Jeremy Thorson


Hi Jeremy,

In 50 words or less, what will you bring to the board of the Drupal Association?

- Donna

Thanks for the question, Donna! What I bring to the board of the Drupal Association is:

  • Passion, energy, leadership, desire, and demonstrated initiative,
  • A 'balanced' approach to conflicts and challenges,
  • A wide breadth of perspective, representing a large cross-section and multiple roles within the community, and
  • An array of relevant experience, enabling me to make positive contributions on numerous facets of the DA's overall mandate.

For an elaboration on these items, please see my comments at

Question 1: If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the Drupal Association, what would it be and why?

If it were truly a 'magic' wand, I'd give the Drupal Association infinite resources (money, people, and time); so that it need never be hampered in it's quest to foster and enable the product and community, and facilitate the further growth of the Drupal ecosystem.

Then ... I think I'd spice up their official logo.

Question 2: How much money should the DA spend each year on furthering Drupal? Followup: How much of that money should come from the users of Drupal vs sponsorships or advertising?

It is impossible to provide a quantitive response to this question, without first defining the scope of what is meant by 'furthering Drupal', and the approach being taken to accomplish that goal. In the end, it is important to ensure that the money being spent by the DA is being done so as to maximize the value of that particular expenditure for the greater Drupal community. In addition, the funding distribution needs to represent a balance between short-term and long-term initiatives.

As for the follow-up question, the DA would definitely benefit from an increased diversity of their revenue sources, as the current model contains a severe dependency on the success of the NA and European DrupalCon conferences ... and the risk that a single "marginal" or "unprofitable" conference could drastically reduce the association's available operating budget for the next year. That said, this shift is something that is going to have to occur over a longer period of time, and can not be solved within the span of a single one-year 'At Large' director term.

Question 3: How would you help make the Drupal Association reach out to parts of the world that aren't yet active in our community? Be more International?

I must express an appreciation for the particular wording of this question. International representation has been a hotbutton topic during this particular campaign, but it's important to recognize that there are also still 'parts of the world' within North America and Europe which are not active in the Drupal community. I personally come from one of these regions ... the nearest active regional user group is over 8 hours away, and I'm not aware of any local web development shops who are actively promoting the project in my own city.

Given that we don't have a magic wand, and the Drupal Association does not have infinite resources, the key to reaching out and promoting the Drupal project in under-represented areas of the world is the establishment and fostering of regional user groups who can then act as evangelists and catalysts for growth in their area. The Drupal Association can help provide a spark through grants, events, and training initiatives ... but without a local presence to fan the flames, that spark will never take.

Whether you are in Regina, Canada or Tacuarembo, Uruguay; the cultures may be different, but the challenges in establishing a local user group are largely the same. One of my suggestions on this front is the establishment of a mentorship program which would help pair strong and established regional user groups in the US and Europe with a new or fledgling community, as a means of providing them a little extra support in establishing self-sustaining momentum ... whether the new community be just down the highway or across oceans.

Question 4: What is your biggest annoyance with Drupal.Org currently?

On a personal level, my biggest annoyance with this week is, given that I work for a dinosaur of a company that is still stumbling forward on IE7 ... along with the added annoyance that I haven't had the time this week to write a patch to fix it. But that can hardly be considered a high priority with regards to these elections. :)

From the community perspective, I think my largest concern would be related to discoverability of content on the site; especially for newcomers to the Drupal ecosystem. We need to do a better job of connecting users with the information that is most relevant to them, and providing them an 'information fastlane' through to their destination which doesn't necessarily involve sorting through pages of obsolete search results.

Question 5: What role do you see for the DA in developing and/or certifying formalized Drupal training/testing?

Let me tackle this in two parts. First, I work in an industry with LOVES it's certifications (telecommunications) ... but in my personal experience, only a fraction of them are worth the paper they're written on. I'm not a fan of certification programs with respect to Drupal, and think the "Certified to Rock" criticism is spot-on with it's analysis and commetary. (Note: This is not a suggestion that CTR scores themselves should serve as a formal measuring stick either!)

