Why some OSS developers are against cryptocurrencies

I don’t understand the hatred of some developers against cryptocurrencies, being very vocal and raising false accusations from their uninformed prejudices. Stephen Diehl is one of the most notable voices that is spreading misconceptions about market economy and the nature of the money (advocating inflationary policies), just for supporting his anti-crypto position:

When looking for alternative sources of income for helping an underfunded industry, I thinkg that is silly to reject innovations just because some bad actors were using the same tools with different purposes. We have never found other way to solve the public goods financing, different from goverment programs funded with taxes. I doubt that goverment officials could decide fairly to which OSS projects should assign public budgets, as the OSS ecosystem is so diversified and innovative projects appear every day.

Both crypto and traditional currencies are ways of transferring value to an OSS project, for them to use.

What do they use that value for? Well, usually to pay for the services they use (hosting etc) that they need to function and to pay staff to do the work that isn’t easy to get volunteers for (think legal peeps, community management etc).

This things they need to pay for demand traditional currencies. I know I did (I used to work for the Drupal Association).

So, a project needs to get value in and pass it onto those suppliers and staff with the least “friction” and risk. Whether anyone likes it or not, getting value in the door already as traditional currency gives the least friction and the least risk.

Its not that crypto is not used because it is bad (I’ll leave that debate to others) but it’s just more work and more risk.

To be honest, though, the method used to transfer value has never been the challenge in sustainability. We can always find ways to do the transfer. What’s hard is helping people to have the desire to transfer the value in the first place…

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The reason why OSS projects have so much difficulty in being constituted as non-profit organizations, it’s because their development is made by unrelated individuals that contribute sporadically with their voluntary work across internet applications, sometimes covering their real identities with pseudo-alias user names. You can’t configure the OSS dev labor as a regular job.

FYI: As a general source of interesting thoughts re various applications of Blockchain technology I have found David Rosenthal’s blog quite useful. In particular https://blog.dshr.org/2021/12/talk-at-ttivanguard-conference.html


Centralized cloud computing contribute with most of the environment destruction. Google datacenters are depleting water resources by wasting more than 4 million of gallons per day.

On the other hand, Bitcoin mining is helping to fund innovations in sustainable energy far better than governments could do, by fostering energy efficiency as it is reflected in more economical growth in places where blockchain miners could obtain cheaper and cleaner electricity generation.

Nebai Revelations via Sustain Open Source Forum sustainoss@discoursemail.com writes:

I doubt that goverment officials could decide fairly to which OSS projects should assign public budgets

“Fairly” is rather vague. But goverment officials could decide which OSS projects are important enough to them (which, I concede, is still vague too) so that supporting those projects could become a priority.

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This is a pretty broad topic you’ve brought up here. As someone who has expressed skepticism of some crypto-based “solutions” to the economic unsustainability of open source software development, I think my criticisms were towards individual solutions but I can imagine that there are folks out there who have made some very general takedowns of crypto. I think a good inbetween source of analysis and criticism that doesn’t just brush off crypto as a whole but addresses it as a real thing would be The Crypto Syllabus.

I suspect perhaps many might brush off a lot of arguments positing blockchain, crypto “currencies”, etc as not in their best interest is because the vast majority of crypto boosters are holding crypto assets and stand to profit from getting others to buy into the system which creates a fairly obvious conflict of interest.

I am going to take the middle road on this one. Firmly against cryptocurrencies at this point in their evolution (mostly because their use feels unnecessary and potentially destabilizing) but very intrigued by how innovative structures for Web3 governance can be borrowed to more equitably manage shared contributor led initiatives. That said, I think we are better off starting with using simple concepts to describe the challenges of maintaining and then applying appropriate technical solutions in designing solutions. If we oversimplify and define a project as Governance + Technical roadmap/feature backlog + Contributors/maintainers (skill + time), we could argue that in a way every action involves people’s time. This time can be volunteer or paid. The challenge of maintaining then can be defined as that of organizing and incentivizing participation. I think we all mostly agree that we are at point with many critical open source projects that purely volunteer contributions are not enough. There are many paths to solve this and each project will have a different mix. I am interested in approaches that can incentivize distributed community participation while simultaneously safeguarding the project in the community’s interest. I think this is more a governance and system design challenge, not a nature of money problem (crypto). So I will continue wasting my evenings on Web3 forums as I do think there are some things we can borrow. Let’s be very wary of anything centralized, the future is decentralized. Let’s keep pushing value to the edge of the network.

