This special episode of Greater Than Code was recorded in-person during RubyConf in Los Angeles on November 15th. Ruby Together’s Executive Director, André Arko, was joined by board members, Jonan Scheffler, Valerie Woolard Srinivasan, and Adarsh Pandit. They discussed recent changes to the organization, including André’s decision to step down from the board into the executive director position, the RubyMe mentorship program, and a preview of awesome new things to come.
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JONAN: Hello and welcome to a very special edition of Greater Than Code today, featuring the board of Ruby Together, which is a fantastic organization. We’re going to learn more about them in a moment. First, I’d like everyone to introduce themselves, if you would please. Who are you, sir?
ANDRÉ: Hi, I’m André Arko. I am known as ‘Indirect’ on the Internet of Things. You may have heard of some things that I worked on, including Bundler and Ruby Gems and I started Ruby Together.
JONAN: You started Ruby Together?
ANDRÉ: I started Ruby Together.
JONAN: This thing that I’m on the board of you actually began. I was joking. I have heard of Bundler and Ruby Gems. They’re both pretty important pieces of Ruby structure generally, so thank you for your contributions.
ANDRÉ: Great. I’m glad to hear that you have heard of it.
JONAN: I assume that’s where that Bundler command that I can never seem to find because my Gem path is always wrong. I’m really bad at managing my dependencies, apparently. And you?
ADARSH: Hi, I’m others Adarsh Pandit. I’m also on the board of Ruby Together. I’m a Ruby developer and consultant and I run an agency called Cylinder.Digital.
JONAN: Cylinder.Digital is your agency where you consult, primarily in what space? What sort of things you do work on?
ADARSH: We build custom web software for business problems like everybody else.
JONAN: So if my business is the kind of business that occasionally has any problem at all, they could contact you and you will meet that challenge.
ADARSH: That’s correct, Jonan.
JONAN: Excellent. And you, who are you?
VALERIE: I’m Valerie Woolard Srinivasan, which is a mouthful, I’m sorry. I’m a Rails developer as well. I work at Panoply on the Megaphone software, which is actually for podcasters.
JONAN: And Megaphone is fascinating. You were telling me about this. It lets you do all sort of dynamic things which are podcast things.
VALERIE: Yes. All sorts of dynamic things. IT can do dynamic ad insertion, geotargeting and things like that.
JONAN: Can you change my voice to make me sound better?
VALERIE: Not in Megaphone but in other software.
JONAN: The possibility exists —
VALERIE: That’s a thing, yeah.
JONAN: A feature coming soon on suggestion of —
VALERIE: Yeah, maybe like a Mickey Mouse —
JONAN: Okay. I’m sure that our listeners would love that.
JONAN: And I guess, finally I am Jonan Scheffler, a new member of the Ruby Together board. I joined a few months ago right in the midst of a very complicated conference season, so I’ve been probably the least involved of any here on the board of directors and have thus been chosen to host this episode because I will explain things badly and people will correct me and explain them to you.
ADARSH: Jonan, thank you for your service.
ANDRÉ: We appreciate your sacrifice.
JONAN: As I understand this thing that I have joined and I am a part of now, Ruby Together is a non-profit, a specific kind of non-profit, that is dedicated to the Ruby community and providing money to people who are able to work on large, important open source projects for Ruby like Bundler and Ruby Gems. Is that an approximate explanation of what it is we do here, do you think?
ANDRÉ: That is approximately correct. I would say that’s actually, maybe one of the better pitches for Ruby Together that I’ve heard, so I feel like you are very on top of things.
JONAN: I like to thank myself for being really good and the academy.
ANDRÉ: We all are in LA.
JONAN: We all are in LA. Anything you want to add to that?
ANDRÉ: I would say that that’s pretty accurate. Definitely, of all of the possible things to be concerned about in the Ruby world, Ruby Together decided to just kind of focus on, maybe only a couple in an effort to possibly make a difference. I would say that definitely, the things that we have chosen to focus on are the basic infrastructure and tooling and open source software that lives in the level between Ruby itself, which has its own core team and above that sits Ruby Gems and Bundler and all of the servers that Ruby Gems and Bundler talk to and all of the incidental tools that make those services possible —
JONAN: A tremendous amount of infrastructure and it’s very expensive to operate and we have mostly been doing it by the good graces of companies who have donated their services in the past. For example, Fastly.
