Feedback on last night's proposal

bryanhirsch's picture

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for a great meetup last night. I really appreciate you sharing the floor with me for a good chunk of time to try something new. For folks who missed it, here's a write up of the proposal I presented last night about dedicating some time as a group to learning about and contributing to core over the next few months.

The feedback I got on my proposal yesterday was overwhelmingly positive. (To be honest, much better than I anticipated.) The majority of people I spoke with (all but one) are supportive of spending the first hour of our next four meetups (that’s 6:30 - 7:30 in Nov., Dec., Jan., and Feb.) doing activities like we did this evening, then spending the second hour (7:30 - 8:30) doing lightening talks. I think this is awesome. But to be clear, this is only my proposal. It’s not my decision to make.

I have tried to be thorough about debriefing with people and soliciting feedback. Below is a write up of my notes from the evening, reflecting on the goals of our 1-hour exercise, and summarizing my one-on-one debriefs after the meetup. I hope the people I spoke with will feel I’ve done a good job summarizing and paraphrasing feedback.

If I didn't capture anyone's feedback, if you have feedback you didn’t share with me in person, or if you have any other thoughts or comments, please post it here.


Re. goals for this evening:

  1. For people without Drupal running locally: Get everyone set up.
    OUTCOME: As far as I know, we got everyone with a laptop set up. Thanks Tim and Ben for helping get people set up.
  2. For people with Drupal running locally: Get everyone to make progress on one issue on some aspect of Drupal core they’re interested to learn more about. Specifically, reproduce and document a bug (
    OUTCOME: As far as I know, everyone with a laptop worked on an issue. Many people worked in pairs. 26 people opened the How To document with instructions on how to find bugs that need to be reproduced and documented. 10 people (or pairs of people) posted updates to core bugs they worked on for 30-40 minutes this evening. And three people told me on their way out, they had not posted an update, but intend to keep working on their bugs after wrapping up this evening.
  3. Get everyone to do #1 and #2 in under an hour.
    OUTCOME: I presented my proposal, walked people through the How To document and demonstrated an example in 15 minutes. Then the group spent 40 minutes working on bugs.

Summary of feedback from debriefs:

(I did my best to talk to as many people as I could after wrapping up. I didn’t do a head-count, but I feel certain I was able to do one-on-one debriefs with at least two thirds of the people present. If these opinions are not representative of the people who didn’t stick around to give feedback, I hope those folks will chime in too.)

  • The majority of people I spoke with (all but one) are in favor of spending the first hour (6:30 - 7:30 pm) of our next four meetups (Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb) doing activities like this, then spend the second hour (7:30 - 8:30 pm) doing lightening talks
  • Three people suggested scheduling the ‘volunteer for Drupal hour’ from 6 - 7pm, and doing lightening talks from 7 - 8:30.
  • One person suggested (and several supported) the idea of using an egg timer to time lightening talks and keep presentations moving. For example, give speakers up to 5 minutes for talk and then up to 5 minutes for Q&A. Each speaker sets the timer when they go up. When it dings, it’s the next person’s turn to present. This is especially appealing to people if we have less time allotted to lightening talks at the next few meetups.
  • People who worked in pairs tended to have positive experiences with that setup. Newer Drupalists who didn’t have partners expressed interest in being paired with someone more experienced to work with.
  • A number of people (including people who have reviewed and commented on contrib issues in the past) said this is the first time they’ve worked on any core issues.
  • Not everyone had laptops. Most said they would like to do something like this again and they will bring their machines next time. But we will inevitably have people without machines, so it would be great to drum up a few spares.


My 3 cents

NancyDru's picture
  • Laptops: I finally got one, but accidentally gave it a drink of Coke. Apparently, it's a Pepsi machine. Right now I can't afford to replace it. So, yes, a pool of spares would be nice.
  • Even if you don't have a favorite bug you'd like to see fixed, you can play Bug Bingo (I assume it's still there).
  • If you pick out a bug to work on, remember to specify 8.x when you post; you can add a "backport" tag to the issue.
  • Moshe is a core developer, so his input is invaluable.
  • Dries (and maybe Angie Byron) spends some time in the Boston area, perhaps he can be invited to contribute to this concept. I suspect he would be more than willing to help promote the spread of this movement.
  • Are there ways the Drupal Association could support this proposal?

Does your setup include Git and D8?

Not so fond of the idea

adavidow's picture

To the extent that folks from my organization participate in the meet-ups (not so great that our one voice should carry much weight), the proposal pretty much kills the point of the meet-ups, turning them from places where =all= Drupal users gather for questions and discussion (yes, there is still the hour of lightning talks - AFTER people let go of their coding) to a place where Drupal =developers= gather for some group coding and then do sharing as an afterthought.

