Next steps for evolving Drupal's governance

The last time we made significant changes to our governance was 4 to 5 years ago [1, 2, 3]. It's time to evolve it more. We need to:

  • Update the governance model so governance policies and community membership decisions are not determined by me or by me alone. It is clear that the current governance structure of Drupal, which relies on me being the ultimate decision maker and spokesperson for difficult governance and community membership decisions, has reached its limits. It doesn't work for many in our community -- and frankly, it does not work for me either. I want to help drive the technical strategy and vision of Drupal, not be the arbiter of governance or interpersonal issues.
  • Review our the Code of Conduct. Many have commented that the intentions and scope of the Code of Conduct are unclear. For example, some people have asked if violations of the Code of Conduct are the only reasons for which someone might be removed from our community, whether Community Working Group decisions can be made based on actions outside of the Drupal community, or whether we need a Code of Conduct at all. These are all important questions that need clear answers.

I believe that to achieve the best outcome, we will:

  1. Organize both in-person and virtual roundtables during and after DrupalCon Baltimore to focus on gathering direct feedback from the community on evolving our governance.
  2. Refocus the 2-day meeting of the Drupal Association's Board of Directors at DrupalCon Baltimore to discuss these topics.
  3. Collect ideas in the issue queue of the Drupal Governance project. We will share a report from the roundtable discussions (point 1) and the Drupal Association Board Meeting (point 2) in the issue queue so everything is available in one place.
  4. Actively solicit help from experts on diversity, inclusion, experiences of marginalized groups, and codes of conduct and governance. This could include people from both inside and outside the Drupal community (e.g. a leader from another community who is highly respected). I've started looking into this option with the help of the Drupal Association and members of the Community Working Group. We are open to suggestions.

In order to achieve these aims, we plan to organize an in-person Drupal Community Governance sprint the weeks following DrupalCon Baltimore, involving members of the Drupal Association, Community Working Group, the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion group, outside experts, as well as some community members who have been critical of our governance. At the sprint, we will discuss feedback gathered by the roundtables, as well as discussions during the 2-day board meeting at DrupalCon Baltimore, and turn these into concrete proposals: possible modifications to the Code of Conduct, structural changes, expectations of leadership, etc. These proposals will be open for public comment for several weeks or months, to be finalized by DrupalCon Vienna.

We're still discussing these plans but I wanted to give you some insight in our progress and thinking; once the plans are finalized we'll share them on Drupal.org. Let us know your thoughts on this framework. I'm looking forward to working on solutions with others in the community.

Comments

AgencyOwner (not verified):

Step down. You have still failed to fix the situation and now all you are proposing is meetings to distract people from your obvious failures.

By the way, you're not particularly good at the technical leadership stuff either. How did Drupal 8 take so long to release otherwise? Problem is at the top.

Nick Vahalik (not verified):

Even if Dries were to step down, what he's suggesting is actually the next logical step. Otherwise Dries would step down an... what would happen? A void would be formed.

This is a step in a good direction. I'm still for applying pressure to ensure justice is done for Larry... but let's not cut off our nose to spite our face.

Hugh (not verified):

You sound pretty angry AgencyOwner. Sorry about that. But I disagree with your conclusions. Dries has been doing his best to handle extremely difficult issues, both people issues and technical issues. Regarding the difficult Larry Garfield issue, what I can say is that it sounds highly complex to balance all the different sides (e.g. openness vs. privacy).

Regarding the technical issue, I have immense respect for the way that Dries has had the vision and technical leadership to bring Drupal to the place it is today. The huge success of Drupal speaks for itself. I recommend you watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v_rv346qmM&start=1952 to see the insightful analysis of the reasons behind why Drupal 8 took so long, and how the process is going to change.

Well done Dries! Keep up the good work.

John Kennedy (not verified):

Great! Offer an uninformed opinion, without context or identity. You may as well be a twitterbot. Unfortunately, people who don't have the full context might take this an indicator of the position of the community. I would hazard a guess that you are not a core developer, module developer or someone who meaningfully contributes though community management, events or thought leadership. There are plenty who would be happy to see our community torn apart. The vast majority of comments are offering genuine concerns and solutions. That is the community that I know.

AgencyOwnerToo (not verified):

@AgencyOwner
Obviously, your "comment" shows that you have no idea what you are talking about. What matters here is that the necessary steps are being taken. Nonsense pressures lead nowhere. Relax and keep walking.

