Cover image for Formidable Labs to Start Paying for OSS Contributions

Formidable Labs to Start Paying for OSS Contributions

nickytonline profile image Nick Taylor (he/him) Updated on ・1 min read

An interesting blog post came out today from Formidable Labs. As the blog title says, "Paying Cold, Hard Cash for Open Source Contributions"

This is an interesting endeavour that seems like a win win.

They're also encouraging other companies to follow their model.

What are your thoughts on Formidable's OSS initiative?


Editor guide

I think this all checks out as obvious value add for them.

We pay our employees $20/hr for contributions to OSS and tech communities

I imagine this is pretty cheap compared with their salaries and probably leads to employee happiness, recruiting opportunities, and ongoing education. It seems like they thought this out and designed it in a way it definitely helps the company and contributes money to employees for things they'd previously been doing for free.


Your people also need to rest outside of work hours. Creating an incentive to reduce "off time" is not good. Why not give a hard dedicated to a percentage of work-time to OSS so that there can't be a customer demand interfering?

But any experiment/initiative to boost OSS is a good one


Definitely agree about experimenting/initiative to boost OSS. And for sure you need to rest. I think it's more if you do decide to work on OSS, why not get paid by your company?


It is nice to do something you like, and also get paid for it. But this is holding a carrot in front of people. Knowing when to stop is not something every developer masters. They think they are doing ok contributing 2x8 hours to OSS during the weekend. They won't be tired because they had enough sleep. But they do burn their creative juices, their inspiration, and their drive. This will happen unnoticed until you burn through it. When this happens the fun will disappear. People will get demotivated. This is bad for people, and bad for business.

There are companies/managers who look after this, and send developers on "mandatory" vacation to refuel when it has been too long ago.

You can't really stop people from working all weekend. But you shouldn't incentivize this too much. For example, you could limit the payout to 10 hours a week. And a lower maximum when it was a stressful week.

It's not mentioned in the linked article, but they did set a limit

It's set at 30 hours a month. This is not for budget reasons, only to discourage excess working off-hours. This adds up to about a workday per week, which is what we feel is reasonable.

Source: news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19818469

In terms of dangling a carrot, people need to exercise self-discipline but as you mention, not everyone masters that. Self-discipline in general can be tough.

Glad to see they cap it at 30 hours though.


Looks good but that gif makes me so uncomfortable lmao


Yeah what's up with Lincoln? 🙃


Lincoln appears to have taken too much molly.

Now I gotta clean off my keyboard. You made me snarf my water. I fricking lol'ed.


The initiative sounds great as it can provide OSS devs some cash to buy tools/services (such as Jetbrains or CodeSandbox subscriptions) necessary to get the job done.

As payments are made per hour, I am not sure how the hours are calculated and also how the quality of contribution can be measured.

Sounds like the interesting challenge though.


I do not like this cover gif. not at all. /r/TIHI


I'm actually curious to know how that gif is made.


I think it's making people seasick. I'll change it up.


Hehehehe I was just joking, I think it was awesome in a super creepy way :D

I kept it creepy. It's just eyeballs now.

Can we get the tripping balls version back in the thread just for posterity please?

Haha, ok. If anyone gets seasick, ping me.


I mean, if I’m gonna contribute to OSS anyway, there’s nothing wrong with getting paid for it.