in Poland would definitely be a possibility.

Czech Republic:

My knowledge about the Czech republic is thin and mostly second hand, but I know two couples that were mixed nationalities that lived there, both have now moved to different countries in western europe (France and NL respectively). In one of those cases the parents explicitly stated they did not want to live in the Czech republic with children for a number of reasons, all of which sounded plausible to me. (Most prominent: not to limit the future chances of the children).

I have no experience with Latvia and Estonia so can't comment on those.

So I don't know how much direct experience you have with any of these countries but I would definitely hesitate to bring my children here, I would feel I'm doing them a serious dis-service.

I moved to Canada from Romania as a child and I don't think it was much of a win.

In exchange for more economic opportunity, I grew up with no family (other than mom and dad) which I think has stunted my personal growth a lot. Other people seem to care a lot about their families and getting married and having children but all of those things are really foreign to me.

Actually I'm not even sure about the economic opportunity bit; I saw loads of Romanian college students as interns at my last SV internship.

I'm not poor but I think being selfish and alone might be worse.

I just want to point that your experience with Romania wouldn't apply to (almost) anyone moving there from another country with higher cost of living.

Emigration is super tough, especially on kids. But growing up with just your mom and dad is actually not that rare. I have a super large family but almost 0 contact with them.

What stops you from moving back to Romania?

I don't have any brothers or sisters either. I don't know, it seemed pretty rare to me while I was growing up.

Nothing's stopping me, really, except that I don't think I'd fit in anymore.

> (Most prominent: not to limit the future chances of the children).

Did they specify a reason? There is quite a lot of good schools there IIRC.

Yes, the schools are fine. But not as good as in the countries surrounding it, and since moving within europe is cheap and relatively easy why not go for one of the best. I've yet to meet a parent that did not want to give their children the most opportunity possible. Combined with the limited opportunity in the local economy, the fact that the quality of life is still far behind nearby countries I really don't fault them.

It's a pity for the former sovblock countries, they still experience a lot of brain-drain due to causes like these and that likely will continue for a long time. Those wounds inflicted by 5 decades of mis-management are quite serious and healing them will take a long time. Possibly a multiple of how long it took to inflict them in the first place. And the further east you go the worse it gets.

I’m Czech, 33, have lived here all my life. The quality of life certainly isn’t far behind nearby countries. It’s comparable – better in some regards, worse in others. The differences between regions are much bigger than the differences between states. And as for my future children’s chances, they are also much more dependent on factors other than the state I live in. It’s hard to say if I would gain anything by moving.

Providing for a family doesn't mean always choosing the most money. If you can have a more relaxed schedule, work load or work-life balance, while having an adequate income, this might be more valuable to your family than having a more generous income but less time for your partner and/or children.

I'm young, and don't have any children, but I find that the most precious commodity/currency is time, not material wealth.

Of course, I'm speaking from a position of relative comfort, living in a nation with a comprehensive social security system and a decent middle-class income and a degree in engineering. People who have more trouble making ends meet might have a very different view.

If you're willing to forgo cars and iPhones, here in Uruguay we have pretty good healthcare and decent (paid) schools.

It won't be as cheap as SE Asia, but it's not as expensive as the United States (for healthcare and schools), but it's extremely expensive for other things.

You'll probably find out how much you take for granted not having to pay 100% extra for cars, clothing, etc... and having a salary that doesn't allow for a plane ticket without careful budgeting.

As someone without children, Uruguay has a significant downside, but it is a decent place to raise a family (I think a cheap part of the U.S would be better, except with maybe worse schooling).

As just one example, you could live in Rochester MN. Nice 4 BR house <= $150,000 [1]. Medical care: The Mayo Clinic. Schools: AFAIK very good. And more culture and more liberal than you probably imagine.

There a dozens of places like this between the two insanely expensive coastal zones of the US. Places where things like housing cost nearly an order of magnitude less.

[1]: http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Rochester-MN/26791_rid/...

Are there any black people or sidewalks there? I've been wanting a random change lately and trying to figure out a place to move to get away from Chicago.

Thanks, downvoter, for diminishing my concerns as an oppressed minority:)

I love that many of the responses to this are basically advocating yes that developers should just try to live on $40,000 and move overseas to live cheaper. This hardly smacks of "sustainability." Now, Gittip has to convince programmers that they should want to live with no low income and then therefore be able to use the service.

As an aside, as others mentioned, the health care in most Southeast Asian countries is not as bad as you might think.

A lot of adjunct faculty do the same kind of stuff Ashe Dryden does and they get paid about the same with less security and awful working condition so I think she is doing OK

Gittip is a nice idea. But sadly, it has become a place for certain people to receive hefty monthly paychecks from anonymous patrons in exchange for incredibly aggressive and toxic trolling. Despite original intentions, this is not making an ecosystem of love and gratitude. So if its creator isn't even making money from it, it's probably better if it goes to sleep.

The only way you get money on gittip is by producing something others think is valuable and want to see more of. People are voting with their money, which is infinitely heavier than voting with HN comments.

Could I not pay myself $100 per week? Or could I not pay you $100 per week if you pay me $100 per week?

Seems the voting with money system can easily be gamed.

Yes, sure, whatever, who cares? Irrelevant to a conversation about who has a "right" to use the platform, and for what purposes.

Nobody is denying anyone the right to use the platform.

But you think they should. You said they should shut down rather than serve users you disagree with. That kind of thinking is toxic.

Do you have examples of the trolling you talk of?

I only plan on making this single response in this thread.

As someone mentioned directly below, you're damn right I'm a staunch feminist. But nobody has 'hijacked' anything: I've known Chad since before Gittip was even a thing, and have been in the top leaders list since when that meant I got less than a dollar. Because that's what happens when you've been using a platform longer than others. Naturally, this extended to my friends, as well. Furthermore, you only make Gittip money if you ask people to donate. The top getters are people who ask more.

My sibling presents a one-sided view of multi-faceted people: Shanley, for example, has her own bootstrapped media company that's already profitable, which is more to say than a large number of HN 'entrepreneurs.' (including myself).

Anyway, I'm not sure the 'leaderboards' are a good thing, exactly. But this kind of pettiness (from throwaway accounts, no less) is amusing.

He is referring to https://twitter.com/shanley, a moderately well known and divisive figure in the tech feminism scene.

Three of the top four receivers appear to fit the label "moderately well known and divisive figure in the tech feminism scene".

I think more seriously


has stuff on her profile that directly deprecates her husband. I don't anything about this case, but I'd say in general it makes me uncomfortable that somebody is bringing up a personal conflict on a platform like this.

You have no problem with her husband "bringing up a personal conflict" using a legal system that you are obliged to pay for, but a woman using a voluntary site to fund her defence makes you uncomfortable?

Check your fly, sir, your prejudices are showing.

I'm glad that others are voicing their dissent. Gittip has went from an idea of giving open source developers a way to supplement their income via time spent writing software. Instead, it's been hijacked by toxic social justice warriors. One is even for someone supporting their legal issues (unrelated in any way whatsoever to tech). I'd love to see a statement by someone at Gittip responding to this.

I'm pretty amazed I got at least three downvotes for what I think is a pretty mild observation.

The post that spawned this subthread amounts to "Since gittip's main beneficiaries are women I disagree with, gittip should be shut down".

