The drop is always movingYou know that saying about standing on the shoulders of giants? Drupal is standing on a huge pile of midgetsAll content management systems suck, Drupal just happens to suck less.Popular open source software is more secure than unpopular open source software, because insecure software becomes unpopular fast. [That doesn't happen for proprietary software.]Drupal makes sandwiches happen.There is a module for that

Is Drupal a cult?

Submitted by nk on Wed, 2013-05-29 13:47

Recently a post appeared which stated Drupal became the Scientology of open source and because it appeared in a reply of a few tweets involving me and it contains my name, I need to answer it.

> The goal of the Drupal project is, by design, one that is perpetual: to build and maintain the Drupal software. It is implicitly assumed that this is so, because the web is always changing.

While the web is indeed changing and Drupal is changing with it, there are many challenges that we tried to address in the past and failed to do so. Much unlike a cult, we are actually self reflecting (see for example the Engineering for the 80%, too presentation) and try to improve.

> The websites that the majority of users now spend their time on—Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Gmail—bear little resemblance to the mid-2000s web portals that Drupal still creates out of the box, or the tools it offers to manage them.

Well, Drupal is a product that some find useful. Others realize it could be made more modern and help like the 600 or so people who showed up at the sprint last Friday. It didn't seem to me they were given anything for this, aside from a free lunch. Perhaps they are given some social status and eventually bills indeed get paid as the original post claims -- but there is no surety of that. There were many people for whom Drupal is not a dayjob just an interesting hobby.

> I'd like to propose a radically different view: Drupal is perpetual, because there is no real goal and never really has been. It merely sustains itself.

I thought we are building websites. We approaching a million websites reporting back to If that's not a goal, I have no idea what is.

> No global plans were ever drawn up, no requirements to verify.

That's because it's somewhat hard to convince a thousand people contributing to core alone to adhere to a single plan. But it's not impossible to have plans involving a subsystem and execute that. When you show people a convincing idea they will show up and help -- have you seen how many people helped with the Twig conversion which most definitely had a plan?

> Implicitly, it's assumed that everything that currently is, should be.

We have moved modules to contrib in Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 both. This statement is factually false.

> Instead of focusing on the end-result, the focus is on the process of development: to make Drupal better, piece by piece. Better for what?

Hint: a million websites are not made from the same cloth. We are focusing on a product that allows various, oftentimes conflicting visions to be built on top.

> Rather, a user should be presented with the website as an open canvas, able to make any number of changes freely.

Karen McGrane's keynote says "It is time to go to war against the blobs". I have no clue whatsoever whether she is right or this blog post is right. This stark (pun intended) contrast however shows very well what I said above: there's no single master plan except for trying to create a versatile tool.

> See, they're not bringing Drupal into the world of Symfony. They're bringing Symfony into the world of Drupal.

Perhaps because Drupal implements more functionality than Symfony does...?

> There is always an overarching Drupal-way that must be maintained, a sensibility and taste that is superior. Chx said as much: Drupal always did it better.

And the community disagreed with me and changed Drupal in ways I disagree with and yet the sky didn't fall. We sometimes disagree and yet we still build together. And yes, we do not know what we are building. Often, Drupal is compared to Lego and I like this comparison.

> Which then leads to the next release: a giant orgy of enthusiasm, the next best thing, the most amazing Drupal ever. If that's the case, why do developers instantly start developing again?

Let me get this straight: if we managed to produce more interesting Lego cubes, we are not allowed to go on trying to create even more interesting ones? This logic seems flawed.

> Clients are notified, updates are scheduled, new development is requisitioned, and the bills get paid. Until the next release, when things will break again. And remember, If your Drupal site is not usable, you're using Drupal wrong.

Except if a site is not satisfied with Drupal they will move to another software. It has happened and will happen all the time. Even whole development shops left Drupal and we have not striken their names from the scrolls, forbidden their name to be uttered. Rather, we congratulate them when the results of their new ventures show up in Wired.

> For Drupal's mission to succeed, it has to be abandoned in its current form entirely, and be reborn as a dozen different solutions to individual problems, each of which can stand alone. Structure, layout, templating, formatting, visualization, interaction, these are the tools of the publisher. Not database entities and router links.

I am not quite sure what this means but I am just this stuck-in-the-past Drupal cultist. As far as I understand these things, templating/formatting/visualization is performed by Twig -- something we build on? Is it possible that others create smaller blocks we just build on and that's not so bad? Perhaps re-join our community, explain what your vision is and enact change? We do change our ways. Drupal 8 is proof to this: we have changed our development strategies, many of our core values -- and, again 600 or so people showed up helping to further this vision whatever it is. If you have an even better vision for Drupal 9, please help, we will be glad to have an even better set of Legos.

Commenting on this Story is closed.

Submitted by just-passin-thru on Wed, 2013-05-29 17:40.

I've never understood the sour groups of this particular ex drupalist. I'm guessing there must be a back story there. But to still be complaining years after just changing a piece of software? And comparing to scientology? Really? Me thinks he doth protest too much..

That must be some back story, lol.

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2013-05-31 05:09.

Steven Wittens ( has contributed extensively ( to Drupal. User 10!? Frankly, I think anyone would get tired of the same project after almost THIRTEEN years. And you could compare any cause to Scientology: Burning Man, any other cult, political parties, etc. My question is why he didn't post this on (, instead of Github. He did explain some of the "back story" on his own site at "Unfortunately, I haven't found a way to do so in a way that is constructive and tactful..." I don't think the "Scientology post" was very tactful.

Submitted by nk on Wed, 2013-06-05 23:00.

He quit around 2007.