Maintainers Circle

Connect with other maintainers, share best practices, commiserate and grow.

Once a month, we welcome you to a maintainers circle: a peer group that will meet with scheduled topics, ample discussion, and networking time for fellow reviewers, approvers, maintainers, and other core leaders of CNCF projects. This is a time for you to stay connected, learn from and with each other, and discuss topics that are close to you. We’ll have a 100 person capacity for each event and depending on demand, may re-run the session. The capacity is set to make sure everyone that wants an interactive experience vs a lecture can have one.

The only contract of the members of each circle is to abide by the CNCF Code of Conduct, be kind, open as you’d like, and committed to hearing others out. Everyone will have a chance to participate in whatever activity is set forth in that meeting.


  • Collaborate on strategic issues; tackling size:L OSS challenges together
  • Listen (to build better programs, relationships, and sustainability efforts)
  • Share best practices
  • Participate in peer coaching and seek guidance
  • Highlight successes

Who is a maintainer?

There are a lot of meanings within the community. A maintainer is anyone recognized as a maintainer or in a core role of a CNCF project by that project's standards and governance. You can maintain code, docs, policy and more, but you are making decisions.

Relevant CNCF project examples:

  • containerd lists maintainers and code reviewers as key role
  • Prometheus lists maintainers in a file
  • Kubernetes doesn’t use the word maintainer but uses an OWNERs file method for ownership by listing reviewers and approvers

We recognize the term does not apply across the board perfectly. Maintainers is an umbrella succinct term that covers many of your roles and inclusivity.

Important note: CNCF has a pool of listed maintainers for each project that vote on behalf of their project in TOC elections. Some projects have more maintainer roles than this and the Circle welcomes all decision makers.


Every other Contributor Strategy meeting:*
Thursdays, 10:30am PT / 06:30pm GMT / Your timezone here

See the CNCF calendar.

*currently displays as sig-contributor-strategy meeting on CNCF calendar but will be repurposed for this.


December 17, 2020 Thursday, 10:30am PT / 06:30pm GMT Your timezone here

Registration is an emoji reaction to the invite on the announcement thread in #maintainer-circle

First half + breakouts: In 2017, Dorothy Howard spoke at SciPy on the research and effects of burnout on FOSS maintainers. She follows up with us on what’s happened since conducting new and ongoing qualitative research and interviews with maintainers on burnout, mental health, and software sustainability sponsored by the Ford/Sloan Foundations and the NSF. After a 20minute talk, Dorothy will seed the audience questions about burnout as you break out into small breakout rooms with your fellow maintainers in a 15minute session.

Second half + breakouts: We’ll have a fireside chat with Aaron Crickenberger, Emeritus Kubernetes Steering Committee Member, co-chair of SIG-Testing, and subproject owner in multiple SIGs, about his experiences with burnout. It’s been a 5 year journey with Kubernetes; we’ll hear some of the realistic and honest ways Aaron tackles time management and self care while steering huge ships. In this 15 minute session, you can ask questions live to Aaron as a group, and then breakout into final small groups of the session.

General Circle Structure

  • :35 - meeting kicks off with a welcome, announcements, and how breakouts work
  • :40-:00 - first speaker (academic, expert, other OSS maintainer)
  • :00-:20 - first breakout session (max: 10 rooms, 20 people in each) with a round of short intros [name/project name] before discussion
  • :25-:45 - second speaker (most likely a CNCF maintainer)
  • :45-:05 - second breakout session
  • :10-:15 - wrap up

To suggest future topics, file an issue in our repo. If you have something to share with the group, reach out to us on slack directly