A good deal of modern web is built using open-source software. Web servers, operating systems, programming languages, frameworks, libraries, etc — many of them are developed by open-source enthusiasts and released for anybody to use, for free. Currently, there are 28 million open-source projects on Github alone, and anyone can use their code without paying anything.
Users of open-source software sometimes have an opportunity to donate to the developers in order to reward them for their work and encourage them to continue improving their products. However this is not enough to make open source development sustainable. Not only because the donation amounts are usually small, but also because of the way modern software is built: almost every product depends on a number of other open-source projects, such as libraries, frameworks, development tools, they in turn depend on yet other open-source projects, and so on. Even if the developer of the final user-facing application receives donations from its users, the libraries and other dependencies, which the end-users don’t see and don’t appreciate, remain underfunded.
Kivach tries to solve this problem by automatically cascading the donations down to dependencies according to the set rules. It is a cascading donations platform purpose-built for donating to open-source Github repositories, and nothing else.
Developers of open-source projects can set the rules on how the donations they receive are to be distributed. For example, they can leave 30% for themselves, forward 20% to a project they depend on, 20% to another project, 15% to project 3, 10% to project 4, and 5% to project 5. Donors will see these rules and know that they are helping more than one project. The rules are totally up to the developer, for example, they can leave 100% of donations for themselves if they like, or, on the other extreme, forward 100% of donations to various other projects leaving nothing for themselves.
What’s important, every project on Github can receive donations without any setup. The donated money will wait for the developer to find out that they have received donations, and claim or distribute them. Before the developer has set the distribution rules, it is assumed that they receive 100% of donations.
To enable safe storage and automatic distribution of donations strictly according to the set rules and without relying on any middlemen, Kivach is built on Obyte, a cryptocurrency platform that makes programmatic movement of money possible. All the rules of distribution and storage of donated money are enforced by an Autonomous Agent, a little program that runs on Obyte and underpins the whole system. The program cannot be changed by anybody, not even Kivach creators, and this ensures both safety of the funds and strict following of the rules set by the developers. The whole system operates without any human participation and therefore doesn’t have to charge any fees.
Kivach is an example of a decentralized finance (DeFi) application, an industry that saw huge interest in crypto space over the past couple of years. However, Kivach is a rare DeFi app that is not about trading, speculation, or financial derivatives.
The crypto platform Kivach is built on — Obyte — is also different from the vast majority of crypto platforms today, almost all of which are blockchains. Obyte, instead, is based on DAG (directed acyclic graph) technology, which does away with mining, blocks, and block producers, thus making one step further in eliminating the middlemen.
Donations are possible only in crypto. Kivach natively supports donations in Obyte tokens since it is the platform it runs on. Donations in coins issued on other popular crypto platforms such as Ethereum, BSC, Polygon, are also possible and enabled by Counterstake bridge — a fully decentralized cross-chain bridge that allows to transfer tokens from one crypto network to another.
Donations in USD, EUR, and other fiat currencies are not supported at this time but donors can acquire crypto elsewhere before donating.
Kivach has just been launched and not many Github repos have set up their distribution rules yet. However, as mentioned before, they already can receive donations, and the donations will eventually reach the developers who create and support the free open-source software that powers the modern web and that we use daily.
This article was written in cooperation with Cascading donations to github repositorie