The subject was straight to the point, so will this.

I'm losing interest in Drupal as a viable option, and have begun to move on to paid solutions and paid content management systems, with the caveat that I'm also paying for support. Everything else, I'm able to build myself. I regret totally that most modules I've encountered fill a broad, basic need as a catch-all for thousands of users. The idea seems to be that if you build a 'suite' (such as ubercart), you'll fill most needs and perhaps most of your users will only need to use 70 or 80 percent of it. That does also mean that users are going to need your help to make up that last 20 or 30 percent on their own, and this is where I see a major flaw with this community.

As a maintainer, your users rely heavily on you. It's not a stretch to assume these projects are being considered as the foundation for live functionality - that's definitely the case for me. I then have to write a brief (with actual time estimates) and stick to them. I can't possibly plan for a module to be unexpectedly broken and then wait three weeks for the maintainer to get back to me - thereby blowing the budget entirely and losing the faith of the client. It's also not a stretch to assert that some peoples' careers may depend on the functionality available here, in the absence of a considerably longer time learning the Entity API and (by proxy) Symfony and PHP. Probably put Javascript in there too, perhaps some SQL.

I would like to request that each module page is given an option for 'Support Status'. This could be a taxonomy or free-form field, where the maintainer explains the level of their involvement in supporting the product they've put out. Install numbers and downloads don't bother me - what does is knowing what's going to happen. If the module is stable (which it's seemed more often than I'd like isn't unfortunately), and if any instabilities are going to be fixed (which in many cases are taking far too long). My proposed solution adds a warning label for more junior Drupal users to perhaps stay away from a module they won't be prepared to go elbows-deep in on (or don't have the time to).

The gist of this is that most of my post history is reporting bugs. It's also something of a shame that most of these throughout the two-and-a-half years have been ignored and left to rot. This isn't good enough.

Comments

This already exists - on the module page under 'Maintenance status'.

Jaypan
Our newest Drupal site: PacificAikido.com (Drupal showcase)

Not necessarily. Let me separate that from 'Maintenance Status'.

Maintenance Status for me always works as a 'roadmap' sort of deal, and is purely conditional. You could make the choice for what part you (representing the dev team) were going to have in ongoing maintenance and new developments, but you don't have to have any part in it.

Support Status would be unconditional, and I believe it should be mandatory. You could offer options such as:

- Support Status
--- Daily - issue queue
--- Daily - critical fixes only
--- Weekly - issue queue
--- Weekly - critical fixes only

And so on. It gives the rest of us an idea as to whether or not we'll be forced in to fixing things on our own (and potentially things we don't know how to do).

'mandatory' doesnt tend to work too well when dealing with volunteeers. how do you think it would work if there was a requirement a for everyone wanting to use drupal to have to manage an issue per week? Why is it all talk of 'mandatory' is only aimed at maintainers and not users?

maintainers would just stop putting their modules on drupal.org and either 1) not release then at all or 2) release them somewhere else where there is no such mandate. Neither of which would benefit the community.

_
Don't be a Help Vampire - read and abide the forum guidelines.
If you find my assistance useful, please pay it forward to your fellow drupalers.

I can see your point, but there must be a heightened sense of accountability and responsibility when you release custom functionality to a community that are doubtlessly going to use it for non-volunteer purposes. This is the point of using Drupal over other options like WordPress - the community-contributed software fleshes out Drupal from an out-of-the-box content/user management platform in to a hugely versatile system that you can use for nigh on anything.

We're always going to go back to the 'these guys are just volunteers' argument, but my point of view is that perhaps that framework shouldn't put in to place faulty coding and unresponsive support lines. You're still releasing a piece of software that people are going to rely on, whether it's for their one-man-band or for a massive corporation. I have released a couple of free responsive themes for another CMS I'm

As for the last part, that's not what we want (because it decentralises everything) but I don't know if I agree that it should just sort of be left like that.

I'll make it more concrete. I maintain a handful or so of modules, and try to contribute bug fixes to the modules I use regularly. I have good intentions and do the best I can. However, if I had to commit to a 'mandatory' level of participation I wouldn't. period. It's not out of animosity-- I simply can't put guarantees on my free time.

In my experience most module maintainers have good intentions and try to be responsible maintainers. If that's not good enough, then you probably shouldn't be using open source.

...that are doubtlessly going to use it for non-volunteer purposes.

And I have to say, it more than rankles when users who make a living off drupal for free, contribute back virtually nothing, then complain that module maintainers, who mostly work for free, aren't doing enough for them. really?

Seriously, where else would you encounter that type of entitlement?

_
Don't be a Help Vampire - read and abide the forum guidelines.
If you find my assistance useful, please pay it forward to your fellow drupalers.

