Post Status Excerpt (No. 51) — Comparing the Drupal and WordPress Communities with Amy June Hineline
“When it comes to contributing…. time is a true privilege” —Amy June Hineline
There are a lot of people in the WordPress community who also work (or previously worked) with Drupal, Joomla, and other open-source software projects. Amy June Hineline is Community Manager at Opensource.com. She is also a member of both the WordPress and Drupal communities. As DrupalCon 2022 approaches, Amy June shares the lessons she thinks WordPress can learn from Drupal’s relationship with its contributors and open source.
Why This Is Important: Drupal and WordPress are both mature open source PHP/MySQL CMS platforms that emerged in the early 2000s. They share a common goal and have similar communities, but there are notable differences between them. There are opportunities for each community to learn from the other.
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- Amy June (Twitter)
- David Bisset (Twitter)
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Amy June: So I have, um, some housekeeping to tell you my gardener has not made his appearance yet, so we may have all kinds of visitors. So my name is Amy, June Heinlein. Amy, June being one word, title, camel case. I’d like to point that out because if you just yell Amy down the street, I probably won’t turn around and answer
David Bisset: Me or June either probably goes.
Amy June: Exactly, exactly. Um, so I’ve been working in open source since about 2016. I started in the Drupal community and then, um, a couple years later started in the WordPress community. I am a self-described non coder, but very prolific con contributor to both of those communities. Along with the accessibility community, specifically in Drupal, I am a very huge advocate.
Reducing the barriers to non code contributions. Um, and in WordPress, that’s not nearly as much of an issue because when I entered the WordPress space, um, WordPress is already a big ag advocate for lots of different kinds of things. Contributions. Um, many of them being non code. Um, recently I’ve switched over and I’m working in the wider open source community and I help curate articles for source.com.
Um, and so I work with all sorts of different communities now, but my love is still in those, um, that content management system of WordPress and Drupal
David Bisset: So you were in Drupal first, so what got you into the WordPress space,
Amy June: took a job with canopy studios. They’re an agency that does WordPress and Drupal. I suckered and the CEO into hiring me exclusively to give back to the community.
Yeah, I could be her corporate citizenship. And, um, when I started a week, one on Monday, she says, oh, Hey, so we do WordPress. How would you like to go to work camp us on Friday? I was like, oh,
David Bisset: is it free? Do I get to miss work?
Amy June: Yeah, that was my first start. And let me tell you, the people I met there, I met you, I’ve met everyone, you know, um, established relationships, but that’s, that was my initial exposure to WordPress community was at WordCamp us.
I had had the obligatory blog, you know, when my kids were little or my, or my girlfriend would get married, that kind of thing, but I never worked on WordPress. It was just, you know, just opening the blog and putting pictures up before.
David Bisset: So when it comes to contributions, It’s big on advertising, uh, or getting people motivated to contribute and truthful to the same way from your experience, both being in Drupal and WordPress, how would you compare how they handle, um, their contribution events and recruiting?
Amy June: First off for the crowd of admirers listening at home, my space and both WordPress and Drupal is mostly in contributions, starting off in Drupal contributions. Um, it’s very code centric. Um, it’s all about the tools and the resources to get ramped up into contributing to. Core contributions. Um, so when I helped organize a Drupal contribution days at like the local and the regional, and even at the national level, which I do now, um, it’s all about the tools and the processes and the mentoring that involves around, uh, revolves around code.
Um, looking back at that first word camp us, I went to, um, in, in Nashville, uh, the. The big thing I noticed when I walked into contribution day was how there were all of these tables around contributions and code was only one of those tables where it was like the complete opposite from when you go to a contribution day at Drupal con.
So you have marketing. You have translations, you have events, you have Drupal TV, you have all of these tables and one table for code. And at first I thought that was really. Different, you know, cause we all, when we’re used to one thing and going into another, it takes us a little bit to wrap our head around things.
But you know, I’ve been advocating for non-covered contributions or lowering the barrier to code contributions in the Drupal space that walking into the word camp, us contribution space was like, wow, it’s already set up where everyone can continue. I liked to go to camps and I like to organize, and I, you know, I enjoy the Drupal space.
