Mautic Acquired by Acquia, What About the Mautic Community?

Acquia-plus-Drupal-not-equal-to-Mautic-plus-Mautic.png

Dries made sure both his creations, Drupal and Acquia, remained independent from one another, and hence Drupal became a democratic meritocracy over time. This is not only smart but also elegant and consequent with the community. A clear separation, even if there are strong ties between both entities, allows the community to flourish and grow and hence Drupal grew its reach to become one of the most amazing Open Source communities in the world.

 

Before we get started, one important note, one clue that might help newcomers to understand everything contained in this post:
One very clear line separates the Drupal Association, an open source community, and Acquia, a company offering Drupal-based services and products. Mautic clients and users are not used to this clear separation and this is why sometimes distinguishing Mautic Inc. and its SaaS offering: Mautic Cloud, from the Open Source community and Mautic Self-Hosted, can and does get tricky for most people, especially outsiders but also marketers in general, this is contributing to the confusion and general distrust of the Mautic platform among marketers, which happen to know little about FOSS and its culture. I will dive deep into this topic in the community section of this post.

The relationship between Drupal and Acquia:

Dries Buytaert created Drupal in the first place, just like DB Hurley created Mautic some years after.
Both visionary leaders developed the initial versions of their software and both decided to share them with the Open Source Community.
They both created and supported thriving communities and when ready, both decided to create a separated company, which would sell services for the software they had created.
- Dries created Acquia.
- DB Hurley created Allyde.

Here's where things start diverging... Both companies needed capital in order to grow into the awesome companies they are today and both got investment capital, but the decisions taken at this point were quite different:

Dries made sure both his creations remained independent from one another, and hence Drupal became a democratic meritocracy over time. This is not only smart but also elegant and consequent with the community, a clear separation, even if there are strong ties between both entities, allows the community to flourish and grow and hence Drupal grew its reach to become one of the most amazing Open Source communities in the world.

Here's an independent review from Bill Powell on Lifewire.
Here's Dries announcing his new startup, Acquia.
I strongly recommend you read both, but for the lazy buts, here are some highlights:

"So what is missing? It's two things: (i) a company that supports me in providing leadership to the Drupal community in exploring the vision I described above, and (ii) a company that is to Drupal what Ubuntu or RedHat are to Linux."

"The Drupal Association continues to operate the drupal.org domain, I continue to own the Drupal trademark, and the Drupal community continues to set the technical direction of the Drupal project. Drupal.com has not been sold."

"Furthermore, I'm expressly permitted to make decisions within the Drupal project that may not always be in Acquia’s best commercial interest. This was a hard requirement for me. Acquia fully expects that a portion of my time will be spent on activities associated with the project at large (vs. Acquia’s own software development)."

"The community has my heart and respect, and that won't change. Fear not."

The Drupal Association is an independent entity and controls its own destiny.

From drupal.org:

The Drupal Association is dedicated to fostering and supporting the Drupal software project, the community and its growth. We help the Drupal community with funding, infrastructure, education, promotion, distribution and online collaboration at Drupal.org.

Funds to support these programs, and the Association staff come from membershipspartner programssponsorshipsdonations, and DrupalCon events. Join us to help ensure a creative and exciting future for Drupal!

Again from Drupal.org:

The Drupal Association is an educational non-profit organization that fosters and supports the Drupal software project, the community and its growth. Supported by both individual members and organizations, the Association uses its resources, network and funds to constantly engage in new projects and initiatives to help educate people about Drupal and encourage support of the growth of the Drupal project.

The Association staff are working toward our mission and vision, set forth by the Board of Directors.

The Drupal Association was founded more than 12 years ago. Find out more about our history

Our annual reports, audit information, and more can be found in the Accountability section.

"The Board of Directors' terms begin on November 1. At-Large board members are nominated and selected by the community at-large with no prerequisites for nomination."

 

On the other hand, when Mautic was incorporated, Allyde ceased to exist, and the separation between the Mautic Open Source community and the newly incorporated company, Mautic Inc., vanished from existence at that point in time.

While Drupal grew into a Democratic Meritocracy, with the necessary independence to decide its own future, Mautic became what is known in the FOSS world as a Benevolent dictatorship. There are many examples of Benevolent dictatorships in the FOSS world and some have worked real wonders.
In the past, when the cloud did not exist and SaaS was just a pioneering idea, ALL software was packaged, downloaded and installed, a benevolent dictatorship represented no problem at all. But the times have changed and a benevolent dictatorship, today, where software is sold as a service, can represent a conflict of interests and in the Mautic case, it did.

Last week, the mautic.org site was a property of Mautic. inc. and the Slack channel was owned by Mautic inc's Employees (namely DB Hurley), so did the Github repository.

