Spotlight on SIG ContribEx
Author: Fyka Ansari
Welcome to the world of Kubernetes and its vibrant contributor community! In this blog post, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the Special Interest Group for Contributor Experience (SIG ContribEx), an essential component of the Kubernetes project.
SIG ContribEx in Kubernetes is responsible for developing and maintaining a healthy and productive community of contributors to the project. This involves identifying and addressing bottlenecks that may hinder the project’s growth and feature velocity, such as pull request latency and the number of open pull requests and issues.
SIG ContribEx works to improve the overall contributor experience by creating and maintaining guidelines, tools, and processes that facilitate collaboration and communication among contributors. They also focus on community building and support, including outreach programs and mentorship initiatives to onboard and retain new contributors.
Ultimately, the role of SIG ContribEx is to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment that encourages contribution and supports the long-term sustainability of the Kubernetes project.
In this blog post, Fyka Ansari interviews Kaslin Fields, a DevRel Engineer at Google, who is a chair of SIG ContribEx, and Madhav Jivrajani, a Software Engineer at VMWare who serves as a SIG ContribEx Tech Lead. This interview covers various aspects of SIG ContribEx, including current initiatives, exciting developments, and how interested individuals can get involved and contribute to the group. It provides valuable insights into the workings of SIG ContribEx and highlights the importance of its role in the Kubernetes ecosystem.
Fyka: Let’s start by diving into your background and how you got involved in the Kubernetes ecosystem. Can you tell us more about that journey?
Kaslin: I first got involved in the Kubernetes ecosystem through my mentor, Jonathan Rippy, who introduced me to containers during my early days in tech. Eventually, I transitioned to a team working with containers, which sparked my interest in Kubernetes when it was announced. While researching Kubernetes in that role, I eagerly sought opportunities to engage with the containers/Kubernetes community. It was not until my subsequent job that I found a suitable role to contribute consistently. I joined SIG ContribEx, specifically in the Contributor Comms subproject, to both deepen my knowledge of Kubernetes and support the community better.
Madhav: My journey with Kubernetes began when I was a student, searching for interesting and exciting projects to work on. With my peers, I discovered open source and attended The New Contributor Workshop organized by the Kubernetes community. The workshop not only provided valuable insights into the community structure but also gave me a sense of warmth and welcome, which motivated me to join and remain involved. I realized that collaboration is at the heart of open-source communities, and to get answers and support, I needed to contribute and do my part. I started working on issues in ContribEx, particularly focusing on GitHub automation, despite not fully understanding the task at first. I continued to contribute for various technical and non-technical aspects of the project, finding it to be one of the most professionally rewarding experiences in my life.
Fyka: That’s such an inspiration in itself! I’m sure beginners who are reading this got the ultimate motivation to take their first steps. Embracing the Learning journey, seeking mentorship, and engaging with the Kubernetes community can pave the way for exciting opportunities in the tech industry. Your stories proved the importance of starting small and being proactive, just like Madhav said Don’t be afraid to take on tasks, even if you’re uncertain at first.
Primary goals and scope
Fyka: Given your experience as a member of SIG ContribEx, could you tell us a bit about the group’s primary goals and initiatives? Its current focus areas? What do you see as the scope of SIG ContribEx and the impact it has on the Kubernetes community?
Kaslin: SIG ContribEx’s primary goals are to simplify the contributions of Kubernetes contributors and foster a welcoming community. It collaborates with other Kubernetes SIGs, such as planning the Contributor Summit at KubeCon, ensuring it meets the needs of various groups. The group’s impact is evident in projects like updating org membership policies and managing critical platforms like Zoom, YouTube, and Slack. Its scope encompasses making the contributor experience smoother and supporting the overall Kubernetes community.
Madhav: The Kubernetes project has vertical SIGs and cross-cutting SIGs, ContribEx is a deeply cross-cutting SIG, impacting virtually every area of the Kubernetes community. Adding to Kaslin, sustainability in the Kubernetes project and community is critical now more than ever, it plays a central role in addressing critical issues, such as maintainer succession, by facilitating cohorts for SIGs to train experienced community members to take on leadership roles. Excellent examples include SIG CLI and SIG Apps, leading to the onboarding of new reviewers. Additionally, SIG ContribEx is essential in managing GitHub automation tools, including bots and commands used by contributors for interacting with Prow and other automation (label syncing, group and GitHub team management, etc).
Fyka: I’ll never forget talking to Kaslin when I joined the community and needed help with contributing. Kaslin, your quick and clear answers were a huge help in getting me started. Can you both give some tips for people new to contributing to Kubernetes? What makes SIG ContribEx a great starting point? Why should beginners and current contributors consider it? And what cool opportunities are there for newbies to jump in?
Kaslin: If you want to contribute to Kubernetes for the first time, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. A good option is to join SIG ContribEx as it offers great opportunities to know and serve the community. Within SIG ContribEx, various subprojects allow you to explore different parts of the Kubernetes project while you learn how contributions work. Once you know a bit more, it’s common for you to move to other SIGs within the project, and we think that’s wonderful. While many newcomers look for “good first issues” to start with, these opportunities can be scarce and get claimed quickly. Instead, the real benefit lies in attending meetings and getting to know the community. As you learn more about the project and the people involved, you’ll be better equipped to offer your help, and the community will be more inclined to seek your assistance when needed. As a co-lead for the Contributor Comms subproject, I can confidently say that it’s an excellent place for beginners to get involved. We have supportive leads and particularly beginner-friendly projects too.
