Visual notes by Carlo Gilmar
When I first co-organised a Maintainerati in Amsterdam in November 2017, I underestimated just how much my fellow maintainers need each other’s support. Meeting face-to-face is so important in building connections, friendships, and collaborations.
In my own personal case, I was drawn to run the event as I had one problem that I hoped to find answers to (refactoring a well used, five-year-old codebase) and I felt like I was alone, facing a problem I couldn’t believe was unique, but nonetheless seemed to be.
At the end of that Maintainerati in 2017, so many attendees told me how they had felt alone in their role as a maintainer. They also felt that their problems were unique. However, having spent a day discussing issues with fellow maintainers, they no longer felt isolated. Instead, they felt supported—and that they now had a network they could draw upon when they needed help.
This supportive atmosphere is what we were trying to create when we were planning Maintainerati Berlin 2019. We wanted to increase the number of attendees while retaining that ability to connect and together determine what needed to be discussed.
And so, last Friday, 24 May, over 70 maintainers came together at the Spreespeicher Event Centre in Berlin to share our experiences of running OSS projects.
It was great to see a broad range of maintainers in attendance. People came from all over the world to connect with their fellow maintainers. We operate under the Chatham House Rule, so I won’t divulge project or personal identities, however, there was a diverse range of projects sizes, languages — human & programming — and even organisations represented.
Over the course of the day, we ran 35 separate discussion groups on topics that the attendees chose themselves using the Open Space method.
Topics ranged from ‘burnout’, ‘communication’, ‘diversity’ and ‘being a good OSS citizen’ to ‘issues with issues’, ‘reporting FOSS issues’, ‘building contributor ladders’ and ‘making ourselves obsolete’ … and that was just in the first hour!
For me, the day was important because we are finally realising the ideas we had back in Amsterdam in 2017. Maintainerati is no longer just an event — it is a global movement.
As well as face-to-face discussions, we launched a new Maintainerati web-app, Bikeshed, that lets attendees upload their own comments and questions while they are sitting in discussion groups. It also permits users to easily keep track of the day’s schedule.
Bikeshed will stay active so that attendees last Friday can continue the discussions they were having. If you were at the event but haven’t uploaded any comments in Bikeshed yet (reach out if you need a new registration key), we encourage you to do so. We promise they won’t get lost or forgotten!
Moving forward, we are already planning more Maintainerati events in different locations around the globe. We’re setting up more ways to keep you informed about up-and-coming events and other Maintainerati activities. We will also soon be launching an online space to continue & build on discussions around the topics we all face.
I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for attending on Friday and making this happen. We look forward to working together with you!
We’d also like to thank the project’s previous maintainers — Jess Frazelle, Katrina Owen, Brandon Keepers, Mike McQuaid & Nadia Eghbal — who were responsible for the first three events in 2017.
We are maintainers. We are not alone!