This is a group for all users, developers and designers interested in the Drupal Open Source CMS, who are based in South Africa. The goal of this group is to foster the local community, provide local support and to allow the local Drupal industry to grow.
Our user group meet-ups:
monthly, please check meetup.com for dates.
- Cape Town
on the third Wednesday of every month, 18:00 for 18:30 - 21:30.
- Pretoria / Arcadia (NGO & Governement)
- Pretoria / Centurion
- Bryanston / Parkhurst
quarterly, please check meetup.com for dates.
Wednesday, 29 March, is set for the second meetup of 2017, at the Bandwidth Barn in the Woodstock Exchange.
We're super excited to have Stew West, frontend developer at Amazee Labs, as our speaker on the night. Stew recently returned from the six-day hands-on coding camp workshop, React in Flip Flops (in Spain), and is ready to share his talk entitled "Exploring React and Redux" with us.Read more
I have an eCommerce Drupal website with a large amount of products listed. One of my suppliers has 18,000 items and I get sent an updated file every day with updated pricing, stock quantities, new items and of course items that are no longer available are simply removed in the updated CSV file etc.
From this csv file I have to manually allocate items to categories that have been created on my website and therefore my pricing csv import file differs from the original file.Read more
I need to find a someone to provide ad hoc dev and design support for a couple of small Drupal sites I maintain (for non profit companies I help).
Right now I need to hire someone to develop an extension to integrate Payfast (or a similar local gateway) into a CiviCRM 4.7.16 module on a Drupal 7.54 site.
Can anyone help?
The next Joburg meetup is just a week away.
Amukelani Nkuna will be talking about Paragraphs.
Join us at Applogix from 18:30, be prepared to share the cool things you are building in Drupal or ask the group a question about an issue you are having.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Hutton Court, 1st Floor
1 Summit Road
With a bit of a dip in association-like activity on our local front it is perhaps a great time to highlight the fee and open elections for the director-at-large position on the board of the international Drupal Association. Elections are about to start and in fact, some of the process started a little while ago already with a call for those interested to serve to submit their profiles.
Profiles of the 2017 candidates: https://assoc.drupal.org/election/18/candidates
Yup, very exciting (and quite scary at times) ;-) I'm standing as a candidate too and my primary goal with this year's candidacy is to generate participation in and awareness of the process. On Wednesday the DA will start promoting the election and the candidates, but we can post about it in the mean time.
As you can see, you're all welcome to post comments to the profiles. Actual voting will be between the 6th and 18th of March and works pretty similarly to how we used to do it for the local DASA in that you rank candidates and to vote, you have to have been a member of Drupal.org for at least a year. You can read more about the elections:
Drupal Association Board Elections: https://assoc.drupal.org/drupal-association-board-elections
It is remarkable and encouraging to see just how much of the Drupal Association work-flows are similar to the ones we used for DASA and it is a heck of an interesting learning process getting to know more. We did very well in years past here and while I have to admit that the chance of winning this election is on the low side for me, the process is very enjoyable and with such incredible candidates we all win by having one of them win. On the off chance though, I'll still have enough time to make sure I can contribute to our local community in meaningful ways as I did before.
Let's bring South Africa and Africa to the stage!
With my kindest regards,
The Joburg group is back this year and we have a new venue.
Join us on the 1st of February at 18:30 at Applogix for our next meetup.
We will have a talk on DrupalVM by Ilsoda after which we will have an open session where you can show us what you are building with Drupal or get your Drupal related questions answered by the group.
Hutton Court, 2nd Floor
1 Summit Road
Lauro Scott-Parkin passed away on the 9th of December in a motorcycle accident.
He was loved by many within and outside of our circles, incredibly involved in our community and was a valuable personal friend of mine.
In our community Lauro was involved from the very start. From way before we even rebooted the meet-ups he was a linchpin and glue at the Drupal team of the company he worked at at the time and he continued those relationships, as all that he made, positively throughout the years. He contributed to all our events and in his capacity as the owner of Ingen Media, sponsored our conferences. But more than that, he made connections happen, bringing people together and building a community. Fair and very positive, he turned potential conflict into friendship and positive relations. There will be no way to ever replace his absence for us.
I'll miss the odd nights after midnight wandering streams in the suburbs and sitting on street corners under a starry night discussing plans for our Johannesburg community, collaborations and plans to make this world a better place. He was always positive and was such a role model for me that I often mentioned him to my daughter as an example. I recall him excusing himself from a social moment to go home to prepare Talia, his wife a nice salad for later that night. He seemed to be able to manage to stand his place full in friendship, in business and in a very rich personal life too. I will miss him terribly and have so many unfinished plans with the man!
To Talia, the many friends I know through him in our community and the many, many personal friends and family he had that I know will feel his loss so dearly, my heart and thoughts are with you and I hope his personality will survive him in your lives in the positive way he lived and interacted with all of us.
Anyone know if a podcast is available of the recent live webinar where Dries was going to talk more into the alliance between Acquia and Magento etc.
I was booked to view the webinar but missed it unfortunately.
Thanks in advance!Read more
AfrikaBurn is the spectacular result of the creative expression of participants who gather once a year in the Tankwa Karoo to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance!
And they need a new website, which is where you come in. Looking for a part time backend developer - it is a short term position, available immediately, location flexible. Site is on Drupal 7.
Site git repo: https://github.com/AfrikaBurn/website
For more information, contact email@example.com
In the spirit of the event, volunteers are also welcome.
Building on the phenomenal success of last year’s event – the first of its kind to be held in the Mother City – DrupalCamp Cape Town 2016 is set to reach, involve and inspire an even greater audience than before. Drupal professionals, novices, students and clients alike are excited for the return of what will be an informative day dedicated to one of the world’s most powerful open source content management platforms.Read more
Durban Meetup (Tues, 4 Oct): Quick Launch your platform with Drupal Distributions // SEO Migration on Drupal
Next Meetup in Durban is this Tuesday, 4th Oct - 6:30pm @ The Green Door in Glenwood!
"Quick Launch your platform with Drupal Distributions"
Mark Pape explores when you "should" & "shouldn't" use Drupal Distributions.
"SEO Migration on Drupal"
Tyron Love tells us about how Jellyfish migrated their SEO on their newly launched Drupal site.
Drinks and snacks will be provided, but please do RSVP for catering, thank you. Hope to see you there! :) Here is the link: https://www.meetup.com/Drupal-Durban/events/229551375/Read more
Today, we're beyond stoked to announce, not one, but two, great Keynote Speakers for Drupal Camp Cape Town! From Austin, Amazee Group CTO - Michael Schmid and from Zurich, Agile Fluency™ Coach - Steve Holyer!
Michael (aka Schnitzel) will open the Camp with his informative Keynote and Steve will finish off the day with an inspiring talk, to drive us on till the next Camp.
Don't miss out, register today!Read more
Thank you to everyone who made it to last month's meetup! We had a great turnout and a great speaker! A big thank you to Bryan Gruneberg for, as always, an interesting and enlightening talk.
Wednesday, 28 September, is set for the next meetup at the Bandwidth Barn.Read more
UPDATE: Thank you to all those who volunteered. However, due to poor response the election process is postponed for now. We are focused on delivering a great Drupal Camp Cape Town on 21 October. Keep an eye on this forum for further developments.Read more
After a very successful Camp in 2015, we’re really looking forward to bringing Drupal professionals, novices, students and clients together on 21 October 2016, for the next informative and exciting Drupal Camp Cape Town.
