Merge Rewards (BETA)
When I worked for and with Utopian, I had the type of work that I always dreamed of. Being free to chose what to do, where to help or what to create next while being able to pay my rent was amazing.
Personally I have huge problems with working in a regular job, even in the best company you could possibly imagine. I am simply too jumpy and excursive to commit myself to someone else's goals for a longer period. And it stresses me out to be surrounded by people all the time.
So for me this project is also an attempt to create alternatives.
Rewarding Open Source Work
This is actually a real problem. There are so many good people dedicating a huge amount of their time to develop software that everybody is benefiting from and there is no easy way to show them your appreciation. I'm speaking of financial appreciation. Actually GitHub is gradually launching their sponsorship program but that does not mean Merge Rewards can't offer an alternative or complementary solution.
Onboarding GitHub Users to Steem
Steem has a problem with getting new people onto this platform. Steem also has a great potential for interesting web applications that can attract more people. One goal of Merge Rewards is to onboard developers and I think GitHub is a good place to look for them.
Merge Rewards targets GitHub users exclusively. They can earn rewards with nothing but their GitHub account. On top of that Merge Rewards offers free and instantaneous Steem accounts in exchange for contributing to Open Source projects and invites the user to explore the underlying technology.
The project is now in a state where all the basic features are implemented. At this point I'd like to give a detailed overview over everything.
The disclaimer is still the same: This project is a prototype without any warranty! Keep that in mind when trying.
You can safely try the platform and earn some money by solving one of the following issues:
|Display estimated and actual upvote value||$25|
|Automatically claim rewards and convert to SBD||$25|
|New Page: Pull Requests||$50|
Follow the instructions in the issue and submit a pull request that closes it. If your pull request gets merged, go to merge-rewards.com and claim your reward and bounty.
Issue Bounties and Pull Requests
These are the two main parts of Merge Rewards. Everybody can set up a bounty on an issue on GitHub and every user can claim automatically generated rewards for their merged pull requests and the bounty if there is one.
Bounties are the most important feature. Every GitHub user can create a bounty for an issue, without having a Steem account. Just connect with your GitHub account, go to the Bounties page and click "Add Issue".
After creating deposit wallets for the issue everyone can send coins in one of the supported currencies to the addresses shown.
All deposits will automatically be added to the issue's bounty. The bounty can be released automatically or manually at any time.
The automatic releasing of a bounty requires a pull request that closes the issue by using one of the supported keywords in a commit message or the description of the pull request.
This is basically the bounties feature. Using the blocktrades API every issue gets its own deposit addresses for the different currencies. Everything sent to these addresses will be received in the @merge-rewards account as SBD and internally added to the balance of the issue's bounty. When the bounty is released the amount will simply move to the GitHub account's balance, where he/she can withdraw it in any of the supported currencies.
A significant improvement in terms of adoption could be some sort of fiat integration. Sending Euros or Dollars to an issue on GitHub via services like PayPal would be really interesting, for the majority of the potential users actually. But it requires either an automated conversion from fiat to SBD or a completely independent fiat balance that can be withdrawn separately.
Claiming Pull Requests
It doesn't need a bounty for a GitHub user, who contributed to a project, to get some rewards. A user can claim rewards for every merged pull request in a project that is not owned by the user (owned means admin rights).
On the Claim page all your qualified pull requests are listed and scored. When clicking the "claim" button your pull request will be posted to the Steem blockchain, in the form of a comment, where it can earn rewards. The @merge-rewards account will vote on those comments, based on the score, and other people can vote on them.
This means those rewards have a seven day pending period, in contrast to bounties, which are released immediately.
In a future update all claimed pull requests will be featured on the website and in regular blog posts for better visibility.
The score for each pull request is calculated based on some meta data that gives a clue about how much value the pull request added. This is mainly based on the popularity of a project and the user's reputation. The algorithm has a lot of room for improvement and will evolve over time. For now it does it's job "good enough". Again, this is all still a prototype.
In the end, the bounties should be the driving force behind Merge Rewards and the automatic rewards for pull requests just a bonus. I see this feature as the "fun" part and I wanted to add some gamification to it. That's why there are boosters.
Boosters are transferable consumable items to increase scores. You can buy them from the shop or earn them during events and for successful bounties. The four available boosters are Strike, Spare, Double and Dice.
When you have a booster you can activate it before claiming your rewards.
The shop prices for boosters don't reflect their value at all. Please see this as a form of supporting this project in exchange for a little fun. Sending boosters to other GitHub users could also be a nice way of inviting them to the platform.
In a future update events will be introduced. During events specific factors will affect your scores. On README day for example, all pull requests containing changes to a README file will get some extra percent on their score as well as some boosters maybe. I think it will also be worth stopping by when it's your birthday or christmas. ;)
While the bounties rely only on SBD as a storage and exchange currency, the rewards for pull requests rely on Steem's reward pool and the Steem Power in the @merge-rewards account. The rewards that are generated are converted all to SBD and internally added to the user's balance. The Steem Power part stays in the @merge-rewards account.
When a user withdraws funds, the amount of SBD is taken from the @merge-rewards account and converted into any of the supported cryptocurrencies and send to the user's address.
Steem Account Creation
Merge Rewards is built on top of Steem but to use it you don't need a Steem account at all. However, Merge Rewards offers users to create a Steem account as soon as they earned enough rewards. The account is payed from your Merge Rewards balance and you can access it instantaneously.
The benefits of having a Steem account are higher rewards (since your account is used to post to the blockchain, the Steem Power goes to you as well), being able to vote on other peoples pull requests or maybe some sort of delegation program for projects. And maybe a booster here and there will drop for Steem users.
The current amount of Steem Power makes a 100% upvote worth around $0.03. The new bounty system only needs Steem Power to process a few transactions every now and then but claiming rewards for merged pull requests is not so much fun currently. My personal goal for now is $1 for a merged pull request with a 100% score. That means the @merge-rewards account needs roughly 150k SP at current market prices. So please consider to delegate your spare SP if you think this projects has potential.
Now that the fundamental features are in place, I will revisit everything and work on the robustness and maintainability of the code as well as on the responsiveness and look and feel of the website. There are definitely some deficits that need to be fixed. While doing so I would like to get some feedback from users, work on that if applicable, and as soon as I feel comfortable with the technical side of the project I want to focus on growing the number of its users.
I would really appreciate some developers getting involved in this. I created those three bounties to hopefully get some more attention. If you are a developer, comment on the issues, start working on them or if you see something else you can fix simply go ahead and submit a pull request. There are some more issues that I created more or less as notes but if you have thoughts on them, let me know.
At least you should subscribe to @merge-rewards to not miss any updates and or new bounties.