When Ryan was the only committer and most of the regular node contributors were in the bay area we'd assemble 8 or so people together when we wanted to deal with a new challenge to node. At first we went to the Old Oakland office of CouchOne where I worked but then we upgraded to Matt Ranney's much nicer San Francisco Voxer office.
We scaled out of that pretty quickly, the contributors and stake holders spreading across the world made impromptu local meetings intangible. At first I put together a closed node core meeting before the first NodeConf but it didn't go as well as we'd hoped. Then I ran an unconference, NodeConf Summer Camp, at Walker Creek Ranch, and that served as a much better environment to hammer out the details of streams and seeds of ideas like domains.
Today there are a handful of regular committers to core. They do a regular conference call and contribute consistently. There is a loose structure that appears to be working for them. I decided to end the unconferences and bring NodeConf proper to Walker Creek Ranch instead.
Node's biggest challenge is its growth. This kind of sustained explosive growth in users and ecosystem is somewhat unprecedented. The work we've done to create a positive and inclusive community could be easily lost in that growth.
Conservative numbers have node's growth at over 100% a year. That means that if every current node user doesn't impact, on average, one new user to propagate the culture we've worked to create we will start to lose it. We have to change the way we organize, the way we teach, and the way we interact as a community so that we might handle such dramatic growth.
Node core's growth, in terms of contributors, has not shared the same growth curve as its users or ecosystem. Node core is stabilizing, it's tuning performance, all great things for the project and the community but also things that make contributions by newcomers more and more difficult. Those that work actively on core already do a lot and should not be asked to take on any additional burden.
The majority of users and value being created are in the ecosystem. The ecosystem is not owned by a company. Joyent's ownership of node.js has not become a critical issue for our community yet and it is hard to imagine it will in the future considering that the majority of growth is happening elsewhere.
The ecosystem is owned by all of us. Every package is owned by the creators. We don't have ecosystem ownership issues. Our biggest challenges are not going to be fixed by a non-profit or foundation taking ownership of core being that the committers are the ones that would need to handle the burden of such an institution.
We, as a community, have some incredibly hard challenges ahead and creating institutional infrastructure isn't going to fix them. The growth is far too great to try and control or bring under the the management of any process. The ecosystem expands so quickly because it lacks institutional barriers to growth and adoption. What we have is a community and a culture we need to scale, that can't be solved by a single project or a single institution but by all of the community members and leaders working hard to promote the kind of place we all want to be.