In that context, do you see how your post is stoking the fire?

You didn't indicate what you think gittip is for, just that noirin's use of it is inappropriate. You also said she "deprecates her husband", when she lists 2 facts:

a) he was arrested b) he is suing her for things she said about it

Plus, he's her ex-husband, and this is a situation where the distinction is important.

So in context, I don't think what you said was mild, I think it's somewhat hostile and inaccurate.

> "Since gittip's main beneficiaries are women I disagree with, gittip should be shut down"

You're conflating /women/ with a small group of toxic feminists. There are many women in tech who have distanced themselves from these people.

He was exonerated and is suing her for libel and assault. www.scribd.com/doc/170684165/Michael-Schwern-Exonerated

Prosecutors declining to charge isn't the same as exoneration, as much as a defense lawyer might want to convince you of such.

Prosecutors are very aggressive. Declining to charge means severe lack of evidence. Basically she's a liar.

Since more recently published court documents have shown this to be a sexual assault / rape and domestic violence arrest, some statistics are in order.

Particularly relevant is the fact that only 14-18% of sexual assault cases are prosecuted, or 37% for rape alone. http://www.uky.edu/CRVAW/files/TopTen/07_Rape_Prosecution.pd...

Given that, it would actually be highly unusual if he DID go to trial.

> Since more recently published court documents have shown this to be a rape and domestic violence arrest

Wanted to ask you for a link, went on and found one myself:


Bullshit. Prosecutors like their 100% conviction rates, to the point where they lie to judges, manipulate evidence, etc. http://www.propublica.org/article/who-polices-prosecutors-wh...

There are plenty of crimes that don't leave particularly useful evidence. Pointing a gun at someone is illegal, but how do you prove it happened? Same issue in many rape cases.

Cops in some areas also have a history of suppressing reporting and/or evidence to keep crime statistics down. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Schoolcraft

I believe he was referring to the top two receivers, Shanley [1] and Ashe[2].

These two are a part of the group of very aggressive feminists; there's no official 'group' to speak of (AFAIK), just a network of people supporting each other.

Just to give a few names - Alex Gaynor (member of PSF board), Jacob Kaplan-Moss (yep, Django ex-BDFL), Coda Hale (HN/codahale, see his last messages here on HN [3], they're just about Shanley and Gittip), HN/steveklabnik, etc etc

A few highlights by Shanley:

"Men are rapists" [4]

HN's Sam Altman reaches out to women asking what he could do; Shanley reacts: "i'm not insulting you, i'm fucking EDUCATING you. so shut the fuck up and/or pay me, preferably both." [5], while refusing to do anything for HN, not even meeting anyone in person [6]

They've been either involved or voiced (shouted, actually) their support to whoever was involved in recent scandals with feminism - Adria Richards @ PyCon (I believe Alex Gaynor helped to make this event as public as possible), pronoun scandal (Alex Gaynor, again, was the author of RP that started the whole thing), Paul Graham misquote (Jacob KM speaks out [7])... I could go on.

But, basically, a bunch of very aggressive people, who claim to work on solving the problems women face, but actually (IMO) are just making the whole thing worse.

And, back to the subject, seeing them on top of gittip definitely doesn't help the project. Which is said, that's a great idea and I loved it when I saw it.

[1] https://twitter.com/shanley [2] https://twitter.com/ashedryden [3] https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=codahale [4] https://twitter.com/shanley/status/451779905475186690 [5] https://twitter.com/shanley/status/446375139488186368 [6] https://twitter.com/shanley/status/446376327218622464 [7] https://twitter.com/jacobian/status/416719991963009024

PS Oh, this just in. Shanley on how companies can increase diversity: "Hire me to be your diversity consultant I will help you quickly close down your business to make room for better ones"


First, I think that last tweet is actually pretty funny. What's wrong with a little black humor?

Also, because of the Torvalds mention earlier in this thread, I thought it'd be interesting to compare the people you mention here to him. Almost all of them look quite tame when you compare their behavior to Torvalds's. Kane's online persona does run toward being a jerk, and is probably the only one that could stand toe-to-toe with Torvalds in terms of brashness and hostility.

So why do these "very aggressive" people bother you so much, when Torvalds is generally seen as something of a hero? Are you willing to rate Torvalds's behavior as being just as "toxic" as theirs? The fictional QA report you describe in a later post actually sounds quite a lot like some stuff Torvalds has written. Do you have a similarly dutifully-annotated post in storage that details all of Torvalds's sins? Does his behavior set OSS back in the same way you claim these people set their communities back?

Maybe we should start referring to Torvalds as a "very aggressive programmer" ...

Note: I realize this post relies quite a bit on things I can't know. "ta140604" may very well think Torvalds is just as problematic as the people he discusses here. The point is to add a little context, and give you something to chew on the next time you see a post like this, where "a wild pseudonym appears!" expressly to smear a group of people that question the status quo. Yes, it's entirely likely that these people are all huge jerks. Most of us are jerks. But why are we so concerned with the fact that they, specifically, are jerks, when we don't give a shit about it in most everyone else?

Pointing out problems is actually a very important part of any solution. You don't lambaste QA people because they don't actually fix bugs.

Agreed. The problem is, they exaggerate and twist the truth, spread hate, unnecessarily antagonizing people, and actively push away those who try to reach out to them trying to do something.

Exactly: people like @shanley and @ashedryden make money by polarizing and then profiting from the resulting flames of their gender argument, and so vigorously resist even talking to those that they accuse and condemn. It's the type of narcissistic intolerance that is rarely seen in such pure form.

The logic here is rather straightforward: to a 'stage4' narcissist, their opinions are the functional equivalent of absolute truths, and therefore it is sacrilegious to even imply that they be 'open for debate'. So if anyone persists in challenging one of their sermons,that person is either grossly ignorant (solution => RTFM) OR is intentionally 'attacking' or 'harassing' (because there is no gray area to debate for the histrionically 'self-deified' -- it's impossible to debate across parallel 'Absolutes' -"God does not play dice";)

Heck, at this stage of ferment, she is all but accusing (the almost freakishly fair minded) Chad of misogyny :D

And it's worse for those without a monetary connection: https://twitter.com/shanley/status/474265272660942848

P.S. SK: a bit of advice: don't look a gift horse in the mouth (good wine and a menagerie of stuffed animals are not cheap in SF ;)

My advice to GitTip: 'if it's not broke, don't fix it'. You had a great year, so proceed cautiously with any systemic changes, and error on the side of transparency. Keep conversations as open as possible because the real solution to 'Bad' Speech -- is more speech.

The only exception to that rule is personally threatening language, which should not be tolerated at all. And only a coward would resort to that low level of action.

But with that being said lets not construe honest disagreements that are substantiated with reasons -- as a personal attack or a cause to feel 'threatened'.

And as far as funding goes: except for clear cases of fraud, let people decide for themselves where they want their money to go -- and let transparency take care of the rest :)

P.S. They are using flame throwers on twitter about this thread -- when they should be replying here :D (twitter is a better place to polarize with out of context 'headlines')

I don't agree that any of that is a problem. It's not their responsibility to help you do the right thing any more than it's a (again with the theme) QA person's job to teach the programmer proper coding practice. Separation of concerns, if you will.

