The DevX Initiative Sponsorship Program: Goals and Principles

The DevX Initiative
Dec 14 · 5 min read

The DevX Initiative by Concordium believes it must support the maintainers of the Rust Ecosystem. Concordium knows that as a commercial open-source project that benefits from the work of maintainers in the Rust Ecosystem, it must contribute to the work that keeps Rust going. The DevX Initiative Sponsorship program focuses on the individuals who have worked passionately to make Rust what it is today.

We want to share the principles and criteria that will guide us on this journey and define who we seek to sponsor in the Rust Community.

Our North Star

The DevX Initiative Sponsorship Program has the Rust mandate of empowerment baked into its core. We adhere to the Rust Community Code of Conduct which serves as the standard of behaviour for ourselves and the individuals we aim to sponsor.

The DevX Initiative acknowledges that the governance process of identifying, nominating and selecting sponsorees is a challenging task. We are under no illusion that whichever governance model we choose will have its downsides and shortcomings. Our priority is to empower and not to be paralysed by the difficulty of this endeavour. We will make mistakes, but ultimately we are excited to move forward with a clear and open intent to help the Rust Community. We have taken the first steps in our governance journey by working with individuals who intimately understand Rust maintainers’ issues. They will help identify sponsorees and help craft an open and transparent process.

The DevX Initiative has begun creating an advisory committee that will consist of 5 individuals from the Rust Community. There are currently three members, including Josh Triplett, co-lead of the language team, Mara Bos, the Library team lead, and Ernest Kissiedu, the Rust London User Group lead and co-founder of the DevX Initiative. We aim to add two more advisors from the wider Rust Community as we expand our scope. Individuals on the advisory committee may themselves be sponsorees.

The Scope of Current Sponsorships

We are eager to begin the work of distributing the endowment of $100,000 per year given to the DevX Initiative by the Concordium Foundation.

Rust has a wide array of maintainers and contributors, from individuals working at large corporations to students, hobbyists, and people who contribute from a place of passion. We acknowledge that contributing to an open-source project is a choice. The reward can often be the sense of community, the new skills learnt or the contribution in and of itself. This does not take away from the fact that maintaining an open-source project the size of Rust is a complex and very resource-intensive endeavour.

The diversity of experience in the maintainer base is part of the success story of the Rust project. Ensuring that there is the correct type of support for those who have kept things going will be a crucial factor in the continued growth of Rust.

The DevX Initiative Sponsorship Program will focus on sponsoring independent developers. The independence of a maintainer relates to the maintainer not having a specific mandate by an employer to work on Rust. This means explicitly people who are not currently employed full-time to contribute to Rust or Rust community projects.

Sponsorships are not limited to developers; consideration will be given to people who coordinate, write documentation, or otherwise contribute substantially to the Rust project.

We want to foster sustainable maintenance, where people who review the work of paid Rust contributors worldwide are themselves supported to do that review, design and maintenance work. We will focus on people who enable the work of others and that have a core utility to many in the community. We want to ensure people can afford the equipment that will help them contribute more effectively to Rust. We want to make the difference between people spending time on Rust and needing to put in time in their day job. Most importantly, we want to sponsor contributors who exemplify Rust values.

Sponsorships will be paid monthly, ideally via GitHub Sponsors. We are flexible to adapt to alternative platforms if necessary. However, we must be legally able to pay via an online sponsorship platform. Nominal amounts will vary and will be discussed with the potential sponsoree. We’ll typically continue sponsoring people as long as they remain eligible. We’ll typically provide at least three months notice if we need to discontinue a sponsorship (except in cases of Code of Conduct violations or similar).

How We See Sponsorship

Sponsorships are about recognising work that someone is already doing and encouraging and enabling them to keep doing their thing.

Sponsorships are about trust. Trusting people that whatever they do will be best for the project. The confidence which they have gained because of their contributions so far.

Sponsorships come with no commitment. They’re about work that has already been done and are about empowering and encouraging people to continue making it happen, not about expectations. Of course, future decisions about extending any sponsorship are based on whether more good work occurred. Still, any sponsorship decisions are not tied to proposals for ongoing and prospective work.

Sponsorships enable creativity and flexibility. They allow people to follow their inspiration and do whatever they currently feel is most productive and impactful without being tied to a particular proposal or job description. They create space for the kind of real work that’s not easily described and often invisible but is very necessary to keep projects like this healthy. This empowers sponsorees to explore many new ideas that have not been fully formed yet but can end up making a huge impact. This is critical for the success of innovative projects like Rust.

Sponsorships give people the space to grow. Sponsorees have the freedom to also spend time on things they might not be considered ‘qualified’ for yet, allowing them to expand into new roles, making it possible for the project to adapt.

How Are We Finding Candidates?

The DevX Initiative Sponsorship program is committed to building a fair, efficient, and equitable selection process. We are working diligently to craft a strategy that lets us seek out and correctly identify maintainers who need sponsorship, starting within the Rust Project itself, followed by the broader Rust ecosystem. We are reaching out and taking guidance from individuals within the Rust community to help us identify our blind spots and biases and avoid groupthink. This is a part of an ongoing evolution of our governance process. We will begin by scanning through GitHub, liaising with Rust team leads, and taking input from community members.

Our Ultimate Goal: More Sponsorships

The DevX Initiative has stated that it takes inspiration from others in the Rust Community. Commercial entities such as Ockam, Discord, Embark Studios and others have taken a bold approach to support Rust maintainers. We are open to working with companies that comply with the Rust Community Code of Conduct and align with our mission and motivation to help open source contributors.

We ultimately want to inspire others to create their own sponsorship initiatives. We want to galvanise enterprises using Rust to understand their responsibility to ensure this wonderful language flourishes. We want companies to realise that contributing to maintainers brings a holistic benefit that will supercharge their commercial goals. This sponsorship program is not part of a recruitment drive or a marketing strategy. It is part of an effort to address an important issue in open source projects, and we are eager to get going.

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