Drupal Guilds & Open Guilds

aaron's picture

FYI, I've just submitted a group for Drupal Guilds & Open Guilds, which is a concept that I've been brewing for about a year now (based on discussions and other ideas that have taken a decade or more to gel). I've finally begun writing down some of my ideas for this this summer, and have decided it's time to open the concept for further discussion and debate. Without further ado, here is the elevator pitch for this grassroots organization:

The Open Guilds website at http://openguilds.org/ (and its cousin http://drupalguilds.org/ for Drupal) is a central location for grassroots certifications for practitioners of various Open Source software. The idea is that rather than a top-down certification process where people pay money to an organization to take a test, people instead prove to their peers their ability to craft in their field.

The organization of Open Guilds is set up to foster a peer review system. Anyone may create a guild within the organization, and set up their own certification procedures at various levels within the guild. Each guild will stand on its own merit, and gain the benefit of camaraderie from other related guilds.

Each guild within Open Guilds will have its own charter, which will specify, among other things, its system of governance and procedure; process for gaining membership; and a scope of certification. A charter may, for instance, specify that it is to be run by parliamentary procedure with an elected council, that it is an open democracy, or that it is run entirely by a single Guild Master.

The Open Guilds organization itself is run by a council of Vested Members, who are individuals who have paid their dues. The meetings themselves are conducted on-line in a visible format, with all matters decided by the majority vote of Vested Members.

Other than the right to vote on procedural matters, membership to Open Guilds is free to all individuals, who may join as Journey Members. Journey Members may join any guild, according to its charter (which may, for instance, require an invitation or approval vote by its council, specific certification within another guild, or other requirements).

A guild may specify many certifications, each of which may have requisite certifications. Although a guild’s charter may specify otherwise, in most cases, a certification will require a test or demonstration of ability to be evaluated by one or more certified members of the guild. The reputation of an individual guild will depend on the continuing diligent and truthful evaluation by the guild members.

I also have a draft of Bylaws which I plan to post as soon as I've polished it a bit. It gets into some nitty gritty, such as how to handle business and procedures for creating guilds & certifications. But I want to open up discussion and get other interested folks involved, so as to solidify the concept before opening it to the general public.



forgot to post the link to

aaron's picture

forgot to post the link to the group page: http://groups.drupal.org/guilds -- thanks!

Aaron Winborn
Drupal Multimedia (my book, available now!)


discursives's picture

This is a great idea and I look forward to the conversations with peers about the specifics of certification for various guilds. Thanks for taking initiative on this.

If Drupalists are curious about how they could engage a cooperative work structure, something that could be complimentary to a guild, they can check out the Drupal Worker's Cooperative group. That is a social and economic cooperation system that would dovetail nicely with a guild system that is focused on skills.


Alex Rollin

I love the idea for the DWC!

aaron's picture

I love the idea for the DWC! Drupalists of the world, unite! I agree that there can be some benefits of dovetailing the two in some way. Let's keep this discussion open.

Aaron Winborn
Drupal Multimedia (my book, available now!)

Hello Aaron! I saw your

heather's picture

Hello Aaron!

I saw your modules around RPGs, so it's not surprising you have this idea. I like it, and I'd like to find out more.

Are there other OSS projects using something similar?

Or other software projects?

I've googled a bit, but am

aaron's picture

I've googled a bit, but am not personally aware of any OSS projects using a peer review system of certification. But it does seem to me like a perfect fit for Drupal...

Aaron Winborn
Drupal Multimedia (my book, available now!)

Contributing back to Drupal as the gold standard

mlncn's picture

I encourage all guilds to not base qualifications on a test (or greatly de-emphasize this) and concentrate on the standard of giving back to Drupal — especially in the form of code and documentation — as the standard to which we should all be held.

Doing this with anything that resembles college, the bar exam, licenses, costly test-based certification, or any of the other ways groups professionalize and lock competitors out— i am against. We need to work to make the world a place where everyone can do meaningful work and be compensated, not wall off our niche.

As people working with open source free software, what we should be judged on should be public anyway. Focusing on this is fairest for all Drupalistas and best for Drupal.

benjamin, agaric

RE: contributing back to Drupal

fndtn357's picture

This is the most sane and reasonable thing I have seen posted yet. I agree with the author and back this proposal completely. It also makes sense in terms of allaying any initial fears newbies might have in finding ways to give back to the community that teaches them. I also think this idea introduces and embraces the concept of "community" behind Drupal-source and open-source activity to the new person.
Just my 2 cents.

Contribution and Achievement Model

jcicolani's picture

IMHO the best model to use for something like this would be a contribution and achievement model using a similar scale as traditional trade guilds/associations. In this model members would enter at an apprentice level and, through a combination of proven contribution and achievement, would advance in 'rank' and prestige.