That’s something that I took away from word camp us is when I did start. Going to more camps. Um, and the Drupal space and setting up contribution days was having, uh, issues available for non coders. You know, not just in the code, not just like documentation tasks, but Hey, we have a slide deck that this initiative team wants to work on, you know?
Absolutely no code contributions for non coders. And I don’t mean that in a reductive sense, just, you know, we all want to come to camps and we all want to contribute, you know, but there’s, there’s people who don’t code. There’s our marketers, there’s our human resources. There’s our salespeople, you know, there’s our, um, there’s our designers, you know, and giving them the space to be able to.
Come to that extended day, you know, that day after camp and go to the, you know, go to the picnics and the, just the more activities to get involved with the whole community, I think is really valuable. And that’s what that word word camp U S space showed me. And that was really inspiring to me. So when I sat down at the code table at WordCamp us, I didn’t know how to contribute back as a non coder.
So. That is something I think that the WordPress side could learn from the Drupal side is maybe providing some tools that would reduce the barrier to code contribution to people who don’t historically code.
David Bisset: So you could code, you just were a little bit lost in like where to start,
Amy June: right. Or, you know, do I have to have a local environment set up, you know, do I have to do I have to use Vagrant?
You know, all of these, like. Because those are kind of complex things. When you’re maybe just new to WordPress, maybe you don’t know how to set up the local environment. Maybe you don’t know how to write a patch, you know, and having those resources really more human readable, or maybe having a tool that is browser-based versus locally based would help lower that barrier a little bit more.
David Bisset: What is Drupal pod?
Amy June: Drupal pod does it allows folks to spin up an environment. That’s, browser-based spins up this environment online where you can test drive your Drupal site. It applies the merge requests. It provides an integrated development environment and IDE like vs code. So you can share the URL with like, I could spin up a Drupal pod site right now, share the URL with you.
And we could both be participating on. Issue at the same time in real time, exploring and, uh, sort of reviewing each other’s code and having an instance up online that way we wouldn’t have to take the time to like, maybe get something like D dev or Lando or, you know, um, one of those, uh, like DVE up on our local machines it’s right there and shareable with the URL.
David Bisset: Oh. So we can collaboratively. Test out a patch and in, and this is I’m assuming this fairly quickly and without much technical know-how because it is an actual browser extension for Chrome or Firefox,
Amy June: right? It’s for Chrome or Firefox. We don’t have it working on anything else, but you can do a patch. You can do a fork, you can do a branch.
David Bisset: it’s all running on the cloud, that is pretty impressive.
Amy June: documentation on it. There it’s still sort of our new tool. You know, this is something new that we’re doing at Drupal con this year. We’re, um, as, as mentors, we’re learning the process. You know, this is, this is only the second year. We’re really working on merger requests versus patching too.
So there’s a learning curve with mentors teaching this, but every year we really struggle with first time contributions and the tooling and the processes. So we’re hoping with Drupal pod being browser-based a lot of those. Cumbersome tasks for onboarding or eliminated because it’s a browser extension versus, you know, is it a windows machine?
Are they running Linux? You know, uh, do we have to, you know, go against, you know, a VPN or some of these things that people have on their machines. So we’re hoping. Having that browser-based really makes it just a whole lot easier. And then two, you know, instead of like having to peer share a local tool, you know, the bandwidth it takes to, you know, download an extension and just have something running browser-based versus downloading tools will alleviate a lot of those pains we have with, with, with, with internet, uh, during the event.
I have a tool that I that’s very near and dear to my heart called simply test, uh, dot Emmy. And that’s another tool that’s, browser-based where we, um, the environment’s a little bit. In Drupal, as opposed to WordPress, you know, we have contributed modules that are kind of mirrored the plugin system, but a lot of them are free and you can test drive plugins.
But also with simply test me, you can also test patches. And again, it’s a browser-based environment that really reduces the barrier to contributions as well. I would love to see some of these browser based tools being extended further out into the wider CMS.
David Bisset: How do you compare the mentorship sides that you’ve seen in your, in your observations between Drupal and WordPress?
