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Drupal has made contributing to open source a marketing opportunity

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Drupal has done something unique with contributing to open source. Our community has made contributing to the open source project a marketing opportunity for organizations using Drupal. Generally, contributing to open source projects reflects at the individual level. There isn't a great way to reflect if the individual did it out of some intrinsic value to improve open source or by sponsored work with their employer or a customer. As far as I know, Drupal is the only open source project providing this kind of attribution.

In 2014, Dries wrote a blog post outlining ways to credit organizations that the individual contributor is representing or if they're volunteering. In 2015, added two ways to recognize organizations that support open source. First, organizations could be listed as sponsors of project development. Second, a user interface on for our issue queues was implemented to credit individuals and their organizations. Over time, more features have been added, such as users being able to identify contributor roles and if they were sponsored by an organization while performing that role.

The best part is that these features benefit individuals and organizations. Individuals are highlighted for issues they've worked on and their contributor roles, regardless of whether they are volunteering or supported by an organization. Organizations can then highlight the contributions made by all the contributors they support.

These features also allow organizations to market their contributions to Drupal for new talent hires and clients. Individuals who want to contribute to open source as part of their work will seek organizations with many contributions listed. Organizations can use these contributions as proof of their expertise to clients. has a marketplace listing for agency partners that provide services for those using Drupal. Issue credits and other factors weight ranking on this page. Organizations contributing to Drupal are weighted higher on the listing, incentivizing contributions to the open source project.

Project supporting organizations

One of my favorite examples of using supporting organizations on a project is for Search API. Multiple organizations have provided monetary support for development efforts and have been credited. This project highlights the effort organizations invested in the Drupal 8 port of the module.

This also incentivizes organizations to sponsor project maintainers for module improvements if a specific organization doesn't maintain the module. In exchange for some development funding, they could request to be listed as a supporting organization.

Issue credits for individuals and organizations

A great example is the issue where we added the development settings form, which allows you to turn off markup caching and turn on Twig debug mode. Twenty-one individuals received contribution credit, but only seven contributed code to the issue. Everyone else provided user experience review and manual testing. Nearly everyone was also working on this issue on behalf of an organization.

Then, when viewing a user's profile on, you can see issues to which an individual has been credited. I have always seen open source as a way to grow and build my career. My contributions showed proof of work and expertise. With Drupal's issue credit system, it is even easier for individuals to market themselves as experts by showing their contributions to Drupal.

Regarding organizations, issue credits over the past 90 days are considered in ranking to promote continual contribution. This also allows for organizations to move up and down in ranking as contributions ebb and flow.

As the Drupal community adopts GitLab, we're working to make this issue credit system available within GitLab itself.

The negative impact of our contribution attribution system

While I believe there is an overall net positive in the contribution recognition system, there are some abuses. Whenever there are incentives aligned with monetary returns, things can go a bit awry. There are rules about abusing the contribution credit system that continue to evolve. I remember when the system first rolled out when I was at Centarro. We were inundated with issues to fix minor coding standard fixes, adding README.txt files, and more to farm issue credits. It's not as much an issue anymore. And it's not just an "us" problem. I tried and failed to find some sources, but I recall Hacktoberfest by DigitalOcean having similar spam and flooding issues until they implemented more controls.

Marketing for the Drupal project itself about its community maintains various metrics. These include metrics on issue credits.

Digging into the issue credits by month chart for February 20024:

  • 175 identified as a volunteer.
  • 861 identified as contributing on behalf of an organization.
  • 314 contributors identified as volunteers and for an organization. (For example, I work on some issues for fun as a volunteer and others as part of my time at Acquia.)
  • 422 did not specify.

To me, that means if you want a chance to be paid to work on open source, Drupal is a great project to work with.

We can also infer demographic and regional information. The Drupal Association or other groups can use this information to find regions that could benefit from focusing on gaining new contributors or promoting the community's diversity.

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