If we go on with your analogy, QA report would look as follows: "Your piece of shit program burned down the whole fucking server farm, you useless assclown! You belong in jail!", where the real bug was maybe a crash. That's not a good, or even acceptable QA report, I'd say.

Look, if you think saying "men are rapists" is not a problem, there's not much to discuss here. Before that point I had my doubts - okay, they're self-righteous hateful hypocrites, but maybe they're right? I DO know there are problems that women face - maybe they know something I don't, and I should try harder and listen to them?

After that I just noped out.

And, BTW, their inability to reflect on their action, admit mistakes and apologize is another huge red flag. (I haven't seen any examples, at least - please let me know if you have any, I'd be very glad to see them)

And FWIW, I didn't downvote you.

Repeated errors have certainly received bug reports of a similar tone. In the context of QA I'd say that saying someone belongs in jail would be seen as humor and sarcasm, so that part doesn't really hold for me.

That said, I really don't see any nuance or indication that you were an ally before someone said "men are rapists," tbh. "Men are rapists" is an extreme statement, but "hateful hypocrites" isn't. Gotcha.

If you're going to "nope out" that easily, maybe you don't have much to offer. I don't know, you just sound like you're lecturing people in absentia. "Admit your mistake!" the principal says. Reading some Foucault might help here.

Most QA reports do not end in "fuck you fuck you stop talking to me" for good reasons.

And that's why metaphors are leaky abstractions.

I would lambaste QA people who communicate like that, even if they are occasionally pointing out real problems.

The "pronoun scandal"?

Your digging deep if you grab a github documentation PR as an example of how these people are making problems facing women in technology worse.

It's doubtful that you understand the issues women face and it's even more doubtful that you are able to measure the impact of anyone's efforts towards addressing those problems. Most importantly, it's clear you do not care in the slightest about helping women so your motivation in taking this thread about gittip off-topic is about attacking women.

You are a spineless coward hiding behind an anonymous ID tearing down a couple of women who are at least trying to make the world a better place. There is no way that your efforts could be construed as anything close to helping anyone. For some reason, they threaten you. Sort it out.

Unless you have anything to actually prove that Shanley, Ashe, whomever else you named in this thread, are "making the whole things worse", please be so kind and keep your hate to yourself.

PS. The only thing the tweets you quoted prove is that Shanley, on top of everything, has a sense of humor.

heavy eyeroll if this is supposed to be a "hidden" jab at tech feminists.

No, that wasn't a jab at feminism in tech! Feminism is great and there are some big problems to address in tech. But paying people to stir up heated conflicts and throw Tumblr-style tantrums isn't fixing anything, it is actually misrepresenting women in tech and doing harm to their cause.


c.f. "You are hurting your cause by being angry"

try to be less of a trope.

Women in tech certainly aren't a problem! Feminism isn't a problem. Pointing out problems isn't a problem. Affirmative action isn't a problem. Even being angry isn't a problem.

Another poster made a useful comparison to QA. One imagines an otherwise mild-mannered QA Engineer becoming righteously angry about a very scummy feature, or a software defect which threatens lives. But this QA Engineer has better and worse ways to channel that anger into buy-in for a fix. The anger in itself may be useful by leading to useful things, but it may also be harmful if it leads to harmful things. Anyone can understand this if they want to.

Okay, I'll compare "You are hurting your cause by being angry" and "[stirring] up heated conflicts and [throwing] Tumblr-style tantrums."

The former is perfectly fine in many situations, and I don't see many people saying that being angry is inherently counterproductive or bad. The latter is widely accepted to be immature and counterproductive.

oh for sure man

I never liked Gittip because of how it advertises its top earners and givers... it stops being about rewarding good work and starts to become a game of who can score the most validation points and use them for political gain.

Yelling on Twitter and demonizing men for existing is not "promoting empathy and equality". Begging for legal money for your civil lawsuit is not "sustainable crowd funding" (hint: what is she being sued for? it doesn't say.).

Sorry Gittip, but your site has turned into a joke dominated by professional victims.

Thanks for the feedback! I've added a +1 w/ your comment re: the leaderboards to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074.

@whit537 big fan of Gittip, but inviting misogynists onto your platform is not the right thing to do.

God, it disgusts me to put my money through your system. (Due to either your incompetence or malice towards Gittip's top earners.) Can't wait when a decent alternative to you pops up.

But thanks for reminding me that I neglected to end my private Github account!

Yes, and what in the world does such nonsense have to do with rewarding open source developers? I feel like its a hobby business but everyone makes their own decisions.


A pox upon the beggars. How dare they ask others to volunteer money for a cause or outcome they believe in.

I call for refunds from:



Reading Rainbow


Double Fine Adventure



Ron Paul


May they think carefully in the future before acting in such poor taste.

Nice straw man. Most of those actually produce something useful, and there is a direct relationship between money given and product delivered.

I mean Jesus, earlier I saw Ashe Dryden complain that Gittip "doesn't care about her safety" and that she's now in a precarious position because she's "locked in" to it. Pretty sure she's the one who asked people to give her all that money. If she doesn't like it, she can go back to actually working for a living, like the rest of us. I took one look at Gittip when it opened up and said "Nope".

> If she doesn't like it, she can go back to actually working for a living, like the rest of us.

The rest of us turn up for 8 hours on a good day, turn in shitty code on our horrifically-factored, monolithic Rails app that some other poor shlub will have to maintain, break off at 2pm on a Friday for craft beer and convince ourselves we're changing the goddamn world with our latest social widget.

"Working for a living, like the rest of us"? Don't make me laugh.

The most half-assed Ruby dev, and oh my goodness there's some competition for that title, would easily be earning an integer multiple of what Ashe gets on gittip. You quite clearly know absolutely zilch about how much work Ashe does, and you so very obviously have no idea whatsoever how to value it, so how about you quieten down and go take a look at yourself, eh?

Now you'll have to prove that the gittippers don't produce something useful.

An entire community of marginalized tech professionals will be standing right there watching.

Have fun!

For Christ's sake, are you incapable of making a coherent argument? Your own list is inconsistent, lumping together ineffectual platitude salesmen and corrupt politicians with product developers.

If you'd manage to extract your head from your ass for 5 seconds, you'd realize these spoiled princesses have set back the cause of "marginalized tech professionals" more than a dozen titstares combined.

As a guy on the margins, I can't say I agree with you.

And as a guy not on the margins, who has been repeatedly educated and informed by these "spoiled princesses", I can't say I agree with him either. I find their work incredibly valuable, so I'd be interested to hear why joaren believes they're setting back their own cause.

Well, maybe "interested" is overstating it a bit. "Morbidly curious"?

> I find their work incredibly valuable, so I'd be interested to hear why joaren believes they're setting back their own cause.

I don't have any data or guesses, but it's conceivable that for every person like yourself who are educated toward their cause, a dozen others are turned away, in which case their actions would hurt the cause.

Right, "educated", on their false statistics? Like Shanley Kane's claim that men have a much easier time getting a 6 figure job out of college... except that unemployment among male college graduates is 50% higher than women's, and women already earn 60% of all college degrees. Let's ignore all that, tell guys to "shut the fuck up and listen", because the patriarchy is propagating systemic inequality.

