I hate the title of this blog post because "putting my foot down" means that I am frustrated and need to make a statement about sustainability in the Webform module's issue queue. The clown feet represent the two emotions that I feel with regard to maintaining the Webform module. I love helping individuals and organizations in the Drupal community, this interaction makes me happy, but I am frustrated that my work is no longer sustainable, and that makes me sad.
The Webform module and Drupal are free to use, but the time and effort we collectively spend triaging issues, answering support requests, fixing bugs, and adding new features, is not free. Everyone needs to contribute something back to the Drupal community if we want our collaboration to succeed. This is especially so if someone wants help and assistance in the Webform module's issue queue. It is time to clearly state this requirement in the Webform module's issue queue to sustain our collaboration.
I recently updated the Webform module's project page to include several ways to get involved, fund development, join the Drupal Association, or hire me for professional support. I can no longer accept that someone can't do one of the above. If someone has limited financial means, they can request a free membership to the Drupal Association. Better yet, that can earn a committed credit by helping with documentation or by reviewing a patch.
Contributing nothing to Drupal is no longer acceptable.
Addressing the free-rider problem in Webform module's issue queue
Many blog posts, including a few of my own, discuss the sustainability challenges around open source projects. Right now, I need to solve the free-rider problem in the Webform issue queue.
The free-rider problem is a type of market failure that occurs when those who benefit from resources, public goods, or services of a communal nature do not pay for them (or contribute to them). -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-rider_problem
Free-riders in the Webform issue queue limit my ability to support individuals and organizations who are actively contributing to Drupal and the Webform module. To continue to sustain my work in the Drupal community, I need to be compensated. I am facing a tangible limitation to my involvement in the Drupal community, and you can read more about it in my previous blog posts.
Stopping the free-riders by making them pay their fair share
I am a born and raised New Yorker. In the 80's and 90's many people, including my teenage self, would hop the subway turnstile and become an illegal free-rider on NYC's mass transit system. At some point, the city said enough is enough and started fining and even arresting turnstile hoppers. This action scared me straight, and I started paying my fare share (pun intended). It discouraged most of the subway's free-riders, increased the MTA's revenue, and changed the NYC mass transit system, making it safer and better. In addition to getting people to pay their fare, this policy also managed to catch criminals before they entered the subway system, thus reducing crime throughout the city.
I am not for arresting anyone or criminalizing someone for not contributing to Drupal, but for the sake of our community and collaboration, we need to discourage free-riders.
Getting free-riders (aka inactive members) involved via the Webform module's issue queue
I have updated the issue queue starting message text to include the support options tryptic with the Drupal Association callout from the Webform module's project page prefixed with the below statement.
I apologize if the above message sounds negative. My goal is to be direct, realistic, and clear about needs and expectations. I am open to editorial suggestions as long as we can communicate what needs to be communicated. I’m not a fan of telling people what they should do or need to do, however, the current model isn’t sustainable and I’m looking for solutions so that I can continue being an active, meaningful contributor myself. I want to be here, I want to be a part of Drupal. And I’m seeking a solution that will allow me to do that.
The policy in the Webform module's issue queue is for someone to get the help, they need to get involved or help fund development.
Welcoming and encouraging new members
The last thing I do not want to do is be unwelcoming. We always want to encourage new members of the community. Therefore, I will continue to welcome new members, help resolve their issues, and encourage them to get involved.
I hope active members of the Drupal community understand why I feel a need to change the Webform module's issue queue policy. I look forward to collaborating and working with everyone, helping you and your organization be successful with Drupal and the Webform module. It’s something that is valuable to me and I’m hoping to change things up, explore a new way so it's worth taking on new meaning for us all.