Amy June: We do have one. Um, so we have a mentoring cohort where we have, you know, Drupal core, um, Mentoring leads where there’s a group of us. There’s maybe 10 of us that work on processes and documentation, and really leading the initiative all year long. Um, and with that, what that means is we. Have weekly meetings where we talk with other mentors, we’ve run mentoring summits, where we do mentor the mentoring.
Um, we run two flagship events, one being Drupal con us and the other one being Drupal con Europe. Um, if Drupal con Asia happens, we help with that one as well. And we really concentrate on those, uh, two or three, you know, uh, uh, continental events rather than the local and regional events because, um, the local regional load events, um, Uh, can be run, um, by the local and regional organizers, but at the slash ship events, we make sure that we have enough mentors to have a contribution day, be very successful.
Um, and with that, we run first time contributor workshops. And again, you know, Drupal’s a little bit more code centric. And so we run first time. Contributor meant first time contributor workshops, where we talk about tools. We talk about documentation. We talk about non code participation. We, um, go into demos of, you know, how do you do a merge request?
How do you review a patch? How do you do issue queue triage? And these are all things that we teach all year long, um, to the other mentors who want to join in to our monthly meetings. And then as we get closer to events, we meet a little bit more often, like we’re, you know, we’re about a month and a half out from Drupal con in April.
So we’re starting to meet weekly. Um, really trying to. Discover who’s coming to triple con you know, who’s going to be around who’s, you know, cause there’s. There can be mentors for all sorts of different spaces. We have mentors that help when people arrive to the event, you know, making sure they make it to the right space because we have, you know, uh, a mentored contribution room.
We have a first time mentor contribution room, and then we have just the general contribution space. So making sure have people that are welcoming and lead people in the right direction. And then people leading people in the right direction when they’re ready to graduate and go into another room, you know, making sure we have.
Table leads, you know, um, that people are, are, are paired up with, you know, folks of similar skill sets or passions. And then we always want to stress too, that you don’t have to know everything to be a mentor. You just have to have the passion to be able to figure out how to get the answer yourself. You know, you don’t have to know everything, but you have to kind of just know how to figure it out, you know?
We always know a little bit more than someone else, you know, and, and we really try to, uh, encourage people to, if you’ve contributed once you’re qualified to be a mentor.
David Bisset: Oh yeah. That seems pretty, pretty a straightforward way of getting a lot more people on board that much more quickly and boosting their self-esteem too, because.
Amy June: Yeah. And then we, we, we try to be empowering as the event takes place. Like, you know, right now we’re planning, Drupal con and our, our event is Monday through Thursday, but the mentored event is on Wednesday afternoon. So Monday and Tuesday, we have a booth to encourage people to sign up, to be a mentor.
And then Monday afternoon, we have a couple of events that like how to triage issues or here’s the tools or mentor the mentor. So we have a couple of, you know, we call them birds of a feather over there, you know, Box where we’re sit down with the mentors and, and answer questions and really sort of get to know one another.
And then that way they feel supported when we go into the main event too. So we, we really build up that empowerment as the week goes on.
David Bisset: You’ve probably observed in the WordPress space. There’s been a lot of discussion, especially recently, um, open-source contributions, uh, people having being compensated for their time, um, efforts or just playing, getting.
How does Drupal handle giving credit or what’s their credit system light?
Amy June: So I am a huge fan of incentives. Um, we don’t all need them, but sometimes the agencies and the organizations we work for a need them, all of us, I would hope understand that, you know, if we use open source, open source depends on us, you know, and all of us have this idea of, we should contribute 10 to 20%.
And we hope that our employers in our organizations, that we work for feel the same way. And you know, sometimes agencies need more than just corporate citizenship. And Drupal has this really robust incentive program where they have this marketplace where. When someone like, I’m just going to use me as an example.
When I get back to Drupal, I give, I concentrate and I work on a core issue and I get a credit for working on that core issue. I could get the credit because I opened the issue. I could get the credit because I contributed the solution. Or maybe I wrote a test for the issue, or maybe I, you know, designed a logo, any sort of thing.
