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I've been noticing, many of the top 1% of Drupalers on this stackexchange board with a score of 10k+ don't have many questions, but mostly just answer other people's questions. I understand they are very good at their Drupal-foo skills, but even they had to have started from the beginning. I'm just curious to what other avenue's do these elite drupalers goto for help when they are stuck? Or do they not even need to, or is it because they understand almost every aspect of the drupal system?

I've been doing drupal for almost 10 years on and off every year, but I feel I don't even come close to some of the people with the vast amounts of knowledge here. I understand its a lot faster to learn from other senior drupalers, but where can you go for this? Or how can one get into this circle easier?

migrated from drupal.stackexchange.com Sep 22 '15 at 17:24

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Of course there's #drupal-contribute but from personal experience (I guess I count in the top 1% of Drupal developers) what we turn to is the source code. Use the Source, Luke! IRC is a shortcut because someone else might know already and then I don't need to spend an hour xdebug'ing some mysterious core patch fail but if push comes to shove or I am working then it's a combination of xdebug and some sort of grep (git grep, git log -S and ag, ain't nobody got time to wait for grep to finish).

What I do not know is frontend and the backend parts directly producing JS ie #states. I have no idea what to do with those, it's usually very painful if a work ticket goes there. I try to deflect those.

  • 3
    This. If you have enough programming experience with a tool to understand the code you are reading, it is almost always quicker to go looking through the code to see how something works than to ask a question on a forum and await a response. Unfortunately once you get to harder questions there are less people that might know the answer this this becomes more necessary if you have time constraints. – rooby Sep 29 '15 at 9:34
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This is an interesting topic, and there are a few things to ponder.

One, is that you can't always consider rep here as a measure of expertise. The high rep users have gained trust in the community, but there are a lot of users here who I would consider among the Drupal elite, but only answer questions from time to time, and therefore have low rep. These people also don't ask many questions here.

So, where do the elite go to ask questions? Many of the elite are also core or contrib developers, so they hang out in IRC. You will see general questions here and there in #drupal-contribute, but that leads me to my next point.

When you are working constantly in any system, you will eventually really begin to understand how and why the system works. At this point, you can go directly to the source (no pun intended) and get the answer yourself. Having a good IDE really helps here. I got much better at Drupal development once I started leveraging PhpStorms features.

So, how do you improve your understanding of how and why the system works? One was is to build lots of Drupal sites that do different things. I work in an agency, so I get to work on lots of different projects often with wildly different features.

Another way is to get into the drupal.org community, either as a module maintainer or by starting to contribute to core. Core Mentoring is a good place to start here. I do know that contributing to core has increased my skills immensely (but also is the reason I don't have time to answer many questions here anymore...).

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There are a lot of good theoretical answers in this thread already, but I feel there's also a pretty straightforward practical answer and it's IRC.

Basically all core and high-profile contrib work that doesn't happen on drupal.org happens on IRC. There are a lot of different drupal related IRC channels but the one most popular among the elite 1% that you're interested in is #drupal-contribute. Seriously, go to any DrupalCon or major Drupal Camp, and visit the coder lounge. You will see every single person tuned into #drupal-contribute or the regional drupal IRC channel for the host city.

In a related matter, Drupal communities are a bit balkanized, so often top-tier Drupal contributors are most active in their own local channel, or the project specific channel which interests them most—the maintainers of Drupal Commerce hang out in #drupal-commerce for instance.

As a side note, the type of support that these individual are generally seeking is a bit different from the type of support that a mid-level Drupal developer seeks. They're mostly trying to answer broader architectural questions about how Drupal core should work, rather than asking purely factual questions about existing functionality (e.g. "How can/should we integrate composer into the Drupal installation process?")

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Most of the highly-advanced people I meet contribute to core development and maintain contrib modules.

  • cilefen is being humble here. He is a top contributor to Drupal and mentors new contributors. I am going to expand on his thoughts here if I have time. – mpdonadio Sep 26 '15 at 13:56
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Congratulation on being an expert. No, seriously...

I've been doing drupal for almost 10 years on and off every year, but I feel I don't even come close to some of the people with the vast amounts of knowledge here.

No one does something for 10 years without gaining some expert, or near expert, level proficiency in something. Obviously, that statement depends on the body of knowledge in question, but to put that in perspective, Drupal will be 15 years old next year; you've been working with it for 2/3 of its entire lifetime.

In fact, that statement has a nice meta-statement to it; you realize the extent of your knowledge and take for it granted; you know what you know and that there's always more to learn, especially when it comes to Drupal. If that doesn't show some command of expertise I don't know what does.

The prosaic truth is this; in a complex open-source system no one person can know everything. The expertise comes in mitigating this problem. This is where I think more soft skill come into play. For example:

  • Knowing where to find canonical sources of knowledge.
  • Having a network of people to touch when you need to utilize skill X
  • Understanding the quirks of a project's community
  • ...and list goes on with other nice skills to have in the discipline of software development/engineering.

As for places to go, you probably know all the active places where experts are at: d.o. forums, issue queues, DrupalCon (as well as other OS cons), g.d.o (if you're local community is big enough to support it), IRC chats, and of course, Drupal Answers (if there are any other cabals of Uber elite Drupallers please let me know otherwise :).

The only other piece of advice I can think of is this; once you've hit the boundaries of knowledge (or at least you feel that you have) start forging your own path of new knowledge; join a project that really interests you or create your own. If for nothing else, you will gain some new knowledge & experience in interacting with others.

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Initially reading some Drupal text books (all the way through - most people I've seen read through a text book get a little of the way in and then move onto something else) and asking questions of senior Drupal developers you work with (if you're lucky enough to have that option).

Beyond that though I think it comes down to a few things:

  1. A lot of reading through code. When you hit a bug and don't know why it is happening, read through the code until you understand. Then write a patch to fix it. Answering stack exchange questions where you don't initially know the answer also means more code reading and increasing your knowledge.

  2. Lots of real world experience. Working day to day building Drupal sites exposes you to lots of different parts of Drupal. Especially if you work on a diverse range of sites.

  3. Lots of time. I would assume most people with a wide Drupal knowledge spend a lot of time doing Drupal related work both at their work and in their free time. This can sometimes be a fairly extreme amount of time overall.

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