I would have thought it made more sense to propose something similar to the Drupal Self-Help session for developers interested in Bryan's proposal, rather than change the format of the main monthly meeting. But, as I said, that's really for the group as a whole--certainly not me--to decide.

Thanks for your candid

bryanhirsch's picture

Thanks for your candid feedback adavidow.

Maybe I give the wrong impression in the write up of my proposal. The idea is definitely NOT for this initiative to be exclusively for developers. The idea is to create on easy entry point for Drupal users of all kinds. There are definitely ways for site administrators, site builders, themers, designers, etc. to participate, learn and contribute without writing PHP (or HTML, CSS, or other alphabet soup).

Does that make sense? Does this change your reaction at all? Or do you still pretty much feel the same?


I hear you, but my experience

adavidow's picture

I hear you, but my experience is that the dynamic will also drive out those for whom contributing to core is not a near-term goal. The Boston Drupal community may be moving to a point where the community sees such contributions as encouraged--but also necessary--elements of being part of the community.

I don't think it is good for the larger community, and does change the meet-ups in a way that would likely the participation of us and folks like us. But I speak for a potentially very small part of the active Boston Drupal community.

It may not be a near-term

krlucas's picture

It may not be a near-term goal but if not now then when? If not us then who? If you use Drupal to make a living or change the world then progress on core is essential. My only suggestion is to give it a shot. Ok enough of my irish catholic guilt trip :)

I actually don't think the beginning hour will be coder centric because an hour isn't really enough to time to wrap one's head around a serious issue and provide a patch. The issue queue is full of people who (whether they know it or not) are looking for help, self- or otherwise.

Had a great time

Nick_vh's picture

I had a great time realizing that, even the Drupal core issue queue is frightening, a group such as the Boston Meetup team can actually contribute a load on just 1 hour.

My notes are on my blog and I chose to give it a Drupal planet tag so more people are being exposed to this effort.

A few suggestions

benjifisher's picture

First, a quick link. I see in the sidebar right now What is going to happen to my core patches once they're RTBC?. I have not read the post, but it seems related to the general problem of keeping the Core issues queue moving.

I did not have a chance to talk to Bryan, so let me add my support here. In response to adavidow: I think it is important for everyone to get involved in an open-source project. Those who are not developers can help in many ways (documentation, testing, user support, etc.). When we all help, it frees up develpors' time to do what the rest of us cannot.

Bryan has suggested that we spend an hour per month on this, but only until Drupalcon Denver. As I understand it, the goal is to produce a model for people to "move up the ladder" AND to make valuable contributions no matter what their current "rung" is. Once the HOWTO's are written, people will be able to read them off-line, and neither Boston nor other groups will need that much face time to follow the model. We do need the face time while developing the model, and the newest newbies play as important a role as the core developers. The newbies can say, "these instructions are aimed at people like me, and this is the part that confuses me, so we need to rewrite it."

Finally, a few concrete suggestions.

  1. The HOWTO on gives a link in Step 1 to the core issues queue and instructs the reader to filter for active bugs (among other filters). Why not use this link instead, which already filters for active bugs?
  2. I think newbies will appreciate some tips on how to read an issue. There is a lot of information in how the issue tags have changed over time. For instance, if an issue was filed two years ago against an alpha version of Drupal 7.0 and received only three comments since then, you should not be too reluctant to close the issue when you cannot reproduce the bug, even if you are new at this.
  3. I think we could all use some guidance on the different options for closing an issue. When do we mark it as "closed (fixed)" and when do we mark it as "closed (cannot reproduce)"?


NancyDru's picture

Based on what I see on LinkedIn and Drupal mailing lists, beginners need help finding and using the issue queues. Way too many questions about modules (including core) are being asked elsewhere, which does not help anyone. Make it clear that asking what they may think is a "dumb" question prompts developers to do better documentation. And it is already a well-known fact that beginners (or newbies or whatever you want to call them) are the best documentors because they have no preconceptions of what the feature is supposed to do.

In addition to how to read an issue, it would be nice to explain how to read a project page.

About last night's proposal

Ed Carlevale's picture

Anyone who initiates anything is a hero in my book. Ditto someone who teaches me something I've long wanted to know, ie, how to contribute to Drupal code. Which is why I was nodding quite happily right up until the moment Bryan said "an hour per meetup" and "the next five meetups." The prospect of replacing twenty terrific lightening talks with five hours of community service is more Lindsey Lohan than I feel the need to be. A half hour per meetup seems reasonable, or perhaps an hour every other meetup, ending with a Saturday code sprint just before DrupalCon Denver. More than that and we might as well churn out a line of license plates to help pay for the pizza.

