Posted by: John Erickson | June 2, 2012

Dries Buytaert (Drupal founder) on Making Large Volunteer-Driven Projects Sustainable

Recently Dries Buytaert, creator of Drupal and founder of gave a wonderful talk at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society on the topic of Making Large Volunteer-Driven Projects Sustainable. A podcast of Dries’ entire talk is available at the MediaBerkman site. Dries is also the founder of, a Drupal-based solutions provider.

Here’s a snippet from the abstract of the talk:

Dries Buytaert — the original creator and project lead for the Drupal open source web publishing and collaboration platform, and president of the Drupal Association — shares his experiences on how he grew the Drupal community from just one person to over 800,000 members over the past 10 years, and, generally, how large communities evolve and how to sustain them over time.

As Dries recounts in his talk, the Drupal platform has experienced massive growth and adoption over the past decade, including significant penetration among web sites hosting open government data around the world — including the United States site and numerous other federal government sites.

I highly recommend this talk to those interested in Drupal, in the open source ecosystem, and generally in the care and feeding of communities. I found Dries’ thoughts on the economic relationship between the platform, its developers and their level of commitment to be particularly interesting: if developers depend upon a platform for their income, they are more likely to be passionate about advancing it as loyal contributors.

Drupal seems to be more than that; there seems to be an ethic that accepts re-fractoring of the platform to keep it and the Drupal community current with new technologies, giving developers the opportunity to explore new skills. There is a fascinating symbiotic relationship between economics and advancing technology that favors adopters and contributors passionate about being on the cutting edge.

This talk “re-factored” my own thinking about Drupal, and tweaked my thinking about the open source ecosystem!

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