Or how about Ashe Dryden's ignorance of the Norwegian Gender Paradox which shows that the more gender equal the opportunity, the less equal the outcome? See Richard Lippa of Fullerton's research, which shows this trend applies worldwide with an enormous sample size (i.e. gender is not a societal construct) and shows that the countries where there are more women in IT are the ones where it is a disproportionately lucrative career. I could also point to her hypocritical call to get people fired for starring the satirical Feminist Software Foundation github repo, a tweet so low even she eventually deleted it.

How about Noirin Plunkett's defamation lawsuit, for which she is soliciting money on Gittip? I'll just quote from the legal documents shall I:

> Plaintiff Michael G. Schwern was a leader for gender equity and a campaigner against sexual misconduct in the open-source software community. Complaint ¶2, Schwern Decl. ¶9. When plaintiff and his ex-wife, defendant Nóirín Plunkett, divorced, defendant — for reasons best known to her — chose to salt the earth by deliberately and maliciously spreading the lie that plaintiff had raped defendant. Complaint ¶¶8, 9, 13-23; Schwern Decl. ¶¶2-4, 8, 9; Exhibits 1-3. The criminal justice system rejected defendant’s allegations.


Yeah, these are the people who are "educating" the wider tech world with their informed opinions. Also, remember, false rape accusations never happen, no matter what Charles McDowell (1985) and Eugene Kanin (1994) found.

> Like Shanley Kane's claim that men have a much easier time getting a 6 figure job out of college... except that unemployment among male college graduates is 50% higher than women's

"A study of more than 400,000 graduates who left university last summer showed that 9% of males were unemployed six months after quitting compared with just 6% of women.

However, when it came to salaries, those men who had found their way into work were earning higher salaries than women with 32% earning more than £25,000 a year - compared with just 18% of women." [1]

Men are more likely than women to be unemployed or employed full time, while women are more likely than men to work part time at one or more jobs. [2]

Your statement is accurate, but so is hers.

> I'll just quote from the legal documents shall I

You quoted Schwern's accusation, which you seem to think bears more weight than Plunkett's accusation, despite neither being legally substantiated.

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/male-graduates-mor...

[2] http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011236.pdf page 7 (document page 17)

I have no time for someone who claims to be quoting "the legal documents" when he is in fact parroting one side's case in a domestic violence dispute to which he is not a party. Thanks for clarifying what you are, though; that's useful, albeit hardly surprising.

I would suggest one thing that may be controversial, and I hope you take it as constructive criticism: Change the name of Gittip.

Maybe you've discussed this before somewhere but… The name suggests two things that I think hinder the service:

- This is a service for software developers only (git)

- A tip is a small amount of money in exchange for quality service

There is no reason to tie yourself only to software developers. There are a lot of other places where people may want to show appreciation for each other in an open way.

There is also no reason to associate yourself with tipping culture. Tipping causes many people anxiety and has power dynamics and cultural norms attached to it. Tips are supposed to be small and in exchange for service.

I really think a more abstract name would allow people to connect with it better.

Good luck with year three!

As a non-target-market neutral observer I have a comment on this point. What it lacks in directly relevant meaning, the name makes up for in memorability. The sound/rhyme/rhythm, simple length, inference (devs/money) are all well thought out enough to encourage further investigation.

It's true that tipping culture varies widely around the world, but if visitors are aware of how tipping culture works in the States then the name's function is fulfilled.

Many tips can indeed add up to a living in many places, even in the States, and making a reference to tipping culture can also reflect the humble requirements of OSS developers who have by definition not opted to work on OSS projects for the money.

Seems sensible enough from that point of view.

Thanks for the feedback! We actually had a loooong bikeshed on this a month into Gittip. Here's the thread:


Maybe someday we'll rebrand, but that would be a fair bit of work at this point and would distract us from more pressing concerns such as better discoverability and usability.

While I suspect the name isn't the most important thing to be spending time on at this point, it is good fun.

'Opengrant' was a good suggestion from that thread not only because of its 'monetary grant giving' meaning but also its original permission-giving roots: "With these resources I hereby grant you the ability to work on this for the betterment and embiggening of my interests".

On an even lighter note, 'adoptadev' seems pretty open for the taking...

I suspected that there was already a PR where what I'm suggesting was discussed. :-)

Now you've learned more about the people who are interested and the words/terms they use, you are more in a position to make that decision now. So, in some sense it was good to wait.

However, I think that if your growth has been relatively flat and you have evidence of other platforms clicking with consumers in a big way, then it may actually be time to think bigger than incremental improvements on what you're doing now.

One thing you could do is run a set of ads with 10-20 different names along with a catchphrase like:

    An economy of gratitude, generosity, and love
- or -

    An economy of gratitude, generosity, and love

And then see how well you perform. It would be a fairly affordable way to determine if you have a problem or not.

Good idea on testing names with ads. If/when we decide to rebrand I'll keep that in mind.

Our growth has only slowed in the past few months. We doubled three times in the 16 months before that.

How about this: it seems patron-age.org is available...

Ok, you guys need to make some changes, and I would recommend:

- Allow monthly payments, instead of only weekly: most people receive money monthly so their economy math is based on monthly periods.

- The company giving the biggest amount of money is giving $1095... you should try to involve Mozilla and other big non-profits to donate, basically because giving monthly money to open-source (non-employees) devs is one of the boldest statements they can make in favor of open-source.

- Create spontaneous requests, for example if someone is giving 10 dollars to some folk the app could pop up and ask if they want to give her/him a one-time gift of $20, and ask again once the next month (just remember to also show a checkbox to disable those notifications). The people is full of greed based on impulsive behavior, why not let generosity also be impulsive?

Thanks for the recommendations!

I've added a +1 for you to these tickets:

"tip calculator" https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/11

"reach out to companies" https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1149

For the spontaneous requests idea, we would need to implement one-time gifts first:


$1095 a week is over $50K a week, that's a substantial amount of money over a year.

"$50K a week" --> "$50K a year"

I think gittip had the potential to become something great and yea, sure, you've had a substantial increase in traffic since last year but an increase in traffic does not mean an increase in quality.

I've been looking over at gittip for a while now and saw it was doing good things for good open source developers but your homepage shows the problem. The top 2 money recipients are 2 feminists which have never seen a line of code in their lives (one of them doesn't even have a github account!). This got me really confused as to what the objective of the website really is since apparently anyone can signup and receive cash without working for it.

So that's why I don't use the website to receive or to give. I think its kind of insulting for the developers that actually do something for the community.

> The top 2 money recipients are 2 feminists which have never seen a line of code in their lives (one of them doesn't even have a github account!).

Ashe and Shanley? Ashe is a programmer, and Shanley was working as a programmer until she founded a media startup.

I do find the hangup people have on GitHub in particular weird, though. I have very little code on public GitHub repositories. Why? KDE, GNOME, and Ubuntu all have their own code hosting. I spent years working almost exclusively on projects that were large enough to have their own server farm. And then, of course, there's Sourceforge.

> The top 2 money recipients are 2 feminists which have never seen a line of code in their lives (one of them doesn't even have a github account!).

That is both irrelevant and entirely incorrect. Both have seen and worked with code and both have GitHub accounts. Their relationship to code has nothing to do with the fact that people feel it's worthwhile to donate money to the work they contribute to their chosen communities.

