On rating Drupal modules ... where
Harry Slaughter recognizes the need for some sort of evaluation system for the huge number of Drupal modules available on Drupal.org. However, I feel he gets the diagnosis wrong.
As far as I can tell, the primary reason for not having a rating system for modules is fear. Module developers in particular are concerned with the fairness of ratings. They are concerned with "gaming" of ratings. They are concerned that inexperienced or "dumb" end users may unfairly give a bad review of a module simply because they don't understand how to use it. These are all reasonable concerns. But they are concerns shared by other OSS projects as well. Sure you will see "bad" reviews, giving a module the lowest possible rating along with some inane review such as "tis modules sukcs BEWARES" :) But who cares, it's just noise that will be drowned out by valid reviews. It works for other OSS projects, and it can work for Drupal.
It's not fear, it's time and energy. Configuring ratings on Drupal.org takes work -- volunteer work, so far. Regarding ratings, it's also a matter of figuring out the proper metrics for evaluating a module. Some measures that come to mind immediately include scalability, ease of use, ease of administration, extensibility (interaction with other modules), as well as aggregated metrics of the status of issues (how long they're open, how many, etc.), number of downloads....
How do you measure that with basic ratings? It's not so easy. Even the architecture and business logic of a ratings system has to be well thought out.
I feel Harry also gets the remedy wrong:
John Forsythe has released what I believe is the first site dedicated to rating and reviewing Drupal modules drupalmodules.com. No doubt this site will be a source of controversy as developers voice their concerns. But we need this resource now.
I encourage my entire audience (hi, mom!) to register at drupalmodules.com and to submit reviews for both your favorite and most hated Drupal contributions. This is a great way for non-techies to contribute to the community. The site is young, and there is naturally a shortage of ratings on the site now, but that will change as the site brings on more users.
Maybe this database will eventually make its way to Drupal.org. For now we can show our support for this type of system by helping build out the database at drupalmodules.com.
I don't think private metrics efforts will get imported into Drupal.org, for risk of skewing the results. And I feel there's some downside to splitting community dialogue into disparate sites scattered around the web. I suppose perhaps it's inevitable -- "scratch your own itch" and all -- but my preference is for Drupal.org-focused efforts.
We're having open discussions about redesigning Drupal.org on groups.drupal.org/drupal-org-redesign-analysis, including implementation of some ratings system.
I've signed on, as have a number of others. While stop-gap sites that fork and fragment module discussions may have some value to some, I feel we benefit most from gathering the resources of the full community. Rather than build out a remote pantry, let's fix up our own kitchen. Drupal.org is our collective home. Redesign is a lot of work. But as Jack Aubrey would say, "Well, then, there's not a moment to lose!"
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