GitHub becomes Patreon for developers, with new sponsors-only repositories

GitHub becomes Patreon for developers, with new sponsors-only repositories

Microsoft-owned GitHub is one of the most popular software repositories in existence, powering countless software projects and hosting critical infrastructure for many products. GitHub has been slowly encouraging people to financially support their favorite software projects, and now the company is rolling out another feature for developers hoping to increase to boost project donations.

GitHub already allowed people to add donation links to their projects, or developers could sign up for the company’s own ‘GitHub Sponsors’ feature, which turns GitHub itself into the payment service (just like Patreon, Ko-Fi, and other similar platforms). People could set funding goals, and sponsors of a project would be given a special badge.

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GitHub wrote in a blog post on Wednesday, “developers and organizations with GitHub Sponsors enabled will now be able to attach a private repository to each of their sponsorship tiers. This will grant respective funders access to the repository. These invites are automatically managed by GitHub, so there’s nothing left to manage after you set it up. This makes something many of you were doing manually to a supported part of GitHub Sponsors. We’re excited to see how you’ll use it!”

Granting sponsors access to a repository

Restricting certain content to paying subscribers has been one of the primary draws for services like Patreon over the years, and now GitHub offers similar functionality — just for software development. GitHub says sponsors-only repositories could be used for early access or beta testing, or to simply communicate with sponsors in a centralized location (GitHub has a forum-like Discussions feature too).

It’s often difficult for open-source software projects to receive adequate funding, so it’s great to see GitHub encourage more people to support their favorite projects. Software developers/repository owners can also just keep their links to Patreon, PayPal, or any other payment provider if they don’t want to use GitHub’s platform.

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Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer. Check out what he's up to at corbin.io.

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