A metric would need to be implemented which would be peer based. This metric should include quantity and quality of contribution, quality of code based on standards and peer review, and community participation. Community participation could be in the form of teaching, mentoring, and administration of the guild itself. This would encourage strong coding standards, contribution to Drupal, and (most importantly) contribution to the community. It would also encourage newbies (like myself) to learn the standards and provide a consolidated resource to grow within the Drupal community.

RE: Contributing back to Drupal as the gold standard

ecommercium's picture

Hi, Just following this discussion and I totally second this you're saying Benjamin!

Contributions don't have to be code

danigrrl's picture

Can I just put out a voice to suggest that contributing code and documentation is not the only way to contribute back to the community? While I appreciate the contribution of code as an important part of what's brought Drupal to the level that it is at now, many folks (including myself) contribute in very different ways that are just as valuable to the community.

Aside from that, I agree that community contribution should be emphasized rather than "tests," which are often lopsided at best and ignore the unique value that an eclectic community of Drupalists can bring.

"...many folks (including

Barrett's picture

"...many folks (including myself) contribute in very different ways that are just as valuable to the community."

I agree contributing code and code-documentation should not be the only means of contribution recognized, but if we're going to say that other contributions count too I think we need to clarify what those other ways are. Off-hand, I can think of: giving support in the IRC and forums, active participation in user groups or the Drupal Association, writing tutorials/how-to's/help guides, and evangelism within organizations (e.g., trying to get your company to adopt Drupal). Dannigrrl, do those cover what you're doing or have I overlooked means?

As for "tests", I agree with you on traditional, paper-and-pencil type tests but I think there is a real place for practical tests in this. Just because a person is active in user groups and advocates for Drupal in their organization doesn't mean they necessarily have any idea how accomplish real-world tasks with Drupal. For instance, look at the items aaron has posted in the Drupal Media Guild on drupalguilds.org. Those seem to me to be reasonable things a member of the Media Guild should be able to complete but there's no other way to show that you can do them than to actually do them on a test site somewhere.

I agree completely

seointexas's picture

Keeping membership open and free is the spirit of open source. I think that anyone should have the same opportunity to start out, and then build their skillset, and from there as time progresses, be judged by their peers.


Sheldon Rampton's picture

I think Open Guilds is a great idea.

Sheldon Rampton
Senior web developer, New York State Senate

Wow! It's great to get such

aaron's picture

Wow! It's great to get such good feedback, and I'm glad that my idea isn't too off-the-wall.

FYI, I'll be presenting a topic & leading a discussion about the background and some of my ideas for the Guilds tomorrow at 5 GDT (12 EDT). See http://groups.drupal.org/node/92344 for more info and to sign up. Also come to #drupal-dojo in IRC.


Aaron Winborn
Drupal Multimedia (my book, available now!)

Two thumbs up

kthull's picture

I just started the discussion with our local meetup group that essentially boils down to a DWC so I am definitely in line and love the idea of the Open Guild. And if I'm not mistaken, this is basically along the lines of what the Dojo is all about, right?

I organize camps!
DrupalCamp Fox Valley: http://drupalcampfv.org
MidCamp: http://midcamp.org

Flexible Work Arrangements and 21st Century Worker's Guilds

niccolox's picture

Flexible Work Arrangements and 21st Century Worker's Guilds

Robert J. Laubacher and Thomas W. Malone

Initiative on Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century

Working Paper #004

Sloan School of Management

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

October 1997

(c) 1997 Robert Laubacher and Thomas Malone

The job has taken a beating in recent years--it appears to have been one of the major casualties of the corporate restructuring which swept through the U.S. economy in the early 1990s. Most Americans know someone whose position has been downsized or outsourced, and a series of high-profile articles in prominent publications have suggested that "good" jobs--those offering health insurance and a pension, along with a prospect for advancement--are increasingly relics of the past.[1]

This attention has been spurred by the rapid increase in the use of temporary employees--the number of positions filled by temporary agencies more than doubled during the first half of the 1990s--and by many highly-visible instances of corporate downsizing and outsourcing.[2] In fast-growing, knowledge-intensive sectors of the economy, such as high technology and entertainment, skilled workers increasingly operate outside the framework of traditional jobs altogether. Instead they work as independent contractors, establishing ongoing relationships with a number of different firms.[3]

Many observers believe that highly flexible organizational forms--often called networked organizations or virtual corporations--will become increasingly common in the future. In our research at MIT, for example, we have examined scenarios in which temporary networks of very small companies and independent contractors could undertake much of the work that is performed by large organizations today.[4]

In many situations, these new ways of working result in much greater economic efficiency and flexibility. But what about the individuals in these flexible networks? Where will they go to fulfill the human needs that are satisfied today by large organizations? How, for instance, will they find financial security? Who will provide for their health care and retirement? Will they be lonely, working all day with their customers and suppliers, but never with colleagues?