OSS developers are people, and some people may have strong opinions. I’ve never heard about this Stephen Diehl before. I don’t see how he is connected to OSS besides having a profile on (non open source) GitHub platform with some Haskell snippets. Even if you tell me what are the OSS projects his is famous for, I don’t see how he addresses Open Source Sustainability.

If you want an interesting on topic discussion - ask him about Gratipocalypse - how the so-called “market economics” can address Open Source sustainability if donation projects like Gratipay are effectively banned from participating in the economics by regulators? In market economics climate change, Open Source phenomena - it is all considered to be “externalities”, and I don’t see why this text was written by OSS developer or for OSS developers.

If you want to advocate for crypto the Open Source way - use stats, digits, and put out the issues that people are vocal about out there in an issue tracker as a challenge. If you feel hurt that people talk about crypto bad and other people listen, address the arguments, not the (OSS) people. Then there will be a chance for a solution. Otherwise it will be an endless waste of time spent in a classic loop of two polar camps throwing stones at each other. Give each issue with crypto a number and throw those numbers.

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While I’m not really sure whether price controls or “inflationary policies” (modern monetary theory? or something else?) are economic misconceptions, I am curious if you view the problem as open source as a method (or ideology in itself) as something that is contradictory to the views and ideologies these people you’re referencing are sharing?

You are doing the same projecting of your own ideological bias based on your own economic misconceptions (F.E. promoting crypto as a measure against inflationary polices and price controls). Yes, some crypto is hard to print, yes, some can be used by anonymous markets without price controls, but not every crypto. Why are you so offended that people have an option? Is it just because they have wider audience? You can reach the same audience if you can just follow the tracker approach I described so that people could see your arguments in a structured manner.

Yes, the negative sides of crypto hurt its adoption for OSS Revenue Models, which is the topic that is on top of this thread. But the open source solution was never to cancel those who bring those problems to the surface. The open source solution was to work on a collaborating on solutions. And many OSS developers are doing just that instead of hunting others, who don’t believe.

Don’t be like this → image

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I don’t think the problem we are trying to solve is a store of value held in a currency. If I had a house in Turkey last week, I would still have that same house this week. As long as I am not selling my house, the value doesn’t really matter. If I viewed that house as an investment and not as a home, then I indeed would have a problem. I think what we are arguing is that as soon as you turn an asset into an investment, then the value truly does matter. If it remains simply an asset designed for a purpose, it will continue to meet that purpose regardless of market fluctuations as it has not been securitized. Assets have intrinsic value. A shared public good like an open source project has intrinsic value. It has value simply because it exists. Why tie it to market valuation at all? There is a time + skills cost to maintain as all assets have a cost to maintain. There is always the question of who pays to maintain (in money or contribution)? The answer to this will vary. From the point of view of fairness, I do see some opportunities to address the free rider problem in open source through viewing contributors as having a stake based on what they have contributed. I am all for finding ways to track this and feel this can be done without tying it to the public blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Simply tracking in the short term can then open up future options for a concept of contributor ownership, perhaps through dual licensing (suggested cautiously). I assume many others are thinking in similar ways and I am curious about the progress. So again, I don’t think we are trying to solve a valuation of assets problem. Money that flows through does in fact just flow through, to the expenses of the project. In terms of the public and private ownership of assets, that has always been the binary. The latter is a business. I think the future will have more hybrid models of ownership and as we prepare for these, I think we should continue to address issues of fairness, access, freedom, etc. These values are what have drawn many of us to open source. While Web3 will provide some innovations to help in this journey, it is too early to jump in with crypto as it still holds too much in common with the existing debt based monetary system. Let’s be cautious while being creative.

I guess what I was trying to say with my earlier quote is that there’s a lot of places to have it out with other folks on the internet about the merits of neo-liberalism, keynesiansim, MMT, but I don’t think the sustain open source forum is it…

I am still interested in hearing your response to this if you don’t mind.

Also, thanks for sharing the link to Radicle. I hadn’t heard of it until now and will definitely be keeping an eye on it :slight_smile:

Open Source means freedom. And freedom matters.

Open Source means transparency. People are afraid to be open. And if you are afraid, there is no freedom. I am living in Belarus. I am open and I am afraid.

That’s why I’m defending the Free Market model and the freedom of association. It’s the only way of making OSS self-sustainable.

Sounds fine. Do you have any working examples to see?

I tired of doing the same things again and again under different IP and NDA “rights”, so I had chosen to improve existing Open Source projects instead. As a result I have no job and no money. That’s why I am here.

Hi, the thread is going off-topic and becoming personal. I enabled Slow Mode and set it at one reply every 120 hours. Please be more kind and compassionate when replying to others.