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Help Fund A Ruby Developer To Work On Open Source For 6 Months

By Peter Cooper / March 11, 2008


Last week, Gregory Brown, of the O'Reilly Ruby blog and Ruby Reports, came up with the idea of devoting his time to working on Ruby-related open source projects, as a sort of "Ruby mendicant." He figured if he could raise at least $500 for each week of work, he could devote 20-25 hours per week to the project. The contributors would then be able to suggest ideas, and potentially vote on the things Gregory would work on. His initial ideas included working on the PDF::Writer and Ruby Reports libraries (the former of which could really do with some serious time on it), amongst other things.

People caught on to and supported Gregory's idea, and now it's going live! He has set up a Pledgie page where he's attempting to raise $8000 to support 26 weeks (half a year) of this work. He has also written a formal proposal of his ideas for those who are unconvinced.

The more astute reader will note that $8000 does not cover 26 weeks at $500 per week ($13,000 total.) The reason for only needing to raise $8000, however, is because Ruby Central Inc. has pledged to match donations dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $5000! So if you give $50 to the campaign now, that turns into a whole $100 to support Gregory.

I can personally appreciate that some people will not want to support this because either they feel there are already plenty of people who spend serious time each week working on open source for free or because of the less-than-stellar results of similar experiments (such as Jason Kottke's similar "micropatron" experiment or the documentation drive - I'm not entirely sure all that money ever got spent?) Despite these points, I have a lot of faith in Gregory considering his past contributions to the Ruby community and in being the only significantly consistent contributor to the O'Reilly Ruby blog. I think he has the staying power to do some great work here and am more than happy to vouch for him.


  1. Luke Francl says:

    Whatever did happen with the documentation drive? I know they submitted some good patches to the Rails RDoc, but not much else about what they did/have done/are doing. (Another subject, but I still wish we had our own version of the Django book:

    Transparency is really important in these sort of projects. I hope Gregory takes that to heart!

  2. court3nay says:

    In my opinion the doc project so far has been very successful (search the RoR trac for all the patches). However, we're only halfway done (literally; about 50% of the funding remains). You may recall the project was started before 2.0 was out, and there were significant changes, so we decided to hold off until rails was stable(ish) again.

    Occasionally someone pings me and requests to be paid as an author to contribute; or, someone gets all fired up about writing docs. My standard response is "Write some docs and send me a link to them, and we'll reimburse you." No-one has been able to rise to the challenge. Unfortunately, paying people to do open source work is like opening up Schrödinger's kitty litter box. The motivation for writing documentation isn't money, and paying people isn't the answer.

    We really like the sitepoint reference sites and have a plan to build something like that for rails.

    We had started developing a neat way of writing doc patches that didn't require checking out the source code in the browser, but rdoc's horrible implementation made that almost impossible. Perhaps using the newer rdoc codebase combined with a better diffing mechanism is the answer -- we really want to make it possible for anyone to edit the rails docs in-browser.

    If anyone's interested in helping with the project, I'm all ears (court3nay at gmail).

  3. AW says:

    Heh, it would be kind of cool if there were some kind of screen-casting program that let you watch Gregory as he worked.

    Transparency, plus, it'd be pretty interesting to watch.

    Call it the voyeur in me.

  4. Peter Cooper says:

    @AW: let you do that with any developers you contract on that site (it's a built in part of their service). A lot of people find it rather creepy though.. I'd never want to work like that, put it that way!

  5. Nikc says:

    Greg is a champ. Open your wallets.

  6. Gregory Brown says:

    AW, My work flow includes too much pornography and flash cartoons for screencasts to be useful.

    But you can bet I'll be blogging the interesting bits of whatever project I'm working on, and I'll probably give status reports to Ruby users groups within the region that'll let me talk. :)


  7. Peter Cooper says:

    And I'll certainly be happy to do some mini interviews and get status reports to publish here on Ruby Inside too. So, plenty of accountability for those wavering.

  8. Insightful says:

    Can't we just send him a case of Top Ramen instead?

  9. Peter Cooper says:

    I'm sure he wouldn't say no to such a generous offer either.

  10. Peter Cooper says:

    By the way, contributions are now at $2045.00 (or $4090 if you include RubyCentral's matching contribution.) That's enough for two months already!

  11. Gregory Brown says:


    Nice offer! I'm vegetarian these days, but I wouldn't turn down a case of Ramen noodles. That stuff got me through my freshman year of college!

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