Can we crowd-fund feature & marketplace developments?

Dear Discourse team & Discourse Meta team,

The question I have is related to the cost of development of some features for Discourse, which may be significant to those, whose instances do not generate enough money to cover such things, or by any other matter.

Is it viable if marketplace requests could be supplied with crowd-funding links? This is a raw idea, but it could actually work for middle-to-big jobs on Discourse which the general community could be interested in, and expressed with small(er) fee (than what they would pay for in full) if the demand is big enough. So they become backers of the project listed at popular crowd-funding platforms with reputation. Those will certainly take their fees for excellent escrow & guarantees, but isn’t it something we would all look for?

The funds required could be set in two different modes:

  • MVP: Topic Author/Leader sets and agreement with appointed feature developer, with whom they discussed the conditions via prior communications. These funds will be delivered to contractor (developer) no earlier than the crowd-funding platform of a choice releases them (this does not happen quickly, unfortunately). But these timings could be synced with development cycle, so the funds will probably be ready to be released by the time the development is over and the final version is delivered.
  • Contest: The funds collected will be rewarded to the best implementations developers can deliver via their own repos/demos/whatsoever. This is not a primary feature of this idea, but could boost enthusiasts into hacking things around and delivering promising features to the main product.

Advanced idea here is to propose Discourse Meta Marketplace crowd-funding functionality. There are several payment integrations available for Discourse via other plugins, maybe this could kick-start an opportunity for people to push cool ideas into full features delivered as Plugins or Components. There’s some additional and complicated logic should be employed, so that’s something I could elaborate on in separate thread, describing safety features like auto-refunds & refund requests, and much more. The advantage of integrated solution can introduce additional transparency to everyone involved. Developers should clearly see & understand when the money must be released to them and what is the contract deadline for him to deliver the product set in terms/discussions.


I think competition on free software development is a waste of precious resources. Better find ways to encourage people to collaborate on specifications, design, tests, code, etc.