The transition of civicrm.org to Drupal 8 continues and, in the process, we’re taking time to clean up aspects of the site including revising its content and navigation, and reducing technical debt. One particular area that we’ve spent a great deal of time on involves the listing and recognition of both CiviCRM partners and contributors. Here are a few issues that touch on this process for you if you need some ‘light’ reading this weekend (in no particular order):
Prior to transitioning to Drupal 8, we were displaying both contributors and partners on the same list and we were attempting to sort them via a calculation of “total giving” which, in essence, attempted to value in-kind contributions with financial support. This was not without complexity or without some disagreement as to whether it accurately reflected who we are as a community.
The Core Team spent a fair amount of time discussing this with the community as well as reviewing what was working technically and what would need to be done to maintain the current system. In the end, what we saw was a declining number of people reporting their contributions and, perhaps most importantly, a missed opportunity to properly thank and recognize contributors that we knew were active but simply were not ‘reporting’.
Like most open source projects, contributors are absolutely vital to CiviCRM. Asking them to give and then to report on their giving perhaps was not the best idea. Instead, it makes more sense to quickly thank contributors and to consistently recognize them for their contributions.
Of course, we have things like contributors.txt1 and the monthly release notes that serve this purpose, but the former is inadequate because it misses a segment of users that don’t visit Github, and the latter is neither complete nor does it persist over time in an easily accessible way.
In response to this, we are going back to the original setup where two separate lists existed; one for contributors and one for partners. In this way, both can be easily recognized and promoted for their contributions toward improving and sustaining CiviCRM as a project.
In the coming days/weeks we will rework both lists, in particular focusing on the contributors. We plan to list contributors randomly, citing individual names along with their current employers where applicable. Likewise, we will link out to each contributor’s profile on civicrm.org.
What’s the process?
We’re working on the new view currently and will begin adding contributors to it. Some details:
- We will start by adding in all contributors that are reflected in the contributors.txt file and will cross check with the release notes.
- We have created this form to allow individuals to opt-out of being publicly recognized as contributors.
- Once complete, we’ll redo the contributor listing at https://civicrm.org/contributors as well as the partner listing at https:/civicrm.org/partners
- We will develop a process to periodically review contributors, to accept new requests to be listed, and to communicate with new contributors as they are eligible to be listed.
- We will develop a way to more actively recognize contributors via blog posts, interviews, newsletters, etc. (If this is something you’d be interested in helping out with, please PM @josh on chat).
- In the next iteration of both the contributor and partner listings, we will enable a way for individuals to indicate that they are accepting new work.
This change has been a long time coming and it has involved a great deal of discussion, and maybe even a little heartache. ;) We’re very grateful for everyone that offered feedback and for everyone that contributes to CiviCRM.
Your next step:
Log in and head over to the Contributor List Opt In-Out form to indicate your preference to be publicly recognized or not. If you do not opt out, we will treat that as an opt-in and will list you publicly as valued contributor to CiviCRM.
Extra Details (optional reading)
For many, the change above may be all that you’re interested in knowing. If that’s the case, stop right here! If you want a deeper dive into a few points, read on.
Technically speaking, separating partners and contributors into two lists is easier and reduces complexity on civicrm.org. If we left it at that, then we would have arrived at this change a long time ago!
Two related points came up that we worked diligently through; promotion of contributors and use of the term ‘experts’ as it applies to partners.
Previously, as a contributor, your company would appear on the “experts listing” at https://civicrm.org/experts alongside the profiles of partners that are financially supporting CiviCRM. This seemed to be based on a reasonable assumption: that those that are giving time or money both need to be recognized and that both would want to be promoted for business development purposes.
Based on feedback from partners, most all of which are strong supporters of open source in general and not just CiviCRM, the business development benefits of the listing are significant and valued.
For contributors, however, we have some mixed feedback. Some want to be listed for business development purposes (some contributors started that way and have subsequently become partners!), whereas others don’t. Some give and want to be recognized, but don’t want to appear on that list. Some are appreciative of being recognized and don’t want to be listed anywhere. The point is that, for contributors, the motivation to give time is not as clear as it is for those that give financial support. And, while splitting the listing into two lists doesn’t “solve” the situation entirely, it does simplify the motivations for being on one list or both2.
If business development is critical to any contributor, then becoming a partner is the best way to achieve this3 while also supporting CiviCRM. At the same time, isolating contributors on to their own list doesn’t preclude us from promoting them in ways that may be beneficial to business development.
Experts? What’s in a name…
There was a fair amount of discussion on what to call “partners” and “contributors”. On the one hand, calling the partner listing the “experts listing” and the contributor listing the “contributor listing” not so subtly implies that one group is filled with experts and the other maybe isn’t.
And, of course, there are even some partners that don’t think we should call them experts in the first place. After all, how do we prove that? There’s no test or certification. Calling a financial supporter an expert because they gave money seems a little misleading.
On the other hand, we should expect that users looking for services, be they implementation, support, hosting, etc., want to use a provider or providers that know what they’re doing, i.e. an expert. It’s like Red Adair said, “if you think it’s expensive to hire an expert, wait til you hire an amateur.” The point is that users want to feel like they’re using experts.
So, the solution seems rather easy and hopefully obvious. Both partners and contributors will be referred to periodically as “experts”.
Finally, in case you’re wondering, no, there is no “experts badge” in production.
1 As of CiviCRM 5.25, the contributors.txt is no longer actively maintained. Monthly releases continue to cite contributors for each respective release.
2 As of the Fall 2019, in order to become a new partner of CiviCRM, you must first be a contributor.
3 Stats from Google Analytics demonstrate significant outbound traffic to partners as a result of the experts listing.