110: Meet Top Shelf Modules - 2/2: volunteering sustainability & Dries Day!

Part 2 of 2: I spoke with the Top Shelf Modules team – Susan Rust, Ryan Cross, Rik de Boer, and Karl Scheirer – on November 4, 2013. In part two, we go into more depth about TSM's mission and discuss the sustainability (or otherwise) of Drupal's volunteer-based development model and the various efforts and experiments underway to change, improve, or "fix" it, some more pragmatic – like TSM and drupalfund.us, some more idealistic, like Gittip sponsorships and similar.

Listen to part one and read the accompanying post, in which we went over the concept behind TSM, the quality and challenges in the Drupal contrib. module space, Drupal 8 and why it is time to upgrade your modules now (!).

Conversation video (aka "the internet was having a tough day")

I apologize, the video quality is not the greatest this time around.

Q: What is Top Shelf Modules' Mission?

A 1: To benefit all users of Drupal and encourage business models beyond pure site building by improving the non-core part of the Drupal ecosystem. Top Shelf Modules ("TSM") treats Drupal contributed modules like real software projects and holds them and their maintainers to standards of quality and reliability appropriate to a software project like Drupal. Supporting TSM through donations, contributions, or sponsorship will lead to direct benefit for the individual Drupal professional or organization that does so, as well as the Drupal platform as a whole.

To learn about how this can benefit your development business, one of the participation models is explained well here: http://topshelfmodules.com/fund/fund-contrib

A 2: Rik de Boer puts it a little more strongly: "We have to stop the mindset that this is a community where some people just give give give all the time and other people just take take take. That is really not sustainable. That needs to change. If you want quality, you cannot expect people to work for free forever. There need to be some sort of platform where people who are willing to put their money where their mouth is, know that when they spend their money, it's going to a good cause. So they will get some value for money for that and that's where TSM comes in. That's why TSM vets all those modules: So that you know if I support these guys, I'm getting bang for my buck."

What is #driesday?

A: Karl explains that, "Dries Day is an international Drupal holiday that we invented without asking Dries. The idea is that it is a community day." As with most IT projects, Dries Day has experienced scope creep. It's gone from a buy-your-favorite-developer-a-beer kind of concept to a let's-all-volunteer-on-Drupal one. The TSM team points out that for some contributors, this may look like any other day, but many of us mere mortals and those poor souls who don't live near a thriving local Drupal community don't get as many chances for coordinated contribution. "We call it a worldwide Super Sprint that everyone can participate in," Karl goes on, "It's an excuse for me to post silly pictures of Dries everywhere, which I find amusing."

"Some people think it actually has to do with sort of worshipping Dries himself," but this is not the case, "Dries is a mascot that we use," a focal point for motivating the community.

If you want to participate, check out Dries Day on Facebook for ideas and information. People are planning mentoring and other activities. Susan Rust explains TSM's vision, "We have a couple of requests. We ask that all the Drupal companies take the day on November 19th to allow their team to work on Drupal. We encourage everyone not think this is just about code," (think training, sponsor a camp, update your modules to D8 (that's code, I know), take Drupal to a local school, ...), "Whatever part of Drupal lights you up, go do that." TSM will have a template available to print a sign showing how many hours you donated and are looking for prize donations to hand out to notable achievements on Dries Day 2013. Good place to send that slightly out-of-date Drupal swag that someone, somewhere will treasure, folks!