Before causing any unnecessary concern, I'll say upfront that I am not leaving the Backdrop project, nor leaving my role as a core committer and Technical Lead, nor reducing my involvement. This is merely a pivot in my responsibilities.
Hello Backdrop Community!
Over 5 years ago, I started the Backdrop project by importing the source code into a GitHub repository. When the initial flood of interest followed, I wasn't ready to handle the feedback. What was Backdrop trying to accomplish? Who was running it?
Since then, a lot of things have come together. One of the first things we did was to outline a project philosophy and set up a governance model; we adopted the "PMC" (Project Management Committee) model, which acts as a board of decision makers.
Now that the Backdrop community is growing, we have the opportunity to diversify our PMC. In order to represent our community, we need PMC members that come from a variety of backgrounds but share Backdrop's common goals. In order to grow further, we need to distribute responsibility, and empower more people to take leading roles in the project.
Previously there were a number of issues with the make-up of the PMC, including:
- Members overly concentrated in the same geographic region:
Four members live in the San Francisco Bay Area (Nate, Jen, Jack, and Mike).
- More than one member working for a single company:
Up until recently, Nate and Wes both worked for Lullabot (Wes has recently joined Red Hat, so that was resolved separately).
- More than one member from the same family:
Throughout the whole history of Backdrop, Jen and I have always been in a relationship, and we married in 2015.
It's not hard to see: I'm a common thread between all of these concentration issues.
Other members of the Backdrop community have been stepping up into leadership positions, and I'm ready to see Backdrop fly. To that end, I've been working on ways to separate Backdrop's resources from my own. We've already done the following:
- We adopted a password manager, to better distribute access to our important Backdrop accounts.
- We moved the Backdrop funds out of my personal bank account, and into one managed by PMC members.
- Several years ago we joined the Software Freedom Conservancy, who now manage our financial assets (and accept tax-deductible donations!)
For most community members, I don't think they'll see much difference in the running of the project. I'll still be a core committer, review code changes, attend weekly meetings, and give presentations at conferences to represent Backdrop. We've never tied PMC membership to the ability to contribute, and I'll still have access to many of Backdrop's accounts, as do several other community members. The substantial change is that I will no longer have a vote on the PMC. I was also previously the tie-breaker for split votes. The PMC has voted for Jack Aponte to fill that role now.
There are still some areas to be worked out. I still own the backdropcms.org domain name, and I’m jointly the holder of the trademark “Backdrop CMS”. We may transfer one or both of those things over to our fiscal sponsor, the Software Freedom Conservancy, which is a common service they provide.
The process of stepping down from the PMC has actually put Backdrop in a much healthier place. We're less concentrated on a few individuals, and are instead setting up processes to manage continuity and assign responsibility. It's an exciting time, because Backdrop is growing and is strong enough to stand on its own. I'm grateful to all our community members who have contributed to make this possible.
Long live the dragon!