We're super excited to announce that the venue for this year's Camp is generously being sponsored by Quirk. Their awesome conference venue, with a fully equipped café and roof-top bar with views of Table Mountain and the city, will be a treat for all attending Drupalistas from across the globe.Read more
We are looking for an experienced Drupaler to join the e-Government for Citizens team at Western Cape Government. It's a two-year contract based at our office in Long Street, Cape Town. R 612 822 - R 721 878 per year (all-inclusive salary package). Closing date for applications is 22 August 2016. More info & online application
Hope some of you might be interested yourselves or give your friends a heads up about this opportunity,
After some lively discussion at the Cape Town Meetup last night, it was suggested that we start a discussion around a) what do people want to hear about and b) what do people want to talk about at the Drupal Camp Cape Town on 21 October.
Some broad suggestions around the topics (based off DrupalCon Dublin's speaker tracks) are:Read more
A long time ago, we had an awesome Johannesburg meet-up that entered a new phase it became more open, with the community (at the time, in attendance) deciding on a collective learning project which will theme the year's meet-ups. We would build an Angular app on a Drupal back-end. The opening up of the meet-ups like that was what prompted me to start attending them. It was tech at its best and we all learned an incredible amount for those meet-ups!
They did also have challenges, and we wanted to share this value with more people across the country, so I asked as diverse a group of people I could at the time, those attending this meet-up, whether they would be interested to attend a new meeting, something more formal to see if we can create structure in which we can pour effort to help build the Drupal community.
One of the toughest problems we wanted to address was to create an even playing field. No new group, especially such as ourselves or anyone of us or our own interests should ever be advantaged over any other entity in the Drupal community.
Over coming months we collected ourselves as a Voluntary Association. Pretty much, that is based on the Commonwealth right to freedom of assembly and association as I understand it. Of course, we wanted to make sure that if work is put into this, it not eventually be turned to single or grouped interests to the exclusion or to uneven promotion of others. We also needed to state some purpose for the association, and give it a name.
None of us were formally trained to do any of this before, so we tried to use the best resources we could find. We adapted a constitution we found online that was highly regarded. That led to the constitution of DASA:
It really is worth reading.
We looked at what the Drupal Association does and tried to learn from it. They do not endorse one local group over another, don't organise local groups or dictate, but provides guidance and support for the community to self-organise.
We continued to work hard on top of what we could find to fundamentally make sure we allow for open oversight and participation. Knowing things like a constitution and our other paperwork may make dry reading, we still wanted to provide the opportunity for oversight... when things go right, nobody may want to read this stuff, but when it does not or someone wants to catch up to see if they want to participate, it's all there.
While we didn't always succeed in everything hoped to, we continued to this year to make things more open. When we could we used YouTube to record and stream live our meetings, then publish them on YouTube. When the livestream and record feature didn't allow for some people to join, we still held open meetings where everyone could join on Hangouts. It may be closed source, but we could think of no more open solution that could compete.
We always published our agendas and minutes on git, probably the most open on-line service ever in the history of mankind. Agendas were up early for each meeting, ready to be edited by anyone at all to add issues to discuss and minutes were up right after the meetings.
Of course, we didn't consider ourselves very legitimate yet. Didn't want to act on behalf of anyone until we could state our hopeful purpose and see if it may all work outside of the room we were meeting in (we all met in one boardroom, the same one used for the Johannesburg meet-up at the time). We were in need of an election.
To consider who may have a stake in the work we wanted to do, we needed to figure out who they were and give them a method to manage us. We needed to define an electorate which DASA would then represent and that electorate needed to be able to remove us completely if we turned "bad" ;-)
We could have chosen the people who attend the Johannesburg meet-up, but we just got out of a state where the meet-up were dominated by one commercial interest and was picking up very nicely being free. Johannesburg's meet-up was also doing well without the need for a governing body.
In the end we opted to choose a wide electorate, people who use Drupal in South Africa. Of course, there's no easy way to find them. So when it came to elections, we chose to allow people registered on https://groups.drupal.org/south-africa (GDoSA) because we believed it will perhaps help build the participant South African community there while being an independent (of any specific South African interest) platform. Some polls at the time on GDoSA saw several new Drupal account created quickly to sway the outcome of the poll, so for actual elections, we decided to only accept votes each year for accounts registered before a certain date that year. Of course this may still be abused by registering accounts between elections, so it is not a sure way to fix things and perhaps we should have something a little more sure. We also then held elections in the open, not using any means by which a local party could manipulate results - people can just post their vote right there on GDoSA and everyone in the world can verify the results.
Voter turnout was and is low, but is picking up but there is very little limit on the opportunity to vote. With voter turnout below half in many countries, it still allows a means to change should the electorate choose.
We also added term limits so that we can have some change to make sure interests do not organically become advantaged. None of us can serve for more than four years in a row. The year following four in office, makes one ineligible as a candidate for the next. My own term limit have been reached and I'm now ineligible for the upcoming elections. As it happens, that is a very good thing right now. We also discussed, as time passed, limiting board members to one per commercial interest. So no two members from the same company, for example, but I don't recall that we formally adopted that and expected it to be a limit for the new elections this year.
Much of this is in our constitution, so we are legally bound to uphold it. But as DASA grew, we also realised our constitution is not perfect. If we wanted to assure these values, we may want to amend it to include some of these extras.
We also experienced a really hard time each year with everyone having to learn what needs to be done when the portfolios are new and the association is too. At the beginning that was easier, but as we grew, it became harder. At the monthly DASA meetings we once again referenced some of how the Drupal Association and others handle this. After all, most such problems have been solved and we just need to go reference the best solution we can find. Essentially three options, not exclusive to each other, were discussed, but no decisions were made yet: We could stagger the terms and elections per office holder as the DA does so that not every office changes at the same time, we could make terms a little longer, say two years (limited to two terms before one takes a break) or we can appoint volunteers not necessarily on the board for work that requires continuity with the elected board portfolio holder simply providing oversight.
One other really tough problem to deal with was the website for DASA. What value at all would a site like that have. Should DASA even have one. You can see these were early days ;-) As always we agonised over things like ensuring an even playing field and being cautious even of ourselves being able to take advantage.
When I finally build a DASA site, it was a Drupal site. Perfectly featurized and in git open to everyone to contribute and build together. It had no login, so we had no worry about potentially collecting information such as a contact list which we may abuse if it is not also open to everyone else doing Drupal work in South Africa. Of course, we did discuss that if we do accept registrations in future, we can make is clear the e-mail address or other registration information will be published on the site so that anyone has access, but that would also mean we will lose a lot of potential registrations due to privacy concerns, so we couldn't use such a registration for voting.
At the time the board out voted me about the Drupal site. It was considered easier and more accessible for people to edit just YAML files in GitHub to update the site, so it was decided that I rebuild the site in Jekyll. As is often the case, even though I disagreed, I gained a heck of a lot more from having to do that than I expected. Jekyll was my gateway to Gulp which was my gateway to Node.js. The site is still up and still in Jekyll, open for anyone to contribute to, but the technology did not turn out to be as accessible as we all hoped.
The board members were all also very active in the meet-up. The values we discussed with DASA translated into what we do at the meet-up and for a year or so we were careful not to add things like brand to our slides. Eventually that seemed to matter less, and while I made many presentations with slides that promote DASA, I also eventually made some that were branded with the name of the company I work for.