The current conversation on these issues is highly polarized. One viewpoint, espoused by much of the business press and many conservative politicians, focuses on the benefits of flexible work arrangements, while de-emphasizing their human costs. The other stance, favored by many union leaders and liberal politicians, emphasizes the human costs, without acknowledging that the new arrangements are often more productive ways of organizing work.

Once we began thinking about these questions, we realized that there was an obvious--but not widely appreciated--possibility for answering them. What if, rather than relying on an employer or the government to meet their human needs, individual workers joined independent organizations whose primary purpose was to provide stable "homes" as they moved from job to job? We call these organizations "guilds" by analogy to the craft associations of the Middle Ages, and in this paper we examine what they might do and how they might emerge.

Great article!

aaron's picture


Those are excellent resources! I like some of the ideas presented there; perhaps we should revisit those as we continue developing the Guilds. I like the idea of pooling our resources to create a collective safety net, for instance, although that's certainly out of scope for the initially stated goals.


Aaron Winborn
Drupal Multimedia (my book, available now!)


John_Buehrer's picture

Not to dampen the virtue of making one's contribution back to the (Drupal) world, but does it occur to you that some people have little interest in joining your community as a social organization, nor do we share these socialist sentiments? :-)

Sorry to be provocative, and I'm not against the concept - but perhaps I don't want to get involved in what sounds like a fraternal order. I'm just a practical person when it comes to Drupal, my passions lie elsewhere.

"Doing this with anything that resembles college, the bar exam, licenses, costly test-based certification, or any of the other ways groups professionalize and lock competitors out— i am against. We need to work to make the world a place where everyone can do meaningful work and be compensated, not wall off our niche."

Sorry, I see a contradiction in these two statement. I'd like to learn Drupal as I learned how to drive a car: some standardized lessons, much practice, take a test, hopefully passing... and then I go about my business with no religious attitude or overtones about it, and I don't go work for General Motors.

Is there hope for me in this guild scheme?

Publish or Perish

Alex UA's picture

Sorry John_Buehrer, but contributing back is not an option here. As a business owner that hires Drupal developers, I can tell you that the single most reliable way to evaluate a "Drupal Developer" is to review their published work. Publishing your work not only contributes to the socialist forces secretly promoting Drupal, it also gets the peer review and refinement that one should expect from a true professional. So, go where your passion takes you, but it won't be taking you into a serious Drupal job any time soon with the attitude above.

If you think becoming a top-notch Drupal developer is akin to driving a car, I think you should find another line of work. I've watched (and contributed) as people within this community have pushed the edge of what's possible using Drupal. The attitude that this is just some 'technical skill' simply shows that you don't understand the art/science involved here ('we build your future') .

One of the main purposes of the guild is, as I understand it, to guarantee that a person within that guild is some level of expert in Drupal. And how would we know that if you haven't ever published your work or been reviewed by your peers in a public forum? I would argue strenuously against admitting members with such attitude into the guild, so no, there's no room for the hobbyist or unpublished "professional" in an OSS guild.

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg
ZivTech: Illuminating Technology

Nothing special about Drupal ? (re: danigrrl)

John_Buehrer's picture

Ah, a good debate is starting - but perhaps it's more appropriate elsewhere or offline?

So: What's so special about Drupal, as compared to other IT skills and job searches? Publication review is common in Academia, and can be useful if we're only talking about public web sites, but in most other cases, real details of "how something was done" are proprietary to the original business customer - not something a developer can flash around, especially to a potential competitor.

You are correct danigrrl , my attitude is "just" towards looking at this stuff as technical skill, not at all following a mantra of art/science allegory. So far, most of my "pushing the edge" of Drupal has been screwing around to find efficient & effective ways to get basic tasks done - frustrated by the insight of better practices already well known in other IT areas.

This enablement is what I myself would focus on in terms of give-back to the community, eg, documentation. And while you may be proud how well you've re-invented basic wheels with Drupal, it's only a short-term commercial advantage - like the dot-com years - before the product matures and such skills become more widely available commodities. As with Linux.

Regarding this guild, maybe we have here a classic dilemma between optimizing it for exclusive members who want to retain their status, versus supporting newcomers who want to join the fray while bringing along their own styles, skills, and viewpoints.

Let's see how it pans out. Other viewpoints wanted!

I'm crossing your threads

Barrett's picture

I'm crossing your threads here, John_Buehrer, so you'll have to forgive me. In a previous thread you said you were looking for a "Journeyman jumpstart" that would take into account your other experience. However, in this thread you say "most of my "pushing the edge" of Drupal has been screwing around to find efficient & effective ways to get basic tasks done". To me, that's pretty much the definition of an apprentice level Drupaler.

