How to contribute to Discourse

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #1

We frequently hear from people who are passionate about Discourse, looking for a way to give back. To which we reply:

You’re awesome! :heart_eyes: And of course we can tell you more about how to contribute.

Everyone is welcome :raised_hands:

Discourse is an open source project. A common misconception is that the only way to contribute to an open source project is by sharing code, when in fact there are countless other contributions that we love seeing just as much. We’ll try highlight the most common actions here, but if none of the below resonates with you please post whatever else you have in mind in a reply!

Advocacy :loudspeaker:

Above all else, let people know about Discourse! Being a great advocate boils down to taking every opportunity you get to talk about Discourse – so long as you’re not being pushy. All of the other forms of contribution listed here benefit greatly from someone talking about it, whether they’re talking about their own work or someone else’s. Some common mediums include:

  • Meetups
    Places like host meetups for popular topics such as Ruby, JavaScript, Open Source and Community Management. Find a meetup that interests you and ask around on various channels to see if there are others interested in chatting about Discourse.
    Yes, you could also try organising a Discourse-specific meetup, but chances are that’s gonna be tough unless you live in a really big, probably North American city. We’ll get there, but for now we recommend going where the people are already at.

  • Meta’s praise category
    We love hearing from happy users who found a great fit for Discourse in their use case. Share yours today in #praise and check out these 3rd party sites as well.

  • Twitter
    We are @discourse on Twitter. Share stories about your communities with us; we read them all.

Design :paintbrush:

There’s always an on-going #ux or #feature discussion that would benefit greatly from a UX mockup. You can also share clever styling tweaks in our #howto:tips-and-tricks category.

It’s also possible to share complete themes, like this Material Design. Sharing themes is a bit awkward at the moment, but that’ll change once we support Native Themes. If you’ve made themes for other applications such as WordPress or similar, we’d love to hear what your ideal workflow sounds like.

Documentation :scroll:

Check out the #rewrite-pending tag for articles that could really use some love :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: It’s not always obvious what the rewrite should look like so please message @erlend_sh for more details.

If you have a good, repeatable way of doing something that you think would work well for others as well, chances are you’ve got a good #howto:tips-and-tricks article on your hands. General purpose tutorials that apply to common Discourse functionality will sometimes be moved into the more official #howto category.

There’s also the #faq category for more user-facing manuals. If you’ve used Discourse for some time, you could probably do a proper writeup of one of our many #faq-material topics, which are topics that are “ripe for an official FAQ topic”. Also, we could really use more docs on our moderation tools, e.g. Post Splitting, Post Merging etc.

Translation :earth_asia:

Speak more than two languages? Participating in a non-English or multilingual Discourse community? Then you can help with translations!

You’re also welcome to join the discussion in #dev:translations, where we talk about things like improving the workflow of translators and how to accommodate the many different quirks of the world’s languages.

Code :computer:

Already know some Rails and Ember.js, or would like to start learning? Great! Discourse is a big project, so don’t expect you’ll “get it” after just a few days of poking around. But if you pace yourself with bite-sized challenges, you’ll find yourself part of a very friendly community of developers, some of which have literally decades of programming experience to share.

Money :moneybag:

If you or your organisation has more money than time to spare, that’s perfectly fine too. We do not take donations, but if you pay for our premium hosting service that money goes directly to the same core team that develops Discourse.

We’re also happy to see any kind of investment in the Discourse ecosystem at large. For more information, see:


How do I know where to start?

Options, options, options, so many options! With all these ways to contribute, it can be a bit daunting. Here’s our best advice:

  • Read all the things :allthethings:
    That goes for Meta and any other Discourse communities you’re part of. Just read a whole lot. Start with the Top page if you need to get caught up with major events. You’ll quickly find out if the typical discussions had in this community are of interest to you, and the more you read the more you can contribute back to a wide assortment of discussions in a meaningful way.

  • Do the things you think people should be doing
    Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself thinking “this community could really benefit from This Thing”. Do that thing.

Can contributors get paid?

Some of the example work provided here was paid for, either by the Discourse company or by 3rd parties. In fact we prefer it when contributors get paid for their work, but this isn’t always possible.

First and foremost, the decision to make a contribution should always come from a place of intrinsic motivation. We will however always strive to:

  • Pay for popularly requested contributions (but please talk to us first)
  • Help regular contributors generate their own independent income streams

The more people who can support themselves by working on open source the better!

It sounds like open source is social. Is this true?

Yes, open source is hyper social! It wouldn’t work without people communicating together. If the introverted part of you is looking for the nearest exit, fear not: Open source embraces all modes of communication. Meetups; chats; forums; pigeon post: Pick whichever flavours you fancy.

How to start contributing?
The Discourse Encouragement Fund
Hacktoberfest 2018 - contribute to open source, get a free t-shirt!