Ed (All but one) Carlevale

Ed Carlevale
Drupal Developer, MIT Energy Club

I like the idea in general.

krlucas's picture

I like the idea in general. I want to help out the community and the tiny number of members that, in practice, provide the bulk of the code, testing and support. These events provide me with the excuse and motivation to do that and I hope they can continue in some form after DrupalCon too.

All For it

d1b1's picture

I missed the meetup this week, which is a shame, considering this proposal!

I would like to offer my support. As a seasoned drupal developer, I am very happy to see a track develop that can move drupal users into active contributors. It a commitment of time to get up to speed on the drupal framework. And it takes even more work to develop a voice in the community.

Interestingly, this same topic came up internally, when we started, as a company to look for a way to contribute to the community. CVS was an obstacle. Git makes it easier. A ladder of HOW-TOs would be perfect solution.

I volunteer to be a 'How-TO' test case. I code, and I use git, but I have no clue how to manage the issue queue, or manage a bug fix. Bring it on!


Long Time ASP web developer, who has seen the light and is 100% committed to the drupal way of development.

Let's do it

nanharbison's picture

So how about we try this once and see what happens, instead of committing to a certain number of meetings?

I am happy to get to the meetups early to help, or the lightning rounds could be first and people who want to leave can leave. I think this sounds so interesting! I am not nearly qualified to work on the core, but I am happy to help with all the other parts.

Let's Go For it

ScottLozier's picture

I think we should try it for several meetings and review as we go.

I like the idea of doing lighting rounds first (1 hour) and then Core Learning and Review (1 hour) - so that we could stay beyond the meeting time if we are close to a solution.

This is a good way to Nudge us.

Great feedback here. Let's

moshe weitzman's picture

Great feedback here. Let's keep going with the experiment as Bryan has proposed. That is, we dedicate 6:30-7:30 hour to the Core Ladder, and the second hour to lightening talks as usual. Then we head to the Muddy as usual. If all goes well, we continue this pattern through March 2012.

I'm sympathetic to the folks who want more discussion/talks and less Ladder. But in the end, I think we need to grow more contributors to Drupal, and noone is going to do that for us. Let's keep re-evaluating this decision as we proceed.

See you all on November 1 (don't get fooled by the sneaky arrival of the first Tuesday) .


What next?

benjifisher's picture

What are the next steps going to be? It seems to me that our goal is really to improve the Ladder proposal so that it can be emulated by other groups, but there is a danger of veering off into the related goal of moving those present up the Ladder. My suggestions:

  • Many of us would like to see Bryan's outline. What are the rungs of the ladder?
  • Encourage everyone—those who attended last month's meetup and those who missed it—to review what we did last month and make a little more progress in advance of the 11/1 meetup.
  • At the meetup, plan to break up into even more groups. Some will want to move to the next step on the Ladder, some will want to practice what they learned last time. Some may want to work on the HOWTO. Some may need to set up a development environment. (Is there a HOWTO for that?)

That reminds me. I think there should be some instruction on which version of Drupal to install when testing a bug. Core or Acquia? The latest dev release or the one listed in the bug report? If we are encouraging people to use Acquia Dev Desktop, then it is useful to know that it is happy to work with whatever distribution you can download, rather than the one that comes pre-installed.

Thanks for all your specific

bryanhirsch's picture

Thanks for all your specific feedback Benji. I've incorporated it into the docs from October.

The ladder has been through a few revisions and will surely go through several more. I'm planning to present it to the group at the November meeting. If you'd like to be involved in drafting and soliciting input before 11/1, let's connect offline. I'm happy to share it with you.

Just wanted to chime in as an

christefano's picture

Just wanted to chime in as an interested but absentee member of the group that I'm a big fan of this initiative. Like every open source project, Drupal lives, breathes and dies on the efforts of its developer community. Growing this community is important and needs to be a priority.

Our events are the lifeblood of the community, however, and I think it's very ambitious to dedicate the first half of a regular meetup to an hour on core development and workflow. Not everyone is or wants to be a core developer, and focusing on core development will alienate the people who are not interested just as much as it will excite others who are.

Has anyone suggested having the core development workshop at 6:30pm and moving the regular meetup to 7:30-9:30pm? There are a lot of things to consider around this, including organizer burnout, venue availability, etc. but I think this option might offer the best of both worlds.

In Los Angeles, where I currently spend most of my time, we have "special events" like organized code sprints and barn raisings as well as casual Drupal coworking events, but these are done outside the regular meetups. It's at the regular meetups that we have presentations and recaps on how the sprints and barn raisings went. Feeling the excitement and hearing of progress being made helps bring people from our regular meetups to the special events.

Another rung...

NancyDru's picture

Some of us are object-challenged but core, and many contribs, are moving towards using objects to facilitate interactions. If someone is willing to put together a (or more than one) chalk-talk on how to build object programming, I, for one, would be greatly interested.


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