Maintainerati events are pretty exciting. They’re a rare chance for leaders of all kinds of OSS projects to come together and discuss the many, many challenges they face running their communities.
The pain of conflict, the joy of collaboration, and the sheer difficulties of getting—and retaining—enough hands on deck are just some of the topics mulled over at Maintaineratis.
At the end of the day, attendees leave feeling full of ideas, with renewed enthusiasm for their work, and happy to be supported by their community.
This is great. But while it makes a difference to the individuals who attended, those who were unable to participate miss out.
And since the discussions that take place usually aren’t recorded—apart from a few social media conversations—we can’t build a collective memory of what matters to maintainers in different projects, or compare maintainers’ experiences in different corners of the world.
Introducing Knowledge Production
The Maintainerati Core Team is proud to announce a brand new initiative—Knowledge Production (KP). Our goal is to maintain a record of each and every Maintainerati event we run, wherever in the world it takes place. This will involve things like:
- Taking notes in group discussions
- Interviewing participants who want to have a say
- Photographing things like flip charts and sticky notes
- Preserving social media conversations about the event
- Collecting participants’ feedback
The basic idea is to gather all this data so we can analyse it. After every event we would like to produce at least one report of what took place. Eventually we would like to compare the data from different events to understand how maintainers’ problems differ from place to place.
Currently we’re working on policies for privacy, consent, confidentiality and data security. When they’re ready we’ll post them on the website.
Putting Knowledge Production to Work
We think this data collection and analysis can help in two ways:
- The OSS community can use this research to develop their own “Best Practices” and other ways of collaborating to solve their problems.
- Advocates for the OSS community (such as us researchers) can use this data to demonstrate why OSS communities need more support from organisations that are in a position to help (companies, institutes, policy makers, etc.).
The Knowledge Production Team currently consists of Erin Taylor (Lead of the Knowledge Guardians / Europe KP Lead) and Alexia Maddox (Australia KP Lead). We’re looking for people to help out in several ways:
- KP Leads for the USA (West Coast) and USA (East Coast)
- People to help collect data (such as note-taking) at Maintainerati events
- Participants to contribute their views
Not far down the track we’ll also be looking for people to help turn this knowledge production into action: writing presenting, brainstorming, workshops, advocacy, and more. The more hands on deck, the better.
If you would like to get involved, or have any comments or questions, please contact Erin Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org).