US Navy Onions (Profile)

April 25, 2015


Tor is an important project which helps users in oppressive countries circumvent Internet censorship. It also allows people to create and access “hidden services” which are not accessible via the regular Internet. It is one of the most widely-known open source projects. With the current focus on computer security, Tor is quite relevant.

Organizational Details

  1. Is the subject of your profile a corporate entity?
    1. Yes.
  2. What type?
    1. The Tor Project, Inc is a Massachusetts-based 501(c)(3) research-education nonprofit organization
  3. When was it founded?
    1. December 2006
  4. By whom?
    1. Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson
  5. Original founder(s) still active?
    1. Yes
  6. Publicly Traded? Since when? Initial Stock Price? Current stock price?
    1. Nope, nope, nope.
  7. Has the company made any acquisitions? If yes, which companies, and what were their core products?
    1. Not that we could find.
  8. Has the company made any investments in other companies? If yes, which ones.
    1. No.
  9. Number of Employees?
    1. There are currently 64 people listed on their core people page. It is unclear which of these people are employees or volunteers.
  10. Where is HQ?
    1. Massachusetts
  11. Does it have any other offices or locations?
    1. No.
  12. Website?
    1. https://www.torproject.org
  13. Wikipedia?
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tor_Project,_Inc
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_%28anonymity_network%29
  14. Does your organization file any annual reports? Please include links to any relevant documents (i.e. 990, Annual Report, Year in Review, etc…)
    1. https://www.torproject.org/about/financials.html.en


  1. Does your subject participate in social media? If yes, please list a URL for each account, and reach within that community. (i.e. Twitter: @RedHatNews – 61.9K Followers.
    1. https://twitter.com/torproject
    2. https://blog.torproject.org/category/tags/social-media
  2. What communication channels does your subject use to reach their public? Briefly describe and include a URL for each.
    1. See above and Community Architecture section below.
    2. http://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/
  3. Does your subject organize or participate in any conferences? If so, list them here, and provide links to any relevant sessions, keynotes, or content.
    1. https://blog.torproject.org/category/tags/conferences

Community Architecture

Your subject likely runs or contributes to one or more Open Source products or projects. Choose one (or more) of these and answer the following questions:

If applicable, list and provide links to:


  1. Describe the software project, its purpose and goals.
    1. The Tor network is a group of volunteer-operated servers that allows people to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.
  2. Give brief history of the project. When was the Initial Commit version? The latest commit version?
    1. Initial commit – 20 September 2002, Latest commit – Within the last day. Continually being worked on.
  3. Who approves patches? How many people?
    1. The project leads approve patches for each project.
  4. Who has commit access, or has had patches accepted? How many total?
    1. 135 people have contributed and ~15 have commit access.
  5. Has there been any turnover in the Core Team? (i.e. has the top 20% of contributors stayed the same over time? If not, how has it changed?)
    1. No there hasn’t been a change in the core team.
  6. Does the project have a BDFL, or Lead Developer? (BDFL == Benevolent Dictator for Life)
    1. Nick Mathewson
  7. Are the front and back end developers the same people? What is the proportion of each?
    1. Yes?
  8. What have been some of the major bugs/problems/issues that have arisen during development? Who is responsible for quality control and bug repair?
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_%28anonymity_network%29#Weaknesses
  9. How is the project’s participation trending and why?
    1. Participation is trending upwards simply because of it’s popularity and the humanitarian benefits of the project.
  10. In your opinion, does the project pass “The Raptor Test?” (i.e. Would the project survive if the BDFL, or most active contributor were eaten by a Velociraptor?) Why or why not?
    1. No. 80.3% of all commits are by 2 people. 50.3% by ONE GUY.
  11. In your opinion, would the project survive if the core team, or most active 20% of contributors, were hit by a bus? Why or why not?
    1. No. 80.3% of all commits are by 2 people. 50.3% by ONE GUY.
  12. Does the project have an official “on-boarding” process in place? (new contributor guides, quickstarts, communication leads who focus specifically on newbies, etc…)
    1. https://gitweb.torproject.org/githax.git/
  13. Does the project have Documentation available? Is it extensive? Does it include code examples?
    1. See the links above.
  14. If you were going to contribute to this project, but ran into trouble or hit blockers, who would you contact, and how?
    1. #tor-dev on IRC!
  15. Based on these answers, how would you describe the decision making structure/process of this group? Is it hierarchical, consensus building, ruled by a small group, barely contained chaos, or ruled by a single or pair of individuals?
    1. Ruled by a small group for sure.
  16. Is this the kind of structure you would enjoy working in? Why, or why not?
    1. Yes, although imo more people should have commits.

Technology/Product (Section adapted from EFF Worksheet)

  1. Who invented, created, or sponsored the technology?
    1. Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson
  2. What is the technology designed to do? How is it used?
    1. Provide Internet anonymity to anyone, especially users in countries with censored Internet.
  3. Who would benefit from using this technology?
    1. Anyone who needs to avoid oppression, tracking, or needs to say or post something that, for whatever reason, cannot be tied to their real identity.
  4. What kinds of companies or organizations (stakeholders) might have been concerned about the development of this technology? Why?
    1. Mainly security companies and governments. “Why” is really an existential question and the answer lies in our society’s reliance on computers; things pertaining to security/anonymity/authentication and the circumvention of those things is of paramount interest to the security field and governments.
  5. Does/Did an aspect of copyright law play a role in controversies about the technology? How?
    1. Not really. Onions are copyright 145-66 Ma nature.

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