Have you heard about Drupal’s Community Working Group?

In early 2013 our fearless and benevolent leader, Dries Buytaert, formalised a governance structure and started a number of working groups for the Drupal project as a whole, and for our home on the Web, Drupal.org.

Governance Structure Diagram

The Community Working Group's job is to "Guarantee a friendly and welcoming community for the Drupal project by upholding the Drupal Code of Conduct."

In 2012 Randy Fay, a longtime and significant contributor to the Drupal project, wrote a series of blog posts articulating some of the challenges of informal governance structures like ours. If you really want to know the full story behind the creation of the community working group, you should start with Randy’s blog, as well as this proposal that came out of a governance sprint held in July that year.

The aim of putting this governance structure in place is to help the Drupal community deal with the challenges of scale. Formalising roles and teams that already exist in the project supports the work of contributors "doing" in the do-ocracy, and provides more support to those people already actively engaged in community issues.

Dries asked Angela Byron, Roel de Meester, George DeMet and myself to form the first Community Working Group.

Angela Byron Angela is a long-time "cat herder" in the Drupal community who frequently gets drawn into a conflict resolver role and has helped the community through some "meaty" topics such as the CVS to Git migration, and five major Drupal core releases.

Roel De Meester Once upon a time, Dries asked him to look after Drupal.be, The Belgium community website. Nowadays, he's interested in connecting people and ensuring that new members find their way in the community. He's known for his no-nonsense approach and collaborative nature.

George DeMet George is a Drupal Association Advisory Board Member, chair of the Drupal.org Content Working Group, co-chair of DrupalCon Chicago, and one of the folks who helped develop the DrupalCon Code of Conduct.

Donna Benjamin and Me? I was one of the first people elected to the board of the rebooted Drupal Association and I'm really passionate about the non-code aspects of maintaining an open source community.

DrupalCon Prague was a milestone for the group. Lisa Welchman gave a keynote address on the importance of governance for communities like ours. Some people came away from her talk scratching their heads and asking questions.

Why is this relevant to a software project like ours?

In essence Lisa Welchman reminded us that there is no code without people. It is the people, and not the code that define the Drupal community. We have good processes for managing the development and quality of our code. We still don’t have great processes for how we support and acknowledge people and their contributions.

Lisa spoke about a giant fungus as a good analogy for web governance, but also for an open source community like ours. She asked "How do you grow something to be big, that maintains its integrity and maintains its identity?" Lisa suggests that standards and a stable environment are key.

For our code we have coding standards. For our community, we have a code of conduct. That code of conduct represents the foundation of our social standards.

[Photo: Amazee Labs]

In Prague we also held the first Drupal Community Summit. A group gathered to focus on how we might tackle building a conflict resolution policies and processes for the Drupal community. Could we create something flexible enough to apply to all the kinds of conflict we see in our community? How can we acknowledge that conflict itself can be a good thing? We explored questions like these and listed the sorts of conflicts we might need to handle. https://drupal.org/node/2116441

The community summit was a great success, so we'll be doing it again at DrupalCon Austin. https://austin2014.drupal.org/community-summit

[Photo: Amazee Labs]

I'll write a series of follow up articles about our ongoing efforts to define, refine and field-test policies and processes on how the community can deal with conflict and complaints.

We can't do this work alone. We need a team of people willing to help. Many people are already doing this kind of "work" in our community, if you are, please let us know! Or maybe you're doing it and don't realise you are.

If you are someone people look to to smooth things over when things get heated, or someone with experience in conflict resolution outside open source communities, then please get in touch with the Community Working Group. Tell us

  • What are you doing?
  • How can we support you?
  • How can we amplify your effort and successes?
  • How can we improve?

This is Drupal, so of course we have an issue queue!
https://drupal.org/project/drupal-cwg

We also have a discrete incident report form only seen by members of the community working group.
https://drupal.org/governance/community-working-group/incident-report

Please look through our issue backlog. We’re looking for people willing to help us mediate disputes, formulate and refine community policies, and look for ways to build a community culture we can all be proud of.

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