David Hernandez (not verified):

I think it is a step in the right direction to evolve the governance model to something more community representative, instead of dictatorial. Since the beginning you've been the ultimate steward for essentially three phases of Drupal; Drupal the Software, Drupal the Association, and Drupal the Community. I do not claim that you've ever intentionally biased any decisions, but we must recognize that it is difficult to create true separation of concerns while trying to fill so many roles. It is why I am generally a proponent of people serving one, or at least a very limited number of roles in Drupal. We need people to focus on the given role, not burn out, and help diversify our opinions and perspectives.

You've done an admiral job for fifteen plus years, but it is clear that Drupal the Community is beyond the point of accepting a dictator, and wants some level of self determination. To continue to grow, but still maintain the grass roots spirit we claim to hold dear, we have to find a way to do that.

I'm sure many people will all propose the same idea. Transfer community leadership authority to something with elected positions, or some manner of community-based representation. (I don't know how that is achieved without ultimately being elected.) I can see the CWG and CoC continuing to exist, as primarily a means for conflict resolution, but with authority ultimately being with a larger group. I have a lot of thoughts on how this could work and be structured (which I don't feel is necessary to post here,) but something like a seven-person group made up of community members, with a charter they themselves have the power to create and alter. The key being they are not appointed by you or the DA. The only way for the community to consider itself a first-class citizen, equal to the software and DA, is to keep its leadership separate.

J-P Stacey (not verified):

I would love to see us looking for advice on Codes of Conduct, and on community governance more generally, from experts outside of Drupal: it complements our ongoing approach on the software-development side, to get off the island and learn from others' experiences. The two people that immediately spring to mind are @AsheDryden and @CoralineAda on Twitter.

Michael Spinosa (not verified):

Dries,

We're native to Baltimore and a long standing member of the community. If at all possible I'd love to be included in these conversations at DrupalCon and after. We're all invested in the future of Drupal and what it means to the world. I believe that I could do some good here and focus on the path forward not the past.

Ben Stallings (not verified):

This sounds like a very wise and sensible move. Though many of us programmer types have an aversion to bureaucracy, this recent situation is exactly the sort of reason why we need bureaucracy. You (and Larry) were put in a no-win situation, and that didn't have to be the case.

Years ago, I was involved with a neighborhood group that did Restorative Justice ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restorative_justice ) for offenders of non-violent crimes in the neighborhood (of which there were many). I wonder if something like that could be made to work in cases like this where there is no clear-cut violation of established rules and yet people are harmed by the actions of another.

Good luck with the process. Its success is vital for all of us.

jam / horncologne (not verified):

Dries! This is a step in the right direction. Thank you.

Your concept for the evolution of our community's governance fits well with what I propose in my post and survey, "Building a community we want to be part of." https:[email protected]/building-a-community-that-we-want-to-be…

tl;dr - We need to agree on and define what values we stand for as a community and then build structures that support them. I feel a Statement of Values should be the product of this discussion. That would give us something concrete to point to when constructing a new CoC, or rules, or governing bodies.

The best and most inspirational Statement of Values I know comes from the Harvard Divinity School. Have a look, it is pretty wonderful: http://hds.harvard.edu/about/community-values

Erik Gustafsson (not verified):

I have two additions to code of conduct...
1. If a member stalks another member they should be punished for this in a rightful manner.
2. If a member has what other members think is a strange personal life. IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS UNLESS IT IS ILLEGAL!!!

Hopeful (not verified):

I think this is a good first step. It shows you're being responsive to the community. The Drupal movement is bigger than you. I don't think you should disappear, either. It takes courage to face all of this, and I think you'll recover from this incident and move on. You've done a huge amount of good, but the thing is now too big for any one person or perspective to manage effectively. It'll be a good thing for it to become "team governance". It takes an element of personal vendetta or emotionality out of the thing. There are going to be times when people upset you, but that may not necessarily mean the person should be ousted. Leave personal feelings out of governance of a community.

You need to have people with enough power there to tell you, "I understand your feelings, but the optics on this are really bad". You need people around you who will tell you when you are wrong. What I've wondered about this thing is, where were your advisors? Surely people could have told you that a public lynching with no evidence would be met with disgust? If you didn't have any advisors saying how this situation was handled was a bad idea, then you don't have a diverse enough crowd of advisors around you. If everyone just agreed with you, then perhaps there's too many "yes-people"? Maybe people were afraid to disagree? I think a council or senate is the best approach. You can still be President, but there's really really good reasons for checks and balances. You'll feel better without all the pressure. Guess what, if you have a "council of elders" or whatever, they will not always agree with you either. Be prepared for an adjustment, but in the end, you'll be happier and Drupal will be better.

As to the code of conduct, be specific. Don't say, "this person said something that goes against our values". Those values and rules should not be ambiguous. If someone does something you don't like, but there's no rule against it, then make the rule and let them break it again before you act.

