Bitcoin Core Unveils New Sponsorship Program, Interview with Eric Lombrozo

Bitcoin CoreThis week, Bitcoin Core announced their new Bitcoin Core Sponsorship Programme. The program gives larger organizations a more formalized way to support and donate services to Bitcoin Core by matching Core developers & volunteers with sponsors and appropriate projects.

The program details a number of needs beyond Bitcoin Core development projects, including internship programs, documentation, infrastructure and various communication necessities.

Eric Lombrozo, Bitcoin Core Contributor, took the time to answer some of my questions about this new program. You can also find more at the Sponsorship Programme FAQ.

The new program sounds like a great step for Bitcoin Core. How is it possible to offer a sponsorship program without being formalized organization?

“Bitcoin Core is an amorphous software project, not a formal organization. Companies have been wanting to make greater contributions and have greater participation, but until now there hasn’t really been an effective way for them to do so. This program opens that door for them.”

I can see how it might be difficult to interface with a “non-entity”. You’ve got this cooperative effort from the developers, and then the rest of the world that wants to help but doesn’t know how.

“That’s why we created the website and a Slack in addition to our regular IRC channels and mailing list. It gives the general public something that’s more easily accessible. It provides a path for new sponsors and contributors by directly inviting them to participate.  

Open-source software projects always have a nucleus of developers, the main contributors. Then, you normally get a community of users around a project that do the things these developers are usually not as interested in doing, like communications, media, websites, and documentation.

Bitcoin Core never really had that before, so our new Slack chat rooms and website are there to help interface with the greater community and to invite it to form around the Bitcoin Core software project. You see this with a lot of other open source projects.”

Does Core see this as a way to help decentralize itself, by breaking off autonomous project managers into groups with sponsors, allowing any outside team to interface with Core?

“The Sponsorship Programme allows contributors to get resources for projects. Sponsors can propose potential projects to see if they make sense conceptually and are aligned with the general goals of Bitcoin Core. Alternatively, sponsors can choose among existing proposals made by contributors seeking sponsorship.

Project managers directly allocate resources and are responsible for recruiting and building their own teams. Existing companies and organizations can also get sponsored to do projects.

For coding projects, if a project does decent R&D, the code is well-written, and the pull request holds up to rigorous code review, then it will likely get merged.”  

The program seems to offer a lot of different ways that people can help, are there any needs that are more pressing for Core currently?

“The most pressing need for Core is more help with testing and code review. The biggest development bottleneck is code review. We need more qualified experts familiar with the codebase.”

So something like the developer internship program mentioned on your Sponsorship page would be a great and timely way to help Core?

“Yes. We also really need help with documentation, communications, and infrastructure.”

It’s great that you’ve opened the door to new categories of sponsors. You’re looking for help with things like education materials, graphic design, and project management. Do you think we’ll see new types of sponsors step in to fill those needs?

“Yes. Core already has a number of companies that want to participate, but we’re always looking for more help with the education and outreach. We’d like the website to feature better developer and company bios, video, and audio clips. These really help people connect and put a face to the developers.”

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