What Is (The Product Of) SourceCred?

What is SourceCred’s product, in its most fundamental essence and seen using a people-first lens?

One can think of SourceCred (SC) as an open source tool to help communities and organizations measure, value, and appropriately reward the contributions made by its people. While this sounds rather tech-first, its entire raison d’être is to empower and reward people on a fairer, egalitarian, and (actual!) meritorious basis.

SourceCred operates on a model of equipotentiality, a perspective which holds that every human being has something worthy and valuable to contribute, no matter their skill set or experience. Equipotentiality also believes that people themselves should determine what contributions they want and are best suited to make. This may well—and often does—include a desire to be told what to do, shown or taught how to do it, and assessed on their efforts before tackling the work fully independently. Apprenticeship is the best form of skill development and mastery.

But that still only covers the technical product of SourceCred, which I loath to call the product of SourceCred (and not just for the pedantic reason of a “product” being the sum of its parts). One of the more profoundly meaningful outputs of the SC project and its people is the community itself; more specifically, its culture, values, and norms.

The Vision Of SourceCred includes, ::in my mind::, the indisputable belief that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, supported in their basic human needs, offered opportunities to contribute, and welcomed and accepted for who they truly are. But: simply having that belief does not guarantee its outcome, of course.

The SourceCred community comprises many individuals whose work involves few technical contributions; they are not coders or devs, designers or engineers. Instead they contribute culture: art, philosophy, shadow work, emotional labor, personal assistance, and so on. These contributions are valued and rewarded using the SourceCred technology, and are considered equally important to the success of SourceCred. They are, in reality, just as much the “SourceCred product” as the technologies facilitating this value-reward system.

What is “value,” anyway?

Who defines what is valuable?

Capitalism espouses the gross, reductionist view that “what is valuable” is what is transactional and given a price tag. Many millions of people around the world are waking up to the reality that this is an incomplete picture, an unjust measure, and utterly unsustainable as a system.

“Value” is subjective, of course, but if we limit our views on economic value to that which can be measured using objective and tangible means, and transaction-based standards, we nullify the legitimate value of the work that actually keeps our society afloat: the cultural values, norms, and artifacts that drive our best behaviors; the mentorship and guidance of wise elders; the emotional labor of holding space and supporting each other through hardships and stress; the housework, child-raising, and cooking etc. of stay-at-home partners (overwhelmingly women), without whose labor the working partner(s) would rapidly be overwhelmed and likely, eventually, incapacitated.

Self-care is a contribution.
— Dandelion Mané, founder/creator of SourceCred

Taking care of yourself so you can take care of others (or simply focus on your work and do it well) is an essential contribution that is given no tangible value under capitalism, but is invaluable for the well-being of a functioning society. The exploitation of labor under late-stage capitalism is optimized to extract value from workers while rewarding them only minimally, if at all. Increasingly fewer contributions that humans make to support each other’s successes are being under-valued, under-rewarded, even ignored.

SourceCred’s mission, ::in my mind::, is to turn that detrimental system inside out. To dismantle the economic systems we use, identify and excise their toxic and unsustainable elements, and preserve the qualities that do work well. The free market as the end-all, be-all has utterly failed to deliver on its promises, and has been proven endlessly to be a catastrophic failure in terms of human survivability (see e.g. people denying climate change while first-hand suffering unprecedented flooding or fires, simply to preserve their indoctrinated views of capital markets). This is not to say there is no merit or value to a free market; it is simply evidence that we need more different ways of being, economically and societally, and less dependency on all systems that prioritize profits over people.

SourceCred facilitates and creates some of these much-needed different solutions. Which brings us full circle to the original question: what is the product of SourceCred?

I argue that, in its truest sense, the product is love.

Love is composed of four elements: truth, connection, possibility, and change. Products or communities cultivated with great love embody and represent these elements in significant or obvious ways. SourceCred:

  • reveals the truth of what has value and meaning to people and communities;
  • builds connection through social and technical means, including retroactively to any person from our past who made a lasting, positive impact on us;
  • inspires hope by making other ways of existing and thriving possible in an exploitative world;
  • enacts change that reimagines and reshapes the world in a fairer, more equitable and just way.