As far as the public is aware, no offense what so ever has been committed within the Drupal community. That feels very arbitrary. The simplistic perception of this really came off like, "my girlfriend didn't like this guy so I kicked him out". That works for a clique of friends, but not for a community of many thousands or millions of people.

Does Drupal have problems? Yes. Drupal is still awesome though. Adjust and continue forward.

David Snopek (not verified):

Thank you for taking these first steps and laying out a plan!

Ever since this situation came to light, it's been a really tough time. Each day that goes by without any sort of resolution it gets heavier and heavier and the feeling in the community has been getting more and more corrosive.

This is the first response from you or the Drupal Association that has been calming or satisfying in any way -- at least to me. Of course, it doesn't it address all our anxieties and isn't "fully satisfying", but having some clear next action has done more to allay my fears more than even yesterday's explicit apology. :-)

I hope that these governance discussions will be fruitful, and may prove to be one of the things that contribute to the reuniting of the Drupal community! There's a long road ahead of us.

Karsten Frohwein (not verified):

Dear Drupal Community...

who ever this addresses and whatever this might be. Please keep in mind that a "community" is not something you can control or even get a grip on. Drupal is a worldwide "thing" that started out years ago programming a content management system together and earning money. Am I still a part of the Drupal community as I strongly believe Drupal is broken by design and that I will never use it again?

Honestly even if the IS or Nazis would use Drupal what could "we" do?

We can personally exclude them from our lives and refuse to work with them. You could ban them from Drupal Con as you hold up house right. You could try to throw them out of the DA because it is an association with rules and you have to join and pay for. Maybe you could even make github erase their account. Or DDOS their sites. So how far can this go?

What happened here is in my opinion a personal matter. Dries Buytaert can do whatever he likes and that is a good thing. He can even write a blog post about his opinion. But asking people to leave a community or open source project is absurd!

But please stop addressing a community! It is not a religion where you try to control what people believe. I never appreciated that a COD was written down. Even if I agree with most of the things written there. But from my point of view the interpretation is so different by different cultures it just doesn't apply. I never ever cared about the COD and this is not my COD. So am I allowed to be part of "Drupal"? What is the line one has to cross?

All this is a personal matter and you can not ban somebody from an open source project. Stop writing a COD for the something you cannot control. Don't behave like a religion.

Pedro (not verified):

I think this policy of closed doors needs to stop in order to gain the trust back from the Drupal community at large. A positive first step would be to publish the missing meeting minutes of the DA board meetings https://www.drupal.org/association/board/minutes. There are more than 15 meetings held with absolutely no accountability towards the community that funds the association. Let's hope this governance change fosters a bit more of openness.

Charles Novick (not verified):

The community definitely needs a well-defined code of conduct. What it does NOT need are contrived attempts at diversity. The policy of of our community should be:

Welcome ALL. Exclude NONE.
Recognize great contributors and their contributions.

When that becomes the essence of our community the diversity problems will simply solve themselves. We are a group of web development enthusiasts. Our sole focus should be supporting the Drupal project - not defining values.

mike stewart (not verified):

Good post. I like the direction. But I do agree with a previous comment that it still doesn't address the previous injustices. Hopefully it'll lead to the foundation that does.

Kicking crell/chx (others) that obviously work and put in as much effort as Dries, without clearly defined boundaries on when/why its ok to kick them, is not fair. DA/Dries will never been seen as justified when kicking someone without clear public boundaries (aka Drupal Code of Conduct).

If people follow the Drupal Code of Conduct they have as much right to be and stay involved with the project. If however, CWG/etc feels someone should be kicked because of bad things that are not covered/unclear in Code of Conduct, well, then it's the Code of Conduct that needs an update to support and protect community. Kicking anyone otherwise is unjust.

Karl Scheirer (not verified):

Dries++ a step in the right direction, thanks for this and the apology post.

Marlene Jaeckel (not verified):

Dear Dries,

While I commend the Drupal Association’s commitment to review and revise the Code of Conduct, I do not believe that the solution lies in procuring the services of paid diversity consultants. Sadly, many of these advocates only pay lip service to diversity and inclusion, and do not walk the figurative walk with regard to defending diversity of thought, ideology, and morality.

Secondly, I don’t believe that the community, as a whole, is truly satisfied with the statements that you’ve issued (which, I might add, are merely thinly-veiled attempts at de-escalation without addressing any of the poignant and valid questions which have been brought to your attention.)

