May conference recap: GitHub Satellite, Maintainerati, and OpenJS Collaborator Summit

Blaine Bublitz
by Blaine Bublitz
on June 20, 2019

In April and May, I was visiting Berlin—a city after my own heart—so it was perfect that I joined Tidelift just as a variety of conferences centered around open source were taking place there. Plus, it gave me an excuse to extend my trip by a week. 😉

GitHub Satellite

GitHub definitely knows how to plan an event! The one-day conference took place in the old East Berlin power plant and the interior remains very industrial. But this was offset by the relaxing lounges inside every sponsor booth which gave the event a very welcoming vibe.

To start the day, Nat Friedman gave a very captivating keynote—his storytelling throughout the entire presentation was phenomenal. I really appreciated the shoutout to the Python open source data science community and tried finding all the lifted packages on their slide.

Which lifted packages can you find?

Which lifted packages can you find?

Something that really struck me was when Shanku Niyogi stated that 70% of open source projects don’t fix security vulnerabilities within a month of them being reported. One of the reasons I was attracted to Tidelift was that they understand the best way to solve these issues—by working with maintainers directly.


Of course, this was the same keynote that wrapped up with Devon Zuegel announcing GitHub Sponsors! This was a huge step forward in open source funding initiatives, with GitHub announcing the sponsorship matching fund and the sponsor button for projects.


I didn’t realize it right away, but GitHub invited a TON of open source maintainers to attend the event. It was great running into so many maintainers from different ecosystems in pretty much every conversation I had throughout the day.

Some of the nice touches GitHub added for the conference were the custom Octocat sticker creator (and printing!) and the open source universe visualization, where I got to stand inside a star system of my fellow collaborators!


The day following GitHub Satellite, I attended Maintainerati—their first event in quite some time. Lots of open source maintainers who were invited to GitHub Satellite also attended this event so I got to chat with many people that I didn’t connect with the previous day.

This event was packed with great conversations and amazing sessions about all aspects of open source development, including successes and struggles. There was so much happening that I always felt I was missing something awesome. Luckily the organizers had people dedicated to capturing the discussions so attendees will be able to see the results of every session afterwards.

In the morning, I took part in a session about communication and abuse within open source communities. I found that maintainer-maintainer abuse is a common problem in larger ecosystems, especially when trying to join two separate communities into one. We discussed education efforts to help maintainers reflect and improve on their own behavior. The other morning session was around open source funding—I joined this group a little late but felt the group was too big and funding is so complex, so it was impossible to deep dive on anything.

In the afternoon, I facilitated a session that explored the lack of contributors from other disciplines, like documentation or design. We identified quickly that it’s hard for people to find that they can get involved in the software industry without writing code and that we need more materials available around this. Much of the discussion focused around the tools not being inclusive or contextualized for people from other disciplines. We even brainstormed ways that the GitHub interface could be contextualized to help non-coders contribute more easily.

It was so wonderful to have candid conversations with so many other maintainers. I was glad to hear that they had plans to expand the reach of this event and run it more often!

OpenJS Collaborator Summit

The following week, I was invited to attend the OpenJS Collaborator Summit by Jory Burson. I was excited to see the latest happenings in the NodeJS and JavaScript community and hoped to reconnect with some friends I haven’t seen since my last JS conference.

Much of my time at the summit was spent chatting with open source maintainers about problems they encounter within the ecosystem and how Tidelift could help solve some of them. It turns out that funding is only a small part of a much larger picture in the JavaScript ecosystem and I’ve already started working on some of these things, like providing triage help.

It was also great to talk with people about the OpenJS Foundation’s thoughts on open source funding platforms. I heard a lot of perspectives that I hadn’t considered before. I’m hoping to touch base with people I spoke with again in the near future.

My biggest takeaway from this event was that the JavaScript community is still very energized and dedicated to solving fundamental problems within their platforms—the next few years are going to be an exciting time for JS!

Upcoming events

I had a fantastic time meeting everyone at these events, and look forward to meeting even more open source maintainers across every ecosystem in the future. Next up for Tidelift? Our team will be in Portland for OSCON July 17 and 18. If you’re attending, please find us—we’d love to meet you!

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