"And I have to say, it more than rankles when users who make a living off drupal for free, contribute back virtually nothing, then complain that module maintainers, who mostly work for free, aren't doing enough for them. really?

Seriously, where else would you encounter that type of entitlement?"

To put it in perspective, I have enough trust in the WordPress community that I've begun to contribute regularly to it. My most popular theme on the network there reached 5,000 downloads in August, and I spend roughly 90 minutes per night blitzing the issue queue and helping people regardless of their 'status' within the community or their previous history with releasing functionality or themes.

When I made a conscious decision to do that, I didn't take in to account only the block times for building each theme, I also recognised that if I was to have a platform that users were inevitably going to use for corporate purposes I would have to support the product fully (and have a little bit of pride in my work, and some sort of accountability for the things I do). It was going to be a hobby or a part-time job, not a fire-and-forget special event that would never have any bugs until the end of time. There are developers here who seem to shove their work on to this platform and then hightail it out of the door before anyone notices it doesn't work. That's unacceptable in any and every line of work, paid or unpaid.

Regardless of the need, however, this isn't me demanding free addons - this is me installing a module and getting fatal errors. This is me installing a module and it breaking another, because in either case, it was sloppily written (perhaps security, perhaps integration with the rest of the pool) and subsequently massively under-supported. Do you agree from an ethics point of view, that whether this is a licenced $10k Microsoft product or an open-source module, it's not good enough? Please forget the elitism for a second, disregard that you don't recognise my username, and still try to disagree with me. A popular culture analogy for this would be that I'm not a great basketball player, but that doesn't mean I can't point out Michael Jordan's flaws. That's quite frankly absurd.

That's the great thing about open source though - you can not only fix the code yourself, you can contribute patches to get it fixed.

Of course, if you are not a developer, that is much easier said and done. But in my opinion, if you are not a developer, and/or are not working with one closely, then Drupal isn't the right system to be using, and you'd be much better off with something like wordpress. I believe Drupal to be the developer's CMS/CMF, and usually the people most frustrated with it are those who are not developers.

Jaypan
Our newest Drupal site: PacificAikido.com (Drupal showcase)

I accept it doesn't sound like I'm a developer from the posts I've made in this thread. I definitely am, however. I just enjoy the front-end side of things a lot more, perhaps because I have a soft spot for aesthetics. Perhaps it's excitement about HTML5/CSS3. Perhaps it's just the instant gratification that you get from theming as opposed to more complex projects.

You know, it would definitely be frustration if my post was "not enough documentation!" or "where do I start? rabble rabble rabble!" but it's pinpointed at a very specific subset of developers here who aren't to the level of quality that this community should expect. True, my own requests get ignored (very often in fact) but this isn't about me. It's about developers who release shoddy code and don't support it.

Then you should most definitely ask for your money back from them.

Apologies for a comment that comes across as extremely sarcastic, it very clearly illustrates my point.

Jaypan
Our newest Drupal site: PacificAikido.com (Drupal showcase)

You could easily have illustrated your point without sarcasm. Up to you though, I can't control how you think or feel.

Though about your point, a project doesn't have to be paid to have a high standard of quality. See: Drupal core, the likes of Views and Webform (that have been faultless and also well-supported).

No, you're right it doesn't. But the payoff for non-payment is that you also get modules that are not as supported as well the ones you listed. And for that matter, I'm not sure you want to necessarily hold them up as standards of support - I've had issues up in Views and core for months without replies in the past (I don't use webform).

If you need full support, then you are better using a paid system, or periodically hiring a Drupal developer who can fix all the issues you face. Unfortunately, the majority of issues you bring up are what happens with an open source system. As WF explained very well, once you start making things mandatory, you will find that the module maintainers will disappear, and Drupal as a whole will have much less modules to work with.

And as far as my sarcastic response - I could have illustrated it in other ways, but I find that one pretty effective.

Jaypan
Our newest Drupal site: PacificAikido.com (Drupal showcase)

(NB: I'm barely a developer, in fact I'm just not. And that sometimes causes massive frustration compared to systems like Joomla and Wordpress, because a lot of their stuff works straight out the box, whilst meanwhile I've lost whole nights trying to wrack my brains round Views or Slideshow modules. That said, I still prefer Drupal because of the flexibility it offers, and the fact it allows the tweaking to make things just how you want. The module on Drupal may only give you 80% of what you want, and on Wordpress it give you 100%, but if you don't like that last 20% that Wordpress gives you you're kind of stuck with it. It odes what it's for, and there's little manouverability. Particularly on Joomla where you get a lot of modules for a specific purpose (a real estate module, and HR module etc.) They may be simpler than creating custom content types integrating it with fields and views etc. But those modules are no good if you have a specific purpose in mind slightly different from what the module was created for. Lastly on this point (as this NB will now be longer than the main post), as a total 'noob' I have never found the Drupal community anything more than 100% helpful when answering an issue. The documentation at times can be pretty dreadful, but usually a quick google or a polite question on a forum somewhere will get you a response and a step-by-step guide by a kind volunteer somewhere. Basic jist, Drupal is a nice place, and even to 'non-developers' I would still reccomend it over Wordpress and co if they ever have the intention building anything more than one website for themselves.)

