The history of how we killed "subscribe" comments on Drupal.org

In case you haven't heard the news, I just posted Stop subscribing, start following to the front page of Drupal.org. What a happy day! One week shy of 6 years after it was originally posted, #34496: [meta] Add Flag module to allow users to subscribe/unsubscribe without posting a comment is now fixed and deployed live...

Once again, I'd like to thank the sponsors that made this possible:

Drupal Community logo
The 88 members of the community that contributed to the 2 chip-ins to raise a total of $2777.27 towards the original goal of $7,000.



Drupal Association logo
NodeOne logo

The front page news story I wrote ended up being a bit long to include some of the other details of the story, so I wanted to post those here in case people an interested.

History of this project

A while ago, I spear-headed an effort to figure out how to fix this mess. We wrote up a plan and an appeal for community funds to be able to implement the plan. Although there was an initial flurry of donations (mostly small, but a few larger ones), momentum tapered off and the funding goal seemed unreachable. I got discouraged that crowd-funding just doesn't work, and was sad that such an obvious win that everyone complained about was so hard to raise funds for. Although the occasional donation still trickled in, it seemed like it was going to take forever to actually meet the goal. I tried to sneak this feature in as part of the work I did around the Drupal.org redesign, but that attempt was shot-down by the project managers who rightfully argued this wasn't actually critical for the launch of the redesign itself. My crazy life and the need to pay rent with paid gigs kept me from having the focused time I needed to get this done. Those were dark times...

But times have changed! The Drupal Association has started funding improvements to Drupal.org that aren't just hardware for the servers (for example, the Drupal.org redesign and the Git migration). A few weeks ago Jacob Redding (jredding) of the Drupal Association pinged me to say that the Association wanted to go in 50/50 with the community to fund the end to +1 subscribes.

I was thrilled! At the time, the community funding was only about 1/3 of the original goal, but I figured this was the best chance to actually get it done. I started reviewing plans and patches, and writing code—planning to just donate the rest of the labor myself. This functionality has been so broken for so long that I was willing to eat a pretty big loss just to fix it.

A couple of weeks later, Greg Dunlap (heyrocker) approached me to tell me that his employer, NodeOne, wanted to fund the rest of the proposal! Hurray!!

I shifted into high gear, wrangled issues, updated issue summaries, got UI and accessibility reviews, cranked out the code, reviewed patches, came up with deployment plans, data migration paths, coordinated volunteers, worked with the rest of the Infrastructure Team on the staging server, and all the other numerous tasks required to actually get this done. And here we are today at the dawn of a new era. Subscribe is dead—long live issue following!

Comments

And there it is..."Following"

And there it is..."Following" even the mouse-over is nice!

Huge thank-you!

Works great!

I'm so glad you didn't get burned out with frustration. Patience pays off!

thanks

The feature was good but it was not so useful. Thanks for getting rid of it :)
http://tryauravie.net/

Job well done

Fantastic work, your valiant effort is much appreciated.

Thanks to all people that

Thanks to all people that contributed to make this possible \o/

Wow, didn't realise the

Wow, didn't realise the amount of work required to implement such a "straight forward" feature - great job on seeing this through to the end! Drupal.org is much better for it :)

Thanks!

Thanks so much for your persistence on this issue. It's going to make the issue queue a much friendlier experience.

Great work for 3281d. Sad state for Drupal.

Way to go on getting this out the door.

However, the fact that a relatively trivial improvement took 6 years and $7,000 to complete should be setting off alarm bells for Drupal developers.
If there was ever a better example of how Drupal can scare away new contributors and fresh ideas, this is it.

Please know that I'm not writing this to diminish the work of 3281d or anyone else who helped get this issue closed.

Putting "6 years" in perspective

Thanks for your feedback and sharing your thoughts/concerns.

However, what took 5 years and 48 weeks to do was get agreement on a plan, wait around for donations to trickle in at a snail's pace, raise funding, etc. Yes, I could have been more pro-active going out and trying to raise funding sooner, but I don't really enjoy that work as much as actually fixing things (like the Git migration, drupal.org redesign, and 100s of other projects, large and small, that I work on for the Drupal community year in and year out -- mostly unpaid).

The actual implementation only took about 3 weeks from the time the funding was actually secured. It's not fair to say this "relatively trivial" improvement took 6 years.

In terms of why it took 3+ weeks, you can read the comment I wrote on a previous post: Quick summary: because doing this right is a lot of work.

Cheers,
-Derek