Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a few days learning Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology (and catching up on lots of Windows Server technology too - it’s been a while). Now, admittedly, this was unfamiliar territory for me as I’ve been away for a few years. You may laugh, but I had a serious case of culture shock as I experienced the difference in empowerment and support between the two environments.
In the Microsoft world,
- if you have a problem there are ways to get support, but most of them require knowing a bunch of forum-type websites or paying money to somebody.
- If you need free support, how do you find out where you would get it?
- If you discover a bug, what do you do?
- If you know how to solve a bug, how do you get the solution committed?
- If you know how to improve a product, how could you have any confidence that you could influence it?
In the Drupal world,
- If you have a problem there are lots of (uneven) support venues, including immediate support on IRC, if you can learn how that works socially and technically
- If you need free support, you go to http://drupal.org/support and there are a number of credible support avenues. (However, it also says to go to the forums, which is crazy.)
- If you discover a bug, you file an issue. For free.
- If you know how to solve a bug, you file a patch. And you can lobby for it.
- If you know how to improve something, you can start a discussion and invest in the solution, and maybe you'll succeed. Or maybe you'll be left desolate on a desert island. But you did get to play...
Essentially, the normal model in the Microsoft world is they give you stuff (sometimes for free) and you take it and that may be good.
The normal model in the Drupal world is that you participate in making stuff and helping it get better.
Our Drupal culture is enormously empowering. We have a gem here folks. Sure it is a gem with some warts (have you ever seen a warty gem?) but wow, it’s a gem. Keep on making it the beautiful thing it is!
And I'm really praising Drupal here, not bashing Microsoft. They do lots of things better than we do, and of course the scale and goals of their enterprise are worlds apart. And, if you hadn't noticed, they've been extremely eager to participate and contribute to the Drupal community for the last year or more, and we appreciate that. So please don't take away from this that I was bashing Microsoft - that's not the intent. It's just the wonderful realization of delightful community we have.