Drupal Association

Why I'm voting for whom I'm voting for in the Drupal Association election

old voting machine

For those who don't know: I served on the DA Board in 2010-2011, and was on the Governance Committee that developed the new structures. Before that I was in the General Assembly. I'm currently on the Advisory Board.

But I share my opinions here as a long-time member of the Drupal community who cares about the future of Drupal.

Criteria: more than good intentions

Last year, the Nominating Committee (on which I served) considered many aspects when evaluating potential candidates for the Drupal Association Board, including (in no particular order):

  • Skill sets. (We needed people with diverse areas of expertise, be it financial, legal, organizational....)
  • Competence in their field. (We wanted A players.)
  • Industry. (We did not want to have a Board comprised of mostly Drupal consultants, for example. Given that consultants as a whole tend to be more active in Drupal than others, this is an issue we will always face. Even so, the perspectives of various sectors are valuable — government, publishing, education, not-for-profit, corporate, etc.)
  • Company. (We had a rule that we didn't want any one company represented by more than one Board member. This eliminated a handful of otherwise very qualified candidates. We made an "exception" with Angie Byron, because of her fabulous community leadership and because Dries, under the Bylaws, automatically has a seat on the Board.)
  • Geographic diversity. (We knew we had to reach out worldwide. This made for a challenge, because of the greater travel requirements that come from having Board members scattered across the globe, but considered it worth trying.)
  • Drupal Ecosystem. (We wanted the various perspectives of the members of our community: volunteers, small shops, large shops, large integrators, in-house teams, designers, end-users, etc.)
  • Outside perspectives. (We needed to reach outside of our own Drupal echo chamber so we could draw upon knowledge and expertise from, e.g., other FOSS organizations who faced similar challenges already.)

I am looking at the same things when considering the nominees who have put up their names for at-large Board members in 2013, but here are a few criteria that, for me, weigh higher than the others this year:

  • Skill sets and expertise. And in this, I mean awesome track record, not impressive resumes. Whether elected by the community or recruited through the Nominating Committee process, all of our Board members need to be A-players, not well-meaning B- or C-players. We should expect nothing but excellence from our elected Directors.
  • Geographic diversity. The DA is clearly still very heavily weighted towards a North American perspective. To me, the long-term viability of the Drupal Association depends upon geographic diversity of its decision makers, and right now I feel non-North American voices are needed. We're a global community, but how that's reflected in the DA Board is ... incomplete. I'm looking at non-North American candidates first.

However, with all that said, criteria for selection are only half of the equation. It behooves us all to consider....

The business of the Drupal Association

I feel it's best if those of us voting consider what the Drupal Association is doing, and what very real challenges the Board faces, before weighing the candidates to the above criteria (or whatever criteria you bring to bear). Here are just a few items.

What is DrupalCon to you?


Yesterday, we had a Drupal Association Board Meeting to discuss upcoming DrupalCons. The meeting ran very long as we discussed and debated what criteria we should consider in selecting cities for DrupalCons in 2012, 2013 and beyond. Passions ran hot at times as we hashed out our thoughts on our evolving process for making these decisions.

  • What is the purpose of DrupalCon?
  • What components make for a great DrupalCon?
  • What factors play into selecting a city for throwing a majorly successful DrupalCon?

In the end, I feel that we made a lot of progress in this meeting. This post is not a debrief of this meeting, though, but rather is a collection of some of my own thoughts about DrupalCon, shared as a member of the Drupal community.

Growing presents challenges

As Drupal continues to grow so quickly, the Drupal Association has been working hard to adapt. The community is many times larger than when I joined it over 6 years ago, even since when the Drupal Association launched in 2006.

  • Members on Drupal.org are now over 1 million 515784. [I stand corrected. User id's are over 1000000, but many accounts have withered, were never used after registration, or turned out to be spammers who were blocked. And since about uid 600000 the uid numbers have been incremented by 5 2, not 1. Even so, that's a lot more than when I first joined.]
  • There are more Drupal Meetups happening around the world ... and many meetups are growing in size.
  • Drupal Camps in various cities are proliferating and growing. Many are now bigger than DrupalCons were just a few years ago.

