A few years ago, GitHub introduced sponsorships that allowed anybody to make direct financial contributions to open source developers. Today, it is taking this concept a bit further by launching sponsor-only repositories, that is, private repositories that only sponsors will get access to.
In some ways, that’s pretty much in line with current trends. Twitch, SubStack and similar platforms also incentivize subscriptions by offering something extra to sponsors, after all. In the open source world, that’s not really a thing, though, and some may look at this as antithetical to its overall ethos.
GitHub says the idea here is to give funders early access to projects as they are being built, for example, or access to what the company calls “sponsorware,” that is access to projects just for sponsors. The company notes that developers can also use these repositories to host discussions with sponsors. And to give developers some flexibility here, they can attach specific repositories to different sponsorship tiers.
In addition to sponsor-only repositories, GitHub is also making a few other minor changes to the program. Developers can now set minimum custom sponsorship amounts, for example, and they will be able to write custom welcome messages for every sponsorship tier. The company is also adding a new call to action to sponsor-enabled repositories to give more visibility to the program.
“Stay tuned for future work to improve the discovery experience on GitHub, making it easier for the community to explore dependencies and decide who to support, and helping maintainers who use Sponsors to grow their audience, community, and overall funding,” Jessica Lord, GitHub’s Sponsor Product lead, writes in today’s announcement.