From the training perspective, I do see a role for the DA; in the fostering of the development of new training materials within the community, as well as a potential aggregate and/or distribution point for various training resources. However, the DA should steer clear of any 'approving', 'rating', or 'rejecting' any of these training materials or resources (as well as individual trainers or providers) ... this is a task which is better left to the community at large.

Question 6: What community leadership have you shown that you think positions you well to be a community representative on the board?

I believe that leadership within the Drupal community is largely demonstrated through 'example' rather than through any official 'role'. That said, I can provide a examples of both:

  • Even before ramping up my involvement within the community, I took it on myself to identify potential improvements to Drupal's "New Project Application" process and compile them in a draft proposal for the community.
  • This led to other roles in mentoring new project application reviewers, establishing better consistency in the process, and driving the development of a strategy and roadmap for introducing an automated review process.
  • I took on maintainership for Drupal's automated testing infrastructure.
  • I have served as a mentor for core contributor sprints and during core mentoring office hours.
  • I applied for and was selected as a speaker at DrupalCon Munich, which was only my second time attending the conference.
  • I attended and participated within the Drupal Governance BoF at DrupalCon Munich
  • and many more ...

However, this is just the side of me that the community has seen ... I have a history of strong leadership abilities and roles outside of the Drupal community as well. For these examples, please refer to the 'Experience' section of my blog post at

Question 7: My question is related to Governance VS Operations at the DA. Where are the lines between what the Board should do vs Staff? For example - who should be directing mission vs strategic planning vs program management?

Before I answer, I'd like to make a distinction between 'staff' and 'volunteers' ... these are two different groups with involvement on the DA operations side of things, and the answer differs slightly between the two.

As a 'policy' board, the DA Board should perform strategic planning with regards the how the Association can best fulfill the mandate defined in it's mission statement. This planning may include setting strategic direction for individual initiatives; but only with the support of the community ... which in turn drives the 'strategic direction' for the Drupal Association and project as a whole.

The Board is ultimately accountable for the development of these strategic plans ... and, depending on the particular plan or initiative, accountability for execution of those plans may remain with the board or fall to the staff. In either case, the responsibility for execution should not sit with the board ... that honor belongs to members of the staff, volunteer teams, or specific individuals within the community.

The distinction I made between 'staff' and 'volunteers' is to distinguish that while the board can hold staff accountable for execution on the strategic plans or specific initiatives, and delegate responsibility for execution to either staff or volunteers ... it can not assign end accountability for execution to any member of the volunteer team; these team members must take on that accountability of their own accord. Even then, the Board still retains the ultimate accountability.

Question 8: What is the greatest threat to the Drupal project today and what should the DA's role be in ameliorating/resolving that threat?

I feel the greatest threat to the Drupal project today is the risk of attrition outpacing recruitment in key segments of the community. While the project as a whole has a tremendous amount of momentum behind it, a lack of new recruits has caused specific areas to start lagging behind.

The role of the DA in alleviating this threat is to i) help enable the community, providing tools and resources which help these groups do more with less, ii) facilitating the introduction of new individuals who can step into these positions (through facilitating the growth of the community as a whole), and iii) stepping in to provide direct resources for critical areas where it would be inefficient or impractical to depend on volunteer commitment.

Question 9: How do candidates define the Drupal 'community'? And, developers Vs users...

To me, the "community" encompasses the entire Drupal ecosystem. Whether developers, themers, site builders, customers, end users, testers, administrators, or groupies, the 'community' is open to anyone with even a remote interest in the Drupal product.

Occasionally, however, my use of the word 'community' scales back slightly; to represent the subset of the above who actively interact with other community members outside of their immediate work responsibilities; or alternatively as anyone who self-identifies as a member of the community.

Question 10: If you weren't running, which of the other candidates do you think would be great for the board?

At my first DrupalCon, I had the priviledge of working as a volunteer under Matt, and witnessed first-hand his level of commitment and tireless dedication (both to the project, and to his particular duties). Seeing now that this is backed up with a strong resume of related experience, I believe he would make a strong director.