To someone new to the whole thing it may appear odd that organisers of meet-ups these days are also on the board. Why not make it the same thing. But the biggest distinction is that for meet-ups new ones can be started organically, so if one feels wrong or breaks for some reason, another one can start, two in the same town may serve different purposes (we have very low overlap between one's intended for government users and ones intended for general users). DASA on the other hand will eventually develop brand and a lot of people will pour a lot of work into a provably open and free vessel like it, it needed to have very strong founding principles to keep it open and free to all and not to advantage one above another.
I was asked once in Cape town why I didn't phone someone in government to find out what the state of a site may be. I replied that I didn't have that person's contact number in my personal capacity and would have to go find it as myself because that knowledge belongs to DASA. When I was still privy to e-mail directed at firstname.lastname@example.org this was a very active job, to keep things apart. I have not heard any news about it since and have no idea if there is an iron curtain in place of any sort. Unfortunately, such things cannot be easily audited. I knew this person's details from him having used the Drupal.org contact form, but the query related to DASA. How would one ever completely assure advantage is not taken, one can only hope the elected person's conscious is guides her or him.
We also had very little money to start with. On a hundred rand here and there or the promise of a donation by one of the board members, we registered domains and a Google account. We didn't want to spend more than we could get in of course, so until now we made do with a single e-mail account from Google. That was another point we discussed recently. To get generic DASA e-mail addresses so that when we communicate on behalf of DASA, we use those and not our own. We have the funds to do that now and it was on the cards.
When DASA gained some Capetonian members on the board, we needed then to have access to the meetings. Flying around would become expensive quickly, so that was not an option and we were already live streaming, so we just got them in on Hangouts on a big TV in the boardroom. This worked, but was never a great solution. It created an unevenness. One can never communicate as effectively if you are the remote party on such a call with the people present as those present can with each other. So when we finally moved everyone to Hangouts, we stopped using a single boardroom and instead met from the comfort of our own homes. This allowed for everyone to be on the same even playing field, as everyone would be able to interrupt and interject any comments or concerns they may have. This benefited everyone, as members from Durban and other areas could participate in the meetings as well.
DASA's meetings remained on Hangouts, accessible to all with a Google account (yes, it would be nice not to have that requirement, but we haven't been able to come up with a more open solution yet). Anyone can speak and anyone can add items to the agenda. At the end of each item we always ask if there are any more people that want to say something about it and we either find consensus or vote.
At the meetings we discussed so many ways in which to help grow the community in South Africa. The older agendas all contain those ideas. One of the early ones we considered within our ability to work on was to start additional meet-ups. Cape Town had one before, but it was dormant. With a bit of travel and support the great people there quickly managed to independently, self-organise and build a meet-up with its own culture and methods. The Johannesburg one was organically sans brand, very technical, very off-the-island, always with a major part the unconferencing and often ran very late into the night. The Cape Town one didn't have a problem with brand so much (having never experienced it in a bad way), topics were mid-level and more accessible, was very Drupal themed and on-the-island didn't often (or at all?) feature unconferencing and ended on time much earlier.
Reading about how international open source communities face questions of diversity and access, we wanted to experiment a bit with new meet-ups. Women who are primary caregivers or people where both parents work may not be able to make after-hour meet-ups easily and alcohol at meet-ups may also be part of a culture that excludes. So we talked about experimenting with meet-ups that provide alternative times and natures. Each to be nurtured, but not managed by DASA. Independence was a great necessity. Volunteers need to run them. They must be community incentives. Of course there would be overlap from DASA members being very much the kind of people that would then also volunteer to do this work.
We started the Parkhurst meet-up as a day-time, in office hours one. Companies that see a value in their staff participating in a meet-up can now make it part of work too. the Centurion one which seems to remain organically low in attendance, but when people are invited more actively or a schedule is published ahead of time can be one of the biggest, it also passed Cape town to become the second biggest in terms of subscribers on meetup.com. The Government one, with a completely new group of people attending! The Durban one which is the newest and should do well in coming year. We also lost the Johannesburg/Bryanston one. It lost its venue (the company that graciously hosted us moved offices) and if all goes well, we will start it up again some time soon.
Another item we frequently talked about is diversity. It is often something that makes people uncomfortable to talk about straight up, but we did and we openly and clearly worked on the matter and note that it is a big failure of us to live in a country that is so diverse and have our camp photos be so low on diversity.
In general the Johannesburg community managed a bit better on racial diversity and the Capetonian one on gender diversity. But we need a heck of a lot of work on this and can do without eyeball rolling when the subject comes up. To be honest for myself, I really don't want to work with anyone who doesn't think this is a great concern and essential part of what we need to do here.
We also pushed really hard, I recall how tough it was to get us all to keep to a date and work towards an event, to settle on regular DrupalCamps in South Africa. The two strongest communities would hold one each once a year. It was tough, but we pulled it off providing guidance, but not actually running each as DASA. The community in each area ran them. We had three so far, all great successes in their own rights.
I'm leaving out a heck of a lot here to keep this post short ;-) We had loads more planned. For example, outreach was always on the list of things to do. But we had only so many people volunteering and had to work on what we could. So we had to order things by how essential they were (fiduciary commitments) and how in line they were with our goals and the ability and interest of volunteers.
## DrupalCamp Gauteng 2016
I really have to start by stating that it was a success. Many compliments from people, much skills transferred and new ideas presented.
But there were also problems. Specifically I gather, two areas, financial management and oversight and the nature of some of the talks were not to everyone's liking.
It sure was one of the toughest camps to organise as I can say first-hand as I'm also the one to blame for any wrongs because I was the primary organiser. We had three organisers and one media company to promote the camp. The organisers were also on the DASA board, one the treasurer.
For all four parties work outside of DASA increased tremendously and every indication is that work increased across the board for all companies. In Gauteng it seriously put a dent in our meet-ups too with none of them showing the kind of high attendance they had last year.
The first fail came with when we really couldn't get organisation together for the initial date we set for the camp. But we quickly found a new venue and started planning again.
We succeeded on so many levels. We found a venue that is a non-commercial entity, so impartial, but also favours Drupal as it owns a Drupal website.
Early on we had many dreams, great social media, two keynote speakers for the first DrupalCamp to be across two days with two tracks each day and loads and loads of people because we now had a professional marketing service. We would all have loads of time too, because we really thought we would, to affect all these dreams.
But a perfect storm nearly derailed the whole thing. Mostly, it would be time that would be lacking in the days running up to the camp. Early on already, around the beginning of the year, the companies doing Drupal work were seriously overwhelmed with new work. That affected not only the media company, but also the individuals organising. I may have gotten one in three calls answered by other organisers, usually with a quick note to say they are really busy and can only deal with things later.
I was also too late, by a very small margin, to assure us some of the international speakers I hoped for. One even went as far as getting a Yellow Fever injection before having to cancel.
When we organised the DrupalCamp Johannesburg 2015, for the organisers to use the DASA bank account which will then allow for open clarity (we published the monthly statements on GitHub) we tried to keep things very clean and clear. We also had loads of time compared to now, so actual expenditure were discussed repeatedly for each item at the actual DASA meetings. It took up an enormous amount of time and that first camp also had to be postponed once. Eventually we decided that a separate organising group can handle the event apart from also addressing the issues at the DASA meeting which was starting to hit midnight (from 6pm). We had absolutely good oversight on expenses.