ANDRÉ: That is also correct. Fastly is still donates their services to this day. I would have to check their website to give you up-to-the-moment total but last time I take a look, it was something along the lines of $40,000 a month worth of CDN that Fastly is contributing towards the general operation of Ruby Gems.
ADARSH: Thank you, Fastly.
JONAN: Thank you, Fastly. If you are listening to this and you are looking for a CDN, please for the love of all that is good, use Fastly, so that they love us enough to continue this because for a real quick description of where the money is coming from for Ruby Together generally is individual members and companies but it would be very difficult for us as an organization to replace that $40,000 a month if we were suddenly to have to pay for all of Fastly services. Fastly, if you’re going to quit us, we’re going to need about six years notice, ideally.
ANDRÉ: And to good folks over there too —
JONAN: They’re a really good people, they make a really good product. I recommend it regularly. I do a lot of Heroku demos with Heroku developer advocate. I’m standing in a booth and I have to show people the add-ons things and Fastly is my go-to because then I can talk about if you need to send cat GIFs to China consistently and quickly, then you need Fastly but I have honestly have not heard complaints about anyone who’s been on the Fastly platform and I know a lot of the people who work there, they’re great.
ADARSH: For me, one of the interesting things about Ruby Together from the beginning is that it’s organized as a trade association. It is not unlike, as André explains, the dairy farmers trade association.
JONAN: Got milk?
ADARSH: Got milk was a common effort from all dairy farmers. They all kick into the dairy farmers trade association and then they pay for things that help everybody collectively. It isn’t an era where we do a lot of things pretty individually commercially. It’s a function or a vehicle to do things collectively as a group and in this case, we are collectively trying to support all our shared infrastructure and tooling.
VALERIE: I was just going to point out. I know one of the sort of Ruby non-profits that people are maybe more familiar with is Ruby Central, which puts on RailsConf and RubyConf and I believe they also help with the Ruby Gems infrastructure and stuff, so I was wondering if we could talk a little bit about what they do, what are the differences between what they do and what Ruby Together does.
ANDRÉ: Yeah, absolutely. I’d be happy to do that. Ruby Together and Ruby Central are effectively cooperating in this project of keeping Ruby’s infrastructure working. Historically, Ruby Gems was a volunteer effort put together during RubyConf itself. Ruby Central wound up providing the servers that RubyGems.org ran on and by running RailsConf and RubyConf, Ruby Central not only sort of pays their own employees but also, sets aside some money with which to pay for the needs of RubyGems.org.
Right now, for as long as Fastly sees fit to provide us with their unlimited services, Ruby Central takes care of the remaining bills which are sort of various and sundry AWS charges. We run some instances. We use some services. We put a lot of .Gem files on S3 and then people request them through Fastly. Ruby Central has always funded that, the servers for RubyGems.org and they still do that to this day.
The sort of critical moment that honestly, inspired me to attempt to create Ruby Together in the first place was way back in, I think 2012 or 2013 when RubyGems.org went down because no one had time to apply a security patch before the weekend because everyone had paid work that they needed to do and everyone who worked under RubyGems.org was an unpaid volunteer. Even though the servers were being paid for, there was no developer time or maintenance time or security patching time that was paid for. That week, we had collectively agreed that whichever one of us who was done with work first was going to go apply the security patches and that week, someone also noticed the security patches were not applied and hacked the RubyGems.org at the time of single server and we had to throw it away and RubyGems.org was gone for… It was a while. It was maybe three or four days.
We had to find copies of all of the Gems that had not potential been hacked and checked to make sure that the copies we had had not had anything bad inserted into them. It was a pretty bad week. Basically, all three people who worked on RubyGems.org for free at that point took an unexpected week off of their paid jobs, which is less than ideal for all of us.
JONAN: You explained that as like a death in the family.
ANDRÉ: Basically, yes.
JONAN: “A web app that I’m very close with have passed away.”
ANDRÉ: Correct, yeah and so that made me feel like it was a huge waste.
ADARSH: And risk.
ANDRÉ: Also, a massive risk, yes.
ANDRÉ: Sure, absolutely. Definitely, as I had just mentioned, I had no clear idea of what I wanted than RubyGems.org to stop being hacked and so, attempting to find my way forward from that, I sort of made it up to, at the time, both Stripe and Engine Yard had, without any real effort on my part, sort of shown up and said, “Would it help if we just gave you some money,” and I said, “Yes, it would help if you gave me some money,” and now, I feel weird about taking money from companies, so I should like figure out a better way.
