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Making large volunteer-driven projects sustainable. Lessons learned from Drupal

Making large volunteer-driven projects sustainable. Lessons learned from Drupal

Dries Buytaert, original creator and project lead of Drupal

Tuesday, May 29, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, Second Floor

In this talk, Dries shares his experiences on how he grew the Drupal community from just one person to over 800,000 members over the past 10 years. Today, the Drupal community is one of the largest and most active Open Source projects in the world, powering 1 out of 50 websites in the world.  The concept of major projects growing out of a volunteer, community-based model is not new to the world.   Volunteer networks and communities exist in many shapes and sizes.  Throughout history there are examples of pure volunteer organizations that were instrumental in the founding and formation of many projects. For example, the first trade routes were ancient trackways which citizens later developed on their own into roads suited for wheeled vehicles in order to improve commerce. Transportation was improved for all citizens, driven by the commercial interest of some. Today, we certainly appreciate that our governments maintain the roads. However, we still see road signs stating that a particular section of a highway is kept clean and trim by volunteers -- at least in some countries. When new ground needs to be broken, it's often volunteer communities that do it. But a full-time, paid infrastructure can be necessary for the preservation and protection of what communities begin.  In this presentation, Dries wants to brainstorm about how large communities evolve and how to sustain them over time.

Some questions to think about ahead of the presentation:

  • Do you know examples of large organizations that have grown out of volunteer communities?
  • Why do some communities keep growing while other communities come to a halt?
  • Is the commercialization of a volunteer-driven community part of a community's natural life-cycle?
  • Is it inevitable that over time the operation and/or leadership of volunteer communities are transferred to paid personnel?

About Dries

Dries Buytaert is the original creator and project lead for the Drupal open source web publishing and collaboration platform. Buytaert serves as president of the Drupal Association, a non-profit organization formed to help Drupal flourish. He is also co-founder and chief technology officer of Acquia, a venture-backed software company that offers products and services for Drupal. Dries is also a co-founder of Mollom, a web service that helps you identify content quality and, more importantly, helps you stop website spam. A native of Belgium, Buytaert holds a PhD in computer science and engineering from Ghent University and a Licentiate Computer Science (MsC) from the University of Antwerp. In 2008, Buytaert was elected Young Entrepreneurs of Tech by BusinessWeek as well as MIT TR 35 Young Innovator.


Download media from this event here.

Past Event
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

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