Set up a sourcecred “treasury” for a handful of pilot projects (let’s say 10). Put a smallish amount in each treasury (say a hundred dollars). Each month, the SourceCred algorithm calculates cred for each individual project, then distributes $100 (in that project’s cryptocurrency) in proportion to each contributor’s cred score – preferably time-weighted to reward newer contributions, but also recognizing long-time contributors that have put in years.
A message is automatically sent to each contributor (perhaps via their public info on GitHub) with a link to claim their crypto, along with a short message telling them that this is a donation/tip for their compensation, as part of a new experiment in funding open source software. Perhaps the sender is anonymous (and mysterious). There’s also a link to a microsite explaining the project, and a link to a dashboard/leaderboard for their project (one could even run the prototype as is), where they can explore the UI and see how their cred was calculated. They are told that if they do not retrieve the funds after some time (e.g. one month), the funds will be automatically put back into a pool for redistribution to contributors that do claim their payment (similar to what Brave/BAT does with publishers). Contributors can “unsubscribe” to the messages at any time, but funds will continue going to their address in the system, should they change their minds. At any time they can check their balance on the dashboard and see the payments accumulating.
Anyone can send funds to each project’s treasury’s address (i.e. give the workers a raise). The system is permissionless. Perhaps some project leaders will see it as a welcome experiment and add some funds from their treasuries, or sympathetic whales of a project will donate – most will likely allow it to at least continue and be discussed on their social channel. Perhaps grants can be used to put a few thousand into a project treasury and measures the results. But only cred determines outflows. This could be done via trusted smart contract eventually, but done manually for an MVP. Contributors are also informed that they can earn crypto for working on other “partner” projects included in the pilot. Though their contributions there will obviously earn less, as they don’t have previous cred. Some project leaders may hate the idea. Scream that “these PRs are worth way more than X! You’re taking away our/my sovereignty!”. They will be politely reminded that thier network is permissionless, like they often tout on Twitter, and that they are welcome to help customize the algorithm so that it better fits their project. Project leaders reactions will be telling, and publicly viewable to all contributors (paid and not paid), along with the wider crypto community. If a community genuinely rejects the scoring and payments (via formal on-chain governance mechamism or informal, off-chain goverance (i.e. consensus is clear on social channels where decisions are made)), their cred site is shut down, and the funds distributed equally to all remaining participating projects, thus increasing the amount of cred distributed to participating projects, and making the participating projects more enticing to the free labor of non-participating projects (who don’t have the power to speak vocally against their leaders, but can move with their feet). At the early stages, because most contributors have not signed up, a decent chunk of crypto starts flowing to early adopters that claim their cred/rewards.
Accurate (enough) price discovery of labor gives contributors a tool to leverage in negotiations over pay. Because the system is permissionless, they can always “walk” by simply starting to contribute to a project that does pay via cred. No job applications necessary. Start earning crypto immediately. Transition slowly, and without having to reveal your identity. I.e. you can “fork” the “workforce”. Projects are also free to create their own sourcecred instance on top of the existing one to “woo” workers. For instance paying new contributors more (i.e. headhunt) if they have a lot of cred accumulated in a related project (or higher “global cred” score (more on this later)).
By this point, the project has created multiple epic drama storms on social media, stoking the flames of an already hot-button issue. It highlights the fact that even highly skilled devs holding up billion dollar valuations are begging for rent money on Twitter/patreon, as rich investors make millions. CoinDesk writes an article. Increased attention draws more criticism, but also interest. Perhaps the creator of said project/shitstorm is still anonymous, adding to the intrigue (and free press). Who is this mystery whale? What is their game? People start gaming the system, of course. But this only adds more valuable data to the sourcecred team. Who now have sources of data with which to evolve their models: github activity in participating repos, which contributors have claimed their cred, social media data, etc… It can analyze the interaction between cred and the ranking algorithms, optimizing meaningful metrics (or discovering said metrics in the first place). Sourcecred can build plugins that its “customers” ask for, not just guess, lean startup style. Sourcecred begins to function almost as a, currency….
A couple business ideas off the top of my head: Sourcecred the company could offer CASS (cred as a service). I.e. provide hosting and support for cred dashboards and other services (payment services?), as well as consultants that work with a project to customize cred algorithms to suit their needs. All customized work is open source and available for all other projects to use if they find them useful. Another possible revenue stream would be a “dev tax” of sorts, where, say, %5 of crypto sent to a “cred treasury” managed by sourcecred will be sent to a fund for development of core sourcecred technology. Everything is visible on-chain and auditable. Projects are free to host their own dashboard, and all code is open source, but many will not want to (or have the resources to) do this on their own. Numerous partnership opportunities also exist. E.g. all cred, regardless of the project, is paid in a single “sponsored” currency. This would be attractive to certain projects as it would raise awareness and adoption and surface meaningful on-chain economic activity, which would be picked up in numerous metrics used in project valuations (and therefore investment decisions that affect the price, especially in illiquid markets). It’s a great marketing opportunity as well. A virtuous feedback loop. This also could give sourcecred a lever to negotiate with. Similar to how Mozilla funds open source software by threatening to switch Firefox’s default search to Bing. How much not to switch to BCH lol.
At the same time people earn cred in their own projects, cred is also calculated across all projects. The connections between nodes across projects may be limited. But will grow over time. Especially as the sourcecred team adds more robust and nuanced functionality. E.g. a forked repo is used in another project, causing additions to the forked repo to send cred back to the original repo, etc. A researcher’s idea is used in several projects. Non-code contributions become integrated, allowing for conversations on comms channels to create connections between projects, etc. Eventually, when “global” scores become meaningful, more business opportunities emerge.
Once the project has reached a critical mass, a new coin could be premined and airdropped to all participants in the system, in proportion to their “global” cred score, effectively creating a “meta guild” of contributors across the ecosystem. Let’s call this “WorkCoin”. Members could use these scores to negotiate pay (inside projects and with companies in general). They could also demand to be paid only in WorkCoin, creating a utility coin spot market that dynamically prices worker’s future earnings. To pay workers, they would have to purchase them on the open market, driving up the price. Workers could “sell out” their sweat equity if they wanted (or needed) to. Similar to taxi medallions. To keep the system “honest”, and not be co-opted or made inefficient (like taxi medallions), there is no hard cap, and in the WorkCoin blockchain (there’s of course a blockchain, though it doesn’t have to be fancy) there is a reasonable interest rate. Every 10 minutes, the block reward (new WorkCoin) is created and distributed according to the global cred score (work across all participating open-source projects). Coins that are not redeemed/moved within a time period (e.g. a month) are burned or transferred in the next block reward to people that are “cashing their paychecks”, keeping engagement active and giving active participants more money for participating. This new consensus algorithm is called Proof-of-Labor (POL). Miners are doing actual work. And all work is rewarded, down to the fixed typo or moderated comment, not just according to a lottery. As its price rises, early open source contributors are finally given a long overdue royalty check. The pay from open source finally passes a threshold where new talent leaves corporate America in droves, further driving up the price, and we enter a glorious golden utopia where nothing could ever go wrong:)