I think you're kind of insulting to everyone that finds the work of those two individuals valuable, those individuals themselves, feminists in tech, people that support more people working for social justice and inclusion in tech, and you hide behind a green name to make your snarky comment. /You/ are part of the problem in tech.

Gittip is a site for multiple communities, not one single community, so I take it as a sign of strength that we do in fact have multiple communities using Gittip now. Think along the lines of PayPal or Twitter: they are a big tent.

I've added a +1 for you to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074, because you're right that the homepage currently conflates the different communities that are using Gittip.

Don't feed the trolls.

Ashe and Shanley do more for the open source community in an average week than I suspect you've ever done in a year.

My web applications run 150% faster now that I know how evil I am for being a white male!

These are the hardest. See, when a company or project is dead on arrival there is not much to do, you bury it, do a post-mortem and move on.

If a company is successful then you ride the wave as far and as long as your stamina will let you and then you hopefully pocket a nice chunk of cash.

But when you're in the middle, too big to die, too small to succeed it gets very hard. Killing it off feels completely wrong, pushing it feels like you are adding to the opportunity cost with a relatively small chance chance of eventual success. It's a very practical illustration of the sunk-cost fallacy in all its gruesome glory.

Personally I hope that gittip will continue to grow and that the team will stick with it. They serve a very important role, pioneers in uncharted territory. And even if a lot of those pioneers ended up dead in creeks with arrows in their backs they pointed the way, showed what works and what does not. And they still have a sufficiently large shot at success if they stick with it. But if they'd pull the plug I would not fault them.

Let's hope there will be a 3rd instalment of this article, where gittip grew steadily for the 3rd year in a row and it became profitable. That would be the best way to see this go.

I've never heard of Gittip nor Patreon before reading this article. Looking at both websites the website for Patreon is much more engaging and less cluttered. Gittip looks intimidating with all those small pictures and numbers going around. A good redesign for the index would propel the business more than all those commits. Love both ideas though :)

I kinda agree with you here. I have not heard of Gittip either before this post came on HN. So I visited it, and upon seeing the front page, I immediately thought that this is like a competition where the rankings of the highest givers and highers receivers were showcased.

I think that the site should show something that tipping the projects is a good idea. (Shooting from my hip here) maybe they should pick out a couple of projects and show how the tipping has benefitted the project?

I agree with you about the competition bit. I immediately thought: "Oh how surprising the cute girl is in second position" (I dont have a clue who shanley is). So focusing more on how they make a difference instead of a silly selfie would be a good first step indeed.

A bit OT, but "Oh how surprising the cute girl is in second position" is casual sexism and really dismissive. Read her statement on gettip for some extra irony.

Thanks for the feedback! :-)

I've added +1s for the ~~three~~ two of you to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074.

Kinda shocked by all the negativity here. Gittip seems pretty successful to me. Have those telling Chad to quit really challenged themselves in their own lives like this? I highly doubt it.

I love Gittip. I don't love the homepage.

When I visit the homepage, I see "Sustainable crowdfunding: inspiring generosity", followed by a call to action input asking me to enter someone's username, and finally three groups of lists of people. None of these things mean anything to me if I'm new to Gittip.

The headline at the top describes your company mission statement, not what the product does. Instead of telling me the abstract of what Gittip is about, it should tell me the benefit of using your product. For instance, "Support your favourite people by automatically donating to them weekly." Skip the generosity, sustainability, and crowdfunding mentions for now. Put them behind the About link, which I might click if I'm interested in learning more about how and why you're doing this (I'm probably not).

The call to action input doesn't help me much. It's asking me to enter someone's name off the top of my head, and it's using a very vague label ("who inspires you?") to do so. I would scrap this approach and instead provide a way to sign up to Gittip with a call to action that ties back in to the headline. So you want to donate to people you like? Step 1: sign up for an account. Step 2: add people from your Twitter, Github, Facebook, etc. Step 3: Look through the list of people (Gittip should use some magic to prioritise the people by likelihood of my wanting to support them, such as looking at how close they are to me on Facebook, or how many followers/stars they have on Github and how many of their projects I've starred) and select up to 3 that I like. Done! Step 4: Decide to give someone something minimal (say, $0.25) per week by entering my credit card details. If I choose not to do that, at leat I made a profile on the site, got familiar with how it works, taught you a bit about who I am and where I came from, and you can maybe email me later and remind me if someone I have in my friends list did something interesting (like published a new project, blog post, insightful tweet, etc)

The list of people at the bottom of the homepage is boring. It's not contextual to the goals of the homepage, which are converting users to understanding Gittip and wanting to join in. Right now you show me static lists of new users, top givers, and top receivers. I don't really care about new users other than as proof that this site isn't dead, so you can reduce their importance right off the bat. Top givers and receivers aren't relevant to me unless you tell me what they're giving or receiving. So I would reformat these lists: andyet gives x per week to a, b, c, and more. ashedryden receives x per week from a, b, c and more. I need to understand that Gittip is about creating a direct personal relationship between people giving money and receiving money. Right now, these lists don't imply any kind of relationship.

I also think you need to revise the name. I know you've decided that "Gittip" is just a new word and shouldn't be understood as a portmanteau of git and tip, but it's a terrible, hard to remember, hard to spell word. "Giddip? So with a D?" "No, with two T's" "The heck does that mean?" "I dunno, it's just some weird word" -- you're missing the opportunity to give the product a memorable, clear, unique name that either represents your product as it stands apart from competition, or is memorable and quirky enough that it just sticks. Patreon got it right: it evokes "patron" but it's slightly different, so you can intuitively guess what it's about and still remember the brand itself.

I recommend reading the book Seductive Interaction Design by Stephen Anderson: http://www.amazon.com/Seductive-Interaction-Design-Effective... - it will help you combine your existing ability to reason about the product with some basic psychology and mental modeling that will allow you to word things in such a way that the benefit is more clearly communicated and you're speaking to the user instead of rambling about the company vision to nobody in particular.

Good luck with Gittip in year 3. I'll be watching - and giving :)

Thanks! Awesome feedback, especially on the homepage! I've added your comments with a +1 to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074.

Re: the name, that's mentioned a couple other places on this thread. Do you think it's important enough to focus on in the next year? Do you think it's the crucial missing link to making Gittip itself sustainable? Or is that something we tackle once we've demonstrated that we can actually keep the lights on indefinitely?

Thanks for the book recommendation. I've ordered it.

> Good luck with Gittip in year 3. I'll be watching - and giving :)

Thank you! :D

@whit537 - marketing guy's opinion

I would have the front page tell a story. Something like. OpenSSL Heartbleed bug affected millions of users because millions of software developers use this free software. The team behind it only received $2,000 a year in donations prior to the bug being found. There are 10,000s of software projects that you use every day building your tech stack. You should be investing in the development of those tools by helping to sponsor those projects and "tipping" the developers directly for their work.

I might then put a table that lists server projects, language based projects, database projects - that dives people into the next layer. For instance Lua -> Lua page with some of the big Lua projects listed.

Tell a story. You don't have to pay "enterprise licenses" for free software, but the tools you use need constant development. Anything you give helps those tools get better.

Thanks! Want to join our marketing team? :-)

One way or another, I've added your comments with a +1 to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074.

As with any major public facing change, do it sooner rather than later, because the later it is, the more people will know you as "Gittip", so the cost of the change will be larger.

