Let’s make this the year of the contributor experience!

A presentation at FOSS Backstage in in Berlin, Germany by Ruth Cheesley

Let’s face it, moving from being a ‘taker’ to a ‘maker’ in many open source projects can feel like climbing Everest! In this session we’ll explore some practical ways to improve the experience for new and existing contributors. We’ll also look at non-code contributions and how to find, nurture and recognise contributors across a project.

The users of your open source projects are (probably) not mountaineers .. but often we expect them to scale dizzying heights to move from being a consumer to someone who is actively supporting the project - from a ‘taker’ to a ‘maker’.

Whether that be through Everest-style on-ramps for new contributors or something as simple as not making it clear what skills are needed and how people can get involved, there are many roadblocks in the way of people trying to answer the question of ‘how can I help make this project better?’. Of course, this ends up frustrating potential contributors, and results in open source projects losing potential contributors before they even get started.

In this session we’ll explore practical ways we can make this process less like mountaineering and more like a pleasant walk in the park with the sun shining and the birds singing! I’ll draw on my experiences as a contributor to several projects, and in my role as Project Lead for Mautic where we have a Strategic Initiative this year focused on improving the contributor experience.

We’ll also look at the less traditional but extremely valuable non-code contributions, and ways to nurture and recognise contributors (individual & organisational) across your community.

We’ll cover the 40,000ft project-wide level down to the level of teams, local communities and the individuals within the community. Fasten your seatbelts and let’s take off on this voyage of discovery!



The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.

  • Mautic

    Mautic is an open source marketing automation platform which is disrupting the marketing automation industry. It’s free to download and use, with a growing ecosystem of SaaS providers including Acquia, the primary sponsor of the open source project.

    It’s built by a worldwide community of marketers and developers, united by our belief in empowering organizations with the tools they need to deliver world-class automation and personalized experiences to their customers.

  • Mautic on GitHub

    Mautic’s codebase on GitHub

  • Savannah CRM

    Savannah is an Open Source Community Relationship Manager (CoRM), which is like a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) but with a focus on community building rather than sales.

  • Orbit

    A great community health tracking tool.

  • Mautic Partners Program

    The Mautic Community Partners Portal

  • Policy for becoming a Community Partner

    Our formal policy which outlines how you can become a Mautic Community Partner.

  • Policy for promoting contributors, sponsors and partners

    Our formal policy which outlines how we promote contributors, sponsors and partners.

  • Triage Party

    A really neat tool for creating your own prioritisation dashboard for issue/PR triage on GitHub.

  • All Contributors

    A way to recognise all contributors in your GitHub readme file.