Thoughts on the Drupal Ladder, the Oxford day and communities

I went to a Drupal Ladder event organised by Torchbox just north of Oxford. I had a lot of fun and learned a fair amount.  The ladder itself is a community initiative which is aimed at getting more contributors pushing patches back to the Drupal core, especially Drupal 8. It also serves as a way learning how to successfully contribute to an Open Source project. It goes from downloading the core files, to Git, to working on patches and tests and really learning parts of the the core system. It is a way of building a wider community of contributors.

Perhaps it also encourages community at another level.

Heather James, the Acquia Manager of Learning Services and really cool person, talked to the Oxford Drupal Group about the initiative. JP Stacey, who is already busy on the Geek Nights, organised this afternoon’s event. As a group, we have been discussing doing more practical things and this was one of them. So a few of us sat around a table or two in the offices with sandwiches, cake, coffee and tea and said where we were on the ladder. Fortunately this was at the same sort of level so the afternoon started out as going up the ladder and reached the same rung.

What I really enjoyed was the conversation that this engendered. As a group, we started questioning what we were learning, feeding back to the ladder but also expanding on the minutiae of the topics, including Git. All of us have different skills and levels but we could show something useful to each other.

In terms of Acquia’s ultimate wish, we looked at the core issue queue and tested patches and so on. We still have rungs to climb but we’ve started the journey properly and it is on us to carry on in our own time.

As a Drupal User Group, we talked about holding an issue sprint where we look at issues and try to fix them or move them on. I have begun organising a hack event to bring developer’s together and work on projects which they like or want to explore. As well as writing code, I hope that we will share knowledge and have similar conversations. It is all well and good to go online but for a community to thrive, it needs to come together and to share. We need new blood coming in and not being scared or put off raising their voices and encouraging diving in to find and fix problems.

I am aware that this is sound something like the Round Table, and in this case it was  a rectangular one,  but the day was made not in the achieving of the task(though this is important). It was the conversation and coming around to help  on a laptop or suggesting further commands to fix issues and problems. Every one had a voice and all you had do was to use it. Sometimes it was right, sometimes there were corrections.

I got the feeling that the group had become more than just, “oh well we meet once a month and can discuss then” but added to this in showig tools to help the individual. We had honest conversations about how to move this on and keep it going (an important part of communities) and, I think, came up with some sort of plan and a direction into doing as well as talking.

Communities, if they are going to thrive, need to be active rather than passive. I suppose that we have found this the hard way and have made this happen – organising a Drupal Camp will do this to you.

I suppose that this has come to my mind with other conversations which comes back to the questions of what do we have to show for our efforts? and what does the roup stand for? It needs to be accepting but it also needs to go on and do things. In whatever way.

Hacking is one way but not the only one.