Should the Drupal Assocations form a hub and spokes model?

kvantomme's picture

In a former life I was a board member of the Erasmus Student Network, this network like several other student networks (AIESEC, ELSA, etc.) had a hub and spokes model: 1 international association and a long list of local groups.

In this scenario the international association has a set of rules about the criteria a local group has to fulfill in order to be recognized as part of the network. Typically approved associations in turn are than listed on the central website and gain other benefits (in a lot of cases they can vote at some sort of annual general meeting). The central association also helps establish new local groups.

Would it be desirable to start organizing the different Drupal Associations into a hub and spokes network?

Comments

Hi, as far as I heard from

omissis's picture

Hi, as far as I heard from few people -mainly DA members and local groups leaders- this is not scheduled anytime soon. This is mostly because on one side the DA doesn't want to deal with all the groups available all around the world(I can see the point, it would be quite overwhelming and they already have A LOT of other things to deal with); moreover many local groups leaders don't seem interested because of the many different situations they're in.
I would personally go for a more structured model(such the one you're proposing), but again from what I heard that's not considered a priority and you can't force people to strictly agree on how they should shape their association in order to be a DA Hub(I can see this point, too).

invitation for discussion

kvantomme's picture

I'm a permanent member of the DA, so I know and can confirm that this is not going to be on the agenda of the board any time soon (there is a lot of other stuff that will come first). And this is strictly a personal initiative, not DA sanctioned. Should there however be a consensus that we need to clear this out, I can take this up and try to get it on the agenda of the governance committee.

It's my personal opinion that the relationship between the DA and the different national Drupal Associations needs to be cleared out. It's not good that there are a lot of Drupal Associations out there that are in some cases operating under the same brand as the DA. Even if there is no affiliation, outsiders will expect.

A very practical, unobtrusive starting point could be an accreditation/label process for organizations. I think we could build consensus around a set of criteria that most of the associations currently already fulfill. Organizations would for example have to be:

  • community organized and not controlled by any single individual/company
  • promoting Drupal
  • organizing events
  • have a sound financial policy
  • have an appropriate governance model

I'm hoping to get a better insight in what people from these national/regional associations feel like a better approach. At the time this is however only an invitation for an open exploratory public discussion.

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I see and agree with your

omissis's picture

I see and agree with your point-I'd go even further than that actually-, but the direction I understand as the "chosen one" is to leave the groups/associations free to decide and organize themselves as they wish in complete freedom: so if some people want to cooperate it's just and only up to them, without any form of official "blessing" or rule to follow. In other words: the preferred approach looks(to me, of course) all about personal responsibility rather than formal commitment. This way all the problems related to laws, regulations and how people deal with/promote/perceive their Drupal community would be left out of any discussion and would be only up to the interested ones actually working on them. What I think it could be worth doing is to try to tidy up a bit the amount of information we have now since at the moment it's spread across too many pages, sites, mailing lists, etc. A page on the DA's website might help a bit, even though that would be the nth list of Drupal groups/associations, perhaps making the problem bigger rather than help solving it(that list should be maintained then). Ideas? :)

law agnostic

kvantomme's picture

A quality label can be formulated so that it's law/regulation agnostic.

Before we could post this list on the DA's website the organizations would have to be checked anyway, or we would have to make a really strong statement of non-affiliation.

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Hub and spoke

jcnventura's picture

I'd agree on the hub and spoke model.. In some countries it makes no sense to have anything other than a national association.. In others (Germany for example) there's the Drupal Initiative, and then there are the local user groups. In the US I think there's city-specific user groups, with no national association at all. So while on one hand I do think that the DA is right in not wanting to deal with it, I think it is not serving the community when it does that.. The community is there 365 days a year, and not only 10 days during Drupalcons.

I know that Dries has setup a scheme where you can ask for official permission to use the Drupal trademark in your organization... We did that when creating the Drupal Portugal association. If the other associations also did that, Dries could probably provide us a list of existing organizations (assuming he's willing and there's no legal confidentiality issues).

Although maybe the idea of a "United Nations of Drupal" is too complicated, a simple list of "Here's your local user groups / associations" would not be that complicated.

Also, something in the other direction would be an excellent resource to have.. People sign up to Drupal.org all the time not knowing their neighbor is the local Drupal group organizer: It might be nice to provide to the group / association a way to invite the local users to show up at an event (a meetup or a Camp).

Clearly, the DA only wants to care about the DrupalCon and drupal.org. Maybe that's already a lot. However, I think that the Drupal community is much more than that, and setting up some resources to help support the local groups would help to strengthen the community as a whole.

João

more than Drupalcon and d.o

kvantomme's picture

While it's true that the DA is starting from a focus on Drupalcon and d.o I think some of the recent projects (e.g. Drupal Community Cultivation Grants https://association.drupal.org/node/1569) clearly show that the DA wants to support the community beyond those 2 activities.

The biggest issue with such a list would be it's maintenance cost, we already have an event calendar on groups.d.o why would this list be more complete? There is an automatic permission to use the trademark for organizing events as long as they are not also contain "conference", "convention" or "association", so there is no central communication required to organize something.

Even so, it sounds like there is already work being done on a community directory at http://groups.drupal.org/node/169344 by the community.

While I can see the value of these initiatives, the reason why I started this thread was to find out if existing "associations" would want a process to establish an official affiliation with the Drupal Association.

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"official affiliation with the Drupal Association"

Kars-T's picture

"official affiliation with the Drupal Association"

I don't think this would be a wise choice because it would seem that only the DA can decide who is the "official" local community. Event if we would need this in some form for trademark questions I believe in self organising local communities that should share some common communication channels like d.o. This is enough work and power for the DA. Otherwise get more delegation members from different countries into the DA so the local communities can influence the DA and not the DA worldwide local communities.

That's precisely the thing

jcnventura's picture

If the DA would do this, and it's done right, the "official affiliation" means that that community may actually be following some community guidelines (TBD, but I would think that some sort of minimum democratic process to appoint "delegates" would be in place).

Then the DA could actually involve a "delegate" from each local association in some sort of "community council" that could be used by the DA on some decisions which are deemed too important to be simply decided by its board.

I would even suggest that the number of votes of each delegate be in some kind of proportion to the number of DA members in his community. With a cap of course.. I wouldn't want someone with $20K to "invite" 1000 of his friends to "his" association and be able to outvote anyone else in such a council.

Relationship of National Orgs to the DA

kattekrab's picture

At some point there is going to have to be discussion and decisions about the relationship between various national organisations and the Drupal Association (DA) . The DA is not an international body - it started as a Belgian organisation, and is currently being handed over to the US non profit that was started to manage US DrupalCons.

National organisations have been started in various countries to resolve various issues around running events, or hiring venues for local meetups, or any one of a number of other reasons. They are largely autonomous, and follow the legal obligations of the nation in which they formed.

A hub and spoke model - similar to the Erasmus Student Network is certainly something that could be considered, but there are other models we could and should explore on how to handle the relationship between the DA and these other organisations.

Whilst we all obviously share a common need to talk about the Drupal project, and perhaps get permission to use the Drupal trademark, register 2nd level Drupal domains, etc... the organisations themselves should retain their autonomy.

There are probably many models for non-profit organisations working on similar things internationally - it would be useful to have some more examples to think about.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

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