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Totally shocked about groups policy ... burnout!


Some people have a day job and Drupal is a hobby. If your work simply gets deleted after weeks of activities ... during an active day ... without any possibility to appeal ... its enough to stop being an evangelist.

I've worked during the summer to create an open space on education for London, which was a success. One of the main outcomes was a demand for a stand alone 3-day DrupalEdu open space. Sadly the follow up was a lot less, which kind of prove my point that an open space is really needed. Many people have been protesting against the open space, saying the BoF is all we need, well we proved that was wrong, for the cross-pollinating BoF only 3 of 20 people demanding a BoF showed up. I've tried to get more interaction going after the open space, but there is so much todo during Drupalcon, so of course that is hard. From our activities during the code sprint and talking with other people in the code sprint it was suggested to work on some particular d.o. improvements for mentoring and peer-learning. Only recently the novice tag got realized, which is a great step in the right direction (to bad I didn't see the issue when it got created, I would have loved to help).

We had a small and not yet very active group called Padawan Initiative to investigate and stimulate some of the more feasible plans from the open space and particularly the code sprint. The first thing that hit us was resistance by people that considered learning the sole property of Dojo and d.o. improvement the property of Prairie Initiative. So no reason at all for us to exist ... after a month of some activities we simply got deleted. Only this week some students start joining (its the first week of our academic year, so this is early) Ok, my communication skills are not good, maybe the project should have been articulated differently, but hey, I'm doing my best, trying to give things that are emerging a chance.

I'm sick and tired about politics that have emerged in the past year, this has created quit some conflicts. I've been listening to some of those conflicts, always with the necessary understanding of both sides. Organizing the open space also had the occasional bump, but hey, we figured things out. Still deleting a group after a month of work ... this is too much for me. There are too many hidden agenda's and peoples attack other initiatives if the other one would create some redundancy with their ow goals. I mean if you don't like another initiative you can ignore it or put more energy to understand why they are doing something. There is no problem with having a different option as long as differences are tolerated, but an authority deciding about it without the ability to appeal is simply not what I consider part of an open source spirit. If the Drupal culture has become KILL what you don't understand, I'm not sure if I like to stay on ... no wonder one of the topics in de core conversation was burnout! Well I'm having a burnout.

So now my concrete plans. I'm going to be more of a passive consumer of Drupal again. Having put too much energy is something that is not appreciated enough by some or supported enough by others. I've got 500 students to focus on for mentoring their projects in the coming months and I've got way to much good thing going with my research to waist time "tilting at windmills" in the Drupal community.


Hi Mixtel,

I'm sorry if you had content in that group - it's not gone, but merely disassociated. I had free time today and quickly hit the moderation queue for groups to try to clean up a tremendous backlog. It looked like that group and another were dups of dojo, so I rm'd them both along with a bunch of others. However, that was not a "political" decision.

The current moderation process is terrible - and sounds like I made a mistake here being over-hasty. I hope you'll work with us to find a better moderation system, rather than seeing it as anything personal.

1) I would suggest changing the communication on your default mail and change "The content has been deleted from our site" to "you content should get redistributed, you can reach it here XXX", with XXX being the link Robert created.

2) dojo is about training resources, Padawan is about updating d.o. and finding solutions for community mentoring and peer-learning like the recent "novice tag" and "core office hours". The goal was to have a group to discuss some of the tests. Student would take the lead as they would know the problem best, one student just start trying out the "novice tag" and I'm having an experimental issue queue for peer-learning with part of my students (300) in one course. We had a d.o. clone to work on (I've mailed Drumm to delete it, what he did).

Hey Mixel - you're not going after windmills. Your work is appreciated by many.

I wasn't involved in any of this, but I saw this on the Planet and wanted to just clear the air about something you mentioned:

[R]esistance by people that considered ... d.o. improvement the [sole] property of Prairie Initiative.

That's extremely unfortunate and exactly opposite the stated goals and intentions of the Prairie Initiative. Speaking as an official "representative" of Prairie, I can say with certainty we do not believe Prairie is the only way that things on d.o should improve. Far from it.

There appears to be a lot of confusion about the scope of Prairie (perhaps even from some people involved in that initiative). It's not a " redesign phase 2", it's not an "every change to d.o should go through us", or anything like that. Instead, it's an initiative to look at the experience on through the eyes of people trying to contribute (both long term "insiders" and new potential contributors), identify problems or limitations, and try to fix them. We're not trying to solve everything. Nor could we. ;) We're just taking an honest, self-critical look at our own collaboration tools and the experience of people who want to contribute and see how we can make it better. Nothing more, nothing less. We absolutely welcome other initiatives to improve d.o (as just one example, the tremendous work of the Documentation Team leaders in improving documentation tools). The very last thing anyone in the Prairie Initiative would want to see is a group of people with fresh enthusiasm to improve something face resistance and obstacles to contributing.

