[development] #drupal and #drupal-contribute split (Was: Re: Proposal: Move all dev support off this list to new StackExchange site)

Angela Byron drupal-devel at webchick.net
Sat Mar 19 18:45:17 UTC 2011

On 2011-03-19, at 1:13 AM, Gábor Hojtsy wrote:

> On Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 8:49 PM, Angela Byron <drupal-devel at webchick.net> wrote:
>> We've repeated this "retreat into our shell" pattern over and over again.
>> IRC (#drupal -> #drupal-contribute), mailing lists (development ->
>> groups/issue queues), the forums (issue queues). What we're left with now is
>> an entire "generation" of Drupal users who think Drupal.org is a place to
>> *consume*, not a place to *participate*.
>> In the end, I have absolutely no idea where Drupal 9 core/contrib developers
>> are going to come from. And that is absolutely terrifying.
>> And, fwiw, I "called" this inevitable outcome back in 2009 when this shift
>> was proposed: http://drupal.org/node/634486#comment-2272630 Bleh. :(
> Angie, did this happen to Drupal 7? (Given many of the IRC, forum vs
> issue queue, etc. migration happened considerable time ago) I've seen
> lots of new faces contributing to Drupal 7, and it seemed to follow
> the natural way of progression as Drupal 5 and Drupal 6 went. Some
> people keep being in the top list and totally new faces come in,
> who've not even contributed to the previous version, or barely did so.
> If these "siloifications" did not have a clear effect so far, how do
> you expect them to kick in for Drupal 9?

Yes, this *absolutely* happened with D7. It was an *incredibly* small "core" group of < 20-30 people who resulted in Drupal 7 ever actually shipping. Post-code freeze, which more-or-less coincided with this IRC policy change, I can think of only a small handful of new contributors who came on board who were not already involved previously.

Now, since there's really no way to quantify data around this, it's difficult to say what percentage of this lack of contributors phenomenon was related to this policy change, what was the "post-code freeze blues", how much of it is steeper requirements to get a core patch in (e.g. tests, subsystem maintainer sign-off), how much of it is the fact that certain members of our community were paid to care about bugs (e.g. Acquians and Examiner.comians) and others weren't, or what exactly the breakdown there was. I'm sure all of these, and more, were factors.

But "not have a clear effect so far"? The *freaking rolling of 7.0* happened in such a silo, with not even a peep about it in the main IRC channel, for crying out loud! How much more "us" vs. "them" can you possibly get? :(

> I think there are all kinds of levels of access now. There are people
> who come and participate (contribute) at Drupalcons, then the
> Drupalcamps, then the meetups, then the issue queues, then forums,
> then the lurkers who just consume information. The community grew big
> and there are just too many avenues to contribute and participate.

Bear in mind that IRC is a very special medium, though. It's far more "social" than Drupal.org is, and really the only chance you get to see the "human" side of the "rockstars" in the community outside of DrupalCons, which most of our community can't attend. I  would definitely not be here if it weren't or IRC, and I imagine there are others who'd agree. There are also others who'd say IRC is a colossal waste of time, and that's fair, too. ;)

> For a really small village school, all children are taught in one
> class room together, even their ages are spanning multiple years, and
> there is one teacher. As the village grows, the classes grow and it
> becomes impossible to fit all kids in one room and for one teacher to
> guide them. Then come multiple classes, one for each year, and subject
> expert teachers. Once the classes grew big again, then comes multiple
> classes even for the same year, and teachers become so numerous that
> you need to manage them too.
> For kids, which classes they take and who gonna be their teacher is
> not a matter of choice, its well defined. In Drupal's case, "our kids"
> maybe even don't know where they need to learn or where they need help
> vs. where can they be teachers and guiders. I think we merely need
> better ways to help people get to the right place, not to unify all
> places and get everyone in a biiiig hallway, where it becomes a mess
> and impossible to guide people to the right place.
> Just imagine every event of a Drupalcon happening in the keynote room.
> Since, ... you know ..., everybody can fit there, the keynotes proved
> it. Does that make it easier to help people find each other and make
> progress?

So, I feel like my main point is being misconstrued here.

It's not the creation of separate channels for focused discussion that I think will ultimately be our demise. You're right that this is a pretty standard method of scaling out discussions. Rather, I think we're all ultimately screwed because:

* we shoved our *freaking contributors* into a such a silo and made their efforts a mere "topical" channel. They used to be the front-and-center of our community. Now *consumers*, rather than *participants*, are front-and-center of our community.

* there's an utter lack of cross-over, in both directions. People in #drupal are not encouraged to join #drupal-contribute, because people in #drupal-contribute don't come into #drupal anymore and talk about cool stuff they're working on, which would naturally help to pull them in. You have to be "in the know" about the separate channel to see what our innovators are doing and to join them.

* the people who set the tone, carry the fundamental cultural values of our community, are all hidden off to the sidelines out of main public view. The image at http://webchick.net/node/9 that describes my first 5 minutes in #drupal is often quoted out of context (which is incredibly irritating). But *in* context, that experience taught me *a lot* about the culture of the Drupal community: that we value "doers" over "takers"; that we value mentorship and collaboration and solving problems together over striking it out alone; that there's a squishy human side to those "rockstar" names I'd seen everywhere. It fundamentally shaped my interactions with the community afterwards, and ultimately shaped the direction of my entire life.

So when the current crop of contributors have all either burnt out or moved on, where will our new ones come from? And what cultural values and expectations will *they* bring to the table, since none of us were there to pass down ours? Those are the questions that I think we all should be wrestling with, and I don't have a good answer.


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