 

The Current Situation of the Mautic Community


This lack of separation between the company and the Open Source community, not only doesn't allow the community to feel in control of its own project, but it also allows for really bad decisions to be made unilaterally.

During the last months, several disastrous events have befallen:

- The forums were OBLITERATED for no apparent reason. No explanation was ever given... We lost at least 35% of our community members with that unilateral decision alone. The amount of knowledge and help that was destroyed in that single move really made a dent in our community and it's affecting it today still. That could have been avoided if it had been taken under consideration by a committee.

- The decision to create a new mautic.org site was made, again unilaterally. It's been over 9 months, the new site is still offline, in the meantime, no one has been able to register to our community, for several months, many people were unable to login with their existing credentials and Google searches returned 404, also for several months, now the content is simply gone... (well, not really, they still have it, they just can't find a way to republish it)

- The feature requests are completely ignored, by design. These were forcibly moved from Github to this new and non-functional forum, where there is ZERO interaction with the developers or the Mautic Inc. Team. It has become barely more than a trash can that everyone ignores, except the poor souls that think they requests will be considered. I offered myself, almost a year ago, to manage this section and try to extract some value out of it, dismissed...

- The decision to start work on Mautic 3 was made, unilaterally, it was supposed to be a 9 months job until the new and shiny M3 would be available. 12 months have passed, M3 is completely frozen (abandoned might be a better word), in fact, it never even started, due to a complete lack of community support.


Lack of community support? Isn't Mautic supposed to be a booming community? Not really, this is what reality looks like at the Mautic community:

Because we have no proper forums, and the people who usually responded to help requests on the forums where prevented from login in, now every question needs to be responded anew every time someone asks. The same question get's repeated day after day, week after week, at 9AM, at 3PM and then at midnight, and every time, someone has to reply, again and again, to the same questions... That went on for months, and it is going on still, but less and less so, nowadays, many of the support requests never get any useful answer, because we all grew tired of responding to the same questions again and again...

There are only a dozen or so people actively giving support on Slack, only one of them is a Mautic Inc. employee, then there are a few independent contractors like myself, no more than 3 or 5, and then there's a rotation of some other 8 to 10 people that give support for a while and later fade out, while a few more start participating to replace them, they are usually not that experienced or knowledgeable about Mautic, because they are rather new.

No wonder why, in every major reviews site, Mautic is referred to as an Awesome Software, too buggy to be used, and with bad support.

The community feels helpless and hence it doesn't grow. In fact, if you look closely at the numbers, you will discover it is shrinking, it has been shrinking rapidly for at least one year, and the year before this, it barely maintained its numbers.

Now we are facing yet another disaster, yet another decision menacing to give another blow to this community, the move from Slack into Discord. Not only this is disastrous because it forces everyone to move for no reason, but more importantly, Slack is a business platform, while Discord is a gamer's platform. This move will greatly damage the image of Mautic and the ease of access that slack provides will be gone. Many businesses use slack, zero businesses use Discord, getting support will get more difficult for business owners and marketers that do not use gaming platforms, especially not while at work.
Another reason why this is a bad move is that the size of the community will become evident, in Slack we have 5000+ "members" but over 90% are either dormant or just forgot about Mautic a long time ago, The new Discord channel will not even get to 500 users (I think it's more likely to be 300 or so), making evident the delicate situation of this crumbling community and further pushing away any potential buyers for Mautic Cloud and users of Mautic Self-Hosted.

But the most painful reality, the one that is literally killing this community is buggy releases.

No version of Mautic, for at least the last 3 years, has ever worked out of the box, every single major and minor version has various IMPORTANT BUGS, every single version breaks something that was working perfectly fine on the previous releases. Is that bad coding? is that bad testing? Are the devs in our community AND the engineers at Mautic really that bad? NO! it's by design...

There have been several voices, mine included, pointing this out: "We need a stable version" "We need a version that doesn't break" "Why do updates always break Mautic?", these voices have always been silenced, and formal requests for focusing on stability, dismissed...

Are all these bad decisions just bad luck? or maybe DB Hurley doesn't know better?

One bad move is bad luck, two bad moves in a row are very bad luck. What are 6 bad moves in a row???
When mistakes are fixed immediately, it's called diligence, when ignored or unproperly managed, this is called incompetence, so, is our benevolent dictator incompetent?

I don't think so! DB Hurley is as smart as they come, has extensive experience with managing a HUGE FOSS community (Joomla) and has pretty good advisors, would he choose to listen to them.

