Who Rules Drupal?

Twitter+_+Matt+Farina_+OH_+_Rule+by+those+who+hav+....png When I posted this tweet I had no idea the firestorm it would set off. This came in twitter and IRC with messages of from people who were supportive and extremely upset and angry.

An Apology

Achievement.aspx+(422×77).pngUnfortunately my tweet hurt some feelings. For that I want to say I'm sorry. That was not my intent. There are a number of very hard working people who do good work for Drupal and put in lots of hours. They are appreciated and I'm sorry that my tweet made them feel otherwise.


Drupal is a "Do-ocracy". That means it's about the people who do a lot of work. In some ways this can be a very good thing. People who do a lot of work get ownership in that work. We count commits, we hold up how many core contributions a person has, and so forth.

In some ways this has created a problem. Not everything that’s good for the community or the software has to do with writing code or contributing to a particular issue.

In our Do-ocracy we tend to undervalue expertise. When this is typically brought up in my presence the conversation turns to a CS degree and people who have them vs people who don’t. That is not what I mean. I’m talking about expertise which is different. For example, I have a friend who is a highly sought after RF engineer. He has no formal degree in it. He spent 20 years repairing RF systems. Then he worked for an RF engineering company and worked his way up the ranks. After 30 years he knows RF systems better than most and is highly soft after.

In his job he regularly doesn’t spend a lot of time on one project digging in anymore. Instead he consults on numerous projects and owns some projects by leading a team. His work has shifted because he is an expert.

People like this are not held up in the Drupal community. I’ve seen a number of times where experts offer their help and it’s not taken. Or its taken and we don’t value it. There are a number of experts that we have alienated at one time or another. This is a problem.

Subsystem Maintainers vs Expertise

We should note that I'm not talking about subsystem maintainers within Drupal. They are people who put in a lot of work. They are some of the doers. Someone can be an expert in how a subsystem works but not an expert in the web community at large on the topic. For example, someone can be an expert on the database layer but not an expert on databases and SQL.


In addition to being a "Do-ocracy" we are a "Code-ocracy". While we have issues valuing expertise we also don't value contributions other than code very well. For example mrf noted "...its painful to blow a weekend writing something just to be torn down by someone with only the time to write a comment." It's also painful to put time into creating a design or architecture, working through the all the ins and outs, doing testing, and creating something great that can be put into code but is ignored, bastardized, or given little value. We do this.

An Example

I love examples outside the world of software. For example, lets look at bridge building. We have people who have expertise in bridge building. People who know how to make is structurally sound for the intended traffic. People who know how to make it look good. But, we leave how the bridge should look and be built to the people pouring the concrete and laying the cable. Even when we go to the architects and experts we often don't listen and go in a different direction.

This doesn’t work in bridges and is proving to be problematic in building our software.