Can FundRequest Change the Future of Open Source Projects?
Can FundRequest Change the Future of Open Source Projects?
Learn about FundRequest, a company launching an Ethereum-based platform to provide the open source community with incentives to develop solutions.
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It's safe to speculate that 2017 has been the year of the blockchain with cryptocurrencies and ICO's (initial coin offerings) receiving most of the attention. Upon hearing of a new ICO, my attention is always focused on the underlying problem their company aims to address and the solution proposed. I'm skeptical of the hype and more interested in the underlying project. I recently came across FundRequest, a Belgian company that is launching an Ethereum based platform to provide the open source community with incentives to develop solutions for their peers and businesses alike. I spoke to founder Karel Striegel to find out more.
According to a 2016 Future of Open Source Survey, the numbers of respondents that made contributions to open source projects was 65 percent, 50 percent higher than it had been according to a similar survey conducted in 2010. The uptick in the development of open source projects has caused communities, like Github or StackExchange, to flourish.
However, Karel and his fellow developer colleagues discovered a problem:
"It all started with a personal problem. We were using a piece of software that had a bug. So we created a request because it was an open source software. It took ages to be fixed. I felt powerless in that the only thing I could do was ask nicely to have this bug addressed, if the community doesn’t pick it up we are stranded. So I start to wonder isn't there a way we can have some incentivize developers or project owners?"
In comes FundRequest who aim to make it easy to fund open issues on any project, in any language. Inspired by the rise of the gig economy, they bring together developers and organizations requesting open source development using blockchain technology to create smart contracts for the work undertaken. Developers are able to obtain extra income and have more flexibility to choose working hours. Companies or people requesting software development benefit from lower search costs, as well as a more affordable solution compared to traditional software.
Karel explained that "It's actually quite important to get a quick response if you find an issue. It's particularly a problem for more legacy or older projects that are no so well known." Karel gave the example of JUnit, the default testing library for Java. WHen Java8 came out, they needed to update their software. However none of the community members were paid for their work and as a result, the community had to crowdfund to fund the work.
Why Use Blockchain?
You might be asking why such a platform needs blockchain technology. Karel explained that blockchain technology and smart contracts provide the tools necessary to build a decentralized platform that benefits both suppliers and customers of open source development. "We can guarantee that every contract created between parties will be resolved without any third-party interference."
"Platform upkeep costs are thus drastically reduced. In turn, this allows us to remove the service fee that has become commonplace on existing gig economy platforms. Increased transparency and trustless transactions are two other blockchain features that we feel will aid in our mission to boost the entire open source ecosystem."
Use of the blockchain also enables transparency, such as the ability to know the average historical development cost of a specific issue and should lead to a more efficient market functioning. Distributed ledgers enable consulting all previous transaction in a transparent and incorruptible way. Further, all payments for requested work are done on the Ethereum blockchain without any need for intermediaries like banks.
What About GitHub?
I wondered how their platform related to GitHub and Karel assured me,"We do not want to replace Github. We believe that's a great platform and that’s not the service we want to offer."
Instead, integrations are anticipated and future plans include Github platform integration, a browser-plugin enabled funding option for Github Requests and funded issue resolution, and the ability to claim a reward on the FundRequest platform. The company envisions further platform cooperation with additional repositories like bitbucket, and Gitlab; ticketing platforms such as Jira, Asana, and Basecamp; and Q&A communities including StackExchange and Quora.
Why Do You Have Your Own Token (FND)?
The creation of the FND is a means for FundRequest to finance their platform, they've already raised $700,000USD in an ICO presale. Further, Karel explained: "We created a token so we are not limited to the functionality of other tokens. 40% of all tokens that will be generated will be utilized to incentivize the community and we want to delegate tokens to projects that are struggling a bit."
The company also plans to introduce SkillTokens: "because we believe meaningful rewards are not exclusively of financial nature. We want to reward our contributors by highlighting their skills, level of community involvement and contribution. SkillTokens will evolve into an indicator that illustrates contributors’ (programming) abilities and level of commitment. Individual SkillToken balances are public in order to create a level of trust between future partners. An example of rewarding skill is giving skill-specific tokens to people who solve a bug, answer a difficult question or in a later stage manage a complete project."
As the company is focusing on integration with other platforms, it means that the SkillTokens you earn for answering a Python specific question on StackExchange will be added to the SkillToken you’ve received from fixing a Python bug on GitHub.
"In today’s recruitment market, developers refer to their GitHub account when going on job interviews to showcase their skills. We believe that this is a trend that needs to be stimulated and expanded. By creating a cross-platform SkillToken Factory, decentralized and transparent built on blockchain and backed by actual work, making it a source of truth."
FundRequest currently has a token sale (ICO). Developers that take part get a 20% bonus.
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