Mercari’s Opensource Supporter Project

This is the 16th entry in Mercari Advent Calendar 2021, by @lestrrat from Engineering Office.

In this Advent Calendar entry, I’d like to describe our activities to support FOSS projects and communities in a more direct manner, which is something we have been working on for the last few months.

Without further ado, we are proud to announce that we will be sponsoring babel and composer projects through GitHub Sponsor, and that we have become a Gold Sponsor for OWASP. We intend to continue this sponsorship for at least a year, and to continue as long as we are able to.

List of our Sponsorships

(Note: our sponsorship page says "one time tier", but that’s because of reasons within GitHub — we have arranged with them to have this sponsorship for the next 12 months)

OWASP Sponsorship

We made the decision to support OWASP, as Mercari has been using the guidelines and tools provided by OWASP as part of our security efforts. The staff who use their products were very vocal about supporting and giving back to the community, and thus we became their Gold Sponsor in October 2021.

Sponsorhips for Opensource Projects

I have personally been publishing my code through SourceForge, CodeRepos, and GitHub for many years, and as such I have some personal attachment to the idea of corporate sponsorship for these opensource projects

In my case, most of my projects are for fun. Particularly, my old code never had any real users, maybe a few here and there. They were just published.

But recently the importance of open source projects have increased significantly. A lot of times these projects are used at the core of somebody else’s business, and this has been true even for some of the projects that I used to maintain solely for fun.

Writing code is actually the easy part of maintaining an open source project. The most resource-consuming tasks are keeping an eye out for issues, triaging bug reports and pull requests, making the decisions on the direction of the project (or which features go in and which don’t) – all of which also involve the management and communication with those who are involved in these tasks.

At some point when the amount of such tasks increase, with the stress of having to bear the responsibility for maintaining an important piece of another software, what started out as just a hobby becomes just another job – an unpaid one, which makes it harder and harder for us to keep our motivations for.

If possible, it would make sense to relieve part of those responsibilities from the individuals by creating an organization. But many of the projects that we rely on on a daily basis often do not have the necessary funding to sustain an organization. There are also cases where corporations cannot enter into an agreement with these organizations to sponsor projects because of bureaucracy, even if they want to contribute.

And so until recently it was sometimes hard for corporate entities like Mercari to directly support these projects. However, with the introduction of services like Github Sponsors, it has become easier than ever for us to get involved more.

Recently there have been many other similar cases where corporations are supporting open source projects via Github Sponsors, and while it took us a bit longer than expected, we are very happy that we have finally come this far, and that we can start contributing back to the open source community more directly.

What’s Next

We at Mercari intend to expand this type of support in the future.

For the time being, we focused on getting this project bootstrapped and therefore chose some obvious (i.e. well-known) projects to support, but in the future we would like to use Github Sponsors to our advantage and try to support smaller projects as well.

We hope to be able to sponsor your project soon!

Tomorrow’s entry will be by torichan!