After speaking with a lawyer who actually turned out to be super wonderful, I realized that the better way was this form of non-profit, where multiple companies and individual people who are all sharing this infrastructure, contribute funding together, so that was the structure that we kind of settled on. I worked hard to find fabulous Ruby celebrities to join the board like all of you —
JONAN: Like me, yeah, yeah.
ANDRÉ: — And when we launched, after paying the lawyers and paying for a website and all of those fun things, we had enough money to hypothetically, pay for something like, I want to say, seven hours a week worth of work.
JONAN: Well done.
ANDRÉ: Yeah, absolutely and so, to start with, we’ve just consulted with the board and said, “There’s one person who has not yet burned out on volunteering on RubyGems.org and there is one person who has not yet burned out on Bundler –” that was me and so we just kind of offered the two of us to pay for a few hours a week of working on those things —
JONAN: The ‘two of us’ being you and?
ANDRÉ: David Radcliffe, the other volunteer who worked on RubyGems.org through all of these things and had recently had additional children and become very busy.
JONAN: Children are extremely inconvenient in the Ruby community.
ANDRÉ: They are.
JONAN: Koichi Sasada had a child a couple of years ago and it was ridiculous, Koichi. We can’t have that. We need you committing constantly to Ruby. Congratulations.
ANDRÉ: Exactly. It turned out that paying for maintenance work on Bundler and paying for maintenance work on RubyGems.org meant that they didn’t get totally neglected, which is kind of the state that they had ended up in.
JONAN: While we only had seven hours a week at that time, things progressed well but it was still an organization that was basically you and Mr Radcliffe working together to make all of the pieces work. You were responsible for everyone with the story.
JONAN: And eventually, we as an organization received some criticism for that that any time that you have an organization that is designed to represent this many people, it can be in uncomfortable situation for the membership when the power is so concentrated. That is a very reasonable complaint and we’ve been working real hard to address that. As a result of that, you have actually stepped down from the board recently.
ANDRÉ: That is correct.
JONAN: And now, your role here is what exactly?
ANDRÉ: Basically, rather than either be on the board spending the money or be on the Bundler team receiving the money, our best possible outcome that we were able to find is that I would become the executive director, which is like a very common, kind of analogous to a CEO in a public, for-profit company. There’s not technically any legal requirements around that. Anyone can be an executive director and anyone can be a CEO but symbolically, executive directors at non-profits are attempting to steward the non-profit towards meeting its goals, where symbolically, CEOs are about making decisions and having profits and taking 375 times as much money as their lowest paid employee.
JONAN: Well, they’re visionaries and they like turtlenecks. Do you have something to add?
ADARSH: Yeah and I think that this change is not just about being responsive to feedback, which is very important. It also fell to me and a lot of other board members, I hope I will speak too much for them but it’s like an evolution of the organization from kind of a level of single founder startup trying to do every job and figuring it out as quickly as possible with very little help to, “Now, there’s a team and now, we can start to split up roles and responsibilities and then ask questions about who should be doing what and what processes should be in place and how we should have to make decisions.”
I joined in February of this year with all the other lovely board members, who I must say are very professional and super focused. Some of the meetings that we have are among the most focused and productive meetings that I have with other people. But the board members, I think were pretty instrumental, as well as André and thinking about what the right organizational structure should be, instead of just saying, “Let’s be reactive,” and so through that, I think more prospective, like let’s imagine a better tomorrow and then start incrementally building towards that, this was one of the steps that happen along the way.
VALERIE: I think it’s a natural step in like the maturation of any non-profit company where at some point you have to change who’s doing what because one person can’t be doing everything. I think that’s really healthy that we have a board in place that can take on some of that responsibility.
JONAN: I think it’s arguably more important. There are concerns about like a locus of power but I think more important than that is that we preserve André and his sanity and by doing all of this work together, we’re able to offload some of your burden, I think.
ANDRÉ: I both super appreciate that and agree that offloading things is important at this point in time.
JONAN: Fortunately, because of the way that the Ruby Together was running for so long, you accumulated a lot of tribal knowledge that stood for exactly you, right?