Now, I can certainly feel your pain. I came to Drupal with many years experience with PHP and SQL and it drove me nuts to find how little that counted for in the Drupal realm. After playing/working/fighting with Drupal for a couple years I've learned a lot, but I still would consider myself an Apprentice or maybe junior-grade Journeyman. My background in PHP and SQL has helped me come up to speed with Drupal quicker than I might otherwise, but being a PHP ninja doesn't mean I'm also a Drupal ninja. Similarly, being a pretty good module developer doesn't mean I know jack about theming.

I think we can best both protect the integrity of the community and support newcomers by being straightforward about each member's skillset relative to the expectations of the community. No one is served by inflating the status of members who don't have the chops to support their status.

Yes indeed

John_Buehrer's picture

Thanks Barrett, for your sad tale of woe. Here's the crux of the problem as I see it:

"After playing/working/fighting with Drupal for a couple years I've learned a lot, but I still would consider myself an Apprentice or maybe junior-grade Journeyman."

I myself don't have a couple of years to play & fight just to master doing basic Drupal stuff. I've seen other comments on the 'Net by experienced IT people describing a few months of screwing around to get up to speed with Drupal. That's a bit more tolerable, but I hope this could be improved - maybe down to a few weeks - at the most to get started.

By "screwing around" I mean ineffective and inefficient efforts to make software work as intended & desired, finding instructions (documentation) towards this goal, finding other people who might advise, etc. It includes reading relevant books... perhaps not so relevant after all.

To me, the difference between an apprentice and a "jumpstarting journeyman" is the latter person already works effectively and efficiently in other related fields, and wants to apply his/her known paradigms to Drupal with comparable success within short timeframe. This should be feasible in the IT business.

That Drupal isn't there yet doesn't mean it's bad, but still maturing, and I wondering if this new guild might be a mechanism to facilitate this jumpstarting process for those who want it.

I don't see this as a matter of status at all, but usefulness, and it doesn't detract from the clear benefits of having years of experience in performing one's work.


Alex UA's picture

I have to say, I'm happy as the next guy to debate, but some of your points are waaaay off mark (and my name isn't danigrrl).

Publication review is common in Academia, and can be useful if we're only talking about public web sites, but in most other cases, real details of "how something was done" are proprietary to the original business customer - not something a developer can flash around, especially to a potential competitor.

First of all, we aren't talking about (primarily) publishing case studies (rather, we're talking about code), but the idea that site building techniques are "proprietary" and/or that reputable firms won't post their case studies, is just plain wrong (see: http://drupal.org/cases). If you're afraid of posting case studies because you'd give your competitors an edge, then trust me, you aren't really competing, you're just further proving you're an amateur.

Also, you presume a lot when saying "are proprietary to the original business customer - not something a developer can flash around, especially to a potential competitor." If that's true for you, I suggest hiring another contract lawyer. We never, ever sell our code or processes to our clients, and neither should you. Our clients are not buying our work products, they're buying our time. The work product itself is not owned by our client, but is licensed under the GPL to them. Think it's legal to sell a non-GPLed version of Drupal to your clients? I assure you, it is not. So, if your clients are already adopting Open Source, what benefit do they derive from owning the small parts that are not GPL? If they can't handle working with GPL code, I don't think they should adopt Open Source, and I definitely wouldn't sign a contract with them.

my attitude is "just" towards looking at this stuff as technical skill, not at all following a mantra of art/science allegory.

Good, then we won't have to waste time on evaluating you, since a guild will be for and by artisans, not technical hacks.

This enablement is what I myself would focus on in terms of give-back to the community, eg, documentation.

Talk is silver, documentation is gold (yes, working on public documentation also counts as publishing, and still receives peer review). What's stopping you from helping right now? The documentation team needs as many helpers as it can get! http://drupal.org/contribute/documentation

while you may be proud how well you've re-invented basic wheels with Drupal, it's only a short-term commercial advantage

Yeah, the reason that Drupal is the future is because we're constantly re-inventing the wheel, with the small exception that this wheel isn't round, contains millions of moving parts, and can launch you into outer space (so-to-speak). I'm going to take a wild guess you haven't sold much in the Drupal world, so I have no idea how you would begin to understand what 'commercial advantage' means in this world. Let me assure you: commercial advantage derives from the perception of expertise, and that perception is (mostly) created by your public work. Again, publish or perish is the norm, and our published work is our competitive advantage. You don't need to publish if you don't want to, but don't think that you'll be regarded as an expert from this community of experts, most/all of whom do publish, review their peers, and push the boundaries of the possible, each and every day.

Regarding this guild, maybe we have here a classic dilemma between optimizing it for exclusive members who want to retain their status, versus supporting newcomers who want to join the fray while bringing along their own styles, skills, and viewpoints.

We have informed insiders who want to make sure that the project we all rely upon remains healthy, that people purporting to be Drupal Experts are, in fact, Drupal experts, and that the general reputation of both the project and the experts remains high in the opinion of business/organizational decision makers. Bring along your own style--lord knows there are plenty of 'characters' in the community (I am definitely counted amongst that group)--but the substance is what you are arguing about by downplaying the importance of peer-reviewed, published work.