On to the main post. Maybe the easiest solution is a really quick vote up vote down based system on functionality. Installed numbers aren't necessarily a great idea, if 1,000,000 install a module but only 12 get it to work, it's popularity isn't a good ranking system. What would be better would be a really quick 5 star rating system where a registered user could quickly rate support, reliability, flexibility etc. This would give a way better 'snapshot' of the quality of a module without getting bogged down in user queues etc in my opinion. And I'm aware that star rating systems are the tackiest things alive, but they're quick and make it very easy to understand an issue very quickly, if not perfectly.

You're not seriously comparing the maintenance of drupal core, views, and webform to a random xyz module are you? If so, you've just lost
all credibility. The people that maintain those, and many of the top 100 (if not 500) modules are typically those that work and make
their living entirely from Drupal-- either freelance or as part of drupal shops. They are often given paid time from their work day to
contribute. There's no way a hobbyist, small business owner, or other non exclusively drupal contributor could possibly compete with that
and still make a living, feed their family, and have some semblance of a personal life.

And once again, you ignore the point that ANYONE can contribute to maintaining a module. You don't have to be able to commit code to
maintain a module.

If the modules you use are so important to you then it would probably be more productive to spend time helping to maintain them instead of
complaining in the forums how those working for free should do more for free to help you make your living better and easier.

And yes, that's putting it harshly-- but only because you simply dont seem to get the point that that's exactly how you sound.

_
Don't be a Help Vampire - read and abide the forum guidelines.
If you find my assistance useful, please pay it forward to your fellow drupalers.

it's not elitism-- that's a straw man argument frequently used in this context. And your michael jordan analogy is completely flawed.
It's more like if you managed to somehow get into michael jordan's locker room and instructed him on how you would prefer he play. I can
vividly imagine his response-- very likely much less courteous than the one you're getting here, lol.

That's unacceptable in any and every line of work, paid or unpaid.

I think herein lies the crux of the disconnect. drupal.org is not a 'line of work'-- it's more like a non profit organization.

If you ran a nonprofit, say a soccer team for instance, and someone handed you $100 for that organization would you turn around and
say 'thanks, but it's not $1000 so keep it to yourself'? didn't think so.

There's a reason non-profits have donation forms with levels of donation that include 'other' and let the donor specify what they want
to donate. They don't want to discourage even $1 donations.

Drupal.org accepts all donations-- sometimes in the form of code, sometimes in the form of time. And the community has chosen to
encourage all types and levels of donation. I happen to agree with that philosophy.

I'd much rather someone contribute their code that could potentially benefit me or others-- even if they can't maintain it, even if
additional work is required to use it successfully, than keep it hidden. Some modules, initially contributed by absentee maintainers
have been adopted and given new life. If those contributions weren't allowed in the first place, that could never happen.

Does that mean there are lots of modules out there that aren't suitable for production usage? You bet. And there's where open source
requires effort instead of cash. You need to expend some time to do due diligence on module selection. Check out the maintainer,
investigate the issue queue, view the commit history, note the usage statistics and designated maintenance status. It's actually
pretty obvious when a module probably shouldn't be put into production unless you intend to spend time on maintaining it.

Oh and that's another fact folks with this particular complaint conveniently overlook. There's nothing an 'official' module maintainer
can do that any other user in the community can't do with the exception of committing code to the official repository. ANYONE can help
maintain modules. And if you submit patches that go ignored, there's the abandoned module process (which takes all of 2 weeks) to obtain commit access.

There are hundreds of thousands of users of drupal-- there is simply no excuse for used modules to go unmaintained other than the fact
that most users chose to use drupal without contributing back. How is it ethically ok to make demands of a module maintainer and not
make demands of the users of that module (many of them making money off them)?

And if that weren't enough. Should the community really change it's charter and philosophy at the suggestion of those that don't
contribute or participate? where else would that be acceptable? Stretching your michael jordan analogy, should Michael change his style
of play and work ethic at the request of those that don't sponsor, train, pay for tickets, or otherwise support him in any way? really?