By the time DrupalCamp Cape Town 2015 were being pushed so that we can make good on our plan for two camps per year, the idea of organisers running independent was settled, but we were also cautious about finances and at the time were new to the Capetonians organising a camp (not that we were old hands up in Johannesburg). Most of the now-growing funds were solicited for by the efforts of those in Johannesburg. So we wanted some assurance that things will go well and decided that some of what we did in Johannesburg would also be good there, like getting more than one quote for things. We never discussed at the time some other things that would provide transparency, for example, that sponsors pay into the DASA account directly and the DASA account be used for all transactions. That would of course allow anyone to verify that all sponsors were treated equally so that one paying a certain amount is not presented as another offering in-kind service. Also, that till slips be filed for expenses of people potentially having to pay for items ad hoc.
Come our newest camp. As bills started coming in at deadlines for food or travel for our international speakers confirming them with others were proving tough as was time to get multiple quotes. When we tried to have our treasurer make a payment for our international keynote, she could not. Our bank account was not set up correctly and try as we may we couldn't figure out why. We used to have two signatories on the account, I was there from the start and we tried to move the treasurer on as well each year. This year we had the account still with me with login ability and with our treasurer setup for access to transact. Only, she couldn't! So by phone we agreed I can pay and I did.
If we had the time, we definitely would have met at the bank to sort this out and I would have gathered many quotes for each expense. From what I gather some people are quite unhappy about this part and there is even some dispute as to whether we adopted this as a requirement for all camps. To those people, I can only apologise and ask for your forgiveness. I am sure that we would have had to cancel the camp due to lack of time on the organisers' part had I known it to be a firm requirement and adopted policy. But also that I really considered it a great guideline and not a firm requirement for this camp. Again, my apologies if I was wrong. We were three organisers, each aware of payments being made or making payments to print and other costs and none of us presented several quotes for them. I'm sure none of us wilfully did it against a firm policy.
A second part stems from this. We also have a DASA account with donation money in it. While of course, camp expenses will be in line with the goals of what DASA does, we traditionally considered the camps separate and self- governing and that they should fund themselves. As I recall, the camp should fund itself and not go over the budget of funding collected by fundraising for the camp, however if it does, we would cover expenses by DASA and work hard to address the failure. No camp, including this one, went over budget...
But, the sponsors for this camp are not paid up. That is partly because in one case, after we had the budget set and expenses planned (orders placed) one sponsor phoned to cancel because of cash-flow problems. I asked if the sponsor would still want to sponsor and just pay later to which the sponsor agreed. Considering the participation by a valued community member and the havoc the loss of budget would wreak at a late stage, potentially having to spend non-camp-funded DASA money, I accepted with great gratitude to the sponsor too.
That turned out to be something of a mistake. From what I hear now that means I may have extended credit and that I was in no position to do so unilaterally. I'm still unclear about the specific requirements, definitions and consequences.
Several other sponsors made no specific arrangement and simply intend to pay their invoices, just haven't yet. I'm following up as best I can and fully expect all payments to be made. Thank you very much to our sponsors!
Without sponsors, camps don't happen. We understand cash-flow issues in companies, especially as it has been a tough year economically for a vast majority of the country. If we denied the sponsors the ability to commit to paying, we would have lost their funds, potentially not been able to host the Johannesburg camp and those companies would have lost the opportunity to help us organise the camp. Given that the sponsors for the camp are usually the same companies who sponsor both Gauteng and Cape Town camps, we couldn't see rejecting their money as a fair option to the community.
Due to the issues above, we have decided to find and adopt some formal good financial practices.
At the DASA meetings at one point we discussed what to do with money raised by camps that remain unused for the camp. In general we thought it a good idea to then just donate that to DASA for general use. That led to discussions in which we thought of camps as potential fundraisers, but it was quickly pointed out that such a thing would be disingenuous to sponsors unless we made very clear that the sponsorship is also for fund raising. So it was decided that the money raised by camps should be predominantly spent on the camp, the purpose for which the sponsor provided the money.
The recent Johannesburg camp raised R 79 000 which then became our budget. I have to admit that without the time available to do so manually and without a working accounting package, I eye-balled things and kept planning spreadsheets. Still, I was fairly confident we remained within budget and as always considered that I can donate if there is a crisis and we go over.As it turns out, we were nearly spot-on; By my account the expenses were R 77 122.71, so just R 1 887.29 short of perfectly using the budget of the camp. The niggle being that the account for the camp is in the negative as we paid with bank account money and sponsors' payment is still outstanding. This will be solved soon enough, but this post and what happened of late occurred in this period and fuels current and future legitimate concerns.
Nature of Talks
This issue is a bit more nebulous. It's often mentioned off-hand and the topic quickly moved along to another, or mentioned as second-hand opinion. I don't recall hearing it first-hand yet.
Essentially, from what I understand the first day's topics were initially not received well because of being titled business in topical matter. But that turned out to be quite nice for some and the later concern appear to centre around the keynote talk being a freedom rights advocacy one, themed in IT and privacy. The talk pretty much parallels this DrupalCon keynote by Cory Doctorow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaf3Sl2r3jE only with a South African keynote and advocacy group and as you can see from that awesome video of the talk, it is well received, as was this one. Some people have mentioned it as the best talk of the camp and as very relevant. On the other hand, we do have to acknowledge that not every talk will be to everyone's tastes. When a theme encourages civil rights and one's own order of business is to move citizens' information out of civil control, one would very obviously not like a talk like this ;-)
Cory's DrupalCon Keynote is 5th most watched video, 2nd most popular Keynote (after the DriesNote) of it's DrupalCon and the 9th most watched DrupalCon Keynote ever of all DrupalCons (only coming after some of the the DriesNotes). Several people at the conference expressed the opinion that the R2K talk by Murray was the best of the camp.
Given the "Business" track of the day, a talk centered around Privacy, Protection of Information and how easy it is to have surveillance on citizens, we thought it was important to address these concerns, especially as there were CEOs in the audience, who have to address things like POPI in the near future.
I personally liked the talk and found that it was supported very well and supported other talks very well in themes for the day. The two great themes I got from the day was how human-centric our Businesses are and how much the people in our industry care for humans and their rights. We really do care for our people (building the sites) and our people (using the sites). It was perhaps one of the best days spent on Drupal that I ever had.
The second day did experience life-demo failures in talks and we have previously recommended to speakers to rather use slides, but the call on the matter, up to now, remains up to the speaker.
When one sits with friends or people you frequently have contact with it can easily turn into an echo-chamber. A common opinion can be formed. The same or similar opinions can be added together and a group may easily develop a point of view with momentum. I suspect this happened over the last quarter mostly also after the camp. Really good people from our community for really benevolent reasons that were shared also recognised shared frustration. Perhaps not everyone's but certainly a significant amount of people and also a group that is in frequent communication. It may have turned the dissatisfaction, specifically around the topical matters for the camp, into something that sounded like a wider consensus.
I may yet be proven wrong in my opinion that the camp's topics were great for many people as I have also just heard the opinion of a few, took guidance from the popularity of the talk by Cory, for example or just feel I pick up on a general drive for freedoms and independence in the Drupal community worldwide. I also just live in an echo-chamber of my own making, from the videos I watch (though I watch at least all the DrupalCon videos) to the people I speak to. But I would be really surprised if this turns out to be the majority opinion.