Sit down with 2-3 people (including someone not in the Gittip loop!) this weekend and list all of the nouns and verbs that you associate with Gittip's mission, its market, what users do on Gittip, and what people achieve through Gittip. Then pick one of those. Register the domain. If it's taken, use 37signals' approach of appending "app", "hq" or some other unique identifier to it. It will only take up as much of your time as you allow it to.

But is it holding us back from reaching sustainability for Gittip itself?

I believe it is. You say one of your problems is "we’re not doing well enough at engaging with people about our product". Perhaps I am part of the group you would like to engage, I'm not sure. I read a lot of Hacker News and I recognise your website, so I must have been to it before, but when I saw this post I thought "what's Gittip again?"

Honestly, I can't even figure out how to pronounce Gittip. Is it git-tip? When I try to say it that way I get tongue-tied over the double-t. Gid'ip, with a kind of southern drawl? If I was trying to tell someone about it I would say "there's this neat crowdfunding patronage type site called g-i-t-t-i-p". Or just type it into their computer/phone. That's not where you want to be. Names are what we hang ideas on, and I can't even hang a sound on yours.

Speaking of ideas, I feel like there is a fundamental disconnect between the passion and grandiosity of your mission and what I see on your front page. "Sustainable crowdfunding" is accurate, but uninspiring. What happened to "gratitude, generosity, and love"? Your blog post sounds like you're trying to remake the world based on those principles. That's a hell of a vision. A crazy vision. The kind of vision that either goes down in flames or inspires thousands. That's the vision that defines what you're doing and why your organisation exists. So why can I find literally no mention of it anywhere on your site?

You mentioned Patreon, so I looked them up. Front and centre on their page: "Be a patron of the arts." There, in one sentence, they have described why someone would care about what they do. A patron of the arts. That's who I could be if I sign up for Patreon. Reviving the noble tradition of patronage. Supporting artists and the arts community. Joining the cultural movement of the future. What a thing to be a part of! What am I a part of with Gittip? Sustainability? You can do so much better.

I suppose my point is that I believe at this point you don't need to improve your product to grow, but rather get more people interested in your product to grow. Like a software project where everyone just writes some code and hopes it links up in the end, I think the way Gittip presents itself has been under-designed, and isn't coherent enough to achieve its goals.

I think you raise a good point here -- Gittip is run by committee and consensus, via Github issues and pull requests. The Linux kernel is developed via community as well, but has a strong leader at the helm to direct things. In contrast to this, Gittip feels like a bunch of people kind of doing their own thing, which leads to a general impression of aimlessness.

I suspect that branding and marketing efforts shouldn't be run by +1's on issues, but by someone taking charge, picking a direction, and running with it.

I've been following Gittip's progress for a while, as a student funding someone through this isnt a priority for myself to be honest, I've started working now though so I'll have no excuses! Though I think the name means nothing to people outside of tech. I guess the decision to change the name depends on whether you're targeting nontechnical people who appreciate a developer's work.

I can't answer that. Do you think changing the name might make more people use Gittip to contribute money to each other and eventually to Gittip itself? If yes, then do it. This is just my gut feeling from looking at the site, trying to use it, trying to explain it to friends, etc.

I might put it this way, just as a means of transferring my intuitions: it's very hard to imagine a large, successful company with your current scope using the name "Gittip."

I have the same reaction when I see "Gittip", I find it weird, and then think "Am I tipping someone for their work on Github?". Patreon is a little clearer in terms of naming, I guess.

FWIW I agree with all the UX feedback but think that the name's great. I wouldn't change it. Also you've got brand equity in it now it would be hard to argue that with zero marketing budget you could outdo it at this stage (plus it's great :)

Best of luck with it, great story!

Thanks! :-)

Inspiring service (once I figured out what the heck the post was talking about and managed to make sense of the home page). This post and the site's homepage scream for the attention of a person who has a head for marketing.

I think Patreon is winning because the people leading the charge care most about solving the problem (connecting patrons to creators). Gittip, while they are also clearly passionate about solving the problem, seems to have a big chunk of their passion/attention aimed at HOW they solve the problem (the whole site/process seems to be open-sourced: http://building.gittip.com/).

What they're creating is really a consumer-facing product/service. Are there any/many examples of consumer-facing OSS stuff that's better than the standard path of "find/hire amazing devs/designers/marketeers who love what you're building and pay them to kick ass?"

Yes! Wanna help with marketing? :-)

You're right that it's not just "what we do" but "how we do it" that matters for Gittip. For me they're actually related, though I guess I haven't convinced everyone of that. Basically I just don't feel grateful and generous when I'm spending most of my time working for a paycheck. I want to give my labor away for free! I want open work!

I wrote a post about "open products" for The Changelog a while ago that talks about the question of consumer-facing products that also happen to be OSS: http://thechangelog.com/open-products/.

You should read: http://blog.eladgil.com/2012/10/startups-miracles.html

I think you're shooting for two miracles here - the core idea PLUS the idea that open work is the best way to create a consumer/facing service when all of the evidence seems to point that it's not.

Thanks, I read it.

> Many people delude themselves on whether they are a one-miracle, or multi-miracle startup. They way to tell is to ask yourself what your product or business end goal is. Is your approach directly focused on achieving that end goal? If not, you may have a multi-miracle plan without realizing it.

Gittip's end goal is to enable an economy of gratitude, generosity, and love.

So you tell me: is our approach directly focused on achieving that end goal?


If that's your goal (which is a good, but again could use a marketing brain), it's pretty easy to make a list of what needs to exist/happen for that goal to succeed. To me, it's hard to argue that "try a radically different way of developing the product/company" should be ANYWHERE on that list, any more than "run a kickstarter campaign for every new feature" should be on Kickstarter's list or "we should outsource all of our product development" should be on oDesk's list. To me, it looks like adding a ton of unnecessary risk, though it certainly does tell a nice "we're eating our own dogfood" story. But, heck-- I've been wrong plenty before.

Maybe I'm confused about the mission of Gittip, but I always thought it was (based on the name) supposed to support valuable open source work. Given this, it seems sad that the leaderboard prominently features people whose contributions are definitely not made in the form of git commits.

Took me some looking around to find a link on bottom of the (gittip.com) page to actually find out what gittip does.

First thought was - is it a way to get paid by submitting patches through GitHub? No, actually thats a site where you give/receive donations to people on Twitter/GitHub/Bitbucket

Surprisingly, I hear, by far, the most about gittip from feminist circles; it's easy to explain the reason for using gittip in that context.

It's great that people use gittip for that, but I also think the barrier to understanding gittip is easier for people who support feminist causes than for most other demographics.

I've tried using gittip as a single-donation tip jar for people who fixed or forked broken repos, but having to use the subscription-like format makes that too much of a hassle in most cases, unfortunately.

I assume it's for tax or regulation reasons that this option is not available? It'd have been great to use in my GitHub issues, if someone helps me out with a problem there.

It's a design decision, not a tax/regulatory issue. We've had one-off tipjars for decades and they haven't changed the game. My mortgage is recurring so my income needs to be recurring as well.

We currently have an "Other Ways to Give" on your profile where you can link a bitcoin address or Venmo account. That's an outlet for one-offs. We may mix in first-class one-offs eventually but we're not in a rush. See https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/5.