Madhav: To begin, read the SIG README on GitHub, which provides an overview of the projects the SIG manages. While attending meetings is beneficial for all SIGs, it’s especially recommended for SIG ContribEx, as each subproject gets dedicated slots for updates and areas that need help. If you can’t attend in real-time due to time zone differences, you can catch the meeting recordings or Notes later.
Skills you learn!
Fyka: What skills do you look for when bringing in new contributors to SIG ContribEx, from passion to expertise? Additionally, what skills can contributors expect to develop while working with SIG ContribEx?
Kaslin: Skills folks need to have or will acquire vary depending on what area of ContribEx they work upon. Even within a subproject, a range of skills can be useful and/or developed. For example, the tech lead role involves technical tasks and overseeing automation, while the social media lead role requires excellent communication skills. Working with SIG ContribEx allows contributors to acquire various skills based on their chosen subproject. By participating in meetings, listening, learning, and taking on tasks related to their interests, they can develop and hone these skills. Some subprojects may require more specialized skills, like program management for the mentoring project, but all contributors can benefit from offering their talents to help teach others and contribute to the community.
Sub-projects under SIG ContribEx
Fyka: SIG ContribEx has several smaller projects. Can you tell me about the aims of these projects and how they’ve impacted the Kubernetes community?
Kaslin: Some SIGs have one or two subprojects and some have none at all, but in SIG ContribEx, we have eleven!
Here’s a list of them and their respective mission statements
- Community: Manages the community repository, documentation, and operations.
- Community management: Handles communication platforms and policies for the community.
- Contributor-comms: Focuses on promoting the success of Kubernetes contributors through marketing.
- Contributors-documentation: Writes and maintains documentation for contributing to Kubernetes.
- Devstats: Maintains and updates the Kubernetes statistics website.
- Elections: Oversees community elections and maintains related documentation and software.
- Events: Organizes contributor-focused events like the Contributor Summit.
- Github management: Manages permissions, repositories, and groups on GitHub.
- Mentoring: Develop programs to help contributors progress in their contributions.
- Sigs-GitHub-actions: Repository for GitHub actions related to all SIGs in Kubernetes.
- Slack-infra: Creates and maintains tools and automation for Kubernetes Slack.
Madhav: Also, Devstats is critical from a sustainability standpoint!
(If you are willing to learn more and get involved with any of these sub-projects, check out the SIG ContribEx README).
Fyka: With that said, any SIG-related accomplishment that you’re proud of?
Kaslin: I’m proud of the accomplishments made by SIG ContribEx and its contributors in supporting the community. Some of the recent achievements include:
- Establishment of the elections subproject: Kubernetes is a massive project, and ensuring smooth leadership transitions is crucial. The contributors in this subproject organize fair and consistent elections, which helps keep the project running effectively.
- New issue triage proces: With such a large open-source project like Kubernetes, there’s always a lot of work to be done. To ensure things progress safely, we implemented new labels and updated functionality for issue triage using our PROW tool. This reduces bottlenecks in the workflow and allows leaders to accomplish more.
- New org membership requirements: Becoming an org member in Kubernetes can be overwhelming for newcomers. We view org membership as a significant milestone for contributors aiming to take on leadership roles. We recently updated the rules to automatically remove privileges from inactive members, making sure that the right people have access to the necessary tools and responsibilities.
Overall, these accomplishments have greatly benefited our fellow contributors and strengthened the Kubernetes community.
Fyka: Could you give us a sneak peek into what’s next for the group? We’re excited to hear about upcoming projects and initiatives from this dynamic team.
Madhav: We’d love for more groups to sign up for mentoring cohorts! We’re probably going to have to spend some time polishing the process around that.
Fyka: As we wrap up our conversation, would you like to share some final thoughts for those interested in contributing to SIG ContribEx or getting involved with Kubernetes?
Madhav: Kubernetes is meant to be overwhelming and difficult initially! You’re coming into something that’s taken multiple people, from multiple countries, multiple years to build. Embrace that diversity! Use the high entropy initially to collide around and gain as much knowledge about the project and community as possible before you decide to settle in your niche.
Fyka: Thank You Madhav and Kaslin, it was an absolute pleasure chatting about SIG ContribEx and your experiences as a member. It’s clear that the role of SIG ContribEx in Kubernetes is significant and essential, ensuring scalability, growth and productivity, and I hope this interview inspires more people to get involved and contribute to Kubernetes. I wish SIG ContribEx all the best, and can’t wait to see what exciting things lie ahead!
We love meeting new contributors and helping them in investigating different Kubernetes project spaces. If you are interested in getting more involved with SIG ContribEx, here are some resources for you to get started:
- Mailing list
- Open Community Issues/PRs
- Slack channel #sig-contribex
- SIG Contribex also hosted a KubeCon talk about studying Kubernetes Contributor experiences.