Sorry, but no matter how you frame the argument, those that don't contribute, particularly when they make money off drupal,
attempting to tell those that do how, when, and where to spend their time volunteering is just plain rude, entitled, and
unacceptable.

And all arguments aside, the fact remains, putting mandatory conditions on contribution will only decrease it. Now if you prefer to
discourage a certain level of contribution to save yourself the effort of doing due diligence on module selection, that's a perfectly
valid (and completely different) point. One with which I, and it seems most of the drupal community, disagree.

So yes, ethically, philosophically, whatever-ly, I can and do completely disagree with you. But that's the great thing about open
source-- we are free to disagree. And you are free to use a product that meets your needs and expectations.

_
Don't be a Help Vampire - read and abide the forum guidelines.
If you find my assistance useful, please pay it forward to your fellow drupalers.

If reduced to a possibly unfair summary, OP's point could be that paid software has more effective and prompt support then free software. What OP does not say if whether paid software means some paid Wordpress plugins (WP is a relatively much simpler environment) or a commercial CMS comparable to Drupal with a six-figure annual licence fee. A lot of Drupal sites I know do work out expensive in time or developer hours to maintain, but then it is complex software which is increasingly targeted at larger sites.

A front end developer like OP who wants a system which 'just works' and is promptly maintained, all the time, is better off with WP + paid plugins & frameworks (though when a WP plugin from a top commercial provider crashed a production site recently the support was hopeless, the site would still be offline had I not been able to log in from command line to fix it). The whole Drupal environment is much more open-textured both in code and community, and the software is more complex, is more likely to develop tricky or unmaintained bugs, but is also more flexible. So it may be that paid software (be it WP plugins, or enterprise-level CMS, we are not told) suit OP's needs better, and they suit my needs bette for small sites, or more some complex sites where the client does not demand complete customisation. The kind of mandatory maintaining of standards on software published on d.o. is in theory possible, with maintainers motived by hopes of selling 'Pro' versions of their software, but that would make it more like WP, with certain advantages but also taking away some of the strengths, which are very different and suit different use cases.

Sorry WorldFallz, any point you may have had has been lost in the main reason you're still posting in this thread - to antagonise me. Your tone has been unnecessary, and instead of posting constructively as Jaypan, John_B and gdhp have (all disagreeing but putting it in mature terms), you made the decision to rant at me. I genuinely can't reply to you anymore, but I appreciate you taking the time to make your feelings crystal clear.

John_B:

Pro versions! I'm an avid Views user, but if there was a situation whereby I ran the project and wanted to offer some additional functionality (AJAX paging and responsiveness just off the top of my head), I would want to go somewhere offsite where I could be guaranteed support on a piece of functionality. I could pay 'x' amount of money per month or per year for this opportunity, and have a tangible account on a support desk. As long as it was done tastefully, as in the projects essentially being two separate things but not 'Get Pro!' adverts all over the admin panel, that could definitely work.

I would have a hard time believing that the Drupal way would contribute to a negative opinion of that. What better way to sell a product than a free version of it without the bells and whistles?

And yes, from WP's point of view, most of the 'main' plugins have Pro versions. I've upgraded to a huge amount of those, for better support and accountability, as well as additional functionality (and an API in some cases). It's a very healthy atmosphere, and the developer also makes money from it.

It's a very healthy atmosphere

It is and it isn't. I have found some of the WP software marketing pretty sharkish, bordering on dishonest. But that is the way they make money. In Drupal we make money by building and supporting sites for more or less large clients. They are different tools for different markets, and with the growing number of enterprise customers, giving quality Views support at the level where the client is a skilled developer asking for something highly specialised for a modest monthly fee would be less commercial than the kind of simpler support enquiries you are likely to be taking to WP plugin makers. Commerce Guys do this type of support for Commerce but it is not cheap. When I did need some pretty heavyweight technical support for a WP module, it become clear the developer did not have the necessary skills (and refused a refund on the basis that he spent time trying), though he could handle simple configuration enquiries on shared hosting. That kind of low level support is free of charge on drupal.org. The contributors to this thread are all prolific providers of free support, which may be why people get irritated when someone says 'the support is just not good enough'!

Commerce Guys do this type of support for Commerce but it is not cheap.

Well, our turbo ticket is 100$, which is dirt-cheap compared to hourly rates of Drupal developers.
The idea behind it is avoiding precisely the problem described in this issue ("I didn't know how to proceed with Commerce and nobody replied for three weeks").
Such a service might make sense for Drupal modules in general. Throw in a hundred or two, and get quicker support (usually needed on architectural support requests, which get much lower priority than bug reports).