I see. One consideration could be a more substantial floor for one-time donations can ensure that it conforms more to your vision of a sustainable donation model.

Same thing here, I had no idea about this site, so I click their mission from the article.


Well, that made it more confusing, so I click process at the bottom of the above page.

Now it sounds like it's a giant pool of money, anyone can volunteer for anything, and take some of that money. So, I can say I want to keep the elderly company and go play scrabble with them in the evenings, and take $10/hr from Gittip for my time? So, I visit the site directly to see if this is accurate...


Apparently not. Ok, now I'm suppose to enter a Twitter username? This is to donate money to Twitter users? Still confused, so I click a random profile of someone receiving money. It starts to make more sense, so these are just people marketing themselves, and asking for weekly donations. The about page confirms this...


Far too much work to figure out what's happening here. I still have no idea what I can donate money towards. I mean, how do I browse causes? If I want to support musicians, or people cleaning up garbage on their beaches, where do I go? I can't find any type of listings, or categories here. Is this just for programmers? I need to know their Twitter/Github username, or randomly click profiles on the site?

I give up, I've spent 20 minutes reading, and browsing this site, and my only conclusion is that it's a place to sponsor your favorite programmers, by giving them a weekly donation. I've been programming and freelancing for over a decade, and I can't think of anyone by name that I'd donate towards. This site gives me zero help in finding people to donate towards, aside from aimlessly browsing hundreds of profiles, hoping for someone to catch my attention. I don't have that kind of time.

This entire thing is too frustrating. I don't have a Twitter, GitHub, Bitbucket, or OSM account, so they won't even let me sign-up anyway. However, they say, 'Gittip's audience is everyone; it's intended to be a mass-market consumer product.'


Browsing the above, it looks like they spent way too much effort on over-analyzing everything. They have widgets, an API, browser extensions, but they're missing the most important thing, I working business model. It seems like the result of too many engineers and programmers in a room, while no one is spending a minute thinking about marketing, sales, or the user experience.

Okay, I've also added +1s for you to:

"revamp homepage" https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074

"sign up with email" https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1052

We're working on bringing disciplines besides programming into the mix. The challenge for us is that we run everything open source, which is a cross-cultural experience for most marketers, sales people, and product designers. I talk about this in the post.

If you are or know any folks with relevant skills that want to try out open source, by all means send them our way! :-)

At least some of the pages are open source; I'm sure they wouldn't mind a pull request for some changes in language: https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/tree/ee8ebf663e74fb....

Open source doesn't fix this issue.

The GP doesn't understand what gittip is for, what the overall direction is supposed to be or could be, and so can't reasonably submit a pull request to fix that confusion.

Great feedback, thanks! Starting to process it here ...

I've ticketed "Building Gittip is confusing as a first impression"


Because what we apparently aren't making clear is that "Building Gittip" is a subsite for people building Gittip. It's not intended to be a starting point for people coming to Gittip for the first time as a potential user. The first impression should either be the homepage or a specific profile page (if you find us through a link from someone you know, which is how most people find us).

I've always associated Gittip with GitHub, and contributing small amounts to cool open-source projects. But from the article, it seems like its mission is much more ambitious than that.

In that case, if the service wants to shed its tech-only image, maybe a rebranding is in order?

I guess the issue being raised here by many is this: You need to justify why the non-standard moves you've made are necessary for you to achieve your mission. If there is a story, it's not coming out. If they're not necessary, then your mission doesn't align with your actions. Perhaps your true mission is 'make all our dreams come true at the same time' but you have to be conscious of the fact that the conditional probability of everything working just right at the same time is orders of magnitude smaller than something like gittip being executed with better understood tools and structures.

> you have to be conscious of the fact that the conditional probability of everything working just right at the same time is orders of magnitude smaller than something like gittip being executed with better understood tools and structures.

Sure, that's why I'm encouraged that Gittip has grown as well as it has! We paid out $41,000 our first year. We paid out $300,000 our second year. The best justification I can offer will be a strong year three. ;-)

I was really surprised to see they don't accept Bitcoin. I feel like it is the perfect use case and would probably help them gather some more enthusiasm from the community.

However, one could also contend that Bitcoin might very well kill them..

Completely agree. Dogecoin too. I'm surprised more crowdfunding sites don't accept crypto. Here's one that does https://onarbor.com.

We can do payouts in Bitcoin currently, but it’s a manual process.

We have an Issue on GitHub to remedy this to make it automated while making sure we do it right. Any help would be appreciated: https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1960

I was thinking more along the lines of having two different kinds of gifts, dollars and bitcoins, and when someone gives bitcoins to someone else, the receiver has to accept is as bitcoins by providing an address if they want to cash it out.

Funny thing is most top earners don't even seem to code.

Not that funny. Gittip shifted its focus solely from programmers pretty early on.

so its just a website for technologically capable street beggars?

I think someone else mentioned this idea, but I can't find it anymore. I wish there was some way to donate to a group of people that was automatically managed by you guys (or crowd-sourced if you can make that work).

I wouldn't mind giving a little bit each month, but I don't really feel like searching for specific users that do work I want to support, and then checking back every few months to make sure they still are.

Also, it would be a lot more meaningful to see a list of groups on the homepage rather than people that I have mostly never heard of.

Thanks for the feedback! Did you open https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/2455? It sounds similar. :-)

I've added your homepage comment with a +1 to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074, and your other comments to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1493.

I ran a similar site a few years back (youtipit). The biggest challenge was actually getting people to give money for things they can have for free. Looking at Chads figures, I think there definitely has been a huge change in the way people respect "free" work, and are now a lot more willing to pay for it.

I hope for him (and all others in this market) that this trend continues and that more people can start making a living from free work.

Thanks for the encouragement! :-)

I agree that the general cultural trends are pointing in the right direction in a way they weren't a few years ago.

One thing that I think Gittip is going to require is that people actually ask to receive donations. I'm guessing that the people who are doing best through Gittip do just that. It's a voluntary gift-oriented community, but that shouldn't get in the way of asking.

Chad: one thing I will note is that, though you are very open in the article about what you are making, and clearly you want more gifts to sustain yourself and gittip, you don't actually ask. For gittip to succede you don't just need a volume of people, you need a volume of people who are actively asking other people to participate. And you should start with yourself!

For gittip that plea can take different forms. Well-funded groups can ask for tips that they redistribute. People doing small projects on the side can still calculate out their expenses (my expenses are just a few domain names, but they aren't free) and can ask for exactly that modest goal.

In a sense you want to teach people how to ask, and you want to normalize these pleas, which is best done through demonstration.

You may be right. Certainly, "asking" has been a success factor for people using Gittip, which is fine. For myself, I like not overtly asking for money too much, because then the gifts I do receive feel that much more genuine. :-)

What if instead of normalizing asking (pull), we normalized generosity (push)?

I know asking is hard, and uncomfortable, but I feel like you are coming up with excuses to avoid the hard and uncomfortable thing. But I also suspect you know you have to do uncomfortable things to make this succeed. Asking/pulling extends the network, pushing does not. Certainly you aren't the only one reluctant to ask, but I think there's room to experiment with creative ways to ask, ones that will feel more authentic to you.

Also I'm going to pull out the Lesson In Humility card.

The thing is, there's little money in open source; the users don't have that much money to spend, the developers usually do it in their spare time or are sponsored / paid for by their developers.

