[development] Drupal administration survey draft based on 10 interviews

Evan Leeson evan at blurt.info
Thu Aug 10 00:16:59 UTC 2006

On Aug 9, 2006, at 12:12 PM, Boris Mann wrote:

> On 9-Aug-06, at 11:48 AM, Kieran Lal wrote:
>> On Aug 9, 2006, at 10:00 AM, Dries Buytaert wrote:
>>> Thanks for doing this work, Kieran!  It's important.  I do have  
>>> some questions though:
>>> On 09 Aug 2006, at 04:54, Kieran Lal wrote:
>>>> 	Non-technical user developing community or social change web  
>>>> site forced to become "accidental technologist"
>>> Does it matter what the user is developing?  Maybe the following  
>>> is sufficient:
>>>   Non-technical user forced to become "accidental technologist"
>> Yes it matters a lot.  If you want to build an online community or  
>> social change website you are going to end up being recommended to  
>> use Drupal.  Drupal's community knowledge extends beyond just CMS  
>> development but is now a expert community in online community  
>> building and social change websites.   This is important to know  
>> because this growing user base has certain expectations and  
>> goals.   This was clear from the interviews, maybe 4+/10 people  
>> fell into this category.  We need to get a sense of how many  
>> Drupal sites are falling into this domain.
> So...then add that as another category. You may be an accidental  
> technologist building things for a death metal band. I suspect a  
> lot of the folks you interact with fall into the social change  
> category...and I agree it is important to capture.
> However, another huge category is "HTML Website developer adopting  
> a CMS platform" or "Process consultant learning to us collaborative  
> tools" (the former is more technical in terms of web stuff, the  
> latter is less technical).

I'm going to put in my 2c since it was my answers that partially  
started this discussion.

There is a pretty clear distinction between "online community" and  
"social change website". An online community has a feature set that  
is only partially coincidental with a social change or campaign  
website. An online community may have no social objective other than  
recreation. I'm thinking of sites like Flikr and MySpace. Social  
change websites are campaign-oriented, but often need to leverage a  
community. Therefore, quite often when building a social change/ 
campaign website one must first be able to capture, communicate with  
and empower a community of support, and therefore the same set of  
solutions that underpin community websites are a necessary condition  
for some successful social change/campaign websites.

I would therefore say that Drupal in its essence (its core) is  
inherently suitable for online communities. It is vigorous activity  
in the contributions/distributions community (which has inflected  
back toward the core via the excellent CivicSpace team) that has  
driven Drupal's uptake in the realm of social change and campaigns.  
There are other burgeoning organic contrib communities there as well,  
either overtly or in nascent form, around music, publishing and other  

IMHO it is critical for the health of Drupal that it continue to  
support the core functionality that its organic contrib/distrib  
communities depend on. Branding is another matter. "Online Community"  
is a safe brand for Drupal, and it is reflected in the "community  
plumbing" slogan. It is neutral and unencumbered (with the exception  
of some of the bad press MySpace has gotten) "Social Change/campaign  
websites" is a brand that should be driven by the contrib/distro  
community, given that it considerably narrows the scope of  
opportunity for Drupal, and inherits all the baggage of the highly  
polarized political climate (at least in North America).

"Online community" and "social change/capaign website" should be  
distinct areas of concern/inquiry, since one is an order of magnitude  
removed from the other.

evan (who realizes that, as new guy, he's probably just gone around  
some old blocks)

>>> I don't understand how this answers above question.  Whether the  
>>> Drupal community innovates shouldn't be of concern to users of,  
>>> say, twit.tv.
>> Many communities are limited by the commercial constraints of  
>> their community tools.  For example, yahoo groups feature set  
>> hasn't changed much in 5 years.  Users know that with Drupal they  
>> get more features faster to better meet their needs.  For  
>> commercial communities like Twit this doesn't make much of a  
>> difference.  But for more grassroots communities we are seeing a  
>> tipping point. "Go with Drupal they have the best and newest  
>> community stuff! "
> And not just community stuff. Consultants (especially non-developer  
> consultants) can pick Drupal and become experts at the modules  
> available...the availability of configurable, themeable, well- 
> written modules that perform a wide variety of things means they  
> can deliver more functional websites at lower cost. Picking Drupal  
> means always having well-written cutting edge options available.  
> Client: "Hey, I heard new standard X came out...can we do that?"  
> Consultant: "Why yes, the pants module implemented standard X just  
> last week!"

More information about the development mailing list