So, one may be excused for not knowing about this; No open invitation or event was listed for this, but this past Saturday something happened! Oooh ;-) I like things more open and I'll try my best not to sound to one-sided about this, but it sure appeared like a very well orchestrated plan to move past the checks and balances that DASA placed to keep things open, free and fair. Nothing humans do happen without motivation though, and that is the biggest thing to keep in mind for this happening: real humans with real concerns.
Early tensions formed part people's motivations and the build up to this past Saturday.
Very open organisations often find that such radical openness stands in the way, with all its processes, of fast action and progress. I believe it is exactly the legitimacy that those processes bring that allows an organisation to survive and become something valuable where quick actions without public oversight will also fail. So, very much a tortoise and the hare tale. Much, if not most of the value nowadays attached to the DASA brand, which was just a name picked a few years ago and had no meaning, stems from it's values. The actions often attached to it like meet-ups and camps, were done as independent volunteer work by community members.
As you can see from the length of this letter, DASA has a lot to do, but the basics are very dry stuff. Fun stuff like meet-up organisation, talks and the like happen more organically, though can sure be supported with some planning too, to great effect. You can also see that we can do with more DASA work to get the basics well in order. Adopting good accounting practices as we will now being just one thing, but we also have so much work to do to keep open and free.
Some items, like a new website, are easy wins if you discard the values. A dozen or more people offered already, but doing so within the framework of keeping things open, free and fair, well, that becomes a challenge. To one recent offer I mentioned these requirements, that we need to check with the board on execution, probably fairly ask public GDoSA submissions for theme work, discuss functionality and that we will give credit to the people who work on the site, perhaps saying @which company they work if it is in company time, but also that it would have to be an open collaboration, like git with pull requests open to all to contribute to... that sounded too daunting.
It is doable though and will help those who partake in such a process a great deal in building the kind of skills one needs to contribute to open source and the Drupal project in particular. so it has wins on many fronts. Who knows, it may also finally build the talent base for us to have code sprints at our camps.
Recently I called for potential developers of such a site (before the Saturday event). A real need for Drupal business in South Africa is work on the Drupal brand. One of the things we considered is that a much easier option would be to build the dasa.org.za site slower and addressing community needs which usually means much more consultation, but appoint a developer for a dasa.co.za site for which we can get a new developer every two or three years. The .co.za would serve as a brand and introduction site. Akin to http://drupal.org/ and https://www.drupal.com/
Such frustrations, as well as a myriad smaller ones seated in such things as unfamiliarity with the open source software DASA uses, like git (Drupal switched to it completely a couple of years ago), browsers (clicking back may lose your form's content), markdown (as on Drupal.org forums), e-mail, Hangouts, not having a good reference to DASA's history and operations (the constitution is there, as is all the agendas and minutes, but we need a more digestible format) and the recent faults with the latest camp for which I am to blame led to a critical build up.
Something needed to happen, and a good organic leader steps up naturally and one did down in Cape Town.
We needed an AGM, urgently. This is actually a constitutional requirement. So, really urgently. Initially we tried to plan something the day after the camp, but we predicted correctly that we'd be exhausted by then. Two days of continuous talks, weeks of planning prior, on top of normal work loads, meant that volunteers probably wouldn't have energy for another full day meeting, in the form of an AGM on the Saturday would be useful.
So we opted for a Saturday in June. The meeting was expected to be long, but it was never made clear why so long, the best we had was the intent, that we should workshop the future of DASA. Which sounded great, but could have seriously done with an agenda that is open for all to contribute to and edit.
At one point we were told the meeting will have a facilitator of some sort. Very evasive, it was someone well regarded by some of us who knew her, at the May meeting of the DASA board, it was discussed and objected to. Finding consensus, that a facilitator for our own AGM was unnecessary, as someone who did not understand our processes and values could not help facilitate the meeting.
There were several reasons presented against, none of which despaired the person.
In days following I got an angry shouting call about it so loud that the people in the room with me overheard. Facing such abuse is not pleasant. But I wrote it off to passion and stress.
The meeting was first changed to an SGM (Special General Meeting), instead of an AGM (Annual General Meeting). The constitution makes the requirements and possibility for both meetings very clear. We received this as a unilateral e-mail missive. We should in fact give 14 days' written notice after at least one-third of members call an SGM. It was then changed to a workshop, but massive change was in the air and it would have been unwise to skip such a meeting where, more than likely, a quorum of the board, if not all of the governing board members would be present. The agenda was lean, merely a list of chapter titles not a dozen long and not giving much of a clue as to what was about to happen. It is important to note that board members and other community members attending these meetings are doing so voluntarily. Giving up an entire Saturday of your weekend, without a clear reason or purpose presents an unfairness to those who participate.
Invitations were by phone, driven, and somehow seemed to include parties that may have an interest in change, but not those who would not. Not all sponsors of the camp were invited, my recommendation to invite evenly on GDoSA was ignored, not even all Capetonians were. Present then, on the day, were people I mentioned before: Really good people from our community for really benevolent reasons that also shared frustration. And not present, were the same types of people, who have voted in elections, and should be represented by the Board they voted for. No one outside this circle of interest was invited or even knows about the AGM/SGM/Workshop that was called, and no minutes have been published to inform members of what occurred.
The meeting was of ten people, included the board and was immediately mentioned as not a board meeting, but some sort of workshop. Two of us, Lee and myself, were in Johannesburg in a meeting room and the rest in Cape Town. Our facilitator, though decided against, was also there. But there were bigger things afoot...
What followed was what seemed like a conflict resolution process combined with a hidden agenda, a meeting, a workshop, something DASA and something community. It allowed each person to state portions in a very rigid and controlled process unlike in a GM (General Meeting of DASA where each point can be debated by anyone and it doesn't resolve until we ask if anyone has anything more to say).
If this was a workshop alone, it would have been great and pretty much covered all the matters we discussed at early DASA meetings. It was time again to cover them all. Unfortunately, having just devoted weeks of full days organising and then attending the camp, I would not have been able to volunteer and devote a full day of work to such a workshop.
I'm not terribly comfortable with the closed nature of the meeting, selected invitees, no access nationally (you could not attend via Hangouts, you had to be at the premises of Native in either Cape Town or Johannesburg), requiring a full day usually reserved by people for other use, an opaque purpose (no published agenda).
But, good people, remember. So for it's nebulosity I knew at least that I was up for a grilling on the finances, but just the day before, I also managed to get the time, dearly bought, to publish and present via e-mail that we're within budget. I also know from the previously mentioned phone call and others more civil that initial grilling would have been on not working within the budget and several layers in between the dates of moving targets. Changes to the meeting arrived as late as five days before, still with very little detail. Heck, I can only guess that with it becoming apparent between that e-mail and another just the day before that the camp was within budget, the schedule was changed yet again, this time to remove a section of the meeting that would have served well had I misstepped on these other point and in which I was expected to report on the camp.
A portion of the day at the beginning addressed the finances in some discussion where we ended up deciding to adopt new accounting best practices and where our Treasurer resigned. That last one was a surprise to me and appeared to be one to everyone else too. From what I gather it happened and remains without acrimony.
Where this meeting succeeded incredibly well was where it worked to its strengths. People interested in bettering the Drupal community in South Africa and prepared to and able to devote a Saturday to a workshop to find out how such things can be done each in turn had an opportunity to express themselves and creatively find out how a group may proceed on valuable projects.
