One of the things that the Drupal community has learned in the last few weeks is that our current governance structures aren’t working in several ways. Having spent a lot of time at DrupalCon talking about these issues I figured I share a few initial thoughts for those working on our new processes.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been part of a community that was changing how it organizes itself. In my religious life I am a Quaker, and for a long time I was a member of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting which is the regional organizing body for Quakers in the greater Philadelphia area. And I served for a time on several of their leadership committees. I’ve seen that 300+ year old group pass through at least three different governance structures, and while many of the fundamentals are the same, the details that matter to people also change a lot.
My great aunt put it into perspective during one of the long discussions about change. When my wife asked her for her opinion about a then pending proposal she responded that it didn’t matter much to her as long as it worked for those willing to take leadership roles at the moment.
So as the Drupal community grows through a process to change our leadership structure here are the things I think it is important for all of us to remember.
- It will not be perfect. We’re human, we will make mistakes, that’s okay.
- It will change again. I don’t know when or why, but whatever we do will serve us for a time, and then we’ll replace it again.
- Most of the community won’t care most of the time. Most of the time, most of us don’t notice what Dries, the Drupal Association, Community Working Group, and all the other groups that provide vision and leadership are doing.
I think we can all agree my first point is a given. I mention it mostly because some of us will find fault in anything done going forward. We should remember the people doing this work are doing the best they can and give them support to do it well.
On the plus side, whatever mistakes we make will be temporary because Drupal and its community will outlive whatever we create this time. We’ll outgrow it, get annoyed with the flaws, or just plain decide to change it again. Whatever we build needs to be designed to be changed, improved, and replaced in the future. Think about it like the clauses in the U.S. constitution designed to allow amends to the constitution itself.
Finally, we should remember that community and project governance is insider baseball. Understanding how and why we have the leadership we do is like watching a pitching duel on a rainy day, most baseball fans don’t enjoy those kinds of games. Most of our community wants to use Drupal and they don’t want to have to think about how DrupalCon, Drupal.org, and other other spaces and events are managed. That will not prevent them from complaining next time there are problems, but it is a fact of life those who do care should acknowledge.
Our community is stronger than we have been giving it credit for in the last few weeks. We need to be patient and kind with each other, and we’ll get through this and the divisions that will come in the future.