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Playing second fiddle

16th Mar 2011

Steven Jones

Senior Developer

While at Drupalcon I couldn't help but want to get involved in core development of Drupal. I have been involved on the fringe of Drupal core development for a number of years, and I've found bugs, submitted patches, tested others' patches, fixed others' patches and contributed documentation, but to get really involved in development you have to basically immerse yourself in it. It's really hard to follow the issue queues and get any sense of what is going on in the Drupal community. I just don't have the time to invest in core development.

Also at Drupalcon there were quite a few people that wanted to get involved but just didn't know where to do so, they didn't know where the community was focused, they didn't have any specific areas that they wanted to address themselves and just didn't know where to begin. There were also a number of people that would like to help out with core development, but not as the primary creator of a patch/feature. These people want to write a test, write some documentation or review a patch to move an issue on from its current state. I am one of these people.

These people would basically play 'second fiddle' to the primary contributor within the issue, but they would provide valuable assistance in getting the issue committed into Drupal core. Arguably there aren't many of these people, but I reckon that a lot of the 'long tail of contributors' that Dries often talks about would be willing to become them. I think that a lot of people just don't know where to start, and don't feel involved enough to contribute.

So, I'd like to propose formalising the 'second fiddle' group of people, we'd accept proposals to help out with issues that someone is struggling with, and providing that it met with certain criteria, then it would be added to a categorised list of issues that need a 'second fiddle'. Someone in the group would be able to look at the list of issues needing help and find something that met their skill level and interest. They would then help move that issue toward completion.

The criteria for accepting an issue into the 'second fiddle' group would look something like:

  • The issue must be for Drupal core, or a directly related area (e.g. the testing framework).
  • The issue must have a recent summary, outlining what the issue is about and what is required to bring the issue to completion.
  • The issue should have 'stalled' for some reason, with extra effort required to bring the issue to completion.

So how does this differ from what we have now? Well, I'd hope that because the group has more structure and a smaller set of goals, we could guide new contributors/reviewers through the process and get them comfortable with developing for Drupal core. I'd hope that the group would provide a place for people who just want to spend a couple of hours a week developing somewhere to go to find a list of easily accessible issues. And it would provide other core developers a place to go to get a second opinion or a helping hand writing a complex patch or some documentation or a test...

I really want some feedback on this idea, from current core developers, from people who would like to get involved in core development, from people who are on IRC 24/7, from people who aren't, from everyone. I would join and be an active part of this group, but ideally I'd like a lot of other people to say they join too and other core developers say that they would refer issues to the group before I get the group going.