Published: Jan. 2, 2017 By

When the Drupal Association launched their new list of organizations on Drupal.org in March of 2016, The University of Waterloo was in the #6 spot. Being so high on the list was an impressive feat since they were ranked above a number of large Drupal-centric consulting companies with far more developers. Since March, more organizations have made it a priority to create an organization node, add organization references to users, and structure their commit messages to get the commit credits the organization deserve.

It would be difficult for a higher education organization to break into the top 10 again, but we can still have some friendly competition relative to each other while contributing back to the Drupal community. The University of Waterloo has dropped to #74 overall, but they are still the top higher education organization contributing to Drupal.org based on how the Drupal Association is ranking organization contributions.

The Current Top 10 Contributing Higher Ed Organizations

  1. University of Waterloo
  2. University of Colorado Boulder
  3. The University of British Columbia
  4. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay
  5. University of Adelaide
  6. The University of Arizona
  7. Iowa State University
  8. La Trobe University
  9. Pennsylvania State University
  10. Babson College

Since higher ed organizations love to be at the top of lists, I’m going to parse https://www.drupal.org/organizations on the first of every month and post the resulting ranking in 2017.  I'm doing this for a few reasons.  One is to justify the time we spend at the University of Colorado contributing back on Drupal.org.  I believe that contributing back should increases an organization's profile within the Drupal community.  This should make it easier to get issue resolved and to find qualified applicants when we have an opening, but this is hard to quantify.  

Another reason is to encourage more contributions from higher education.  I'm hoping that developers seeing this list every month motivates them to be more active on Drupal.org in 2017, but I'm also hoping that managers see this list, ask their teams why they aren't on the list and make contributing back a priority.

I know higher ed organizations also love to criticize ranked lists that don't include them. Before you jump on Twitter to complain or cry foul, let me try to preempt some likely complaints and explanations about why an organization isn't on this list or why we shouldn't care about this list.

This Methodology is Flawed

If you believe your organization should be on the list because of contributions you've made to documentation, training, camp organization or in some other way that the current algorithm doesn’t capture, everyone involved in maintaining the list on Drupal.org already acknowledges this issue. Now that the new Drupal User Guide project is managed with commits, some documentation contributions will be calculated into an organization's rank. Still, this list is largely influenced by only one type of contribution; commits of code by developers. There have been no shortage of issues, blogs, and tweets criticizing the approach used to sort the list since the Drupal Association started it, but there have been very few concrete suggestions for how to calculate anything other than commits. 

All we are doing to generate the higher ed specific version of the contributing organizations list is scraping https://www.drupal.org/organizations, noting the placement of organizations we believe qualify as higher ed using a list of node ids we’ve compiled over time and ordering those results. 

We Use GitHub/BitBucket/Something Other than Drupal.org

So does the University of Colorado Boulder... and we're #2.  While most of our Drupal related commits are done in GitHub without the commit message structure that would give us any credit for this work, we do have a handful of modules we've developed over the years that were general purpose enough to share on Drupal.org. Maintaining these on Drupal.org does add some overhead, but in several cases, we've received patches from the community for improvements we would have never had the time to make ourselves. Most recently, College of Western Idaho contributed to RAVE Alerts and AddWeb Solution has contributed to User External Invite

We've also made opening issues on Drupal.org and posting patches part of our process at the University of Colorado Boulder. If we find a bug in a contrib project, we don't fork the local copy of the contrib project into our GitHub repo. That is obviously faster and easier in the short term, but we force ourselves to do it "the right way" with Drush Patch File. We open an issue on Drupal.org first, post the fix as a patch, then integrate the patches into our codebase using with Drush Patch File. The goal is to get the patch rolled into the next stable release of the contrib project and removed from our patches.make in the next release. We don't always achieve this goal for a variety of reasons, but this forces us to fix issues with contrib projects on Drupal.org and increases the credit we get for doing the same amount of development we would have done otherwise.

We Are Now Ranked Higher Than X on Drupal.org

I'm not sure how often the list of Drupal.org is updated, but we are only checking the list on the 1st of each month.  The rankings will change during the month, but I'm confident organizations prioritizing contributing back on Drupal.org with properly configured organization nodes and commit credits will always be at the top of this list.

This Will Just Encourage Gaming the List

Maybe. But even if a higher education organization was gaming commits to make the top 10, they’d need an organization node, users, and projects on Drupal.org to be making commits with properly formatted messages. For many higher ed organizations, that would be more than they’ve ever done on Drupal.org to date. So let the games begin!  

My Organization Doesn’t Allow Me to Contribute to GPL Projects

IMLTHO that has never really been a valid argument, but it is really troubling that any organization would be using Drupal while enforcing a policy like this in 2016. I’ve heard this excuse a few times over the years. On the occasions I’ve had time to attempt to track down what would motivate an organization to maintain a no-GPL policy while using GPL, it has always turned out that it wasn’t an actual policy but rather just an excuse. If you do work at a higher ed organization with a policy like this, please contact me. If there is actually a need, I'm willing to put time into a package of resources university staff can use to justify contributing back to Drupal.

My Organization Has a Drupal.org Node, But It Isn't Showing Up

Sorry. It's possible we've missed you. While Drupal.org offers categories for the markets a service provider serves, it does not currently support categorizing organizations themselves. Current list of higher ed node ids is maintained on the new EDUDU site. This list was compiled by searching the list of organizations maintained on Drupal.org for nodes with the terms "university" or "college" in the title.  We've also added organizations we knew were using Drupal based on code they've shared or their participation in camps or cons.  Several high profile organizations are missing including Harvard, UC Berkeley, Brown, Dartmouth, etc.  If you know of a organization node related to higher ed we are currently not tracking, please use the form on EDUDU to let us know and we'll be happy to add your organization node to the list we are tracking.

My Organization Does Not Have a Drupal.org Node

While still focussed on the Marketplace, this documentation about organization nodes and giving an organization credit in commits is very helpful. Any confirmed user can create an organization page on Drupal.org.  Please don't get caught up in who should create the organization node.  Node ownership can be transfered, but until the organization exists, users can't relate themselves to it, project maintainers can't relate the project to organization and developers can't start crediting the organization in their commit messages.  It takes some time and effort to get credit for all activity on Drupal.org from members of an organization, but breaking into the top is actually pretty easy.  Babson College only has 3 people on Drupal.org with a total of 2 commit credits in the last 90 days.  

While the staff at the University of Colorado Boulder has made it our goal to contribute more than Waterloo in January and take the #1 spot by February, we welcome the compition from schools who are active on Drupal.org that aren't currently being tracked.  

If every higher ed organization using Drupal makes contributing back to Drupal on Drupal.org a priority, 2017 will be an even better year for Drupal!