"When asked about the model of governance of the Drupal project, Drupalistas commonly defined it as a “do-ocracy”. “Do-ocracy” is a notion that encourages open participation. It is based on the self-allocation of tasks, and it allows those who carry out these tasks to be recognised and become more influential in order to make decisions when “rough consensus” (Russell, 2006) is necessary to be reached.
The following excerpt from Dries (Bacon, 2012, p. 514), the original creator of Drupal, illustrates how these main characteristics of “doocracy” shape the day-to-day life of the Drupal community:
- “[...] The Drupal community uses a “do-ocracy” model, meaning people work on what they want to work on, instead of being told what to work on. Decisions are usually made through consensus building and based on technical merit, trust and respect.”
Not surprisingly, the notion of “do-ocracy” presents characteristics that resemble those of the hacker culture discussed in section 1.1.2. For example, in relying on meritocratic values — such as the “technical merit” mentioned in the quote above — and encouraging the focus to be placed on contribution activities and quality, rather than on the personal characteristics of those who carry them out — “Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not criteria such as degrees, age, race, sex, or position” (Levy, 2010, p. 35). Another example is the mistrust of formal authority, as part of a more general anti-bureaucratic attitude of hackers. A “do-ocracy” operates on the idea that those who mobilise more resources towards a certain task and demonstrate their merit to the community have the legitimacy to make decisions that relate to that task, rather than legitimacy being based on arbitrary rules that consolidate power representing a threat for their creative impulses (Levy, 2010, p. 25).
The notion of “do-ocracy” is commonly found to describe the governance of organisational processes of CBPP communities (e.g. Mateos-Garc´ıa & Steinmueller, 2008; Fuster-Morell, 2010; Zacchiroli, 2011; Kostakis, Niaros & Giotitsas, 2015).
For example, Fuster-Morell (2010, p. 282) incorporated this notion in the context of the study of the governance of online creation communities and defined it as follows:
- “[...] Doocracy refers to the idea that there is no external body or hierarchy that decides how actions should be carried out. In other words, in a doocracy authority over an action is held directly by those developing it. Furthermore, participants gain influence and authority in the process according to their merits and the resources for ‘doing’ that they mobilize (such as time or attention).”
In addition, these “do-ocratic” characteristics incorporate numerous similarities with those presented in the literature review of governance of CBPP communities in section 1.4.1, such as the attributes defined by Benkler and Nissenbaum (2006). The previous quote by Dries depicts, for example, the self-assignation of tasks, whose outcomes’ quality is scrutinised through peerreviewing processes carried out by the community.
Nevertheless, these “do-ocratic” characteristics also imply an inherently blurred and informal nature, which can become a source of inner contradictions and tensions as communities adapt their self-organisational processes over time. For instance, the willingness to decentralise the governance of the community may produce tensions with respect to the rejection of bureaucratisation, since formal rules may be interpreted as arbitrary with the aim of consolidating power in the hackers’ eyes.
In the case of the Drupal community similar tensions and inner contradictions emerged, for example, when the community grew and discussed the necessity to formalise the self-organisational processes to scale up.
Hence, when applied to the model of governance of large and global CBPP communities, the notion of “do-ocracy” lacks relevant aspects, such as the emergence of more formal organisational forms depicted, for example, by the numerous institutions created over time by the Drupal community. For this reason, this study incorporates the notion of “do-ocracy” not as a model of governance, but as part of a strong culture within the Drupal community (Melanc¸on & Sarahe, 2011), whose values are interrelated and influenced by the values of the hacker culture discussed in section 1.1.2. To this end, the model of governance is a subject matter of this study in itself, in which the influence of the “do-ocratic” culture is considered as relevant in the shaping of the organisational processes of peer production over time, but assuming that, as shown in the literature review in chapter 1, there remains a necessity to improve our understanding of how large and global CBPP communities, such as Drupal, organise themselves and scale up while remaining viable over time.
Furthermore, this research conceptualised tensions, as those discussed between the anti-bureaucratic attitude and the formalisation of processes to decentralise the governance, as “windows of opportunity” to follow and collect data during the study. Hence, these tensions will help to improve our understanding of the emergence of the processes and structures which the Drupal community has created over time. For example, to improve our understanding of how decentralisation, a key notion to be explored in CBPP as argued in chapter 1, occurred or whether it did. This study develops from the notion of decentralisation in the context of CBPP of Benkler (2006, p. 62) as the “conditions under which the actions of many agents cohere and are effective despite the fact that they do not rely on reducing the number of people whose will counts to direct effective action”, applying it to question whether decentralisation occurred in the peer production activities of the community and how it did. This was materialised, for example, by exploring how legitimacy emerged and changed over time in the community in order to decentralise decision-making to perform changes in the digital commons, or to organise events; or to analyse whether practices regarding decision-making related to quality assurance were decentralised and how this occurred.
Another example of opportunity for further study, which arose from the aforementioned tension, is to be found in the need to explore the changes experienced in the organisational processes over time and the organisational dynamics. As stated by Benkler (2006, p. 61): “the salient characteristic of commons, as opposed to property, is that no single person has exclusive control over the use and disposition of any particular resource in the commons. Instead, resources governed by commons may be used or disposed of by anyone among some (more ore less well-defined) number of persons, under rules that may range from ‘anything goes’ to quite crisply articulated formal rules that are effectively enforced”. As discussed in chapter 1, there is a lack, however, of an in-depth understanding of how these “doocraticly-shaped” rules emerge, operate, are enforced and change over time in large communities, with the few exceptions of largely studied communities such as Wikipedia (Viegas et al., 2007; Forte et ´ al., 2009)." (https://davidrozas.cc/sites/default/files/publications/files/phd_thesis_drupal_cbpp_pre_viva.pdf)