I could get a contribution. When the issue is closed, I have the choice of taking a box that gives an organization that I mark on my profile as my employer. I can give them attribution for the credit as well. So at the end of the year, Drupal has these stats of, you know, their top contributors, but also the agency.
Who employed those top contributors, they have metrics of who contributed their own time and volunteered. And then they have this marketplace where a person looking to hire an agency. You go to this marketplace and the marketplace is your position on the marketplaces ranked on how much you give back to Drupal.
And then their, their ranking is also. Broken down into, you know, a core credit gives you a little bit better ranking than if you work on like a contributed module or on a community module. And then the last couple of years, they’ve also opened spaces for community projects. So say you run a camp like Drupal camp Asheville.
Well, Drupal understands that there’s more than code contributions. Some people are camp organizers and dedicate hundreds and thousands of hours of their lifetime organizing camps. And sometimes, you know, can a person’s first. Exposure to communities at the local camp level. And that’s just as important as code.
And so we’ve actually put those into the credit system as well. So people who are speaking at camps and training at camps and writing documentation for, you know, things like get pod or, you know, um, from, uh, doing podcasts. So they, they have this really robust and rich incentive program, which I think has really.
Driven more organizations to pay for more of their employees times to give back to open source, because especially during the pandemic, we know that time is a privilege. As more of us are at home as caregivers, we don’t have that luxury of, you know, quote unquote free time after our 40 hours a week. So we noticed a drop in the, the numbers of diverse based.
Who are contributing to our projects because more of them are caregivers. You know, we definitely seen a drop in women contributing to our projects because you know, their home, their mothers, you know, and these are broad blanket statements. Of course ,
David Bisset: but that makes sense.
Amy June: But yeah, so.
I know that the few agencies I’ve really worked close with have seen that. And they’ve added, you know, instead of only having, you know, one hour of community time a week, they’ve added it to two or three because they seen that that time is a true privilege.
David Bisset: So if there was one thing that you could maybe based off of what Drupal’s is doing on the lessons from it, what’s one thing that you would heavily suggest for WordPress to make an adjustment to regarding contribution.
Amy June: Okay, so this is two, and I know you just said one, but there’s two things that I really think I would really love to see on the code contribution side. The barriers really reduced like something like the browser-based solutions for helping contribute to core. And then also, like there is a little bit of a, of a program for, uh, incentivizing agents.
Providing their employees around to contributions. There’s the five for five. Is that what it’s called five for the future? It’s in a way that’s sort of hidden, it needs to be more pronounced. So when people are looking for those, it needs to be incentivized more. Right. You know, like I said, like, I hate to, I hate to be like this incentivized program, but you know, has to be some sort of.
In your face visual. Cause I know like I give back to WordPress and I have these little ticks on my profile, but there’s no ticks on my company’s profile. Right. They’re only on mine and then not every camp I’ve talked with or not every project I helped contribute to gives me a tick. So as much as I give, like say I, you know, the whole time I worked with a company where I, you know, donated 25% of my time for WordPress, I only have.
Five kicks on my WordPress profile. So it’s not, it’s not very reflective of how much work I actually did for WordPress.
David Bisset: I see, I know we track, I know WordPress does track a kiss man at state of the word does show. I mean, we do have, we do know how many contributors. I guess are associated with companies because they do track number of employees per company, obviously automatic is the biggest, and then there’s Yost and there’s a few other ones, but it sounds like to me, this is an on Drupal site.
It’s more integrated into, into maybe not a leaderboard, but at least a kind of like an ongoing. System. I like the top 40 and music or something where
Amy June: it’s, it’s okay to say leaderboard. Like, I love seeing my name on that top 40 slide when it came up, you know,
David Bisset: is that cause any problems or any conflicts or any burnout, anything or is it just people just kind of accept the leaderboard and what the,
Amy June: I don’t think so because, because th they also break it down into who’s paid and who’s not, you know, because there definitely is a.
Uh, something to say about the, the non-paid contributions. There’s a lot of people who give back on their own dime, you know, and they do break that down as well.
