Welcome to the Discourse Sysadmin interview!


Thanks for applying for the sysadmin position at Discourse!

In lieu of a phone call to discuss specifics, we’re asking applicants to privately reply to this message using Discourse – so that we can get a better idea of how you work, and you can get an idea of how we work, too.

:warning: Please DO NOT reply to this message in public!

  1. What online artifacts fairly represent your previous work? Some examples (but don’t feel limited to this list) are:

    • your technical blog
    • your GitHub commits
    • your Server Fault (or Stack Exchange) profile
    • open source projects you contributed to, with specifics
    • your online CV / resume
    • anything else that was published online that represents you and your work

    Share these URLs with us, so we can learn about how you work.

  2. Let’s install Discourse.

    • Show us the URL of a Discourse install you produced, and made visible on the web, using servers you have access to.

    • If you browse the support category here, you’ll find that some people try to install Discourse, but then get stuck because port 80 is already occupied. How would you amend the install to prevent this problem and work the user through the solution, so they don’t have to post a support topic here about it, and can figure it out on their own?

    • Name three other specific ways you would work to improve the public Discourse install process. What can go wrong here? What can users mess up, and how could we help them figure that out (or remove the point of error entirely) by improving the install? Describe the general steps you would take, and the general tools you would use, to make those improvements.

  3. The new user sandbox

    You may have noticed that all new users in Discourse are limited for safety reasons. If you have created an account, you’re (probably) in the new user sandbox right now. How do you get out of it? How would an attacker abuse this system? How can the signals in this system be improved?

    Note that you’ll need to create an account and get out of the new user sandbox to privately reply to this topic as requested.

  4. Describe your hosting experience.

    We feel that the strongest candidates will have sysadmin experience in a hosting environment.

    • Can you explain how your previous job experience maps to a hosting service, where we primarily sell $100, $200, and $1000 per month hosting plans to hundreds or thousands of customers?
    • What steps did you take to ensure great service for your hosting customers?
    • What processes did you automate using puppet, chef, or ansible?
    • How did you automate provisioning new customers?
  5. What do you like about forums?

    Discourse is an attempt to reboot forums for the next generation of the web. Did you ever run a forum? Do you regularly participate on forums? Do you participate on any current Discourse instances?

    What do you think Discourse, the software, does well? What does it not do well? What would you think discussion software could do better?

If this seems like work, I apologize, it is not in any way intended to be a method of getting work out of people – just a necessary and helpful step in the interview process, like multiple in-person interviews would be for a “physical, real world” job.

As a remote team, with members in Canada, USA, France, and India, we place a high value on written online communication, which is an essential remote skill – and that’s what Discourse is designed to encourage! :wink:


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