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg
ZivTech: Illuminating Technology

This time it's - Hi Alex

John_Buehrer's picture

Hi Alex, I apologize for the name mix up. Let me stick with my licensing preferences and publication paradigms, and I'll let you stick with yours. Deal? :-)

I'm interested in joining this new guild if it also welcomes Drupal newbies like myself looking for a "Journeyman Jumpstart" experience as I described earlier, focusing on the skills and craft of making things work. But if you make the guild only for long experienced people with "artisan" attitudes, I guess I don't get in. Are you a decision maker, or just stating your opinion? And if the founders do choose to accept people like myself, will you also join and contribute, or walk away in disgust? I'm looking for enablement of functionality here, rather than ultimately joining your peerage.

"Talk is silver, documentation is gold (yes, working on public documentation also counts as publishing, and still receives peer review). What's stopping you from helping right now?"

I'm still coming up to speed with Drupal, but I make internal notes of my emerging experiences and at some point I'll gladly refine them and share with others. A starting point is noting the gaps I've observed between Drupal activities and what already works well in other areas. I haven't sold anything with Drupal - did I give you the impression otherwise? - but definitely in other areas.

"I have no idea how you would begin to understand what 'commercial advantage' means in this [Drupal] world."

I bet it's not much different than other worlds of IT commerce. I'm curious what's different? Let's focus on topics like that, rather than stating our opinions of each other. Deal? :-)

"but the substance is what you are arguing about by downplaying the importance of peer-reviewed, published work."

I don't mean to demean your work or publications. I'm more interested in formal training and certification programs for Drupal skills, rather than relying on the opinion of a panel of judges - even if you are esteemed. That's not meant to be disrespectful, but reflects a desire to do things in a way commonly found in other industries.


Michelle's picture

there's no room for the hobbyist or unpublished "professional" in an OSS guild

Hmm... That leaves me, out, then. Ironic, considering Drupal didn't start out as a way to make money.


neither guilds or worker cooperatives are socialist

niccolox's picture

errgh, worker cooperatives are capitalist organisations, and so too are guilds..

socialist organisations tend to be state agencies, at least in reality (although I know the American imagination has its own parallel reality)

donating code back to the community I imagine would not be a core business but like Acquia be some kind of product offering on which services would be added


btw, there is also an open source car

hopefully you dont do software like you drive

to be clear

John_Buehrer's picture

To be clear - we're not talking about software development here, but certain aspects around it such as certification and perhaps training. I'd include product documentation as well, though perhaps that's not in scope of this proposed guild.

I would join such a guild as long as I could do so for practical purposes only, without having to subscribe to the sentiments above. I have no objection to contributing benefits back to the OSS community, but there seems to be a socialization factor creeping in here that is not necessarily interesting.

Journeyman jumpstart ?

John_Buehrer's picture

The medieval hierarchy apprentice / journeyman / master has its appeal, but in the middle ages, these steps also corresponded to someone's career and stages in life. I presume most skill areas back then required rising through the ranks, starting from the bottom, and most people didn't stray far from their first areas of successful experience.

But today I see a need for a "journeyman jumpstart" type of training, intended for journeymen & masters in other areas (especially IT) to get up to speed with Drupal more quickly than starting over as an apprentice. Maybe this new guild can help?

For example, as an experienced Perl, C, Java, & SQL programmer, doing php doesn't phase me - but I don't necessarily want to start doing that upfront with Drupal. I'd first like a good description of its internal structure, eg, object & data models. There's lots of beginner (apprentice) docs out there; the basic stuff is quickly assimilated and then becomes redundant. On the hand, much of the master-to-master chats leave me wondering where I could first learn the background material to make use of this - learning efficiently and effectively, that is.

I've noticed a shortage of happy mediums for this, and indeed, Drupal seems to be a whole array of independent journeyman-able topics, from theming to configuring modules to programming to operations - and that latter point is especially undocumented.

There are a lot of books

redpuma's picture

There are a lot of books available http://drupal.org/books

two I would recommend:
1) Using Drupal http://www.usingdrupal.com/

2) Pro Drupal Development http://www.drupalbook.com/

Then depending where your interest lies anyone of the Packt books which focus on specific area if more help is needed.

I agree full-heartedly with

aaron's picture

I agree full-heartedly with you, John -- this is the reason that in my original proposal I haven't listed members as 'Apprentices'; far too many of us would be joining as Journey Members. Considering that so many people in the world of Open Source are self-educated, it almost seems antithetical to second-guess one's place in a hierarchy of skill levels.