ANDRÉ: That is extremely true and we are definitely working on getting all of that knowledge out of my head.
JONAN: I think our first priority as an organization is to be able to get all of that information off of André’s plate so that we can then address those things and take more responsibility as things go. But so far, in your first, how many months as executive directors would –?
ANDRÉ: I think, it’s been about three.
JONAN: Three months now, do you feel —
ANDRÉ: Happy anniversary.
JONAN: — Like things are getting better for you as far as the amount of work that you have to do and the amount of work that we are able to —
ANDRÉ: Yes. I feel much better about things obviously. It’s meant that, I guess I simultaneously took on a… I’m not even sure what to call that, like a managerial or suggestion-making, step-back chairman of the board kind of position also with Bundler and Ruby Gems where my goal is to facilitate communication and make sure that everyone knows what’s happening as they do work but not to do work myself because it turns out that having three jobs is even worse than having two jobs.
JONAN: Because it’s more complicated.
VALERIE: Delegating is important.
ANDRÉ: And so it has been wonderful to be working really hard on delegating things in open source. It is been wonderful to work really hard on delegating things in Ruby Together and it has also been a really good experience to realize that under this new structure, the thing that I’m getting paid for is keeping Ruby Together functioning well, which was previously the thing that I had to do for free in my spare time. That turns out has Ruby Together succeeded, became a worse and worse and worse situation.
VALERIE: That mean that’s the situation that you ran into with Ruby Gems that led you to create Ruby Together.
ANDRÉ: Yes and at the point where I was thinking about needing a Ruby Together for Ruby Together, it was clear that something needed to be weird.
JONAN: We almost started another a non-profit.
ADARSH: Yes. One thing that sticks out to me is there’s a step back and reflect on all of these things. They’re all kind of about labor and all of the open source work that happens, I don’t think anybody’s has really solve this problem very well but it’s a lot of volunteer labor and when certain projects take off, they become integral to the work flows of many developers who support big companies to make a lot of money. There’s a weird mismatch there, which I think we’re all experimenting around and trying to figure out how to solve.
When you’re doing three jobs and getting paid for half of them, the scheme of labor and compensate people for their time comes up again and again and also, burn out I think is also coming up a lot. We see a lot of open source maintainers fry out and say, “Look, I need to take a break.” I don’t know that we have the solution to all of these problems but I think that we can have some experiments and make some positive impact in our little corner of the world and hopefully, learn some things from the other organizations and foundations too.
JONAN: It doesn’t even have to be so drastic as burn out. A lot of times, people get other hobbies. They have children, they get a new pet, they become involved and the value in having open source set up the way it is, is that people can kind of round robin contribute to this project but it also means that occasionally, things fall off the map. I just go on and maintain to the final person, have a child and no passing of the torch. We cannot, as a community afford to allow that to happen to things like Ruby Gems and Bundler. If we want to grow Ruby as a language and I think we can all agree that Ruby is the correct choice, strictly speaking my unopinionated opinion is that everyone should use Ruby all the time. If we want to grow Ruby as a language, it is vitally important that people be able to install Gems.
If you are trying to make a case for a large enterprise, that Ruby is a good choice and during that meeting, someone brings up the fact that one time for a week, no one was able to install Gems, that’s a pretty uncomfortable conversation to have. It’d be great if we only had to say one time in that conversation, instead of five times and so far so good.
ANDRÉ: Yeah, definitely. One of the things that I’m most proud of at this point, having run Ruby Together for a few years is that we kind of had that laser focus on ‘we would like this not to happen again’ and it has not happened again. It turns out paying people to apply security patches and paying people to proactively notice that the servers are degrading and alerts are alerting and things are not thing-ing has meant that we occasionally had slightly degraded service. Maybe if you’re in part of the world, it’s not so awesome. Maybe one API is not fully responding correctly but we have had zero outages of RubyGems.org for the entire time that Ruby Together has been funding development work to keep it running.
JONAN: Which I think we can immediately interpret to be a causal relationship using science and we did it folks. We’ve won the internet.
JONAN: Congratulations to our team. I do appreciate, actually very much that we’ve had such a good run. I do want to talk about, maybe more about what are some of the things that you have been able to do or we as Ruby Together have been able to do. For example, new projects that have come to fruition recently, that wouldn’t have happened if you not moved into this executive director role.
