(tl;dr version: take this survey on contributing to Drupal)
I'm really active in the technology community in the Milwaukee area - I help organize Web414, BarCampMilwaukee, and DrupalCampWI - all groups and events that focus on the community and how each member is important to contributing to the local knowledge ecosystem. We believe that it's important for everyone to contribute and feel comfortable doing so because it lends itself to a healthy, vibrant, self-sustaining community.
This year is my first year helping to organize Drupalcon - it's a huge honor and one I take very seriously (and am way excited about!). As I come from a background of organizing around community-driven events, it's important to me that I'm able to bring that flavor to Drupalcon as well. I want to help facilitate participation and inclusion - both online and off.
When I saw comments tonight on twitter about Drupalcon being less about contributing, it saddened me. Without contributors there wouldn't be a Drupal project, a Drupalcon, or a Drupal community. Talking about Drupal is talking about contribution. I haven't met a Drupaler yet that doesn't recognize and appreciate what other contributors have accomplished.
What does contributing mean to the Drupal community?
Think of Drupal as a community garden. All of the neighbors help cultivate the garden and because of that, enjoy the fruits of their labor. The more people that tend to the garden, a larger variety of vegetables get planted, more weeds get pulled, and there are fewer pests. The neighbors all respect the work the others have put into the garden and like that their neighbors appreciate that about them, too.
You get the point. Let's fall out of this analogy, shall we?
Encouraging everyone to contribute and participate also means fewer trolls. When you have a certain amount of respect because of the things you're doing, you're less likely to to do things that others would lose respect in you for. Your name means something.
So how do we help bring a focus of contribution back to Drupalcon?
I agree that local user groups and DrupalCamps are great ways to drive contribution, as it's easier to get one-on-one time with people and much more focused conversations, but I don't necessarily believe that it should be relegated to the smaller, regional events.
It's important to remember that Drupalcon is a paying conference - the organizers understand the demographics of the attendees and do their best to tailor the content of the conference to the largest number of people.
Is the largest demographic non-contributing? If so, why? What can we do to change that?
I put together a very short 5 question survey to try to gather information about who is (and isn't) contributing, how they're contributing, and what we could do to make it easier. I'll present my findings in March (possibly at Drupalcon Chicago). I would appreciate your participation in the survey and if you are able to pass it around, that would be great as well.