Support diaspora* development via Bountysource

07 March 2015

Every popular community powered open source software project has the same problem: to attract developers to keep providing new features and bug fixes at a pace which users of the software are happy with. Since becoming a community project in August 2012, every single line of new diaspora* code has been contributed by a community member. These community members are not paid and don't expect to be paid. They do what they do for the love of contributing, and their efforts have kept diaspora* growing, enabling us to release many quality updates to the software.

However, we are always looking for more contributors, and so we're always looking for better ways to find and attract new contributors. Many frequently requested features have not been implemented simply because none of the current community developers have time to work on them, or because they don't personally feel inclined to work on that particular feature. Of course every developer prefers to work on issues important to them, and we respect that. However, we want to provide our non-coding community members with ways to encourage our developers to work on specific features and other aspects of code.

This is where Bountysource steps in. Bountysource is a commercial platform that aims to unite users with developers, allowing users to directly sponsor development of issues they feel are important. While money is certainly not a determining factor for most open-source developers, it is something that everybody needs and thus could encourage a developer to implement code they might otherwise not have chosen to spend time on. It's also a sign to developers that a particular feature is really important to members of the wider community, because they are willing to put up money to see the feature created.

As the diaspora* project does not yet have a legal entity which people can donate to tax-free, Bountysource is a good solution for us, because users will be able to support the project with hard cash, while the project does not have to handle any money itself. All the money goes via Bountysource, from users to developers, without ever touching the project. Oh, and the Bountysource app is itself open-source, which we of course like.

So how does it work?

There are two ways users can sponsor development via Bountysource:

  • Placing a bounty directly on a specific issue.
  • Donating to the diaspora* team on Bountysource. The project team can then allocate money donated money in this way to bounties of their choosing.

Using Bountysource gives us two important benefits:

  • Users are able to sponsor development of the software. More importantly, they can support the implementation of a specific feature.
  • The project core team can influence the fixing of critical issues by channelling bounties to the correct place.

You can post bounties in either US dollars or Bitcoin. The same options are also available for pay-out to developers who work on a feature.

Things to be aware of

While Bountysource is a good solution, it is not free of charge. Users placing bounties or donating to the team on Bountysource need to be aware that Bountysource takes a 10% cut of any bounties paid out. Also, when you place a bounty on an issue, it is generally there until the issue is resolved – there is no “I changed my mind”, at least not yet. So before placing a bounty, make sure to note that the money is then placed permanently, until it is given to someone solving the issue. However, the Bountysource team will refund bounties if an issue is closed as a “won't fix” by the project team.

Great, tell me where to go!

You can find the diaspora* team on Bountysource. You can search for issues, view backers, existing bounties and of course post bounties here. As a developer this is where you will submit your claim once you start working on an issue.

Any issues that have bounties are also labeled as “bounty” in our issue tracker. The highest bounty ($163) is currently for the API. There are currently 13 issues with a bounty, totalling to an amount of $523. Recently one developer got paid $70 for implementing contacts management in the mobile app, which will be part of the next release of diaspora*!

(Post image by Faldrian)