Foundations are a Solution to an Imaginary Problem

Really good article about the state of OSS in the frontend space and the role that sponsorships play. I have no problem with the majority of the article.

The Indie, Open Source JavaScript Frameworks Developers Love, and the Risks of Commercial Relationships

The article is partially about Astro changing its hosting partner to Vercel, and I should mention that I work for The Astro Technology Company.

The article talks about how Netlify has formerly been a sponsor of several OSS projects, such as 11ty, Gatsby, and SolidJS, but has recently stopped sponsoring some of these (or in the case of Gatsby simply stopped maintaining it as much).

Then it posits foundations as a solution to the problem, saying:

Without distributed and democratic governance models, commercial interests will take an upper hand to bend a project in ways counter to the community that uses it.

Commercial Interests are not the Problem

This idea that ownership is the difference between a project dying or thriving is completely absurd. The problem is two fold:

You might even say that this is 1 problem viewed from two directions.

Foundations do not solve this problem. A project being part of a foundation doesn't magically make people want to work on it over their weekends instead of doing other things. Foundations do not magically create money to pay people. If anything, foundations are stretched too thin already, and should use the money on a smaller set of projects.

The Fork button is the Answer

Today, right now, someone could continue the Gatsby project by forking it. They could even put it into a foundation, if they so desired. Do foundation advocates really believe that the name of the project and the logo is the most important thing about it? I don't understand the obsession over foundations otherwise.

People are what makes a project. Take for example, Biome, a fork of a non-foundation startup project, Rome. Biome is thriving, because there is a community of people who care about it.


OSS projects last as long as there are people who want to push the idea forward. Foundations are a solution to an imaginary problem.