Drupal members are concerned, rightfully so, that they, too, will be judged based on their conduct or statements made in an inactive capacity. They’re walking on eggshells because they don’t know who might be next. They fear that the thought police boogeymen are hiding in the shadows; waiting to expose their deep, dark secrets. Those things that are said and done behind closed doors. In paid members-only forums or posted via private social media accounts. Things that happened years ago. Things that are not relevant to their professional lives. Things that should be off-limits to the Community Working Group.

No one in a professional technical community should have to worry that they could become a target of ongoing harassment and ostracism simply because a fellow developer stumbled across a juicy morsel of gossip.

For this reason, I would like to urge you and the Drupal Board members to consider adopting the Fantasyland Code of Professionalism. To my knowledge, this is the ONLY code of conduct that truly protects the rights of all of the members of a community. Its guidelines are clear: You can only judge the conduct of members and remove contributors or attendees for infringements that took place during active participation in your own community, not in any others.

In conclusion — you owe it to the Drupal Community to make things right. I sincerely hope you do.

Mark (not verified):

As a longtime FOSS contributor I am incredibly disappointed to see Drupal going down this path. Dries' proposal is a technocratic solution to a people problem. The issue here is abuse of power, plain and simple. Rather than creating an environment where coders of all stripes can participate and are judged by their work, the proposal introduces even more bureaucracy, politicking, and outside agitators. The net effect of every such effort is to create unnecessary drama, empower sociopaths, and get people thrown out of FOSS communities for completely irrelevant personal reasons (including something as sensitive as their own sexual predilections).

AgencyOwner had it right: at this juncture Drupal needs strong solid leadership to move the project forward. Dries isn't the right person to provide it. I applaud him for his past efforts and wish him the best. A good leader knows when it is time to step aside and let his successor pick up the torch.

If Drupal is to remain a viable project, it needs to return to its roots and refocus on technology. That is all that matters.

Anto Jose (not verified):

Guys,

The biggest thing about opensource communities is about being open.

I would really love to see all of this sorted out, and everyone back together, correcting/making up for mistakes on either side. After all, that is what a real community is all about. About being together. At all times. We are a family. And families don't work by breaking up.

Governments and organizations might choose to work that way. But that is not what we are. We are meant to be a family at all times.

Whatever be the mistakes that we made, let us correct all of that, and get back together. With Larry and whoever else we chucked out before.

And let's be one good community that everyone else looks up to.

Cheers to all the good efforts,
Anto
...
Happy Drupalling!!!

Sina (not verified):

Thank you Dries, This is what I was expecting for a long time. I hope from this point forward we see real transparency, not just pretense. Also since this is about governing the community and affects everyone in Drupal community, please include everyone in this dialog to shape the future of our community.

Campbell Vertesi (not verified):

Thank you, Dries. This is the right move to make. I'm sure many will be impatient and want a change immediately - but in a community structure, this is how you do it.

A strong first move would be to declare some of the values that YOU want to see upheld in whatever governance structures we build here. Even though a lot of it will feel like reiteration for you, it's an important time to repeat that you believe in the openness and plurality of the community, that our diversity is our strength, that bullying and harassment should have no place in it. I'm sure you can go on.

Looking forward to helping work out better structures for the future.

Philip Van Hoof (not verified):

The next steps for evolving Drupal's governance is not to have any Drupal's community governance. Do away with Code of Conducts and accept that culture is too diverse to be defined under the umbrella of something that ought to be about purely technical.

Welcome all contributions. Focus on the technical aspect. That's it.

rambleshane (not verified):

Man, I went to the Drupalcon in Austin and watched Dries make a commitment to diversity and I immediately knew in my heart that he just swallowed the poison pill... The radical "diversity" community is so extreme and hungry for controversy that they will tear apart their leaders at the drop of a hat. Who wants to be in a community like that? I mean geezz... I'm finding that I avoid more and more "communities" because they seem to be just fueled and held together by continual social controversy. Am I the only one that feels this way?

Decouple Acquia (not verified):

Dries, if I could make one suggestion for moving forward, it is that you _must_ disentangle your financial interests and those, whose financial interests are tied to you, from the process of moving the Drupal community forward. Let's face it: The decision to ask Larry to remove himself from the project has resulted in broadly negative feelings toward you and toward Acquia and its employees, some of who came out fervently and, I would argue, blindly in defense of their coworker/employer. I believe that those employed by Acquia will not be viewed fairly or positively in these discussions, but rather will be seen as pawns in 'your game'. This isn't to say that these people do not have legitimate, honest or real feelings - many are dear friends of mine - but frankly I don't see how we move forward as a community without dealing with the elephant in the room. I hope this makes sense. I genuinely know you are listening, are a good person and feel you have let us down (you have), but you ARE doing the right things. Peace, love, understanding and all that. - A non-Acquian.

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