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To Open Source or To Not Open Source – My Thoughts

For those that don’t know, I’ve ran a Discord bot for over 7 years at this point. It’s gone through various iterations, but it’s purpose has always been to announce livestreams and new video content into configured Discord servers and their respective channels. This project has brought me a lot of joy over the years – through the knowledge gained, the friendships made, and the ability to help people engage with their communities. It’s also taught me a lot about free vs. premium products, and the problems each face in their day to day operation. It’s been a lot of fun!

At the 7 year mark, I took down the premium requirement to “Celebrate” and it was great seeing new faces try things and enjoy them. CouchBot relies very much on word of mouth, no real advertising outside of it organically making it’s way around. We’ve had between 900-1300 servers for the past few years – and we’re at our peak now 6 months in to this “Celebration” period. While I’d like to tell you the reason the celebration lasted so long was because I wanted to give people an opportunity to enjoy things – being honest with myself, I got bored with the project. And that’s a shame! The good part is that people were willing to still support things .. the bad part was that I had no real drive to continue to develop and iterate on changes in the pipeline.

7 years is a long time to work on the same project on the side and this is the longest “hobby” project I’ve ever stuck with. One year for my Birthday I got some miniatures, paints, and a small book on how to paint them. I had a lot of fun for a couple weeks .. so we got me more! And I never finished them .. because I’d moved on, haha. With CouchBot though – it was always so awesome being able to assist people .. and after 7 years, while our community is consistent .. it’s 7 years old. And an influx of new excitement could really help motivate me to work to add new platforms, features, etc. It’s not the responsibility of people to get me there, but I do need to find a way to shake things up and maybe get that new wave and influx to jumpstart the community.

And with all that backstory provided, and rambling concluded, I think about my time with Bitwarden. This amazing Open Source product that allows people to self host .. but also provides hosting and a premium service. They are profitable. They are passionate. They have an amazing always growing community that believes in their product. This is what I envision for CouchBot .. but could it work for a Discord bot? Could the balance of those that are going to self host, contribute code, and require support via Github take away from the Premium users that are trusting me to host and provide their alerts day after day? It’s be an interesting balance I think .. and something I find enticing and exciting. I love interacting and growing through community.


1. Multiple new engaged branches of the community – potential dev contributors, self hosters, and folks interested in the overall project.

Thoughts: This is the most exciting part for me. I’ve always loved the community aspect of CouchBot. This would grow that.

2. OSS support / sponsorships from companies willing to support OSS projects.

3. Transparency and keeping up project velocity due to exposed progress.

Thoughts: Folks will see when I’m slackin’! hahaha this is a huge motivator for me!

4. Potential market interest increase due to open source, folks love seeing what they are a part of.


1. Additional line of support required for troubleshooting potential environmental issues.

2. Potential drop in revenue due to folks wanting to self host.

3. Folks will see the stupid mistakes / bad code we all make – Imposter syndrome will hit, hard!

4. Potential vulnerabilities are exposed publicly.

The largest thing I’ve been considering is the impact of “letting competitors see what we do / how we do it” .. and in the context of Bitwarden .. they have competitors, they put all their stuff out there, and they aren’t concerned. This big million dollar company has no issue .. should I? While the market share of what I do is so small compared to the Password Management business … CouchBot is low on the rung of things and I don’t think the impact of exposing our architecture to the world will be great. It might even help folks learn and grow … and I kind of like that thought?

All of that being said .. this is where my thoughts are at. I’m not sure what I’ll do – or if I’ll open source anything – if I were to, it’d require a considerate rewrite. I’ve got some hardcoded strings. ITS FINE. DON’T JUDGE ME, haha. I appreciate being able to get these thoughts out there.


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