Maintaining the Maintainers: Join an Open Source Peer Support Group

The Open Source Collective, home of 1300+ open source projects on Open Collective, is starting peer-support calls for maintainers, where the people behind open source can connect with and learn from others who understand what they’re going through. In our recent survey of core contributors, more than half said they would like to participate in maintainer peer support opportunities.

So, we’re kicking it off! Interested? Sign up here.

Results of our survey of asking if core contributors want peer support.

Why are we doing this? Because while open source is inherently collaborative, maintainers can sometimes feel isolated.

Open Collective provides a way for open source maintainers to receive funding, but we want to serve needs beyond just money.

We want to reach out to the humans behind the code.

Maybe you got started hacking on a problem out of curiosity, but now it’s grown into a whole library or a complex tool. Or maybe you’ve become responsible for documentation, onboarding, and support requests, while trying to make sure no one gets overextended, including yourself. You might feel pressure to ensure the project remains relevant and doesn’t succumb to inertia or entropy.

The vast majority of open source maintainers are doing this work alone, either through geographic separation from other contributors, being the sole person holding build keys, or because they are the sole developer on the project.

Psychologically, this can be taxing. Developers do a lot of things to combat isolation: take time off to unwind, go to conferences, or connect to others on IRC or Twitter. All of these are good options. But it might not be enough, especially if you’re taking on big questions like funding and sustainability, long-term strategy, community management, and relationships with sponsors.

We see a huge opportunity here. Preventing maintainer burnout is important to the whole ecosystem, the health of which is a big focus for us. Plus, maintainers can help one to another grow and learn, professionally and personally.

We’re going to host an initial call to hear what participants want, and then we decide how often and in what format to continue. It might be monthly open calls for everyone, smaller groups in the same time zone, or other approaches depending on what we hear from you, the maintainers.

This initiative is being hosted by Alanna Irving, Executive Director of the Open Source Collective, Richard Littaur from Maintainer Mountaineer, and Henry Zhu from Babel and the Maintainers Anonymous podcast.

Sound good? Sign up here.