Felix Delattre

The cancellation of DrupalCon São Paulo 2012

Reflections about DrupalCons in a global community

image0 The very sad news about the cancellation of the DrupalCon in São Paulo has reached us volunteers surprisingly one day before the official announcement. The Drupal Association (DA) board took this decision because of the lack of interest (in session proposals and scholarship applicants) and sponsors which lead to the obvious lack of money.

A lot of energy and resources have been lost: The people involved to get this all started (which was over three years), the payed staff from the DA, the work of the volunteers, people who had booked their flights already and not to forget the personal disappointment of involved actors and community members.

This DrupalCon in Brasil would have been a great example for the global awareness of such a successful FLOSS community. Going and orienting actively to the South, would have shown that Drupal is ready to have a general approach community-wise. Understanding Free Software as a proposal for fair development and sustainable community building. Like, for example, Debian did successfully this year by holding the global collaborator's conference DebConf in Nicaragua.

Personally it seems very strange to me that there is this iterative thinking of DrupalCons should always grow to show success and professionalism. When extending to the world is a so much bigger success because it is about people and their work might be a better resource for Drupal than money of northern markets. Why is the DA taking this as the meta/objective? The community might have a very different view on that. The expertise and continuity which the DA is providing are a guarantee for constant and good DrupalCons, but in my humble opinion the community has to give the rules of the game and surrounding conditions.

Some things are different all over the world. The first step is recognizing that. And the second, and even more difficult one, is to implement this in the decision making process. It requires the sensitiveness to know when local organizers might just have a better insight and being open to learn. This is a real challenge where the DA has not had the necessary patience: Even the decision about canceling the event was taken without asking for the opinion about the situation of any local Latin American Drupal community representative, even though they were at the Advisory Board of the DA. For example, in this specific case, people in Latin America doubt more that things really happen, so usually they need to see some steps in organization happening, till they are confident that the news are true. In this context it is not surprising to have few numbers of sponsors, session proposals and scholarship applicants till the moment, when not even the website has gone live.

As we have to scale the code development for Drupal we have to scale the community. Our core initiatives are working on separate areas of Drupal 8's development. This could be also an interesting approach for DrupalCons. Having DrupalCon initiatives with different people for each DrupalCon and the constant staff of the DA. Where the initiative owner(s) have a deeper knowledge of their "area". Instead of having one person (in core the version maintainer and in DrupalCon the employed event manager) having to rule them all, with all the diversity.

Comparing core development with DrupalCon organization there is one really big difference: Transparency... Of course transparency leads to more complexity, but also to a better and overall reflected result, as Free/Libre Software in general shows us all every day. It is integrative and would let the community review and take part in important social developments.

Like Nick Vidal writes in his great reflections:

"What really matters is the community, the people, the heart and soul that they put in to make things happen."

...it would be great to see individuals and companies from all over the world visiting and supporting actively the upcoming Drupal events in Latin America (4th DrupalCamp Centro America 11th to 13th of October 2012 in Panama City and the 3rd Drupal Summit Latino in 13th to 15th of March 2013 in Loja, Ecuador.). Take your personal decision and come, let us all grow together.