Justice is love at scale.
— DeRay McKesson

A telltale sign of the presence of great love in something is when people encounter it and say “oh I love this,” or “I love what you’re doing!” It is when serendipity (a common side effect of love) is frequently experienced, even by newly joined individuals. It is when there is a peaceful light in your heart when you work on it.

I love SourceCred, because the essential product of SourceCred is Love.


(Context: this post is written for both our internal community and, linguistically especially, the broader world at large. I would love feedback on the content and suggestions to make this suitable for a wider public, using those two target audiences in mind.)

I feel like this is a lovely summary of a lot of different reoccurring themes in our conversations lately. And I love the 4 elements idea.

I’ll just poke a little and say that this is a way of describing what SourceCred wants its product to be. We’re not doing all of those things yet, but it’s our vision that continues to be defined and continues to pull us forward alongside each other.

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Great write up, thanks. I suspected :grin: that there would be “love” somewhere in the post…

A/ the equipotentiality approach is really interesting for the paradigm that SC wants to bring to life. +1

B/ the relationship between value & keeping the society afloat is my pick :100: for this post !

  • the subjectiveness of value makes an interesting call to “we as individuals can define value and make the change”. It also echoes really well your “Who defines (anyway) what is valuable?”

  • “afloat” is profound as it captures at the same time the humanness of our existence as a crowd and our (increasing) fragility due to Capitalism. This goes well beyond the fact of “this system is failing us” : it provides a human face/image to this situation. To some extent, maybe far-fetched, we’re the migrants here towards a more regenerative/caring ecosystem

we nullify the legitimate value of the work that actually keeps our society afloat:

C/ these two elements stand out in my mind, especially the last one. Regarding the love analogy, it’s pure & beautiful. I would describe first the 4 elements and then the love analogy to sum up…i think it would make it more accessible for a broader audience. But at the same time getting the love part at the beginning makes the impact :thinking:



I really needed this today. Thank you.

Time is pressing us to create humane compassionate communities as the world deconstructs around us. Maintaining self care is difficult and important.

It’s hard to remember to take the time. I’ll definitely come back and reread.

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@KuraFire Thank you for taking the time to articulate what sourcecred is for you. You really do wear your heart on your sleeve, it comes through in your writing and I dig it, it’s really sweet to read your words. This is the second time I’ve this, I was curious to see if It still felt in alignment with what I felt when I first got here. DL’s rest quote really got me in the heart I was like what!? where am I? these people care about what? I’m soooo in!

As I have come to engage with source cred I initially thought it was everything I ever imagined…something incredible that didn’t already exist in this world but the more I engage with it the more I realize that at its core this could be some sort of incentivising/performance/productivity behavioral tool. It could be capitalism 2.0 and I dunno depends on who you and what your intentions are this could really go either way. It kinda doesn’t even matter what we want it to be though…with untouched trauma around capitalism the tool that is being designed has some really interesting internalized behaviors manifesting.

I joined the tech industry because eventually, I want to be able to have the skillset to eradicate bias from code…primarily artificial intelligence. This whole project offers a truly unique experience for curiosities such as mine.

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wow yeah i’m with you on that; do you really think it’s possible? or just that it’s worth trying?

i’m entertaining the possibility that bias is inevitable, but it should be used to protect communities from one another in some way… e.g. the defense community’s biases shouldn’t interfere with the academic community’s

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what is value? oh i love this paper for that… it’s intensely theoretical from neuroscience, but i’d love to get with anyone mathy enough to critique it and maybe start to turn some of those points into code…


spot on, it is inevitable, to eradicate it you have to know how/where/why shadow manifests. It is in these spaces that I do my work. When we design I am watching for hoarding, fear or capitalistic elements manifesting, resource scarcity, competition or lack of social awareness etc…THESE are where the biases come from. Unresolved trauma / low social awareness / Lack of personal accountability.

I’m new around here. Poking around and taking in the history of SC. The first time I read this I had such a huge smile when I got to the line about Love… that in and of itself is so elemental and the intention can be felt. I am excited and honored to continue to pull from this intention as I step into an untraditional role in the tech world as conflict tender, emotional support/grief worker within SC. What a cool place to be at such a dire and bizarre time in the mainstream world. Hats off to everyone who has contributed to the seedlings of a different world and the creation and growing legacy of this culture.