I am fully in favor of self-evaluation in life, and my ideas for the Guilds certifications simply take that to the next level; I personally have no interest in paying $500 to a corporation to prove that I am capable, and at the same time have no qualms to make such efforts freely with my peers. I believe that there are many who share this sentiment, and that this group effort can serve as a model.

And that the model itself unites people in their desire to further their own and each others' education, regardless of other political beliefs.

Aaron Winborn
Drupal Multimedia (my book, available now!)

A few more book recommendations

esod's picture

"Using Drupal" and "Pro Drupal Development" are excellent books. They're worth reading twice!

I'd also recommend:

"Learning Drupal 6 Module Development" by Matt Butcher, c 2008 Packt Publishing
"Drupal 6 JavaScript and jQuery" by Matt Butcher, c 2009 Packt Publishing
"Drupal 6 Themes" by Ric Shreves, c 2008 Packt Publishing

I consider these three books and "Pro Drupal Development" essential to explaining how Drupal works. "Using Drupal" is an excellent recipe book and a real pleasure to read.

My reading list goes on to include:

"Drupal 6 Attachment Views", J Ayen Green, c 2010 Packt Publishing
"Drupal 6 Panels Cookbook", Bhavin (Vin) Patel, c 2010 Packt Publishing
"Cracking Drupal: A Drop in the Bucket" by Greg Knaddison, c 2009 Wiley

The "Views" book and the "Panels" book explain a lot about the interface. The security book reminds us to write Drupalish code because of the many baked-in security helpers.

And then there are books which focus on a specific area, many of which are excellent.

What problem is being solved here?

thebuckst0p's picture

I've been watching this conversation with some befuddlement. What problem is being solved with these guilds? I'm a freelance Drupal developer. If someone wants to see my skill level, they can see my [contributed] code, blog posts, finished sites, referrals from clients, etc -- the same as any software developer, or any professional in any field for that matter.

A test to enter the guild would be pointless -- if it's too easy, it doesn't define the experts; if it's too hard, it's locks out people with other skills, or someone can cheat. (Will these tests be administered in a secure building with observers and a clock....?) There is no effective way to make a universal test that has any real validity (above what is already available through referrals/contrib/etc). I've also seen horribly coded sites built by developers who could pass any test you come up with. So what value would this add?

Of course all the methods of contributions that Barrett and danigrrl mentioned are important. A guild that said any one of those is more important than the others is only going to alienate people and not going to enhance the community. So I ask again, what's the point of the guilds.

Go to DrupalCon and put a badge on your site, pay $25 to join the Drupal Association, contribute code, take a course, build a Drupal site, go to a meetup, write a tutorial, plant a Drupalipet... there are many good ways to be part of the Drupal community and I don't see any real problem that the guilds reliably solve or any way they can enhance the community without alienating people.


Befuddlement is the word

wernerglinka's picture

Befuddlement is the word but this discussion also reminds me of the tale of three Germans meeting on a beach. The first thing they do is to build a sand castle with walls to keep other beach goers out... (Disclosure: I am German)... :-)
Seriously, what is this guild for? I am a web designer - building what my clients ask me to build and I have build some Drupal sites. During initial discussions clients typically ask for references, urls of sites I have build and published. I don’t see how an obscure organization certifying that I am an expert would help me to get business. Remember these clients don’t live in the Drupal world, they don’t hang out in Drupal group forums.
Another point is that if you want to certify someone as an expert, you have to be ready to back that up. Will this guild have lawyers that go after people who wrongly claim to be certified Drupal developers?
If you want to be recognized as a Drupal expert then contribute to the Drupal development. Your contributions will only be accepted by your peers if they are good - and if they are good people like me will be grateful that you did contribute.

Extremes and Happy Middle Ground

jcicolani's picture

This is a great conversation. But, as with most conversations turned debate, I'm starting to see some serious polarization in the discussion. I'd like to throw out a couple ideas for consideration. But before I start, let it be said that I am against exclusionary organizations and technical skills testing for membership, especially at the beginning. At some point there may come time when technical skills testing would be needed to achieve a certain level of recognition within the guild, but using it as a filter will only lead to a small group of elitists which others literally sneer at (seen it time and time again in other areas). Moving on...

First, the point of a guild structure would be to help facilitate and formalize education and standards. In the beginning any organization will only have the authority the community give it. If the focus of the guild is to promote good coding standards, open contribution to an extreme, and strong community ethics, then it would not take long for such an organization to be recognized as a leader in the community.

Second, advancement should, much to the chagrin of the kinds of technical folks this group would server, be based entirely on subjective peer feedback. A 'Master' Drupaler would only be a 'Master' because a group of his/her peers recognized them as such based on their contribution and support of the community. A group of this nature would only survive on the prestige the general community gives it. As long as the members live up to the perceived standards set forth (and the perceived standards would be dictated by the community, not the organization) it will hold authority. This, in itself, would keep peers from promoting individuals without actually meeting standards.