ANDRÉ: Yeah, absolutely. One of the great things about moving into this executive director role is because I’m now getting paid to kind of administrate and direct executively, it means that we’re able to sort of make progress forward on things that we had talked about wanting to do and I had never had enough free nights and weekends to make forward progress on. Right now, we, in the last few months just basically as soon as I had this sort of paid executive directing time available to me, we were able to move forward with the RubyMe Program and actually, we go from idea that everyone agreed was great to a project that we actually launched into the world with unprecedented speed which was really cool.
JONAN: I agree that this idea is great but also, what is this idea?
ANDRÉ: This idea of RubyMe is the idea that there are many Ruby developers who maybe will say they’re open source curious. They have heard of open source, they know that it exists, they know that they’ve used it, they have seen the scrolling pages of GitHub issues go by and they’re not really comfortable or familiar with what jumping into that stream of endless people telling other people that they are bad and wrong on the internet would be like.
JONAN: It’s a very complicated thing. Jumping into open source is a scary world.
ANDRÉ: It is.
JONAN: And you as a new developer in the community or an old developer in the community — I’ve been around in Ruby for quite some time, maybe six years, I think I’ve been writing Ruby now and I contribute very little to the open source community of the side from like usually untested and pretty bad code to make some robot perform poorly on stage or other little apps that I’ve made and put out there that I throw up an MIT License but no one really uses. I had one Gem that someone used one time but I’ve never contributed on a major project.
In my case, it’s primarily a function of time and resources but for many people, they’re just looking for advice on how to take that first step. Some repos have things like issues that are good for new beginners but how does the RubyMe Program help solve that problem with people?
ANDRÉ: Along with, as Adarsh mentioned, the unsolved problem of how do we fund or sustain open source developers who are already there, there is a parallel unsolved problem of how do we get people from the banks of open source river to having their heads held down under the water by the community at large —
ADARSH: Can you type in? I’m not really sure about that analogy.
ANDRÉ: — In retrospect maybe, that’s not the best analogy.
ADARSH: Right. Point is well taken and it does feel for the average developer that there’s a lot of barriers to getting involved in open source project to contribute.
ANDRÉ: Absolutely and especially, we even noticed this as we were running the program, that there are effectively two ways to write Ruby software and they are more different than you would think if you heard about them from someone talking about that, right? If you work at a company, there is a person who shows up and says, “Look at this issue tracker. Start at the top, go down as fast as you can forever,” and maybe there are meetings involved and stakeholders and things that people want —
JONAN: Maybe, it’s mostly, in my experience, meetings. I had a lot of strange jobs before I got into software, one of the most surprising things to me was that everyone in this industry is literally looking at an infinite pile of work all of the time and it’s right in front of you. In a lot of places like you work in a factory, you put things on a conveyor and you take things off a conveyor and ship it and logistics and you see like, “We got this order done,” and that was done. Clap your hands and you move on with your life but in software, there is an ever-present mountain of work in front of you, right?
ANDRÉ: Infinite work.
JONAN: I don’t think that any software has really ever done. It can be a disheartening thing and as a new developer coming out in an open source project, you see this pile of issues and one out of every 10 issues is getting a response from some developer who is overworked and doesn’t have the attention and often, responds firstly to people who offer to contribute. Someone puts together a PR and they say, “No tests,” and they close the issue. I understand that person’s perspective because they had to do that 100 times and they had two hours before they went out to dinner with their family. I think that RubyMe as a program is a great option but I want to get down to the nuts and bolts of everything real quick, so what exactly do we do?
ANDRÉ: What exactly we do there is effectively two parts to the program. One part of the program is that we find relatively experienced software developers and we find relatively inexperienced software developers. The first part is we kind of combine them. We say, “Experience person and inexperience person, we want you to work together, provide each of your perspectives and knowledge and background and spend some time finding an open source project, choosing something to work on and working to contribute to that project.”
JONAN: Together? As a team?
ANDRÉ: Together, as a team.
ADARSH: It’s a kind of paid mentorship, basically.
ANDRÉ: Basically, because the second part of the program is that we pay both of those people.
JONAN: And the money for that, we just have people come in and applied to this program and then we choose some of them, people who seem likely to actually participate. Well, how do we decide? Do we choose by height because I’m very tall actually and I want money? I’m not eligible probably as a support member to solicit money from the RubyMe Program.
