In a volunteer organization like Joomla, it is particularly important to take time to recognize the hard work contributed at the project level by so many people all around the world. At the Joomla World Conference in Cancun last November, Sander Potjer handed out post cards with the beautiful heart graphic shown in the image for this article (designed by Chiara Aliotta), as a way for people to take a few minutes to write to each other and show appreciation for the work they have done. I know those cards carried encouraging words to many volunteers, and that they really made a difference in helping people to feel valued.
The Joomla project does a lot of things amazingly well, like keeping the awesome Joomla CMS on the cutting edge of development, connecting people from every corner of the globe in all kinds of collaborative working groups, planning fantastic world conferences,… and the list goes on and on. All of it thanks to 100% volunteer effort.
But one thing we often fail to do, and I believe it is because our volunteer hours get spread too thin, is recognize and thank the people who give so many hours to the project. It should be, but isn't enough a part of our culture. People tend to get thanked when they leave a leadership team, but not always even then, and anyway, why wait until they leave to say thank you? For whatever reasons, thanks and appreciation are things that just don’t get expressed often enough. We come to the project to contribute our time because of what the Joomla software has allowed us to do, but don’t always find the warm fuzzy, pat on the back feeling we find in other volunteer environments.
The Joomla volunteer culture is different from any I have ever experienced, probably due to its size, and the fact that we are working to sustain an Open Source web software in a competitive environment where many options on the market either receive corporate backing or are commercial businesses themselves. There’s an unusual volunteer-business combination in Joomla. Even if you go back to its origins, when Joomla was primarily about a bunch of passionate people who loved writing awesome code, today we have a global community and millions of users out there who depend on the Joomla project to be as business-like as possible, within it’s Open Source, volunteer structure.
The Volunteer Portal, which was inaugurated at the end of last year, is in my opinion one of the best things to happen to the project in a long time. It is a place to show working group activity, recruit new volunteers, and showcase what our volunteers are doing. Plans are in the works to expand and refine it, so we know this excellent resource will get even better.
And there is no doubt that the best thing Joomla has going for it besides the CMS, is its local communities all around the world. Nothing can replace the personal rewards of coming together face to face, planning events, instructing, squashing bugs, etc.
In France where I live, May 1st is a day off, and it is the only day of the year when it’s legal to sell lily of the valley bouquets in the street. People offer them to each other with the words “Bonne Fete”, to show appreciation, affection, and as a way of welcoming springtime. Like with most French traditions involving something nice to smell or eat, the origins go back several centuries to an event or a king (in this case King Charles the IX in 1561).
I like traditions like that, where everyone comes together for a time, drops what they are doing, to share a moment around a common, positive theme.
Let’s take a minute to think about the people who work so hard with the best interests of the Joomla CMS and community at heart, and say THANK YOU.