Out of Maintenance Mode: Refactoring a Community

Matt Broberg



Abstract We are used to slowdowns before a big push forward: the code freeze before every software release and maintenance mode before a deployment. But what happens when you need to take a full step back and reevaluate the direction your initiative is heading in?

This is the story of Sensu — an Open Source project that was wildly successful without much structure, but then it hit a plateau. After several conversations with the top contributors, VP of Community, Matt Broberg took drastic measures and announced that the project was going on “Maintenance Mode,” giving all project participants the ability to rethink how they communicated. The Sensu community has since come out of Maintenance Mode with clearer contributor guidelines, better coding practices and a stronger communication structure. But that’s just one story.

This talk digs into why all companies benefit from a Maintenance Mode at times of significant change. It will provide a framework to identify contributor needs and give recommendations on how to set up your initiative for success. Whether you’re a lead of a community, or software stack of an entire freaking company, this intentional look at what you’re building and how people can communicate about it is relevant to you.

Bio Matt is VP of Community for Sensu Inc., focused on the incredible community around Sensu, the open source monitoring framework. He contributes to infrastructure communities with a focus on open collaboration, especially through GitHub. Matt has spoken at many conference (OSCON, VMworld, Velocity), on podcasts (Cloudcast, Speaking in Tech, The Hot Aisle) and co-created the Geek Whisperers podcast. Matt is on the board of the Influence Marketing Council, co-maintains the Evangelist Collective, contributes to the Go Community Outreach Working Group, occasionally blogs on Medium.com and shares code on GitHub. He’s also a fan of tattoos, rock climbing and cats, though remains unsure of Schrödinger’s.

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