I certainly hope this all gets resolved in a productive way. Sounds like it's actually a misunderstanding on a few different sides and that everyone is getting a better understanding of each other. Hurray for that. :)

Speaking personally, I definitely appreciate all your contributions, Mixel! And of course also your hospitality during my first DrupalCon back in Brussels in 2006. ;)


Is to stop anyone helping novices. If you have a problem, just come to IRC. We can fix any misunderstanding like this in two seconds :) Another problem here is -- this initiative was largely unknown. I havent heard of it before, I am afraid Peter didnt so that's why this mishap. So, please :)

This is something you could also add to the default mail. When you get such a mail you don't think very clear at that moment (partly as the style is so harsh). So extra info like "you can always join #drupal-support on IRC for more information" in the mail would be welcome.

When I got the mail, I directly checked the website to see if there was any way of communicating with the moderators, while I know IRC well enough, so think what this would do for people knowing Drupal even less. (P.S. I'm not all the time on IRC as I can't figure out how to remove NickSev an ChanServ login notifications, which I find very annoying)

Please file an issue in the groups queue suggesting changes like this. Posts on blogs somewhere on the Internet are less likely to be acted on than an issue in the queue. I added to the group deletion message "The group has been deleted from our site, though any posts inside the group should are still available. You can discuss our group deletion policy at".

Regarding duplicate groups, we had a great discussion and some ideas in

I had some time thinking about what has happened and I hope you take the time to read this.

I understand that the name "Padawan" was not well known, as it was only something that emerged during Drupalcon. During the open space we got inspired by projects like Khan Academy. By the time of the code sprint, we considered our contribution should not focus only on the tool, but embed the community spirit and so we came up with the Jedi Master (a mentor), which finally became Padawan as to focus on students and include both mentoring and peer learning. This was seen during Drupalcon as complementary to Dojo, Prairie and other emerging projects like open-curriculum. However I'm afraid we are failing by design.

The community has become big and everyone is working hard. Many people can't get to Drupalcon (no time or to expensive). This does create a problem with emerging initiative, as they contain much implicit knowledge, so the first reactions were understandably attacks to the initiative. This is why I understand the confusion about Prairie Initiative very well. What emerges needs space and time to grow and the scale of things make it imposible to do so. Let met take the DrupalEdu just as case here.

If you had been in the BoF aria on Monday, you would have notice the success of the open space. In total I counted about 40 people coming in an out and the group dynamic showed much energy. Now 40 people would have been 20% 5-years ago, which would have been enough momentum. Now its only 2,5% of Drupalcon participants and so much other activities are going on, this muted the momentum … in the end only 3 people were in the codesprint working on what they considered relevant about DrupalEdu.

DrupalEdu open space experienced much resistance to get organized. Not from the association, Isabell was very helpful. Resistance came from people involved in training. I'm guessing it was considered a competition of resources (time, space and people). As host for DevDays Brussels, I've seen some different friction, which lead to organizers experiencing a burnout. Drupal needs to accept the complexity and find ways to deal with it or expect to lose many more people.

Complexity can lead to alienation. During the code sprint I talked to people from core to get feedback (involving Crell, Webchick, Randy Fay, Jennifer Hodgdon) it was clear we needed to focus on d.o. improvements to make an impact. The initial ideas got so much transformed by pragmatic requirement that I can understand if people from the open space hardly see the relation to their discussion.

The facts are that in the complexity and size of Drupal community things get lost. So I'm wondering if I should revise my vision on Drupal. I thought for a long time Drupal is capable of "making things emerge" and not just "be a thing that has emerged" (this fits our Global Brain Research). In this vision Drupal would be the first self-organizing open innovation platform. The culture (friendliness, open mindness, giftedness, etc) and the structure (e.g. BoFs, many events, Drupal tools, etc) seemed to indicate this, but my experiences in the past year clarified many problems to this vision. Drupal needs radical change if it wants to save the identity it had 5-years ago.

I now know much better some of the inherit restrictions (time, complexity, resources) for something new to emerge. The current design is not fit for self-organization any more. My suggestion is to change the design (of coordination) to save the identity. I think the "novice tag" is a good start. Notice it contains a hidden policy to not solve the easy problems any more, but leave them for novices (so they can try their strength). Although it is introduced from a pragmatic problem (not having enough time), such a self-restriction is actually good, it creates instructional scaffolding. If Drupal likes to stay a growing self-organizing system, many more scaffolds will be needed. I have hoped to learn from the SoC mentors experience to identify more of the needed scaffolds, but so far my request has been muted by all the other noises in our jungle.

In Szeged, much of the debate involved being afraid of Acquia eating up the community and Drupal becoming corporate. I didn't thought that would be possible, but today I'm reconsidering. It is not Acquia fold that Drupal is becoming more corporate. The problem is much more subtle, its getting more and more embedded in the architecture. I've seen several people making local decision in their reasoning to reinforce the community, but which are backfiring. I'm concretely thinking about the DevDays now, but it seems not different with drupalEdu.

I'm sick and tired about politics too who have emerged in past few years