No question: People want their Drupal, and they want their Drupal events.

Worldwide there are all kinds of Drupal community events of all sizes. For the Drupal Association, we've decided to focus our attention (for now) just on DrupalCons, as they are the most challenging to pull off, most expensive to produce, and are the only Drupal events that are primarily international in nature. Who else but the Drupal Association is in a position to produce DrupalCons?

(We've been testing ways to support regional Drupal Camps, and are looking for ways to help support Drupal Meetups, code sprints, hackathons, and other smaller community events that help people get better at Drupal and get more involved in the Drupal community. More on that in 2011....)

On the Drupal Association Board, I think we're all in general agreement that DrupalCon is about serving the Drupal community. But what that phrase "serving the Drupal Community" actually means can differ, depending upon whom you ask. Each of us on the Board has his or her own idea. This is what we ended up discussing in great depth — or as much as could be covered in 6 hours.

But difference of opinion about DrupalCon mirrors the diversity of the greater Drupal community. Indeed, yesterday, as word of our discussion got out, some people began tweeting thoughts and attitudes about DrupalCons. (I'm not going to try to characterize those tweets, or the thoughts of anyone else. We all have our own ideas. Perhaps you will share your own thoughts in comments below?)

It's about the community

Drupal is fabulously powerful software, no question. The ways it can be used to build quickly all kinds of powerful websites and web apps that otherwise would require potentially tens of thousands of programming hours to get off the ground make Drupal extremely appealing to businesses and individuals alike. I'm simply thrilled by the success Drupal has enjoyed in the online world, and delight being able to draw upon Drupal for solutions to challenges I face every day at work at PINGV Creative.

In very good company

Yesterday were the elections for the Drupal Association, and much to my surprise and excitement, I was one of eleven new permanent members elected to the General Assembly. I say "excitement" because I'm now more involved in the day-to-day activities of the Drupal Association -- not that I wasn't or couldn't be involved before. And I say "surprise" because there were 57 applicants, many of whom are community members I much admire and respect.

We all sat in an IRC chatroom while the existing Permanent Members discussed and voted on our applications. We were chatting nervously -- you had to almost speed-read to keep up with the chatter. What was happening in deliberations? We had no idea.

Board Member Angie Byron writes:

Trying to decide on where to set the bar for people who want to join the ranks of the Drupal Association was quite a harrowing experience. Permanent members are, well, permanent... unless they either resign or 2/3 of the existing members vote them out, which is likely to only happen in the event of some major drama. They can change the statutes (the legal binding documents) guiding the Drupal Association. They can remove Board of Directors members (and other permanent members). It's a lot of trust to place in individuals, and so we needed to make sure we chose very carefully...

All I can say is it could not have been easy.

Board Member Boris Mann notes:

My main piece of feedback for all applicants and community members is that being a Permanent Member just means more work.

Angie adds:

The down side is that the results obviously are missing a lot of people, too. They're missing new folks, as well as various as-yet "under the radar" folks, or hard-working, diligent folks who've been a little too timid to wade the community waters so far. They're missing folks from places like India and South America, who can't easily get to Drupalcons to meet the rest of us, and folks who don't speak English fluently. They're missing several people on the business/law/marketing side of things, whose important talents we as an organization are definitely lacking. I think that over time, however, as we further build our ranks of rock-solid demonstrated contributors, we'll be a little more comfortable taking calculated risks on these types of folks.

But to those people who didn't make it to the list, I highly urge you: don't get discouraged; get involved! If you wanted to help spread word about Drupal in your local community, do that! And post back to groups.drupal.org talking about your success, and work with other folks organizing local community events to help share best practices. If you wanted to help with marketing, do that! Collaborate with members of the Association to come up with ways to increase Drupal's profile.

Getting involved means you raise your profile in the community, along with your evidence of community contribution, which helps Drupal Association members become a lot less nervous about voting for you. And getting really involved makes your choice a no-brainer. :)

Along with everyone else, I am truly grateful to all the applicants for showing such dedication and interest in joining the Drupal Association. We have a really great community!

What is the Drupal Association? Khalid Baheyeldin offers a straightforward description:


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