More than developers: growing your maintainer community
03-05, 11:35–12:05 (Europe/Berlin), Stage Wintergarten

As projects grow, they need roles like QA, docs, and more… but most full time contributors are devs. What should we do?! This talk is about strategy: how to incentivize non-developers to contribute, how for-profit companies can support open source, and what projects need upstream communities.

A consistent question across all open source projects is how to grow their maintainer communities. More specifically, as projects grow they move from needing generalists to looking for specialized roles, like documentation, community management, and security. It can be challenging to shift from bootstrapping a project to growing a community because these roles require different skillsets and outlooks, and it can be hard to shift your mindset and figure out how to accommodate diverse kinds of contributors.

In this talk we’ll learn the importance of growing your community in a balanced way that includes roles beyond developers, and how to attract and retain those contributors.

In this talk we’ll go over:
From 5 to 500: the challenges a project faces as it goes from a small team of developers to a diverse set of contributors
The different ways to open source something (through a foundation, sponsored by a company, all on your own) and what that means for your growing contributor base
How to keep new contributors and grow them into project leadership
The importance of defining and documenting specific roles in your open source project
Smoothing the path for non-code contributors to open source

This talk will benefit maintainers and community owners who manage open source projects in large companies in specific, as it focuses on business-led opportunities for maintainer growth. At the end of this talk you’ll have the hints on how to manage the growing pains for your open source project community, recruit new contributors and keep them. We’ll give you examples from successful open source projects that you can emulate and use in your own growth.

Celeste is a Developer Educator at Aiven, where we deploy and help you manage your open source data stack. At Aiven she focuses on advocating for our open source projects. Prior to this, Celeste worked at Stripe and at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, where she supported the CNCF’s hundreds of open source projects with documentation and developer experience. Her work on diversity and inclusion in software has been featured in the New York Times. She lives in Berlin, Germany and is originally from Vancouver, Canada.