Home / Clay Shirky on growing the Drupal community

Clay Shirky on growing the Drupal community

I am at Web2Open and participating in the rapid fire question and answer session. Clay Shirky, Web 2.0 keynote speaker, and author of "Here comes everybody" is at my table. Clay's ideas are like poetry which leaves me struggling to even think of a topic to discuss with him.

Clay talked about emergence and best practices in community participation. He asserted that the most effective and enduring communities are those centered around intellectual property. In contrast, he noted that most communities are event driven. For example, facebook started as a Harvard college social networking site focused on the event of attending college. Event based communities are what the majority of online communities are based on. This type of community is fleeting. Clay calls the motivation for these types of communities "stop energy".

The communities that are "start energy" communities are those that are centered around intellectual property. Start communities can last a long time. The best examples of intellectual property communities are open source communities. Suddenly my brain restarts and I've got some questions for Clay.

For the last question in our round table I mention that I work on an open source project called Drupal and that we had 700 plus people contribute to the core release .." Our conversation continued as follows:

Clay: "Oh! I love Drupal, we use it at ITP." He then asks if he can have one of my Darth Drupal stickers, which he grabs and puts on his badge.

Kieran: "So we had 9000 people participate in the project last year and I'd like to grow the amount of contributors."

Clay: (Animatedly grabs paper and pen and paper in the middle of the table. He draws the long tail graph.) Paraphrasing "The first ten percent is active Drupal contributors. How do you grow the tail? You create lots of lightweight tasks for people in the long tail to participate, tasks that can just take a minute."

Clay then goes on to talk about about a project called 10 000 cents which was an artist project to draw a 100 dollar bill. The point was to get lots of people to contribute just a little to make a whole. My take away was that we should make it easier to contribute to Drupal; this would increase the pool of significant contributors by recruiting them to participate. Let's take a look at five examples of easy contribution opportunities today:

  1. Googles GHOP program for Drupal. Small 3-5 day tasks for high school students.
  2. DROP tasks: http://drop.cwgordon.com
  3. Filing an issue in the issue queue
  4. Participating in a discussion at http://groups.drupal.org
  5. Blogging in Planet Drupal
  6. Have you got an idea for how to make it easier to participate in the Drupal project? If so, share your ideas in the Drupal.org re-design group.

Reacties

Posted on by Robert Douglass.

Translation server is lowering the cost of contributing translations.

Posted on by mcneelycorp (niet gecontroleerd).

Here's an idea. If we use Drupal to blog, why not have our blog post - post on our blog and Drupal.org? If I do a video or "how to", have my content be sent to Drupal.org into a "new outside content" queue. Have a few folks read the node queues daily and assign / categorize the content as needed. That might be the wrong way to do this. The goal is to have everyone writing about Drupal be able to push that content to Drupal with ease. I know this is done through RSS and Drupal planet, but it should be extended somehow. On my end maybe I can have a way to organize my content and for Drupal.org as well. For IE, if I am writing about imagecache not working correctly, I can write about my issue / solution. Once published it will show on my blog and inside the "queue" for the imagecache issues as well. Hope that makes sense.

Here is another to keep us more "glued". I read posts from Drupal planet daily. Many do. Sometimes I comment to another comment or to the post. Doing that for one week, you may not remember who's site you commented on. We (the com mentor) need a way to be contacted to let us know someone commented to our comment OR just to keep track of where all we commented. Most of the folks publishing to Drupal planet use Drupal, so it should not be difficult to "glue" us together with regards to comments. In the end I think this would keep the community more communal and working together.

I definitely think smaller tasks is a good idea. I also think if Drupal.org knew what my interests were, it could throw me some "suggested" content or users who share my "drupal interest". Getting more social I know but it is about connecting us to create an opportunity to work together - on the same things we enjoy about Drupal.

Thanks for sharing Kieran.

Posted on by Josiah (niet gecontroleerd).

I'm relatively new to Drupal development. I've found it hard to pick out easy, low effort tasks that I'm able to accomplish quickly and learn something about drupal. So far, I've looked for really small modules and put some effort into getting them patched toward D6 compatibility.

I've been involved in the GNOME community's bugzilla a bit and found something interesting that Drupal may benefit from. They have a bug tag they call "gnome-love" which means the bug should be a relatively easy thing to fix and is an easy way to get involved quickly.

I really don't like the name of the tag. It doesn't describe its purpose so I ended up not knowing what it meant for a long time and it wasn't used effectively. Perhaps re-thinking the name for Drupal would make it effective.

The beautiful part about the bugzilla tag is that I could produce a link to a search of bugzilla that showed all the "gnome-love" tagged bugs on a specific project, branch and status without patches already applied so that newbies could pop into base documentation, see the link and immediately see opportunities to patch something quickly.

Like I said, the real sticking point I had was getting bugs marked appropriately. I think the Drupal community (as opposed to the small gnome project I was working on) is big enough that this would be doable.

Perhaps there could even be steps of difficulty tagged. I'd appreciate that a lot so I'd have an expectation of how deeply I'm getting my head in. :-)

Posted on by John Forsythe (niet gecontroleerd).

The book is called "Here Comes Everybody" not "Here Comes Everyone" ;)

Posted on by Kieran Lal.

Thanks John! Corrected.

Posted on by Robert Douglass.

I just finished reading "Here Comes Everybody" and enjoyed it quite a bit. I also gave it to my father for his birthday, telling him "if you want to understand the world I operate in, read this book".