Third, as far as benefits, well, frankly, these too would be mostly subjective but, at the same time, tangible. Benefits would take the form of strong standards in code, design, and ethics. They would be the overall best practices developed by a large group of experienced, proven developers. If the guild is recognized as the authority and they maintain the ethics and standards the community expects, it, by consensus of the community, obtains the right to dictate what best practices are. All recognized authorities on standards grew in this way; ASA, ISO, IEEE... they began with a group of people, be they individuals or business leaders, who got together and said, "Hey, things are getting way chaotic out there. Let's start creating a set of standards by which to perform and measure ourselves against."

And my final point takes the form of my observation of another industry which did this, but too late to make a serious difference; Photography. This is an industry which is rapidly becoming a commodity with the advent of relatively inexpensive digital cameras. Everyone is a photographer now, a large number of these new photographers are entering the market calling themselves professional, and only a very, very small percentage of those have the skill, desire, and technical ability to actually be professionals. There are numerous professional organizations out there but none of them are really reaching the consumer with their message. As such, their attempts at enforcing standards and best practices are not even being heard, let alone recognized. Had they been more vocal and organized when the digital revolution began, there is a very strong possibility that entire industry would not be in dire straights now. (disclaimer: I am trying to launch a photography career with little success... so there's some frustration here)

Summary... Put this together, to hell with the tests, base recognition on contribution (whatever form that takes) and peer review, be open and accepting of those who want to learn, and become a recognized leader in the Drupal world organically.

And I digress...

Feed Scraper's Guild example

aaron's picture

Wow! Great ideas, @jcicolani. I'm glad we're having this conversation now. I like your ideas -- perhaps each member in a guild could even have a subjective evaluation, and advancement in "levels" could be by vote within the community.

As a hypothetical example:

Joe Meritus has applied to membership in the "Feed Scraper's" Guild, which has 15 active members. The Guild itself recognizes Novice, Journey, Master, and Grand Master levels. Only Journey Members and above can vote, however, which means there are 9 voting members.

Joe has created a page on Drupal.org documenting how to use the Feeds module + Auto Translate to create automatically translated multilingual video feeds, in addition to his moderately active blog with several examples and tutorials. He's also applied for CVS membership with a 'Video Blaster International Feeds' module that will make this task a bit easier for other folks. He's also created 6 related sites for clients over the past year.

Because of his experience and credentials, he is quickly approved as a Journey Member. He would like to become a recognized Master, but after some feedback, he realizes that he needs to spend some time on the Feeds issue queue and make the required changes to his submitted module for CVS approval before a majority of members would vote for that. A mere three months and forty issues later, he again applies for the level of Master, and now being a recognized expert by his peers, achieves the title.

Aaron Winborn
Drupal Multimedia (my book, available now!)

That's the General Idea

jcicolani's picture

It would be important for only members at the level being sought to be able to set the criteria and determine who is ready for that level. Yes, this would lead to a certain level of elitism, but when you're talking about mastery and grand mastery, at that point it's generally earned. And, of course there would have to be a system for appeal and removal of abusive members at any level, but then we go back to the theory of perceived value and prestige. If the general community thinks the guild's masters and grand masters are pompous, arrogant jerks, then the reputation of the guild would be greatly damaged and any good the group does becomes irrelevant. So, it's in the best interest to maintain high levels of integrity and ethics.

Also, this structure would also strongly promote mentorship, both formal and informal. So, Joe from your example, would not just be told where improvement needs to happen, a plan would be put in place to help him get there through a process of goals and peer review. This would provide an objective method of meeting the subjective standards. If his weak area is commenting code, perhaps one of his goals would be to help go through existing modules and contribute by reverse engineering and properly commenting other people's code. Then others would peer review these efforts.

Now here's the beauty of the age we live in and the technology we have at hand... Each member of the guild would have a public profile which would list his/her contributions, stated goals, and peer review. In this way the entire community can help each other meet these stated goals and comment on progress. If there is another journeyman who is strong in commenting code, he could peer review Joe's efforts and provide feedback on that stated goal. Now there is a 'paper trail' of skills development. The master review committee can use this to help determine Joe's commitment to self improvement and giving back to the community. And the overall community can see what standards are required to advance.

Of course, this is all theory and my opinion (based on some experience) on the matter. There is A LOT of structure which would need to built around it in the form of by-laws and social contracts within the group. And it really depends on getting the right people on board to begin forming the structure. Specifically you would have to find current Drupalists who are recognized by the ENTIRE Drupal community as masters and grand masters to begin determining the criteria for each level. You would have to get them on board 100% and make sure they fully understand the importance of maintaining that high, high degree of integrity. If the initial members are perceived as overly elitist, inconsistent, and unrealistic, then the whole thing falls apart.