What is happening is that the Mautic community is "kept in line", big enough so it helps marketing efforts and it helps testing new code, but small and inefficient enough so real businesses find the community version unattainable for their needs and head towards Mautic.com

Why would any company have a FOSS version, then keep a whole load of developers fixing the bugs, never to return that clean code free from bugs to the community version? Simply because the Mautic community is being used as a testbed for new code, hence why there is no stable version. A stable version is what Mautic Inc. builds for their paying customers, hence it should not be allowed to exist in the community version or it would steal customers from them. It's that simple and it explains why the community is being trimmed every time it flourishes. 

These are the FACTS and that is why many people in the community are so tired, and that is why this community, against all odds, is shrinking, instead of becoming the biggest and most productive community in the marketing vertical, cause if you spend enough time around, you sooner than later realize this and move on, to a more welcoming project. Only people who have a strong enough interest to tolerate all this, stay around for more than a few months. Only people who make a living out of Mautic, like myself, learn to cope with all this bullshit and remain around. So basically, whoever is left in this community, is here because it just can't disconnect from it or is a newcomer, which will eventually leave...

Go ahead, Check us out! One by one, I dare you to find 3 exceptions, just 3 people among "5000+ members" that don't exactly fall into the categories I have just described and I'll eat my words publicly!

Simply put, the Mautic community is being pruned every so often, just enough for it to produce what is necessary, but enough so it doesn't hinder sales of the SaaS product.

And all this crap is only possible because we have an old, outdated and ineffective Benevolent Dictatorship, that sadly was corrupted into a not so benevolent one over time, due to conflicts of interest.

That is why we have a community of less than 300 active members.
That is why we the active developer community is under a dozen coders.
That's why nothing happens unless Mautic Inc. does it, and sadly, Mautic Inc. seems to have been otherwise busy and the only serious proposal for the advancement of the software, Mautic 3, didn't even get started after a year.

 
Truth is, not much goes on at the Mautic Community, not much at all... Since every single decision has to go through, and can only go through the one and only community leader, our benevolent dictator, Innovation and direction changes are just not a possibility, we are simply stuck and shrinking, what a sad prospect...

This is a several months old post on Mautic's Slack:

"Mautic is a box o' bugs: Anyone know a stable release of mautic?
*most stable (bc apparently nothing is stable)
went thru 2.11.0, 2.12.2, 2.13.1 --> no dice
in one release test emails are breaking, in another campaigns don't work, and in another you cannot even save the config page, it's like a whole new box o' bugs with each release."

One would think that would have triggered some alarms, right? Well, not really, this is from just a few weeks ago:

"Well, to be honest? I am in the midst of giving up on Mautic after several years now. This is the second MAJOR issue and I am unable to trust it - and the level of community support seems to have dropped. So. I am stuck in the mud and having to find alternatives. This makes me sad."

Every time I tried to bring this problem up on the core meetings, it was dismissed...

OH! And by the way, about the monthly core meetings... no one attends anymore, in fact, right now, they aren't even created by anyone anymore...

At what was for me the lowest point, just a few weeks ago, people were entering the slack channel just to ask if this project was alive... that's right, outsiders, that had gained an interest in knowing about Mautic, after being unable to register at the Mautic.org site, after checking the Github pages for Mautic and seeing that M3 had about zero activity for an entire year, decided to register to the Mautic slack, with the main purpose of asking if this project was dead or alive.

Oh my goodness! Why didn't anyone do something about it? Because we can't!!! EVERY SINGLE THING NEEDS TO GO THROUGH OUR BENEVOLENT DICTATOR. And I don't know about the rest of people in the community, but I got tired of being ignored, pushed back, deleted, censored and looked down by this superior being.
And because nobody ever did anything to fix those 2 really simple, but really important issues, I know this is a generalized feeling, even if no one dares to say a thing. How? Because:

- No one did anything at all to fix the login, it's been many months, check this out: https://www.mautic.org/register/
- N
o one cared to fix the 3.0 branch problem, it's been a year! https://github.com/mautic/mautic/tree/3.0

Pleas, requests and questions.

Please Acquia, Please Dries Buytaert, put an end to this nonsense, please bring in someone from Acquia or from the Drupal Community, someone with strong FOSS principals and most of all, capable of breathing new life and new hope into this tired and decaying community.

Please make it so the Mautic Community has it's own destiny, on its own hands, just like the Drupal Community, just so we can flourish and contribute to this new vision Acquia has for the future of Content, Marketing and beyond.

If the Mautic Brand ownership doesn't allow for these indispensable changes, there will never be a better moment to change it than now... And as you can see, there isn't much value left on the Mautic brand anyway, it was all squeezed out to feed Mautic Inc., and the reputation of this Open Source project around the internet is mediocre at best.

Give us a fresh start, new hope, new beginnings!

 

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