Gratitude & the Drupal Community



December 19, 2014

Core sprint at BADCampAt this time of year, a lot of people are thinking about gifts, both those that we give and receive. It is often a joyous time, although often stressful too. People come together and often reflect on what has happened in the last year, celebrate the victories and set new goals for the year ahead. We have a great deal to be thankful for and it is a time of year when we find ourselves expressing gratitute for those who have supported us and are part of our community.

I don't think we are particularly good at doing this in the Drupal community. There are tens of thousands of people who have contributed to this collaborative effort. According to the COCOMO modal, it took over 170 years of effort to produce just Drupal Core. That's nearly 10 million dollars worth of software that we use. When you consider all of the contributed modules/themes and Javascript tools that many of us are leveraging, that value is considerably higher. Most of us are also building on a LAMP stack that is also built on people giving their time, skills and ingenuity for the benefit of the whole world. People using Drupal have a lot to be grateful for!

I've been inspired by Buckminster Fuller for the last 20 years and I think he captured a critical part of what has made the Internet successful when he said that “when individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.” The Internet is built on open-source software, and so many people have been inspired by the potential of this tool for good. Drupal is one of the largest projects of community collaboration on the Internet and we have accomplished so much. I suspect that a good number of people who contribute to Drupal share a hope that by working together now we can build a better world for tomorrow.

That being said, it isn't easy to keep up with the growth of a community, and there have been a great many growing pains. A lot of attention has been paid to the delay in the release of Drupal 8, but I'm less concerned with than than I am in the support for the many Contrib modules which we all use. Drupal strives to have a small Core which then is leveraged effectively by contributed modules, but many of those modules just simply haven't been given the love that they need. This isn't an criticism of the maintainers, it's hard work and there are next to no rewards for doing it. It takes a lot to put out a module on, maintaining it is even more difficult! Ultimately, all of the code and documentation on could use more skilled contributors.

I decided earlier in the month to start tweeting to raise awareness of those popular modules which are asking for help (Seeking Co-maintainer & Seeking New Maintainer). There are a lot, even if you just look at the most popular modules used on I have had quite a few RT's, and I think there's even been some movement to get new people contributing because of my small effort to echo these requests from projects.

I would like to thank the module maintainers who got these projects as far as they have. These modules are being used by hundreds of thousands of sites and benefit millions of people. I do think it should be easier to thank those people and businesses who have contributed to Drupal, particularly those who have helped in the past year. Sadly, it isn't easy to do this.

I reached out to Donna Benjamin about ways that the Drupal Association could be thanking contributors to and ultimately, this article is the result. I really think as a community we need to make the time to thank our contriburtors. The easiest place to begin is with the Core Contributors as thanks to , there is a nice script to gather together the top Core contributors based on mentions in the Git logs. There are lots of problems with this approach, but it is easy to quantify. Some of the top contributors include Daniel Wehner, Daniel Kudwien, Sascha Grossenbacher, Damian Lee, Alex Pott, xjm, Wim Leers, Gábor Hojtsy, chx, Andy Postnikov, Lee Rowlan, Kristof De Jaeger, VijayaChandran Mani, Andrei Mateescu, Yves Chedemois, and Cathy YesCT. These are just some of the 2510 people who have contributed to Core. I don't know who contributed in 2014, but as a community we really should thank them. These are all people who have contributed a lot of their lives to making our community whole better.

Looking at the module usage on it is easy to see an even broader community of people who have given back. People who probably mostly get complaints in their issue queue if they get anything at all. There are a lot of folks who contribute to both, but to not repeat names, I'd suggest we all owe thanks to people like Earl Miles, Dave Reid, Greg Knaddison, Wolfgang Ziegler, Jeff Eaton, Sebastian Siemssen, Peter Lieverdink, Karen Stevenson, Nathan Haug, Henrik Danielsson, Mike Carter, Eric Duran, Rob Loach, Hai-Nam Nguyen, John C Fiala, Ronan Dowling, Brian Gilbert, Fabiano Sant'Ana, Sam Boyer, and Jakob Perry. This really doesn't even scratch the surface of the most popular contributors. It would be possible to find out who has contributed lately, but it's really not easy.

There are of course folks like Dries and Angie Byron who are regularly acknowledged, but probably not regularly enough. There is the team at the Drupal association who are doing a very difficult job, Holly Ross has taken on an increadibly hard role as a cat herder and is making progress. I almost forgot about mentioning the Board of Directors, some of which not already mentioned here include Jeff Walpole, Matthew Saunders, Vesa Palmu, and Tiffany Farriss. There are also community leaders like Jennifer Hodgdon who find lots of great ways to contribute. There are also great community leaders around the world that are organizing meetups and bringing together enthusiasts to share with each other, I'm not sure if a list of these people exists anywhere, but I'd like to particularly thank the efforts of Mathew Winstone here in Ottawa.

So much effort has gone into as well, not that any of these people focus all of their efforts on this level of contribution, but Bojhan Somers, Roy Scholten, Rachel Lawson, Mark Carver, David Hernandez, Ivan Boothe, David Hochhausen, and of course Neil Drumm deserve a lot of recognition for their work to improve the infrastructure which runs our community.

We can't forget about the companies that contribute. Acquia's at the top of the list, but there are many, many more. Tag1 Consulting, PreviousNext, Capgemini, Lullabot, Nascom, Digital Echidna, Commerce Guys, Myplanet, Cocomore AG,, Advomatic, have staff who give a great deal to the community, and of course OpenConcept does too.

In our society it takes a lot of courage to ask for help. I think the Drupal community would be a lot stronger if we could learn to actively ask new people and corporations to give back. To pull out another Buckminster quote, "You don't know how much you have to give until you start trying to give. The more you try to give effectively to advantage others, the more you will possess to give, and vice versa." So let's start asking more people to give back to the community and let's start thanking those that already do. Each of the links above is to a twitter account, please reach out to some of the people above this holiday season and thank people who are giving back. By actively recognizing those people and organizations we will help encourage that pattern in others.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.

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