ANDRÉ: That would be correct. We would reject your application immediately but people who are not Ruby Together board members, as most people are not. The way that we structured the program is we do this for three months and we’ve deliberately arranged it so that it will not disrupt anyone’s existing normal jobs. We’re aiming for something very much like that aforementioned, sort of paid internship in open source Ruby software. What we do is we end up funding about eight, maybe 10 hours of work and writing about that experience per month. Maybe, that’s like one entire workday that you schedule just one time a month, maybe that’s like your weekly meeting where you spend one or two hours together. We’ve seen both happen actually so far in the program.
To answer your question about who ends up getting money, right now the selection happens via the Ruby Together board and we take the overwhelming number of applications that we receive and —
JONAN: Which was how many this recent?
ADARSH: Like a thousand.
ANDRÉ: This last round, we received about a thousand applications. We had two available slots —
JONAN: Well, in two pairs of mentee and mentor.
JONAN: So we have four people who joined the program in this last round with a thousand applicants.
JONAN: And so, it was a more exclusive than Harvard?
VALERIE: Pretty much, yeah.
ANDRÉ: It’s probably true, not by choice but we were expecting possibly up to maybe 20 applications based on historical applications for things.
JONAN: So this is the most involvement we have with any program putting together.
ANDRÉ: This is absolutely the most involved with the community has ever been with anything that we’ve ever done which seems great. We sort of collectively decided what criteria we were going to prioritize, rather than if we had money to fund every single one of those thousand people, I think that all the ones who seem like actual real human beings, we would have been super happy to fund them.
JONAN: The people who are robots, clearly, they were just me in an automated script resubmitting my own name over and over again. I’m sorry about the other 998 applications. That was me.
ANDRÉ: I guess to be perfectly clear, the 1000 applications were the remaining applications after we eliminated the applications from scripts. We completely broke Google Forms and including all of the scripts, we had something like 145,000 applications.
JONAN: Right. That was cute and we appreciate that you’re great programmers. In the future, we’re going to do our best to prevent that from being possible but also, stop it. You’re being mean to people. We are working for free or a little money to make the world better and maybe, you could spend your time and energy doing other nice things.
VALERIE: Like contributing to open source.
JONAN: Yeah, in an open source project. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
VALERIE: It would be lovely.
ADARSH: Yeah. Valerie and I were helping to look through these applications and there’s so many great people on both sides of it. It was really a tough thing but it was also nice. In a way, I’m glad that we broke the forms and had all that.
VALERIE: Seeing that appetite from people was really great and I think it point out the fact that there are a lot of people who are interested in this kind of work who don’t really know where to start.
ADARSH: Yeah and like all the things that we do and everyone does, it’s a first iteration. What was really cool also is there are a whole bunch of people that said, “I missed a deadline and when are you doing this again? Put me on the list when this happens again,” so that was very gratifying. A lot of credit to Coraline too for shepherding that project. I don’t know if it was her idea originally.
VALERIE: Yeah, that was her proposal.
ANDRÉ: I guess I’ve done a lot of the implementation minutiae but the core idea of this paid internship in open source, paying both mentors and mentees was completely Coraline’s idea and I think it turned out to be a really great idea.
JONAN: A really great idea and I think the best part of this is that this is a three-month long program, where we create new open source developers, ideally over time. We are sowing seeds to grow in the community and Ruby Together grow stronger by this contribution. Now in this round, we had two pairs and in the future, I expect we hope to expand that program.
ANDRÉ: We do hope to expand it. We are limited by our existing budget. Even if we had the administrative resources, we do not have the budget to fund 500 pairs, unfortunately.
ADARSH: Where does our budget come from, André?
ANDRÉ: That is an excellent question. Thank you.
JONAN: Plug, plug.
ANDRÉ: Our budget comes from Ruby developers and companies like you, yourself listening to this program who show up and provide us with membership fees in our trade association. Check with your accountant and tax lawyer but are very, very likely to be tax deductible as professional business expenses.
JONAN: What is a membership, an individual membership to Ruby Together?
ANDRÉ: The wonderful folks at the government have decided that the way that non-profits like ourselves that benefit an entire group or community of similar working people, to be non-profit. We are arranged so that people pay for membership in our association and everyone who participates in that trade, then benefits from the results of us spending the money. For us, individual members are able to join our private members only Slack. They’re able to have direct interaction with the board and with the people running Ruby Together and they are able to say that they help keep RubyGems.org from going down.
