The problem

The Internet has a sustainability problem. Many of its critical services depend on the dedication of unpaid volunteers, because they can’t be monetized and thus don’t have any revenue stream for the maintainers to live on. Services like DNS, time synchronization, crypto libraries - software without which the net and the browser you’re using couldn’t function.

These volunteer maintainers are the Load Bearing Internet People. Underfunding them is a problem, because underfunded critical services tend to have gaps and holes that could have been fixed if there were more full-time attention on them. As our civilization becomes increasingly dependent on this software infrastructure, this attention shortfall could lead to disastrous outages.

Traditional centralized funding models have failed the LBIPs. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • LBIPs don’t tend to be visible to funding organizations, which generally lack the expertise and on-the-ground connections to identify and evaluate them.

  • Most LBIP projects don’t exist as legal entities, and LBIPs are poorly positioned to deal with bureaucratic overhead or reporting requirements.

  • Funding organizations near this space are notoriously prone to capture by corporations, political factions, and internal vanity projects. The money tends to run out before it gets to the LBIPs who actually need it.

The solution

Loadsharers is a social network that has agreed to fund LBIPs through remittance services like Patreon, SubscribeStar, Liberapay, and PayPal.

Loadsharers take the following pledge:

"While I am gainfully employed, I will remit at least $30 a month to one, two, or three LBIPs, preferably 3." (It is understood that $30 may need to be inflation-adjusted in the future. Think: the cost of one moderately-priced restaurant meal.)

Because discovering where to direct support most efficiently isn’t easy, the Loadsharers network has a tier of advisers (experienced LBIPs themselves) who collect information on worthy people and projects from the network and make recommendations about good targets.

Distributed discovery means that as many eyes as there are loadsharers are on the problem of identifying LBIPs. The combination of that with three-way fanout should avoid all the funding being captured by a few high-visibility people.

Every loadsharer has total control of where their money goes at all times and can choose which advisers to follow (or to follow none!). This avoids the organizational-capture problem.

The rest is details.

How you can help

The only essential thing is to take the pledge and do the best you can to support the infrastructure.

Some optional things:

  • Join the feeds of one or more advisers, on whatever remittance service they’re using, so you can use their on-the-ground knowledge to identify worthy LBIPs.

  • Identify an LBIP so we know who to fund. Or update our information on candidate LBIPs. Tell an adviser so he or she can spread the word.

  • Explain to your friends why they should become loadsharers too.

  • Proudly display the Loadsharers logo on your website:


    There is also a PNG version.

Adviser pages

More advisers are being recruited now.

Other resources

There’s a FAQ.

The original blog post proposing what became Loadsharers, and the followup.