And all of the discussion, so far (in my posts) have been in the mid to high levels within the group. It is equally important, if not more so, the 'lower' echelons of the organizations, the newbies and 'apprentices', are embraced. Clear development paths would need to be laid out for those specifically seeking growth in the guild and as professional Drupal developers. A real emphasis needs to be put on education of newbies and those who are looking for advice or help, but not necessarily interested in joining. The guild as a whole has to be recognized as subject matter experts, constantly contributing to the overall Drupal community with no expectation of personal or organizational gain. Members, all members, should constantly helping out on-line, at meet-ups, and Dojos to help educate the global web development community.

Right... I think this reply has grown lengthy enough...

I'd say between this post and

Barrett's picture

I'd say between this post and aaron's post in this thread (Feed Scraper's Guild example) we have a good model for a guild structure. It certainly forms the basis of a structure i could get behind.


redpuma's picture

Just saw this quote on a website, seems quite fitting.

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give"
Winston Churchill

My take

slavojzizek's picture

My take is that we have to be able to talk to each other respectfully and carry sincere intentions and open minds and hearts to really do anything "together". There is value in doing things together, if we realize that its ultimately for the betterment of ourselves. Being clear about this really helps you wade through the debate and confusion here. Additionally, there's benefit and a role for someone who wants to learn and the same is true for someone who wants to teach. The highest point of learning is being able to teach others what you know. So, working together allows us to all be where we are at, without competition, naturally doing the things that interests us. If I had to estimate how close we are to this, and how clear we are about this, I would be sorry to say we are far away. We could however all realize this and look at the distant mountain peak (which is only the beginning) and say: Yes I want to go there. If there was willingness to see this, then a guild or foundation could be created.

Also, its important to see that as Drupal developers, coders and users we might see things in quick technological solution paradigms. Did we forget that tests are linear, narrow ways of interpreting value and what one knows, just as much as they are clear markers of true/false information (which has use)? If you find yourself wanting to be tested to join something, and it makes you feel like you've accomplished something, go ahead. If you find that ridiculous, then don't do it and remain independent.

A lot of the time we forget that interpersonal skills, like how to talk to each other with conscious awareness, are the basis of human relationships. Its easy to get distracted in all the code and projects and problems and forget that we're just people learning about ourselves and finding our own way, experiencing things that are easy and hard. Its the doing of it that matters, that we could work together to build a guild is the fun, but its not the goal. Having respectfully considered all of us along the path of making a guild is the goal. I see a great problem in this, considering the kind of discussion above. Its easy to talk this way behind a computer screen, and trust me I know no one wants to hear that, but I invite us all to be less forum-troll like and watch our words. Its an interesting experiment to just hear yourself say something before you type it: try it out, it will help this discussion.

A very important thing to remember is that most of us were raised in a competitive, dominant capitalist economy and culture where we are all trying to keep our best secrets because it benefits us. We might share things with each other, but we're scared that they might be taken advantage of or used against us. We can't work in a guild or a community until these underlying fears are worked with on an individual level.

Here here

jcicolani's picture

Eloquently stated. In the end it's the relationships we build, professionally and personally, which determines our success and growth. Having recently transplanted from California to Texas, pretty much severing all ties to my old life and slowly (ever so slowly) building new relationships and networks in my new home of Austin, I am feeling the challenges faced when the relationships have not been developed and the networks don't exist.

Worker Cooperatives vs Medieval Guilds vs Open Guilds

niccolox's picture

hi all

we seem to have quite a few models in the mix here now

some interesting resources on collective intelligence from MIT and Noah Newford that might help organise some of the thinking

Noah Raford, Large scale participatory futures systems

The MIT Approach to Collective Intelligence
According to the Center for Collective Intelligence, a good collective intelligence platform (CI) must address the following themes:

Goals, referring to the desired outcome;
Incentives, referring to the motivational factors;
Structure/process, referring to the business model and organizational structure to complete the task; and
Staffing, referring to the people required to support the business model and sustainability of CI within the organization.
These four themes then translate into the following four questions:

What is to be accomplished?
Why should anyone help out?
How are they meant to contribute?
Who will perform the necessary work?

How to Build a Collective Intelligence Platform to Crowdsource Almost Anything

Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence

No guild needed.

jcchapster's picture

No guild needed, imo.

One can either do, or one cannot do.

The results of being able to "do" are apparent in a mix of projects/patches/tutorials/etc.

I believe the coding standards required by the Drupal community are documented.

Write stuff. Do stuff. The community will be able to see what you do.

A guild to me seems very exclusionary. And that is not what Drupal is.


slavojzizek's picture

Is the taoist approach. However, its just one way of thinking about it or looking at it. Some people are less able to "do it themselves" and need help/support so a guild is right for them, whereas it might not be right for you or someone like you. A guild is a framework for people to learn from each other, and it acknowledges the age-old fact that one becomes a master at their skill through teaching, not just doing.

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