Gittip is a platform for personal funding, and so its primary customer is the person receiving money through the site. At the outset here we’re focused on the nitty gritty of moving money along social network lines—kind of like if Facebook friend requests had cash attached. The longer-term vision is to help Gittip funders tell a story about how they’re making the world better. As Kiva has demonstrated, people will pay for “the feeling of participation in someone else’s story.”
One part of the story in numbers is the amount that funders are hoping to raise through Gittip. For sites like Kickstarter this is a central feature. Help raise $30,000 in 30 days! Urgency makes those sites tick, but on Gittip we don’t have that sense of urgency. Gittip is optimized for a slow, steady build-up of a funding base over time. It may be tempting to tweak Gittip to capture more money during short-term spikes in attention, but easy come, easy go. If you’re finding a living on Gittip then you need your funding stream to be stable, to decay quite slowly. Your mortgage will still be there next month, and your funding stream better be, too.
Today I deployed a new feature that allows Gittip users to specify a “personal funding goal.” There are three options for this (the second is the default):
- My goal is to receive $________ per week on Gittip.
- I’m grateful for tips, but I don’t have a specific funding goal.
- I’m not here to receive tips. I’ll generally regift them.
This allows Gittip users to communicate their intention for being on the site, which is a valuable piece of information in deciding whether and how much to give to someone. I know personally that I’m willing to give more to someone who is truly depending on Gittip. If someone is known to have a comfortable salary, I may toss them a token amount for beer money as a thank you. But the goal with Gittip is not just to give consumers of open source software and other free culture another way to say “thank you.” There are enough ways to do that already. Gittip is a new way to find a living.
Of course, what constitutes “a living” varies wildly across different parts of the globe. It also varies from person to person, and it’s usually something we’re pretty private about. I believe in openness. I believe that we’re generally mature enough to look at people who are personally funded on Gittip, and accept their own evaluation of what “fair” looks like from their point of view. And then we get to vote with our tips.