Transparency, Openness, and our 2014 Financials
Tor's annual revenue in 2014 held steady at about $2.5 million. Tor's budget is modest considering the number of people involved and the impact we have. And it is dwarfed by the budgets that our adversaries are spending to make the world a more dangerous and less free place.
To achieve our goals, which include scaling our user base, we fund about 20 contractors and staff members (some part time, some full time) and rely on thousands of volunteers to do everything from systems administration to outreach. Our relay operators are also volunteers, and in 2014 we grew their number to almost 7,000 — helped along by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's wonderful Tor Challenge, which netted 1,635 relays. Our user base is up to several million people each day.
Transparency doesn't just mean that we show you our source code (though of course we do). The second layer to transparency is publishing specifications to explain what we thought we implemented in the source code. And the layer above that is publishing design documents and research papers to explain why we chose to build it that way, including analyzing the security implications and the tradeoffs of alternate designs. The reason for all these layers is to help people evaluate every level of our system: whether we chose the right design, whether we turned that design into a concrete plan that will keep people safe, and whether we correctly implemented this plan. Tor gets a huge amount of analysis and attention from professors and university research groups down to individual programmers around the world, and this consistent peer review is one of our core strengths over the past decade.
As we look toward the future, we are grateful for our institutional funding, but we want to expand and diversify our funding too. The recent donations campaign is a great example of our vision for future fundraising. We are excited about the future, and we invite you to join us: donate, volunteer, and run a Tor relay.
Yeah, we're still working on the right balance here.
The underlying issue is that we don't want to farm out comments to third-parties (whose business model is to spy on everything), and the captchas aren't really workable, so we end up assessing everything by hand and throwing out a huge amount of spam. And by 'we', we don't have anybody whose job includes doing this, so we get sporadic help from various developers / volunteers. But at the same time, I don't want to shut down the blog comments entirely, since they're one of the ways that people can reach us, over Tor, most safely.
We do indeed throw out, along with all the spam, the comments that call various Tor developers stinkypants. Those comments aren't productive to the conversation -- that is, they don't actually help in doing the "people can reach us, over Tor, mostly safely" part.
i am satisfied about that ( and i do understand the reasons why some of my comments here were not accepted) : thx for working on the right balance here.
> But at the same time, I don't want to shut down the blog comments entirely, since they're one of the ways that people can reach us, over Tor, most safely.
Exactly, this is terribly important. Very few blogs on the (open) Internet allow anonymous posting, which means that they exclude the views of anyone concerned about government/corporate surveillance dragnets, and how various entities abuse the acquired data exhaust to harm individuals, particularly those with a point of view which diverges widely from government and corporate definitions of the political views of "compliant" citizens/employees/customers.
(The mailing lists are non-anonymous by default, and this is too difficult and dangerous to circumvent, and the Tails pre-configured OFTC chat accounts have all been blocked by OFTC chat servers, so until Tor Messenger development is further along, other modes of electronic communication are too difficult for almost every at risk person to attempt to use.)
> We do indeed throw out, along with all the spam, the comments that call various Tor developers stinkypants. Those comments aren't productive to the conversation -- that is, they don't actually help in doing the "people can reach us, over Tor, mostly safely" part.
I don't know what kind of critical comments the OP wanted to express, so the following comment on negative commentary does not necessarily apply to him/her:
One of the points about the "mainstream" mass media which progressives have made repeatedly is that the mainstream media pretends to "balance" debates by presenting very extreme views, rather than seeking to use limited air time to discover what large fractions of actual people believe. The same applies in blogs like this one: one can permit critical comments, but it is entirely appropriate to exclude posts which do not present coherent, reasoned arguments backed by links to evidence.
There are plenty of other places where people who want to say/read ill-informed criticism of Tor can go to vent their incoherent anger. And because this kind of post is "compliant" with USG-approved views of Tor (with some exceptions in entities such as certain units associated with the State Department), people who want to post criticisms of Tor--- presumably not while using Tor Browser!--- are unlikely to face reprisals. That is not likely to be true for people who post supportive views, as time marches on as the USG becomes ever more authoritarian, perhaps even fascist.