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Annual donations received for open-source work with over a million installations?

My answer is: 330 yuan


Straight to the point and without any hype or discredit, based on my personal open-source work's donation income in 2023, creating an open-source project with a million installations can bring in 330 yuan a year.

This is roughly equivalent to:

  • Equal to or less than the income of moving bricks on a construction site for two days
  • Or with an extra few tens of yuan, enough to pay for an individual's resident medical insurance
  • Or slightly more than the monthly pension subsidy that two elderly people in rural areas can receive
  • Or... feel free to imagine more

Is this a bigger gap than what you all expected? If not, then I guess you are most likely also an open-source author. Don't ask me how I know...

Even so, it's still very gratifying to receive a donation, as it is a sense of achievement that cannot be measured in money.


First, let's clarify the work to avoid confusion: What is a million-installation work?

In simple terms, the author's work is a webpage player enhancement script hosted on Greasy Fork, supporting almost all H5 video websites with features like limitless speed adjustment, video screenshot, etc.

For a more detailed introduction to the work, please refer to the following URLs:

Let's focus on some relevant data for the work:

As of February 2024, data for the work is as follows:

  • Installation volume on Greasy Fork has exceeded 1 million
  • Daily average installations on Greasy Fork exceed 1,000+
  • Star count on GitHub is 2.2K+
  • Feedback and issues received on Greasy Fork and GitHub also total over 1,000


Below are the donation records from the last three months:


Donation income in November '23: 18 yuan
Donation income in December '23: 37 yuan
Donation income in January '24: 10 yuan

As you can see, the average monthly income is less than 30 yuan. A specific tally of the donation income for the entire year of 2023 is as follows:

MonthDonation Income
Jan '2342.45
Feb '2339.67
Mar '2348.56
Apr '2314.42
May '230.00
Jun '233.00
Jul '234.00
Aug '2366.11
Sep '2330.90
Oct '2325.88
Nov '2318.00
Dec '2337.00

The data is reliable and true; this is a real-world example of the annual donation income for an open-source work with a million installations.

With this, I am not trying to complain or show off, but rather to give more people a glimpse into the real side of open-source authors. So I merely provide my work's related data as a reference. This doesn't mean that all open-source works are like this, and I certainly hope not all are.


Exceptional open-source authors cannot ascend to higher planes; they need to deal with the mundane world, make a living, and face life's challenges. The author is no exception.

Therefore, the author has also begun to explore other monetization methods for open-source works, such as:

Adding a small number of text-based promotional links for products or projects that do not impact user experience.


Another example is promoting other exceptional open-source authors' works based on the current script's user base, which helps others and can also generate some income.

Other forms: Honestly, monetizing open-source works is extremely difficult—at least based on what the author currently understands.


The difficulty in monetizing open-source works comes when the author attempts to begin monetizing, which can lead to various accusations from people accustomed to freeloading. Unwarranted negative reviews or malicious reports can also become more frequent, a situation that many non-eloquent and socially inexperienced open-source authors find difficult to face.

Obviously, this is not unique to open-source works; any project attempting monetization, such as official accounts, video accounts, and live broadcasts, will encounter similar problems. Once advertisements are added or paid content is increased, users begin accusing you of losing your original intention or revealing greed. And some will act as if they understand the spirit of open source and user experience more than the open-source authors, and that the author, once a loving sharer and helper, has become a prime offender against the open-source spirit and corrupts social morals.

This is not entirely bad; after some time, it filters out some unreasonable users, leaving behind those who understand you and genuinely need your work. These users are more likely to provide valuable feedback or constructive opinions and suggestions.


2023 was the first year for AI big models, and AI intelligence emerged rapidly. The year 2024 saw continued breakthroughs with the appearances of Sora, Gemini 1.5, Stable Diffusion 3, EMO, and other significant AI releases.

At the same time, the domestic employment situation has been deteriorating, with more and more companies starting strategic "tightening of the belt and cutting down on expenditures". Wage reductions and layoffs are becoming increasingly frequent, businesses closing down, factories shutting their doors, owners absconding, thriving stores changing hands, and property prices being slashed have become commonplace. Against this backdrop, more and more people are seeking to change careers or trying to open up side hustles for contingency.

Internet professionals, with the enhancement of AI capabilities, have seen their skills greatly improved. Well integrated and appropriately used, they can even achieve the effect of one person taking on a whole team. As a result, an increasing number of programmers are eager to try independent development, developing small tools, plugins, scripts, or operating their small programs, official accounts, and video accounts, to earn extra income and advance their personal careers.

To some extent, programmers who like to build and maintain open-source projects are good programmers. It is also a common option for excellent programmers to venture into side hustles, become independent developers, and grow their personal businesses. Many hope to hone their skills through open-source projects, while others wish to monetize and achieve a turnaround or increase their job prospects and bargaining chips for a pay raise. However, given the current environment where trial and error costs are high, I advise you: Never depend on donations to fuel your development passion or to make a living! Dispel this idea early on; as someone who has been there, I can tell you from experience that relying on donations for open-source work is essentially a death wish, and it can extinguish all your passion.

Many uninformed people seeing an excellent open-source project might think: "The author is awesome.gif," "You're really a genius.jpg"! But the next reaction might be: the author must have made a lot of money from this project, surely they won't miss my donation. Or perhaps: why should I donate if nobody else is? Isn't that foolish? This is a common psychological expectation. Even without this expectation, people are more willing to pay for products or services with clear charging requirements than to donate to a free open-source project, which may also be a manifestation of the "mental accounting theory."

Released under the GPL License.