Discourse Still Gives Back

When Discourse Gives Back was last published in 2017, we were delighted and humbled to see the wider Discourse community resonate with our mission to give back to the open source projects we rely on. While we admit that we dropped the ball on continuing this series of blog posts, our commitment to giving back has not wavered.

The last two years have been good to Discourse. We grew our team from 21 to 45 passionate and wonderful people. From when we started with the initial prototype in late 2012, Discourse has been a 100% open source project that is built upon the decades of hard work of many other open source projects to survive. In our endeavor, we try to contribute as many upstream fixes as we can, particularly in the case of bugs we run into along the way - but we can and should do more.

As we have done in the past, we have continued to earmark funds to contribute directly to projects and individuals we rely on. Here's how we did that in 2018 and 2019:

Let’s Encrypt $36,000 — Widespread and pervasive encryption is critical for making the web more secure and resistant to tampering. As of Feb 2020, the Let’s Encrypt team had issued over a billion free-for-everyone SSL certificates. We support their cause with a free Enterprise hosted instance for Let’s Encrypt support, as well as continued yearly donations ($12,000 in 2018 and $24,000 in 2019).

The Discourse Encouragement Fund $36,000 — Continuing to reward contributors from the community for their time and efforts, we set aside money for funding their work to complete #pr-welcome tasks, develop themes, theme-components & plugins, work on translation sprints, community surveys and more. We recognise that a bigger ecosystem benefits us all, and if you’re entertaining the thought of generating a steady income through Discourse work, we’d love to talk about it.

Internet Archive $30,000 — Many design decisions in Discourse revolve around retaining digital history and providing reliable access to information - be it detailed post revision histories or automatic downloads for hyperlinked images so they aren’t lost over time. There is no organization working to provide a collective memory for the web as well as The Internet Archive and we believe that future generations will thank them for it.

Tidelift $18,000 — The Tidelift project works with direct cooperation from maintainers behind a broad range of community-led open source projects. In 2018, we initiated automated payments to maintainers for Discourse dependencies through a subscription to their managed service.

ISRG Radiant Award $10,000 — The Internet Security Research Group presents the Radiant Award to individuals whose contributions make the Internet more secure and privacy-respecting. We too believe in the importance of supporting these individuals and have sponsored an edition of this award in 2018.

Ruby Kaigi Japan $10,000 — As the foremost Ruby conference in Japan, this is near and dear to the heart of our very own Guo Xiang Tan, who is also an active contributor for the Ruby on Rails project. We’re happy to have supported the event in 2018 and contributed to growth of the Ruby programming language.

Prettier for Ruby $10,000 — We switched to Prettier for automatic formatting on our front-end code in 2018. Enforcing its consistent style has helped streamline our code reviews and has had a very positive impact on our code base. To further improve the Ruby parts of Discourse, we supported the project by funding work for the prettier-ruby plugin.

Rails Girls Summer of Code $5000 — We strongly support diversity & inclusion efforts in the field of software development and have mentored Rails Girls teams in the past. We are committed to continue to contribute to this area as we grow. Unfortunately, the 2020 edition of RGSOC was cancelled owing to the global pandemic but we sincerely hope that the program makes a comeback in the future.

Arch Linux $5,000 — In the past, we have donated to various GNU/Linux distributions like Ubuntu Server and Debian. A handful of our developers run Arch Linux on their Discourse development machines, and have (many) great things to say about it.

While it's not a direct donation per se, we have also paid out an additional $14,138 in Hacker One bounties for valid security issues between 2018 and 2019 that ethical hackers have reported to us -- a special thanks for your efforts in keeping Discourse safe and secure (and free!) for everyone.

As 2020 goes on, we look forward to supporting even more projects however we can. If you think there's an open source project that we should contribute to, let us know. We are all in this together, so let's continue to make open source software a part of the public good for everyone.