David Bisset: Yeah. So tell me, as we wrap things up here, tell me a little bit about this Drupal con that’s coming up.
Amy June: Okay. So it is the last week in April, and it will be in Portland, Oregon in-person, which is very exciting
David Bisset: Is this the first in-person event for Drupal?
Amy June: I, I just got back from Florida Drupal camp. That was the first in-person Drupal event. Um, well, in, in north America anyway, we were the last triple event in north America. Um, and I think it was sort of funny that we were the first one coming back in 2020. Um, we’re not quite sure how many people were going to expect, you know, people are still up in the air about the state of all of the things going on in the world, you know? So, um, we don’t know whether or not to expect more people because people haven’t seen one another or less people because of all of the things going on in the
David Bisset: world. Perfectly understandable. Everybody it’s come back when you feel comfortable or come, when you feel comfortable.
That’s same thing for what I’ll say for work camp us as well. No one’s should be shaming. Anybody else or wondering why someone isn’t physically. Um, it could be physical reasons. Emotional. Some people have been awhile.
Amy June: We’re kind of mixing things up a little bit, you know, we’re still doing summits and a lot of interactive sessions and contributions every day.
Um, we’re abiding by the local, uh, the local laws around vaccination and masks, you know, so whatever you know, Portland is doing at the time is what we’re going to go by. As far as you know, our, our vaccination stuff. Um, I’m really excited. I haven’t seen a lot of these people in a long time. Um,
David Bisset: I’m drawing a blank on his name now dries for… drees.
Is he give his, uh, state of Drupal at this one. Oh,
Amy June: okay. Yeah. So actually the jury’s note will be the only. Uh, streaming session. That’s
David Bisset: where, that’s how I remember it because whenever, whenever, and I believe it’s free, I think pretty sure to just broadcast like that. Um, and that’s, I don’t miss that. Uh,
Amy June: yeah, you’re right.
I always forget about that one. Cause it’s always been, but that, yeah, that’ll be the only streaming event will be the teres. now,
David Bisset: because your Drupal concept will have so many tracks and it’s how many days is it? Three. Wow. That’s let’s that’s longer than a WordCamp. EWAS yeah, that’s amazing. Yeah. I don’t miss his, um, livestream.
Keynotes usually lasts about an hour. Lots of just like how Matt does a state of the word. Uh, the Drupal version equivalent has a ton of information. I like the statistics that he shares, so I definitely will not be missing that. And I’ll put a link in the show notes for the event, and specifically, as soon as I can figure it out.
Where on the website or any blog posts that has that kind of link or to expect that, um, maybe on the calendar or something like that. I’ll definitely put that in there as well. I, I honestly believe all of the open source. CMS is the WordPress, the Drupal’s and the gym was in we’re all kindred spirits in terms of opensource.
Amy June: Uh, I actually have the privilege of working on the contributor team with word camp us this year. So I’m hoping to bring some of the ideas, um, with me and maybe start like a mentorship program too. So very excited
David Bisset: WordCamp US has always been. Open to trying new things. I remember in 2019 before the, that was the last one before the pandemic, we had an entire track just based off of community aspects of things like, you know, diversity planning, meetups, that sort of thing.
I thought that went pretty well. And who’s to say what we could have expanded that to, if we could have gone beyond 2019. Um, uninterrupted. Um, so I really would look forward to see, because it’s a different landscape. Now. We haven’t had word camps. Um, we haven’t had physical work camps and more than two years, we, a lot of the momentum for contributions for WordPress came from live events.
You know, in one way, we’ve kinda been a little bit of, um, handicapped in terms of, of what we’ve been used to. Get new contributions in or get fresh ideas, experimented with fleshed out. So I’m really looking forward. And maybe we can talk about that later, as it’s closer to where camp us, I would love to hear some of the things that are getting, going to be publicly announced and what some of the thinking has gone on behind it.
Amy June: and my Gardner came just on cue. Okay. Thanks a lot, David. I appreciate that.
David Bisset: No, thank you for voluntarily contributing your time and go talk to your. Okay. If I sit there, have a good night. Thank you. Have a good one.