Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

15 Sep 2022, 10:20 a.m.

Six Key Maintainer Skill Guides

Earlier this year I ran several maintainer skills workshops sponsored by Open Source Collective. I’ve developed six resource documents based on those sessions, which are all now live:

Recruiting Financial Sponsors: Inventory your potential donors and fundable tasks or chores, prepare your requests and update your website and documentation to ensure you look credible, make the request, and follow up on responses.

Deciding How To Use Your Project's Money: When should you spend or save? What's on your project's roadmap, and how could you spend to support it?

Marketing, Publicity, Roadmaps, and Communications: Understand your audiences and what you need to tell them, how frequently, and why. Includes a template and schedule.

Growing Your Contributor Base: Retain your existing contributors by better understanding what they want and need. Recruit new contributors by easing their path to contribution and making it easy for them to find you and feel welcome.

Handling Burnout and Career Planning: Take a moment to imagine: what would a good departure look like for your involvement with your project? Includes concrete steps to help you plan succession, and a self-guided career planning exercise.

Promoting Maintainers and Handling Conflict: Address difficult issues, and recruit and promote maintainers in open source projects. Includes a self-guided exercise.

All of them have concrete suggestions for maintainers, and go into the "why": why these problems crop up and why the strategies work. A sample:

“Maintainers sometimes resist thinking about taking a break or leaving because we think no one else could do our work as well as we do it, or because we perceive ourselves to have made an unbreakable commitment, an obligation that nothing else can supersede (even our own mental health). We also procrastinate doing work we are averse to or afraid of, especially when we don't think we're up to doing it as well as it deserves. Here are some resources to help you reflect on these habits...”

— "Perfectionism, procrastination, and burnout" within "Handling Burnout and Career Planning".

I'm planning to edit and reuse this material in my forthcoming book.

Also: I hand-drew some diagrams to illustrate processes I'd be referring to repeatedly, and the OpenCollective folks made them much easier to look at!

People, Resources, Information, and Work Product

As usual, I've linked to these guides on my consulting Resources page, where I curate essays, guides, advice, case studies, tools, and more to help you manage an open source project.

(And subscribers to my newsletter got the heads-up about these new resources last week.)

Changeset Can Help

If you find these guides helpful and you think "Someone with this point of view could perhaps be helpful as we improve our open source project," please check out my consultancy, Changeset Consulting! Very happy to have a free initial conversation. You can also subscribe to my very low-frequency email newsletter to get more stuff like this 1-10 times per year.