While these options were available to be talked about at DASA meetings, there were some new faces around the table and it was encouraging to see the enthusiasm.
Just one example of this was heartfelt support for grassroots Drupal training. Teaching and/or introducing Drupal to complete novices or people just getting their feet wet. We brought this up at DASA meetings with it remaining on the monthly agenda for years. Eventually we moved it to a file called "Set-Aside.md" intended to be revisited. Each such item had a reason and a statement of when to revisit it:
Essentially, it comes down to needing volunteers interested in actioning on such matters and with the time available. We had many, which is where the meet-ups and camps came from, but we didn't have enough to do everything we dreamed of doing. Until this Saturday's meeting, we were planning our first Summit and Clinics.
Here sat some of our volunteers. Great!
So we had many great items on the table and I really hope this creates some more action taken by the people recommending them or others that hear the recommendations and feel they can contribute to have more happen to support our growing community.
Another notable focus was on a more commonly well known brand for Drupal in the country. We do need to work on this, very much. One of the metrics we use to track the success of DASA counts Drupal sites in South Africa and it is statistically close to a flat line, maybe even dropping a bit. Heck, just the other day some statistical work showed there's currently only 206 Drupal sites in the top 1 million sites in the world which are in the whole of Africa! 71 of which are South African.
There was some contradictory needs too, both, of course framed with the recent failure of mine on finances, for more strict finances and governance (which I am looking forward to) and the second being, that the work of DASA is not "fun". No idea how more governance and financial work will be more fun ;-) But for myself, while phoning around to get quotes or sending endless e-mails cannot be described as fun exactly, we really did start DASA to provide for the dry stuff that needs doing so that we can then have fun. It all certainly does end up being fun too.
This was a regular theme, with both the rigidity of rules and that DASA should not dictate mentioned by a few in attendance. It is all doable, we do need DASA rules to keep things open, free and fair, but since DASA doesn't do things, just supports, its rules, including those we are legally bound to follow, does not affect or block community initiatives, meet-ups, camps and other events.
(More) or existing governance, including the open, free and fair basis of such work does hamper fast work by DASA, but it also proved to work very well in that we had many meet-ups, camps and in general a lot of people just know each other now in our community. Case in point, it was raised during the meeting that many sitting around the table would not have known each other had it not been for DASA providing an open platform for anyone to participate. It need not hamper action, DASA just supports on an open, free and fair basis, losing those values would, to me, be a massively high price to pay and put a huge dent in the credibility of DASA. Governance under those principles is what DASA is and that is very valuable.
Some challenges mentioned I find tough to understand. for example, that it is not clear who DASA serves. Perhaps because I was there from the start and in general, in life, I advocate for democratic principles. To me it is very clear who we serve when we say Drupal users in South Africa. Maybe because I often think about what that sort of thing means, I've gotten some answers already. I know that a government with 50% voter turnout doesn't stop serving the rest of its citizens. So it follows that questions on openness and fairness should apply to all Drupal users in South Africa, even if they don't participate, or attend meetups, or nominate themselves to be on the Board. We should still consider their needs. Yes, it is tougher to try to do that than to serve a smaller group of, inherently more closed interests. To this day we go as far as randomly sorting the sponsors on the camp site so that they receive fair order on each page load and if we present people or companies we do so evenly, with very open criteria and open to be taken part in by everyone. (Tech note, Nginx microcaching for this site will likely mean that if you reload it rapidly, some results may be the same, but reload at a more sedate pace will result in randomly ordered entries).
When we decided to change credit for donated time and services some time ago, we decided to make it name@company when a company may be allowing a person to work in company time, but we also recognised that the few companies we serve would then be given too much exposure, perhaps having a cooling effect on having other companies or individuals contribute. We didn't want to be a cartel of insiders vs outsiders, so we decided to only start crediting companies once we have more of them listed as such. For the years when Burtronix was the only company member, we did not link the membership company name on our site to the company website:
Now that we have another, we do:
We're very pro-company and commercial interest as these are the vessels supporting the people who use Drupal. But we are also very careful to keep the playing field level and to credit such interests through the people they serve.
We also decided to only start referring requests received on email@example.com asking for companies that can do Drupal work to that page once we reach at least five company members and openly mention on GDoSA that we will be doing so. Up to now we did not make any referrals.
Going through the notes of the meeting that was forwarded to only those who attended (more about this later), there's a few more challenges mentioned that I do not understand and would like to explore:
That DASA's goals and electorate do not "match" [sic].
That DASA is supposedly open to all but is "more constrained than announced" [sic]. I can always support more open though, so let's hear how! ;-)
Some other challenges also speak volumes about the frustration with process and expectation that DASA should do more, more actively. For example, an entry of "self-proclaimed representatives of the Drupal community" would appear quite targeted as at the time of its entry I just used words that that it would have been a response to. Well, yes, I am elected, so for one thing, I, along with every openly elected board member are representing our people, that is what a board is and it is a service position with much responsibility and to which I pay enormous respect. As for "self proclaimed", here's the open election:
https://groups.drupal.org/node/479073 not self-proclaimed.
A very emotional, heartfelt and passionate statement at one point by someone went as far as mentioning that I can appear dominant and that that is exactly what we say we want to avoid in the name of fairness. I have to admit that I do at least two things that would easily make me stand out as such. I often remind about the constitution and values and on a more personal level, when such topics come up for discussion, I'm a fervent advocate of the use of FLOSS software.
But at such platforms I am an equal. Usually at the DASA general meetings, each and every topic we discuss always ends with the chair asking if everyone's been heard allowing further discussion. When a decision needs to be made, we always either find consensus or vote. When it doesn't, sometimes we postpone. Just because you are of an opinion that more closed source solutions would be better doesn't mean you are right and can take the advocate for them to task for being dictatorial. It's as simple as asking for a vote on the matter, or if you think consensus can be reached, argue further for it. We did this all the time, often I would plead for more stuff in Git and often I would lose with more stuff being stored in Google Docs. When the vote does not go my way I still support and partake, filling in forms, calendars and comments as directed. When slack was mentioned we pretty much didn't adopt it, but for those asking for it, maybe a slack channel was opened and maybe, as I warned at the time, one of its effects was to create a side channel and echo-chamber as an aside, closed group communication often does.
That we should promote Drupal, not DASA as a brand. I'm sure this is often the intent, but DASA in its current form did very well, so it's a bit tough to hide its success. Still, we can redouble our effort and with a newly noted reference point being the Drupal brand, we should be able to do better.
That DASA needs to manage abuse with healthy rules. Also a great one and awesome to pursue.
That DASA is supposed to be open to everyone but is in fact not! Well, let's open it up then, even more. ;-)
I'm also worried about the opening up of all our information being a challenge. It's pretty low-effort from what I see and it is perhaps one of the most valuable things we do in my opinion. Open should be a central tenet and should remain one. But the concern raised limited the matter to "things that should not always be shared". That I can agree with, though I don't know of any such things as our statements suddenly became very valued as having been shared and so did our agendas, minutes, our website (what is a website if not shared), creative and metrics / indicators of of success... that's what we share.
Participation in community work can be a lot of fun. DASA's work was never intended to be fun. It allows those interested in serving on a more formal basis to facilitate more fun activities, among others to happen. So both fun and not fun (but still very rewarding) things can be partaken in. Perhaps DASA's success made it appear like the sole avenue to use to take action in if you want to volunteer. We could have separated the DASA brand more from the activities. But it also speaks volumes for what a good brand can do and now we can work to make that brand Drupal.
