In case you haven't already heard the buzz, Drupal 6 was released today, about one year after the release of Drupal 5! The announcement post goes into great detail about all the fantastic improvements, but I'd like to focus on a different angle: the hundreds of contributors who helped Drupal 6 come to be.
How many contributors were there?
How many people contributed to Drupal 6? It's very difficult to define. Depending on your calculation method, that number ranges from around 250 to more than 700. And the actual number is *much* higher than that, of course, when you factor in the entire iterative process of how an idea turns into an improvement in Drupal. Every contribution matters, from initially reporting bugs/features, to adding further clarifications, to thoroughly reviewing patches, to making minor tweaks that aren't large enough to warrant credit alongside the primary patch author(s).
But here's what we do know...
Patch authors credited in commit messages
Greg Knaddison posted one method of calculating the number of contributors, which tallies up the number of contributors mentioned in CVS commit messages. This measurement is not precise, because for the most part, the only usernames mentioned in the commit messages are those who actually authored or significantly refined a given improvement. But it is something straight-forward that anyone can do without special database access.
After some manual tweaking, this method results in a grand total of 269 contributors. You have chx on one end of the scale with 141 patches to his name, and on the other end, just as many contributors who've each contributed a single patch. :) It's great to see this kind of diversity in our contributor pool, as I think it's a testament to the fact that whether your entire life revolves around Drupal or whether you just have that one stubborn itch that needs scratching, there's a way you can help. It's also neat to see which individuals were at the forefront, directly guiding Drupal 6's development (btw I'm going to totally kick your ass next time around, webernet ;)).
Querying the Drupal.org database for contributor stats
The astute reader might note that these figures are down (by almost half) from number of contributors cited in the Drupal 5 release announcement. Why the discrepancy? That figure was drawn by queries to the drupal.org database directly which can get much more precise information.
What happens if you run those same queries today? You come up with this:
Drupal 5 contributors: 472
Drupal 5 patches: 4927
Drupal 6 contributors: 741
Drupal 6 patches: 9425
That works out to more than 1.5x the number of contributors and almost 2x the number of patches. Holy cow!!
So how can I join the good fight?
Want your name to be on the list of contributors next time around? It's not nearly as hard as you'd think.
The contribute tab on drupal.org lists lots of ways to get involved. Also keep your eyes peeled @ http://www.lullabot.com/podcast to get the full inside scoop on ways that anyone (yes, anyone) can start contributing, so we can together make Drupal 7 the most kick-ass release of Drupal yet! :)