Linus Torvalds and other developers are leaving Bitcoins on the table

40% of tips earned by developers for contributions to GitHub projects through Tip4Commit have gone unclaimed

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Various types of physical Bitcoins on a table

You may be owed some of these

Image credit: flickr/BTC Keychain

Last month I wrote about Tip4Commit, a new service that collects and distributes Bitcoin tips for commits to GitHub projects. Last week, I checked in on the service to see how it was going and found out that some developers are leaving Bitcoins on the table by not claiming their tips. The list of developers not claiming their tips includes at least one very famous name - the creator of Linux, the one and only Linus Torvalds.

I reached out to Tip4Commit to find out just how many people were not collecting tips. One of its creators, Arsen Gasparyan, got back to me with some data. He shared with me that, as of last week, Tip4Commit supported 337 GitHub projects, for which 9,076 tips have been earned (a tip is earned when a pull request for a commit on a supported project is accepted), totaling about 3.34 Ƀ (worth about $2,650 at today's Bitcoin exchange rate of $793.20). However, only 1.956 Ƀ has been received by 67 users, meaning 1.384 Ƀ, a little under $1,100 or about 40% of the value of all tips, has gone unclaimed.

As I mentioned, one of those users is Linus Torvalds, who has earned tips for his commits to (what else?) the Linux kernel. Based on my own calculations from Tip4Commit's publicly available tip data for the Linux project, Torvalds had earned at least .172 Ƀ (worth about $136) for his 275+ commits since October of last year, none of which he had yet claimed. Gasparyan told me that Torvalds was one of 270 users in their database (out of 1,714 total) who had not provided a Bitcoin address, which is (obviously) required to receive the tips. 

Why are people not claiming their tips? Gasparyan offered a number of possible answers, such as maybe they don't have a Bitcoin address. Or maybe they didn't even know about these tips, even though Tip4Commit sends emails to users when they've earned tips. Or, perhaps, some people are against the whole concept of receiving money for an open source contribution. "Maybe they think that idea of tipping for development kills the idea of voluntary contribution to the open source," Gasparyan said.

So, what happens to those unclaimed tips? Tip4Commit recently made a change to revert tips that remain unclaimed for 30 days back to the project. So far, according to Gasparyan, about 20% of the value of all tips have reverted back to their projects.

I know that we're not talking about a lot of money here, especially when developers are making pretty good money these days. But, still, it's something and I'm little surprised that people are leaving it on the table. So, if you're a programmer committing changes to a supported GitHub project and you have a Bitcoin address, go claim your tips!

P.S. The Tip4Commit code itself has been open sourced on GitHub so you can help maintain it and also earn tips for doing so.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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