JONAN: What does it cost me to join as an individual member?
ANDRÉ: As an individual member, to be a fully-fledged member who participates in the annual board of directors’ elections cost $40 a month. It’s sort of scaled up for companies. We also provide company level memberships in a range from $50 a month through $5000 a month, depending on the size of the company.
JONAN: Excellent. If you work at a company or are a software developer and someone pays you money, you might consider whether or not is worth it to you to spend 40 of those dollars to contribute to the long term health of the language that you love so dearly. I’d like to add one more bonus feature of being a member, in addition to the Slack and the voting, is that infinite high fives feature from me. Any time you see me at a conference, as many high fives as you want — subject to availability, of course — but I notice you still haven’t added that feature to the website because I was expecting.
ANDRÉ: That’s true. That is definitely an oversight on my part.
JONAN: I keep sending you those high five GIFs. I’d really like to see them up on the website.
ANDRÉ: Infinite, infinite high fives from Jonan will definitely be a prominent feature of a membership in the near future.
VALERIE: I can also provide Twitter GIFs at Valerie.Codes. Just find me.
JONAN: Yeah, it’s so easy. The money is coming in now, we would like more money obviously all the time and for us, as an organization you people who like to focus on building things and moving forward and growing with Ruby Together and it can become kind of laborious and a bit tiring really to just continually stand up any time [inaudible] has handed to any of us and say, “Give us money,” but give us money.
The end goal for you as individuals is to make Ruby a larger and healthier ecosystem. We were doing our best to make that happen, especially in the way that you were telling us you want that to happen. We’re here to listen, give us more money, RubyMe is a fantastic program and we hope to grow it. With your help, we can make that happen.
ADARSH: One other thing I wanted to tease is we all have been working on thinking about and experimenting and prototyping different ways of funding open source. To date, it’s been more like obvious projects selection, things that are pretty critical to the community and then, just deciding that we should support these things. One of the things we’ve undertaken as a group is formalized in that process more. I would say adding some appropriate bureaucracy and working a little bit more to experiment with the granting system, which is kind of neat. We’re getting closer to rolling that out, probably in the next couple of days.
JONAN: Yeah, absolutely.
ANDRÉ: Do you want me to say more about that?
JONAN: I would love to.
ANDRÉ: I personally am very excited about it. I think that we’ve learned that as a non-profit, we will actually be getting grants but we would love to get project proposals from open source projects and developers who have Ruby open source that could benefit from money, which I believe is probably, most if not all of them. With the budget that we have available to us, we’re super interested in starting to take applications from both developers and projects that could benefit from a few months of paid work and provides those projects with a quarter-long window of funding, in which they can get things done maybe that’s like things that are hard to do, like actually read all of those bug reports and find out which of them are broken and reproduce those hard to reproduce bugs. Maybe that is this big feature that everyone agrees would be wonderful to have and no one has time to work on because they’re all busy doing bill-paying work. We’re super excited about being able to offer that to the really open source community in the near future.
JONAN: We will be making some grants and we’re putting together that program now. Specifically, just two projects that apply for those, maybe not as grants —
VALERIE: Not grants.
JONAN: — but in different form.
ANDRÉ: Not grants.
JONAN: We’re going to stop saying grants, unless we —
VALERIE: Project funding.
JONAN: Project funding, that’s another good word for that.
ANDRÉ: We will be setting up contracts with open source projects to fund their work.
JONAN: I like that.
ADARSH: For a defined period of time.
JONAN: We’re going to get the money and then we’re going to give the money to other different people to do —
VALERIE: It’s like a Robin Hood scenario.
ANDRÉ: We’re basically Robin Hood and also, we were paying people to get work done for everyone else.
JONAN: I like that. I think we’re probably going to need to wrap up here but I want to thank you all very much for your time.
JONAN: And invite the community, at large to please send us your feedback and questions and comments and concerns all of the time.
ANDRÉ: And money.
JONAN: And money. I don’t know if we brought up money and the fact that we need money, so that we can give money. But if you know anyone who has any money or you yourself have money or you work at a company that maybe has money and likes that RubyGems.org stays online, maybe bring that up to your management.
JONAN: Thank you so much for joining us. You all have a good day.