Paying open source developers would only become sustainable if said big companies funneled a lot of money towards gittip; tens of dollars instead of cent amounts, times dozens of companies.

I love Gittip, and believe deeply in their philosophy goal.

I visited their hackathon Jan 2nd-4th, in Ambridge, PA.

Great team ... hard working, talented.

Chad is a superb full-stack engineer, and completely sincere in his honorable goals. I believe he and the team will succeed. And when they do, since it's bootstrapped, it will not be owned by investors.

Gittip is truly a new and deep way of thinking.

Thanks for the support, Carl! Loved having you here! :D

I've been using Gittip since practically day 1.

I really love the system, and always feel happy knowing Chad is the one leading it! If you haven't met Chad before -- you should. He's one of the nicest, most genuine people I've had the pleasure of meeting!

Best of luck with Gittip moving forward! <3

Thanks rdegges! The feeling is mutual! :D

I've been using Gittip for my free software projects, and while I am nowhere near being sustainable, it's more than I expected to get. There is certainly room for two players (see Kickstarter/Indiegogo), and I much prefer Gittip's minimalism and lack of flare.

I wonder why Patreon took off and not Gittip. Personally I've heard more about Gittip than Patreon, which I only encountered recently, being used by some YouTube channel for sustenance. Maybe that's precisely the kind of market which Gittip should focus on.

Patreon took off because a) they've got domain expertise w/ YouTube in one co-founder, and b) they've got business expertise in the other co-founder.

Re: YouTube. When your friends are YouTube micro-celebs, who are good at marketing themselves by definition, you're going to have an easier time getting a network effect going around a platform that depends on marketing oneself, than when your friends are open-source programmers, who as a rule are not good at marketing themselves.

Re: Business. They identified a market need and are executing by the book. They built a prototype, with a standard skimming business model, raised some money, hired a team, danced with the tech press, and here we are.

Here's where we tried approaching content creators: https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/737. I actually did a call with Jack and others right when Patreon launched. Key point he made is that content creators get pitches from companies all the time, so already being in that scene is a huge advantage.


Patreon's team is just right: Technical co-founder who built the site himself, business co-founder who is a YouTube artist and has a lot of friends in those circles. I even think they met as college room mates, typical story VC's like (they are funded).

There's been a push in the perl community to start using gittip, and I think it's a great thing. So please do keep up the great work.

My company (Nestoria) just started a "module of the month". Each month the dev team picks someone whose code we use and via gittip we'll donate $1/week for a year to that person. That's not a fortune obviously, but our hope is that others - individuals and companies - follow our lead, and in many cases it will be obscure modules that don't otherwise get a lot of attention.


Awesome! Thanks for using Gittip! :D

Agree it is awesome (I had no part in coming up with the idea). Feel free to use us as a case study.

This reminds me that I have a small amount of tips on gittip. However, I can only withdraw it by adding a bank account. Security concerns make this not appealing, at least not at the current level of funds. The cost/benefit is not there for me.

And so I've not yet really made money on gittip, which doesn't give me much incentive to promote it. (Beyond thinking the open company idea is pretty cool. But that also means I value their time, so I'm not seeing the cost/benefit on emailing them for a manual bitcoin withdrawal, either..)

On the other hand, flattr at least lets me withdraw money using paypal.. Or they have so far. They seem to be possibly moving to european bank account only, which will kill it for me.

Add Paypal withdraw support. People don't like having to spread their account information all over the place. Leverage what they already have access to in their lives; note the proliferation of Twitter and Facebook logins all over the web.

Cryptocoin would be a nice option as well.

I ended up using my own badges from shields.io because the widgets generated for me say "I receive $null from GitTip." And the buttons don't say anything useful: People don't know what "Gittip" is by itself, and "3.00" (actually, for me, they say "NaN") doesn't mean anything either. I made a badge on shields that says "tips|accepted" because I 1) wouldn't want people to know how much I'm making on Gittip and 2) don't care how they donate, really. But I like the idea of Gittip and hope it continues and grows.

I'd love to see actual stories of donors/receivers there, too.

Did you know that Gittip and Shields are in cahoots? :-)


Re: stories, I've added a +1 for you to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1074.

I just signed up. What's the easiest way for me to put a gittip badge in a Readme.md on Github? I'd recommend putting that front and center unless I missed it.

Awesome, thanks! :D

See http://shields.io/ for README badge. I've added a +1 for you to https://github.com/gittip/www.gittip.com/issues/1145.

While the discussion is mostly about Gittip vs Patreon, I never quite understood why they could grow despite flattr(.com) being around since 2010.

I like flattr's model of having 1 fixed monthly donation that gets split among all of a user's flattr clicks from this month. It somehow removes a true monetary value from a click and allows to spread them more freely. For whatever reason, it's pretty big in the German podcasting community.

Gittip and Flattr have fundamentally different models and focuses. Perhaps ironically, Flattr is more focused on tipping. It's about signaling one-time appreciation for a specific piece of work (an article, a video, etc). Gittip, on the other hand, is about providing a sustainable income for a person, hence the subscription giving model.

Also worth mentioning that all of these companies (Gittip, Flattr, Patreon, others) seem to be on exceptionally good terms with each other, which is really nice to see.

For anyone wanting to donate to Gittip itself: https://www.gittip.com/Gittip/

Thank you. :-)

It's an incredibly admirable thing to be doing.

It is. But it is also the wrong thing to be doing.

"Gittip’s mission is to enable an economy of gratitude, generosity, and love". In order to affect such a thing one needs leverage. That is, one needs a lever and a place to stand on. If two years in and after several times at the top of HN, Chad still can't make a living - then he has neither. The mission will fail. It is better to let go.

Just my own meandering experience.

Taking three to five years to reach profitability is normal. In the mean time, we paid out $300,000 in no-strings-attached gifts this past year. That does not feel to me like the wrong thing to be doing. :-)

Chad, the passion and effort you've put into your project are clear. I hope it will eventually become beneficial to you, if not directly, then down the road through the doors it must have opened to you. That being said, I think I'm not the only one who would have advised you to let go of something that is half dead (edit: meaning "vegetative" by comparable standards). Also, wouldn't the mission be better served as a project at github rather than a profit seeking enterprise? Wouldn't Reddit gifts arrangement be the right model? After all once you put a link at the place where people go magic is possible. Just something to think about. Sunk cost is tricky but it is never too late to make the right decision. Ok. Almost never....

We paid out $41,000 in our first year, and $300,000 in our second. How is something that just grew 632% half-dead?

Read HN's welcome: "As a rule, a community site that becomes popular will decline in quality." Your top 2 Receivers have never contributed anything of value to the community (this is subjective, I know but the majority would agree with me) and yet they receive an amount most others would dream of receiving. Yes, a person has the privilege of doing whatever they want with their money but your website is endorsing bad actions so I won't support it. Just because the amount you payed out increased, it doesn't mean that (community & value wise) it isn't half dead.

Sorry, this is my opinion.

Lets say i have a serious problem i need solved and i see gittip as a great way to encourage someone to do. How do i go from this homepage to giving my money to the person who will solve it? Or is this just for the case where someone has already done great work, and i want them to continue it (literally a tip)?

More the latter than the former. There are more suitable tools for the former, e.g. Paypal.

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