As such a volunteer myself, interested in helping start meet-ups, speaking at them, supporting them in many ways and organising camps I feel that DASA was of great assistance in these matters. As my term limit came up as a board member I didn't plan to stop participation, in fact, I openly stated the many ways I hope to continue, with summit organisation, starting code sprints, travelling Africa a bit to see how we can work with local Drupal communities, perhaps even reviving the Johannesburg/Bryanston meet-up. Of course, I would have to see where this current chapter in Drupal South African history takes us.
Then comes a tough one. We adopted a good constitution, but perhaps not perfect and certainly with newly revealed unexpected requirements no board member to date understood. The constitution required a real full audit. That can be expensive to the tune of R 30 000 p.a.:
Even if we now alter the constitution, we need to audit for the years past and who knows, we may have some fines to pay.
We also registered for NPO (Non-Profit Organisation) status primarily because we were presented with the possibility of government funding us. That did not realise, possibly partly because we are unaudited and if we do take government money, we will also have to continue to be audited, which will of course only be a net win if such funding at least covers the additional auditing costs. So it remains unclear whether we want to change the constitution in this regard and/or even de-register as an NPO.
I'm not sure why "Drupal does not recognise DASA" is listed as a note leading to "we really can make this fun.". I'm assuming Drupal Association is what is meant here, but they pretty much let communities self-organise, which I kinda like. They don't endorse any one group over another that I know of, but support them evenly and fairly. Makes for a great organisation and the kind of leadership I like to follow ;-)
Meet-ups, especially low turnout this year for the first time, was mentioned as a great concern. We're speculating about reasons, but one mentioned makes sense to me. We need to market. When the Centurion meet-up put serious effort behind one, where mostly off-the-island highly technical topics were presented and discussed, it was huge. When just listed as an event the next month it was tiny.
One oddity mentioned was that politics was perhaps a factor. But I can not think of anything controversial that happened between last year with some of the highest turnout and this year.
Primarily, I think, we are just working harder than ever before. That is true for myself and people I regularly talk to, so it's very subjective. But essentially, one has to decide between a night working or learning or a night at the meet-up and increasingly such decisions are not trivial or without consequence. Knowing what to expect from a meet-up and that the matter tabled will be valuable makes it easier to know when to go to one.
It is so tough for me and many of the people that I work for that if I did not organise the camp, many of us would probably not have made it through. It's not that we're slaving away, it is that there is so much of interest that is not just Drupal and one would like to remain effective at learning. See the idea of Developers Migrating: https://groups.drupal.org/node/511673
I'm perplexed that there can be a "disconnect in how decisions are made". At least what we hope to do all the time is to have an annual free and open election for board members to represent the community in matters that DASA tends to. We have general meetings which we try to do on expected regular monthly nights from 6:30pm for 7pm on an open Google Hangout following an agenda which we publish in git for the world to see early and anyone can then help edit. If, at these meetings, we need to make a decision, we either discuss until we reach consensus or we vote by simple majority. A few items as mentioned in the constitution requires more than a simple majority, like changes to the constitution itself. Not only did that fit into one paragraph, it is all in our constitution and it is, at least in my mind, pretty much how one would expect and hope decisions to be made.
I really likes the "why we are here" part of the workshop. It was very interesting. We were able to all mention reasons and then we could raise hands to see what count of people out of 10 agreed with that reason for being there.
Loads of items got 10 out of 10; Great to see! It will help anyone working in those areas know their contribution is valued highly.
Some interesting ones were more so for the not 10 count too.
I found myself in a 6/10 group for own skill development. But heck, I learned a lot from participating in the Drupal community once it was free.
I found myself outside of the group there to socialise (if I recall correctly), it is not my primary reason and we socialise around tech in many places and among many groups.
Oddly, open source for 9/10 and FLOSS just 3/10, no point for guessing that I was one of those 3/10. Of course by this time the nature of the workshop have been so stressful that one person had stormed out and while I was prepared for the financial grilling, the whole thing appeared more like a staged set up. So when I added the FLOSS part, it came over as more of an opposition view to open source than an extension of open source and distinct in that open source includes many non-free software by the likes of the old software companies while FLOSS and it's well known licence the GPL is what Drupal is. I can only hope there was at least some misunderstanding and some of it was apparent in the questions asked.
Many of the items had high buy-in, but have historically had few volunteers. For example, to attract more people to the community, young and hungry. While it has always featured as a goal and a wish, we never had any volunteers to organise things that we could support, nor had any members to do so. Perhaps we will see some new blood ready to tackle this at the DASA meetings or self-organising. But often the call is that "we" should, but not "I am". Someone, at some point, does need to do something, that is how all the things to date happened. Often it needs more than one person, so for example we always had volunteers ready to go talk at grassroots events and meet-ups, but nobody stepped up to organise one.
I'm personally very much attuned to transformation in our country. Diversity and working towards a more diverse society feels like a real calling to me. So much so that I cannot understand how one would roll eyes at the mention of us doing better on the matter with DASA work. If you must, don't cast your vote for it, it certainly won't lead to much respect from me, but I feel offended and think it bigotous to openly and visibly react against this when others see value in it and in general principal.
I'm fairly sure the notes document can be shared, but it was sent to a select few people thus far in a closed source format, so to be on the safe side I only include these few screenshots and hope someone with knowledge about the matter will publish the full report here.
The Conspiracy Theory ;-)
Some awesome workshop hey. It could have done without the acrimony and agony and could have been more widely opened up to attendance with a nice agenda to show what we will be doing. A public post on GDoSA would have helped to notify the community of the meeting, and open attendance to anyone with an interest instead of a select few with a secret agenda.
I'm doubting that it was accidental. When you work with people like we did here, giving great time to voice opinion but do not allow each item in dispute to be discussed, you work towards building buy-in for something. It could have been just a workshop, but since we knew ahead of time that there was goals to change we can surmise that anyone wanting specific change in their own way would invite the right people. Good, but also wanting change for various reasons. Then go through a process like this day and you have personal vested time in it, end it in the change you want among all the rest of the goal and you have momentum and vested buy-in.
After years of contribution, I felt both persecuted and misrepresented. Cast in the role of having to address our constitutional requirements or historic perspective I felt like I often represented the focus of frustration. As a person, I am in favour of the open, free and fair nature of Drupal even when it slows things down and knowing that it does not stand in the way of Drupal community work which can be done freely (maybe a good thing DASA is a separate brand). But I do not have an out-sized right to demand it. I just feel obliged by the elected position I hold, the people who voted for me, the values we advanced to bring DASA to where it is thus far, the values of the Drupal and FLOSS communities at large and by personal conviction to state the case for them or requirements of them.
The staged nature of the workshop started with it being not-DASA, but the purpose was to change DASA. So at first it was presented as a community workshop by the very people wanting change, needing buy-in from an unelected present majority selectively invited to be there and then to be told DASA is nothing if not the community. Which of course is true, but if you start with the organisers then move to a group slightly larger putting them through a process like this and then move that momentum to the Cape Town meet-up, you make a sea change happen. I stand in awe of the execution. But I do recognise it.
