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The Imaginary Band of Drupal Rock Stars

Community Wellness
Experience Level: 
Session Length: 
45 minutes

The word "rock star" (or "rockstar") appears more than 500 times on Similar words appear even more, such as "ninja" (nearly 1200) and "guru" (more than 2200). Companies regularly post job announcements seeking Drupal rock stars and ninjas. At one point the Drupal community measured contributions, and Drupal agencies even made hiring decisions, based on a person's "Certified to Rock" score. Clearly the notion of the rock star developer permeates the Drupal community.

While others have described the developer rock star as a "myth" or suggested that we should not "try to be a rock star," this talk takes a slightly different approach and explores the various ramifications of speaking about people doing work in the Drupal community using terms such as "rock star." It examines the Drupal rock star not as an actual thing, but as a regulative concept that affects our behavior.

Adopting a pragmatic approach that emphasizes practical consequences, this talk explores specific questions about how the rock star concept influences behavior by looking at questions such as these:

* What happens when the Drupal community divides itself into rock stars and non-rock stars?
* Does a rock star pledge allegiance to Drupal, their employer, or perhaps only to themself?
* Does the rock star concept elicit respect or simply function as entertainment?
* Why would an agency prefer to hire a rock star?
* Does attaining rock star status induce performance anxiety?
* Does a focus on status detract from meaningful contributions?

In this talk, you will learn about how the language we use in the Drupal community affects behavior and how to negotiate these concepts in a skillful and friendly manner.