Discourse Gives Back: 2021 Edition

Discourse had a great year. We raised a $20 million Series A investment and grew to 56 people... but we couldn’t have done it without you! And now, as we do at the end of every year, it’s time to give back.

As an open source project ourselves, naturally we believe in the power of open source software. The digital economy runs on open source, but in many ways we as a society have overlooked the very projects and people making our digital world work. That’s something we hope to change.

xkcd comic

There’s a lot of talk around how people and companies should support open source projects, including efforts like onepercent.dev, which calls for companies to donate 1% of their revenue to the open source projects they rely on. We strive to be a good example of not only supporting the tools and organizations that we’ve built on top of, but also those that are strongly related to our mission to make the Internet a more civilized, decentralized place.

Here’s what we did in 2021:

Ember.js $5,000 – Ember.js is a critical component of the Discourse experience, the front-end framework we’ve relied on since day one. Our sponsorship this year focused on emberconf 2021.

Let’s Encrypt $50,000 – Widespread and pervasive encryption helps the web become more resilient and resistant to tampering. Let’s Encrypt provides free-for-everyone SSL certificates for all our hosted Discourse instances. Let’s Encrypt plays a core role in keeping Discourse sites everywhere secure. They now protect over 260 million websites and continue to make the web a safer place for everyone. We continue to support their cause with a free Enterprise hosted instance for Let’s Encrypt support in addition to our yearly financial donations.

Ruby Central $5,000 – Ruby Central is a non-profit organization dedicated to Ruby support and advocacy of the worldwide Ruby community. Discourse is a Ruby on Rails app, so Ruby’s continued growth is essential to delivering a fast, reliable community platform to all of our customers. Ruby Central is also responsible for running RubyConf and RailsConf and hosts the ever-critical RubyGems service for finding, installing, and publishing Ruby gems.

Postgres $5,000 – Discourse’s primary data storage is the open source Postgres database, which has outstanding performance, proven itself extremely reliable, and generally been fantastic to work with. We upgraded Discourse to Postgres 13 in 2020 and look forward to our next update for more free performance, and optimized storage!

Rubocop $2,500 – As our team and list of contributors grows, one of the ways we ensure the Discourse codebase follows a consistent convention is by using linters and formatters. On the Ruby side of the app, that’s RuboCop. In addition to enforcing formatting and coding conventions, RuboCop also helps automatically fix some of these issues to make our contributors’ lives easier.

EFF $5,000 – Discourse is a project that is fundamentally about communities truly owning their own spaces online, rather than temporarily renting space from a giant corporation. Some might call that freedom. The Electronic Frontier Foundation fights for everyone’s digital freedom and we’re proud to continue supporting them in 2021.

Internet Archive $5,000 – Many of the design decisions in Discourse revolve around retaining digital history, such as automatically downloading topic images so they aren’t lost via web rot over time. There is no single organization working to provide a collective memory for the web quite like The Internet Archive; we believe future generations will look back on their work with immense gratitude.

Open Source Diversity $2,500 – Part of being a platform aimed at creating civil spaces for discussion on the web is making a place where everyone can join the discussion. Open Source Diversity is a group specifically looking to help make open source projects more friendly and inclusive, highlight projects that support underrepresented groups, and create spaces to connect and work with like-minded people. We’re happy to support their efforts to make open source community better.

Open Source Design $2,500 – When some think of open source software, they think of pure practicality without much thought toward usability or design. We don’t believe it needs to be this way, nor does Open Source Design, a community of designers and developers in open source aiming to improve the user experience of open source software.

While it’s not a direct donation per se, we have also paid out an additional $9,344 in Hacker One bounties for valid security issues in 2021 that ethical hackers reported to us.

Thanks to our ethical hackers in 2021
0xd0m7 ch1y0q codermak
cryptographer hetroublemakr icewater
imlonghao joernchen psych0tr1a
roidelapluie samjoy_26 shubham_sohi
superpan sweetdeal vovohelo
Wasjerry zank

A special thanks for your efforts in keeping Discourse safe, secure, and free for everyone.

As we look ahead to 2022, we look forward to supporting critical projects and adding more where we can. If you think there’s an open source project we should contribute to, let us know.

Maybe you’re in a position where you or your company can support one or more open source projects. Please do so! The Internet is built on the work of so many open source projects, and they could all use your support. 🙏