So as expected, it proceeded to become more and more DASA-related to the point where the end slide was titled "DASA Mandate / Core Purpose". I objected and said that we should take the very valuable results of the day to the DASA general meetings to see how the association can assist. If it turns out we need sweeping changes to how DASA works, then it should follow open channels and if those are big enough to redefine what DASA is, we seriously need to let a wide audience know. Perhaps even have a plebiscite.
I see the notes still have that title though ;-)
I kinda broke the format here. Really, it was a success, but it was slow going and I was hungry and frustrated. I offered that the biggest disagreement I see from what people presented, if this was a DASA thing, was that some people wanted a more active role for DASA and some did not. Initially I was overridden but it was quickly apparent that it resonated, so the people on the other end formatted it into a slide for Active vs Passive.
My understanding of this is that some would like to actively manage some events and others, of whom I am one, would prefer to not have DASA take an active hand in things. I worry that if DASA organises a meet-up somewhere and there's some reason people in the community want to organise another, having an active hand in one will naturally favour one over another. It will create an in crowd or in crowds by association alone. I think such things are not flaws of the guys wanting to make these changes, but flaws inherent in all mankind and as we build on the civilization the forms the beginning of the Anthropocene we learn to counter these dark patterns with process. Processes that support open, free and fair collaboration. I don't think DASA should stray from those principles and I think active participation would inherently drive towards a breakdown of them.
A continued passive approach would focus on fostering the growth of Drupal without taking an active hand in organising events thereby and by definition taking a stand on favouring one community effort over another. It would focus on keeping fairness, freedom and openness first. It evidently does not prohibit community activity and the ability to self-organise. Not for DASA thus far and not for the Drupal Association.
At least, at this late and tired time of the day, things proceeded faster and we were able to quickly state that next we will focus on addressing our money matters. Our Chairman temporarily also took the portfolio of Treasurer and I already notified him on Monday of the bank's requirements for transferring the DASA account to him. Awaiting his response, I'm sure we will solve this soon. I've not been able to reach all outstanding sponsors, I also had a letter to write ;-) but the ones I did reach confirmed payment will be made and I expect the others will too. I'll match invoices to expenses and think our new Treasurer may be able to get on top of the accounting online system. Then we can have an accountant check the books to date which could make the audit cost less, though we may still have to raise money to cover the costs to be audited.
Considering the enthusiasm of so many people for change, I acknowledged that it is a distinct possibility that the nature of DASA will change. So our action plan in the notes pretty much stalls DASA work until the next elected board takes over. We will discuss the possibility of de-registration as an NPO. A more active mandate (changes) and removal of a full audit in our constitution as well as the need to audit our previous years.
So... men and women of Drupal. Exciting and very big elections coming up! ;-)
With so much change there is a potential for rift and it should really be avoided if at all possible. We have great ways to manage change and this is just before we start the election process, so we can follow that to affect change.
From last year's posts, the election process is described here:
And the elections themselves here:
If we stick to the same time frame, the process starts in August, but perhaps we can discuss a slightly earlier start at the next DASA meeting to more quickly get some clarity and allow the newly revealed energies to be directed as it turns out.
From my own side, my term limit is reached, so I'm not standing for election, just voting like anyone else. But I would say that the energy for change is high and I agree some changes need to be made, but measured and not towards taking an active hand which I believe will erode our values and to some degree hijack the great institution we built together. If you hold such values high too please stand for election. I will vote for you and I sure hope others will too.
I'll always support the community, it is in my very nature. Talks and effort will remain. Regardless of whether there will be change or not and of course in my own way continuing to hold the values of FLOSS high. Most of my friends disagree with me strongly about things. It is the kind of relationships I value, intelligent and different to me in many ways. So friendships too, I hope to retain.
Please, I cannot ask enough, as a board member you really do represent the people and can make a difference. Open source FLOSS guys and gals, if you do not stand for election, we may well face a board for change with a majority enough to affect change to make DASA active and by my reckoning very likely partisan.
The values of "open, free and fair" as set out here have no representatives to stand for election right now without terms limits that I know of, so unless stand for office and for these values firmly and then get elected, this part at least will be lost and we can only hope things do not go South from there. In the history of mankind, few organisations have organically let go of new powers and control, this is usually a one way process. Few, if any have also turned out not to use such powers for self serving purposes. We need these checks and balances.
I can imagine both outcomes not being perfect. If FLOSS wins we lose a lot of passion from people, but we can work hard to help create vessels other than DASA for those who are not blown away by the loss and really still want to participate to be able to do so without it being under DASA's control.
If the active hand wins I think we can kiss the open, free and fair principles away. The world won't come down the next day, but I'm sure at least me as an advocate against that change will face some fallout even if initially only in that people will more easily entertain vituperation. Soon we will see companies building essential DASA infrastructure and white papers favouring international cloud services for our citizens' data in government or outsourcing instead of using institutions like SITA for such services. Opportunity to participate will start focussing on those who go to meet-ups and sing the Drupal song there. Documented transparent records will go off-line. Meetings will be in person, so closed to all but those who can attend in person. Voting methods will change, well motivated, but essentially less free and with less transparent public oversight. But the world will not end ;-)
This is all becoming very hard for me. I'm worked out after the camp and it is very discouraging to feel vilified and cast as an opposition figure alone.
I'm also afraid. As a company we generated the money and personal freedom I was able to direct towards community development. We are in both time and money, by far the greatest contributor and considering that for the greater majority of DASA's existence we were just two people at the company, if you were to see our financial contribution as a portion of income, it is truly tremendous. Much of my work in terms of time speaking at events, starting new events flying across the country, posting here and more stand in testament to the dedication I have to share and build free and open independent and transparent communities.
Now I worry that is the narrative changes, not only will it be recast as something bad, but it will also affect the company I work for. If we're cast as an outsider to a more closed group using the DASA brand some of the poisonous things I've heard of late will just continue to grow legs, it will definitely affect our potential work and profile in the country; And it will potentially affect the people that work here.
It can turn into a lesson for other development firms to remain cautious about buying into a new brand DASA that may turn on them. A caution to not migrate to Drupal in the country or partake in its community. Certainly we do assess the real risk now of both the infective gaining ears that listen and repeat and the risk that an in-crowd less open DASA would further limit open access to all companies to work and profile in the country by favouring companies to build their brand with participation or publishing white papers in favour of the values of the closed group. It is risky and our options are limited. Turn to product creation, migrate more to Node.js, React and Symfony et al, focus on our international clients. But in all, South African Drupal is, right now, a very high risk for us.
Free, fair and open
Please, wherever you are involved in the future of DASA stand for the values of free, fair and open participation:
As in freedom. Libre. Free to participate. Free from dictation by DASA, even if benevolent. Free to change DASA with elections held freely and openly.
Working hard not to advantage one entity, single person or commercial interest over another in the Drupal space.
Radically transparent. Radically by other organisations' standards, but pretty much also fairly normal by FLOSS-related organisations' standards like those of the international Drupal Association.
Building on those principles should keep all safe and result in great projects like Drupal itself. Without them, one can easily have every good intention but end up with a trade association looking only after it's subset of members of the community.
For myself and my company
Please, if you do consider my and our efforts principled and good and you do hear subtle openings in conversation seeking your buy-in to vilify or cast me or us in opposition. Stop it right there and express, if you are in accord, your distaste for doing such things. I ask this now for myself and my company's people, for us to have a future in this community, but of course, it is good practice always.
Thank you Everyone!
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