Importance of contributing to the Drupal community
Not enough people understand and/or realize the importance of contributing to the Drupal community. My last blog post discussed my hope of finding ways to help sustain my commitment and contribution to the Drupal community and ended by stating…
The question is not should you contribute to open source but how can you contribute.
Convincing people that they need to contribute
The challenge is convincing people and organizations that they need to contribute to Open Source. Funding is an ongoing challenge for the Drupal community The problem could be that people don't understand the importance and value of contributing back to Open Source.
Nowhere in Drupal's user interface/experience is our community and Drupal Association promoted and/or acknowledged. Core maintainers are only included in the MAINTAINERS.txt file, which only fellow developers can access. Drupal is not a product that can to be sold but we are a community with an association that needs recognition, support, and contributions.
The Drupal Association is the backbone of the community and everyone needs to be member.
It’s surprising how many people and organizations are asking for support in the Webform module's issue queue who are not members of the Drupal Association. As another experiment, I thought of my top 10 list of showcase Drupal websites and most of them are not members of the Drupal Association. These are large enterprise websites that are not paying a few hundred dollars annual membership fee to help maintain the software and community that they depend on. And if we can't get a developer or company to pay a small membership fee, how are we going to show them the value of contributing to Drupal and/or funding core or contrib development?
Encouraging individuals and organizations to join the Drupal community
Introducing the Contribute module
The Contribute module’s project page provides a complete explanation of the module’s goals and purpose. I wanted to isolate the concept of everyone contributing back to Drupal into a dedicated module because this is not just a Webform specific challenge. I think it’s important to emphasize that other modules can also depend on the Contribute module. Frankly, if some of Drupal's top 40 modules were to add the Contribute module as a dependency, it would clearly acknowledge the overall desire to change the Drupal user's mindset when it comes to contributing back to Drupal. It’s very important for me to point out that the Drupal community is not the few thousand developers and companies who contribute and value Drupal; our community is the one million sites using Drupal.
Preaching to the choir
This blog post is "preaching to the choir" because we are all active and caring members of the Drupal and Open Source community. However, we need to take it a step further. We must look beyond our code and talk to the people who are actually using our software. For Drupal and Open Source to succeed, everyone needs to contribute back to the community - we need to reach out to these users and organizations and communicate that their participation is not only welcomed, but vital and necessary.
Creating code before the discussion
Instead of discussing this idea extensively, I decided to just go for it. At the same time, I have been asking every single person I know to provide feedback. The general consensus is that the Contribute module is not going to offend anyone, but nobody can say if it can succeed in changing our community’s mindset. I don’t know the answer either but I do know that I want to ask the question, that I do want hear what others have to say and so I started this discussion using my best tool; thought out, clean, and simple open source Drupal project called the "Contribute module."
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.