Last Updated: 24th Feb 2017
WPTavern: Discourse Creates Encouragement Fund to Pay Contributors for Mission Critical Work
Discourse is free, open-source discussion software created by Jeff Atwood in 2013.Â In addition to celebrating its fourth birthday, the team announced the Discourse Encouragement Fund. The fund allows the development team to pay contributors for critical work.
In the course of a year, Discourse has paid 16 different developers a total of $17,000 to work on tasks. All of their work is open source and two of the contributorsÂ joined the team as full-time employees.
DiscourseÂ shared its 7-step process for rewarding contributors and the one thatÂ sticks out to me is number four: âWe choose who, what and when.â
âAt first we tried to put tasks âup for grabsâ, but this method didnât work too well,â Erlend Sogge Heggen, Community Advocate at Discourse said. âYou end up with multiple takers and you have to pick one and let others down.â
âInstead, we approach developers individually, one at a time. Since weâre an open source project we know fairly well whoâs capable of what, so weâll tap our top prospect, present the task and âbountyâ, and get a yes or no.
âIf no, we move on to the next good prospect. If we run out of good prospects for a specific task, weâll either do it ourselves or put it on hold.â
Heggen says the program has worked well thus far and will continue indefinitely. âAs much as weâd like to, we canât put every one of our contributors on a steady payroll,â he said.
âWhat we can do is remind them that the work theyâre doing is valuable, in every sense of the word, and that there is money to be made from specializing in Discourse.â
The program is funded by customers who purchase hosting plans, âThe general idea is that paying customers help improve Discourse, both for themselves, and for the greater open source community at large,â Atwood said.
Introducing money into an open source project can be risky but so far, Discourse has found a way to make it work.